100 Bloody Acres
The narrow line between humor and gore is nothing new, but it's rarely straddled well. This Australian horror comedy pulls it off, as brothers Reg (Damon Herriman) and Lindsay (Angus Sampson) use human corpses for their fertilizer business. There are more laughs than scares here; Herriman has real heart, and the farce builds up effectively. Even the incredibly hokey Australian country music on the soundtrack is difficult to dislike. NED LANNAMANN Clinton Street Theater.
Ain't in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm
See review this issue. Mission Theater.
Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri's adaptation of Yasmina Khadra's novel, in which an Arab surgeon learns his wife may be a suicide bomber. 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: Samurai Cop. Hollywood Theatre.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Lansbury, back in the motherfuckin' house. Academy Theater.
When they were in their 20s, Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) had a whirlwind, one-night romance in Vienna (Before Sunrise); nine years later, bruised and a little wiser, they reunited in Paris, rekindling the spark of their first meeting (Before Sunset). Before Midnight leaps nine more years into the future, finding the couple in a troubled long-term relationship that's facing some major life changes. Thanks to our nearly two decades of history with these characters, when Jesse and Celine really dig down into their true feelings, it resonates stronger than ever. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Berberian Sound Studio
In 1976, a nebbish sound engineer travels from Britain to Rome to make sound effects for a low-budget giallo flick, finding a bit of a horror show of his own. While the likeable Gilderoy (Toby Jones) clashes with sinister Italians and figures out how to best create the noises for an impressive litany of maimings, torturings, drownings, stabbings, and aroused goblins, director Peter Strickland focuses on the prosaic images of his dials, levers, and reel-to-reels—along with the lettuce heads he's forced to repeatedly, awkwardly stab while standing next to a microphone. Berberian Sound Studio takes itself a little too seriously and more or less falls apart in its final act, but Jones is predictably great and there are some nicely ominous moments of sneaky, dark humor. Depending on where you land on the Venn diagram of "cinephile" and "audiophile," this might be right up your alley. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
The Bling Ring
With its monotonous succession of nightclubs, elegantly overexposed housing developments, and fancy closets, The Bling Ring is a disappointingly unambitious retelling of the fame-hungry Bling Ring's gossip-related crimes. As Sofia Coppola's camera lingers over her protagonists' vanity and self-infatuation, it's clear she's fascinated by the motivations of their real-life counterparts—and, presumably, with the sociological implications that their crimes underscore. Problem is, Coppola never manages to translate that fascination into something greater than a sumptuously composed episode of TMZ. ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
"I already know an awful lot of people and until one of them dies I couldn't possibly meet anyone else." Laurelhurst Theater.
A documentary from Jeremy Scahill, the muckraker extraordinaire for the Nation who first revealed Blackwater's deep, unaccountable involvement in Iraq. Dirty Wars charts how a single renegade trip to the Afghan town of Gardez—where a wedding party had been shot up by "bearded Americans" in the dead of night—unearthed evidence of the military's most sensitive secrets, like Barack Obama's "kill list" (that includes Americans) and the shadowy spook-commandos the White House sends out to enforce it, anywhere in the world it wants. Dirty Wars unfolds slowly, but it minds its unfolding mysteries and builds in urgency like any capable thriller should. The telegenic Scahill jumps from Afghanistan to Yemen to America, meeting like-minded moles in the military and figuring out the government is watching him right back. He also turns casualties and collateral damage back into human beings. DENIS C. THERIAULT Living Room Theaters.
Doin' It in the Park
A documentary about New York's pick-up basketball scene, with its more than 700 courts and 500,000 players. This film features an interview with Dr. J. Hollywood Theatre
Whichever way you turn the movie, it catches some light: This way, the plight of millennials; that way, the stylistic nods to French New Wave. There's a whole trend piece to be written about the young female writers (star Greta Gerwig co-wrote the script) who are changing the way women are depicted in popular entertainment, and then there's parsing how this generous, optimistic film fits into the context of writer/director Noah Baumbach's previous work. What a tremendous relief it is to find a movie that acknowledges that women are interesting—that a woman can be the protagonist in a story that doesn't end in romance or a makeover, and that all the vitality and confusion and excitement of being young can be refracted just as well through a woman as a man. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
A compelling portrait of author and philosopher Hannah Arendt's coverage of SS officer Adolf Eichmann's trial and its controversial aftermath. Struck by Eichmann's bureaucratic mediocrity rather than any sense of violent malice, Arendt's famous theory of the "banality of evil" was born. Now a major influence on how we discuss the Holocaust, her assertion that unthinkingly following orders and carrying out tasks with no motive outside of efficiency is capable of more widespread destruction than outright cruelty was widely renounced. Portraying an intellectual clash with this much tension is an achievement in itself, but Hannah Arendt also manages to be a nuanced character piece, elevating it to impressive. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
High and Outside: The Story of Hosford
A documentary about "a diverse group of Portlanders who have been playing softball nearly every Sunday since 1998 in a dilapidated schoolyard." Hollywood Theatre.
How to Make Money Selling Drugs
See review this issue. Screening at 7 pm on Fri June 28 followed by a Q&A with Shelley Fox-Loken of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). Hollywood Theatre.
An experimental documentary about commercial fishing that uses small cameras to "capture the sensory experience of the labor, ecology, sound, light, and motion of one of man's oldest activities." Wait. Deadliest Catch is still on Netflix Instant, right? Whitsell Auditorium.
Man of Steel
Zack Snyder, David S. Goyer, and Christopher Nolan have found a way to both reintroduce and celebrate a character everybody already knows; while Man of Steel isn't perfect, it's the best Superman movie yet, and offers some of the most fun you'll have in a theater this summer. Plus! Kevin Costner! ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The charming "scarers" of Monsters, Inc.—brainy, earnest eye-blob Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) and his furry lug of a pal, James "Sulley" Sullivan (John Goodman)—are just entering college. They're still years from the work that brought them to Boo, and still profoundly insecure and finding their own place in the world. Humor (and a delightful mash-up of college movie memes meant to evoke Revenge of the Nerds and Old School, but without all the boobies) keeps the whole thing from getting too treacly. Maybe this isn't Pixar's most amazing entry, but it's always refreshing when a monster movie comes off as more human than most of its non-monster peers. DENIS C. THERIAULT Various Theaters.
Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado is a snappy, clever play, and quipmaster Whedon is the perfect director to take on the courtship of sharp-tongued Beatrice and equally acerbic Benedick. Whedon's contemporized Much Ado is full of sexual tension, misunderstandings, and only-in-Shakespeare scheming—the verbal sparring that Shakespeare thought of as "foreplay" hasn't been this much fun since Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger (RIP) went at it in 10 Things I Hate About You. The whole thing is high-spirited, silly, and supremely easy to watch. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
Pain & Gain
Somewhere out there in an alternate universe, I like to think that the Coen brothers directed Pain & Gain. It's a premise that seems ideal for them: the true story of a team of lunkheaded Florida bodybuilders who decide to kidnap a wealthy deli owner and hold him hostage until he agrees to sign over his fortune. The story gets weirder, ultimately involving a porn magnate, a retired private detective, several bushelsful of severed body parts, and a whole lot of stupid choices. But for whatever reason—karmic punishment?—we live in a universe where Michael Bay directed Pain & Gain. PAUL CONSTANT Bagdad Theater, Edgefield, St. Johns Theater and Pub.
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The Place Beyond the Pines
The latest from Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) is made up of three interlocking stories, focusing first on Luke (Ryan Gosling), a stunt motorcyclist who makes his living as a daredevil with a traveling carnival; then on rookie cop Avery (Bradley Cooper), who investigates corruption in the police force; and then Luke and Avery's sons, who, 15 years in the future, meet in high school. Pines is a big, jumpy, restless film, filled with intriguing characters whose motives remain tantalizingly hazy. But it's also got grand ambitions, and these very qualities are what make it frustrating: Despite its plottiness, it's far more effective as a character study than as some epic commentary on fathers and sons. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater.
Portland Jewish Film Festival
As specific as "Jewish" can be, when applied to contemporary cinema it results in a dynamic snapshot of how this identity is currently being addressed. The Northwest Film Center often hosts such culturally focused events as the Portland Jewish Film Festival, now in its 21st year. To outsiders the fest may seem a bit members-only, but each year includes pieces that speak to universalities alongside those that offer immersive—and healthily unfamiliar—perspectives. For more info, see "Goy Joy," June 12. MARJORIE SKINNER Whitsell Auditorium.
Here are some of the problems you may have with director Harmony Korine's already-infamous Spring Breakers: (1) The young college gals depicted in the film invite degradation upon themselves with voracious, proud abandon. (2) Plotwise, there's probably less here than meets the eye. And perhaps most importantly, (3) Spring Breakers may make you come to the sudden, surprising realization you have a big stick up your ass. This is one hell of a polarizing film, and I'll say right now that, as someone who's sick of stale, predictable Hollywood product, I loved it. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Laurelhurst Theater.
Stories We Tell
With Stories We Tell, Sarah Polley takes on the art of documentary—and not only makes something human and impactful, but folds the genre in on itself. Ostensibly, Stories is a study of Polley's family, centered on her mother Diane, who died of cancer when Polley was 11. With almost cold calculation, Polley puts virtually everyone in her family—siblings, father, aunts, family friends—into the hot seat and tasks them with telling "the whole story": what Diane was like, what her relationship with her father was like, and far into the plot-thickening beyond. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
A bilingual screening of two episodes of the telenovela Por Ella Soy Eva, with an intermission, discussion, and activities. Hollywood Theatre.
This Is the End
There are many laughs to be had in This Is the End—perhaps the first apocalypse movie centering around a Hollywood brat pack—but the best moment comes when pop star Rihanna slaps the ever-loving shit out of Arrested Development's Michael Cera. It is a slap for the ages, and so very, very gratifying. It's worth the price of admission alone. Lucky for you, a lot more fun follows. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
White House Down
See Film, this issue. Various Theaters.
World War Z
It's hard to read World War Z by Max Brooks—Chronicler of the Undead, Son of Mel—and not see how a film version could've worked. Subtitled "an oral history of the zombie war," Brooks' post-apocalyptic survey profiles the war-weary survivors of a global zombie infestation, turning out to be less about zombies and more about Middle Eastern politics and America's tectonic class disparities. Relevant and scary and melancholy, Brooks' book pushes all the right buttons; with a few million and a few hours, Ken Burns could've turned it into something remarkable. Instead, we get World War Z, which—as a wannabe action franchise and a multiplex-friendly narrative—ditches nearly everything interesting about Brooks' book. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.