A bloody, squealing, somewhat satisfying rehash. Covenant’s victory is minor—after 25 years, the Alien series has finally managed to make a movie that, however slightly, is better than 1992’s Alien3. The question is whether the beast will uncoil and move forward, or remain content to suck on itself like a pacifier. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
Once upon the ’90s, after watching a Hal Hartley film, Isabelle Huppert knew she had to be in one of his movies, feeling it was guaranteed Hartley could give her one hell of a role. Upon their inevitably getting together, Hartley was like “How ’bout you play an ex-nun who now writes pornography, on a secret mission from the Virgin Mary herself?” And Huppert was like, “Yeah, cool,” and then they made Amateur. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 is equally lazy. JULIA RABAN Various Theaters.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes’ late-’80s live-action Looney Tunes movie, starring Matthew Broderick as Bugs Bunny, Alan Ruck as Porky Pig, and Jeffrey Jones as a child molesting piece of shit (AKA himself). In this story, Bugs is a ridiculously spoiled upper-middle-class brat who decides to fake death and con Porky into stealing a Ferrari from his emotionally abusive father so he and Babs Bunny (Mia Sara) can fuck around in Chicago all day. Along the way, Porky goes catatonic and learns to stand up for himself. Also starring the girl with the watermelon from Dirty Dancing and Charlie Sheen as an unapologetic cokehead (AKA himself). BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
Friday Film Club: Bluebeard
A visually and emotionally sparse interpretation of an 18th-century French fairy tale. The film manages to omit most of the Crusade-type violence and sexual deviance associated with this era, but doesn’t leave the audience without someone’s head on a silver platter. RAQUEL NASSER NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
If you enjoyed the first Guardians, you’ll love the second, even if the shiny veneer of newness has dulled somewhat. However, the standard problems with Marvel Studios’ movies remain: They jam in too many characters, so none get the solid fleshing out they deserve, and the self-referential Marvel Easter eggs are, at this point, solidly annoying. That being said, stack Vol. 2 up against the dour tubs of crap put out by DC (hello, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), and it’s pretty clear my quibbles are of the smallest variety. The music is uniformly great, the jokes are whip-smart and delightful, the action scenes are exciting CG works of art, the characters are identifiable and lovable, and Baby Groot is goddamned adorable. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki
Juho Kuosmanen’s debut drama is a kind of Finnish true-life Rocky, about a boxer who meets a girl and falls in love just before being tapped as a sacrificial longshot facing a world-famous champion. Cinema 21.
I, Daniel Blake
He, Daniel Blake (played by Dave Johns), is a 59-year-old fellow living in Newcastle, a carpenter and a widower recovering from a serious heart attack and under doctor’s orders not to return to work. Much of the movie follows Daniel’s efforts to negotiate the labyrinthine and generally uncaring British social services system, made especially daunting by his unfamiliarity with things like CVs and computers. (“A cursor? Well, that’s a feckin’ fine name for it!”) Director Ken Loach has been making unapologetically leftist films for decades (check out Riff-Raff or Land and Freedom if you ever get a chance), and while I, Daniel Blake succumbs to some of the clichés of socialist realism, it’s still a potent experience. MARC MOHAN Living Room Theaters.
It Comes at Night
It Comes at Night tells the story of Paul (Joel Edgerton), who lives in a secluded woodland house with his wife (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). The world is sick—probably dying. An unnamed plague, fatal and incurable, has fragmented what we can see of society. In 2017, it’s easy to bounce off of grueling apocalyptic dramas like The Walking Dead and The Road—in those stories, like life, the sense of doom can become overbearing. It Comes at Night balances on the knife edge between hope and despair, counterweighting the dire nature of its world with genuinely moving moments of warmth. This family seems worth saving, and the destruction that hovers over them, for all its menace, never feels inevitable. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
There’s just so much to get film-drunk on with John Huston’s 1948 noir Key Largo. There’s Karl Freund’s amazing black-and-white cinematography, of course. There’s the forever-mesmerizing chemistry between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, seasoned to perfection in their fourth and final team-up on film. There’s the amazing bounty of hard-boiled dialogue ripping out of everyone’s mouths like bullets spat from the business end of a tommy gun. But above all, there’s Edward G. Robinson as Johnny Rocco, soaking in a bathtub, chomping on a cigar, serving notice that while Sopranos and Corleones might rise in his wake, none will possess the lasting power of his swarthy, malevolent majesty. You wanna see some gangster shit? This is some gangster shit. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
Kung Fu Theater: Forced to Fight
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is the only known 35mm print of the undeservedly obscure Forced to Fight. It’s built on the boilerplate “student of a murdered master vows revenge” plot, but Forced is enhanced immeasurably by the fact this maligned student is Invincible Super Chan (no shit), who channels his pure rage into superhuman feats of total obliteration, plowing through enemies like a thresher through a wheat field. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Live and Let Die
It’s amazing how well-regarded Sir Roger Moore’s turn as James Bond was, considering the films he was asked to carry. In 1973, following Sean Connery’s smarmy, snarky, sexist thuggery and George Lazenby’s unsure-yet-affecting one-off, the Bond series was adrift, chasing trends and cultural relevance. Thus: Live and Let Die, a Bond Blaxploitation film—a genre all about “sticking it to the man,” starring a British government assassin as the hero. Moore took that sure-fire recipe for disaster, and by the skin of his gleaming teeth, charmed his way through it. The movie isn’t great (why would you ever want to root against Yaphet Kotto?), but watching him make Bond somehow likable for the first time ever is fun as hell. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Rex is a German Shepherd with soulful eyes, and everyone thinks he’s a bad dog—but he’s not a bad dog! He just needs the right handler, and wouldn’t you know it: He gets her! Rex’s best friend is (surprise!) Megan Leavey, an alternately bratty and highly competent Marine Corporal based on a real person and played by Kate Mara. Together they’re the best IED-defusing team in Iraq. In the hands of a lesser director, Megan Leavey, set during the Iraq War and not exactly critical of the military-industrial complex, could easily devolve into jingoistic claptrap, but with Blackfish’s Gabriela Cowperthwaite at the helm, it’s a leaner, more interesting movie that hints at what it’s actually like to be a woman in the military. My only complaint is that they couldn’t get the real Chuck Schumer for a key moment in Rex’s self-actualization. If they had, Megan Leavey would be perfect. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
There’s a lot riding on the Tom Cruise-starring reboot of The Mummy. It’s the inaugural film in the “Dark Universe” series, a sprawling, Marvel-style movie franchise intended to interweave all of the classic Universal monsters from the ’30s and ’40s into a sparkling, CGI-enhanced mega-narrative. But this Mummy’s DNA actually seems primarily made up of Italian zombie flicks (Boutella’s resurrected princess can animate corpses at will, so we watch Cruise and Annabelle Wallis’ lady archeologist fend off endless hordes for most of the movie) and the precarious balance of comedy and horror of 1981’s An American Werewolf in London. There are some good spooky bits early on, but when the movie stops making sense, you’ll stop paying attention. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
My Cousin Rachel
Do you want to watch a spooooooooky movie? (Puts on top hat.) With intrigue? (Dramatic wink.) And mystery! (Twirls mustache.) And possibly even... murder?! Hoo, hoo, hoo, have I got (pulls curtain, reveals boring emptiness) NOT the movie for you! It’s called My Cousin Rachel, and while it wants so badly to be the spookiest murder mystery the stately English countryside has ever seen, it’s just another tortured study of rich guy Sam Claflin who wants to smooch on pretty lady Rachel Weisz. (Untwirls mustache, puts away top hat, rides horse away, towards the English shore, and into the sea, forever.) ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
An unvarnished, proudly geeky look at the history of the newspaper obituary and the deadline-plagued reporters that write them (with a heartbreaking segment on David Foster Wallace). ANDREW WRIGHT Laurelhurst Theater.
Paris Can Wait
Eleanor Coppola (director of the amazing Apocalypse Now documentary Hearts of Darkness) writes and directs this half rom-com/half travelogue about a movie producer’s wife (Diane Lane), ditched by her inattentive workaholic husband (Alec Baldwin), who road trips through southern France with one of his friends (Arnaud Viard). Cinema 21.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Is this movie for you? It is not for you. It is not for anyone. Do not look at it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Portland Horror Film Festival
This film fest returns for its second year, full of shorts from all over the world that span the horror spectrum—from funny-gross to gross-gross, and from understated eerie to full-blown bizarre. COURTNEY FERGUSON Hollywood Theatre.
Portland Jewish Film Festival
There are infinite ways in which to reshuffle categories of film, and the world puts out so much that the sheer quantity begs for organization. And so we have strange, simultaneous exercises in homogeny and disparity like the NW Film Center’s annual Jewish Film Festival. Come for the compendium of culturally specific accomplishments; stay for a series that covers a massive amount of ground in theme, geography, and style. MARJORIE SKINNER NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
The word “genius” gets batted around with regard to filmmakers with a numbing, reductive frequency. But if Hayao Miyazaki doesn’t qualify for that title, who does? Since making his directorial debut with 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki has blazed his own distinct trail, blending atomic-clock action timing with an awe-inspiring, hand-rendered sense of the infinite. Mononoke isn’t just one more example of that balance, it’s maybe the best. ANDREW WRIGHT Academy Theater.
Queer Commons: Kyss Mig
This month’s installment of the Hollywood’s queer-focused series is Alexandra-Therese Keining’s 2011 Swedish romance Kyss Mig, about an architect on the verge of getting married whose plans for matrimonial bliss are disrupted when she meets, and falls for, a lesbian schoolteacher. Hollywood Theatre.
Queer Horror: Drop Dead Gorgeous
The bimonthly series, hosted by Carla Rossi, returns just in time for Pride with a 35mm screening of the underrated (and very hard to find) 1999 cult classic Drop Dead Gorgeous, a satirical thriller about Minnesota beauty queens and the pageant moms who are all about killing the competition to make sure their precious ones get to wear that sash. Preceded by a drag pageant starring some of Portland’s fiercest queens. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Spy Who Loved Me
“It’s the biggest! It’s the best!” brayed the TV commercials for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, loudly trying to remind people there were films other than Star Wars worth your attention. It was a rare case of truth in advertising, as Sir Roger Moore’s loose remake of Sean Connery’s loudly disappointing You Only Live Twice was the biggest Bond film to that date, and was definitely the best of his run. For once, Moore wasn’t asked to hoist the entire project up on his tanned shoulders and carry it across the finish line with that weird stick-up-his-ass gait. He got a great partner/adversary in Barbara Bach’s Agent XXX, an all-timer of a villainous henchman in Jaws, and once the parachute deploys like an exclamation point at the end of the cold open, Bond theme seguing into “Nobody Does It Better,” you know you’re in for something special. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Striking and beautiful, soporific, and frustrating. It’s a Tarkovsky, all right! NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Wonder Woman is exciting and fun—even though it devolves into typical blockbuster spectacle near its end, I’d recommend it to anyone who loves action films, and there’s also just enough subtext to feed a philosophical mind. How much harm does Wonder Woman do when she strides boldly into war? Is this what power looks like? Is it cool just because she’s a woman? Hopefully these questions will be answered in future films. For now, Wonder Woman is a thrilling start. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.