The Adventures of Tintin
If you're familiar with Hergé's Tintin books, you already know they're filled with adventure, crazy syntax, and hilarious broad comedy. And while Steven Spielberg unsurprisingly packs The Adventures of Tintin with adventure, the film's humor falls surprisingly flat—most likely because of Spielberg's quest for visual perfection. While the computer animation is leaps and bounds better than Robert Zemeckis' über-creepy stuff like The Polar Express, Spielberg lovingly focuses nearly every frame on the extreme realism of the characters and surroundings—so much so that I missed hefty chunks of exposition while studying Tintin's pores. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Michel Hazanavicius likes trying on different eras for size. Known primarily for OSS 117, his cheeky parody of 1960s spy movies, the French director's gotten more serious, and consequently more charming, with his latest. The Artist is the story of a silent film actor in decline, told as an actual silent film. It sounds gimmicky, and sort of is, but the sincerity of the delivery and the attention to detail make for a winning re-creation of a bygone age. JAMIE S. RICH Various Theaters.
Beauty and the Beast 3D
Huh. Various Theaters.
The line between "kids being kids" and "kids being reprehensible little monsters" provides the ostensible source of conflict in Roman Polanski's dark ensemble comedy Carnage, but the real issues at stake go much deeper: What happens when agreed-upon social boundaries are transgressed? How about when we realize we never agreed on any boundaries in the first place? Carnage's conversation between four adults begins politely enough, and ends with drunkenness, shouting, vomit, and accusations of hamstercide. None of these characters come out unscathed, and determining which among them is the most despicable is something of an audience Rorschach test. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
The sort of big-budget, low-ambition movie Mark Wahlberg does to pay the bills. As the exceedingly rare specimen of Funky Buncher-turned-actor who routinely works with the likes of Martin Scorsese, David O. Russell, and Paul Thomas Anderson, it's oddly comforting to see Wahlberg carry one more dumb movie that should've gone straight to DVD. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
There are, perhaps, more identifiable figures in contemporary cinema than the members of an exceedingly rich family who are about to become even richer. The Descendants is about the Kings, a well-off Hawaiian family that's about to sell a huge chunk of unspoiled paradise to a developer. More specifically, it's about Matt King (George Clooney), the patriarch upon whose shoulders that decision rests—and also a man whose wife is in a potentially deadly coma, whose rebellious teenage daughter (Shailene Woodley) is less than impressed with his parenting, and whose life seems to be slipping from his grasp with every moment. There is, on the surface, a lot that's great about The Descendants—beginning with Clooney and Woodley's fantastic performances—but below that surface, there isn't much. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Devil Inside
What's this? A crappy-looking horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
The only known 35 mm print of the Sammo Hung/Yuen Woo-Ping kung fu classic from 1987. Hollywood Theatre.
Extremely Loud and
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Fifth Element
"Leeloo Dallas mul-tee-pass." Pix Patisserie (North).
The Sacred Star of Milos
OTAKU ALERT. Kiggins Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Like most mysteries, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is less about story and more about the grinding mechanics of plot: exposition, process, exposition, process. Dragon Tattoo isn't just any mystery, though: Based on the first book in Stieg Larsson's wildly popular trilogy, this Dragon Tattoo is the latest from David Fincher, and arrives on the heels of his last awards-season effort, The Social Network. Those expecting anything on par with Fincher's best work—The Social Network, Zodiac, Fight Club—should probably lower their expectations closer to Benjamin Button levels. Fincher can be one of our best directors, but he's also one of the least reliable. With Dragon Tattoo, he's made a film that befits its airport paperback origins—if, you know, they showed movies with brutal rape scenes on airplanes. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Hecklevision: Red Dawn
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch
A French film based on the comic about a businessman defending his empire. Living Room Theaters.
Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians
They're so clean cut—a crew of young Seattleites sitting around a family-style dinner, laughing and drinking. Then you realize all these kids must be Christians, because they're all so earnest and they have a surprising number of children for being so young. The pre-meal prayer clinches the hunch. It's a little jolting to discover the reason they're so jazzed: They can't wait to play blackjack and count cards and take casinos for all they're worth. It doesn't seem very Christian of them. It's this two-things-that-don't-go-together duality that makes this documentary an engaging story about a team of blackjack-cheating Bible thumpers. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
The Iron Lady
Imagine my surprise when I found that The Iron Lady wasn't a biopic about Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister at all, but rather a biopic about Margaret Thatcher: Senile Old Lady, grieving over her husband (Jim Broadbent) who died eight years ago. You know that shitty flashback structure they use in every biopic where the decrepit old protagonist stares wistfully at a picture of themself on a horse before it turns into a period piece? Well imagine if that pointless flashback justification wasn't just five minutes at the beginning and end of the movie, but A RECURRING THEME THAT TAKES UP HALF THE RUNNING TIME. Hate boring, conventional political biopics? Well hey, here's that, intercut with 40 minutes of an old lady hallucinating conversations about tea with her dead husband! MY GOD, IT'S ALL WORTH IT TO HEAR MERYL STREEP DO AN ACCENT! VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
"Two choir members have differing opinions on how to win the national choir competition." Starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. We could not find anyone even remotely interested in reviewing this film. Various Theaters.
The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby
See review this issue. Director in attendance for shows on Friday and Saturday. Cinema 21.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
On the surface, Lars von Trier's latest documents the end of the world: Earth collides with another, larger planet in a massive, fiery explosion. But unlike most films with a similar premise, there is neither panic in the streets, nor is there any heroism: There are just the slow-motion reactions of a select few on the grounds of an enormous castle estate. Far from a literal apocalypse film, Melancholia is a metaphorical portrait of a hallmark of depression: that its sufferers tend to handle catastrophe better than those who feel they have something to lose. MARJORIE SKINNER Academy Theater, Edgefield, Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters, Mission Theater.
Northwest Film Center Movers & Makers
A program of short films, all made by employees of the Northwest Film Center. More info: nwfilm.org. Directors in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Northwest Film Center Movie Marathon
Twelve hours of movies for $40, put on as a fundraiser for the Northwest Film Center. Films include Sunset Boulevard, The Last Waltz, The Last Picture Show, The Princess Bride, and Darkman, plus a top-secret suprise screening as well as trivia and performances. More info: nwfilm.org. Bagdad Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Saturday Morning Cartoons
Pretty self-explanatory, yeah? Hollywood Theatre.
The movie in which John Cusack ruined everything for every other male on the planet. Thanks, dickweed. Laurelhurst Theater.
"What's this for? For bein' an honest cop? Or for bein' stupid enough to get shot in the face?" Academy Theater.
It's awkward, being a sex addict. There's the possibility that your boss might discover all the porn you've got on your hard drive, or your sister might walk in on you while you're masturbating, or someone might casually open your laptop only to be propositioned by a topless girl on a webcam. In Shame, sex junkie Brandon (Michael Fassbender) runs into all of these difficulties, in between meaningless trysts with women he meets at bars and women he pays for. There's not much pleasure in watching Brandon hit rock bottom, but it's to the credit of both Fassbender and director Steve McQueen that Brandon is a complex and almost wholly sympathetic character even when behaving reprehensibly. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Shaun of the Dead
"Just look at the face. It's vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who's lost a bet." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
Steven Spielberg's Battle Pony
For two and a half hours, Steven Spielberg follows a smart, talented pony named Joey through World War I. Joey starts off on the British side, then gets captured by Germans, then ends up on a picturesque French farm with windmills, then finds himself caught in No Man's Land between English and German troops. Barring the odd nicker or whinny, the horse does not emote in any recognizable fashion. The horse is, more or less, incidental to the episodic plots of the various humans he comes in contact with. As a dramatic narrative, then, Steven Spielberg's Battle Pony is a failure. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Spying is, by definition, a tight-lipped profession. This partially accounts for the surprising restraint of director Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a new adaptation of John le Carré's classic Cold War espionage novel. But credit must be given to Alfredson, too, and the film's writing team, for trusting their audience's willingness to sit still and pay attention. Despite its innately thrilling subject matter (Globetrotting spies! Soviet moles!), Tinker is an assured, thoughtfully paced movie, slow to reveal its secrets. Of course, secrets become even more irresistible in the presence of actors like Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch—and a perfectly cast Gary Oldman as the mild-mannered George Smiley, le Carré's most enduring hero. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
"Kate Beckinsale returns as the vampire warrioress Selene." Shockingly, this film was not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
!Women Art Revolution
A doc focusing on the history of the feminist art movement, which began in the 1960s as a response to a white male-dominated art world, and continues today... in response to a white male-dominated art world. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson (herself an artist involved in the movement) covers a lot of artists over a lot of years—in fact, so many women are interviewed here, at various points during their careers, that it's nearly impossible to keep track of who's who. But the interviews themselves are fascinating, and the archival images and footage Hershman-Leeson showcases remain vibrant, provocative, and challenging. It's a surface-level exploration of an enormous subject; here's hoping it inspires future filmmakers to take a deeper look. ALISON HALLETT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have made a film that's difficult to classify: It's either a comedy with no laughs, a drama with no character movement, or a social critique with no insight. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.