From its inception, the Up documentary series has had an explicitly sociological bent: "Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man," runs the quote that serves as the series' de facto tagline. In the grim, black-and-white '60s, this line had the ring of a curse, and certain installments of the series are pretty harrowing. There's a rough patch in the middle, around 21 and 28—everyone seems to be getting married too young, and one of the upper-class boys, Neil, unexpectedly winds up mentally ill and homeless. But when the Up series' subjects (not all of whom have participated in every film) hit their 40s, things seem to even out: Most of the subjects have found a measure of contentment in their middle age. Viewers are no longer taxed with the burden of worrying how these kids will turn out—they've turned out already, and most of them are just fine. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
In his signature style, which is variously described as "brutal," "sadistic," and "unsentimental," Michael Haneke paints the portrait of a well-off, cultured elderly couple in Paris who have to contend with the increasing incapacitation of Anne (Emmanuelle Riva). After suffering a paralyzing stroke, Anne asks her husband Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) not to ever put her in the hospital—so he oversees her final downward spiral, diaper changes included. In portraying a situation that... well, sucks, Haneke's signature devotion to honesty yields a result that is technically impressive, beautifully acted, and deeply boring. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
The Hollywood's series features B-movies, with the audience marking down clichés on a custom-made bingo card. This time around: Rambu: The Intruder. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin &
the Farm Midwives
If you haven't yet been cornered by a pregnant friend who wants to discuss their birth plan in detail... well, it'll happen. Birth Story puts the modern midwifery movement in context, diving back to the '70s, when a caravan of natural-birth advocates drove from San Francisco to Tennessee to found the still-operational Farm Midwifery Center. The doc's full of interviews with cool old ladies, gory/fascinating descriptions of birthing methods, and great archival footage of pregnant hippies happily popping out babies on communes. It's inspiring stuff, regardless of your own birth plan. Or lack thereof. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
Bullet to the Head
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
The world's first western blaxploitation revenge buddy comedy, Django Unchained is one of Quentin Tarantino's best movies—a brutal, hilarious, thrilling, messy bastard of a thing. It's the result of Tarantino gleefully making a balls-out western after years of almost doing so, and it's excellent that he did: The genre hasn't been served this well since Deadwood, No Country for Old Men, and Red Dead Redemption. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Faux Museum Microcinema
Eclectic 16mm films curated by Dennis Nyback, screening every night in February except for Mondays. More info: dennisnybackfilms.com. The Faux Museum.
A mushy lovenote to the gangster genre and a gun-happy bloodbath that gives Django Unchained a run for its money. It's a sweaty, haymaker-throwing brawler of a film with gorgeous art direction, snappy patter, blood-splattered violence, and the smoky come-hither eyes of Ryan Gosling. The heavy-handed clichés are pursued with such zealous affection that it's hard not to smile—until about the three-quarter mark. That's about the time when your smile slowly turns to disappointment after realizing there's nothing here but gorgeous clichés. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Getting to Know YouTube
Local presenters help you to "climb into YouTube's deepest caverns of collective consciousness and unearth hidden treasures, stretching the boundaries of what tubes and you were meant for." Okay! Hollywood Theatre.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
Hansel and Gretel (Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton) are now contract killers, ridding the countryside of a surprisingly bountiful amount of witches using an arsenal of steampunk weaponry. The two aren't exactly well adjusted: They've got some sort of pseudo-sexual relationship in which Hansel sleeps curled up on the floor next to his sister's bed. And as a child, that evil witch forced Hansel to eat so much candy that he's now a diabetic. This playful goofiness makes Hansel & Gretel a brainless, fun fantasy, with plenty of R-rated gore and just the right amount of bodice-heaving sex appeal. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Hyde Park on Hudson
Bill Murray can do no fucking wrong. His Franklin Delano Roosevelt obviously isn't the so-good-it's-scary, soul-deep possession of Daniel Day-Lewis' Abraham Lincoln. It's not like you ever forget that he's Bill Murray. But he's excellent anyway: He gets the president's playfulness, his condescending, patrician air, and his inherent inaccessibility, and he makes it his own. His performance is a masterful sketch that looks easier than it probably is. It's a shame Murray is stuck in the middle of such a pedestrian movie. PAUL CONSTANT Fox Tower 10.
Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star as a British couple vacationing in Thailand with their three sons. When the 2004 tsunami hits, husband and wife are separated in the blast. Though based on a true story, The Impossible has drawn some understandable criticism for the fact that it's changed the nationality of the real family from Spanish to British in order to cast two white actors in the lead roles. (Naturally, the reason is that the movie studio thought they could make more money this way.) Luckily, backward corporate policies don't stop The Impossible from being a pretty good movie—and if you can ignore the color of their skin, all the actors turn in outstanding performances. JAMIE S. RICH Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower 10.
Conspirator of Pleasure
A series celebrating wacky ol' Jan "Švanky" Švankmajer. This week's films include Little Otik, Lunacy, and Surviving Life. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A not-screened-for-critics drama starring Rob Lowe. So... um... hey, look at that! Parks & Rec is on Netflix Instant! Laurelhurst Theater.
It's like Trapped in the Closet for white people who aren't in on the joke. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Frank Capra's 1937 fantasy. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
You're going to hear the word "mama" about 12,567 times in the new supernatural horror flick Mama. Here, I'll fortify you in advance with some plaintive whimperings of "mama," "mama," "mama." A few other expectations you might want to shake hands with: This isn't the scariest creepy-kid picture you're ever going to watch, the ghost gets boring to look at after you've seen her nearly as many times as those kids mewling the word "mama," and lowered expectations make the sum of Andy Muschietti's debut film better than its parts. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
A not-screened-for-critics comedy. Various Theaters.
That title's pretty self-explanatory, huh. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Through Parker, you can see subtle little touches that demonstrate the best parts of the character, pulled from Richard Stark's brilliant crime series: When Parker's stealing a car to get away from a heist-gone-bad, you see Jason Statham momentarily consider a limousine before running the scenario through his head—too risky—and then moving on. Later, Parker plants a few contingency weapons before the final shootout that he never gets around to using, which is a surprisingly naughty thrill in the leave-no-dot-unconnected world of Hollywood. Unfortunately, just about everything else about Parker sucks. PAUL CONSTANT Various Theaters.
PDX African American Film Festival
The festival returns for its sixth year, with offerings as diverse as Red Tails, Bob Marley documentary Marley, Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement, Harry Belafonte: Sing Your Song, and 1959's The World, the Flesh, and the Devil. More info: pdxaaff.com. Kennedy School, Mission Theater.
Portland Black Film Festival
The Portland Black Film Festival kicks off with a 35mm print of 1972's Across 110th Street. More info: Next week's Mercury, and hollywoodtheatre.org. Hollywood Theatre.
There are a lot of good intentions muddled up in Promised Land, and a lot of talent, too—the frustrating, almost-great film is directed by Gus Van Sant, with a story by Dave Eggers and a screenplay from costars John Krasinski and Matt Damon. Promised Land is a film with an agenda disguised as a film with no agenda, and if that sort of thing doesn't make you a little bit mad, well... then you should go see it! 'Cause otherwise it's really good. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Bagdad Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater, St. Johns Theater and Pub.
Hi Grandma! I hope you are doing well. I am sorry I haven't called in a couple of weeks. I have been... studying. A lot. Yeah, so I watched a movie I think you would like! It's called Quartet, and it stars a bunch of British actors who are silver foxes, like you! They live in a retirement home for musicians. The home is this beautiful English mansion, and all they do is tinker around with music and go on slow walks, and it is the most charming and quaint life possible. Keep in mind, all of these people have accents. Yes, sometimes they curse, but I promise it's not too vulgar! ELINOR JONES Fox Tower 10.
A series showcasing live concert footage. This week: David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust, a BBC doc about how Bowie "transformed art into fashion," followed by Bowie performances. Clinton Street 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 Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Various Theaters.
Stand Up Guys
See review this issue. Century Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall 8, Regal Cascade Stadium 16 Cinemas.
Universal Pictures: Celebrating 100 Years
A series of new 35mm prints of some of Universal's best and most famous movies. This week's selections include Showboat and To Kill a Mockingbird. More info: nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Zero Dark Thirty
Spanning years and continents in America's search for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, the latest from The Hurt Locker team of director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal—says a lot, and none of it is comforting. But what is clear is how real it feels: Zero Dark Thirty zooms in on everything from computer screens to bullets ripping through metal and flesh, but whether Bigelow's capturing the blown-out harshness of a Middle Eastern desert, the empty flicker of florescent overheads, or the grainy green phosphorescence of night vision, she colors everything in shades of gray. For all the stark chatter around the film, there's no black and white in Zero Dark Thirty—which means there isn't any victory, either. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.