Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
"Excuse me. I'd like to ass you a few questions." Clinton Street Theater.
The Adjustment Bureau
A mind-warped romance starring Matt Damon as David Norris, formerly America's youngest congressman, now its youngest losing senatorial candidate. On the night of his defeat, he meets Elise (Emily Blunt) when they hide out in the same men's room. Sparks fly, but circumstances intervene, and the two are separated... only to run into each other on a bus weeks later. It's kismet! Except this second meeting wasn't supposed to happen. A man in a fedora (Anthony Mackie) was supposed to waylay David and give his colleagues time to build a different path for him. The screw-up means David discovers the secret of the universe: Our lives are already written, and there are a bunch of men with hats who make it their business to ensure we don't screw it all up. The Adjustment Bureau is a fun surprise, especially since writer/director George Nolfi built his kiss-kiss, chase-chase movie from an unlikely toolbox: a 1954 short story by Philip K. Dick. What not even ol' weirdy Dick could've ever imagined, though, is that The Adjustment Bureau is one of the best cinematic romances in a good long while. JAMIE S. RICH Various Theaters.
Battle: Los Angeles
It's easy to break down the DNA of Battle: Los Angeles—its parents are H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. This is an old-school war flick, albeit one in which the bad guys aren't Nazis but rather bulb-headed extraterrestrial cyborgs. What Battle does right is damn impressive: While alien armadas aren't anything new to anyone who's ever seen a movie, something that's seen a lot less is an America at war—an America with smoke-clogged streets, burned-out cars, and rocket-split buildings. In Battle, there's little doubt which force has the superior military; the resulting damage to our world is strangely tangible and jarring to behold. But what Battle does wrong might be a deal-killer: If you're just looking for some military sci-fi action, you won't be disappointed; if you're looking for anything more, you will be. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
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 Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Bob le Flambeur
A gambling addict hatches a scheme to rob a casino. The heist is kind of beside the point, as the real pleasure of Jean-Pierre Melville's 1956 French New Wave prototype comes from the cigarette-smoking, trenchcoat-wearing hoods and whores of the Parisian underworld. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Classic French Crime Films" series. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
There's a scene in 1928's The Circus in which Charlie Chaplin walks a tightrope and, unaware his safety harness has been severed, is attacked by monkeys who bite his nose and steal his pants. In other words, if you aren't even a little delighted by this movie, you may be dead inside. Preceded by Sunnyside; screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "The Films of Charlie Chaplin" series. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Classe Tous Risques
The French crime films of the '50s evolved into the French New Wave, and 1960's Classe Tous Risques could be the center of that transition—it's a hardboiled but dreamlike saga of a gangster on the lam, running out of friends and options. The extended opening chase sequence—on foot, then car, then motorcycle, then boat—is outstanding. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "Classic French Crime Films" series. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
At its outset, Cold Weather looks suspiciously like another mumblecore joint about pretty, mopey people—not that there's anything wrong with that, especially when writer/director Aaron Katz reveals a keen yet sympathetic understanding of his lead character's predicament. But a few minutes in, against the gray streets of Portland, Cold Weather's true colors emerge: It's a sly genre fiction that superimposes a classic detective story over a moody mumblecore backdrop. The discontent Katz establishes in Cold Weather's early scenes—and that I wish he'd mined even further—is that of a generation who were promised more than the current economy can deliver. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Bafflingly, Cracks takes a tale of jealousy, intrigue, and lesbian longing at a British boarding school and makes it boring. Go watch Heavenly Creatures again instead. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
The Darkest Corner of Paradise
I learned three things from this film. First: Don't major in accounting. Second: Stay away from creepy tattoo parlors. Third: Not all local films are terrible. Shot in black and white, The Darkest Corner of Paradise centers around recent college graduate Peter Landsman (Patrick O'Driscoll), an idealistic accounting major who just can't catch a break in life, with a crappy job, a crappy apartment, no friends, and a whole lot of creepy guys from Portland's seedy underbelly trying to kill him. Marginal acting and some shaky camera moments aside, this is actually a pretty decent, believable film that shows another side of Portland—far from the sanitized version that most of us are used to. Director in attendance. SARAH HARDY Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Great Dictator
Charlie Chaplin didn't start talking in movies until 1940's The Great Dictator, a very funny takeoff on Hitler and fascism. Chaplin said in later years that he never would have made light of the situation in Europe if he knew how dire it had actually been, but the result is a surreal, biting political satire, the best of its kind until 1964's Dr. Strangelove. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "The Films of Charlie Chaplin" series. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Hall Pass looks like another of these gross-out, sex-crazed bromantic comedies in the vein of Old School and The Hangover, and the bad omens don't stop there. To wit: It stars a Wedding Crashers alumnus (Owen Wilson). It has the Zach Galifianakis role played by the fat blonde brother from According to Jim. It's helmed by a pair of writer/directors (the Farrelly Brothers) who haven't connected with the ball since 1999's Outside Providence. All it needs is a cameo by Vince Vaughn, a few poop jokes, an unnecessarily long scene of male nudity, and it's good to go. The Vince Vaughn cameo aside—and he's here in spirit, really he is—Hall Pass contains all of these things. But surprise of surprises, Hall Pass actually contains some genuine laughs, too, and for a movie like this, that's plenty. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Hood to Coast
A doc about the Hood to Coast run. Director in attendance for select screenings. Living Room Theaters.
I Saw the Devil
When it comes to revenge movies, South Korea has had its finger on the squicky trigger for over a decade now, with titles like Oldboy, Memories of Murder, and Nowhere to Hide all proving to be superlatively staged, razor-taut films about some remarkably depraved subjects. Clocking in at 140 minutes, the hotly fanboy-anticipated I Saw the Devil clearly aspires to be the magnum opus of the genre, with a truly loathsome villain and scenes of torture that might have even the most hardened gorehounds reaching for the Pepto. Alas, this cautionary tale about the dangers of staring into the abyss roars so gloppily far over the top that it ultimately deadens the nerves. Which is most likely the point, I realize, but sheesh. ANDREW WRIGHT Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Sylvain Chomet's follow-up to his beloved The Triplets of Belleville, based on a script for an un-produced live-action film that was written by Jacques Tati in 1956. The Illusionist follows the titular magician—aging, weary, facing obsolescence—and his companion, a young, wide-eyed woman named Alice, who jumps at the chance to escape her provincial existence, only to find that life in the city isn't all that she had hoped. Nearly free of dialogue and full of stunningly evocative visuals, The Illusionist is whimsical and bittersweet, gorgeous and melancholy. I hesitate to say too much about it, because its many charms—countless small moments of sadness and humor—sneak up on you, patient and subtle. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
"The crisis was not an accident," wholesome narrator Matt Damon tells us at the beginning of Charles Ferguson's Inside Job, referring to the 2008 economic crash that crippled the world's economy, kicked off a seemingly endless run of foreclosures and job losses, and destroyed several generations' faith in economic systems. "It was caused by an out-of-control industry," Damon continues, and then Inside Job proceeds to show us how—not only how the crisis happened but also how easily it could happen again. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Perhaps I'm in the minority, but a supernatural teen sex romp does not sound unappealing: Murdery conspiracies aside, all I really wanted from Kaboom was for cute, greasy-haired emo kid Smith (Thomas Dekker) and his cute love interest to make out, and for that I was willing to endure any number of recycled teen genre conceits, including lesbian witchcraft (hello, Willow from Buffy); the return of the Sardonic Chick Sidekick ('sup, Janeane Garofalo in 1994); teenagers fighting vast conspiracies (John Connor, is that you??); and teenagers who mature into their psychic powers (hey there... Carrie? Whatever). Unfortunately, writer/director Gregg Araki (Mysterious Skin, The Doom Generation) refuses to succumb to the pleasures of genre. Kaboom neither elevates nor ridicules the conventions it borrows; instead, it dismisses them all as meaningless, in a final sequence that serves as an emphatic "fuck you" to any audience member who made the oh-so-unsophisticated mistake of actually attempting to care about character or plot. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
A King in New York
Charlie Chaplin's 1957 comedy is the mostly breezy tale of an exiled king navigating Manhattan, but by its end, it becomes a biting commentary on McCarthyism. Chaplin was kicked out of the U.S. by the House of Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s, and his anger peeks through this film's otherwise bubbly surface. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "The Films of Charlie Chaplin" series. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Bradley Cooper is a dumb loser who finds a magic pill that makes his brain huge and reminds him to get a haircut. Then, using his haircut, he makes eleventy frillion dollars, but then the pills start making him die (either from taking them or from not taking them--the movie can’t decide). Also there’s some guy who chases him around sometimes, but that guy turns out to not even be important or scary at the end. Then Robert De Niro is like, “Guess what, Bradley Cooper? I gotcha magic pills and now you have to work for me at my company which provides excellent benefits and also we get along great so really there’s very little at stake here! Or else you DIE!” And B-Coop’s like, “Psych, DeNiro, because thanks to my giant brain I figured out how to NOT die, and those pills are stupid now. STUFFED.” This movie is terrible, but actually kind of impressive when you learn that director Neil Burger is an actual sentient hamburger named Neil. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.
The Lincoln Lawyer
In The Lincoln Lawyer, Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Haller, a criminal defense attorney who is all about gettin' paid. Sometimes he refers to money with a cool code name, like "Mr. Green" (cool!). His black friend Earl can't get over how cool Mickey is, and always says things like, "You know what? You would have done all right on the streets," and then Mickey is all, "Sheee-yit. What do you think I am, Earl?" and then Earl chuckles. (ANSWER THE QUESTION, EARL.) One day, Mickey takes on the biggest case of his career, defending creepy Ryan Phillippe, a rich dude who maybe or maybe didn't beat the shit out of a prostitute lady. As Mickey gets deeper into the case, he realizes that things are not always as they seem. In fact, things are dangerous, and Mickey is in a pickle! Sheee-yit! At this point, Mickey forgets about gettin' paid and is all about makin' things right. I kind of liked this movie. I give it a six. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.
Little Blue Pill
As the title of this Portland-set sex romp suggests, there's a good reason you should never go poking around your roommate's puke-splattered bathroom for pills: You might mistake some boner candy for a couple of Aleves, and then your penis would be hard all day, and that would be unpleasant. But even worse? You might have to endure a plot that crudely borrows from every raunchy comedy you've ever regretted renting: the WTF morning after; the lady friend you're too chicken to score with; violent hillbillies; showering in prison; cartoonish villains who either get a conscience or get sodomized; foul-mouthed seniors; a heartbroken drive through nighttime city streets; and a tense climax somehow involving a ticking bomb. In Little Blue Pill's favor, it's possible it's all intentional—a meta-commentary on the genre, blah blah. Also, the countdown scene totally reminded me of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, or at least it would have if Spock had saved the Enterprise by sticking his dick in the Genesis Device. DENIS C. THERIAULT Hollywood Theatre.
Metal Messiah: Born Again Sage
A locally made, low-budget flick that follows a headbanger named Sage Negadeth (played by writer/director Nick Wells, AKA the Phantom Hillbilly) through three decades of devout metal worship. He faces failure, religion, and the horror of being a metalhead in his 30s with no future (it's not my autobiography, I swear). Metal Messiah might be a little too long, but it has a great soundtrack that features classic and original tunes, and a priceless scene where Sage and his cronies create a metal language using band names. (Dio = dude, him; Doro = her, she; Sodom = party; etc.) This is a film made by a true believer, for true believers. ARIS WALES Hollywood Theatre.
A boner-killing, navel-gazing snoozefest about an engaged couple in Brooklyn. She sings at open mics, and he balances a job as a wedding photographer with a gig being hired to take candid shots of people on the street. It's through this that he develops an obsession with a mysterious blonde client, whose masturbation scene at the tennis courts represents the most literal scene of the film. Boring people with boring problems, go home. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Charlie Chaplin's dapper gentleman marries wealthy widows, kills them, and steals their money in this 1947 black comedy. It's strange to see the comedian out of his familiar Tramp getup, but this acerbic, nearly nihilistic film effortlessly balances humor and Hitchcockian suspense. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's "The Films of Charlie Chaplin" series. NED LANNAMANN Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Of Gods and Men
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost—the duo from Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Spaced—play a couple of road-tripping dweebs who pick up an alien who has the voice of Seth Rogen. Does this genuinely funny, surprisingly sweet comedy do for sci-fi what Shaun of the Dead did for zombie flicks or Hot Fuzz did for action epics? Ehh, not quite. But still: This'll be one of the better and funnier comedies you'll see this year. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theatres.
Reel Paddling Film Festival
A fest promising "the best paddling films of the year." We're gonna pretend they mean the dominatrix sort of paddling, not the yuppie sort of paddling. Bagdad Theatre.
Salise Hughes: Recycled Visions
Seattle experimental filmmaker Salise Hughes presents "a collection of her work made between 2005-2011 that includes at least two world premieres." More info: grand-detour.org. Hollywood Theatre.
Some Days Are Better Than Others
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.