NERUDA “There once was a girl from Nantucket...”

A Dog’s Purpose
Before last week, this was just a blatant tearjerker about a dog who learns the meaning of life through multiple reincarnations, coming for both your heart and your wallet. But now it’s also “That one movie I heard about on TMZ where they, like, threw a bunch of scared dogs into a pool or something? They waterboarded puppies? Some shit like that.” Now, they may not have actually abused any animals, but it’s still a talking dog movie with Josh Gad and Dennis Quaid, so it’s up to you whether you really think that’s worth supporting or not. Various Theaters.

See review this issue. Various Theaters.

recommended Hidden Figures
Before Hidden Figures, I had no idea three black women were integral to the success of America’s space program. That’s not the only surprise here: Even the film’s title has a double meaning, referring to both the unheralded women who helped us catch up in the space race, and the calculations that were missing before their contributions. Spending much of its runtime dealing with issues that persist today—segregation, racism, and sexism in the workplace—Hidden Figures focuses on the black women who had to balance being tenacious and docile in order to get ahead, even as they were underestimated and undervalued every step of the way. JENNI MOORE Various Theaters.

recommended Julieta
Julieta is great. It’s still very Almodóvar (The sets are RED and people are FIGHTING!), but it’s pared back in a way that recalls 2006’s restrained Volver more than 2011’s bonkers The Skin I Live In. SUZETTE SMITH Fox Tower 10.

recommended Mad Max: Fury Road: Black & Chrome
A brutal, beautiful, two-hour action overdose injected with a welcome feminist bent. Black & Chrome is director George Miller’s preferred cut of the film—entirely in black and white. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.

recommended Neruda
You don’t have to enjoy poetry to get something from Pablo Larraín’s film about Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, but it would certainly help. Unlike many American films whose “ye olde historie” veneer is too cold to seem real, Neruda kept my suspension of disbelief in place for its entire 147-minute runtime. It’s delicately gorgeous, with an effective score by Federico Jusid, period details that work without getting flashy, and strong performances by Luis Gnecco as Neruda, Gael García Bernal as the ambitious, fascist-allied policeman tailing him, and Mercedes Morán as Neruda’s older artist wife, Delia del Carril (in some refreshingly age-appropriate casting, Moran is older than Gnecco; I checked). The film’s stark, associative structure has no room for wasted words, and no shortage of imagination, as what first seems like straightforward narrative spins out into something dark, sad, and very beautiful. In that sense, it’s like the very best lines of poetry. MEGAN BURBANK Fox Tower 10.

recommended Postcards from the Edge
Meryl Streep closed out her amazing anti-Trump speech at the Golden Globes by quoting the wisdom of her departed friend Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart, and make it art.” That’s exactly what Fisher did with Postcards from the Edge, a semi-fictional autobiography of life as a drug addict, scrambling under the shadow of her movie star mother. Streep and Shirley MacLaine aren’t really playing Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. But they’re absolutely playing Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and all the prickly warmth and love present in Mike Nichols’ 1990 adaptation of Fisher’s book becomes just that much more keenly felt now that they’ve both passed on. Buy a ticket, take a seat, and get your heart broken just a little. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
See Film, this issue. Various Theaters.

Everyone rags on director M. Night Shyamalan for being a one-trick pony. But guys, he’s so much more than that! His films can be pretty great (2000’s Unbreakable) or they can be embarrassing garbage (2015’s adult-diaper-filled The Visit). That’s two whole tricks! With Split, he’s back to vintage Shyamasurprise® Time, and the result is a fairly solid thriller with only a few missteps. Not bad, sir, not bad. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.

Strange Brew
“Gee, Pam. You’re so nice. I’m sorry I ralphed all over your sweater. If I didn’t have puke breath I’d kiss you.” Laurelhurst Theater.

recommended Tampopo
Juzo Itami’s 1985 film defies easy description. The director himself calls it a “ramen western,” due to the main story of a couple of truckers helping a woman named Tampopo establish herself as master of noodles. But it’s also a comedy, a romance, a surreal gangster movie, and an erotic screwball farce. Its steaming collection of disparate ingredients gets pretty messy at times, but the result is one of the most sensual movies of the 20th century. There’s no guarantee every element will hit the spot, but you will leave this screening hungry as hell. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theater.

The Academy continues its month of 1950s sci-fi schlock wonderfulness with a screening of Gordon Douglas’ Them! (exclamation point!), a warning to Atomic Age audiences to stop fucking around with all the nuclear radiation. Do you want giant mutated bloodthirsty ants? Because that’s how you get giant mutated bloodthirsty ants. Okay? They’ll eat your children, you understand? They will eat your fucking babies. You’ll see! Watch the movie and learn, dummies. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.

Support The Portland Mercury

recommended Toni Erdmann
A movie you should see. It’s funny, heartwarming, and wise, except for when it’s being dark and existential. It features a pair of rich, subtle performances, and it marks the emergence, with her third feature, of director Maren Ade as an important international filmmaker. Also, there’s a scene where a guy ejaculates onto a petit four. So, pretty much something for everyone. MARC MOHAN Cinema 21.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage
xXx came out in 2002 which, according to my math, is 15 YEARS AGO. I didn’t even watch it in theaters and I still feel old. But that’s okay, because xXx: Return of Xander Cage isn’t concerned with the past. Like its titular Xander (Vin Diesel), Return is all about (A) doing cool shit while looking cool and (B) that’s it. This is Rule of Cool cinema from the first window Donnie Yen jumps through to the last explosion Diesel jumps out of. And while xXx felt kinda mean and empty in its pursuit of style points, everyone seems WAY more chill in this outing: Perhaps owing to the fact Diesel’s pushing 50, he’s assembled a gang of extreme rapscallions to pick up the slack, including an aggressively queer anti-poaching sharpshooter (Ruby Rose) and a Chinese Canadian rave DJ (Kris Wu) who ABSOLUTELY foils a villain with rave DJing. Opposing them is Donnie Yen and his gang of extreme rapscallions (including Tony Jaa!), and opposing EVERYONE are the combined might of at least three branches of both the United States and Russian special forces. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.

recommended MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, January 27-Thursday, February 2, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30