A brutal, gripping story about a Melbourne crime family that makes the Corleones look like the Brady Bunch. NED LANNAMANN St. Johns Theater and Pub.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
1978's action flick brings together tenets of both the American Western and Hong Kong-style kung fu. Hey, just like Shanghai Noon! Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Shaolin Cinema: Hong Kong Films of the Late '70s and Early '80s series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Rarely does a film come along that's as truly adult as Blue Valentine, a movie driven by stunning, lived-in performances from Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams as a young married couple. In converging timelines, Valentine tracks both their initial courtship and the 48-hour period where it falls apart. The effect is no less emotionally brutal than a film like Gaspar Noé's Irreversible, as each happy memory of the past sweetens the pair's love story—while simultaneously making their falling out all the more devastating. Over a swelling score by Grizzly Bear, director Derek Cianfrance sets about autopsying Gosling and Williams' history, examining each cutting word and each loving gesture as if they were organs from the same body. DAVE BOW Various Theaters.
Outlandishly unfunny. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
An Evening of Short Film Gems
School of Film instructor Roger Margolis shows off some of his favorite short films. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See My, What a Busy Week! Mission Theater.
1981's trippy animated sci-fi/horror/fantasy/etc. anthology, based on Heavy Metal magazine and featuring the vocal stylings of John Candy, Eugene Levy, and good ol' Rodger Bumpass. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Gerard Depardieu stars in Claude Chabrol's 50th and final feature film, about a "police commissioner trying to balance professional instinct with family duty." Hollywood Theatre.
Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
A documentary that primarily focuses on Lemmy Kilmister's current day-to-day activities rather than his status as the legendary frontman for thrash progenitors Motörhead. Talking about his time with '70s space-rockers Hawkwind, Kilmister still sounds a little bitter about being kicked out of that band following a drug bust, but otherwise professes no regrets about a life that's left him diabetic and single in his mid-60s. He still tours six months out of the year and lives on a diet of Jack Daniel's, Marlboro Reds, and french fries. While he's never had to let go of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, Lemmy also shows the flipside—a solitary, aging man who never quite fit in. NED LANNAMANN Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Mel Blanc Project Screening Series
A "crash course on the genius of Mel Blanc," put on by the Oregon Cartoon Institute in anticipation of "The Mel Blanc Project," a lecture, exhibition, performance, and education series beginning in May. More info: thewaypost.com. The Waypost.
My Dog Tulip
J.R. Ackerley's memoir My Dog Tulip is one of the great entertaining books about dog ownership, in part because it doesn't shy away from the meat and refuse that goes along with animals. This animated version of the memoir is charming in the exact same way: Ackerley as a narrator (Christopher Plummer's voice work has a sly misanthropic twinkle) doesn't seem very interested in people, but he is immediately smitten with Tulip, his "Alsatian bitch." He pays close attention to the dog's every bodily function with great aplomb, even cheerily licking marmalade off his own fingers as he talks to us about the care and close personal contact that Tulip's anal glands require. He describes one of his dog's facial expressions during urination as "contentment" and another as businesslike—"as if writing a check." Tulip's squiggly, sketchy animation feels intimate and friendly, and a few sequences employ clever storytelling conceits to keep things interesting—a vacation town is drawn in part as a diorama of enormous postcards propped up on rocks amid the beach scenery—but it is, for the most part, almost an hour and a half of a man talking to us about his dog. The dog, we quickly learn, is nothing special—Tulip isn't well behaved or clever—but Ackerley's love for her above everything else in the world, including his sister and friends, makes the film extraordinary. PAUL CONSTANT Hollywood Theatre.
No Strings Attached
No Strings Attached is a difficult film to address. Not because it brings any new or complicated issues or cinematic techniques to the table, and not because it challenges presumptions, or pushes boundaries—and not even because it's so laughably horrid, unfunny, and stupid that tearing it apart counts for sport. It's far worse than any of those things: No Strings Attached is so wholly mediocre that there's barely anything worth mentioning about it other than, "Ouch, Natalie. Your timing really sucks." MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Opium and the Kung Fu Master
"Hong Kong superstar Ti Lung is a martial arts master who protects a town from thugs and bandits. Although he's devoted his life to Buddhism, he's also developed quite the taste for opium." FIVE STARS! Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Shaolin Cinema: Hong Kong Films of the Late '70s and Early '80s series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Have you seen Steven Spielberg's Duel? It was a TV movie from 1971 starring Dennis Weaver as a man driving a lonely highway, who's mysteriously being tormented by a semi driver. In Rage, local director/writer/actor Chris Witherspoon pays direct homage to the classic with a very Portland spin on the cat 'n' mouse thriller. That's not precisely a compliment: Instead of a monstrous big rig with a thundering air horn barreling through the dusty desert, a man named Dennis (Rick Crawford) is hunted down by an ominous motorcycle rider with a goofy goose-sounding horn throughout the streets of Portland. It's all a little... softer than the original. It's not going to leave you blown and sock-less, but for a low-budget local film, it's surprisingly well done, suspenseful, and taut. COURTNEY FERGUSON Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A documentary about the day-to-day life of American soldiers stationed in a remote valley in Afghanistan. Not screened for critics. Laurelhurst Theater.
One more exorcism-themed horror flick. Not screened in time for press; hit portlandmercury.com on Friday, January 28, for our review. Various Theaters.
Say My Name
A documentary about hiphop and R&B lyricists who "speak candidly about class, race, and gender in pursing their passions as female MCs." Screens as part of the Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival's "Lives of Women" series. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Somewhere's scene-by-scene similarities to Lost in Translation support the popular view that Sofia Coppola is limited by her station—a filmmaker born into Hollywood royalty, and only fit for chronicling the non-problems of the spoiled rich. But that's an unimaginative, ungenerous interpretation: With Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette, and now Somewhere, Coppola's demonstrated an exceptional knack for revealing the hollow side of celebrity, and within Somewhere's narrow scope, she offers an informed illustration of the adage that you can't buy happiness. Aside from its boilerplate ending, Somewhere is patient, sweet, and revealing—and a breakout role for Elle Fanning, who single-handedly counters an entire film's worth of ennui. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.
The Toxic Avenger
Toxie returns. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Way Back
The latest from director Peter Weir (Witness, Dead Poets Society, Green Card, Fearless, The Truman Show, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World), based on a factually disputed memoir about escapees from a Siberian gulag in World War II. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.