24 Hour Comic
Clocking in at just over an hour, 24 Hour Comic examines the annual event in which comic book creators attempt to crank out an entire comic in a single 24-hour stretch. Focusing on a handful of Portland-area creators as they draw, write, and yawn, 24 Hour Comic is at its best when examining the inherent difficulty of the medium (“Comics have the worst ratio of time that you spend to money that you’re compensated,” notes participant Paul Guinan) and finding bursts of insight into indie comics’ driven, sometimes insular creators. (“I spend most of my life in my head,” says Pizza Gun co-creator Jacob Mercy; shortly after, his collaborator Pete Soloway coolly apprises a page: “Looks like I shit it right out onto the paper.”) Featuring frank interviews with comics creators and editors—including Understanding Comics’ Scott McCloud and Dark Horse Comics’ Scott Allie—24 Hour Comic feels overlong despite its runtime. Comics can be inventive, powerful, and beautiful, and their creators can be fascinating, inspired, and brilliant. But actually watching comics get made—even under compressed conditions like these—isn’t as interesting as the output. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater, iTunes.
47 Meters Down
While vacationing in Mexico, a pair of sisters (Mandy Moore, Claire Holt) try to chase away their romantic blues by climbing inside a rickety cage and getting up close and personal with some boxcar-sized Great Whites. What could go wrong? Oh, many, many things. 47 Meters Down is basically fetish porn for Shark Week junkies, and wastes little time delivering an impressively tense mixture of well-timed shocks, closeups of steadily diminishing air gauges, and moments of no-choice heroism divvied up between the extremely game leads. Unfortunately, the narrative may be a bit too clever for its own good, derailing the movie’s relentless momentum. Still, even if it falls short of the B-movie ingenuity of The Shallows, there are plenty of effective, primal screamy moments here. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
B-Movie Bingo: Lady Dragon
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés! This month, we welcome back low budget action queen Cynthia Rothrock, playing an ex-CIA agent on a mission to kill the arms dealer who murdered her husband (this is probably at least three squares on your card already). Her mission goes poorly, but she’s soon back on the hunt thanks to a kindly old master who nurses her broken body back to life and teaches her how to ruthlessly fucking murder every-and-anything in her goddamned path (as kindly old masters are wont to do). BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Bad Batch
The Bad Batch starts strong, presenting a future in which the world’s undesirables (skaters! people with neck and knuckle tattoos! at least one party DJ!) have been exiled to a large, fenced-off section of Texas. (It’s like Escape from New York, but for Burning Man.) Arlen (Suki Waterhouse) is a recent internee who’s almost immediately set upon by two cannibals in a golf cart, then methodically dismembered at an airport graveyard full of cannibal bodybuilders. Then a mysterious hobo (Jim Carrey) takes her to a way more chill town full of non-cannibals, EDM raves, and Keanu Reeves. With A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, director Ana Lily Amirpour deftly wove unusual genre conventions and a loose narrative into engaging cinema. But The Bad Batch feels like a step backwards—an empty style exercise without a legible moral compass or a clear endgame. The film is sprinkled liberally with beautiful compositions and potentially intriguing characters, but Amirpour seems uninterested in marshaling the assembled material into a coherent formation. BEN COLEMAN Laurelhurst Theater.
Beatriz at Dinner
Finally, the championship face-off you’ve been waiting for: Beatriz at Dinner pits the doe-eyed, incalculable sadness of immigrant Beatriz (Salma Hayek) against the luminous forehead and righteous privilege of Doug Strutt (John Lithgow) via a hyper-uncomfortable script by Mike White. (White previously partnered with Beatriz director Miguel Arteta on Chuck & Buck, and we all remember how much fun that was!) I wanted Beatriz at Dinner to employ a righteous Hayek-eagle descending on a Lithgow-beast—talons sharp!—but instead we drink in her fatigue as she beats her wings against an impossible adversary. SUZETTE SMITH Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
Born on the Fourth of July
Notable not only for Tom Cruise’s performance as real-life Vietnam vet Ron Kovic, but also for being probably the last film of Oliver Stone’s that wasn’t built on a foundation of sweaty, desperate horseshit. Granted, sometimes that foundation works wonders (Natural Born Killers, JFK) and sometimes it... doesn’t (U-Turn). But Stone—for all the attention he’s gained as a provocateur—has always been at his storytelling best when he’s earnest as all hell. Born on the Fourth of July is the last hopeful gasp of an optimist on the verge of drowning in his own cynicism. Celebrate Kovic’s story, and mourn the Stone that once was. Proceeds benefit Unite Oregon. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
Can’t Be Stopped
Cody Smith’s 2016 documentary looks at the men who made up the legendary Can’t Be Stopped graffiti crew, whose influence and popularity put Hollywood’s street art scene on the map in the early 1980s. Director in attendance. Clinton Street Theater.
Cinema Classics: Beggars of Life
A digital restoration of film’s first talkies, the 1928 drama Beggars of Life, about a girl (Louise Brooks) who kills her shitty stepdad and rides the rails with a friendly drifter (Richard Arlen) before running into Wallace Beery and his squad of rowdy hobos. Hollywood Theatre.
Despicable Me 3
Does anyone even still give a fuck about Gror or whatever it is Steve Carell plays? Grub? There’s apparently a whole plot centering on him and his twin brother Grop or some shit, but c’mon—it’s another Minions flick. That’s all it really is. It is a thing that has Minions in it and so you are duty-bound to take whatever crotchfruit have tumbled from your loins into the theater, and shove Minions into their eyes until placid, like the quarters and crayons they’ll ram up their noses when you’re not paying attention. Such is the way of things. Congratulations on your successful procreation. Various Theaters.
The Fifth Element
Luc Besson’s Valerian is coming very soon, and if you’re thinking of catching it before summer winds down, you might wanna revisit his first foray into outlandish Heavy Metal-inspired insanity, The Fifth Element, which premiered 20 (!) years ago. It didn’t do very well back then despite starring Bruce Willis at the height of his career resurgence, probably due to how overtly silly and comic book-y the film’s sensibilities are, and how “edgy” and shitty the late ’90s often were. But as time went on and overtly silly comic books became the film industry’s sole food source, people came around to its multitudinous joys—and yes, that includes Chris Tucker’s off-kilter Prince impersonation, too. BZZZZ BZZZZ! BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre, Mission Theater.
The latest entry into the illustrious genre of Indie Movies About Sad Old Men, The Hero follows Lee Hayden (Sam Elliott), a 71-year-old movie star who’s keenly aware that he’s about 40 years past his prime. If you’re guessing what Lee needs is a visit from a manic pixie dream girl, well, hey, look who it is: thirtysomething stand-up comedian Charlotte (Laura Prepon), who’s got a thing for older dudes and a ready supply of molly. There’s a fair amount of meta-ness going on in The Hero—characters keep telling Lee how much they like his mustache and his old movies where he played a cowboy—and Elliott remains as gruff, likeable, and watchable as ever. That real-life baggage goes both ways, though; no matter how seriously writer/director Brett Haley takes all this, it’s never not going to be weird to watch Donna from That ’70s Show making out with The Stranger from The Big Lebowski. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
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.
See review, this issue. Netflix.
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). Totally not autobiographical. Not. At. All. Cinema 21.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Maybe the most perfectly constructed film in cinema history. Maybe. I’m sure someone out there has an argument on deck, but I’m betting their champion of choice doesn’t include a giant pit of snakes; a fight inside, on top of, and hanging off the front of a truck at 50 mph; a holy box that melts Nazi faces like Totino’s Party Pizza; and—most importantly—the presence of peak Harrison Ford in all his sweaty, smirky, silly-yet-sexy glory. BOBBY ROBERTS
Restless Creature: Wendy Whelan
Linda Saffire and Adam Schlesinger’s film documents the final year of Whelan’s time at the New York City Ballet. Cinema 21.
Two Films by the Maysles: Christo’s Valley Curtain and Running Fence
A pair of documentaries by acclaimed filmmakers about Albert and David Maysles, both focused on artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who made constructing giant fabric walls and placing them in nature kind of their whole thing, much to the consternation of locals in Colorado and California. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Sonic Cinema: I am the Blues
The Hollywood’s music film series presents a documentary on North Mississippi’s hill country, and the sheer amount of legendary blues music that’s poured out of it, with appearances from greats including Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Bilbo Walker, Bobby Rush, Little Freddie King, and many more. Hollywood Theatre.
Spielberg on Film
The Hollywood Theatre’s series of (mostly) Spielberg blockbusters, all screening on film. See “The Hollywood Theatre Celebrates Spielberg—in 35 and 16mm,” Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
To Have and Have Not
In the 1940s, romance was (very loosely) adapting a Hemingway book, putting Humphrey Bogart in the picture, and then hiring 19-year-old Lauren Bacall to smoke cigarettes and whisper blowjob jokes into Bogie’s lap. To Have and Have Not is a well directed little potboiler, but its power has less to do with director Howard Hawks’ skill behind the camera, and more to do with the fact everyone on set was apparently fucking each other, so capturing the varying degrees of desperate passion in the air wasn’t all that hard. You just had to turn on the camera and roll. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
Transformers: The Last Knight
You don’t have to do this to yourself. You really don’t. Look at all these other movies! Look at all the choices! You can do anything. Anything but sit down and let... this happen to you. For your sake, and the sake of those who care for you—please don’t do this. Starring Stanley Tucci as Merlin. Various Theaters.
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.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, June 30-Thursday, July 6, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.