See review this issue. City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
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.
"I goddamn near lost my nose. And I like it. I like breathing through it." See My, What a Busy Week! Academy Theater.
Dazed and Confused
"The older you get, the more rules they're gonna try an' get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin', man. L-I-V-I-N." Laurelhurst Theater.
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.
An Evening with Joanna Priestley
Animator Joanna Priestley shows off five new films. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A doc about the "continuing impact" of the work of Joseph Campbell, featuring interviews with Deepak Chopra and Tony Hawk. Okay. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters
Steven Soderbergh's latest, starring MMA fighter Gina Carano, is a welcome dose of the lean, stylish, kinetic excitement that good action movies are made of. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Man on a Ledge
See review this issue. Various Theaters
As the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is dealt a permanent losing hand: running an undesirable team in an undesirable small market that can't afford to re-sign its elite players. Frustrated by the futility of modern baseball, Beane teams with Peter Brand (a composite of Paul DePodesta and J.P. Ricciardi, and played by Jonah Hill, in his very first role without a single dick joke), a Yale graduate and numbers geek who reexamines the very foundation of the game based upon Bill James' sabermetrics philosophy. Masterfully directed by Bennett Miller, Moneyball visually bolsters the absorbing tale told in Michael Lewis' bestseller of the same name without utilizing any winded sports clichés. In a sense, Moneyball is the anti-baseball baseball film: It stays off the playing field and focuses firmly on a central concept that values math and percentages over actual physical performance. Gently paced and well written (thanks, Aaron Sorkin!), Moneyball captures Beane's noble attempt to achieve perfection in an imperfect sport. EZRA ACE CARAEFF Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
One for the Money
Katherine Heigl + Janet Evanovich = shudder. Review forthcoming. Various Theaters
Outside the Frame
See My, What a Busy Week! Gerding Theater at the Armory.
Paskenta: Nomlaqa Boda
Harry Dawson's documentary about the Nomlaki tribe of Northern California. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Portland Animation Now!
A selection of short films from Portland animators, including work from Joanna Priestley, Eric Kilkenny, Mike A. Smith, and more. More info: nwanimationfest.com. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Red Shoes
The 1948 ballet flick. We heard that poseur Natalie Portman didn't dance in this one at all. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
For a flick that supposedly battles against stereotypes, Red Tails is chock-a-block full of 'em. There's your hotshot pilot, your straight-and-narrow officer, your gruff/inspiring commander, your wide-eyed neophyte... and trust me when I say the list goes on. Red Tails also sports some of the most grievous and laughably awful exposition I've heard in quite a while—BUT. If all you want is to watch African Americans scream, "DIE, NAZI DOG, DIE!!!" as they blow goosesteppin' Krauts back to the motherland in exciting dogfight sequences? Then maybe suffering through more than a few cliché ridden scenes is worth it. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters
Sing Your Song
Suzanne Rostock's documentary about Harry Belafonte. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
F.W. Murnau's 1928 silent film, with a live score performed by cellist Lori Goldston. Hollywood Theatre.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
The Wicker Tree
An unasked-for sequel to 1973's The Wicker Man. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
Yeti Bootleg #2: The In Sound from Way Out
"Alien bleeps, looping basslines, original synthesizers, and more" collide in Mike McGonigal's collage film. Hollywood Theatre.