Being There is a slow, long-panning, hilarious social commentary that tells the story of a man named Chance (Peter Sellers) raised outside of society, educated by television, then set out into the world when his benefactor dies. The people of Chance’s Washington, DC are miserable, and they’re looking for a savior, and they find one in Chance. As the world bends over backwards to do whatever they can for the guy—caring for him, kowtowing to him, heeding his foolish advice like wisdom, bringing him into POLITICS—we see an America that, although written about in 1979, isn’t too different from ours. ADAM GNADE Hollywood Theatre.
The Big Lebowski
At first it was just a weird, low-key almost-misfire in the Coens’ canon. And then it was an underrated work of layered comedic genius. And then it became this whole culty thing complete with festivals and cosplayers and idiots in bathrobes blocking traffic w/ marching bands playing jazzy versions of “Hotel California” on their way to the theater. And now? Now, it’s just The Big Lebowski again, a properly-rated work of layered comedic genius. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Derek Jarman’s final film, in which the last days of his life with AIDS are translated to the screen with help from music by longtime collaborator Simon Fisher Turner, and the voices of Jarman, John Quentin, Nigel Terry, and Tilda Swinton. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
There’s been three of these things already? Jesus. They still make Land Before Time movies though, so I guess four Wimpy Kid flicks isn’t all that remarkable. Various Theaters.
What if The Boy in the Plastic Bubble had access to the internet? Teen romance Everything, Everything provides answers to that and a slew of far less interesting questions through a racially diverse, tech-savvy update to the 1976 made-for-TV classic (this time, based on a bestselling YA novel by Nicola Yoon). Amandla Stenberg—who stole the spotlight as Rue in The Hunger Games—stars as a girl who’s allergic to everything, maintaining her health by never leaving her compulsively clean and hermetically sealed home. She glides through her sterile environment wearing shades of white and pale blue. She is romantic, poetic, and far deeper than girls who have left their houses. But Everything, Everything and The Boy in the Plastic Bubble share a truly interesting premise: how much do you compromise your health for your happiness? Unfortunately, they also share cop-out endings. SPOILER ALERT: Both solve the dilemma by declaring the illness irrelevant/nonexistent. Everything, Everything does it in a more dramatic, twist-ending type reveal, but they’re equally lazy. JULIA RABAN Various Theaters.
Grindhouse Film Festival: Psychomania
The Hollywood’s monthly grindhouse celebration presents a rare 35mm print of the early ’70s British cult classic Psychomania, known in other countries as The Death Wheelers—which is a much more straightforward title for this occult thriller riffing off A Clockwork Orange but swapping out milk-addicted malcontents for a suicidal middle-class biker gang whose leader is way into frog-based black magic and terrorizing a small town with the help of his mom and her butler. Preceded by trailers for ’70s biker films, none of which are likely to include occult butlers, much to their detriment. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
From the director of Ghostbusters and the star of Conan the Barbarian comes a two-hour sitcom about a vice cop pretending to be a kindergarten teacher, which is better as a premise than it is as a film, although in a contest between this and The Goonies for the title of “Best Mediocre Kids Movie Shot in Astoria,” Kindergarten Cop narrowly wins—partially because the little kids are less annoying here, but mostly because Arnold Schwarzenegger is channelling Daffy Duck for most of the movie, and watching him bark lines like “There is no bathroom!” at uncomprehending, cherubic faces is always amusing. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
The Last Dragon
Motown mogul Berry Gordy’s 1985 kung fu flick is supposed to be Taimak’s movie. He’s the Last Dragon in the title, he’s the guy dead center in all the posters, he’s the hero of the story, rescuing Vanity and attaining “the glow” of martial arts mastery. But it’s really hard to give a single solitary fuck about Taimak’s bland ass when Julius Carry III’s “evil” Sho’nuff (!) is snatching every last scrap of scene within his clawed grasp and turning it into cinematic gold. Whatever classic status The Last Dragon maintains is entirely due to the Shogun of Harlem’s outsized, welcome presence. Part of the Clinton Resistance Series, benefitting Operation Refugee Child. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
The Lost City of Z
Percival Fawcett’s name may be nothing more than an eerie coincidence, but writer/director James Gray doesn’t it treat it like one, even though his Percival was unquestionably real. “Percy” is the protagonist of Gray’s astonishing film The Lost City of Z; he’s a British officer tasked with mapping the border between Bolivia and Brazil during the first years of the 20th century. Like Arthur’s knight Percival—who spent decades obsessively seeking the Holy Grail—Z’s Percy becomes consumed by a quest that promises him glory back home until it swallows him altogether. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Director Vanessa Gould takes her camera into the workplace of the New York Times staff writers responsible for the paper’s obituary section. Not screened for critics. Cinema 21.
Amy Schumer can be A Lot, bordering on Too Much, and in Snatched, she’s just as vapid and ditzy and raunchy as usual, although aside from some mild jizz humor, everything here is relatively tame. It’s a mother/daughter movie that you can take your mother to and not have to avoid eye contact after. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Cesc Gay’s multiple Goya award-winning drama about two friends, one diagnosed with terminal cancer, visiting their old stomping grounds to reminisce on their lives, and to hopefully find a new home for a soon to be owner-less dog. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
A rare screening of Kenji Mizoguchi’s highly regarded 1953 fantasy, filmed almost entirely by the light of sunset, Mizoguchi’s camera most often on a crane, swooping through the symbolic dramas of its multiple protagonists like an unrolled scroll. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, May 19-Thursday, May 25, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.