See review (sort of) this issue. Various Theaters.
Attack the Block
Executive produced by Edgar Wright—the guy behind Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Spaced, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World—first-time director Joe Cornish's debut is fantastically clever and relentlessly funny. Like all great monster movies, it's got bit of social commentary slyly poking its head out from the shadows; if you can see past the mangy, jet-black fur and phosphorescent fangs of Attack the Block's aliens, you'll find a fair amount to think about. But—again, like all great monster movies—if you'd rather just roll with it, and simply have a better time in a theater than you've had in entirely too long? That works too. ERIK HENRIKSEN Lloyd Center 10 Cinema.
Bobby Fischer Against the World
A documentary that explores Bobby Fischer's extremely complicated inner world and the razor-thin line between genius and psychosis. Tons of archival footage and interviews with cohorts, competitors, and Fischer himself tell his story, which could've played out like a cerebral Rocky—if the chess champion's own magnificent mind hadn't turned so viciously against him. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Living Room Theaters, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
What Psycho did for showers? What Jaws did for the ocean? Contagion does that for EVERY SINGLE THING YOU COULD POSSIBLY IMAGINE. Do you talk to people? Do you touch things? Do you go places, like "rooms" or "outside"? Do you eat or breathe? Because Contagion will ruin all of these things. It will turn you into one of those sad, lonely freaks who carries a little thing of Purell with them wherever they go, and whenever you touch or smell anything, or come within 20 feet of anyone, you will see your own corpse: your dull, dark eyes; your pale, rubbery skin; your cold lips, crusty with snotty, dried-up froth. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Dial M for Murder 3D
Yes, that is Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder playing in old-school, 35mm 3D at Cinema 21 this week. No, it's not a post-millennial up-convert. Red-and-blue glasses were all the rage in 1954 when Hitch made Murder, and ever the master showman, he embraced the trend. JAMIE S. RICH Cinema 21.
I don't know if you will love Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive like I do. It's a Frankensteined thing—part revenge flick, part western, part noir, part heist movie, part car commercial, part music video, part SWEET CHRIST I DID NOT EXPECT THAT SPLATTERED BIT OF BRUTAL ULTRA-VIOLENCE. Each of Drive's parts slides slickly into my brain's receptors. There's one way to find out if it'll do the same thing to you, and I would recommend trying it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Electric Daisy Carnival
"An inside peek into the dazzling world of electronic music culture," featuring performances from Moby and a (possibly holographic?) Will.I.Am, as well as "a special tribute to DJ AM." #RIPDJAM. Hollywood Theatre.
Fix: The Ministry Movie
A doc about industrial rockers Ministry. Narrated by Bea Arthur. #RIPB Clinton Street Theater.
I Don't Know How She Does It
I wish Hollywood would stop pretending that rich people's problems are real problems. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Jackpot Film Festival
Jackpot Records' annual lineup of music documentaries, this year featuring The Agony and Ecstasy of Phil Spector, Upside Down: The Creation Records Story, their "Psych Night" collection of "tripped-out obscurities," and more. More info: jackpotrecords.com. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Hustle
"Axe Gang, my ass!" Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
My Afternoons With Marguerite
The absolutely delightful, rosily hued little distraction that is My Afternoons with Margueritte has urinarily challenged French actor Gérard Depardieu as an overweight, functionally illiterate small towner who lives in a trailer near his abusive, batshit mother, and whose friends treat him with affectionate condescension. As if cute French girls were rationed out like an equitable social service, he also has an improbably adorable, much-younger girlfriend. His relationship with her, however, pales against that he shares with a tiny old woman who reads Camus to him in the park while they exchange niceties about naming pigeons, and bring flowers for teatime. Ugh. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
My Own Private River
See My, What a Busy Week! Director James Franco and Gus Van Sant in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
Pearl Jam Twenty
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
"For some miraculous reason, it's a wonderful feeling having a teacher you've seen dance naked in front of a mirror." Suzette.
Rhythms and Rhymes I and II
Cinema Project presents rare works from German Super 8 filmmaker Helga Fanderl, who will be in attendance to answer all your questions about the monster in J.J. Abrams' Super 8. More info: cinemaproject.org. Clinton Street Theater.
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, Hollywood Theatre.
Shut Up, Little Man!
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation
The Spike & Mike fest just keeps on happening, year after year, so somebody must be going. More info: spikeandmike.com. Cinema 21.
This remade Straw Dogs is actually a decent movie, it's just wholly unnecessary. Director Rod Lurie, best known for political fare like The Contender, has crafted a strict cover version of Sam Peckinpah's more provocative masterpiece. He's aiming for Faulknerian hothouse drama, shooting the picture like it's Scorsese's Cape Fear because, well, Scorsese got away with remaking a famous movie, so he clearly knows something. The problem is, Lurie wants to deal in moral ambiguities, but his stock-in-trade is absolutes. JAMIE S. RICH Various Theaters.
Winds of Heaven
A portrait of Canadian painter Emily Carr. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
World on a Wire
Those unfamiliar with German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder need not shy away: 1973's World on a Wire is a well-paced, gloriously shot sci-fi thriller with a pulpy center. In the early '70s, the Institute of Cybernetics runs a supercomputer dubbed Simulacron, an artificial world with "identity units"—people who aren't real. Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch), promoted to technical director after his mentor's mysterious death, is confronted by weird happenings and suspicious figures as he fights corporate interest in the program and uncovers a broad conspiracy. Not-so-surprise ending: computer programs are totes unethical. WILL "THE INTERN" ELDER Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.