You know the episode in every long-running sitcom where two characters get stuck in an elevator? Welcome to the Spanish film Madrid, 1987, an interminable exercise in two people stuck in a room. COURTNEY FERGUSON
Ulrich Seidl's linked Paradise trilogy examines the lives of three Austrian women who spend their vacations in three very different ways. But where Paradise: Love, which examined Western sex tourism in Kenya, was punishingly insightful, Paradise: Faith is just plain punishing. Quiet and nearly plotless, Faith follows a creepily religious woman as she tries to convert her neighbors, flagellates herself in front of her crucifix, and struggles with the sexual advances of her invalid husband. Despite its provocative subject matter, though, the film doesn't have much to say. ALISON HALLETT
Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy
This complex political docudrama recreates a crucial nexus of radical Italian politics at the end of the 1960s. When a terrorist bank bombing kills 17, police believe anarchists set the bomb, while other theories point to the neo-fascists. The film jumps between the different extremist groups and travels up the chain of power as a police detective seeks out hidden truths. It's a lot to keep straight, but worth the effort. JAMIE S. RICH
This documentary about a landfill plopped perilously close to a lush Turkish tea field will make you retch and gnash your teeth. Pitched to skeptical farmers and villagers as a high-tech answer to unregulated dumping along an otherwise beautiful stretch of the Turkish coast, the landfill has been anything but. Garbage left rotting in the open stinks so badly that wild dogs come from all around to gnaw on it. And when villagers rub the mess, and the air pollution, in the faces of bureaucrats? "The earth will sort it out," they say, like they mean it. DENIS C. THERIAULT
Kill List director Ben Wheatley masterfully combines the beauty of the English countryside with black humor and his knack for almost unbearable tension, resulting in something that's original, shocking, and hilarious. NED LANNAMANN
Nothing creepy here. Just the concierge of an apartment building hanging out under his residents' beds, waiting to chloroform 'em. Sleep Tight is a genuine heebie-jeebie fest, mesmerizing in its levels of psychological fucked-up-ness. COURTNEY FERGUSON
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Alain Resnais presents a layered, unapologetically navel-gazing film about art, life, memory, and death. When a playwright dies, all of his old actor friends are summoned to his estate, where they're shown a video of a play based on the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, a show they'd all acted in at various points over the years. Slowly, the old actors begin reprising their roles. It's surprisingly enjoyable, given that it's outrageously pretentious and French. ALISON HALLETT
21 and Over
"The night before his big medical school exam, a promising student celebrates his 21st birthday with his two best friends." Not screened for critics, and somehow, it doesn't seem to have any Oscar buzz. Various Theaters
Matthew McConaughey for Best Supporting Actor! Wait. What? Matthew McConaughey isn't even nominated? FUCK THIS SHIT. Academy Theater, Hollywood Theatre.
Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The Bitter Buddha
With The Bitter Buddha, filmmaker Steven Feinartz has created an absolutely essential profile of Eddie Pepitone, a comedian whose popularity with his fellow comics makes his relative obscurity seem that much more unjust. Feinartz weaves footage of Pepitone onstage and off with interviews with Patton Oswalt, Todd Glass, Sarah Silverman, and plenty more. (Marc Maron drops in to question the integrity of the entire documentary enterprise.) The Bitter Buddha is insightful, hilarious, inspiring, and a little bit sad; if you're not familiar with Pepitone's work, this is a great starting point. If you are, I don't know why you haven't seen this already. Comedy fans: Don't miss this one. Director and subject in attendance. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Bless Me, Ultima
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10
The Boondock Saints
The ridiculously overrated crime flick from 1999. Cast in attendance. Cinemagic.
What's this? A crappy looking horror movie that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III
We should use this film to extract information from terrorists. VINCE MANCINI Living Room Theaters.
A Good Day to Die Hard
I've seen a bunch of Twitter and Facebook comments about how terrible this film is. Everyone hates it! Like, REALLY, REALLY HATES IT. Which is making me second-guess how good I thought it was. Instead of questioning myself, though, instead of thinking I'm the problem, I have one question for the haters: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT? A Good Day to Die Hard is great! There are massive explosions and crazy white terrorists! Glass shatters, bullets fly. There's a car chase that just might be the longest car chase in cinematic history since The Blues Brothers. John McClane makes corny jokes (as always), and someone in his family is pissed at him (as always), and the bad guys get what they deserve (as always). It's everything a Die Hard movie should be! MEGAN SELING Various Theaters.
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.
Happy People: A Year in the Taiga
The great German director Werner Herzog takes us to a village in the subarctic Siberian taiga. The village has 300 souls who are sustained by hunting. The hunters are stoic and resourceful, and spend a good amount of time alone in the woods trapping little animals, netting big fish, and shooting strange birds out of the sky. These men show emotional warmth not when speaking about their children or their wives or their country or their youth, but about their dogs. Herzog narrates the documentary in a way that one might mistake for a parody of Herzog. He repeatedly states the obvious (the river is melting because it is summer, notice how the hunter does not feed his dog much food, and so on) and is moved only by the rugged/rustic stupidity of the men, their constant struggles with the forces of nature, and their indifference to beauty. These men, Herzog believes, are happy because they have no illusions. When a flashy politician visits their village by boat to ask for votes, the hunters yawn and walk away. Politics and its promises mean nothing to them. What is important is making traps, cutting down trees, and raising dogs. CHARLES MUDEDE Living Room Theaters.
Hecklevision: Con Air
Nicolas Cage's 1997 aerial action epic Con Air, screened as it's never been screened before—with your smartass texts beamed directly from your phone right onto the giant-ass movie screen. This event will be the apex of your life. See My, What a Busy Week!Hollywood Theatre.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
It's the end of World War II, and ex-sailor Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix) is a goddamn drunk. He's also vengeful, hypersexual, and perhaps (or perhaps not) an involuntary murderer. Something needs to give, and so enters Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), the "master" of a startup religion/self-help cult called "The Cause" (played by Scientology). For Dodd, Quell is the perfect patient/guinea pig; an "animal" who, once his "ancient trauma" is revealed though tests, study, and psychological torture, will hopefully graduate to a higher order of human... the human we were created to be. One is tempted to gleefully approach The Master as the cinematic counterpart to a juicy Vanity Fair hit piece—but upon viewing, one quickly realizes that Paul Thomas Anderson is reaching for much more. Rather than heaping scorn on a pseudo-faith, Anderson's film is a gorgeously filmed rumination on human need: the need to be self-aware, the need to be accepted, the need to be loved. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Laurelhurst Theater.
Portland Black Film Festival
The Portland Black Film Festival runs from Wed Feb 6 through Wed Feb 27. For more info, see "Hey White People—You're Invited!" [Film, Feb 6]; for showtimes, see hollywoodtheatre.org. Hollywood Theatre.
Why isn't there an emoticon for the thing on all of Nicholas Sparks' movie posters where people are kissing and touching each other's faces? That would make writing this review a lot easier. Because with Safe Haven, that's pretty much all you are getting. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Saturday Night Fever
The Magic Mike of 1977! Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Thanks to cagey advertising, audiences will be in for a surprise as Side Effects unfolds: What starts as an intensely accurate study of a young woman's depression gradually contorts itself into something else entirely. Steven Soderbergh's calculated eye, paired with Scott Z. Burns' script, finds plenty to grab onto in the story of 28-year-old graphic designer Emily (Rooney Mara), who struggles with crippling hopelessness—a weary, bone-deep sadness. After a jarring suicide attempt, Dr. Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) starts Emily on Ablixa, a new, unproven antidepressant, at which point things get even more intense. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
A Dave Grohl-directed doc about Van Nuys, California's legendary recording studio. The first half is a very interesting, well-made documentary, and the second half is a jam session with Grohl and Paul McCartney. The second half is terrible. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
"This valley is just one long smorgasbord." Laurelhurst Theater.
Re-imagining Romeo and Juliet, Warm Bodies is the tale of a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) who longs for the old days before the apocalypse. On an outing for human flesh, R encounters the blonde beauty Julie (Teresa Palmer)—but she's from the other side of the tracks, as in she's a living breathing girl whose father is the head of the militant human survivors. It's way more charming and funny and clever than it needs to be. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.