30 Minutes or Less
In 30 Minutes or Less, Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer attempts to make a comedy out of the story of two sociopaths who kidnap a pizza boy, strap a bomb to him, and force him to rob a bank (something similar happened in real life, but ended when the bomb guy got his head blown off while he begged the police to help him). It's a dark, intriguing idea, and something I'd want to watch, especially with this cast—which makes it painful to see it drowned in schmucky riffing. Almost immediately, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that telling a funny story is different than telling a story in which every character tells 50 jokes a minute like Shecky Greene. VINCE MANCINI Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Lloyd Mall 8.
The Adults in the Room
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
John Sayles' wartime drama about the 1899-1902 Philippine-American War. Hollywood Theatre.
What's this? A crappy-looking PG-13 horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
A screening of 1994's non-classic Immortal Combat ("Rowdy Roddy Piper and Sonny Chiba star as Mayan priests reincarnated as L.A. buddy cops on a mission to take out an immortal beefcake sweatpants army") with special-made bingo cards so you can spot the B-movie clichés to win prizes. Hollywood Theatre.
"How am I immature?" "Well, emotionally, sexually, and intellectually." "Yeah, but what other ways?" Suzette.
Bellflower is unique, ambitious, and exciting, but at the end of the day, it doesn't say anything more revelatory than "bros before hos." MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Hollywood has traditionally done a terrible job representing female friendships, so much so that in the lexicon of cinematic relationships, "bromance" almost seems the most fitting term to describe the rapport between Annie (Kristen Wiig) and her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). They make lewd jokes, get drunk together, and seem to actually enjoy one another's company—but when Lillian gets engaged, unstable Annie proves ill equipped to handle her maid-of-honor duties. She's soon locked in a jealous power struggle with gorgeous alpha-bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne), and a love triangle of sorts emerges as Annie and Helen bitterly vie for Lillian's affection. But Bridesmaids is too smart to let girl-on-girl hostility win the day. In fact, the very concept of a "mean girl" is among the chick-flick tropes that Bridesmaids gives a good hard shake. Not every joke lands, but enough do, and the always-likeable Wiig—herself something of a perennial bridesmaid—proves fully capable of carrying a film. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
I doubt this is much of a shock, but Colombiana sucks. To be fair, it sucks the same way a Jason Statham movie sucks. So if you find yourself cheering when a burly bald man strangles another man with an oily T-shirt, why not a hot chick murdering dirtbags with a toothbrush? JAMIE S. RICH Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Devil's Double
Starring Dominic Cooper as both Uday Hussein and his double, Latif Yahia (and based on the true story, as written by Yahia), The Devil's Double is a series of dramatic "beats" that, without believable connective tissue, plays like a dictator-porn greatest hits record. Look at him drive cars! Look at him bang whores! Look at him crash cars and kill whores and laugh and laugh! This movie is like Entourage's id. VINCE MANCINI Mission Theater.
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark has Guillermo del Toro's fingerprints all over it. But those brilliant fingers were in a dozen other pies when he was originally slated to helm Dark, so he handed the directing duties over to first-timer Troy Nixey. And boy, does it have elements right out of The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth: the exploration of a creepy new home, spooky set pieces, a child in a supernatural thrall, neglectful parents. While Dark never hits the highs of a true del Toro picture, it's a pretty decent facsimile. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
1985's Fright Night wasn't perfect, but it made up for its flaws with solid pacing, a good number of scary-for-their-time thrills, and inspired performances from Chris Sarandon as Jerry the Vampire (yes... Jerry) and Roddy F'ing McDowall as a vampire slayer. As you can probably guess, I dug the hell out of it. So imagine my surprise when a remake from the director of Mr. Woodcock ended up being pretty goddamned fun. Credit largely goes to a lean script from Marti Noxon (Buffy, Angel, Mad Men), who takes the bones of the original plot and decorates them with enough new twists that this new film stands on its own. Noxon and director Craig Gillespie have spackled up the old plot holes (though they missed a few new ones), replaced the goofy old practical effects with goofy new digital ones, and, recognizing that no one is afraid of vamps anymore, jettisoned most of the horror and replaced it with action. (Car chase? Check. 'Spolsions? Yup.) TED DOUGLASS Various Theaters.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Aging rich kid Eric (Jason Sudeikis) has thrown countless parties at his dad's beach house in the Hamptons, so when Dad (Don Johnson) decides to sell the house, Eric and his seven closest coed buddies decide to throw the final blowout-to-end-all-blowouts. Naturally, this involves them all having sex with each other. While the preposterous and decidedly unsexy A Good Old Fashioned Orgy certainly isn't good (lord no, it is not), it's also not as abjectly terrible as it might have been, largely due to a dopey, surprisingly naïve tone and one or two decent laughs. NED LANNAMANN Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing.
"First you gotta do the truffle shuffle." Laurelhurst Theater.
A new Irish film directed by John Michael McDonagh. Brendan Gleeson plays Sergeant Gerry Boyle, a cop drifting along the surface of small-town crime fighting, lifting drugs from crime scenes and generally pursuing incompetence as the most convenient course of action. Cue the entrance of a relentlessly competent FBI agent (Don Cheadle) who provides an odd-couple foil for the provincial, kinda-racist Gerry. The plot lands somewhere between Hot Fuzz and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call—New Orleans, but like those films, The Guard is defined by a sense of humor that's all its own. ALISON HALLETT Cinemagic, Fox Tower 10.
The maladroit love child of Remember the Titans and Eat, Pray, Love, conceived during a drunken and misguided romp behind the bushes at a child's birthday party. Would-be journalist Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelas (Emma Stone) comes home from college wanting to change the world, but instead finds herself writing a cleaning column in the local daily, playing endless rounds of bridge, and hunting for a husband. After hearing one of her friends insist that black servants use separate bathrooms from their white employers, an incensed Skeeter decides to collect and publish the accounts of the help to shove the intolerance of the white richesse right back in their faces. The film wants to be a portrait of racism, bigotry, and child neglect in Civil Rights-era Mississippi. Instead, it is just boring. KATHERINE LONG Various Theaters.
A selection of short documentaries made by students in the NW Documentary Workshop, featuring live music by Kory Quinn and the Comrades. More info: nwdocumentary.org. Mission Theater.
You won't find a more intimate or more frustrating portrait of urban violence in America than The Interrupters, which follows a year in the lives of a group trying to stop the epidemic cycle of youth violence on Chicago's streets. The filmmakers—Hoop Dreams director Steve James and journalist Alex Kotlowitz—embed themselves with a cadre of reformed gang members and drug lords who now spend their long days and longer nights trying to stop angry teens from shooting each other over offhand insults and $5 bags of weed. SARAH MIRK Hollywood Theatre.
Keiko: The Untold Story
A documentary about Keiko, the captive orca who starred as "Willy" in Free Willy. So like Free Willy, except incredibly depressing. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Life in a Day
"A user-generated feature-length documentary film, shot on a single day, July 24, 2010." Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
The Man Who Fell to Earth
Thomas Jerome Newton wasn't the first role David Bowie had played—he'd been hiding behind characters like Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust since the beginning of his music career—but The Man Who Fell to Earth was Bowie's first major film role, and it's so ideally suited that it's difficult to tell where the actor ends and Newton begins. Bowie's unearthly gauntness and mismatched eyes already made him look alien-like, but when Newton reveals himself to his earthling girlfriend, Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), stripping off his nipples, contact lenses, and genitalia, it's one of the creepiest moments in science-fiction history. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
Our Idiot Brother
Like any non-crazy woman, Paul Rudd can reliably moisten my panties. I will watch any movie he's in. While I love my husband, I... I mean, Paul Rudd! Such a dreamboat. He can't not be charming and loveable. That said, Our Idiot Brother is not the panty-moistening star vehicle it could have been. Even Rudd's dreamy eyes don't twinkle enough to make up for lazy writing. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow
A documentary about German sculptor Anselm "Kiefin' It Real" Kiefer. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
There's goofiness here, no doubt ("Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" says that kid who plays Draco Malfoy, all but winking at the camera), but compared to its predecessors, Rise is damn near restrained in its refusal to get too ridiculous with its ridiculous concept. This thing's first third plays out like a bizarre drama (awww, a lovable baby chimp helping an old man with Alzheimer's!), its second like a tense thriller (is it just me, or is that formerly lovable chimp starting to look kinda... sketchy?), and its final third is a sizzle reel of violent, screeching monkey chaos. (EEEEE! EEEEEE! OH SWEET GOD THEY'VE LEARNED HOW TO USE SPEARS! EEEEE! GORILLA VERSUS HELICOPTER! EEEE! EEEEEEE!) I would watch this movie again right this very second. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Over the angry, desperate whine of open-throttled Formula One engines, Senna blisters with a jarring intensity. Asif Kapadia's documentary follows the career of determined F1 racer Ayrton Senna—a little-known figure here, given America's general preference for hillbilly-pandering NASCAR, but a national hero in his native Brazil. Senna's career was, to say the least, impressive: After starting off as a speed-obsessed rich kid zipping around goofy little racetracks on goofy little karts, Senna's skill eventually landed him a spot on the McLaren Formula One team, where he'd go on to win three F1 World Championships by the time he was 31. Years later, any look at Senna's career is one that can't help but include highs, lows, and a dark sense of foreboding—but where Kapadia's Senna succeeds is in how immediately visceral it makes these proceedings. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
Seven Days In Utopia
A Jesus-y golf movie. Review forthcoming. Various Theaters.
What's this? A crappy-looking PG-13 horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
In his new documentary, Errol Morris finds perhaps his most entrancing subject yet: Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen whose post-pageant life has led her, inexorably and repeatedly, into tabloid scandal. These scandals span continents and decades, and they involve such crazy twists that I'm tempted to avoid all spoilers and just order interested parties to the cinema. But the notion of spoilers doesn't really apply to plot points that played out in the international media, so here's a short, relatively surprise-preserving synopsis: As a young woman, McKinney fell head over heels in love with a young man, a Mormon missionary-in-training who was soon sent overseas. In McKinney's mind, her fiancé had been kidnapped by a cult, and she promptly set about rescuing him—hiring a team of helpers for an international rescue effort that saw McKinney & Co. track her "kidnapped" lover to the UK, which resulted in criminal charges and vast tabloid interest in the "Mormon sex-in-chains case." This is just the tip of the Tabloid iceberg, which cracks and fractures into an array of contradictory narratives. DAVID SCHMADER Living Room Theaters.
Sergio Bianchi's 2009 Brazilian film that "excavates society's fear of and fascination with violence." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Tree of Life
With The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick's created a film that embodies the best and worst of his tendencies. I'd tell you what it's about, but it's kind of about everything: Cosmic and daring and intimate and insightful, it straddles, dodders, and occasionally trips along the thin black line between glorious success and well-intentioned failure. It ranges from dourly introspective familial drama to life-and-death struggles between dinosaurs, spanning eons and species and the tiny distances between people. Sometimes it works, beautifully and boldly and with Old Testament-style grandeur; sometimes it feels like a deleted scene from Jurassic Park. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
In 2005's Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon played fictionalized versions of themselves. They're reunited, along with director Michael Winterbottom, for The Trip, a six-episode BBC series that's been edited into a two-hour feature for American audiences. It's an odd duck of a movie, and an episodic and generally plotless one, with heavy reliance on improvised scenes between Coogan and Brydon. It helps that the two are both scaldingly hilarious, but one wonders why Winterbottom, always a fearless and provocative director, made the concession to cobble the TV series into a feature—especially during the DVD age, when American audiences are able to appreciate British programs (programmes?) like The Office and Doctor Who in full. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
A Walk to Beautiful
A documentary about five Ethiopian women with obstetric fistula. Screens as a benefit for OHSU's Global Women's Health Initiative. Hollywood Theatre.
Decades before grunge put Seattle on the musical map, the Emerald City had a thriving soul scene in the '60s and '70s. That music was nearly forgotten, but this charming, fascinating documentary interviews dozens of musicians from the era to provide a rich history of some overlooked, truly dope sounds. NED LANNAMANN
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
See My, What a Busy Week! Bagdad Theater.