Once upon the ’70s, before there were doll-eyed albino Michelin Men, before fanged vagina-mouth Rasta-monsters from outer space barged in for a good rassle, before all the Winona-ing and cloning and sad Muppet Baby abominations, before the AIDS allegory and the Vietnam metaphors, before the titular nasty became just a screeching bug you can run over in your car, there was Alien, a movie about tired space truckers stuck in a floating haunted house with an unknowable, unbeatable Freudian nightmare made of genitalia, teeth, and KY Jelly. It is probably the best horror movie ever made, and it’s screens this week in tribute to Harry Dean Stanton, who counts among his myriad indelible movie moments the first ever on-screen death via full-grown xenomorph. A death witnessed only by Jones the Cat, who basically got him killed and didn’t do shit to stop it because cats are dicks. Also see Repo Man, next page.BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Charlie vs. Goliath
Reed Lindsay’s documentary follows retired Catholic priest Charlie Hardy, who returns to his Wyoming hometown and decides the best way to help his community is to run for a Democratic Senate seat in a heavily Republican state, on the platform of campaign finance reform. Director in attendance. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Charlie Chaplin hijinx, circa 1931. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Dawson City: Frozen Time
This experimental documentary—scored by Sigur Rós’ Alex Somers—chronicles the history of Dawson City, located 350 miles south of the Arctic Circle, using footage from over 500 films found buried in a Yukon Territory swimming pool. Hollywood Theatre.
★ Dazed and Confused
“The older you get, the more rules they’re gonna try an’ get you to follow. You just gotta keep on livin’, man. L-I-V-I-N.” Laurelhurst Theater.
Friend Request threads ham-fisted jump scares through a digital-age horror flick cut from the same cloth as Ingrid Goes West: creepy misfit girl becomes obsessed with beautiful well-adjusted girl, then things spiral out of control. That narrative and those characters are played out and boring, but Friend Request does contain one of the best/worst lines of dialogue in recent memory: "Unfriend that dead bitch!" CIARA DOLAN Various Theaters.
★ Grindhouse Film Festival: Deep Red
This month’s entry in the Hollywood’s celebration of Grindhouse cinema is a rare 35mm print of Dario Argento’s 1975 giallo classic, featuring the hallmarks of a great time with the Italian madman: garishly beautiful cinematography, innovative and disturbing kills, and of course—that synthy, sleazy, serpentine sound of Goblin poured all over the soundtrack. A carefully curated reel of Italian horror trailers precedes the feature. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
In Pursuit of Silence
Patrick Shen’s 2016 documentary following three very different people as they pursue a silent existence in an era where the absence of noise is almost impossible to find. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
In theory, It should work: Many of the things that make Stephen King’s book so remarkable are here, and all those elements are better than those of the 1990 miniseries. But for a movie with so much blood, It feels disappointingly bloodless. Maybe its sequel—which promises to tell the second half of the story—will find the scope and the horror missing from this chapter, but for now, It feels less than the sum of its parts. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Lego Ninjago Movie
Whoever had “three” in the “How many Lego movies will it take before the brand feels stale and uninspired?” pool, step up and claim your prize! (Your prize is that you do not have to watch any more Lego movies.) The Lego Ninjago Movie, an extension of the Cartoon Network series about Power Ranger-y teens in mech-suits who protect Ninjago City from the evil Lord Garmadon, is only fitfully amusing, relying on meta-references for laughs and filling the rest of its runtime with bland action sequences. True to its roots, it feels like an overlong episode of a TV show, not a giddy big-screen event. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theatre.
Darren Aronofsky’s latest is the kind of movie that’ll have some declaring it a work of genius and others decrying it as a piece of garbage. (I’m guessing zero people will land in the middle; nobody’s leaving Mother! with a shrug.) And good luck trying to classify it: Is it an arthouse horror movie? A thriller? A twisted romance? Sure, Mother! could be a trippy take on a disintegrating marriage, or it could serve as a Biblical allegory for the creative process. Is it a far-reaching indictment of America’s lifestyle consumerism, or just a movie about how far Aronofsky has his head up his ass? Is it brilliant? Is it terrible? Is it both? It’s Mother! ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
★ Patti Cake$
Patti Cake$ could easily be labeled a feminist 8 Mile, and at first glance, it looks just about identical: the fights with mom, the working poverty, the white rapper seeking to break into a traditionally African American art form. Patti Cake$ only escapes the 8 Mile cliché—the idea that it’s somehow heroic for a white person to succeed in a marginalized person’s world—on the strength of its actors, the inventiveness of its director, and the fact that its script packs so much heart. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
DID YOU KNOW: Gage, the resurrected scalpel-wielding murderer of Herman Munster, is also the “Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina” kid from Kindergarten Cop? It’s true! ALSO TRUE: Zelda isn’t anywhere near as scary as you might remember her from when you were 12, which is coincidentally the oldest you can be and still be scared by this terrible adaptation of what is maybe Stephen King’s scariest novel. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
Pipe Organ Pictures: It
Ohhhh, you’re so clever, Hollywood Theatre. There’s an interdimensional homicidal clown loose at the multiplexes, so you’re gonna have Dean Lemire play the organ while It plays—the 1927 silent movie It, the Josef von Sternberg production starring Clara Bow, the one that basically invented the phrase “the it girl.” That’s a pretty neat trick. Pennywise itself would approve. Hollywood Theatre.
Three Portland filmmakers show off their new works: Roland Dahwen Wu’s Haft Seen, Kalimah Abioto’s Sight, and Keyon Gaskin & Roland Dahwen Wu’s Field Theories. Directors in attendance. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Re-run Theater: Irwin Allen ’60s Sci-Fi
The Hollywood’s tribute to classic television. This month: A pair of hour-long episodes from super-producer Irwin Allen. Best known for his paint-by-numbers disaster films of the ’70s (The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno), Allen got his first taste of serious shlock success in the ’60s, producing Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. One episode of each will be screened, with period-appropriate (and slightly psychedelic) commercials played during the commercial breaks. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
★ Repo Man
Harry Dean Stanton was an omnipresent figure in film. Independent, mainstream, blockbuster, uber-low-budget—chances are if you watched more than five movies in your life, you saw Harry Dean Stanton’s hangdog face in one of them, cigarette dangling out of one corner of his mouth, dialogue flowing from the other. And it almost never mattered what that dialog was, it sounded like philosophy as he delivered it, whether it was just the single word “right,” in Alien, relationship advice in Pretty in Pink, or the sweaty, meth-fueled pearls of wisdom in Repo Man, the 1984 Alex Cox masterpiece that used Stanton as expertly as any director ever has—which makes this tribute screening a great choice by which to remember such an unforgettable man. Also see Alien, previous page. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
The contributions of indigenous peoples to the continuum of American music have long been neglected, and while Rumble is a drop in the bucket in correcting this oversight, it’s a very good start. Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana’s far-reaching documentary is necessarily episodic, with discrete sections on crucial figures like blues progenitor Charley Patton, rock trailblazer Link Wray, folksinger/activist Buffy Sainte-Marie, session guitarist Jesse Ed Davis, and metal drummer Randy Castillo. Each of these musicians could command his or her own narrative, but the accumulation of these snapshots gives Rumble an undeniable power. And the movie’s diagram of the undeniable similarity between Patton’s rise-and-fall melodies and traditional Native songs will have you rethinking everything you’ve learned about American musical history. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
★ Singin’ in the Rain
It’s the 1920s in Los Angeles, and Hollywood up-and-comer Kathy Selden has come to make a name at a studio. Instead, she’s going to have to save it. Within this sound stage high above the city, 12 terrorists have declared war. They’re as brilliant as they are ruthless. Now, the last thing Selden wants is to be a hero, but she doesn’t have a choice. She’s an easy woman to like, and a hard woman to kill. Debbie Reynolds in: Singin’ in the Rain. Yippe-ki-yay, motherfuckers. ELINOR JONES NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Sonic Cinema: David Gilmour—Live in Pompeii
The Hollywood’s music film series presents this concert film capturing Gilmour’s return to the Roman Amphitheater, 45 years after he first played it with Pink Floyd. Hollywood Theatre.
Fun fact! Taxi Driver was originally titled Bickle’s Pickle. Academy Theater.
A thought-provoking, beautifully shot documentary about the conflicted relationship between big-game hunting and wildlife conservation, Trophy asks its audience to consider situations not commonly addressed when discussing hunting and extinction. Co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz have said they came to the issue from opposite sides—Clusiau being more comfortable with hunting culture—but the film comes off as decidedly pro-animal rights for the first half, and doesn’t get to the pro-hunting arguments until the last half-hour, long after animal-lovers have been subjected to watching several real-time animal deaths and have undoubtedly left the theater. SUZETTE SMITH Fox Tower 10.
★ Wind River
Actor Taylor Sheridan certainly came bolting out of the gate as a screenwriter, with his scripts for 2015’s Sicario and last year’s Hell or High Water displaying a firm grasp of pulp storytelling dynamics and an eagerness to explore the darker aspects of the human condition. (That both films had terrific directors in charge, with Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie respectively, definitely didn’t hurt.) Wind River, Sheridan’s first attempt at directing one of his own scripts, is a similarly tough, intelligently elevated B-movie, bolstered by unexpectedly deft novelistic touches and an exceptional, contents-under-pressure lead performance by Jeremy Renner. It’s got a kick. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Wyrd War Presents: Rawhead Rex
Wyrd War hosts this cult classic shitpile from 1986 based on a Clive Barker short story. Goddamn has any other horror author had their work adapted so poorly, so consistently by Hollywood than Barker? What was a powerful tale of pagan horror on the page became a pungent slurry of bad decisions and worse effects work, with the titular vengeful behemoth looking more like a cross between the Toxic Avenger and a hairy dildo. There are pleasures to be found in this VHS-era “treasure,” but they’re entirely of the unintentional variety. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, Sept 22-Thursday, Sept 28, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.