See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Big Lebowski
"It's like what Lenin said... you look for the person who will benefit, and... uh...." See My, What a Busy Week!. Bagdad Theater.
Throughout the emotional documentary Bully, while kids are shown suffering at the hands of their asshole peers, the most frustrating sight is watching how their teachers, assistant principals, and in some cases parents respond to the situation. "Kids will be kids," they say. That's hardly comforting when asking for help for your gay daughter, who has attempted suicide three times. I went in expecting to sob, to be filled with sympathy for the kids and guilt over not being able to help—I walked out wanting to kick the system's ass. MEGAN SELING Fox Tower 10.
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.
Castles in the Sky: Miyazaki, Takahata, and the Masters of Stuido Ghibli
See Film, this issue. This week's films include Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro, and Castle in the Sky. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Clean Bin Project
Don't dismiss The Clean Bin Project as just another gimmick. Sure, at a glance it seems well in keeping with the recent glut of stunt-for-a-year memoirs: A Canadian couple decides to try to stop producing garbage for one year, turning it into a competition that includes bringing their own Tupperware to buy cheese at the grocery store and requesting deli sandwiches made without toothpicks. But this smart little doc is grounded in research about the environmental effects of human consumption patterns, including the extent to which plastic bottles and debris have flooded the world's oceans, and it's saved from pedantry by the down-to-earth likability of the couple themselves, who compete, squabble, and occasionally cheat. You might not learn anything new, but it's a polemic that smartly balances an overview of a crucial global issue with a practical, inspiring look at how individual consumption patterns can change. Director and subjects in attendance on Friday, May 4. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
In Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes plays a sharp version of the soldier-hero whose bad temper gets him exiled and eventually kills him. Coriolanus is Shakespeare's action movie, and Fiennes has directed it that way: big explosions, macho knife duels, and urban-warfare sequences that look like shooter videogames. Fiennes is not pulling a Kenneth Branagh, gyring about on the wings of Shakespearean poesy. He's made a grimy action film with mild political undertones and a few kick-ass one-liners from the most famous writer in the English language. BRENDAN KILEY Fox Tower 10.
Cycling Through China
The 1983 TV special that took then-famous American celebrities (Ben Vereen!) on a three-week bike trip through China. Filmmakers in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Damsels in Distress
After a decade-plus hiatus following his acclaimed The Last Days of Disco, director Whit Stillman is back with a bizarre quirkfest about a group of girls trying to civilize a recently-integrated boys college—the perfect inverse of PCU. If that film was about a group of party boys teaching a school to grow some balls, Damsels in Distress is about a group of prudish princesses teaching it to grow a vagina. Stillman doesn't have a vagina, and Damsels feels largely like it was written by a closeted-gay intellectual from the 1800s. Greta Gerwig plays Violet, ringleader of a group of girls who run the campus suicide prevention center. She uses words like "mustn't," hopes to rehabilitate the depressed through tap dance, and dreams of starting an international dance craze. Another character passes out whenever a sweaty guy passes, and dates a fratboy who never learned his colors. Sound hilarious so far? It seems like it might be satire, but I don't know what of, or what planet these characters are supposed to be from. VINCE MANCINI City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
The Deep Blue Sea
Filmmaker Terence Davies reconfigures playwright Terence Rattigan's 1952 post-WWII drama The Deep Blue Sea as a heartbreaking kaleidoscope of memory. Rachel Weisz stars in the love story as Hester, a woman whose marriage to an elderly judge (Simon Russell Beale) has been jeopardized by her affair with hot-tempered Freddie (Tom Hiddleston), an ex-pilot set adrift following his discharge from the air force. The Deep Blue Sea opens on Hester's suicide attempt, with Davies and cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister book-ending the narrative with matching shots that deftly illustrate the polarity of their central character's moods. In between, we bear witness to the first blush of romance, wartime insecurity, and the brutality inherent in an unbalanced union. JAMIE S. RICH Cinema 21.
The Devil's Carnival
The latest from the creators of Repo! The Genetic Opera. Not screened for critics. Director and writer/actor in attendance. Clinton Streeet Theater.
The Five-Year Engagement
Listen up, gentlemen: Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller have fixed the romantic comedy. It's safe now. Really. If you didn't see Forgetting Sarah Marshall—the very funny 2008 comedy the writer/actor and director made together—this could come as a shock. That movie turned the chick flick on its ear via gross-out gags, silly puppets, and legitimately sweet sad-guy moping. Now they've made The Five-Year Engagement, which takes a step further into the black heart of the beast. It's casually, irresistibly funny, even as it repeatedly sets up and punctures the type of romantic fantasy that fuels lesser chick flicks. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
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.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home
By casting Jason Segel and Ed Helms in the leading roles, I'd assumed that Jeff, Who Lives at Home—the latest from mumblecore poster boys Jay and Mark Duplass—was aiming to draw in the type of dude who quotes The Hangover at sports bars. Then the trailer, with its brown tones, indie rock, and film-fest cred suggested it was reaching for glasses-wearing art students. But by turning out to be neither very funny nor very creative, this movie isn't what either clichéd example would hope for. Still, where it lands—a sweet, simple look at a messed-up-in-a-plain-way family—is, if nothing else, kinda pleasant. ELINOR JONES Fox Tower 10.
Juan of the Dead
A low-budget zom-com splatter flick, so it's not... great. The humor is subtle like an oar to the skull. Continuity is not a strength. And while the heroic goons in Shaun of the Dead were flawed but lovable, the goons in Juan are mostly just goons. There are some fun set pieces, though, and dammit, it looks like they had fun making it. It's this exuberance—this love of slow-mo and ninja stars and buckets of corn syrup blood—that gives Juan any right to the mantle of its big brothers of the dead. BEN COLEMAN Hollywood Theatre.
Kung Fu Theater
Old-school kung fu on 35 mm! Up this week: 1978's Invincible Shaolin. Hollywood Theatre.
The O.G. Hannibal Lecktor film, directed by Michael Mann in 1986. Screening introduced by PSU Professor Dustin Morrow. Hollywood Theatre.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The Pirates! Band of Misfits—from Aardman Animations, the same British stop-motion studio behind Wallace and Gromit and a bunch of other good stuff—is for kids, but it works for adults, although I didn't even know what some of their old-timey British slang meant. What gives, children's movie? Why you gotta make me feel dumb? But kids won't care if they don't get all of the dialogue, and the animation is awesome and should entertain the most discerning baby cinephile. Adding to the fun are voices of Imelda Staunton, Salma Hayek, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, and, what the hell, is that Jeremy Piven? Okay. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
POW Fest: A Night with Barbara Kopple and Ellen Ratner
A screening of Barbara Kopple's A Force of Nature, with Kopple and the subject of the film, Ellen Ratner, in attendance. The evening also includes a screening of Kopple's Harlan County, USA. Proceeds benefit POW Fest and others; more info at powfest.com. Hollywood Theatre.
Edgar Allen Poe, best known for his poem "The Raven" and gothic horror shorts such as "The Pit and the Pendulum," died under mysterious circumstances. On October 3, 1849, the dying author was found on the streets of Baltimore; delirious, ranting, and wearing someone else's clothes. And so starts The Raven, an imaginary retelling of Poe's last days—and while the author's death may have actually been caused by alcoholism, syphilis, or perhaps even rabies... in this case, let's just say a ka-raaaazy serial murderer had something to do with it, okay? Just to keep history interesting. It moves at a steady clip, but The Raven's problem lies in a script that thinks it's clever twice over, ignores gaping plot holes, and tells a story that cannot decide how "true" it wants to be. Overall, it's fine. (Said with a shrug.) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Revenge of the Nerds
"Nerds saw me naked!" Blind Onion Pizza Pub.
Jason Statham's latest action flick was, shockingly, not screened for critics. BVarious 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 Various Theaters.
Sprung! A Bike Smut Retrospective
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." This week's film: Monella. Clinton Street Theater.
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.
Visuals: A Community Film Festival
PSU's student and community film festival featuring short films from local filmmakers. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
We Have a Pope
At the Vatican, the pope has just died, and the conclave elects Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli) as a successor. Melville then has a nervous breakdown and runs away. Every scene of Habemus Papam walks the line between the sacred and ridiculous, with the final scene leaving you to wonder about the state of an entire religious institution and its dependent nation. JENNA LECHNER Living Room Theaters.
We Need to Talk About Kevin
Eva (Tilda Swinton) is the mother of Kevin (Ezra Miller), an eeeevil teenager who one day took his archery kit to school and started shooting arrows into people. We Need to Talk About Kevin considers itself capital-D italicized Drama, and Lynne Ramsay's over-stylized direction, laden with half-assed symbolism (Eva spends a lot of time washing red off of her hands), is pretentious and draggy. Every scene is a naked plea to make the audience feel; stacked one after another, the result is an insulting drone. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.