’80S LOVE SONG SING-ALONG
A tribute not only to the glory days of ’80s music industry promotional clips (AKA “videos”) but to the sort of sweaty, sax-and-synth-fueled love songs the era routinely slathered all over your speakers like a generous schmear of cream cheese on a warm ‘n’ toasty bagel. Spend Valentine’s Day singing along to Hall & Oates, George Michael, Tina Turner, Madonna, the Cure, and Prince, and—via a guaranteed mood-enhancing move from the Hollywood—give those sax solos an extra lift with the free kazoos they’ll be distributing among the audience. 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.
The first—and only—film by director/star Wendell B. Harris, Chameleon Street won the Grand Jury Prize at 1989’s Sundance Film Festival for its deconstruction (and reassembling) of Black identity. While that willingness to break boundaries earned Sundance praise, it didn’t make for an attractive purchase for distributors, and so it was never put into any sort of release. Don’t pass up this opportunity to see a lost classic on the big screen. BOBBY ROBERTS Fifth Avenue Cinema.
THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX
It’s quickly apparent why Paramount decided not to theatrically release The Cloverfield Paradox: It’s an awkward, poorly edited, exposition-dumping mess. It’s also quickly apparent why Netflix snatched up the film: Over the past year or so, the streaming service has leaned hard into quantity over quality; while they’ve released some excellent stuff, they’ve also turned their service into a dumping ground for the kind of forgettable, mediocre junk that used to go straight to video. And that, unfortunately, is what The Cloverfield Paradox feels like. This is a far cry from 2008’s fun, inventive Cloverfield and 2016’s smart, intense 10 Cloverfield Lane. ERIK HENRIKSEN Netflix.
★ 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.
★ FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL
Based on Peter Turner’s book of the same name, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is a sentimental and stylized Hollywood romance, but its depiction of a relationship between an older woman (Annette Bening) and a younger man (Jamie Bell) feels fresh. MEGAN BURBANK Cinema 21.
★ HAROLD AND MAUDE
Look at the internet for long enough and you’ll inevitably read some hot-take-addicted youngbuck or another remarking on how some “edgy” movie they just “discovered” on Netflix last weekend simply couldn’t be made today. Usually that sort of sentiment is bullshit. But Harold and Maude, the dark romantic comedy about a death-obsessed milksop of a young man meeting his 80 year-old girlfriend at a funeral? Okay, that one could have only happened in the ’70s, thanks to the minor miracle that was director Hal Ashby. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Writer/director Scott Cooper’s western bursts with star power, with supporting roles filled by big names like Timothée Chalamet, Jesse Plemons, and Ben Foster. Christian Bale’s gruff army captain reluctantly escorts a family of Cheyenne from New Mexico to Montana, picking up a grieving widow (a really good Rosamund Pike) along the way. The movie oscillates between short bursts of gut-churning adventure and long, quiet stretches of gorgeous scenery and thoughtful sorrow. In other words, Hostiles is heaven for western fans and tedium for most everyone else. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult begins with an accident: a drainpipe leaks dirty water from the balcony of Tony Hanna (Adel Karam) and splashes Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamel El Basha), the foreman of a construction company. It’s the kind of feud that could be easily resolved, if these were different men living in a different city at a different time. But they’re not—Tony is a Lebanese Christian who owns his own garage and watches fiery rallies on TV while he works. Yasser is an older Palestinian immigrant who used to be a civil engineer, but now, as a refugee, can only get hired for construction jobs. The setting is modern-day Beirut, still feeling the reverberations of the Lebanese Civil War that ended almost 30 years earlier. CIARA DOLAN Living Room Theaters.
★ KUNG FU THEATER: MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is a rare 35mm print of 1976 wuxia classic Master of the Flying Guillotine. One of mankind’s greatest inventions, the flying guillotine is a little razor-studded hat that kung fu masters artfully throw onto your head—AND THEN DECAPITATE YOU WITH IT. Witness this wondrous device in all its glory in Jimmy Wang Yu’s masterpiece, one of the coolest, most batshit-crazy kung fu flicks ever made! ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
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.
The question is this: “Do I want to see Beatrix Potter’s beloved creation, given voice by James Corden, using lettuce like stripper singles to make it rain on woodland creatures?” The answer is maybe not so simple. It probably depends on whether (A) you have children and (B) you give a single solitary fuck about what you pour into their eyeballs. 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. Complete schedule at hollywoodtheatre.org. ERIK HENRIKSEN 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 Various Theaters.
★ QUEER HORROR: BRIDE OF CHUCKY
Carla Rossi celebrates Valentine’s Day with director Ronny Yu’s love letter to everything cheesy, campy, and deliciously ridiculous about the horror genre. Bride of Chucky is the fourth film in the Child’s Play series, but the first to abandon any presumptions of straight-faced scares in favor of just fuckin’ going for it, with Jennifer Tilly as a deranged ex of Chucky’s—a performance that holds a special place in Carla’s heart, as you’ll see in her special pre-show burlesque tribute to the film, with Vera Mysteria playing the role of Chucky. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
★ 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 Various Theaters.
WHEN HARRY MET SALLY
Of all the fucking odd decisions the lords of pop-culture decreed at the turn of the ’90s (Zubaz! Fanny packs! LA Gear!), the crowning of Billy Crystal as a romantic comedy ideal is one of the most befuddling. Even at his most winsome and charming, he still comes off as a selfish, weaselly prick. 1989’s When Harry Met Sally became the template for a romcom renaissance that followed: put an amazing actress across from a totally unworthy shmuck, give the would-be couple the support of best friends we’d rather be hanging out with (in this case, the brilliant Carrie Fisher and Bruno Kirby), and then watch as the schmuck wears her down, and behold: true love. It says a lot about the talents of Rob Reiner as a director that his execution of this formula was potent enough to (misguidedly) sustain an entire genre for the next 15 years. BOBBY ROBERTS Clinton Street Theater.