THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN
Who better to present a rare screening of the first ever Claymation feature, 1986’s The Adventures of Mark Twain, than the animation legend who directed it, Portlander Will Vinton? NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ B-MOVIE BINGO: ANGEL OF FURY
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés! This month features the clock-cleaning queen of cock-knock Cynthia Rothrock, a shlock cinema force needing only the barest of plots to start a path of destruction that leaves lumpy trails of broken stuntmen in her wake. 1992’s Angel of Fury is a perfect example—the story is some flimsy shit about a group of terrorists trying to jack her for the computer she’s trying to transport. The plot is not there for you to care about. It is there to provide an excuse to send waves of sweaty idiots face- (and crotch-) first into her feet and fists. Enjoy. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
CASCADE FESTIVAL OF AFRICAN FILMS
An opportunity to see the people, cultures, and communities in the various countries of Africa, through their own eyes, featuring 20 films screened over the course of Black History Month, all for free at venues including the Hollywood Theatre and PCC Cascade. For a full list of titles, locations, and showtimes visit africanfilmfestival.org. Hollywood Theatre, PCC Cascade: Moriarty Arts and Humanities Auditorium.
Pixar’s Coco handles the subject of death with humor, lightness, and depth. The “Coco” in question is the oldest living relative of the film’s young protagonist, Miguel (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), but the story is driven by Miguel’s passion for becoming a musician—and the conflicted relationship he has with his family, who label music as “bad” for reasons he has yet to learn. JENNI MOORE Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, OMSI Empirical Theater.
★ DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS
Carl Franklin’s 1995 neo-noir is ostensibly Denzel Washington’s movie; he’s playing the lead (Easy Rawlins, perfectly translated from the pages of Walter Mosley’s best-selling crime novels), his name’s on the poster, he’s looking as pretty as he’s ever looked in his entire career and because he’s Denzel, you know the performance he gives is on point. But it’s not his movie. Because Don Cheadle is also in the film, playing Easy’s would-be sidekick Mouse, and if you’re thinking “what kind of intense-yet-smooth-yet-batshit-yet-charming performance would he have to turn in to steal a whole movie out from under Denzel Washington?” The answer is this one. This role earned Cheadle his entire career. Do not miss it. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
DIRECTOR: CARL THEODOR DREYER
A retrospective on the work of Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer, whose stellar filmography stretches from the silent films of the 1920s into the turbulent decade of the 1960s. Films include Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc, Vampyr, Gertrud, and more. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ DUNKIRK (70MM)
Because of its faithfulness to historical fact, some may complain that Dunkirk isn’t dramatically satisfying, at least in a traditional sense. At well under two hours, it’s among the shortest films Christopher Nolan has ever made, yet it might be the most grueling experience you have at the movies this year. The deliberately lean story loses its legibility at times; certain sequences don’t quite make sense, while others never find the towline of narrative to pull viewers out of the confusion of events. And yet even these shortcomings feel right—Dunkirk reminds us of the experiential power of film. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
★ 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 Cinemagic.
KARL LIND: VIDEOS, COLLABORATIONS & UNCLASSIFIABLE VIDEO BASED EPHEMERA
Local videographer and experimental filmmaker Karl Lind presents a series of new shorts and documentaries focused on capturing the essence of bizarreness. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
There was a bit of a lull after Laika’s 2009 feature debut Coraline, but the local animation studio has once again nailed it with Kubo and the Two Strings. The stop-motion visuals are beyond breathtaking, the scenery is effing majestic, and the characters are likeable. The film’s emotional heart and mythic, fantastical proportions make it a perfect blend of sweet and strange. COURTNEY FERGUSON Academy Theater.
LA NOIRE DE
Ousmane Sembène startled 1966 audiences with his landmark debut, La Noire De, by centering the film on a Black girl, seeing her as a human being and not a prop in some rich person’s story, and plainly showing how unjust and alienating colonialism is to anyone that isn’t a white colonizer. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
★ 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 Hollywood Theatre.
THE LAST DRAGON
Motown mogul Berry Gordy’s 1985 kung fu flick is supposed to be Taimak’s movie, what with his being the titular hero of the story (such as it is), 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 his portrayal as the meanest, prettiest, baddest mofo low down around town Shogun of Harlem. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
We’ve already had a few fine cinematic attempts to tell the story of the brilliant yet tortured Vincent Van Gogh—Loving Vincent, the latest from animators Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela, is the first of these biopics to get it right. That’s because the entire film is comprised of actual paintings: The international production employed over 100 artists to paint each frame of the film on canvas, copying the thick brushstrokes and brash colors of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works. The resulting movie is stunning—a dream-like vision that flutters and vibrates with energy. ROBERT HAM Laurelhurst Theater.
★ MALCOLM X
Spike Lee fought like hell to adapt The Autobiography of Malcolm X after a long and troubled production history that saw the project pass through the hands of creatives including James Baldwin, Sidney Lumet, Norman Jewison, David Mamet, and more over the course of 20-plus years. “I was born to make this movie,” he said, and he wasn’t lying. It could be argued he’s made better films (Do the Right Thing and 25th Hour, specifically) but it can’t be argued that this is the film that meant the most to him, and the results are visible, palpable, and powerful. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.
MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE
There isn’t really that much to the Maze Runner movies other than (1) “Waaaah, everyone is so mean to us boys for no reason!” and (2) Go go go go go! That said, the series has grown on me over the years. The first Maze Runner did so well at the box office that subsequent installments saw their budgets ratchet up, and all that money—coupled with the retention of director Wes Ball for all three films, which is unheard of in the dystopian teen genre—has produced some slick, over-the-top, sci-fi fun. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
A kindly bear finds the perfect gift for his aunt’s 100th birthday, but a thief steals the book before he can give it to her, so the bear goes on a quest to get the book back. That’s the plot of this highly-acclaimed sequel to the just-as-highly-acclaimed original. But the movie is actually about mercilessly executing an adorably nefarious scheme to ruthlessly dehydrate your body via your tear ducts, opened like a fire hydrant on a hot summer day and left to run. Various Theaters.
★ PHANTOM THREAD
A phenomenally fucked-up romantic comedy, Phantom Thread manages to be pitch-black funny and profoundly disconcerting, sometimes within the same scene. Novelistic, mean, and funny, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest is unlike anything else out there, and it’s great. At least, I thought so? As the end credits rolled, a distressed lady in front of me huffed out, declaring, “Well, that’s not the kind of love I like.” Fair enough, lady! But there’s more truth in Phantom Thread’s love—a kind of love that’s as unavoidable as it is frightening and co-dependent—than in most feel-good films’ soulless romances. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
★ PORTLAND BLACK FILM FESTIVAL
For years, the Hollywood Theatre's Portland Black Film Festival has brought some fantastic films to town—films from African American filmmakers, films that focus on Black lives and experiences, and films that are worth a look from everybody. The 2018 edition, curated by local comics writer, filmmaker, and educator David Walker, is no different, filling February with a wide-ranging selection of movies... and the great Joe Morton, the festival's guest of honor. Perhaps best known from his role on Scandal and for causing the robot apocalypse in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (THANKS, JOE), Morton will be in attendance for a 35mm screening of his 1984 comedy classic Brother From Another Planet, in which “The Brother” (Morton) lands on Earth and gets an apartment in Harlem (screens Sat Feb 24). There's a bunch of other must-see stuff too, including a showcase of shorts made by local Black filmmakers (Sun Feb 25); a screening of 1973's The Spook Who Sat by the Door (Sat Feb 17); Afrofuturism, a collection of sci-fi and horror shorts (Sun Feb 11); a 20th anniversary screening of Blade, in which Wesley Snipes teaches vampires what's what (Thurs Feb 8); a tribute to filmmaker and photographer Elijah Hasan (Wed Feb 21); and screenings of Lena Horne's Stormy Weather (Mon Feb 5), Charles Bradley: Soul of America (Thurs Feb 22), and more. You should go to a lot of these things, or else Blade will fucking kill you. ERIK HENRIKSEN complete schedule at hollywoodtheatre.org. Hollywood Theatre.
★ THE POST
We’ve seen a lot of iterations of Steven Spielberg, from Sci-Fi Spielberg (Minority Report, War of the Worlds) to Prestige Spielberg (Schindler’s List, Lincoln) to Middlebrow Schmaltz Spielberg (The Terminal, War Horse). The Post reveals yet another Spielberg: Message Spielberg. The Post is Spielberg’s clear and passionate ode to the adversarial press, and not only is it a refreshing departure from his past work, it also turns out to be a good fit for his slick storytelling style. VINCE MANCINI Cinema 21.
QUEER COMMONS: THE TOPP TWINS—UNTOUCHABLE GIRLS
This month’s installment of the Hollywood’s queer-focused series is Leanne Pooley’s documentary (the highest grossing doc in New Zealand’s history) about the world’s most successful comedic country-and-western yodeling lesbian sibling duo. They are also the world’s only comedic country-and-western yodeling lesbian sibling duo. Hollywood Theatre.
THOU SHALL NOT TAILGATE
Duck out from all that Super Bowl madness and duck into a screening of this Portland-produced short documentary by Greg Hamilton and Ira Flowers, focused on Rev. Charles “Chuck” Linville, co-founder of the Portland Cacophony Society, and owner of some... boldly decorated homes and automobiles. Filmmakers and subject in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
★ MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, February 2-Thursday, February 8, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.