7 DAYS IN ENTEBBE
7 Days in Entebbe is bad, but it’s bad in fascinating, unusual ways. The movie–based on the 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight by Palestinian revolutionaries and sympathizers–should be an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it’s treated as a plodding historical reenactment. The characters should be larger-than-life figures of action and torment, but they’re interchangeable sad sacks. And the drama should be rousing, exciting, and penetrating, packed with “oh-my-god” insights that parallel our current political moment. But in the end, it’s sort of like watching a tray of plates fall in slow motion. “Well, that was an entirely preventable shame,” you sigh as the credits roll. NED LANNAMANN. Various Theaters.
See review, this issue. Cinema 21, HBO.
BEFORE WE VANISH
Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s latest film is a small-scale tale of interplanetary invasion, focused on three aliens scouting Earth in preparation for the event, inhabiting human forms that were not theirs to take and leaving psychological wreckage in their wake. Hollywood Theatre.
★ BLACK PANTHER
Marvel movies get a bad rap for their cheesy dialogue, disjointed plots, and CGI-crowded battle scenes. But you never know when they’ll drop a gem. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is one huuuge gem, and comes closer to achieving truth and realness in its story than any Marvel film has before. Fully embracing its Blackness, the film smartly toes the line between history and fantasy. JENNI MOORE Various Theaters.
THE CHASING GRACE PROJECT
Hollywood Theatre’s Feminist March film series premieres the first episode in the ongoing Chasing Grace documentary series, focused on the wage gap in America and the damaging effect it has not just on women’s bank statements, but on... well, everything. Hollywood Theatre.
THE DEATH OF STALIN
It’s a bad time for political satire—things are simply feeling a little too real right now. The rawness of our current moment is really the only problem with The Death of Stalin, the historically accurate comedy from Armando Iannucci (Veep) about the infighting between Joseph Stalin’s lackeys after the Russian dictator’s death in 1953. There are very funny performances from Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, and Monty Python’s Michael Palin, whose comedic influence can be felt throughout Iannucci’s script, particularly in a sidesplitting funeral scene. But there’s something legitimately upsetting about witnessing the incompetence and corruption of the banally evil; each laugh sticks deeper in your throat until you don’t really feel like laughing anymore. Oh well—at least we’ve got our own revolution to look forward to. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954)
This movie is pretty confusing because you might look at a phone and be like, “How do I dial an ‘M’ on this thing?” But really, it’s quite simple: 147-5963. That’s the shape of an M on a dialpad. Go ahead and try it! If done quickly enough (pretend you’re actually drawing the letter on the buttons), you should be connected to a licensed and bonded assassin in your area! That’s not how it’s done in this movie though, they had old rotary phones back then. You had to ask an operator to connect you in those days. They could be real assholes about it, too: “I’m sorry sir, I can’t help you secure a contract to kill somebody, I’m terminating the call now and notifying the authorities,” some fuckin’ bullshit like that. Anyway, that’s how you dial “M” for murderrrrrr. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
A FANTASTIC WOMAN
Daniela Vegas’ amazing face—even her most muted expressions communicate visible thoughts—carries most of the weight of A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio’s endurance test of a movie. Even in nominally progressive media like Transparent, cisgender men are often cast as transwomen, so it’s somewhat revolutionary to see Vegas, who is transgender, play transgender singer Marina, whose mourning for her dead partner, Orlando, is disrupted by brutal treatment from Orlando’s bigoted family and the police and hospital workers handling his body. There’s a lot of rhetorical and physical violence in A Fantastic Woman, and all of it is hard to watch (and almost enough to make you wonder at what point depicting abuse leveled at a marginalized character becomes more exploitative than instructive). But a strain of emotionally startling fancy pushes A Fantastic Woman away from gratuitous pain and into the surreal, with moments that are visually striking and frame Marina’s inner life and reserves with the respect they deserve. MEGAN BURBANK Academy Theater.
December 5, 1980 is a very notable date in film history—it was the day that camp ascended to unassailable art. Before that Friday, the term was a synonym for clumsy, failed ambition, earnestness gone sour and turned to kitsch. And then, Dino DeLaurentiis, inspired by Star Wars and holding the rights to the property George Lucas wanted to make in the first place, plugged “camp” into Queen guitarist Brian May’s amplifier stack, fed “camp” through designer Danilo Donati’s sewing machines, and firehosed “camp” through cinematographer Gil Taylor’s camera lens, with the resultant mess expansively splattering the meaning of the word all over the delirious circus of ridiculousness barely holding its orbit around the lunkheaded, beefy majesty of Sam J. Jones as Flash (ah-aaaaahhhhh!) Gordon, and praise Ming, cinema itself was forever altered. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
While America’s film industry was rewarding Guillermo del Toro for his lush, beautiful, sentimental, and human fairy tale about a god who is rescued by a janitor, Australia was giving all of its awards to writer/director Ivan Sen’s noirish neo-western about a missing persons investigation in an isolated mining outpost, starring Jacki Weaver, David Wenham, and Aaron Pederson. Fox Tower 10.
★ GRINDHOUSE FILM FESTIVAL: SUGAR HILL
This month’s entry in the Hollywood’s celebration of Grindhouse cinema is a rare 35mm print of the 1974 blaxploitation horror film Sugar Hill. Not to be confused with the 1994 pseudo-sidequel to New Jack City starring Wesley Snipes as a dour drug kingpin, the original Sugar Hill is about a woman in the deep South whose boyfriend gets offed by local gangsters, and in response she does the reasoned, sensible thing—she wades directly into a swamp and procures the assistance of an aged voodoo queen who hooks her up with Baron Samedi, Lord of the Dead, who lets her use his complement of zombie hitmen in exchange for her soul. BOBBY ROBERTS 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 Various Theaters.
ISLE OF DOGS
See review in next week’s Mercury. Hollywood Theatre.
LEANING INTO THE WIND: ANDY GOLDSWORTHY
Thomas Riedelsheimer’s latest documentary follows up with artist Andy Goldsworthy 16 years after their first collaboration, Rivers and Tides, this time observing Goldsworthy as he creates sculptural works out of driftwood and stone as a means to examine the layers of himself and his art. Cinema 21.
★ LOVE, SIMON
If you’re one of those people who only reads the first sentences of movie reviews, here you go: Love, Simon is FANTASTIC, and you should see it IMMEDIATELY. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Loveless is two hours of watching a divorcing couple argue viciously and search Moscow for their missing son, who they were considering putting in an orphanage anyway, while apocalyptic news broadcasts about the conflict in Ukraine play in the background. (ALSO, it’s the middle of winter and the city looks like an arctic hellscape.) It’s the most depressing movie I have ever seen. I felt horrible afterward and left with the urgent desire to rewatch Thor: Ragnarok. CIARA DOLAN Cinema 21.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dumb kid stars in a teen tearjerker. Weirdly, Clint Eastwood’s dumb kid is also in a movie this week, Pacific Rim Uprising. Nobody asked these dumb kids to be in movies. They should stop. Various Theaters.
A fascinating look at the various aspects of Thai society, created by observing the passengers inside and the landscape outside of a train over the course of eight years. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ RE-RUN THEATER: WOMAN POWER 6
This month’s tribute to classic television honors pop culture of the past, and its noble attempts to present images of empowered women on the small screen with a triple feature that starts in Sid & Marty Krofft’s whacked-out ’70s imaginarium with Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, before dancing into the ’80s with the truly outrageous syndicated cartoon Jem and the Holograms, and shin-nin-nin-nin-nin-ning back into the ’70s for an episode of The Bionic Woman with special guest star Helen Hunt, playing a wayward extra-terrestrial who just happens to always have a squinty, sour look on her face no matter what. Part of the Hollywood Theatre’s Feminist March film series. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
RED, WHITE, AND BLACK
Jerry Bell Jr directs this documentary focused on the challenges faced by Oregon’s increasing number of minority winemakers in an industry that (like Oregon itself) is overwhelmingly straight and white. Director in attendance. 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.
Dean Lemire performs his original pipe organ score for this 1926 silent film produced by and starring 32-year-old Mary Pickford as the oldest teenager at a southern baby farm (!) who responds to the owner’s plans to murder a kidnapped infant (!!) by staging a multi-orphan escape through alligator-infested swamps (!!!). The film is considered to have helped create the Southern Gothic genre; later examples didn’t have as many swamps filled with baby-eatin’ gators. Part of the Hollywood Theatre’s Feminist March film series. Hollywood Theatre.
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN
Remember in Throw Momma from the Train, when Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal switch murders, and DeVito kills Crystal’s ex-wife, forcing Crystal to murder the mean old woman from Goonies? Remember how DeVito got the idea from an old black and white Hitchcock movie, in which two strangers meet on a train and decide to “criss cross” each other’s murders? That’s this movie! NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Good movies can sometimes give off a hum—a feeling that the energy and chemistry on screen can’t be constrained by the edges of the frame. Tangerine fits this description and then some, creating a kinetic rush with enough spillover juice to light up LA for a year. While chock-full of innovations both welcome (a story about transgender characters, played by transgender performers) and potentially eye-strainingly worrisome (the movie was shot entirely on tricked-out, stabilized iPhones), the main takeaway is just how alive it seems. ANDREW WRIGHT Hollywood Theatre.
One of gone-way-too-soon actor Anton Yelchin’s final roles is Tim, the skewed, spacey, and sorta-kinda-sinister would-be murderer in writer/director Cory Finley’s black comedy about homicidal upper-class teenage girls. It’s a scenario that immediately draws comparisons to Heathers, a comparison the marketing isn’t even trying to play down. Not screened for critics. Cinema 21.
Tomb Raider approaches solid popcorn flick territory when it stays true to its video game source material, and the movie deserves props for reinventing the historically problematic character of Lara Croft as a realistic, empowering hero. But beyond Alicia Vikander’s impressive performance, there just isn’t enough depth or excitement here. Sure, this Tomb Raider is one of the better video game movies out there (for what that’s worth), but with the likes of Black Panther and Annihilation in theaters, everyone has better moviegoing options. CHIPP TERWILLIGER Various Theaters.
While David Cronenberg’s cult classic Videodrome is still as queasy and uncomfortable as it was in 1983, time has made the film’s commentary on our television-addicted culture feel a little quaint. Sure, the broad strokes are still cutting, and with professional shitheel James Woods leaving a sticky film on basically everything he touches (a role he took off the set and into real life, if his Twitter feed is to be believed), the correlation between entertainment industry and drug cartel is crystal clear. But Cronenberg—possibly at his most cynically imaginative in Videodrome—never saw the internet coming. Hearing greasy fictional ’80s executives talk about hundreds of TV channels in ominous tones doesn’t play as well in a reality where someone’s unattended six-year-old just livestreamed an eighth straight hour of PewDiePie into their head for the day. Long live the new flesh, indeed. BOBBY ROBERTS NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE
Supposedly, this is the last Studio Ghibli film we’re getting. One could argue, though, that the studio really died once it shifted focus from bizarre, original projects to making movies out of well-known children’s books. In 2010, Ghibli director Hiromasa Yonebayashi refashioned The Borrowers into The Secret World of Arrietty, and now he’s adapted When Marnie Was There, a British children’s book by Joan G. Robinson. SUZETTE SMITH NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
A WRINKLE IN TIME
At the end of the day, Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is a book that you read to children to get them used to the idea that science and math can interact with their day-to-day lives. Ava DuVernay’s film also accomplishes this noble pursuit—and while it might not stand the test of time like the book, it will help this generation grow more curious about their world. SUZETTE SMITH Various Theaters.
★ MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, March 23-Thursday, March 29, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.