The 10th Victim
Elio Petri's 1965 black comedy, screening outdoors as a benefit for the Northwest Film Center's Portland International Film Festival. Hotel Modera.
2016: Obama's America
Anti-Obama propaganda, courtesy of conservative author Dinesh D'Souza. Shockingly, this film was not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
She boffs him. But he boffs her. And she boffs somebody else. You just can't win. Screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen) twists "La Ronde," Arthur Schnitzler's cautionary tale of sexual promiscuity, into a "love the one you're with" prestige flick that revels in its schematic ingenuity but forgets to make its characters interesting. Director Fernando Meirelles is as flamboyant as ever and gives his sprawling ensemble, which includes Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, and Ben Foster (as a sex offender, no less), plenty of globetrotting scenery to chew on, but finds none of the dramatic immediacy he brought to The Constant Gardener or City of God. JEFF MEYERS Living Room Theaters.
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: Showdown in Little Tokyo. Hollywood Theatre.
Tim Burton's 1989 flick, screening as a paternity leave fundraiser. Laurelhurst Theater.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
I'll let you in on a secret: Writing negative reviews is pretty easy. Every doofy plot twist and bungled CG jumpkick pulls you out of the moviegoing experience, allowing you plenty of time to compose elaborately mean puns for your headline. It's harder to review a movie when it succeeds—and I mean really succeeds, in that it draws you in completely. The surreal, fantastic Beasts of the Southern Wild is that kind of movie: You may leave the theater conflicted and even confused, but you won't be thinking about anything else while you're watching it. BEN COLEMAN Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters, Tigard 11 Cinemas.
Boyz N the Hood
Narrated by Steve Urkel. Laurelhurst Theater.
Will Ferrell stars as Cam Brady, a four-term Congressman from North Carolina who is running unopposed for reelection—even when he accidentally leaves a wholesome family a dirty voicemail about rimjobs, he's got no fear of losing. Enter Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis), the local director of tourism who gets backed by an evil corporation in order to take Brady's seat. Though it pains me, I will politely refrain from telling you much more about where the story goes, because the jaw-droppingly horrible twists and turns are what make The Campaign so fun. But I will say this—you know that part in the trailer where Will Ferrell punches a baby? He punches something way worse than that later in the movie. Think of something worse to punch than a baby! ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Celeste and Jesse Forever is well underway before it becomes clear that it begins six months after the breakup of its titular characters, played by Rashida Jones (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Andy Samberg. After a succinct opening-credit montage of the rise and fall of their marriage (they married young, and she dumped him when her professional ambitions put too much distance between their lifestyles), we're shunted into Celeste and Jesse's world of impressively annoying inside jokes. They make heart shapes at each other with their hands by way of greeting; they speak to each other in fake German accents; they masturbate ChapStick tubes. It's only when a close friend explodes in exasperation that we learn they've been separated for six months, even though Jesse still lives in the studio behind their house. Clearly, things are about to get complicated. And although Celeste is shooting for romantic comedy, the laughs are inconsistent—and not nearly as impressive as the romantic side of the equation. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
A monthly fundraiser for Bitch, with "beer, feminists, and trivia/discussion, and often films that you meant to see 15 years ago but didn't." This month's film: All I Wanna Do, "the awesome feminist crowd-pleaser that you never saw in 1998." Mississippi Studios.
Faithfully adapting a Don DeLillo novel to film is the same kind of challenge as adapting Shakespeare. The dialogue is beautiful, precise, and utterly unlike anything spoken by any human being alive: At the beginning of Cosmopolis, a security guard (Kevin Durand, at his most appealingly Christopher Walkenesque) tells his ridiculously wealthy employer, Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), that he cannot cross New York City in his shiny white limo to get a haircut because the president is in town and "You will hit traffic that speaks in quarter inches." "Entire streets deleted from the map," he adds, in a picturesque sentence fragment. Durand chews on DeLillo's language, rolls it around his mouth, seems surprised at the cadences and imagery. But Pattinson is simply in over his head. He looks like a dotcom billionaire—young, bored, impressed with himself—and he wears the expensive suit well, but just about every line defeats him. PAUL CONSTANT Fox Tower 10.
Cowboy Bebop is a beautifully drawn, brightly colored, candy-coated piece of shit. It's an R-rated action-adventure cartoon that somehow manages to be appallingly weak on action (it drags on with boring, pensive scenes in which the literally two-dimensional cartoon characters say boring, pensive things like, "Of the days I've lived, only the ones spent with you seem real") and completely absent of unquestionably the best thing about every R-rated movie ever made: sex. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE Kiggins Theatre.
Do the Right Thing
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
The Evil Dead
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Hit and Run
Dax Shepard plays Charlie Bronson, a car-loving former bank robber (he got to pick his own new name after he wound up in the Witness Protection Program). At the film's outset, Charlie's been tracked down by the gang he betrayed, and he's suddenly tasked with avoiding his vengeance-set former friends while getting his girlfriend—played by Kristen Bell—to LA for a job interview. And of course, there's a catch: Bell's character is largely clueless about Charlie's criminal past. In cheerfully splicing together crude humor, romcom smushiness, and old-school car chases, Hit and Run gets smart, surprisingly sophisticated results. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A creaky old couple (Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones) decide to undergo a week of counseling with a renowned therapist (Steve Carrell). Your mom is going to love this thing. Various Theaters.
The Imposter is one of those too-strange-to-be-true tales that's like manna for documentarians. In the early 1990s, 13-year-old Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his Texas home, only to turn up four years later in Madrid. Or so his family thought. Or so they maybe thought. Because the "kid" in Spain claiming to be Nicholas Barclay was really 23-year-old con artist Frédéric Bourdin, who just happened into the right story, a US passport, and a seemingly new identity. Frédéric's tale has enough salacious pulp that it remains interesting despite director Bart Layton's heavy-handed filmmaking. Layton overdoes it with the reenactments, staging whole scenes and getting clever with the way he syncs Bourdin's real narration with the teenage actor playing him in flashbacks—to such a degree I started to fear that maybe I was getting conned, too. JAMIE S. RICH Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The premiere of a dark comedy shot in Eugene, Salem, and Portland. Admission includes a copy of the film on DVD. Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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 Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Liberty Theatre.
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 Cinemagic, Fox Tower 10, Liberty Theatre, Roseway Theater, St. Johns Twin Cinemas.
Oslo, August 31st
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: There's this little kid, and he can see dead people. Now, I know what you're thinking: "This kid, he's probably well adjusted and super popular with his peers, am I right? A hit with all the ladies?" No! Believe it or not, he's kind of an outcast! A social pariah, even! Okay, now I don't want to spoil anything, but the twist? This social handicap of his might turn out to save the day. Sounds crazy, right? I know, but it's true! That, unfortunately, is the recycling-bin plot the talented animators at LAIKA have saddled themselves with on ParaNorman. It doesn't get any better in the telling, and probably gets worse, which is a shame, because the animation is so finely crafted and obviously painstaking that not loving it makes you feel like a real poopface. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
What's this? Another crappy horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
A film based on the wet dreams of bike couriers everywhere, Premium Rush is one of the stupidest movies ever, which is to say it's both remarkably silly and surprisingly fun. A thriller set in the exhilarating world of... uh... bike couriering, it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt—the guy your girlfriend likes more than she likes you—as Wilee, a character whose name is (A) pronounced like the coyote's, and (B) nearly as dumb as the phrase "premium rush." Bike courier Wilee, like most people with fixies, never shuts the fuck up about his fixie, and he also says things like "Brakes are death!" and "Runnin' reds, killin' peds." He'd be insufferable if JoGoLev, who is way more handsome and likeable than you, didn't play him. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Queen of Versailles
Documentarian Lauren Greenfield got career-definingly lucky with The Queen of Versailles. When she began making a movie about the construction of the largest house in America—a 90,000-square-foot monstrosity designed by time-share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie—Greenfield inadvertently secured herself a front-row seat to the Siegels' plunge from mindless excess to fiscal uncertainty when the financial crisis wiped out most of David's assets. As head of the world's most successful time-share operation, David made his fortune selling poor people the illusion of wealth, two weeks a year at a time. As his son puts it, "Everyone wants to be rich. If they can't be rich, the next best thing is to feel rich." And the third best thing is to watch tacky rich people lose all their money and have to put their kids in public school. ALISON HALLETT Kiggins Theatre.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Robot and Frank
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
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. 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 Academy Theater, Edgefield, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Bryan Lee O'Malley's comic book series is a fantastic epic: an earnest, heady, hilarious mashup of comics, videogames, and music, with doses of the confusion, enthusiasm, and melancholy that're embedded in the DNA of every twentysomething. The good news: The movie version, directed by Edgar Wright, lives up to expectations. The better news: Wright's film also does a few things nobody could've predicted. From its opening moments—when a Universal logo rendered in NES-era pixels appears—it's clear there hasn't been a movie like this before. Thanks to Scott Pilgrim, the lines between film, comics, pop music, and videogames have been blurred—in all of the best ways. ERIK HENRIKSEN Kiggins Theatre.
Sleepwalk With Me
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Mark Cousins' amazing 15-hour survey of cinema history aims to draw a clear chronology from the invention of rolled film and projection to the onset of 21st-century digital cinema whilst exploring everything in between. In doing so, Cousins circles the globe in search of films and filmmakers who never got their dues. JAMIE S. RICH Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.