This film has a problem, and that problem is that it's racist as fuck. I get that Mads Brugger, the director and star of this messed-up documentary, may think he's the Danish Sacha Baron Cohen. I get that he may be attempting to make fun of the deep, crazy, generations-warping, globe-spanning racism that turns a place like the Central African Republic into a mind-twisting mess of a country. But when you use your white privilege to coast into the CAR on a phony diplomatic passport, dropping Heart of Darkness references and "suspicious-looking Asian guy" asides along the way, and then proceed to try to trade in blood diamonds while setting up a match factory staffed with Pygmies, you are not merely wasting our time and fucking up people's lives. You are contributing to, benefiting from, and reinforcing the racist architecture of the problem you are theoretically trying to "expose." Do not patronize this shit. ELI SANDERS Hollywood Theatre.
See My, What a Busy Week! Bagdad 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, Liberty Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
If you are not the type of person who would ever see a long French musical about the romantic lives of a mother and daughter, you can stop reading. But if you ARE, then you're in luck! Beloved is very French, and with music. Starring Catherine Deneuve and her real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni, the film spans four decades, and covers the ups and downs of a handful of love stories. Some of the songs are great, others are meh, and again, it's super long—but if this is the kind of thing you'd generally be into, you'll probably be into this. ELINOR JONES Living Room Theaters.
The Best of the
NW Animation Festival
A greatest-hits edition of this year's NW Animation Festival, featuring 16 short films. More info: nwanimationfest.com. Hollywood Theatre.
The Devil, Probably
Robert Bresson's 1977 film. Also screening this weekend: Bresson's Pickpocket (1959). Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
For A Good Time Call...
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
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 Forest Theatre.
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 Inbetweeners Movie
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Nazis hiding on the dark side of the moon plan to return to Earth. Shockingly, this film was not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
Kicking + Screening
Soccer Film Festival
Two soccer-related documentaries, each accompanied by a short, screening as part of "the world's premier international film event dedicated solely to football/soccer." Thursday has Argentina Futbol Club, while Friday has Gringos at the Gate. More info: kickingandscreening.com. Urban Studio.
Before strapping on the gimp mask in The Dark Knight Rises, and before terrifying/thrilling everyone in Bronson, British actor Tom Hardy was winning modeling contests and playing Patrick Stewart's shaven, sniveling clone in Star Trek: Nemesis. Not the most auspicious beginning, and one that seems even stranger when watching the confident, beautiful, and violent Lawless, the latest from The Proposition and The Road director John Hillcoat. All but unrecognizable, Hardy shuffles and grunts his way through 1931 Virginia, where he and his brothers Jack (Shia LaBeouf) and Howard (Jason Clarke) run moonshine. Hardy, predictably, is fantastic—taciturn and grim until he's pushed, at which point he becomes all speed and brass knuckles—but Lawless is Jack's story. Like a backwoods The Godfather, we follow Jack as he clumsily tries to impress his tough brothers. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Frank Darabont/Jim Carrey tear-jerker from 2001, screening as part of the Kiggins Theatre Grand Re-opening Gala. More info: kigginstheatre.com. Kiggins Theatre.
The Artist Is Present
A documentary about Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovic, following her as she prepares for her 2010 MOMA retrospective. 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 Cinemagic, Kiggins Theatre, St. Johns Twin Cinemas.
Following the Vietnam War, refugees began to flee South Asia and settle in the United States, many in the Pacific Northwest. Elaine Velazquez's 1991 documentary offers a unique and intimate look into the lives of these displaced people. As their cultural values begin to shift—from gender roles to divorce to spirituality—the refugees either struggle with or embrace American culture. Moving Mountains offers a stark, captivating comparison of traditional life and new opportunity.Director in attendance. ZIBBY PILLOTE Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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.
Robert Bresson's 1959 film. Also screening this weekend: Bresson's The Devil, Probably (1977). Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Portland Youth Media Film Festival
Short films from Portland youngsters, with everything from a zombie movie to a documentary on the Columbia Slough. Hollywood Theatre.
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 Forest Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
A prequel to Alien, Ridley Scott's return to science fiction, and, on both counts, a disappointment. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Raiders of the Lost Ark IMAX
See My, What a Busy Week! Bridgeport Village Stadium 18, Lloyd Center 10 Cinema.
Red Hook Summer
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
A new monthly series at the Hollywood Theatre, "showing vintage and contemporary films that are obscure, neglected, and from the fringe." This month: "Amateurs and Auteurs," featuring homemade movies from the early 1940s to the 1980s. Hollywood Theatre.
Resident Evil: Retribution
This is the fifth Resident Evil film; for the fifth time, Milla Jovovich is gonna fuck up some zombies. It did not screen for critics. Weird. Various Theaters.
Robot and Frank
Grumpy ex-con Frank (Frank Langella) is old, tired, and starting to lose his memory. So his son buys him a robot—a "health care aide," who's programmed to monitor and improve Frank's physical and mental health. The robot takes out the trash, goes grocery shopping, and keeps Frank company. Frank hates the robot... until, thinking back on his days as a cat burglar, he realizes he might be able to trick the robot into helping him pull off a heist. A goofy plot twist or two aside, Robot and Frank is phenomenal—funny and sad and kind and weird and insightful. It's one of my favorite movies I've seen in a long time. ERIK HENRIKSEN 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. 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, Bagdad Theater, Edgefield, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
The guys known for arranging footage of stuff have arranged a bunch more stuff! With a world music soundtrack! The creators of Baraka and Koyaanisqatsi return to cinemas with Samsara, and this time, the focus of their artfully arranged travelogue is the ongoing struggle of man versus nature, and how one's always trying to get the upper hand. Monks push around colored sand to make a mosaic; storms push around people's homes and cars, filling them with dirt and rubble; patterns illustrate the dualities of tradition/modernity and creation/waste. I spent a lot of time thinking about my groceries, bills, and girls who broke my heart. JAMIE S. RICH Fox Tower 10.
Sleepwalk with Me
Turn on NPR and you'll hear an example: "Real people" telling "true stories" are everywhere these days. Stand-up comedian Mike Birbiglia is a real person who has a true story about his career in comedy, ending a relationship, and a sleep disorder, and he's gotten pretty good at telling it: First in a one-man show, then a book, and now the gently endearing film Sleepwalk with Me, co-written with storytelling high priest Ira Glass. Describing a story as "true" suggests there's only one way to tell it, but if this mild little comedy has a moral, it's this: Even a true story is changed in the telling. The best we can do is to tell our stories honestly and well. Co-director and star in attendance for 4:30, 7, and 9 pm shows on Sat Sept 8. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
This Is Now
A locally produced film that "explores the triumphs and difficulties of finding one's spiritual path." Clinton Street Theater.
Turn Me On, Dammit!
A quirky Norwegian film that follows Alma (Helene Bergsholm) over the course of a particularly trying couple of months during the dog days leading up to her 16th birthday. Possessed by hormones, she gets busted for racking up phone-sex charges (we first meet her, mid-purchase, on the kitchen floor), rides rolls of coins when the register gets slow at work, and slips into erotic daydreams about virtually everyone she encounters in her tiny Norwegian village. Dammit doesn't need to say much about horny teenage girls other than, unapologetically, that they exist, and can do so without conforming to the dead stock of bad girl associations–Alma's a sweet, ballsy, normal girl who shoulder taps for beer and shares a ritual with her friends in which they religiously flip off the road sign for their hometown every time they pass it. While the ending is a bit too pattingly winking and cute, Dammit tells its short, forthright tale briskly and with a curtsy before moving off stage right. MARJORIE SKINNER Clinton Street Theater.
"Take this quarter, go downtown, and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face! Good day to you, madam." Laurelhurst Theater.
Will the Real Terrorist
Please Stand Up?
A documentary about "half a century of hostile US-Cuba relations" and "the Cuban Five, intelligence agents sent to penetrate Cuban exile terrorist groups in Miami [who are] now serving long prison sentences." EMINEM. SIT BACK DOWN. THIS ISN'T ABOUT YOU. Clinton Street Theater.