See review this issue. 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.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams 3D
There's a scene in Werner Herzog's 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams when his guide through the Chauvet Caves instructs the touring party to stand still, be silent, and listen to the pure sound of life deep beneath the Earth. The silence is supposed to be so profound, a man can hear his own heartbeat. The moment ends up being profound for the viewer, as well. Check yourself. I bet you're holding your breath. Until their discovery in 1994, the Chauvet Caves had been buried for tens of thousands of years, their contents preserved as an important historical record of a time long past. Only a handful of scientists are allowed inside, and even they must stay on a walkway barely two feet wide. Herzog being allowed to film inside these caves is a tremendous thing; that he has done so in three dimensions means the rest of us get a virtual tour of this wondrous setting. JAMIE S. RICH Cinema 21.
Directed by Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl, Chuck & Buck), the critical consensus on Cedar Rapids seems to be something along the lines of "Frank Capra's 'aw-shucks' earnestness meets the 'edge' of Apatow"—and if that sounds like just about the most mind-numbingly vanilla bullshit you've ever heard of, you're probably giving it too much credit. ZAC PENNINGTON Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters, Mission Theater.
A Deneuve Dozen
The Northwest Film Center presents a dozen of Catherine Deneuve's films. Series runs through Sunday, May 15. Recommended: 2002's 8 Women, which Jamie S. Rich giddily characterizes as "François Ozon's playful gathering of French cinema stars." See I'm Going Out. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Dr. Butcher M.D.
1980's grindhouse zombie horror flick, also known as Zombie Holocaust, Zombie 3, and Dr. Butcher, Medical Deviate. Hollywood Theatre.
Even the Rain
A Spanish film crew shoots an historical biopic of Christopher Columbus in Bolivia and finds itself in the middle of an uprising. Bolivia's privatization of the country's water supply leaves its impoverished citizens—the film's extras—unable to afford water, and this politically charged film tells a fascinating and story through an unpredictable framework. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
Everything Must Go
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Fast Five starts with a jailbreak (except the jail is a bus tearing down a desert highway!) and ends with a bank heist (except the money being stolen is inside a giant safe that's being dragged by two cars through downtown Rio at like 80 miles per hour!). In between, there are 16 excellent things, including a fight scene between Vin Diesel and The Rock that plays out like two dump trucks repeatedly slamming into each other. ERIK HENRIKSEN 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 Forest Theatre, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall 8.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
The newest adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's oft-adapted book embraces the gothic sensationalism of its source material, playing it straight and spooky, with nary a wink to the audience. Wind and rain whip across the moors, rooms are lit only by candle, and director Cary Fukunaga throws in a few good old-fashioned jump scares, just because he can. It's this commitment to Jane Eyre's gothic side that keeps the film from straying into camp, and keeps it fundamentally entertaining even as it tears through that goofy story: orphan Jane's heartless aunt, her hellish boarding school, her post as a governess where she meets the almost comically virile Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender) and learns his deep, dark secret. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Liberty Theatre, Mission Theater, St. Johns Theater and Pub.
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.
A locally made film that reimagines the denizens of NE Alberta's Last Thursday as victims of a near-future America run by religious fundamentals. Forced to drink coffee and practice paganism in underground, caffeinated speakeasies, this dark comedy follows its dreadlocked protagonists' tribulations with glee and efficacy, if questionable taste. Notable moments include prominent musical interludes from Chervona and a back alley abortion scene that hearkens back to Female Trouble-era John Waters. My eyes! MARJORIE SKINNER Clinton Street Theater.
Mia and the Migoo
The beautifully animated French film is a sweet kids' tale that includes the requisite cast of friendly jungle animals, greedy capitalists, and shape-shifting monsters voiced by Wallace Shawn. In a near-future where global warming is starting to make the world sweat, the Dora the Explorer-esque Mia sets out on a journey to find her father, who got trapped in a tunnel cave-in while building a mega-resort on a pristine coastline. The simplistic characters and wandering script leave Mia and the Migoo without the depth of a Miyazaki or Sylvain Chomet feature, but the story feels secondary to the gorgeous hand-done brushwork that drenches the film in tropical colors and Van Gogh-like landscapes. SARAH MIRK Fox Tower 10.
Of Gods and Men
A film tracing the spiritual struggle of Christian monks in Algeria. These six graying, nearly feeble French men are menaced by a corrupt military and warring Islamic fundamentalists. To stay or go? Based on a true story, Of Gods and Men is monk-like in its serene meditation on peace, piety, and despair. ANDREW R TONRY Laurelhurst Theater.
Todd Haynes' 1991 Sundance favorite, featuring a scorchin' soundtrack from Bell Biv DeVoe. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
POM Wonderful Presents the Greatest Movie Ever Sold
There's nothing inherently wrong with companies advertising their products, and documentarian Morgan Spurlock isn't going to try to tell you otherwise. But as advertising becomes ever more pervasive, and the delivery mechanisms more sophisticated, Spurlock set out to shed some light on the way it functions. POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold investigates the often cloudy intersections of advertising and entertainment. And because we're talking about the filmmaker who famously took on the fast food industry by eating nothing but McDonald's for a month, there's a hook: This documentary about advertising is funded entirely by... advertising. With the same show-don't-tell approach he brought to Super Size Me, Spurlock sets out to create the world's first "documentary blockbuster"—novelty plastic gas station tie-in collectible cups and all. ALISON HALLETT Broadway Metroplex.
Paul Bettany fights vampires in the future or something? Also starring Twilight's Cam Gigandet! Uh, not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
The Princess of Montpensier
A French period romance, not to be confused with the adult film with a very similar title. Living Room Theaters.
Cinema Project presents a 16-part series from the Pacific Film Archive that explores "the themes, movements, and history of alternative film and video in the Bay Area." Curator Steve Seid and artist Loren Sears in attendance. More info: cinemaproject.org. Clinton Street Theater.
Red White & Blue
A surprising film—sophisticated, harrowing, neon-hued, and darkly ambiguous. Erica (Amanda Fuller, AKA Eve from Buffy) is an enigma, a sexually charged bar girl looking for her next conquest, but she's also harboring a deep fucked-up well of emotions under that tough Texas girl exterior. Nearly wordless, Red White & Blue follows her one-night stands in Austin and her hard-luck living sitch, overseen by her creepy neighbor (Noah Taylor) who takes an avid interest in her. But nothing is quite what you expect; with all its flawed characters and moral spirals, this is a trip on the dark side. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
See My, What a Busy Week! Laurelhurst Theater.
"By night's end, I predict me and her will interface." Academy Theater.
Do not attempt this one without Xanax and martinis. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Sound + Vision Fest
A three-night series focusing on "new or existing collaborations between musicians and filmmakers." Films on Thursday, May 12, are curated by Some Days Are Better Than Others' Matt McCormick; films on Friday, May 13 are curated by Portlandia's Carrie Brownstein; Lance Bangs curates the proceedings on Saturday, May 14, which will include a work-in-progress short from Michel Gondry and a short film directed by Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn. Hollywood Theatre.
Duncan Jones' latest, Source Code, shares some thematic similarities with his striking 2009 debut, Moon—this film, it so happens, is also about an isolated guy who's at the mercy of technology and those who wield it—but it has little of the freshness and originality that made Moon remarkable. Despite a few creepy sci-fi touches, Source Code is a vague, competent, and utterly forgettable thriller. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
If the moral of Sucker Punch is "Girls rule!"—and I'm pretty sure it is, unless it's "Watching scantily clad chicks fight steampunk zombie Nazis is significantly more boring than one would expect"—it's weird that the way co-writer/director Zack Snyder tells it is to treat his characters like punching bags for sexual and psychological abuse. To be fair (uh, I guess?), Snyder's had more explicit rape scenes in his other films—both 300 and Watchmen had chunks of sordid ick—but Sucker Punch might be the first time he's based an entire narrative, such as it is, on the conceit that women are super easy to beat the crap out of. (Unless they're fighting robots, that is—then they rule! Especially if they're wearing miniskirts!) ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater.
Thor is summer pop, and those seeking anything more are likely to be disappointed, but what makes it work—what makes it such a great example of pop done right—is Kenneth Branagh's keen direction and his cast's solid performances. Predictably, Branagh ladles out plenty of Shakespeare, Siddhartha, and Excalibur parallels; somewhat less predictably, he proves adept at capturing the epic scope, rumbling action, and good-hearted humor that justify seeing a movie like this on a big screen. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Water for Elephants
A romance featuring the impressively unlikeable pairing of Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Various Theaters.
White Irish Drinkers
Writer/director John Gray's White Irish Drinkers isn't so much about drinking as it's about drinking's aftermath: Dad (Stephen Lang, scarier here than he was in Avatar) comes home blitzed and kicks the shit out of son Danny (Geoffrey Wigdor), who in turn bullies younger brother Brian (Nick Thurston). But White Irish Punchers doesn't have the same ring. Trapped in a miserable-looking 1975 Brooklyn, Brian is secretly a gentle creator of watercolor paintings, but there's no room for his delicate talent in this family; his predictable search for a way out turns Drinkers into a movie-of-the-week. NED LANNAMANN Living Room 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.
A list of things you should probably like if you're going to see Your Highness: Dungeons & Dragons, The Lord of the Rings and/or The Hobbit, Labyrinth, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and/or Xena: Warrior Princess, BeastMaster, weed, boobs, van art, dick jokes. If you're not into that stuff, congrats on how mature you are about penises! If you do own a couple 20-sided dice, though—perhaps you keep them secret, keep them safe, in that hollowed-out copy of The Silmarillion where you also keep your weed?—then hey, maybe give Your Highness a shot. ERIK HENRIKSEN Bagdad Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater.