The Hollywood's series features B movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: Steven Seagal's Hard to Kill. Hollywood Theatre.
Like a basset hound coming in first at the Kentucky Derby, Richard Linklater's Bernie is a floppy, improbable triumph. Nothing about it should work, but almost everything does. Essentially the story of a very friendly murderer (Jack Black), Bernie poses a finely balanced ethical quandary: What do we do when someone we like does something terrible to someone we hate? This isn't a documentary, and Linklater isn't constrained with balance or objectivity. Your opinion will shift, at times in sync with and in times in opposition to the film. Films this challenging are rarely so pleasant about it. BEN COLEMAN Hollywood Theatre.
The Color Wheel
Alex Ross' film about siblings who "bicker and banter their way around the delicate and disquieting truths they share." Like the Men in Black! Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
An Evening with Chel White
A selection of shorts from Portland filmmaker Chel White. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The long awaited film version of the classic sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, in which Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) wins So You Think You Can Dance—sending the Banks family on an all-expenses-paid trip to Moscow! But it's not long until Uncle Phil (James Avery) finds himself in with the Russian mob, and only Will (Will Smith) has the street smarts and charm to—no, wait, sorry, our mistake. This is a documentary about "the new food paradigm and customer access to it." This screening is sponsored by Chipotle. :( Bagdad Theater.
Friends with Kids
As a concept, Friends with Kids is the worst conceivable variation on "friends with benefits." It's sex one time and with all the consequences. Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) are upper-middle-class thirtysomethings in New York who are the last in their social circle to marry and procreate. Convinced the chaos of childrearing sucks the romance out of relationships, the pair hit upon the idea of avoiding the difficulty of emotional entanglements by having a child together. This will leave them free to explore their options in the dating pool. Friends with Kids is funny and crass and, at times, more than a little schmaltzy. Yet, there's something refreshing about seeing grownups talk about grown-up things in real ways. As writer and director, Westfeldt finds both humor and emotion in this unconventional scenario. JAMIE S. RICH Laurelhurst Theater.
God Bless America
Within the first 10 mintues of Bobcat Goldthwait's new dark comedy, the main character shoots an infant point blank, showering its screaming mother's face in blood. It's just a fantasy, though—that of Frank (Joel Murray), a disgruntled, lonely man whose nightly channel surfing has rendered him so disgusted with American culture that he's only a few breaking points away from murderous rampage. The next thing we know, Frank's on the road with Roxy (Tara Lynne Barr), his improbable teenage sidekick, gleefully murdering anyone that they find rude, stupid, or cruel. While it's intended to be a liberal's catharsis, God Bless America follows an unsurprising formula. It's basically one long joke borne out across the length of a feature, and it's neither smart nor nuanced enough to carry the air of superiority it hinges on. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
Like the flailing clockwork tentacles of a steampunk octopus, High School is cool to look at but feels uncomfortably antiquated at times. The good parts of the film make for a solid millennial stoner comedy: earnest, mumbly, and sleek. The remainder of the movie is holdover teen hijinks from another decade. They usually don't mesh well together. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
Based on a true story, The Intouchables follows Philippe, a super-rich white guy who is left a quadriplegic after a paragliding accident. Instead of the same old stuffy male nurse, he hires a street-savvy African immigrant named Driss to be his caretaker/companion. They go through some rough patches at first, but soon they start sharing their interests—classical music and art appreciation; pot smoking and Kool and the Gang—and inspiring each other to branch out. The movie was hugely popular in France: The actors are terrific, and the film includes plenty of irreverent French humor. But it doesn’t shy away from the pain of being quadriplegic or the pain of poverty. This is not a man-crippled-emotionally-and-physically-learns-to-live-again story; it’s about a bond between two people who never would have expected such a bond was possible. There is nothing radical about a rich white guy paying a person of color to care for him, and all the class issues are obviously there. But The Intouchables does a good job of showing that being rich doesn’t insulate you from personal insecurity or hurting or doubt; you still need to decide who you want to be and what kind of life you want to lead. GILLIAN ANDERSON Fox Tower 10.
The Long Shadow &
Images of a Lost City
Two films from Jon Jost. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Men in Black 3
When people talk shit about blockbusters, Men in Black 3 is the sort of product they're referring to. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
My American Cousin
Sandy Wilson's acclaimed 1985 feature about growing up on Lake Okanagan in British Columbia. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Kevin Bacon! On a bike! Blind Onion Pizza Pub.
The Raid: Redemption
The Raid: Redemption has a character or two, I'm sure; it has some plot, I think. But none of that matters, because in The Raid, those things are mere interludes in a nearly nonstop parade of stunning action sequences. The Raid is an action movie; it is about nothing more than action. And good action. The sort that used to be dealt by John Woo, before America ruined him. Or Tony Jaa, when he teased us with Ong Bak before going insane. Or Jackie Chan, by which I mean Drunken Master II Jackie Chan. That sort of action. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater.
The Sand Pebbles
Robert Wise's 1966 flick starring Steve McQueen and Murphy Brown. Laurelhurst Theater.
Snow White and the Huntsman
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Sometimes a Great Notion
Sometimes a Great Notion is the best book ever written about Oregon (just read it already), and the 1970 film—directed by and starring Paul Newman—ain't too shabby either. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
This is Not a Film
A secretly shot documentary about the life of director Jafar Panahi, made while Panahi was under house arrest in Tehran. Hollywood Theatre.
See My, What a Busy Week! Bagdad Theater.
It's hard not to flashback to Aguirre: The Wrath of God during Nicolas Winding Refn's tale of vikings slowly going mad. With minimal dialogue, Valhalla Rising plays at a pace that makes Terrence Malick look like a spaz: It's 1000 AD, and the mute, aptly named One Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) is imprisoned by vikings who make him fight other prisoners. Escaping, One Eye teams up with a young boy, Are (Maarten Stevenson); the duo then join some Christian vikings who're heading to the Holy Land. Except they get lost, and then they start to go crazy, and then they end up doing some less-than-Christian things to each other. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Nope. No drug use going on at this screening. Nossir. Clinton Street Theater.