In the bright light of something shiny and new, it’s easy to declare that thing an outlier: To smile and point and proclaim that here, at last, is a thing that makes everything that follows a little bit different. It’s undoubtedly just a bit too soon to declare Arrival a science-fiction classic, but it’s probably fair to declare it this: One of the bright points, and one of the greatest movies, of the horrible, awful 2016. It’s also likely the best film yet from Denis Villeneuve, the director behind the excellent Sicario and Prisoners—and who, with Arrival, offers something entirely different. Arrival is an ominous, thrumming, beautiful thing that starts out being about aliens who need a decoder ring. It ends up being about something quite different. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
In May of 1997, that one dude from Wayne’s World decided to make a weird, crushed-velvet sort of James Bond spoof. He called it Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and it left theaters pretty quietly. Later that year it hit home video, where it blew the fuck up, leading to a fusillade of ass-pulled catchphrases dominating pop culture for almost a decade and a pair of sequels that kept getting bigger as their quality kept declining, eventually shrinking the difference between Bond and Powers down to zero. That first movie turns 20 this year, and despite all the bullshit that sprouted up around it—it’s a good comedy, and worth a revisit. Just try to keep your tired fuckin’ “Yeah, baby!”s to yourself. BOBBY ROBERTS
Beauty and the Beast
It’s a tale as old as time—the kind of beautiful love story that subtly normalizes stuff like kidnapping and bestiality. CIARA DOLAN
Remember when Tim Burton made good movies?
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. SNIDER
A BBC documentary about society’s progression to a point where politics and culture subsist on a steady diet of misinformation and confirmation bias, starting with Donald Trump’s conquest of New York in the 1970s and proceeding through the histories of UFO sightings, Russian disinformation campaigns, and the internet.
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
I Wake Up Dreaming: Film Noir Festival
Elliot Lavine, former programmer of San Francisco’s historic Roxie Theater (and a soon-to-be Portlander), brings 16 examples of the film noir style to Cinema 21, several on 35mm. With one or two exceptions, these are ticketed as double features; most of the films clock in at a brisk 80 or 90 minutes. Their concision only compounds their effectiveness—these are movies of paranoia, obsession, and unease, and they’re eerily applicable to the mood of 2017. NED LANNAMANN
A Sigur Rós concert film. Better than Outti. Proceeds benefit the ACLU.
Clinton Street Theater.
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
This documentary about Istanbul’s sizable stray cat population is so full of kindness and warmth that it’s like jumping into a pile of freshly-laundered bedding just pulled out of the dryer, or floating around in a slightly stoned bubble bath, or, I don’t know, being a kitten? The squee opportunities are abundant, but what doesn’t appear on-screen is as important as what does. To describe Kedi as an extended cat video is to ignore the sociopolitical context of the city where the cats live—context that’s only hinted at in statements from the locals, but that adds poignant sophistication and an ever-present emotional core to a documentary some will dismiss as lighthearted entertainment. MEGAN BURBANK
Kong: Skull Island
There are so many monsters in Kong: Skull Island! Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (who I knew in my youth and who I interviewed for this very publication) has created a monster ecosystem for Skull Island that’s immersive, magical, and kind of silly. But it’s difficult to tell if Kong: Skull Island wants to be cool, campy, or horrifying—it succeeds at all those things, but never melds them together. Instead it sort of drags itself back and forth in a tone-shift tug-of-war. As predicted (by me), John C. Reilly steals every scene he’s in (because he fucking rules—he Dr. Steve Brules). And while the rest of Skull Island’s cast is also lovable, it’s one thing to accept a giant monkey with a baseball bat and another to believe Tom â€œMr. Dictionâ€ Hiddleston would be useful in a jungle. Also see “Beauty and Terror: Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts on Monsters, Vietnam, and Kong: Skull Island,” Film, March 8. SUZETTE SMITH
Land of Mine
Released in Denmark in late 2015 as Under Sandet (“Under the Sand”), writer/director Martin Zandvliet’s World War II drama Land of Mine almost deserves the clunky, Anglicized title it’s been saddled with for American audiences. There are few surprises buried in its compact running time, offset by a couple of moments any savvy filmgoer will spot well before they arrive. It’s only due to the tension wired into the plot and the wisdom of its casting that it avoids ignominy. ROBERT HAM
Living Room Theaters.
For all Logan’s nods to genre—and it’s as much a western as a superhero movie—it’s about bigger things, too. This Logan is burned out and worn down: Not for nothing does he grunt softly when hoisting himself out of a car. Not for nothing does he wear cheap reading glasses. (Superman wears glasses as a disguise; Logan wears glasses because his eyes aren’t what they used to be.) And not for nothing does he glower when one of his claws refuses to SNIKT. (Whether they make Viagra for mutants is, alas, never addressed.) Logan is a movie about what it’s like to get old—to realize that one’s body and memories offer more pain than power, that one’s optimism and love have hardened to stubbornness and regret. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Magic & Loss: Coming of Age Onscreen
A festival programmed to highlight the best in cinematic coming-of-age stories, from directors including Gordon Parks, Elia Kazan, Ingmar Bergman, John Singleton, and more. If you’re looking for Molly Ringwald-type shit, look elsewhere. See nwfilm.org for a list of titles and showtimes.
NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
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
Kathryn Bigelow’s second film, 1987’s Near Dark, is a weird, low-budget, slightly disjointed vampire western. If it didn’t feature a completely unhinged Bill Paxton, it might have only been remembered for the many shots of apocalyptic beauty Bigelow and cinematographer Adam Greenberg captured. But Bill Paxton is in this film, and while his recent (and way-too-soon) death might still sting, it’s almost impossible to watch him work and not feel joy. There is no catchphrase, no one-liner, no throwaway look that he doesn’t turn into pure gold. Which is basically what Paxton did all the time. BOBBY ROBERTS
Olivier Assayas' latest is a cinematic Frankenstein monster, stitched together from different genres into something that transcends its sources: Kristen Stewart plays a young American in Paris working as an assistant for a globe-trotting supermodel, buying high-end clothes but never getting to try them on. (It’s a metaphor.) She’s also trying to make psychic contact with a twin brother who died from a heart defect—a disease she also has. She’s also trying to maintain a long-distance Skype relationship with her boyfriend. Things get sinister when Stewart starts receiving anonymous, threatening text messages, and eventually there’s a murder. MARC MOHAN
Watching John Waters’ 1972 midnight classic Pink Flamingos is a life-changing experience. With a singing asshole and Divine performing the very first version of Two Girls, One Cup (er, maybe that should be One Dog, One Woman, One Cup, or rather One Dog, One Man Dressed as a Woman, One Sidewalk?), this awesome gross-out film is the ultimate in bad taste. (Ha! That’s probably what Divine said!) COURTNEY FERGUSON
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
Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Repressed Cinema: Ed Wood’s Jail Bait
This month the Hollywood’s showcase for forgotten underground film features a 16mm screening of Ed Wood’s weird (of course it’s fucking weird) noir Jail Bait, featuring the first onscreen appearance of Steve Reeves, and probably the first noir you’ve ever seen scored via Flamenco guitar (that came from a completely different movie). The night also includes a collection of weird filmic flotsam and jetsam as pre-show entertainment.
The Search for Weng Weng
Andrew Leavold’s documentary about his journey through the history of Filipino B movies, and the search for one of its biggest stars, the 2’9” Weng Weng.
The Sense of an Ending
Ritesh Batra’s adaptation of Julian Barnes’ Man Booker Prize-winning novel will make you cry if you see it on an airplane. It’s slow and a little boring, but it captures a wonderful balance between polite British domestic drama, Classic Tale of an Old Person Trying Out Being a Good Person (It’s Not Too Late!), and a portrait of a nontraditional family who are dysfunctional but not unhappy. It’s hard to spend any real time around that kind of nuance and care without getting all verklempt. MEGAN BURBANK
Fox Tower 10.
Though Table 19 hammers home the theme that everyone is a goddamn mess—and while some of its jokes, stunts, and twists are clever enough to hold one’s attention—at its core it’s a typical, gooey romcom. Good thing Anna Kendrick is in it, then—her involvement ends up being crucial to the film’s watchability. JENNI MOORE
A United Kingdom
A United Kingdom is packaged as a romance: The film’s poster shows an embracing interracial couple gazing out over an African sunset. And it is a romance, in that it’s about a man and a woman and they’re in love. But it’s different from your standard will-they-or-won’t-they because they get married within the first few minutes. It’s what happens next—colonialism! racism! history!—that gives the movie its guts. And some heart, too. ELINOR JONES
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, March 17-Thursday, March 23, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.