28 Hotel Rooms
A romance in which "two people wrestle with the intoxication of sex and the confusion of loving more than one person." Also see every single Savage Love ever written. Living Room Theaters.
Prediction: Joe Wright's Anna Karenina is going to be the Speed Racer of literary adaptations—defended by nerds, derided by other nerds, and baffling to the public at large. It's an audacious interpretation of Leo Tolstoy that's overstuffed and overflowing with style. I can't be sure that it's a good movie—but I was so overwhelmed by its boldness that I can't deny I kind of loved it. JAMIE S. RICH Bridgeport Village Stadium 18, Century Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower 10.
Hey, look! The one holiday movie that won't put you to sleep or make you puke! Laurelhurst Theater.
Bear City 2: The Proposal
A sequel to the "hirsute Sex and the City" that follows "the funny, romantic, and occasionally dramatic adventures of a group of bears and cubs in New York City." Clinton Street Theater.
A Bit of the Old Ultra-Kubrick: Four Definitive Films by Stanley Kubrick
See My, What a Busy Week! Cinema 21.
The 1976 horror flick starring Margot Kidder. Hollywood Theatre.
David Mitchell's 2004 novel Cloud Atlas has long been considered unfilmable, and make no mistake: It still is. The new movie by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer is very much an adaptation, borrowing the basic outline of Mitchell's book to create something entirely its own. The film juggles six characters with six distinct storylines, set in time periods ranging from the 1830s to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Given the audacity of its undertaking, Cloud Atlas is remarkably cohesive. Some storylines resonate more than others, but they're all efficiently told. But for all the energy and flair this adaptation possesses, it's so focused on pulling off the logistics of adapting Mitchell's novel that there isn't room for much depth. ALISON HALLETT Century Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall 8.
Everything Is Terrible
The online purveyors of found footage present their Holiday Special—an "abominable video collage of everyone's least favorite time of year." Hollywood Theatre.
A clumsy, preachy, feature-length infomercial for AA. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A family drama starring Paul Dano, Jena Malone, and Napoleon Dynamite. Clinton Street Theater.
The Found Footage Festival
See Film, this issue. Laurelhurst Theater.
Grace Paley: Collected Shorts
A documentary about writer Grace Paley, screening on the 90th anniversary of Paley's birth. Screening will also include select Portlanders reading Paley's stories, essays, and poems. Clinton Street Theater.
The Healthcare Movie
A documentary about the difference between Canadian and American healthcare, narrated by Kiefer Sutherland. JACK BAUER HAS NO NEED FOR HEALTHCARE; HE HEALS LIKE WOLVERINE. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The Invisible Red Thread
A Canadian documentary in which a Chinese teenager—who was adopted as a baby by a Canadian couple—returns to China to see what her life could have been. Co-director in attendance via Skype. Clinton Street Theater.
The Northwest Film Center's annual series of contemporary Japanese films. This week's films include Shuichi Okita's The Woodsman and the Rain, Amir Naderi's Cut, various shorts (via the Sapporo Shorts Program), Atsushi Funahashi's Nuclear Nation, and Yûya Ishii's Mitsuko Delivers. More info: nwfilm.org. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Killing Them Softly
The story of Killing Them Softly is timeless: Here are a bunch of guys struggling to get by, fighting back despair, and screwing each other over for money. While it's based on George V. Higgins' 1974 novel Cogan's Trade, Killing Them Softly feels utterly contemporary—largely because writer/director Andrew Dominik has picked up Higgins' story and plopped it down a few decades later. Now it plays out in the gray ruins of post-Katrina New Orleans, with a soundtrack of news stories about the 2008 financial crisis leaking from every TV and car radio. Suddenly, that bunch of guys struggling to get by, fighting back despair, and screwing each other over for money is part of a bigger story. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater
A 35mm print of 1986's Martial Arts of Shaolin, starring a young Jet Li! Hollywood Theatre.
A Late Quartet
At the start of A Late Quartet, Christopher Walken's character explains to a group of his cello students that Beethoven's late quartet, Opus 131, is not the standard four movements but instead has seven parts and that you have to play them straight through with no breaks, which causes your instruments to go all out of tune with one another. "It's a mess," he says. It's also a metaphor about how basic entropy affects togetherness. The togetherness, say, of a musical group that's been playing together for 25 years when the oldest member finds he has Parkinson's and can't go on. Walken plays that character. Has he ever been the emotional center of a film before? It's magical. For much of A Late Quartet, the camera follows the storm of the other characters' drama—often, melodrama—until it finds a resting place once again on Walken's alien face, quietly registering the effects of old age. JEN GRAVES Laurelhurst Theater.
The Life and Death of
Though buoyant entertainment through and through, this 1943 Powell & Pressburger movie smuggles a sturdy "war is hell" message in its titular hero's walrus mustache. The Technicolor adaptation of David Low's comic strips tracks a British career soldier through three wars. Fueled by the filmmakers' usual visual panache and a tremendous performance from Roger Livesey, Colonel Blimp shows how youthful ideals can be overtaken by the obsolescence of age, leading to a bittersweet finish that pays honest tribute to the men who answer when duty calls. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Life of Pi
Ang's Lee's overblown but nonetheless quite beautiful adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 novel of the same name. Like the novel, it's a parable disguised as an adventure story; like the novel, some people will think it contains profound truths, and some will find it unbearably overwrought. Others—me!—will appreciate some of the best 3D we've seen to date, and enjoy the adventure despite its self-seriousness. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Oscar bait doesn't get much more baiting than this: Steven Spielberg directing Daniel Day-Lewis with a Tony Kushner script about the final months of America's most beloved, tragic president. By and large, Lincoln wanders many of the same paths Spielberg's other Oscar bait-y films have taken—this one feels particularly like Amistad, though there's some War Horse in here too. Lincoln is a generally well-made film, but it's also one stitched together from Day-Lewis' dramatic monologues and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski's reverential sepia tones: Even when it tries to humanize Lincoln, it's mostly just here to reaffirm what a Great Man he was and how he made some Very Important History. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
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 Academy Theater, Bagdad Theater, Edgefield, Joy Cinema & Pub, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater, Valley Theater, Vancouver Plaza 10.
The Man With the Iron Fists
Somehow RZA managed to make his very own kung fu movie, and it's exactly like you'd expect: really, really enthusiastic, and really, really not very good. Weirdly drained of his charisma, RZA stars as "Blacksmith," a... blacksmith who eventually makes himself some iron fists, which he then uses to punch the fuck out of people. Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe also show up, and there's a lot of fighting between various clans, and a lot of callbacks to Shaw Brothers classics, and a lot of ridiculous wigs. It's kind of fun and entirely incomprehensible, and the action is underwhelming. But still, good for RZA. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Portlander Cinema.
Nick Peterson: Films New and Old
Short films from Portland filmmaker Nick Peterson (yellow, Field Guide to November Days). Clinton Street Theater.
The story of three old guys and their friendship. Britt lives on his tiny boat and is out of touch with modern life, Bob is full of energy and attitude and is a ladies' man, and Dave is recently retired and spends his time "managing his retirement funds" (looking at internet porn). It's refreshing to see older characters being active and having their own lives and opinions, and not just playing someone's grandparent or having dementia. GILLIAN ANDERSON Living Room Theaters.
Ooh La La: A History of Lingerie
Film historian Dennis Nyback presents a collection of 16mm rarities that will "take the viewer from the pre-brassiere days of 1910 to the dawn of pantyhose in the '60s." The Faux Museum.
Playing for Keeps
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Filmmaker Whit Scott checks in on the covert toilet-papering society in Claremont, California, that he was part of in high school. Director in attendance. Alberta Rose Theatre.
Searching for Sugar Man
Detroit singer/songwriter Rodriguez released two obscure albums of introspective, Dylanesque agitprop-lite in 1970 and 1971, then promptly vanished. Documentary filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul picks up his thread in South Africa, where Rodriguez's music has amassed a huge following over the decades—and where nobody knows a thing about the mysterious man behind the records. If this is the first you've heard of Rodriguez, you might choose to stop reading here, because the twist that Searching for Sugar Man reveals—while not a surprise to anyone who's picked up the recent reissues of his albums on the Seattle-based Light in the Attic label—is handled brilliantly in the film. Even if you do know what happened next, Sugar Man is still one of the most intriguing and satisfying music documentaries in a good while. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
Martin McDonagh's feverish 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 Academy Theater, Hollywood Theatre, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Liberty Theatre, Mission Theater, Vancouver Plaza 10.
Silver Linings Playbook
As someone who's skeptical of silver linings being an actual thing, so too was I skeptical of Silver Linings Playbook, the would-be feel-good holiday release from I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell. Midway through the trailer, I half expected a voiceover to proclaim it was "from the producers of The Blind Side of the Help." But while the path of this thing seems obvious, the film's romance sneaks up on you: Russell disguises his love story by shooting Silver Linings Playbook with the same visceral immediacy he brought to The Fighter, cloaking the courtship in the manic energy of mental disorders. JAMIE S. RICH Bridgeport Village Stadium 18, Century Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower 10.
Sound, Sound, Sound, Sound, Screen!
Cinema Project's final program of the season is an Andrew Ritchey-curated, two-night program featuring "recent work by Robert Todd and Sarah RaRa and the belated Portland premiere of Larry Gottheim's masterwork of image-sound analysis, Four Shadows." More info: cinemaproject.org. YU Contemporary.
Waiting for Lightning
A 90-minute documentary about pro skateboarder Danny Way that would've been far more powerful had it been cut down to an hour. Way undeniably has experienced an interesting life thus far—losing his biological father in a freak prison death, suffering a drug addict mom, and fighting to become accepted in the skateboarding world—but the meat of this documentary is his attempt to jump the Great Wall of China. When that attempt is made, you will quite possibly squirm out of your seat from anxiety—but unfortunately, the wait is too long and the joys of grainy '80s skateboarding footage are too few and far between. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Living Room Theaters.
Do something nice for once take your grandmother to a Bing Crosby movie, you ungrateful jackass. Hollywood Theatre.