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 Avalon, Laurelhurst Theater, Milwaukie Cinemas.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
See review this issue. 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 Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Vengeance is a dish best served by the Avengers. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Being John Malkovich
"There's a tiny door in my office, Maxine. It's a portal and it takes you inside John Malkovich. You see the world through John Malkovich's eyes, and then after about 15 minutes, you're spit out into a ditch on the side of the New Jersey Turnpike." Academy Theater.
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 Forest Theatre, Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre, Tigard 11 Cinemas.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
A comedic drama about a group of retirees who move to a dilapidated hotel in India, starring the worship-worthy British biddies Dame Judi Dench and Queen Bitch Maggie Smith. Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
Can't Stop the Serenity
A charity screening of Joss Whedon's cult sci-fi flick Serenity, preceded by the Firefly episode "Out of Gas" and a set from geek folk duo the Doubleclicks. Proceeds go to Equality Now and the Raphael House; more info at serenitynow.pdxbrowncoats.com. Bagdad Theater.
Really? You want to see this piece of shit? Why not track down The Cabin in the Woods and watch a good horror film? COURTNEY FERGUSON Kennedy School.
A Disney documentary about chimpanzees! Including a tiny baby chimpanzee! They did not screen this for critics. What the fuck, Disney. Kennedy School, Liberty Theatre.
Cyrano de Bergerac
The 1950 remake of 1987's Roxanne—with José Ferrer taking the Steve Martin role? Pfft. Clinton Street Theater.
It's not so much that director Tim Burton is a fuck-up—he most certainly is. The question usually lies in how he's going to fuck up. His days as the enfant terrible of such juicy hits as Pee-wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands are long past, and for the last 20 years he's become increasingly known as the "Woody Allen of horror quirk"—a once-great auteur unable to relight his former spark. So it comes as no surprise that Dark Shadows is another Burton disaster—though in this case, he can share the blame. Basing a movie on an oddball '60s horror/gothic soap opera is an almost impossible uphill climb. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Liberty Theatre.
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 Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
The "running of the Jew" scene in Borat is 100 times funnier than anything in The Dictator. That scene was lurid, politically incorrect, and above all, specific. Making fun of a Muslim strongman, though, as The Dictator does, isn't even politically incorrect—in fact, it's probably the most politically correct. The Dictator just couches all its jokes in vulgarity to make it seem politically incorrect. It's like shitty fake punk, where you scratch the strings and grimace even though the song's about holding hands at a Dairy Queen. Throwing money at cockroaches because the Jews are shapeshifters is creative, and, again, specific. The opposite of that? Saying you want to get home so you can watch The Real Housewives of Ahmadinehulalabajad. I love poop/fart/vagina humor, but less so when it's just a crutch to prop up lazy pop culture references. HAHA, LINDSAY LOHAN! VINCE MANCINI Evergreen Parkway 13.
Don't Go in the House
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
The Endless Summer
Surf porn. Laurelhurst 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 Academy Theater, Avalon, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Milwaukie Cinemas.
Geek Maggot Bingo
The latest installment in the Clinton's "No Return Midnight Movie Madness" series. Clinton Street Theater.
"This is Tom Hagen, calling for Vito Corleone, at his request. Now, you owe your don a service. He has no doubt that you will repay him. In one hour, he will be at your funeral parlor to ask for your help. Be there to greet him." Fifth Avenue Cinema.
It's never productive to compare the movie you saw with the movie you wish you'd seen, but it's impossible to avoid in the case of Hysteria, which promises an irreverent historical farce about handjobs and vibrators—then delivers a prudish, preachy love story. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
In the Family
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
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.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
A 10-seat restaurant in a Tokyo subway is the unlikely home base of the exceedingly fastidious Jiro Ono, widely known as the world's best sushi chef. David Gelb's worshipful portrait of Ono is blowhard-y at times, but will whet your appetite for both raw fish and work/life balance. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
A middle-of-the-road German romcom about a mousy waiter who finds the manuscript of an unpublished masterpiece. The man's sole interest in life is a bookish woman he meets at a flea market, so he shows her the manuscript and slaps his name on it. She falls in love, and all goes according to plan, until a publisher picks up the novel and makes him famous. He's already in over his head when, after an awkward and bumbling book reading, a drunk shows up and claims to be the real author. Chances of a storybook ending: Very high. JENNA LECHNER Clinton Street Theater.
It's a kids' movie! About talking animals! That is all. Various Theaters.
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.
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 Academy Theater, Avalon, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Milwaukie Cinemas, St. Johns Theater and Pub.
Unusually great child actors (and a willingness to treat the experiences of children with seriousness and interest) elevate this small, smart movie about an Algerian refugee teaching in a Montreal elementary school. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Wes Anderson, god bless him, just keeps making Wes Anderson movies. As expected, Moonrise Kingdom is mannered, precious, nostalgic, and twee—and it's also about as good a movie about childhood as an adult is capable of making. ALISON HALLETT Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Eastport 16, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
Music from the Big House
Music from the Big House isn't so much a documentary as it is a mood piece. Blues musician Rita Chiarelli and director Bruce McDonald capture the collaboration between Chiarelli and Louisiana State Penitentiary inmates as they prepare for a performance called the Angola Rodeo. The idea of a prison having a festival or a music program is pretty interesting—and, unfortunately, largely unexplained. Instead we get jam sessions that showcase Chiarelli's vocal range, vague rants by inmates and/or Chiarelli about redemption, and long musical interludes set to Brian Eno tracks where it's hard to tell what's happening. SUZETTE SMITH Hollywood Theatre.
On Any Sunday
1971's motorcycle flick from Bruce Brown (The Endless Summer). Hollywood Theatre.
Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding
A film that can't decide whether it wants the audience to laugh with the hippies or at them. AT. THE ANSWER IS AT. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
A prequel to Alien, Ridley Scott's return to science fiction, and, on both counts, a disappointment. The biggest differences are the films' aims: While Alien followed blue-collar workers merely trying to survive, Prometheus tackles what one character humbly proclaims to be "the most meaningful questions ever asked by mankind." The scale is epic, the stakes are huge, and big questions are raised. But the answers are hollow, uninspired, and silly; the anxious horror that slicked every frame of Alien is replaced with flashy spectacle and clunky exposition; the story crumbles apart the longer one thinks about it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Reveal the Path
Biking porn. Directors in attendance, and live soundtrack by Shaggy Mane. Clinton Street Theater.
Rock of Ages
Putting aside Scientology, rants, and ridiculous roles, Tom Cruise is a great actor. For further proof, watch him as megastar Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages, an otherwise painful musical that's like Glee... except with terrible wigs. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Until the dark day of I Can Has Cheezburger: The Movie!, Safety Not Guaranteed will stand—as far as I can tell—as the only motion picture inspired by an internet meme. While its origins make Safety Not Guaranteed sound slight and disposable—a few steps above Battleship in Hollywood's "Oh shit, what else can we turn into a movie?!" descent—the difference is that Safety Not Guaranteed is both staunchly independent and very, very good. Funny and sad and sweet and clever, it's a film that transcends its roots to become—and I know we're only halfway through 2012, but fuck it—one of the best films of the year. ERIK HENRIKSEN City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Directed by Lasse Hallström and based on a bestselling novel by Paul Torday, this inoffensive tale of a wise but eccentric Arab sheik's quest to import salmon to his Yemeni homeland is exotic but uncontroversial, at least to Western audiences. Kristin Scott Thomas shines as a multitasking PR powerhouse, but the poor chemistry of leads Emily Blunt and Ewan MacGregor renders central plotlines bloodless. MARJORIE SKINNER Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Academy Theater.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
See review this issue. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Eastport 16, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Center 10 Cinema.
Snow White and the Huntsman
Snow White and the Huntsman is awful—which doesn't matter, because it's also so insane that one would have to be an asshole not to wring some pleasure out of it. Snow White begins as a gauzy fairy tale, but by its third act, it has Snow White leading a Normandy-style assault on a beachside castle in a sequence shot like a medieval Saving Private Ryan; meanwhile, having snuck inside said castle by utilizing slapstick, alcoholic dwarves get into shenanigans. And! That dude who played Thor in The Avengers is dreamy, and Charlize Theron writhes as an Evil Queen, and Snow White has an acid trip, and Thor fights a troll, and CG woodland creatures. Snow White is less a film than it is a 14-year-old goth girl's fever dream, magnificent and terrible to behold. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
That's My Boy
I expect most people will shit from great heights upon Adam Sandler's new movie, in which a teenage Sandler fathers a child who grows up to be Andy Samberg. But I'll tell you something. It's Sandler's funniest movie since Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison, and for very simple reasons: It's completely, totally disgusting. It's absolutely, cretinously inane. It's bafflingly, insultingly gross; it's racist, sexist, homophobic, scatological, and immoral. It, like Sandler's character, will do anything—literally anything—to put even the faintest smile onto your face. And with maximum effort on both your part and the film's part, it succeeds. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
David Lynch's TV series on the big screen. This is the final installment, featuring Fire Walk with Me. There's a star next to this, obviously. Hollywood Theatre.
War of the Worlds: The True Story
War of the Worlds: The True Story tackles H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi tale in mockumentary format—recounting a 1900 Martian invasion of Earth as if it actually happened, using ostensibly declassified and reenacted material. If done correctly, telling extraordinary stories with ordinary means can be clever and effective (proven, appropriately enough, by Orson Welles’ panic-inducing broadcast of Wells’ story in 1938), but here, it’s undermined by amateurish production, chintzy CG, and an obnoxious surplus of flickering, sepia-toned iMovie filters. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
What to Expect When You're Expecting
What to Expect When You're Expecting isn't dumb because I hate pregnancy or women who want to have babies. And really, it could've been worse. But the I-can't-believe-this-is-a-genre genre of nonfiction-self-help-book-turned-clunky-multi-story-romcom sucks. So. You'll get what you expect. ELINOR JONES Evergreen Parkway 13, Liberty Theatre.
Your Sister's Sister
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.