Am I the only one that feels a bit jaded about the whole "did he or didn't he" debate about whether William Shakespeare wrote the canon attributed to him? It's a chestnut we dust off as frequently as "Did aliens build the pyramids?" But I suppose it makes sense to have bombastic disaster director Roland Emmerich (2012, Independence Day, Godzilla) delve into the Bard conspiracy in Anonymous in much the same way as he delivered Stargate: Sure, it's full of hokum, but it's also got its merits. This is a silly story with scant facts, but it's still a frothy potboiler with mistaken identities and twisty conspiracy thrills. COURTNEY FERGUSON 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 Mission Theater.
Certifiably Yours: Films from the School of Film
New work from students at the Northwest Film Center's School of Film. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Dear God No!
A nü-grindhouse flick. After a biker gang's "tri-state rape and murder spree" ends in a massacre, the remaining members find shelter in a cabin in the woods. "A living nightmare of depravity and violence" ensues. Clinton Street Theater.
I loved, loved, LOVED Footloose in 1984. I made my parents listen to the soundtrack on road trips 'til my mom threatened to throw Loggins & Co. out the car window somewhere near Canada. It was all about that awesome end scene in the mill when the kids took turns showboating down the dance line, with improbable amounts of confetti spraying everywhere like some '80s Lisa Frank dream! Well, I'm here to say that director Craig Brewer did not ruin my pubescent wankfest with his remake of Footloose. Dare I say... this new one's fun. Brewer (director of dirty South flicks Hustle & Flow and Black Snake Moan) takes the premise of the original—city boy moves to backward town where they don't allow dancing—and adds layers of context and backstory while stripping away the goofy dated bits. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
A dramedy from Norway! Living Room Theaters.
A film set in the near future, when everyone stops aging at 25. The good news: Everyone is super pretty! The bad news: Time is currency. Once you hit 25, a digital watch on your forearm starts counting down. Once your time runs out, you die. A latte costs four minutes. A sports car costs 50 years. And unless you come from a family with eons of stored-up time, you're left scrambling for seconds to add to your ever-diminishing clock. As he did in his great 1997 film Gattaca—hey, look, another high-concept dystopia full of beautiful people!—writer/director Andrew Niccol taps into a clever premise and runs with it. Not everything about In Time works—there are some clunky moments and a few logic jumps—but in general, this thing's witty, fun, and snappy. Also, it's totally about how busted our economic systems are! And about how rich people can be dicks. And about how Justin Timberlake can save us! ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A concert film about Sigur Rós. Living Room Theaters.
Set at a Goldman Sachs-like investment firm just before the financial collapse, Margin Call features an old boy's club of showy, competent actors (Stanley Tucci, as always, is perfect, and Jeremy Irons plays the CEO with his menacing rolled r's and weary grace). In the beginning, attractive guys in expensive suits say "Fuck me!" in exasperated tones while staring at computers. Then comes the exposition, with characters telling each other to dumb it down for them. And in the end, everyone rationalizes their part in the whole mess. Margin Call really shines in the last bit, where a feral Paul Bettany explains that traders are the heroes who make the excesses of the western world possible until they suddenly become the villains. The movie couldn't be better-timed, but anyone looking for usable information should watch Inside Job instead. As far as heartfelt quests for the soul of a salesman go, this is a well-put-together but ultimately unexceptional entry. PAUL CONSTANT Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The Mill and The Cross
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
New German Cinema
Three contemporary German films presented by the Northwest Film Center: Vincent Wants to Sea, Lila: My Words, My Lies, My Love, and The Poll Diaries. More info: nwfilm.org. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Puss in Boots
Shrek's loveable kitty pal gets his own movie! Everything about Western culture is fucking awful. Various Theaters.
The Alfred Hitchcock/James Stewart classic from 1954. (Also see the remake, Disturbia, starring this generation's very own Jimmy Stewart, Mr. Shia LaBeouf.) Laurelhurst Theater.
Revenge of the Electric Car
See review this issue. Director in attendance for 7, 7:30, and 9:30 shows on Friday, November 4. Hollywood Theatre.
The Rum Diary
Based on the trailers, one could scarcely be blamed for thinking The Rum Diary was going to be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas all over again. There stands Johnny Depp, after all, starring as another shade of Hunter S. Thompson in a trashed hotel room with bloodshot eyes. But Diary—based on the early novel Thompson abandoned until its eventual publication in the '90s—is only somewhat autobiographical, and its dedication to its characters' extremes of alcohol consumption is given stiff competition from the story's real meat—that of a writer finding his guiding light. For all its roughhouse antics, Diary's an earnest, somewhat naïve transmission of the reckless young reporter Thompson once was. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
The Skin I Live In
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Take Shelter is pretty goddamn intense, largely because it sucks you inside the stuttering consciousness of the taciturn, tense Curtis (Michael Shannon), a 35-year-old blue-collar worker in small-town Ohio who starts having some pretty goddamn intense dreams. Writer/director Jeff Nichols has a clever, merciless eye for what'll most effectively poke at and twist an audience; if nothing else, Take Shelter is a convincing trip into the head of someone who may or may not be going insane. Rooted deep inside Curtis, Nichols' film shudders with a propulsion powered by more than the sum of its parts: In chunks, Curtis' challenges seem manageable. In total, they're devastating. Some distracting CG aside, Nichols renders Curtis' fragmenting life in a way that's jarring, wearying, and heartbreakingly realistic. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
An SUV full of douchey college kids sets off into the woods for a camping trip in the Appalachians. They stop at a backwoods store. And there, at the creepy yokel Plaid Pantry, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil begins its supreme send-up of the horror genre. Director/writer Eli Craig's first feature blends broad (and hysterical) slapstick with tons of gross gore, loveable characters, and a genius upside-down riff on a horror trope. COURTNEY FERGUSON Laurelhurst Theater.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
Harold and Kumar return for a very special Christmas episode. Not screened in time for press; see portlandmercury.com for our review. Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Twenty-first century romance on the screen is begging for redrawing of its genre lines, and newcomer Andrew Haigh might be the one to do it. Reminiscent of the films of Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Meek's Cutoff, that insufferable one about the poor chick and her dog), Weekend is a work of grace and introspection, but one that's always present and candid. The space between expectation and reality guides Haigh's narrative, which follows two young British men who, after a boozed-up one-night stand, tenuously further their intimacy. WILL "THE INTERN" ELDER Living Room Theaters.