Art and Craft
Mark Landis perpetrated a massive ruse by donating his forged versions of pedigreed paintings to museums across the American South for decades. He became the obsession of one museum employee determined to take him down, who declared, "He messed with the wrong registrar." (Surely, this is a sentence never before assembled.) Landis is a con man, an art forger described as "impressive" and "prolific" by the advertisements for the terrifically unpredictable, refreshingly human documentary Art and Craft. Stories about art forgers are usually about humans' worst tendencies: disdain, envy, boasting. Art and Craft is the story of a person who just wants people to be nice to him the way he says they "seldom" are, because he's odd and mentally ill. JEN GRAVES NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review, this issue. Fox Tower 10.
East of Eden
James Dean has become legendary for reasons that seem completely divorced from his acting. Posters and postcards of the pouty young rebel (without a cause, of course) have carried his spectre all the way into the 21st Century. Do yourself a favor and check out Elia Kazan's adaptation of the John Steinbeck classic, and pay attention to Dean's performance. Note how much of that disarming vulnerability still pours out of him. Then note that he was doing that in 1955, and you start to get an idea how electrifying he was for the short time he was a star. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
Set in a brutalist skyscraper in an unspecified year—everything here looks like how people in the '70s imagined the future—Ben Wheatley's High-Rise charts the Lord of the Flies-esque decay of the building's society. Early on, the lounging rich live up high and the working class below, their caste system as confining as iron bars. Then the tower's society falls apart: There are beatings. There's suicide. There's rape. Tom Hiddleston pats a dog on the head, then turns it on a spit. If you've got triggers, consider them warned: Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump dive into blood and squalor, with the Kubrickian backdrop of the high-rise getting more claustrophobic with each scene. Hiddleston—along with Luke Evans, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, and Jeremy Irons—is game for the film's mash-up of allegory and horror. No director better straddles the line between grindhouse and arthouse than Wheatley, and the surreal High-Rise offers him a perfect fit. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21, Kiggins Theatre, On Demand.
An evening dedicated to downing some beer and taking in new documentaries by students from the NW Documentary Workshop, telling stories of "gender-bending ballerinas, ardent Timbers fans, emotional cartography, and more." More at nwdocumentary.org. Clinton Street Theater.
Did you miss the festival of amateur smut the Mercury put on back in November? Wish you could have borne witness to porn in its most creative forms? Well lucky little filthy little you, we're bringing the best of last year's films about fucking back to the big screen! You have one weekend to get your fill, but after that—just like Keyser Soze—poof, they're gone. Cinema 21.
Irma Vep is the kind of film that'll cause a sprain in your brainpan if you're not being careful—it's a metatextual pretzel of self-referential filmmaking. But even if there were no subtitles to work with, and no sound to help carry the narrative, the film would still be a triumph due to the fact Maggie Cheung is the absolutely mesmerizing (and latex-encased) focus of the film. There are few actors who can make a movie go from "What the fuck am I watching" to "Holy fuck I can't stop watching this" like Cheung. Presented as part of the NW Film Center's Friday Film Club series, with a discussion following the film. BOBBY ROBERTS NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Last Days in the Desert
You know that internet meme where someone's poor confused grandma has a picture of Ewan McGregor from Attack of the Clones up on her mantle because she thinks the mulleted Scotsman is actually White Jesus? Grandma's not so confused anymore, what with ol' Obi-Wan actually playing White Jesus in Rodrigo Garcia's imagined account of Christ getting tempted in the desert by the Devil—who is also Ben Kenobi! Technically, this is not a Trainspotting prequel, but nothing's stopping you from taking it as such. That's the beauty of fiction (and religion)—you can make it mean whatever you want! Fox Tower 10.
The Long Goodbye
Robert Altman, one of the best filmmakers to ever live, had an interesting idea back in the early 1970s. "What if I took an old Philip Marlowe story by Raymond Chandler, and just dropped the whole fucking thing into modern-day Los Angeles? How the hell would that play out?" Turns out it would be a shambling, satirical swipe at anything and everyone trying to share the screen with Elliot Gould, while simultaneously staying true to Chandler's story. This is probably the most playful neo-noir ever made—but it is still a noir. When Altman wants to throw a punch, that punch is getting felt, even if it ends up feeling pretty good. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
See review, this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Review forthcoming. Various Theaters.
NW Animation Festival
The annual NW Animation Festival is back, and along with a retrospective screening of Coraline, they're offering a week-long series of talks, events, and a curated lineup of animated shorts from all over the world. This year there are 153 of 'em in a variety of programs. Aside from the short film nights, there's a family-friendly daytime program (Sat May 14), an experimental program (Thurs May 12), and a Spanish language program (Sun May 15. SUZETTE SMITH Hollywood Theatre.
(Re)Discoveries: New Restorations, New Prints
A newly-restored print of Ernst Lubitsch's 1943 classic Heaven Can Wait, where a young Don Ameche (yes, such a thing once existed) dies and goes to Hell, at which point the Devil asks him to share the story of how he wound up there. SPOILERS: His story is pretty fuckin' good, and Satan's kind of a soft touch. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
River of Grass
See review this issue. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
The Way We Talk
A documentary on the science behind stuttering, and the struggles of people trying to get past it. Director in attendance.Fifth Avenue Cinema
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, May 13-Thursday, May 19, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.