70mm Sci-Fi Weekend
The Hollywood Theatre is the only theater in the state—and one of the few theaters in the country!—that can still show movies on 70mm, the much-loved format that offers a sharper picture, richer sound, and... well, just makes other formats look like crap. And this weekend, the Hollywood's going all-out, with not one but three science-fiction classics on 70mm: There's 1982's retro-futuristic, neon-soaked Tron, in which Baby-Faced Jeff Bridges revs up a LIGHT-CYCLE to do a CYBER-BATTLE inside A COMPUTER! The big crowd-pleaser is gonna be 1984's Ghostbusters—one of the greatest comedies ever, it also boasts a perfect cast and old-school special effects that are going to look fantastic on the big screen. And last but not least is Christopher Nolan's gob-smacking Interstellar. Whether you saw it in 2014 or not, you owe it to yourself to revisit this ambitious, gorgeous space saga on 70mm. I'll be there in my NASA t-shirt, gawping at the screen like a goddamn idiot. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Upon his return to acting following his governorship of California (which doesn’t sound anywhere near as surreal as it used to, considering our current president), Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career can be divided into two categories: If he’s clean-shaven, it’s probably Arnie chasing after his past action glories (and failing). If he’s bearded, it’s probably Arnie laboring under the delusion he can be a serious actor capable of generating real empathy (and failing). Aftermath is based on a true story about an air traffic controller causing a midair collision. Arnold is bearded. It was not screened for critics. Good luck and godspeed to you, fair viewer. Living Room Theaters.
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 Various Theaters.
The Boss Baby
The Boss Baby, starring Alec Baldwin as the voice of a suit-wearing infant sent to an unsuspecting family to fulfill a secret mission on behalf of BabyCorp—that’s the Heaven-based company in charge of the world’s baby supply—sounds like a fictional bad movie in a Hollywood satire. But the movie is real, and it’s... good? Good enough, anyway? Written by Michael McCullers (Baby Mama) and directed by Tom McGrath (Madagascar), it’s an imaginative, unassuming take on fraternal bonding. Jealous seven-year-old Tim (voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi) uncovers his new baby brother’s secret identity and tries unsuccessfully to expose him to their parents (the baby reverts to goo-goo gah-gah when they’re around), but the boys eventually work together and fall into brotherly love. Pleasantly non-snarky for a DreamWorks cartoon, it doesn’t overdo the sappy stuff, either, and offers enough easygoing laughs to sustain itself. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
Oh my god! What a stupid, beautiful movie. I was having a rotten day before I watched CHIPS, but its explosion-heavy, progressive-bro comedy motored my frown upside down. That’s a dumb thing to say, but this is a dumb movie. Various Theaters.
Constructing Identity: Black Cinema Then and Now
The NW Film center’s retrospective on the varied voices of Black cinema, including key works by Julie Dash, Spencer Williams, and Spike Lee, all doing their part to show Black identity in ways not typically exhibited on American movie screens. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
“Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion!” Cinema 21.
Five Minute Form
Scott Ballard presents his latest documentary, looking at the creative processes of local authors including Margaret Malone, Willy Vlautin, Jon Raymond, and Peter Rock. Director in attendance. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
When it released in 1997, Andrew Niccol’s directorial debut was considered a slick sci-fi exercise, a mild tab of Phillip K. Dick-esque paranoia wrapped in high-gloss paper. A couple decades later, that hit has finally kicked in, taking the film to its always-deserved status as a modern sci-fi classic, one that might even have made Phil jealous. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Ghost in the Shell
The race thing is not handled very well in this live-action adaptation of one of the greatest anime movies ever made, Ghost in the Shell. Both films are set in Hong Kong, but the central characters in the original are Asian and all but one of the core characters in the new version are white. And it is not explained why these white, English-speaking characters—the main baddies, the sidekick, the star—are in an Asian city. They are just there, and we are asked to accept that as a fact. If Black female rocket scientists can produce a box-office hit in the US, Hidden Figures, then surely Asian cyborgs, scientists, and CEOs can do the same. CHARLES MUDEDE Various Theaters.
Going in Style
Going in Style is a Zach Braff-directed remake of a 1979 Martin Brest movie about three old men robbing a bank. Braff is the spectacularly untalented writer/director of Garden State, which was indirectly responsible for the Shins, who were indirectly responsible for Portlandia. Therefore, Braff is wholly accountable for the fact that it now takes 40 goddamn minutes to cross the Hawthorne Bridge. In his version of Going in Style, the three old men are played by Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, and Michael Caine, all of whom have redefined the word “slumming” by venturing anywhere near this thing. (The less said about Ann-Margret’s performance, the better. I hope she’s okay.) Caine, specifically, is one of the finest and most charming actors in film history, and is also one of the most prolific—he’s appeared in The Last Witch Hunter, Jaws: The Revenge, Now You See Me 2, Bewitched, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Blame It on Rio, Gnomeo & Juliet, Cars 2, and Austin Powers in Goldmember. In other words, he’s been in some real shit. Going in Style is by far and away the worst thing he’s been involved with. He will be dead soon. NED LANNAMANN 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 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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
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 Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
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 Various Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater: Invincible Armour
In 1977, while some were going back for their 15th viewing of the movie about the surfer kid in the bathrobe blowing up a giant gray beach ball, and other kids were drinking in shitkicker car chases fueled by bootleg beer, real connoisseurs of fine cinema were soaking up wall-to-wall kung fu fights between bearded badass masters in Invincible Armour, choreographed by the legendary Yuen Woo Ping. You can revisit ’77 in a multitude of ways, but time traveling to the kung fu dimension via 35mm is a very rare gift. Don’t waste it. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Magic & Loss: Coming of Age Onscreen
A festival programmed to highlight the best in cinematic coming-of-age stories, from directors Gordon Parks, Elia Kazan, Ingmar Bergman, John Singleton, and more. If you’re looking for Molly Ringwald-type shit, look elsewhere. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Blood Simple was the intro, bold as hell and charmingly alarming. Raising Arizona was a statement: We know what we’re doing and nobody else can do it like this. But in 1990, the Coen brothers delivered the thesis: Miller’s Crossing is everything the Coens ever were to that point and everything they’d ever be in the decades that followed. The dialogue, the delivery, the complicated plotting, the whiplashing tones, all sewn together in a way that makes everything feel effortless without making any of it seem easy. It’s not their best film (that’s No Country for Old Men), but it’s probably the best summation of the brothers as a creative force. And even if you don’t go in for any of that retrospective bullshit and don’t give a fuck about the Coen brothers, it’s still a damn good gangster flick. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
Ollin: Social Justice Film Series
A film series presented by the Latino Network, “dedicated to exploring social justice themes through film” and featuring post-screening panel discussions. This week’s film: El Norte, a 1983 film by Gregory Nava, based on his memories of growing up in San Diego. Hollywood Theatre.
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 Cinema 21.
Portland Underground Film Festival
A celebration of underground and underseen cinema, both foreign and domestic, including shorts and features. See cstpdx.com for a full list of titles. Clinton Street Theater.
MY Power Rangers had to walk uphill both ways in nothing but tank tops to get to their juice bar! Now Power Rangers have iPhones. You think Zord battles in the ’90s had $100 million budgets? This generation is spoiled with good Power Rangers and they don’t even know it! BRI BREY Various Theaters.
Queer Commons: BearCity 3
Following last week’s BearCity double feature, Queer Commons finishes off Doug Langway’s big gay trilogy following a quirky cast of bears, boys, and cubs wrapping up their stories at a very hairy campsite in the woods. Hollywood Theatre.
The French make everything look delicious... including cannibalism, which happens to be the case in the wonderfully disgusting Raw. It’s a coming-of-cannibal tale by Julia Ducournau that’s as atmospheric as Let the Right One In, as dark as the 2007’s under-seen vagina dentata saga Teeth, and a Bildungsroman that makes The Hunger Games look like a tiptoe down the candy aisle. Bloody, stylish, and incredibly disturbing, Raw is a meaty piece of body horror about a virginal vegetarian who’s gagging for some sweet human flesh—figuratively and literally. COURTNEY FERGUSON Cinema 21.
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Oh yeah. Sure. Maybe this will be the “good” Smurfs movie. Mm-hmm. You go, and you sit in front of this fucking thing, and report back when you’re done, okay? Thanks. Various Theaters.
Song to Song
Unceremoniously dumped into a single Portland theater without a press screening—hell, without even a press release—the latest from Terrence Malick finds the brilliant filmmaker continuing his starry-eyed drift away from such time-honored narrative techniques as "plot," "character," and "linear time." The result is something that's less reminiscent of his beloved films (Badlands, Days of Heaven, The Thin Red Line) and more in line with his... less beloved films (To the Wonder, Knight of Cups). Focusing on a lifeless Rooney Mara, Song follows Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, and others as they meander around Austin, Texas; there are love triangles and music-business squabbles and every once in a while, Lykke Li or Iggy Pop or Patti Smith shows up. (Patti Smith is great.) It's Malick—working again with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki—so it's eye-burstingly gorgeous to look at, but YMMV based on how willing you are to subsume yourself into another of the director's seemingly aimless tone poems. "I GOT SOME URANIUM," Val Kilmer bellows at one point. "I BOUGHT IT OFF MY MOM!" ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
What T2 does well, it does astonishingly well. More than a few scenes are hysterically funny, and more than a few escapades are white-knuckled fun. But what sticks with me are the things I never thought I’d get out of a Trainspotting movie—the smart, emotional things it has to say about friendship and the passage of time. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Zookeeper’s Wife
The true story behind The Zookeeper’s Wife should be told: During Germany’s occupation of Poland from 1939 to 1945, the husband and wife who owned the Warsaw Zoo used their caged basement to shelter over 300 fleeing Jews. It’s a remarkable piece of history, which is what makes Niki Caro’s clumsy adaptation of Diane Ackerman’s 2007 book so disappointing. What haunted me most is the film’s happy ending: The Nazis scamper off into the shadows, and the war’s survivors resume their old lives. This testament to the power of love comes off as bullshit, because millions of people didn’t get to rebuild their lives—and in 2017, Nazis are creeping back into the light. CIARA DOLAN Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, April 7-Thursday, April 13, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.