See review this issue. Various Theatres.
Sergei Eisenstein pretty much invented cinematic language in his 1925 silent film about rebellion on a Russian cruiser, but don't mistake watching Potemkin as akin to reading a textbook—it's as stirring today as it was nearly a century ago. The dizzying battle sequences and iconic riot on the Odessa stairs (you've seen it ripped off hundreds of times) turned what would've otherwise been a standard propaganda film into tension-filled art. Fully restored with its original score, this 35mm print is a rare chance to see a masterpiece in public with all the P-town Bolsheviks. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Sergei Eisenstein series, along with Strike (1925), October (1928), Bezhin Meadow (1937), Ivan the Terrible Part I (1944) and Part II (1958), and Alexander Nevsky (1938). JAMIE S. RICH Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A Puppeteer's Journey
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
The 1908 death of Butch Cassidy and his partner-in-crime the Sundance Kid has been a source of debate for decades, but it's best to take Blackthorn as a kind of Eli Cash-style redrafting of a spotty historical record. A loveably grizzled Sam Shepard plays James Blackthorn, the assumed identity taken up by Cassidy after the Bolivian Army has declared him dead. Although there's plenty of bullets and betrayal, Blackthorn remains primarily a patient, thoughtful character study. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
The Catechism Cataclysm
Starring Steve Little (Stevie on the always-excellent Eastbound & Down), The Catechism Cataclysm is a totally fucked-up road movie that never works out like you'd expect, partly because hardly any of it takes place on the road. Instead, Father Billy (Little)—who tells his handful of confused parishioners long, rambling stories with no discernable point, leaves comments like "LOL!!!!" on YouTube videos when he should be doing his catechism studies, and occasionally lets out profoundly sad little revelations like "I've never been happy"—awkwardly reunites with Robbie Shoemaker (Robert Longstreet), a man who once dated Billy's older sister. For years, Billy's idolized Robbie from afar; now, he's somehow tricked Robbie into going on a long canoe ride with him, and he finds out that Robbie—once a badass rocker with literary ambitions—now tours around the country as a spotlight operator for the Ice Capades, festering over how his life went wrong. So: These two guys, in a boat, on a slow river. And then there's a man who can't die, and a man entombed in the concrete support of an overpass—he survives off of Cheetos that are slid through a tiny breathing hole—and an awkward pee puddle. And then there are the giggling Japanese girls, and then shit gets really weird. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theatres.
Eames: The Architect
and the Painter
Charles Eames sure does get a lot of credit for his admittedly awesome design legacy. But didya know that his wife Ray Eames had just as big of a hand in their über-hip furniture, advertising, and filmmaking studio? She was the quieter, less charismatic artist of the bunch, and the documentary Eames: The Architect and the Painter aims to set the record straight about her contribution. While this too-brief doc has plenty of thoughtful interviews and good stories about both the Eameses, the film has an insidery, cursory tone that often fails to set up or follow through on interesting stories and tidbits about the couple's work and personal lives. It makes for a frustrating film, but one that design nerds should probably check out for its great archival footage. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
Hicksploitation Double Feature
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theatres.
In which Greek gods fight in slow-motion. A lot. Various Theatres.
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 Theatres.
Into the Abyss
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Clint Eastwood starred in two movies with an orangutan called Clyde. J. Edgar Hoover apparently spent the bulk of his life in love with a man named Clyde, who also happened to be an associate director at the FBI. I don't have a punchline for this. I just think it's a funny coincidence. Okay, maybe not that funny—but J. Edgar, Eastwood's biopic of the legendary FBI director, is so self-consciously serious that you have to take levity wherever you find it. JAMIE S. RICH Various Theatres.
Kill All Redneck Pricks: A Documentary Film about a Band Called KARP
That title's kind of self-explanatory, yeah? Hollywood Theatre.
An unflinchingly honest portrayal of intense young love—and its frequent collaborator, carelessness. Ponderously shot and marked by tasteful montages and scenes of uneasily intimate pillow play, there's much to praise technically, including strong performances from Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. Boundary-testing truthfulness is Like Crazy's best attribute, however—lacking as it is of insight or any level of intrigue sufficient to sustain sympathy for its protagonists. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
A Lonely Place to Die
Both surprising and engrossing, taking elements of Deliverance, The Descent, and the best of extreme rock-climbing porn to make a mostly successful thriller mélange. British director Julian Gilbey's film puts five intrepid rock climbers in the remote wilds of the Scottish highlands, where they find a terrifying-looking pipe in the ground—and from that buried pipe comes the sound of a young girl screaming. Spooky, no? COURTNEY FERGUSON Hollywood Theatre.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
"What is wrong with you?" That's the refrain directed at Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) with increasing urgency over the course of director Sean Durkin's first feature. College-aged Martha has just run away from a cult in the Catskills after a two-year absence from her former life. Taking shelter with her concerned sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy), she finds it increasingly difficult to readjust to normal life: She skinny dips in front of Ted, she plops down on the bed while he and Lucy are having sex, and she accuses them of materialism even as she freeloads off their generosity. There's a sense that this arresting, moodily beautiful film doesn't quite know what to do with itself, and the narrative calls it quits just as another chapter appears poised to unfold. At first, the finish feels too abrupt—but when it sinks in, its ambiguity feels like a perfect reflection of its central character's guiding conundrum. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Various Theatres.
My Week with Marilyn
There’s a scene in The Prince and the Showgirl—which is the movie that the memoir-based My Week With Marilyn concerns—in which Marilyn Monroe throws a raincoat off a balcony. It’s a tiny moment, but it’s just great: You could watch Marilyn Monroe throw a raincoat off a balcony all day long. Watching her act, generally badly, in the generally bad The Prince and the Showgirl is not the pinnacle of cinematic experience, but it is better than watching Michelle Williams attempt to portray her in My Week With Marilyn. No one should ever try to play Marilyn Monroe. The entire point of Marilyn Monroe is that she possessed an ineffable thing that none of the rest of us ever will (call it an F-able thing, if you want to be rude). Williams isn’t even especially terrible at it, though the breathiness and the moues do get mighty tedious; she’s just a failure, as she is doomed to be. BETHANY JEAN CLEMENT Fox Tower 10.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
The Skin I Live In
With his provocative new film, Pedro Almodóvar runs with the idea that Frankenstein's monster would be much more disturbing if sex were involved. This notion proves very, very correct. It'd be a laughable understatement to describe The Skin I Live In as "not for everyone"—it's strange, disturbing, and utterly unflinching in its literal deconstruction of gender and selfhood. But Almodóvar also baits this trap seductively—every surface is elegant and crisp, every shot so artfully composed that even the most grotesque medical footage has an undeniable beauty, and it's all leavened with a lurid smear of melodrama that plays with the line between horror and camp. ALISON HALLETT City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
The Sundance Shorts Program
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
For a film that stars some very funny people—Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, and Eddie Murphy—Tower Heist is surprisingly... not so funny. In fact, the first quarter is an exposition-filled snore fest until Murphy thankfully joins the mix. This is when lift-off finally occurs, and the scenes and its players zing with electric comic timing and chemistry... until we have to return to the plot, at which point, Tower Heist once again wilts on the vine. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theatres.
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.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part I
I had some high hopes for Breaking Dawn, as author Stephenie Meyer's "literary" ode to not giving it up finally loses its case of blue balls in this final book of the series. Bella (Kristen Stewart, human, wet rag) and Edward (Robert Pattinson, red-eyed, sparkly vampire, slightly crusty) finally get to home base. Which should be way more exciting than this terrible schmaltzy emo crap film makes it—in the book, Edward rams it home so hard the bed shatters and Bella ends up black and blue. That also happens here in Oscar Award-winning director Bill Condon's film (who's reached an unfathomable low since 1998's great Gods and Monsters), but it's more like Edward gently tucks it in, delicately breaks off a bedpost, then mopes about Bella's bruises for a couple weeks, opting for silent games of chess instead of hot sex on their tropical honeymoon. Glad you two kids waited 'til marriage. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theatres.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
Look, I'm not going to convince you that AVH&KXMas3D is must-see comedy, nor would I try to, but it does a decent job balancing half-assed vulgar wordplay with a gleefully outlandish plot. It's probably best enjoyed in 25-minute chunks on cable, but if you're stoned with nothing to do and looking for a giggle, you'll find it. Plus, it's got Patton Oswalt and Brett Gelman and Danny Trejo in a Christmas sweater, and I would argue any of those three things are added value to any movie. And that's to say nothing of "Wafflebot," the finest stoner-comedy sidekick since the robot falcon in Your Highness. What can I say, I'm a sucker for robot sidekicks. VINCE MANCINI Various Theatres.
Women on the 6th Floor
Philippe Le Guay's film in which "a conservative couple's lives are turned upside down by two Spanish maids." Fox Tower 10.