The Amazing Spider-Man
The bewildering, frustrating, boring thing about The Amazing Spider-Man: It's a movie that stupidly thinks it needs to tell us—again—where Spider-Man came from. And once you get past its plodding redundancy, the rest of the script for The Amazing Spider-Man isn't that spectacular either—the plot's driven by farfetched coincidences, major events are forgotten as soon as they're over, and a half-dozen half-hearted tweaks that are supposed to convince audiences that this Spider-Man is different from the one we saw a few years ago are tacked on and trivial. HOWEVER. Just about everything else in The Amazing Spider-Man is remarkably, giddily great. The Social Network's Andrew Garfield is a far better Peter Parker/Spider-Man than Tobey Maguire, and director Mark Webb—whose only previous credit is 500 Days of Summer—maximizes the spectacle of superhero action and the excitement of web-swinging through Manhattan's concrete canyons. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
After the death of his mother, a tortured Frenchman flies to LA to work out his mommy issues, enlisting the reluctant help of a Mexican prostitute (Salma Hayek). Flashbacks to his childhood in the US have the grainy, nostalgic quality of an old American sitcom, but the acting—in English, French, and Spanish—is hacky, the score is distractingly ponderous, and the film never transcends the basic laziness suggested by any storyline hinging on a mysterious Mexican prostitute. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Beyond the Black Rainbow
"A Reagan-era fever dream inspired by hazy childhood memories of midnight movies and Saturday morning cartoons." Okay! Clinton Street Theater.
Far more than relics like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Ariel and Jasmine and the rest of the Disney Princesses have come to personify Disney—and, to some extent, Disney subsidiary Pixar. Because while Pixar's made movies starring fish and robots and geriatrics and toys and cars, they've admirably resisted the temptation to crank out an easy cash grab about a prin—shit. Wait. Brave is totally about a princess! That's why its trailers have been so boring! But high five for restraint: Brave's ads have shown little beyond the film's first act—which is a pretty great surprise, since that's right about the time Brave stops copying Walt's Entitled Princess Formula™ and starts getting interesting. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Portuguese director Pedro Costa's film about French actress and singer Jeanne Balibar. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Los Angeles group brings their "signature video mixes and ultra-rare cinematic unearthings" to Portland. On Friday, "100 Most Outrageous Fucks" features cinema's "most outrageous clips of copulation" and a 35mm print of Lost in the Desert, "the blackest, most hilarious comedy ever concocted." On Saturday, they present "The 5 Minutes Game"—in which the audience will be shown the first five minutes of 15 rare movies, then vote on which one they'll watch in its entirety. Hollywood Theatre.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Liberty Theatre, Valley Theater.
Days of Heaven
Terrence Malick. Big screen. Go. Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Academy Theater, Edgefield, Joy Cinema & Pub, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
An Evening with Bill Plympton
New short films and more from animator Bill Plympton. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, with a live score from Retake Productions' chamber group. Hollywood Theatre.
A film that features "obese maidens in bikinis," a "half-man/half-chicken" named Squeezit, the "pervy midget King Fausto," a "dancing frog butler," Satan, and... you get the idea. Clinton Street Theater.
Friday the 13th Part 3 3D
Jackpot Records presents the 1982 3D horror flick—screening, appropriately enough, on Friday the 13th. Bagdad Theater.
Grosse Pointe Blank
"I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?" Academy Theater.
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Huh. So they're still making these. Various Theaters.
Katy Perry: Part of Me
This film was not screened for critics. :( Various Theaters.
Greta Gerwig plays Lola, whose life falls apart at age 29: Her fiancée (Joel Kinnaman) has jilted her, she has a misguided dalliance with her dude best friend (Hamish Linklater), she's a grad student with aging hippies for parents (Debra Winger and Bill Pullman), and, basically, a self-centered mess. Lola Versus' script, by Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones, is all over the place: Is this a relationship comedy? A coming-of-early-middle-age drama? A social satire? The many references to cleansing remedies and Vitamin Water and other au currant hipster products suggest that Wein (who also directs) and Jones (who has a supporting role) are making a comment on our carefully manicured lives—but the film also boasts a self-satisfied tone that suggests maybe the filmmakers aren't in on the joke. JAMIE S. RICH Fox Tower 10.
Steven Soderbergh makes the movies he wants to make, and apparently this time around he really wanted to make a movie that prominently features Matthew McConaughey's glistening abs and Channing Tatum hopping around shirtless while wearing a little hat. But Magic Mike is more than just a straight-to-screen Chippendales revue: Soderbergh is interested in all aspects of his characters' work, and the strip club behind-the-scenes are some of the film's most entertaining as the dancers sew their own thongs, shave their legs, and swap theories about "Waffle House pussy" while drinking home-brewed Viagra. It's almost a shame that Magic Mike has to have a plot at all, and the half-hour of story shoehorned in at the end is about what you'd expect from a movie about Florida strippers: drugs, weird sex, a baby pig eating vomit off the floor of a fancy apartment. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A work-in-progress screening of Jan Haaken's documentary about "the work of clinicians that deploy with Amy combat stress control units in Afghanistan." Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Various Theaters.
Night of the Living Dead
"They're coming to get you, Barbara...." Screens as a benefit for the "That Time of the Month" Project; donations of feminine hygiene products get $3 off admission. Clinton Street Theater.
Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated
A "cacophony of works" in which various artists and animators reinterpreted scenes from George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Clinton Street Theater.
Opera vs. Cinema
Opera Theater Oregon combines a screening of F. W. Murnau's 1927's silent film Sunrise with live music from pianist Douglas Schneider, saxophonist Kim Reece, and soprano Helen Funston. Mission Theater.
Return to Waterloo
See Up & Coming, this issue. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
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 Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
I finally started watching The Wire. It's a great. All the characters in Baltimore's drug trade are portrayed with empathy and care. Savages is Oliver Stone's attempt to say something about the drug war. It's the opposite of The Wire. It's hideously terrible. JOE STRECKERT Various Theaters.
Seeking a Friend for the
End of the World
An asteroid is on a crash course with Earth, giving Dodge (Steve Carell) and the rest of humanity about three weeks before the apocalypse—and for the first half hour or so, writer/director Lorene Scafaria injects Seeking a Friend for the End of the World with scathing, unrepentantly dark humor. Scafaria's time writing for Childrens Hospital is in full effect (along with very funny cameos by Patton Oswalt, Rob Corddry, Rob Huebel, and others) as Dodge's pathetic qualities are played for laughs: He continues to clock in for his soul-numbing insurance job; he still endeavors to go to the gym; his wife literally sprints away from him as soon as they learn the world is going to be destroyed. But then Dodge meets his wacky neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley), and everything turns into romantic glop. NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater, Bagdad Theater, St. Johns Theater and Pub.
Shut Up and Play the Hits
A documentary about LCD Soundsystem's final show at Madison Square Garden. Hollywood Theatre.
Snake in the Eagle's Shadow & Sabertooth Dragon vs. The Fiery Tiger
A kung fu double feature, kicking off with the fantastic Yuen Woo-Ping flick starring Jackie Chan. Ugh. Sorry. Accidental pun. Hollywood Theatre.
Fun fact! Taxi Driver was originally titled Bickle's Pickle. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
It's a mystery why Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) exists. A talking teddy bear brought to life by a lonely little boy who wished upon a star, he grew up with the boy, John (Mark Wahlberg), until they both became beer swilling, bong ripping, fast-cussing Bostonian men. Ted exists primarily for the comedic fun of an adorable but dirty teddy bear who hires prostitutes (one of whom shits on the floor on a dare), sings cocaine-fueled karaoke, and fights—an extended hotel fight scene being the film's finest moment. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
To Rome With Love
Woody Allen effortlessly spins four separate, slight stories, each a romantic fantasy designed to reverberate off the Eternal City's ruins and monuments. There's probably too much in To Rome With Love—it feels overlong, and there's a total lack of urgency to any of its storylines. But Allen's at the point where he's allowed to write postcards rather than plots. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Turn Me On, Dammit!
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Where Do We Go Now?
A surprisingly fun little parable on sectarian violence. The plot lands somewhere between Lysistrata and The Gods Must Be Crazy: A series of pranks in a town split evenly between Christianity and Islam (someone fills the mosque with goats!) are about to cause a riot. So the ladies truck in some Ukrainian showgirls to calm everyone down (an admittedly odd move, but go with it). The best moments come in between plot points, when director Nadine Labaki just lets the camera roll on these odd folks. BEN COLEMAN Fox Tower 10.
You Are All Captains
A "mysterious, whimsical, and unique film" in which director Oliver Laxe "explores the problems of filmmaking in the face of global economic realities." Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Your Sister's Sister
Jack (Mark Duplass) is a sad sack of a guy who commemorates the one-year anniversary of his brother's death by drunkenly shouting at the friends who insist on romanticizing his dead sibling. Afterward, he's cornered by his best friend Iris (Emily Blunt), who firmly instructs him that after a year of grieving, it's time to get his head together. She sends him off to enjoy some quiet time at her family cabin, but solitude isn't on the agenda: Jack arrives to find the house already occupied by Iris' half-sister, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt), who's drowning her own breakup-related sorrows in tequila. Most of My Sister's Sister is about interpersonal relationships, about characters figuring out who they are in relationship to one another, even when things get weird. It's disappointing, then, when the plot takes a Jerry Springer-esque turn three-quarters of the way through—as though Shelton lost faith that the tension generated by these complex relationships alone was sufficient to get the characters where they needed to go. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10.