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 Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
African Cats concerns two feline matriarchs, one being a ladylion and the other a womancheetah, on opposing sides of a nameless river in a never-identified region of Africa. Lacking even a PBS-level of frankness about nature's cruelty, the film employs narrator Samuel L. Jackson to calmly inform us when a hungry lion is about to kill its prey. Most of the gore, however, is sequestered safely off camera. Even death is granted a sort of heartwarming Disney twist. If you're looking for an uncomplicated, sterilized account of feline life somewhere in or near Kenya, this is it. But don't expect anything new. African Cats moves slowly (perhaps too slowly for young children), and the script is as uninspired as the title "African Cats." If you're not a kid, maybe get stoned first. DOMINIC HOLDEN Various Theaters.
Aguirre, the Wrath of God
See My, What a Busy Week! Clinton Street Theater.
A jarring, unflinching look at the war in Afghanistan, documented by a camera crew tagging along with bored, relatable, and sometimes brutally violent Danish soldiers. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
In the future, gas costs 37 dollars a gallon, ex-CEOs wait in breadlines, a quasi-socialist government crushes American industry, and the nation's last profit-driven geniuses deliver stilted lines with the same cold, steely resolve they use to constantly knock back cold, steely martinis at their cold, steely desks. I expected Atlas Shrugged, the highly-anticipated adaptation of Ayn Rand's epic novel for assholes, to be infuriating—but it was just boring. With a smaller budget, this could have been a laughably excellent B-movie; as is, it's just a condescending, two-dimensional allegory swirling with drama about the fiscal realities of the train business. SARAH MIRK Century Eastport 16, Fox Tower 10.
Bill Cunningham New York
Since the late '70s, weekly photo collages of what people are wearing on the streets of New York have been a highlight in the pages of the New York Times. Many New Yorkers are acutely aware of the author of these photos: a wiry octogenarian snapping away at passersby in a cheap poncho when it rains, and a no-nonsense blue jacket when it shines. This is Bill Cunningham, the subject of Bill Cunningham New York, a documentary about the artist whose life's work is as much cultural anthropology as it is fashion, providing an intimate introduction to those who less frequently pass by his lens. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
There's a persistent, suffocating weight on Uxbal (Javier Bardem), on whose life Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest film meditates. Amid the grime of Barcelona's ghetto, Uxbal cobbles together an existence to support his two children by brokering sweatshop deals between powerless immigrants and corrupt contractors, as well as moonlighting as a medium between the recently deceased and their family members. If that weren't enough, Marambra (Maricel Álvarez), the mother of his children, is a bipolar junkie, and there's also the matter of Uxbal being on the brink of death due to some form of renal failure that causes him to piss blood. Needless to say, things are grim. Iñárritu (Amores Perros, Babel, 21 Grams) asks a great deal of his audience, trudging them through a mucky tragedy with pitifully scarce relief. It might be too much were it not for Bardem's performance, which flawlessly bridges the disparate aspects of an imperfect character into a strong, relatable whole. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Dylan Dog: Dead of Night
An "action horror thriller comedy" about a detective (Brandon Routh) who investigates paranormal cases. "Armed with an edgy wit and carrying an arsenal of silver and wood-tipped bullets, Dylan must track down a dangerous artifact before a war ensues between his werewolf, vampire, and zombie clients living undercover in the monster-infested backstreets of New Orleans," reads the official synopsis, which somehow leaves out the truly shocking fact that this film wasn't screened for critics. Various Theaters.
The Elephant in the Living Room
See review this issue. Lloyd Mall 8.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Kids today are too goddamn coddled! Though they may be well versed in recycling and organic gardening, why isn't there a single Montessori school that teaches neck-snapping? The new thriller Hanna not only exposes these flaws in our school system, but does so in the guise of a rich, artsy thriller about a tween assassin on the run from the CIA. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
If you are the sort of person who still laughs when a character in a movie instructs another character to say "hello" to his/her "leedle fren," then you deserve to have your thumbs cut off and all your lands and assets seized by the government and awarded to your childhood bully. Unfortunately for humanity and some of y'all's thumbs, Hoodwinked Too!: Hood vs. Evil is essentially a feature-length "say hello to my leedle fren." The script is less a screenplay than a Bartlett's Quotations of ancient, worn out, and irrelevant movie lines, cobbled together in such a way as to signify "humor" and give Lindy West rage-hives. All the stinkiest chestnuts are at the party: "Hello, Clarice," and "Hasta la vista, baby," and motherfucking "Did you just laugh at me? Do I amuse you? Am I some sort of clown to you?" (Honorable mentions: "Tastes like chicken," "Take a bite outta crime," something about turducken, something about using the Force.) Hoodwinked Too! ostensibly has a plot, which ostensibly has something to do with Little Red Riding Hood trying to rescue her grandmother from a couple of nefarious German babies. Patrick Warburton is involved, of course (WHAT ELSE IS NEW, ANIMATED CINEMA!?), and there's also a horrible squirrel. Everyone dies in the end (in my fan-fiction). Not a single joke in the movie lands. Not one. Zero. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.
In a Better World
This Danish flick about two damaged adolescent boys and their families reminded me of Paul Haggis' Crash. It tackles a big issue (the nature and consequences of revenge) but does so bluntly, with too many characters, too many subplots, and a handful of affecting scenes. World has both the power to make you cry and put you to sleep. DAVE BOW Fox Tower 10.
Olivier Assayas' 1996 film starring Maggie Cheung. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Legend of the Fist:
The Return of Chen Zhen
A big-screen sequel to a 1995 TV show remake of Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, with Donnie Yen as Chen Zhen, a World War I hero. After a 10-minute prelude of fucking stunning kinetic violence, Legend becomes a straight-up comic book: Yen is a spy for the Chinese resistance, posing as a nightclub-managing gangster who by night assumes the identity of the Masked Avenger, a proto-Kato who thwarts political assassination attempts. There's mountains of cornpone intrigue and adventure, a 1920s Chinese version of The Dirty Dozen, and honest-to-god swashbuckling. I mean it. Swashes. Buckled like a motherfucker. BOBBY "FATBOY" ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Given pioneers' near-mythological status, it's easy to forget that it would've sucked to be one of 'em. Sure, adorable li'l Laura Ingalls Wilder might have bonded with her loving family as they built a little house on the prairie, but also... y'know... DONNER PARTY. That frontier life of unrelenting suckitude is excruciatingly well rendered in Meek's Cutoff, the latest from director Kelly Reichardt and writer Jon Raymond, the duo responsible for two other Oregon-set dramas, 2006's excellent Old Joy and 2008's mope-tacular Wendy and Lucy. Here, Reichardt and Raymond tell the harrowing tale of several pioneers—including Solomon and Emily Tetherow (Will Patton and a great Michelle Williams)—who're lost on the unforgiving Oregon Trail. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
An American documentary about a typically atypical family wracked by everything from the Vietnam War to child abuse, teen pregnancy, poverty, and Wiccaphobia. Rendered in visually beautiful and emotionally aware strokes, it would be a stretch to say this film offers a tremendous amount of hope—but it is a singularly compassionate portrayal of the quirky characters that make our dysfunctional little world go 'round. MARJORIE SKINNER Q Center.
The title kind of says it all. Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Theaters.
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
A documentary portrait of '60s folk singer Phil Ochs. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The latest from impish French director François Ozon is a candy-colored, fun, and wholly insubstantial farce, as easy to sit through as it is to forget. Catherine Deneuve plays the titular trophy wife who takes over her husband's business... and then France itself! Based on a 1970s stageplay, some of the film's feminist politics seem quaint, even if the message is still entirely necessary. Potiche is most notable, however, for its opposing portraits of aging. At 67, Deneuve is still divine; at 62, love-interest Gerard Depardieu is a frightening beast. Their disco dancing is the scariest thing you'll see all year. JAMIE S. RICH Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Queen to Play
A "stylish and sophisticated dramedy of newfound passions and mid-life triumphs, set on the postcard-perfect isle of Corsica." Hear that terrifying noise? It's your mother hyperventilating with excitement. Review forthcoming. Living Room Theaters.
The Red Shoes
The 1948 ballet flick. We heard Natalie Portman didn't dance in this one at all. Cinema 21.
Yum yum yum! Money money money! Mmmmmmmm, money! Grom-grom-gobble-gobble. I love it so much. Money is my food, and I, Bob Weinstein's Wallet (my given name is Todd), am always hungry for more money! Hey, America, show me the money! Ha-ha, that's a movie reference, and also a reference to money, which I am STUFFED WITH THANKS TO MOVIES, THE LIKES OF WHICH I AM NOW REFERENCING! God, I am like the most meta wallet ever. If I were a talking wallet talking about movies in a movie about a talking wallet that was about to make a bunch of money off of the movie Scream 4, I would probably tell you that Scream 4 is the best movie ever. Because it is! GO SEE SCREAM 4. YOUR TODD COMMANDS IT. BOB WEINSTEIN'S WALLET Various Theaters.
This indie action picture by Mulberry Street director Jim Mickle is yet another recasting of the vampire genre. America has fallen to the bloodsuckers, Aryan crazies are making life miserable, and two vampire killers hit the post-apocalyptic highway in search of a mythical oasis where decent folks can get a good night’s sleep. Stake Land doesn’t have an original fang in its body, but that doesn’t mean the bloody fights aren’t hellacious fun. Kill ’em all! JAMIE S. RICH Cinema 21.
Stranded in Canton
The Cinema Project presents Stranded in Canton, which compiles photographer William Eggleston's 1973 footage of Memphis, New Orleans, and Greenwood, Mississippi, filmed on an early portable video camera. "Those were back in the days that everybody liked Quaaludes," Eggleston says by way of introduction; his quick, drunk's-eye character studies—of a handful of booze-swilling, gun-slinging eccentrics—are an exercise in artful voyeurism. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Water for Elephants
A romance featuring the impressively unlikeable pairing of Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Various Theaters.
High-school wrestling might be the un-prettiest sport yet devised by humans, a competition in which pasty adolescent boys, bedecked in unflattering singlets, grapple one another while rolling around a gymnasium floor. Win Win doesn't shy away from this distinctly ugly truth. Director Thomas McCarthy's (The Station Agent) film depicts high-school wrestling in all its painful, gangly, bepimpled awkwardness, and the surprising result is one of the best sports movies in recent years. Of course, Win Win isn't exclusively a "sports movie": There's a bunch of family drama centered around the team's star wrestler, Kyle (Alex Shaffer), but it's one of the film's many strengths that it neatly avoids the sulking and brooding of your typical adolescent-in-trouble flicks. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.