A documentary (of sorts) tracing the real-life, kitchen-sink pathos of prodigious, Thatcher-era playwright Andrea Dunbar and the three young children she left behind at the age of 29. The Arbor beautifully transcends what at first seems like an aesthetic nonstarter: a narrative told through frank, real-life audio interviews painstakingly lip-synced and re-contextualized by a cast of actors. Turns out it's a surprisingly absorbing conceit, and one that melts masterfully into this bleak account of poverty and familial neglect. ZAC PENNINGTON Living Room Theaters.
Beats, Rhymes, AND Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest
See review. Cinema 21.
Cohen/Stratman/Brown: Reflections on Place
Three experimental documentaries: Jem Cohen's Lost Book Found (1996), Deborah Stratman's In Order Not to Be Here (2002), and Bill Brown's Buffalo Common (2002). Films introduced by Matt McCormick. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Cowboys and Aliens
See review. Various Theaters.
Crazy, Stupid Love
See review. Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Warren Beatty's 1990 film of the long-running comic strip. Academy Theater.
The Double Hour
A cross between a psychological thriller and a ghost story, The Double Hour centers around Sonia (Kseniya Rappoport), a lonely chambermaid at a high-end hotel in Turin who hooks up with Guido (Filippo Timi), an ex-cop turned private security guard. In the first of the film's many surprises, their budding romance is cut short by tragedy, and Sonia plunges into further torment and confusion. The film doubles back several times to reveal that things aren't what they have seemed (except when they are) through a series of devices that, while not spectacularly clever, are intriguing enough to keep things going. But the real credit goes to Rappoport and Timi for their magnetizing onscreen presence. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Filmusik: The Grand Duel
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
of the Wasteland
A ridiculous-looking 1982 Italian Road Warrior ripoff, set to live music by the Retake ensemble. Hollywood Theatre.
Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows: Part II
The Deathly Hallows: Part I was a slow-burner that focused on feelings and character development over action. It's a great movie in its own right, and it solidly grounds what we've all been waiting for in Part II: The Battle of Hogwarts, the final showdown of Harry and his friends against the assembled forces of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. It's the climax the whole series has been leading up to, and it's just as thrilling, imaginative, and emotionally gripping as it should be. Just as important, though, is that amid all the wand-fights and Giant battles, there are moments of sweetness, humor, and genuine tragedy—and, of course, the long-awaited make-out scene between Hermione and Ron. FINALLY. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The Invisible Eye
Diego Lerman's 2010 Argentinian drama. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Academy Theater.
The Muppet Movie
See I'm Going Out Hollywood Theatre.
A Cannes-approved Peruvian drama in which a moneylender comes home to find a baby in his house! Quick, call that one apartment in New York where Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson all live! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Watching John Waters' 1972 midnight classic Pink Flamingos is a life-changing experience. With a singing asshole and Divine performing the very first version of Two Girls, One Cup (er, maybe that should be One Dog, One Woman, One Cup, or rather One Dog, One Man Dressed as a Woman, One Sidewalk?), this awesome gross-out film is the ultimate in bad taste. (Ha! That's probably what Divine said!) COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
Unlike most Holocaust dramas, there are no Germans in Sarah's Key. It focuses on the lesser-known horrors committed by the French police who rounded up Jewish families in Paris, storing them in a velodrome without bathrooms and very little water before shipping them off to labor camps and worse. Specifically, it follows the titular 10-year-old girl who locks her little brother in a closet when her family's called, with the intention of keeping him safe. As you can imagine, none of this turns out particularly well, but the drama of Sarah's story easily maintains interest. Less so the modern-day drama of a journalist (Kristin Scott Thomas) poking into all this past as she comes to grips with her own issues. Once Sarah's thread finds resolution, things kind of peter out, but on the whole, you'll be hard-pressed to look away. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
Who knew a 3D film could be so flat? In this shameless digital adaptation of the beloved '80s cartoon, the little blue ones are on the run from the wicked wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria, garbed in a robe that was clearly jacked from a high-school drama department). The Smurfs encounter a portal, which transplants them from the cozy confines of their mushroom homes to the hustle and bustle of modern-day New York City. Neil Patrick Harris plays an overworked professional with a pregnant wife (Jayma Mays of Glee). The film stumbles along with lame dialogue, polished by incorrigibly shiny CGI. And this is part one of a trilogy, folks. JENNA LECHNER Various Theaters.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
"Look deep (no, deeper!) into each other's eyes, emoting with your eyeballs about the never-ending oneness that makes you sisters 'til death do you part!" screams director Wayne Wang. Best friends and blood sisters Snow Flower (Gianna Jun) and Lily (Bingbing Li) do their best—locking eyes and staring, staring, staring for hours, hours, hours at a time into each other's eyes and gently bumping their foreheads together, then taking breaks to look off into the middle distance. "Well, I guess that'll have to do," shrugs Wang, while his 19th century Chinese period piece about BFFs trundles off to take a nap. So much melodrama makes one sleepy. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fox Tower 10.
Terri (Jacob Wysocki) is a mess. He's overweight. He's unpopular. He wears pajamas to school. He's constantly late to class, meaning that he's sent to the vice principal's office so frequently that the vice principal, Mr. Fitzgerald (John C. Reilly), schedules the kid for weekly meetings. This all sounds like fodder for your standard Hallmark-y teacher-student flick, but Terri is a little too strange a movie, and a little too intensely personal, to fit into a formula. If at times it plays like a quirky comedy without any actual laughs, it's also grounded in an unvarnished honesty about human nature that many movies don't dare examine. Yes, it's about feelings and loneliness and all that crap, but Terri's never a bummer and, more importantly, it's never sentimental. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
It's easy to make comparisons of the Norwegian fake-documentary horror-thriller Trollhunter to other fake-documentary horror-thrillers like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. A more apt comparison, though, would be the recent Finnish film Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale, in which Santa Claus was revealed to be a menacing ogre. That movie balanced the comedic and creepy elements of familiar children's stories; Trollhunter similarly plunders a well-worn mythology—trolls are even more common in Scandinavian folktales than they are in our own—and the result is an action-packed monster movie that's entirely silly and wholly suspenseful. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Viva Las Vegas
1964's Elvis/Ann-Margret camp fest, screening as part of the NW Film Center's Top Down summer series. Preceded by live music from Yours. Hotel deLuxe