A fantastically paced, impeccably accurate historical thriller nestled inside a longer, less disciplined film. That central chunk of story, in which Czech special operatives devise and execute a plan to assassinate Nazi butcher Reinhard Heydrich, is one of the tightest and most excruciatingly intense sequences of filmmaking I’ve seen this year. And thanks to skillful editing and the inherently dramatic nature of the events themselves, Anthropoid manages to stay beat for beat with the historical record without feeling like a dry history lesson. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
Terrence Malick’s first film, from 1973, starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek. Romantic and creepy and gorgeous, it’s a better film than most directors ever make. Malick used it as a starting point. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fifth Avenue Cinema.
While there’s been decades worth of live-action superheroics on the big screen since Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster shaved itself into the back of your little brother’s head, there’s still a special something about Batman that nobody’s been able to replicate since. Having Jack Nicholson go apeshit with a clotheshanger shoved in his mouth definitely helps on that front, but for all the corniness and dated decoration curling up around the edges, there’s a still-propulsive, still-mesmerizing, still-fucking-awesome blend of character, design, and action at the center. You can see why executives decided they needed to get back in the superhero game... and you can also see how they learned every wrong lesson along the way, too. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Someone taking another crack at Ben-Hur isn’t the worst idea in the world. While this new version tightens things up, it unfortunately suffers from both a curiously passive central character and some faith-based dramatic flattening. Still, it all comes down to the chariot race. Here, it’s just the same old newfangled mishmash of blurry close-ups—did they run out of pixels before they could get a proper establishing shot?—and machete-edited jumbles of dust and hooves. ANDREW WRIGHT Also read our full review. Various Theaters.
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Sissy Spacek won the 1980 Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in this movie, which is not only one of the best musical biopics ever made, but might also be the only onscreen appearance of Tommy Lee Jones where he doesn’t look like the Rockbiter from The Neverending Story. Laurelhurst Theater.
Collective Eye: Big Dream
A documentary series from Collective Eye films. This month: Big Dream, focused on seven young women overcoming the many obstacles in their way as they move through careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Hollywood Theatre.
This movie is about a boat. Hence its title, which is how you say “the boat” in German. It’s pretty fucked up on this boat, actually. Like, really fucked up. I mean, they’re not eating each other or anything like that, it’s not that bad. It’s just that it’s World War II outside, and Jürgen Prochnow is in charge inside. Jürgen Prochnow in charge of anything is usually a recipe for disaster, right? Especially on a boat when it’s World War II outside. Hollywood Theatre.
Don’t Think Twice
One member’s overnight success upends an improv group, forcing its thirtysomething theater kids to reassess their careers, their futures, and their simmering resentment. What makes Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice such a smart, universal comedy is the core friendship of the group: You can feel the genuine waves of affection coming off Birbiglia & Co. They’ve got each other’s backs, even as their relationships start to go sideways. It’s beyond refreshing to see a comedy where friends aren’t pitted against each other to manufacture conflict. COURTNEY FERGUSON Cinema 21.
Family Pictures: Clash of the Titans
The Hollywood Theatre’s all-ages movie series. This week: Clash of the Titans! Not the shitty remake, but the shitty original, with a perpetually dumbfounded Harry Hamlin (the original Henry Cavill) staring at all of Ray Harryhausen’s amazing stop-motion miracles like “I am in no way worthy to share a screen with this magnificence, but I can find comfort in the companionship of my friend Bubo the Robot Owl Who is Absolutely Not Intended to Cash in on Artoo-Detoo’s Popularity No Sir!” Hollywood Theatre.
Florence Foster Jenkins
Does a person deserve praise for doing something hard if they’re bad at it? That’s the question in Florence Foster Jenkins, a fine, sunny movie based on the true story of a 1940s Manhattan socialite (Meryl Streep) who wanted to be an opera singer despite having an awful voice. Coddled by her manager and platonic husband (Hugh Grant), who lovingly hides unhappy truths from her, Madame Florence is genuinely oblivious to her ineptitude, a pitiable figure so endearing we can’t bear to see her feelings hurt. Simon Helberg is funny as her wee, pixie-eyed pianist, and director Stephen Frears glosses over the story’s sad subtext with cheerful deliberation. Never mind self-awareness, he suggests; self-confidence is admirable, too. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
If you’ve never seen The General, there’s no better way to experience it than this: The film is a pure delight that follows the exploits of train engineer Johnnie Gray (Keaton) as he tries to prove himself to his beloved Annabelle (Marion Mack) and hold the lines against an encroaching attack by Union soldiers. It may have been a flop upon its initial release, forcing the director to give up his independence and sign with MGM, but the film’s mixture of comedy, romance, and thrilling action sequences wound up providing the foundation upon which similarly minded modern fare like Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is built. Also read our full review. Hollywood Theatre.
Grindhouse Film Festival: Thunderbolt & Lightfoot
This month’s entry into the Grindhouse canon is a very rare 35mm print of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, which isn’t really much of a Grindhouse movie at all, but we’ll allow it for two reasons: One—because it’s part of the Hollywood’s ongoing tribute to the dearly departed Michael Cimino, who deserves to be remembered for all his great contributions to cinema (like this one) and not just for Heaven’s Gate. Two—because it’s nice to remember a time when Clint Eastwood wasn’t a shriveled, confused, racist old piece of shit, and his turn as a bank robber paired with Jeff Bridges as a irresponsible drifter will make you forget, if only for a couple all-too-brief hours. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Hell or High Water
Leave it to a Scot to deliver the next great American western. It’s possible director David Mackenzie (Starred Up) had the distance and perspective to depict Hell or High Water’s depressed West Texas towns and dust-dry plains with unvarnished truth. Maybe he recognized, from across the pond, a universal struggle in the specific plight of brothers Toby and Tanner Howard (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) as they try to hang on to their father’s ranch. Perhaps he sensed the timeliness of a story that depicts white American men running out of time, money, and land. More likely, Mackenzie had Taylor Sheridan’s (Sicario) superb script to navigate a path around the obvious men-with-guns clichés that make up Hell or High Water’s western-noir milieu. Whatever the case may be, it’s resulted in an intelligent and incisive movie that’s painful and lovely to watch. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
In another director’s hands, this would be a touchy-feely character study about the rehabilitation of a juvenile delinquent, but Taika Waititi’s at work here, taking the absurd, pitch-perfect sense of humor that made What We Do in the Shadows one of the funniest movies of the past few years and applying it to a heartfelt, real-world story. Wilderpeople is a hugely loveable movie that’s suitable for date night or the whole family, and I know that sounds like a hacky movie poster blurb. But when a movie’s this good, it’s tough to avoid clichés, so I’ll leave you with another: Don’t miss it. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
Kubo and the Two Strings
There was a bit of a lull after Laika’s 2009 feature debut Coraline, but the local animation studio has once again nailed it with its new release Kubo and the Two Strings. The stop-motion visuals are beyond breathtaking, the scenery is effing majestic, and the characters are likeable in this hero’s journey set in ancient Japan. The film’s emotional heart and mythic, fantastical proportions make it a perfect blend of sweet and strange. COURTNEY FERGUSON Also read our full review. Various Theaters.
Played out on the small, human stage of two families—one white and upper class, and one non-white and working class—in the midst of a landlord/tenant property conflict in Brooklyn, Ira Sachs’ snapshot-style drama is a beautifully restrained film about life’s injustices. But the center of the film remains a point of joy, as the sons of each family fall into an easy friendship despite their parents’ power plays. Sachs deftly covers an impressive breadth of experience—loneliness, queer childhood, the hypocrisies of adulthood—within the economical space of an hour and a half. Though it’s set in a New York borough, Little Men is likely to resonate with many Portlanders dealing with the conflicts and anxieties of our own unequal housing market. SUZETTE SMITH Fox Tower 10.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World
As a filmmaker, Werner Herzog is often obsessed with the tangible—with people on the edges of society, with feats as lethal as they are daring. But Lo and Behold is Herzog’s attempt to parse a world that’s moving away from the physical. It makes sense he starts his documentary by reminding us that the internet started as—and still is—a series of weird-smelling tubes and wires. It also makes sense, given the immeasurable ways the internet has affected humanity, Lo and Behold splits in countless directions: It isn’t long until Herzog’s interviewing brain researchers and hackers, until he’s watching orange-clad Buddhist monks stare into their phones. If this parade of scientists and eccentrics and weirdos sounds broad, it is: Herzog wants to look at every aspect of our online lives. Lo and Behold is a look at what might come next, and a mourning for what we’ve lost, but more than anything, it’s a meditation on how the internet has already changed us. ERIK HENRIKSEN Also read our full review. Hollywood Theatre.
Anyone looking to compare this Pete’s Dragon with the 1977 original would do well not to—in part because the 1977 version is garbage, and in part because this remake is an entirely different creature. Set in the shadowed forests of the Pacific Northwest, Pete’s Dragon: 2016 Edition finds feral child Pete (Oakes Fegley) hanging out in the woods with his pal Elliot, a giant green dog who can fly. At its best points, that’s all the movie is: a dirt-smeared kid and his excellent dragon running around with a wild earnestness that recalls Spike Jonze’s underrated take on Where the Wild Things Are. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Punk Rock Summer Bummer
Wyrd War celebrates the career of director Penelope Spheeris by inviting you to spend a couple days inside the Hollywood Theatre with her in attendance as she screens Dudes on Thursday, August 25, Suburbia on Friday, August 26, and the complete collection of all her short films on both nights. Hollywood Theatre.
If you accidentally take kids to the Seth Rogen adult animated feature Sausage Party, don’t fret. There are around 100 uses of the word “fuck” in the first three minutes. So you’ll know what to do. But should you stick around? Well, if you’re a fan of excessive profanity, casual misogyny, an abundance of racism, and are okay with only a couple of good laughs in a 90-minute movie, then by all means hang around. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
It begins as a promising supervillain movie about bunch of selfish, homicidal maniacs: when they hit the bar to throw back shots, it’s hard not to think that if anyone can upend Hollywood’s boilerplate superhero clichés, it’ll be this motley crew. Which makes it all the more disappointing when they don’t: Some goofy Stargate shit promptly threatens the planet, and soon enough, everybody’s gawping at a roaring vortex of CGI that’s either some kind of portal or some kind of monster. Does it matter which? It’s the same generic, airless spectacle that’s shown up in a dozen Marvel movies, in a couple of Transformers, in the new Ghostbusters, in however many X-Men we have now, in Pacific Rim, in (sorry) Batman v Superman. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Swiss Army Man
If you want your dreams to be weird for the rest of your life, see Swiss Army Man, directed by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, and starring Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano. Radcliffe, working hard to quash your beloved associations of Harry Potter, portrays a farting corpse—a farting corpse that serves as a companion, prop, and man Friday to Dano’s very sad young bearded man. The exploits that follow are distasteful enough that I fully anticipate theater walkouts, but I’m glad I was trapped by professional obligation—because if I’d walked out, I would have missed one of the most touching love stories I’ve seen onscreen in recent memory. I wish I could explain this—how a movie that is in many ways unwatchable becomes so ineffably heartwarming—but I can’t. MEGAN BURBANK Academy Theater.
David Byrne’s weird-as-hell (of course it is) directorial debut, starring John Goodman and Spalding Gray. Part of NW Film Center’s Top Down: Rooftop Cinema series. Hotel DeLuxe.
It’s 1979 in Sofia, Bulgaria, and Boryana (Irmena Chichikova), despite her best efforts, is pregnant. Her dreams of escaping Soviet rule (and her Stalin-loving mother) are dashed when her child is born without a belly button and hailed as a national miracle. Her daughter Viktoria is a little tyrant—she’s personally spoiled by Bulgaria’s socialist head of state, to Boryana’s great disgust. But the family dynamics shift once more with communism’s collapse in 1989. Writer/director Maya Vitkova’s debut screened at Sundance in 2014, the first Bulgarian film to do so. With poignant moments and meditative cinematography, Vitkova captures an exquisite, unsentimental portrayal of motherhood. KJERSTIN JOHNSON Also read our full review. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Similar to The Wolf of Wall Street, War Dogs spins the heavily narrated rags-to-riches story of Hill and Miles Teller, a pair of badly tanned sociopathic dirtbags who make it big running guns via a dodgy Pentagon procurement website. If that sounds a bit like 2005’s arms trade fable Lord of War (from back when Nicolas Cage and Jared Leto were approximately 9,000 percent less crazy), well, those d-bags were Russian and fictional, and these d-bags are Floridians and not. So... that’s something. Director Todd Phillips (Old School) has reliable comic timing and a good eye, but he’s throwing himself at some weighty topics. The film suffers by comparison to both Wolf and Lord, which were better at blending human drama and problematic behavior with fairly complex issues like dubious international finance and the economic practicalities of modern warfare. BEN COLEMAN Also read our full review. Various Theaters.
The Wedding Singer
This and Punch-Drunk Love are the only movies in Adam Sandler’s filmography that kinda/sorta work successfully as movies. I say kinda/sorta because they still have Adam Sandler in them, and even when a movie manages to modulate his bullshit to an endurable pitch, he’s still just a barely contained Scud missile of idiot hostility looking for somewhere to explode. Punch-Drunk’s saving grace is Paul Thomas Anderson’s direction, Emily Watson’s innocence, and Philip Seymour Hoffman’s cuddly malevolence. This movie? You got Drew Barrymore being adorable as hell, Steve Buscemi showing up for five minutes, and then one of the Arquette kids sings Culture Club for the rest of the film. But hey! '80s nostalgia! People love that shit, right? BOBBY ROBERTS Mission Theater.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, August 19-Thursday, August 25, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.