ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD
Mere weeks away from the release of All the Money in the World, director Ridley Scott decided to erase every trace of Kevin Spacey from his movie following disturbing allegations of that actor’s sexual assault and harassment. Scott quickly re-filmed large sections with Christopher Plummer, who replaced Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty, founder of Getty Oil and one of the richest men of the 20th century. I can see why Scott went to such extremes: He knew he was sitting on top of a taut, exciting thriller about the 1973 Italian kidnapping of Getty’s grandson, John Paul Getty III, and damned if he was gonna let Spacey torpedo it. That Scott pulled off the switcheroo relatively seamlessly is an achievement unto itself; that All the Money in the World works on its own merits is another altogether. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
★ BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT
You know what the trick is to enjoying this endlessly-praised, virtually plotless, depressingly beautiful neo-noir? It’s a trick the members of its cult often learn by their third or fourth viewing—Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard is a giant piece of shit, and he also really sucks at his job. Once you stop expecting anything resembling “heroics” out of him, and realize you definitely shouldn’t be rooting for him, the film’s focus naturally shifts to his shared targets, Roy Batty and Rachel, and that’s when the ponderous, accidental genius of Ridley Scott’s film locks in and takes hold. That all-timer of a score by Vangelis doesn’t hurt, either. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Netflix’s first foray into the big-budget blockbuster game has been eviscerated by critics, but for what it is, the movie itself is... not awful? It’s also not anything near good, though, so there’s also that. Squandering an intriguing premise—the film is set in modern-day LA, but one in which orcs, elves, fairies, and the occasional dragon share the streets with humans—Bright’s murky plot has something to do with a WMD-grade magic wand and yuppie elves fighting to maintain power over an orc underclass. Bright’s half-assed race and class allegories don’t make sense, but the film’s focus is the ’80s buddy-cop banter between asshole human Ward (Will Smith) and earnest orc Jakoby (Joel Edgerton). Smith seems tired (real tired), but Edgerton is great, even under however many pounds of latex. (Noomi Rapace is wasted as some kind of... elf assassin? Who’s trying to kill them? Or another elf? Unclear.) Director David Ayer, who’s capable of both solid fare like Fury and mediocre product like Suicide Squad, does his best to keep things moving, but Max Landis’ dumb, drawn-out script doesn’t do anything past setting up a promising urban fantasy world and then failing to do anything interesting in it. Netflix has already ordered a sequel, which isn’t the worst news—one senses that in other hands, something fun could be made out whatever this is. ERIK HENRIKSEN Netflix.
★ CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
There aren’t many films that can paint a picture of the extravagant turmoil of young romance without lapsing into clunky cliché. But Call Me by Your Name is such a film—and it succeeds by seamlessly juxtaposing the lush Italian countryside with the burgeoning desires and tumultuous emotions of a lovesick teen, creating a sumptuous world of dreams and romantic loss. WM.™ STEVEN HUMPHREY Fox Tower 10.
★ THE DISASTER ARTIST
Don’t come to The Disaster Artist looking for answers. James Franco’s film about the making of The Room probably won’t resolve your biggest questions about Tommy Wiseau, the writer/director/producer/star of that infamously bad 2003 movie. Rather than craft an exposé, Franco embraces Wiseau’s inscrutability while drawing a vivid emotional portrait. At first you think it’s going to be a sniggering, get-a-load-of-this-guy takedown, but Franco’s Wiseau—while enormously funny—is given surprising depth and complexity. Despite all the jokes it cracks at The Room’s expense, it eventually becomes clear that everyone involved in The Disaster Artist has deep affection for Wiseau’s weird, wretched movie. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Laurelhurst decided the best way to start 2018 is by pre-emptively beating the shit out of it in a variety of aesthetically pleasing and painful ways. Last week saw Tony Jaa kneeing all of Thailand in the face as hard as he could in Ong Bak. This week the French get their turn, with the 2006 Luc Besson-produced, Pierre Morel-directed District B13, a movie that noted the rise of parkour and asked, “Yes, but can you seriously fuck people up with this?” Happily, the answer is yes—not since the glory days of Gymkata has merciless asswhoopin looked so darling. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
DON’T BLINK: ROBERT FRANK
Laura Israel’s documentary about her friend, photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank, who’s still pursuing his muse at the age of 90. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
In Downsizing, Alexander Payne’s big idea is to try to treat his film’s title as literally as possible, positing a world where a Norwegian scientist has invented a shrink ray that can reduce organic matter to a thousandth of its original size. Why? Well, since we can’t enlarge the Earth and its finite resources, maybe we can shrink ourselves to make them last longer. We’re conditioned these days to assume that the stakes of any story are the whole world, which goes double in a story with an environmentalist conceit. But Downsizing isn’t about saving the world. Downsizing is neither an environmental screed nor a skewering of environmentalist rhetoric; it simply builds a world and tries to imagine Matt Damon living in it. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
THE GREATEST SHOWMAN
How in the hell did it take until the last days of 2017 before someone put Hugh Jackman in a gaudy, giant-sized, showtune-fueled, sassy-as-all-hell musical? One where he’s playing P.T. Barnum, no less? It’s highly likely this isn’t historically accurate at all, but that’s obviously not the point here. Look at all the unbelievably pretty people singing and drink it all in. Various Theaters.
★ I, TONYA
In a sport that worshipped a retrograde notion of femininity, Tonya Harding was considered a freak, even though she was arguably the most technically skilled skater of her time. In the wake of the infamous 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan (which she may or may not have had a hand in), Harding was further ostracized, transformed by the nascent 24-hour news cycle into a white-trash demoness—so it’s important that any fictional depiction of her life acknowledge that she was also a real person who suffered. I, Tonya, is a solid attempt, largely thanks to Margot Robbie’s portrayal of a very human, very sympathetic Tonya. Without sugarcoating Harding’s personality or her life, I, Tonya tells a familiar story of a woman whose life was ruined by hapless, cruel men and sexist gatekeeping. In a moment of heightened awareness around sexual abuse and workplace harassment, Harding’s story couldn’t be more timely. She wasn’t a perfect victim, but her suffering was real. And due to associations with awful men who undermined her career, she lost the one constant in her chaotic life: figure skating. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY
The gross landlord lady from Kingpin stopped doing that thing with her tongue, cleaned herself up, and thanks to the Insidious film series, became a low-key ghostbuster. Speaking of keys, her latest assignment is to destroy a greasy demon with keys for fingers who has occupied her childhood home. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
This movie wasn’t made for me. I’m an adult, and this movie is for children. I’m also not a huge fan of Kevin Hart or the Rock, but a lot of people are—they’re very popular! Many humans whose blood runs as red as mine could find a lot to enjoy in this movie. Did this movie need to be made? No, but does any movie need to be made? Or like, hey, maybe call this something other than Jumanji, since it’s OBVIOUSLY something different (Jumanji was a board game, and now it’s a video game, and there’s barely even any animals in this thing). And doesn’t this all seem like a cynical exploitation of our nostalgia for ’80s books and ’90s movies? Sure! But if they’d called it something different, they’d have to use a different font for the posters, and it’s a good font, so why not? Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle harms no one. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
★ LADY BIRD
Watching Lady Bird is kind of like reopening your high school yearbook for the first time in years, wincing and smiling in equal measure. Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is sweet, tragic, and sentimental, which is exactly how a coming-of-age movie should be. CIARA DOLAN Various Theaters.
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
Before Merchant and Ivory showed up to rule the dramatic sub-genre of “innovative, beautifully shot, and quietly devastating portraits of amazingly uptight white people who have issues with fucking,” there was Powell and Pressburger, who practically invented the genre in 1940s Great Britain. The digital restoration of this fantastical love story between a British airman and an American radio operator does justice to the landmark work by renowned cinematographer Jack Cardiff. BOBBY ROBERTS NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
After writing several wordy screenplays and a few endearingly verbose TV shows, Aaron Sorkin sits down in the director’s chair for an uneven but entertaining lark about Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a former Olympic hopeful who puts off law school and ends up running a high-stakes underground poker game. It is every inch An Aaron Sorkin Film. Walking and talking? Earnest speeches? Social justice? Daddy issues? You bet! ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
DID YOU KNOW: The kid who played Oliver in this late ’60s musical adaptation of the Dickens story grew up, got his black belt in karate, and became the godfather to Michael Jackson’s kids? He apparently cared so much for them that he made news in the late 2000s by volunteering the possibility that the sperm he donated to Michael might have been the sperm that created one of those kids! What a generous guy! Not a lot of people would just suggest such a thing, out loud, in front of the media, for no apparent reason or purpose! Anyway, just something to keep in the back of your head when you watch this weird musical about homeless children being bullied by dainty ape Oliver Reed. BOBBY ROBERTS NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
This 1944 film noir from director Robert Siodmak begins clumsily, with a dipshit plot about a man convicted of murder and a mysterious lady in a ridiculous hat. But then the movie shifts to the point of view of the man’s plucky secretary, played by the dazzlingly lovely Ella Raines, and becomes exponentially better. With some stylish visual flair, including a foot pursuit through a matte-painted Manhattan, a funny/creepy orgiastic jazz-band sequence, and a villain whose lair is decorated with his own terrible sculptures, Phantom Lady eventually pays off. And gee whiz, that Ella Raines! NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ PITCH PERFECT 3
The Pitch Perfect universe feels like a 1989-era Taylor Swift Instagram experience, before she deleted all her ’grams to get all self-serious and boring. It’s a shiny, flawless, and highly-edited world of pretty girls having curated fun, and if I could live in it, you bet your ass I would, because it is a delightful land to inhabit for a fast-paced, totally ridiculous 90 minutes. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
★ PRICED OUT
Cornelius Swart’s Priced Out assembles a wealth of information about the history of gentrification in the Black neighborhoods of North and Northeast Portland. This film is a follow-up to NorthEast Passage, a documentary Swart, a longtime reporter, co-produced in 2002; that film’s central figure, Nikki Williams, spoke in favor of gentrification. Priced Out juxtaposes Williams’ current perspective with the recent developments that have turned several Portland neighborhoods into playgrounds for white newcomers. It’s as fascinating to watch as it is devastating to comprehend. SUZETTE SMITH Portland Mennonite Church.
★ THE SHAPE OF WATER
Guillermo del Toro’s latest is strange, sweet, and wonderful, and easily the greatest film ever made about a mute cleaning lady who falls in love with an amphibious fish man. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
★ STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Nostalgia can only get you so far, even when wookiees are involved. While 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens succeeded in rescuing the franchise from the doldrums of its prequels, it also practiced a frustrating form of risk aversion, putting the next generation of characters through some very familiar paces. Thankfully, The Force Awakens’ thunderously hyped sequel, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, takes a much more proactive tack, fully honoring the touchstones of the series while zigging and zagging in satisfying, provocative ways. If the previous entry presented a respectably staid melding of old and new, this one wires everything up, cranks the juice, and lets her rip. It’s escapism on a grand scale—the kind of experience that reminds you why you fell in love with movies in the first place. Believe the hype, and then some. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
★ MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, Jan 5-Thursday, Jan 11, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.