21 Jump Street
Even while pop culture is devouring its own tail, it manages to shit out an occasional gem. 21 Jump Street is that gem—a far, far more entertaining film than it has any business being. Neither a gritty reimagining™ nor a full-on parody, it's mostly just a silly take on reliving high school that manages both laughs and, occasionally, a disturbing amount of earnestness. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down cliches on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: 1998's Traxx, starring Shadoe Stevens, who'll be in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
A weekly, Bike Smut-curated retrospective of films that have "influenced or paved the way for our festival." Each screening will be accompanied by "shorts, performances, trivia, games, and prizes." Clinton Street Theater.
The Cabin in the Woods
Taking the overripe "college kids headed into the woods" horror genre and layering it with smart twists, Cabin in the Woods is a delightful Frankenstein's monster of borrowed bits and electrified fun. Even though the Joss Whedon-penned Cabin languished on the studio shelf for two years, it's shiny rather than musty, and crammed full of cleverness, humor, and gory surprises. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters
California 90420 is, unfortunately, exactly what you'd expect it to be: A slow, disconnected documentary about legalizing marijuana. While it's an important issue, the film lacks background and focuses on twentysomethings who really don't need weed. Backed by what seems to be the same dubstep track on repeat, California 90420 shines a light on the wrong crowd: the healthy people who take advantage of medical marijuana cards just for funsies. One of the main characters followed in the hazy documentary, named Ix, puts it best when she asks the cameraman through giggles: "Is it hard to make a documentary if everyone is stoned?" The answer is clear. ALEX ZIELINSKI Clinton Street Theater.
Casa de mi Padre
Casa De Mi Padre follows the Apatovian formula pretty straight-facedly—an un-ambitious man-child (Will Ferrell) must find his place in the world despite the scorn of his father and pretty much everyone else in the film—but a simple twist saves the movie from being a bore. It's set in Mexico, stars Ferrell as the son of a rancher who gets pulled into a world of romance and violence, is spoken entirely in Spanish—Ferrell, too—and it's a hyper-violent, pulpy tale of revenge, told in grindhouse style. The subtitles alone are enough to turn the multiplex crowd away (my date, a fluent Spanish-speaker, tells me Ferrell's accent is excellent), but they're missing out on something special. Its experimental edge gives the film a fetching energy: Ferrell has fun with his lines in a way he hasn't since Anchorman (he sounds so proud when he exclaims, in Spanish, "I am riding a horse!"), and his ridiculous physicality sells the macho fantasy when he finally picks up a rifle and prepares to exact revenge against the man who attacked his family. Some of the jokes are of the easy, offensive, "this is Mexico, and things in Mexico are cheaper than in the United States" variety. But there is enough authentic-seeming anti-US sentiment here (in the form of Nick Offerman's ironically racist FBI agent and, especially, a two-minute conversation where Ferrell talks so much shit about the US that you expect him to be called before Congress any day now) to let us know that everyone's the butt of the joke. PAUL CONSTANT Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater.
A Disney documentary about chimpanzees! Including a tiny baby chimpanzee! They did not screen this for critics. What the fuck, Disney. Various Theaters
Damsels in Distress
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
The Deep Blue Sea
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The Dirty Dozen
"You know what to do—feed the French and shoot the Germans!" Laurelhurst Theater.
Fake It So Real
A documentary that "dives head-first into the world of independent pro wrestling." Local wrestlers in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
The Five-Year Engagement
See review this issue. Various Theaters
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The Great Northwest
See review this issue. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Healthcare Movie
A documentary about the difference between Canadian and American healthcare, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. JACK BAUER HAS NO NEED FOR HEALTHCARE; HE HEALS LIKE WOLVERINE. Filmmakers and physicians in attendance. Cinema 21.
You can't go wrong with Willem Dafoe. Even Sam Raimi stuffing him into a plastic green robot suit in Spider-Man couldn't sap Dafoe of his preternatural watchability. You just want to look at him, and that's why The Hunter works. In fact, it would be interminable without him. He plays the titular hunter, sent to Tasmania in search of a creature called a Tasmanian tiger (imagine a striped hyena with a pair of ragged needle-nose pliers for a mouth). The tiger has long been considered extinct, but new evidence suggests there may be one left. While hunting the tiger, Dafoe finds himself torn between environmentalists, local loggers who fear losing their jobs, and a beautiful, depressed young widow. The story lopes into cliché a bit too often, but it's heavy with long stretches wherein Defoe expertly assembles traps in the beautiful Tasmanian countryside. It's not a good movie, but it's a very watchable one. PAUL CONSTANT Living Room Theaters.
It Came from Detroit
I was excited to see this music doc about the explosion of the garage rock scene in early-2000s Detroit—a scene that climaxed with a SPIN writer asking, "Is Detroit the new Seattle?" This theory's interesting to me because I came from Detroit; I left in 1998 and watched, from a 206 area code, as the White Stripes and the Von Bondies quit playing downtown bars where I used to waitress and started appearing on national magazine covers, radio stations, and late night TV. Though I'm the perfect demographic for this film—a fan of both the city and the music—for me, the documentary falls flat. The interviews with singer Jason Stollsteimer of now defunct Von Bondies' are long and tedious, the comparison of Seattle grunge and Detroit garage isn't a good one and becomes irrelevant about halfway through the film, and footage of still-relevant bands like the Gories and the Dirtbombs aren't nearly enough to save this two-hour yawn fest. KELLY O Hollywood Theatre.
The latest Luc Besson-produced generic action movie is a valiant attempt to create a 90-minute version of that Dr. Pepper 10 commercial. ("Hey, ladies, enjoying the movie? Of course you're not. Catchphrase! Now stay away from my manly diet drink or I'll punch you in the mouth!") Sure, it's a ripoff of lots of other movies too—I'd call it Escape from New York set in the cryo-prison from Demolition Man starring Guy Pearce as Bruce Willis' character from The Last Boy Scout—but any one of them gets the point across. Probably the funniest part was the "Based on an original idea by..." line during the credits. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters
The Lucky One
Zac Efron is a man now. He's barely recognizable in The Lucky One, the latest in the heart-obliterating run of films based on Nicholas Sparks books. Efron plays Logan, a stoic PTSD-suffering Iraq veteran who walks his smoldering blue eyes across these United States in search of an angelic blonde woman whose photo served as his good-luck charm during his final tour of duty. Super-competent director Scott Hicks knows how to film Efron's head perfectly—when Efron looked up and threw his deep blues at the audience, I heard audible gasps. He's either that pretty now, or Hicks is that good. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters
I'm no Bob Marley expert, but I am familiar with a lot of his work, both on purpose—those early sides with Lee "Scratch" Perry and the first couple of Wailers albums on Island Records are pretty great—and just by being a white person who went to college in America. The re-appropriation of Marley's political rhetoric as good-time party jams by the backward-hatted frat-masses is the subject of its own lengthy examination, but you won't find it in Marley, which is reverential and austere. Despite a two-and-a-half-hour runtime, here Marley remains an enigma, a silk-screened face on a stinky T-shirt. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Julia Roberts is the aging queen of a corrupt empire, clinging by manicured fingernails to her fading looks in a world that values youth and beauty above all. She also stars in the new Snow White movie Mirror Mirror! SNAP! ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters
Not your father's Genghis Kahn, this despotic bully is sensitive and whatever the word for emo is now. Mongol plays like Last of the Mohicans 2: Asia Minor, turning an otherwise excellent movie into something pretty and revisionist. It begins with pre-pubescent Kahn—and let me tell you, there is nothing more adorable than a chubby little murderer in tiny furry moccasins—and ends with fortyish Kahn conquering half the world, which is a lot of conquering. In between, he gets captured and enslaved, escapes, and is reunited with his wife several times over, because he will find her whatever may occur. The acting is... eh, well, it's entirely in Mongolian, so your guess is as good as mine, but it seemed sincere, and the final battle scene is gloriously awesome. Still, reinventing the Kahn as a kinder, gentler tyrant is difficult to swallow, and it really takes the "war" out of "warlord." KIALA KAZEBEE Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
See review this issue. Various Theaters
Portland Jewish Film Festival
The 20th annual Portland Jewish Film Festival is upon us, and it's a very mixed bag that includes recent films, documentary, animation, and drama, as well as 1933's Counsellor at Law and 1964's Sallah. And while I doubt there's ever been a showcase of Jewish film that has not touched on the Holocaust, it doesn't dominate, and the festival also grapples with topics as diverse as autism (Mabul) and talking cats (The Rabbi's Cat). More info: nwfilm.org. MARJORIE SKINNER Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters
Jason Statham's latest action flick was, shockingly, not screened for critics. Various Theaters
The Secret World of Arrietty
Forget the '92 BBC miniseries The Borrowers, or John Goodman's '97 adaptation (if you haven't already) of Mary Norton's classic children's book. Studio Ghibli presents a quietly compelling anime version of the story, written by Spirited Away's Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. The film masterfully demonstrates the worldview of the borrowers by rapid pullback shots, their small stature fully realized when Arrietty's mother gets trapped in a jar and is unable to escape. It's also filled with special little details—like when Arrietty uses a leaf as an umbrella and flies through the yard trying to avoid an entanglement with a grasshopper—and loud, comical, emotional outbursts by Arrietty's worrisome mother and the cunning housekeeper. Despite the inherent dangers of Arrietty's world, the landscapes look slightly like an impressionistic painting, and the wind is always whistling through the trees. AMY SCOTT AVarious Theaters
The Thief of Bagdad
1924's Douglas Fairbanks flick—but with a soundtrack by E.L.O., as masterminded by Shadoe Stevens. Stevens in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
Think Like a Man
The most comically misguided, delusional, sexist, and offensive romantic comedy ever conceived. Jesus Christ. Where to begin. This movie, which will serve as an example of Hollywood misogyny in women's studies classes for years to come, is based on a relationship book by Steve Harvey, a comedian on his third marriage. Harvey appears throughout the film as himself, dishing out hot garbage while seemingly intelligent female characters nod along, going, "Yes, yes, we should lower our standards! I love not getting what I want." ELINOR JONES Various Theaters
This Means War
Tom Hardy and Chris Pine are super-spy best friends whose super-spy job involves suitcases full of money, helicopters, and shooting men with sinister accents. They both fall in love with the single most fuckable woman in all of Los Angeles: Reese Witherspoon! (Go ahead, take a minute to suspend as much belief as you need to in order to imagine Reese Witherspoon in that capacity. I'll wait.) The role of Reese Witherspoon is played by a blonde wig and a set of chattering wind-up teeth. The role of Chris Pine is played by an anatomically correct Ken doll (batkatcreations.com/maledolls.html). The role of Tom Hardy is played by a corporeal manifestation of the combined masturbatory fantasies of closeted British rugby fans and middle-aged American women who secretly worry they've never had a really good orgasm. The role of Reese's salty best friend, Chelsea Handler, is played by the sound of the Emergency Broadcast System. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters
Jennifer Aniston and our sparkly-eyed squeal factory Paul Rudd are Linda and George, a Manhattan couple who goes broke, loses their tiny condo, and heads to Atlanta to find work with George's horrible brother, Rick (Ken Marino). En route they stumble upon Elysium, a hippie commune that (SPOILER ALERT, if you're dumb) changes the way they see the world. Now, you're probably going to want to do what I did when you see Aniston on the poster—i.e., write this movie off because she does NOT make good movies and doesn't need your $9 contribution to her Salty Aging Sorority Girl Pilates Club. (Also because the whole thing looks boring and lame.) But resist that urge, because this movie is, surprisingly, pretty goddamned funny. I was all, "Chuckle chuckle, wait what is happening?" ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.