You might want Arrival to win (ain’t happening), you might want song-and-dance numbers to get the boot (they won’t), you might want to applaud loudly at your favorite dead person in the famous dead person montage they always do (you shouldn’t but you’re gonna), but the only thing that’s guaranteed is that this will take four hours, you’re gonna lose your betting pool, white people are going to win pretty much everything, and Jimmy Kimmel is gonna do something dumb and then smirk about it for the next 10 minutes. Academy Theater.
This isn’t so much a film screening as it is a turntablism exhibition, except instead of turntables, Vancouver filmmaker Alex MacKenzie gets behind two projectors and, using color gels, projector movement, and lens manipulation, takes audiences on a journey into cinematic abstraction. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
A romance set during the Soviet famine of the early 1930s, about a young artist joining the anti-Bolshevik resistance to save his lover threatened by the “Holodomor,” the death-by-starvation program that killed millions of Ukrainians. Fox Tower 10.
A Cure for Wellness
Regardless of how you want to describe it—or what genre you think it fits into—A Cure for Wellness is haunting, gorgeous, and masterfully disgusting. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
ARE YOU A PUSSY? NO! FIST FIGHT TIME. FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! PUNCH! FIGHT! WHO’S A BITCH? YOU’RE A BITCH! AND A PUSSY. MEN ARE PUSSIES AND BITCHES. I’M GONNA FIGHT YOU IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY. NUTS DROPPING. AGGRESSIVE BLACK MAN = FUNNY TROPE OR IRONIC REFLECTION? TRACY MORGAN CAN PUNCH TOO. OR ARE RACE RELATIONS IN FIST FIGHT PERHAPS PRESENTING A LARGER SOCIAL MESSAGE? NO! DON’T BE A PUSSY! ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
A feature-length version of the not-quite-joking sentiment among African Americans that the suburbs, with their overwhelming whiteness and cultural homogeneity, are eerie twilight zones for Black people. Far from being a one-joke movie, however, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is both a clever, consistently funny racial satire and a horror film, one that mocks white liberal cluelessness and finds humor in—but doesn’t dismiss—Black people’s fears. ERIC D SNIDERSee review this issue. Various Theaters.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Is it an ice-cold indictment of toxic masculinity? Is it a mean-spirited celebration instead? Is it a collection of monologues so dramatically potent that roughly 37 percent of all auditions feature an actor attempting to perform one of them? Is it a vehicle for the top five all-time best performances from Alec Baldwin, Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, and Ed Harris? It is all of these things, all at the same time, as well as being a merciless reminder of what a fucking grind sales can be. But even merciless grinds gain profundity when David Mamet’s writing the dialogue. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
The Great Wall
Don’t go see The Great Wall looking for any sort of commentary or perspective on America’s own, possibly pending “great wall.” Don’t go looking for insight into China’s actual Great Wall, either. This silly fantasy-action-monster movie from Zhang Yimou doesn’t bother to stick even a pinkie toe into reality, which is just right for this kind of fun, stoned-Saturday-afternoon adventure. Some are bothered by a white actor (Matt Damon) fronting a largely Chinese production, although one of his co-stars, Pedro Pascal, is Chilean, and, like, I don’t know—this is a deliberately frivolous medieval fantasy about super-warriors fighting off nasty, computer-generated monsters? I’m guessing it isn’t really trying to hold up a mirror to reality or interrogate the issues of representation in cinema. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Grindhouse Film Festival: Blaxploitation Trailer Spectacular
Gorge yourself on long-past-its-expiration-date morsels of Blaxploitation candy, as the Hollywood’s monthly grindhouse celebration dishes up 65 minutes worth of 35mm trailers spanning the width, breadth, and funk of the genre as it fought the power all through the 1970s, with the help of its stalwart marketing friends “Sinister Trailer Voice Guy” and “Giant Roundish Orange-y Font.” Hollywood Theatre.
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.
I Am Not Your Negro
Working off an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin, director Raoul Peck creates a brilliantly absorbing history of American racism, bolstered by Samuel L. Jackson’s impassioned narration. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
John Wick: Chapter 2
BANG! BANG BANG BANG BANG! BANG. BANG BANG BANG!! John Wick shoots so many bad guys in John Wick: Chapter 2! You probably think you know how many bad guys John Wick is going to shoot. You saw the first John Wick! He shot a lot of bad guys in that! BUT LISTEN. I have been placed on this terrible planet to tell you this one thing: You have no idea how many bad guys John Wick is going to shoot in John Wick: Chapter 2. Take the number you think it’s going to be—it doesn’t matter what it is, it could be 100 or it could be 49,697—and then multiply it by ∞. You are now closer to comprehending how many bad guys John Wick shoots in John Wick: Chapter 2. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Kong: Long Live the King
“King Kong,” says special effects genius Greg Nicotero in Kong: Long Live the King, “is a sadly and horribly misunderstood lovesick gorilla.” Throughout this short, lightweight documentary, that's a running theme: love and sympathy for history's greatest movie monster. For better and worse, Long Live the King is aimed directly at Kong superfans, paying tribute to everything from the 1933 original to the burned-down ride at Universal Studios. The doc is filled with a lot of affable dudes (and they are, almost entirely, dudes) fawning over Kong and Fay Wray in equal measure, and while Long Live the King's best moments are those that contextualize the film in cinema and effects history, issues like King Kong's racial and gender overtones are never addressed. Maybe if Kong sticks around for another 84 years, we'll get a documentary that digs a little deeper. Effects master Chris Walas (The Fly, Raiders of the Lost Ark) and Long Live the King co-director Frank Dietz in attendance. ERIK HENRIKSEN See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The Lego Batman Movie
Let’s start with the good: There’s finally a Batman movie you can take the kids to! The Lego Batman Movie follows up 2014’s surprisingly wonderful The Lego Movie by focusing on that cinematic universe’s version of Batman, a growling, too-cool-for-school badass voiced by Will Arnett. Like the first Lego Movie, Lego Batman bursts at the edges of the screen: It’s goofy, chipper, fast moving, and colorful, and the antithesis of any other Batman movie made this millennium. Now for the bad: The Lego Batman Movie may be geared a little too much toward kids. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Moonlight is a movie about what it’s like to grow up male in America. Moonlight is also a movie about what it’s like to grow up gay in America. And Moonlight is, in addition, a movie about what it’s like to grow up Black in America. That inevitably makes Barry Jenkins’ justly acclaimed film sound like it will appeal primarily to gay, Black, and/or male audiences. And indeed, people who share some or all of its protagonist’s characteristics will be overjoyed at the belated depiction of lives like theirs on screen. But Moonlight, if I can swoon for a moment, does what all true art aspires to do. It shares something unique but universal about what it’s like to be human. MARC MOHAN Various Theaters.
Fashion-designer-turned-director Tom Ford’s second film (and his first since 2009’s A Single Man) looks great, and the story is intriguing and disturbing. But the movie’s a downer, and it has the misfortune of showing up in theaters exactly when we really don’t need a downer—especially one about the emotional scars of rich, well-dressed white people. MARC MOHAN Laurelhurst Theater.
Planet Earth II
2016 wasn’t all one unending parade of disappointments and losses suffered in a relentless, soul-crushing chain. There were good things scattered among the detritus of our shattered hopes. For instance: Remember that one viral video of a little lizard dude who outran, like, forty bazillion snakes all trying to eat him the fuck up? Remember that? It was basically the best action thriller since Aliens. Well, that video came from Planet Earth II, the sequel to the most amazing nature documentary ever made. The victory of that little lizard dude (one of the only victories 2016 recorded at all) is but one of the compelling tales Sir David Attenborough has in store for the next few Saturdays. BOBBY ROBERTS BBC America.
Portland International Film Festival
Okay, quick show of hands: Has sitting in the dark and temporarily saying goodbye to reality ever seemed like a better idea? Whatever your leanings may be, the Northwest Film Center’s 40th Annual Portland International Film Festival has you more than covered. Featuring over 160 features and shorts, this year’s PIFF lineup offers healthy, yuge doses of compelling fiction, strange facts, and pure escapism. Also see “PIFF Notes” [Film, Feb 8]; complete schedule at nwfilm.org. ANDREW WRIGHT NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
The Red Turtle
A nearly perfect movie for kids (and adults) of almost any age. If you’re too young to appreciate it, you probably shouldn’t be in a movie theater, and if you’re too old to appreciate it, you probably need medical attention. MARC MOHAN See review, this issue. Cinema 21.
Repressed Cinema: Confessions of a Bad Girl
This month the Hollywood’s showcase for forgotten underground film features a 35mm screening of Barry Mahon’s Confessions of a Bad Girl, a sexploitation obscurity from 1965 about an innocent girl chasing her dream to New York City. Maybe everything will break her way and all those dreams won’t become soiled tatters of despair and self-loathing! Maybe! The night also includes a collection of weird filmic flotsam and jetsam as pre-show entertainment. Hollywood Theatre.
Sid and Nancy
All February, the Academy has been programming screenings of cinema’s finest romances in honor of Valentine’s Day. And then to close out the month they hawk up this filthy “love story” and gob it at the screen in all its disturbing-yet-beautiful (Roger Deakins did shoot this, after all) punk rock glory. Not everything in this tragedy happened the way it’s shown—Cox’s original screenplay wasn’t even about Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon—but even if it’s ultimately more heroin-fueled fantasy than fact, Gary Oldman and Chloe Webb turn in amazing performances that elevate the film above its exploitative trappings. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Silence, which is perhaps Scorsese’s most overtly religious movie, is self-recommending: It’s a nearly three-hour film about Portuguese missionaries in post-feudal Japan, and a slow meditation on the nature of one’s faith in one Jesus Christ. Based on that description, you’re either all in or all out. If you’re in, you’re lucky, because Scorsese has some really interesting questions to pose to you. NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Suddenly, Last Summer
The seedy Southern secrecy in this Tennessee Williams play fits Taylor’s smoldering screen presence to a tee. Her character holds the secret to mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a man, but his mother (a severe and neurotic Katherine Hepburn), can’t face the truth about her son. No, she wants to keep Taylor’s character locked in a mental institution—and submit her to a lobotomy! Hosted by Elizabeth Taylor’s granddaughter Laela Wilding, with proceeds going to Our House of Portland and the Cascade AIDS Project. EVAN JAMES Hollywood Theatre.
Trends in Latin American Experimental Animation
Featuring 16 short films from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, embodying the range in styles and techniques employed in creating some of the world’s most adventurous animated shorts. Hollywood Theatre.
The Hollywood pays tribute to beloved horror writer/director John Fasano with a screening of his 1987 slab of schlock Zombie Nightmare, starring Adam West, Tia Carrere, and THOR guitarist Jon Mikl-Thor (Thor!) in the story of a teenage dipshit (Thor!) who gets hit by a car and dies, only to be resurrected via a voodoo ritual that empowers him to hunt down his killers and fuck ’em up royally. Star Frank Dietz in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, February 24-Thursday, March 2, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.