If you snoozed through the Iranian hostage crisis by not being born yet, a refresher: The US and some other imperialists have historically been major assholes to Iran, so in 1979, the Iranian people were like, "Actually, no!" and they rose up and stormed the US embassy, where some 60 Americans were frantically trying to shred stuff and not be murdered. Six Americans escaped through a back door. (Nice embassy-storming, amateurs!) While the world was focused on what was happening to the dozens of hostages inside the embassy, those six were stuck at the Canadian ambassador's house—with no way to get out. Enter: Ben Affleck as a CIA hostage wrangler with an insane plan to create a fake sci-fi movie called Argo, call the six escaped hostages a film crew, and then GTFO. And you guys: This actually happened. I did a crappy job at explaining all of that, but Argo does not; Affleck's direction delivers a brilliantly simple telling of a complicated story. Detailed without ever feeling dense, the film should satisfy nearly all classes of nerds (history! Politics! Science fiction! Movies!), as well as normals who just want to watch something entertaining. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
The Blair Witch Project
See My, What a Busy Week! Academy Theater.
The Blashfield Studio's Classic Music Videos
A selection of Portland filmmaker Jim Blashfield's innovative music videos, made for everyone from Michael Jackson to the Talking Heads to Paul Simon. Director in attendance. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Bourne Legacy
Stupidity of the term aside, it's easiest to describe The Bourne Legacy as a "sidequel" to the Bourne flicks that starred Matt Damon: Legacy occurs during roughly the same timeframe, but thanks to Bourne's shenanigans, the government's decided to wipe out all of its experimental soldiers, including Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). Plus, Cross is running out of the meds that keep him all smart and tough—meaning that unless he and Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) can get him more pills, he'll go all Flowers for Algernon. Crammed full of technobabble and superfluous plot ("Blackbriar!" "Treadstone!" "BETA TEST GROUP C, ALPHA CODE TANGO!"), Legacy makes as much sense as all the other Bournes, which is to say none. But Renner's a solid action hero—angry and driven—while director Tony Gilroy, who wrote the Damon Bournes before directing the excellent Michael Clayton, continues the series' blurry, spastic action. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Cabin in the Woods
See My, What a Busy Week! Fifth Avenue Cinema.
A soapy, surprisingly glum biopic about surfer Jay Moriarty. For a movie about a guy surfing, there's an awful lot of him not surfing. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The classic, funny, gory horror flick—made by Peter Jackson before he had CG and unlimited budgets. Free Halloween screenings! Cinema 21
The Eye Has to Travel
For a subject so intensely associated with looking toward the future, fashion has been busy sewing up its modern history. Bill Cunningham, Valentino, and Anna Wintour have all had their own recent documentaries, and now there's Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, about the legendary fashion editor and Costume Institute visionary. For admirers of fashion and cultural history, it's a marvelous time. For those coming in cold or seeking serious critical analysis, entries like Diana come up a little short. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Evil Dead 2
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Fat Kid Rules the World
One of the many pleasures of The Descendants was rediscovering Matthew Lillard, all grown up and subtle and Shaggy no more. Now comes Lillard's directorial debut, which brings K. L. Going's award-winning young adult novel—about a suicidal fat kid in Seattle drawn into a friendship (and a punk band) with a troubled dropout—to the big screen. It's terrific, and laced throughout with richly humane moments that nail down big, well-known concepts—the push-and-pull of family love, the thrill of live music, the shittiness of loving a junkie (even platonically)—with affecting precision. Secret weapon: Billy Campbell's hard-ass dad with a heart of gold. DAVID SCHMADER Living Room Theaters.
Filmusik: Turkish Star Wars
Some movies are so bad they're good. And some movies are so bad they pass through being good and go back to being bad. The Man Who Saves the World (colloquially known as Turkish Star Wars) rolls over that particular odometer so many times it's hard to say where it ends up. Filmusik has done an admirable job then, in transmogrifying this Anatolian fever dream into an enjoyable 90 minutes of augmented cinema. Filmusik's shtick is to run the film silently and recreate the audio live: They pretty much fill the Hollywood Theatre stage with actors, an orchestra, and things to punch, and while the setup sounds clunky, it works. At a recent preview screening, voice acting was just good enough and just bad enough that I forgot it wasn't coming from the film. The sound effects were great and largely practical: boots and knives and coconuts for the horses. I asked one cast member why they had a cabbage, and she told me it was for "when the bear-things get their arms ripped off," which is totally a thing that happens. BEN COLEMAN Hollywood Theatre.
It's Halloween night and Wren and her bratty best friend April are stuck taking Wren's goober of a little brother, Albert, trick-or-treating. They should be going to the infamous Aaron Riley's Halloween party, but nooooo, Wren's widowed mother (Chelsea Handler) wanted to go to her 26-year-old boyfriend's Halloween party where a man in a bear costume farts on everyone. Being a teenager sucks. As the trick-or-treating comes to an end, Albert runs away, so Wren and April have to scour the city to find him. Shenanigans ensue! April almost kills an asthmatic cat with the Nair she has up her butt, a comic book nerd gets beat up by a large Samoan man after nearly setting the man's apartment on fire, a bunch of Beastie Boy references get dropped, a large mechanical chicken buttfucks a Volvo, some weird pedophilia jokes get made, Johnny Knoxville gets hit in the nuts, and (super duper not-at-all-surprising spoiler alert!) the charming nerd gets the pretty girl. It's 200 Cigarettes for the PG-13 crowd. MEGAN SELING Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Laurelhurst Theater.
My conversation with a seven-year-old kid after exiting Hotel Transylvania: ME: Soooo... what did you think? KID: It was good. ME: Did you think it was funny? KID: No. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
The House I Live In
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Looper is "just" an action movie the same way Brick was "just" a noir, or The Brothers Bloom was "just" a heist flick: All three were written and directed by Rian Johnson, and with each, Johnson appropriates the skeleton of a genre, then fleshes it out in astonishingly clever ways. All you need to know to enjoy Looper is that actions have consequences—and Looper is an action movie. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Night of the Living Dead & Return of the Living Dead
A zombie double feature, with Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead and Dan O'Bannon's significantly less classic Return of the Living Dead. Bagdad Theater.
Paranormal Activity 4
Another Halloween, another stupid Paranormal Activity. Various 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.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
After I read—and completely fell in love with—The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I dreaded seeing the movie. I didn't think I could stomach any changes to such a sweet, sad, and triumphant story. But guess what? This movie totally worked! I still can't believe it. The cathartic Perks captures the sometimes-awesome/always-awkward pains and victories of American teenagerdom in a way that few movies do. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Bridesmaids' female-driven raunch trickles down to college in Pitch Perfect, a deeply derivative yet totally enjoyable teen movie about a college a capella group. Essentially Glee with swearing and vagina jokes, this movie has about a billion problems, and I don't care about any of them because SONG BATTLES. Bonus: Anna Kendrick is utterly adorable as an angsty wannabe record producer, and Elizabeth Banks is great as a cheerfully bitter contest announcer. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Portland Humanist Film Festival
A fest featuring "films that give expression to the humanist approach to life based on reason, science, and ethics." More info: humanistfest.com. Cinema 21.
NW Film Center's annual music/film series wraps up with a whole lotta docs. For more info, see nwfilm.org and "Reel Big Fest" (Mercury, Oct 11). Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Robot & Frank
Grumpy ex-con Frank (Frank Langella) is old, tired, and starting to lose his memory. So his son buys him a robotic "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 Laurelhurst Theater.
Martin McDonagh's feverish, hilarious story about a drunk screenwriter, Marty (Colin Farrell). And the probably insane Billy (Sam Rockwell). And a charming, doddering dog thief (charming, doddering Christopher Walken), and an Amish sociopath (Harry Dean Stanton), and an exceedingly troubled man with a bunny (Tom Waits), and a trigger-happy crime boss (Woody Harrelson). Things get a bit meta, and they get impressively bloody, and there might be one or two women in it? Briefly? There is definitely a dog in it. This isn't a movie for everybody, but it's well aware of that fact, and it's a hell of a good time. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Silent Hill: Revelation
What? Another crappy-looking horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
Sing-Along Moulin Rouge
"A champagne- and absinthe-drenched," not obnoxious at all sing-along screening of Baz Luhrmann's execrable Moulin Rouge, in which attendees are encouraged to wear "monstrous monocles" and "ghastly garters," so as to go along with the holiday theme "Ghoul-in Rouge" and OH GOD MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOPPPP Star Theater.
Voices in Action: Human Rights
The Northwest Film Center's human rights-centric series. This week's selections: Brothers on the Line, The World Before Her, and Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare. More info: nwfilm.org. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Wake in Fright
John Grant (Gary Bond) is a schoolteacher stationed in the middle of nowhere—well, the middle of the Australian Outback, which is more or less the same thing. When the term ends, he boards a train to Sydney, stopping off overnight in the remote working-class town of Bundanyabba, referred to by locals as "the Yabba." Virtually forced into drinking himself into oblivion by friendly-seeming but ominous locals, John loses all his money and finds himself trapped in the dry, hot hell of the Yabba without any real way to leave. Dusty, sweaty, and seamy, Wake in Fright was lost for several years after its original release in 1971. While its absence may have enhanced its reputation as a "lost" landmark of Australian cinema, looking at the restored film now reveals it's as potent and intense and brutal as it must've been when it first came out. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
You've Been Trumped
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.