All the Labor:
The Story of the Gourds
A doc about Austin band the Gourds, better known as the people culpable for that fairly awful country cover of "Gin and Juice." Hollywood Theatre.
An American Werewolf in London
No tribute to special effects would be complete without a nod to Rick Baker, and no film better showcases his skills than John Landis' 1981 flick An American Werewolf in London, which, 32 years down the road, still boasts the greatest, goriest, and most horrifying man-wolf transformation ever. Screening as part of the Hollywood Theatre's "Handmade Monsters: The Masters of Practical Effects" series. H. PERRY HORTON Hollywood Theatre.
An American remake of a Japanese horror flick. This one stars Mischa Barton. Nope, no warning signs here. Clinton Street Theater.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
No band is as ripe for the documentary/exhumation treatment as Big Star, perhaps the ultimate cult band. In the early '70s, the Memphis power-pop group created three staggeringly brilliant LPs that all sank without a trace, and figurehead Alex Chilton had a weird, winding music career that made some of the catchiest pop the world has ever heard, along with willfully off-putting no-wave and broken-down singer/songwriter confessionals. Unlike in Searching for Sugar Man or the more recent, excellent A Band Called Death, the many interviews with insiders and fans in Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me don't seem likely to turn on new fans to the very real magic of Big Star. The converted, though, will be perfectly satisfied in hearing "September Gurls" pump out of movie-theater speakers at full volume. Saturday's screening will be followed by a performance of Big Star songs by Ken Stringfellow and "special guests." NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Born to Royalty
A BBC royalty-porn documentary about "the life that lies ahead for the child who is born to reign." They mean William and Kate's baby, but, weirdly, this would probably be about 100 percent less obnoxious if was about North West. Hollywood Theatre.
A British coming-of-age drama costarring Tim Roth. Clinton Street Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Laurelhurst Theater.
Despicable Me 2
I don't know... it's probably fine? You probably hoped that your children would have more discerning tastes than fart jokes and merciless cartoon violence by now, but kids are dumb and the worst, and it's literally going to make $500,000,000 regardless of what anybody says, so whatevs? ZAC PENNINGTON Various Theaters.
Fast & Furious 6
This time, the Fast & Furious family—and they are a family, as evidenced by the fact the word "family" is said 4,000 times during the movie, mostly by Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel), who usually looks like he's going to cry when he says it—are reunited to find a member they thought they'd lost, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez). Except Letty—who has amnesia—is in league with London thieves! "The crew we're after, they hit like thunder and disappear like smoke," growls Special Agent Luke Hobbs (the Rock). Through it all, director Justin Lin twists logic, plot, physics, and geography like pipe cleaners. His resultant—and super awesome—art project conveys not one but two life-affirming messages: (1) family is very important, and (2) just because you're on a plane doesn't mean a car can't hit you. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Fiddler on the Roof Sing-Along
Congregation P'nai Or of Portland presents Fiddler on the Roof as you've never wanted to experience it. There will also be "gluten-free Yiddish noshes" and a costume contest. Clinton Street Theater.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
The 1984 slasher flick, screening as part of the "Summer Camp" horror series. Hollywood Theatre.
Grown Ups 2
Adam Sandler's first sequel is even lazier, dumber, and less funny than his usual fare. It's worse than Grown Ups, for heaven's sake. Without even the semblance of a plot, this pointless dreck provides Sandler and his buddies with a day's worth of mundane mini-adventures, mostly in the form of comedy setups without payoffs. Gags arise out of nowhere, add nothing, then disappear. Gaping logical flaws that could be fixed with a line of dialogue are ignored. Boobs are ogled. There is no recognizable human behavior. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the filmmakers hate comedy. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Jour de Fête
Jacques Tati's 1949 comedy, screening as part of the NW Film Center's Top Down: Rooftop Cinema series. Hotel deLuxe
Five men (and an accident-prone parrot) take to the sea on a handmade raft in this almost ridiculously gorgeous retelling of Thor Heyerdahl's 1947 expedition, in which he attempted to prove that ancient settlers sailed between Peru and Polynesia. The most expensive film in Norway's history, this Oscar nominee has beauty to spare, with no shortage of sights aimed at making the viewer's jaw rebound off of the theater floor. Unfortunately, the lack of any real character development causes the narrative to sputter out quickly, leaving a repetitive cycle of shark sightings and sweet beards. Which isn't all that bad of a thing, really. ANDREW WRIGHT Laurelhurst Theater.
Les Blank Tribute
The NW Film Center plays two documentaries by the recently deceased Les Blank: Garlic Is As Good As Ten Mothers (1980) and Burden of Dreams (1982), Blank's great documentary about the making of Werner Herzog's Fizcarraldo. Both films are followed by his short film Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, which is about Werner Herzog eating his shoe. Whitsell Auditorium.
Let's Bury the Hatchet
(Deep in Your Face)
It's a Portland flick! (Bearing this in mind, manage your production-value expectations.) Writer/director Bryan Hiltner's film has a couple likeable attributes—its locale, a Mystery Men vibe, and a bombastic, over-the-top performance by Rich Cashin as a father seeking revenge on a director who didn't cast his daughter in a local play. Cashin assembles a team of superpowered assassins (a cat bomber, an annoyer, Frogman, et al.) to make the man pay. Let's Bury the Hatchet! is stridently tongue-in-cheek, which makes for an occasionally amusing flick, but one you wouldn't want to sit through again, because... strident. Screens with two short films, Present and The Bird Man Who Lives Down Tarrow Lane. COURTNEY FERGUSON Clinton Street Theater.
The Lone Ranger
A lumbering, nonsensical, crazed slab of big-budget lunacy. Audiences and critics will unite in their contempt for it. NED LANNAMANN 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.
The latest from writer/director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) is a sad, sweet story about growing up and discovering that adults don't hold all the answers. If that sounds like a cliché, Mud offers a worthwhile variation that contains real feeling. NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Valley Theater.
One Track Heart:
The Story of Krishna Das
A doc about the "spiritual teacher, chant master and Grammy-nominated recording artist." True, it features a Rick Rubin interview, but also true: Rubin will appear in anything! Even that weird Jay-Z commercial for Magna Carta... Holy Grail! Dude just likes to lay around on couches. Living Room Theaters.
Only God Forgives
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
In anyone else's hands, Pacific Rim would've been a generic blockbuster; in Guillermo del Toro's, it's something thrilling and fun and weird. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Now this is a synopsis: "A small group of gay activists in Belgrade strikes an uneasy alliance with a war-hardened Serbian crime boss whose fiancée demands an extravagant wedding that only gay theater director Mirko and his friends can provide." Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
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.
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 Century Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Center 10 Cinema, Movies on TV Stadium 16.
When it comes to boring actors, Ryan Reynolds could make a slice of dry white toast feel like it's a fireworks factory explosion. Reynolds uses his uncanny ability to bore the literal shit out of people to voice the lead character in the animated feature Turbo—about a snail who dreams of becoming super fast, and lo and behold, does. The studio is trying to promote it as The Fast and the Furious for the post-toddler set, but thanks to Reynolds? Turbo moves slower than a turtle with chronic foot pain... dragging an anchor... upon which is attached a dead body... of someone who died of BOREDOM watching this tedious, laborious, predictable piece of crap. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Under the Bed
A horror flick that picks up when Neal (Jonny Weston) returns "from a two-year exile following his tragic attempt to defeat the monster" under his bed. OH SHIT, NEAL! Better hope the Tooth Fairy doesn't come after you next. Clinton Street Theater.
Okay, no one on the Mercury staff has actually seen 1982's Vice Squad, but we're recommending it because it sounds amazing. A prostitute named Princess runs through the sordid mess of '80s Hollywood, trying to avoid Ramrod, a pimp out for revenge. The folks at the Grindhouse Film Festival promises "sleaze, violence, strange sexual fetishes, [and] a kung fu scene that comes out of nowhere." Like you need to know more. Hollywood Theatre.
The Way Way Back
Mainstream movies remind me of family reunions: inane dialogue, formulaic plots, and two-dimensional characters. The Way, Way Back felt so much like a family reunion that by the end, I was ready to get drunk with my cousins and forget it ever happened. ROSE FINN Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Cinetopia Vancouver Mall 23, Lloyd Center 10 Cinema.
Like Deliverance, Winter's Bone will make urbanites never ever want to venture into the woods. Ever. Fucked-up shit happens out there, you guys. And like The Road—a book and film with which it shares a few similarities—Winter's Bone is bleak, wearying, and haunting. It'll wear you down as you watch it, and after it ends it'll clatter around in your head for days. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
"Scotch on the rocks... and I mean ice." Academy Theater.