★ B-MOVIE BINGO: REVENGE OF THE NINJA
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés! This month: Ninja master Sho Kosugi plays ninja master Cho Osaki, whose family is ruthlessly murdered by a band of ninja. After murdering the ninja band in return, he takes the surviving members of his mostly murdered family and flees to America, where he goes to work for a man named Braden—who is secretly a drug trafficker and also an American ninja! But before the two ninja can face off to determine who will get the ultimate ninja revenge, they have to wipe out a mob of heroin dealers, who are not ninja at all, just plain-ol’ shitty heroin dealers. Directed by Sam Firstenberg, the first name in ’80s-era ninja revenge. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
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 Cinema 21.
Dolores examines the legacy of civil rights activist Dolores Huerta—a legacy that’s become so convoluted that when Barack Obama adopted Huerta’s slogan of “Yes, we can” (“Si, se puede” in Spanish) for his 2008 presidential campaign, he erroneously credited César Chávez for coining the phrase. Although Chavez and Huerta jointly cofounded the United Farm Workers union (UFW), Chávez was quickly emblazoned as a symbol for the labor rights movement while Huerta’s contributions fell through the cracks. Peter Bratt’s moving documentary seeks to put an end to that, tracing Huerta’s most monumental hurdles with commentary from Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, and the 87-year-old Huerta herself. EMILLY PRADO Clinton Street Theater.
Once upon a time in the '80s, George Lucas asked David Lynch if he wanted to make a Star Wars movie. Lynch got a migraine at the mere concept of ewoks and said no. Then he went off and got Agent Cooper to fight Sting in a leather diaper while Captain Picard played a weird guitar and carried a pug into battle. He called this glorious mess Dune. It is an ungainly, lumbering thing carrying only faint whiffs of its source material and a strong stink of Toto on the soundtrack. As an adaptation? Trash. As a fever-dream parade of ambitious failings? Fascinating. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
A wild rollercoaster ride through pitch-black lows and neon-pink highs, Flower is gritty, vulgar, depraved, often hilarious, and periodically charming. But its shock-jock approach to sensitive subjects like child molestation wind up feeling hollow and exploitative, which isn’t a great look for a movie written by three men in 2018. CIARA DOLAN Kiggins Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
★ THE GREAT SILENCE
A mute Jean-Louis Trintignant faces off against psychotic bounty killer Klaus Kinski in Sergio Corbucci’s 1968 spaghetti western. Shot in wintertime snow with plenty of bloodshed, The Great Silence is a bleak, great movie, highlighted by an Ennio Morricone score and a memorably tragic ending. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ HEAVEN ADORES YOU
A stirring (and suitably depressing) documentary about Elliott Smith from director Nickolas Rossi. It’s not so much the story of Smith’s life as it is the story of the friends he left behind. When these characters include Larry Crane, Joanna Bolme, Sean Croghan, Pete Krebs, Slim Moon, and other fixtures on the Portland music scene, the scope expands beyond Smith to provide an illuminating window into 1990s Portland. NED LANNAMANN Clinton Street Theater.
IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE
Jack Arnold’s 1953 sci-fi classic (based on an original story by Ray Bradbury) was one of the most innovative films in the genre’s early days, thanks to the restrained way it deploys what should have been a parade of cheap gimmicks. There’s 3D here, but it’s not constantly trying to poke you in the eye. The aliens aren’t slobbering monsters hell-bent on murderous invasion, but benign creatures whose presence reveals what skittish, fearful, destructive animals humans are. The premise is outlandish, but It Came From Outer Space still works, 65 years later, because it is thoughtful and careful about everything it does, as opposed to now, when most sci-fi films are content to be loud and stupid. Actor Kathleen Hughes in attendance. Part of the Hollywood Theatre’s Feminist March film series. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
★ THE LONG GOODBYE
Robert Altman, one of the best filmmakers to ever live, had an interesting idea back in the early 1970s. “What if I took an old Philip Marlowe story by Raymond Chandler, and just dropped the whole fucking thing into modern-day Los Angeles? How the hell would that play out?” Turns out it would be a shambling, satirical swipe at anything and everyone trying to share the screen with Elliott Gould, while simultaneously staying true to Chandler’s story. This is probably the most playful neo-noir ever made—but it is still a noir. When Altman wants to throw a punch, that punch is getting felt, even if it ends up feeling pretty good. BOBBY ROBERTS 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.
★ MONTY PYTHON'S LIFE OF BRIAN
Watching Monty Python’s Life of Brian on something other than your grandparents’ Betamax is a reasonable holiday activity. It’s one of the better Python films—not the one where the compulsive eater’s stomach explodes, but the one about the fellow (Brian!) born one manger stall down from Jesus Christ and doomed to a life of mistaken identity. Happy birthday Brian! Also Jesus! DENIS C. THERIAULT Clinton Street Theater.
★ MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO
Imagine you’re Gus Van Sant in the early 1990s. You’re living in Portland, and you’re fascinated with the grime and grunge of the city. You’ve got three partially formed ideas for screenplays: one based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, one about a young man trying to find his mother, and one about a narcoleptic sex worker with the face of an angel. Well, Early ’90s Gus Van Sant, mash those ideas together into one problematic-but-somehow-still-charming script and call Keanu! You’re about to make My Own Private Idaho! BRI BREY Hollywood Theatre.
PACIFIC RIM UPRISING
Four years before The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro made Pacific Rim, a movie about giant robots punching giant monsters—and a movie that, thanks to del Toro, had an inventive, oddball charm and a raggedly lovable personality. Its sequel is dumb enough on its own, but it gets even worse when you realize it’s taken all the strange, clever quirks of del Toro’s film and boiled them into a tasteless slurry. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
★ PRINCESS MONONOKE
The word “genius” gets batted around with regard to filmmakers with a numbing, reductive frequency. But if Hayao Miyazaki doesn’t qualify for that title, who does? Since making his directorial debut with 1979’s The Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki has blazed his own distinct trail, blending atomic-clock action timing with an awe-inspiring, hand-rendered sense of the infinite. Mononoke isn’t just one more example of that balance, it’s maybe the best. ANDREW WRIGHT Hollywood Theatre.
★ THE SECRET OF KELLS
With graceful, emotional animation, brilliant character designs, and a watercolor-dappled visual style that lands somewhere between Saul Bass and Genndy Tartakovsky, every frame of Kells is amazing to look at—but it’s the film’s humor, heart, and melancholy that makes it really work. Stuff this sweet, clever, and poignant doesn’t come along very often. ERIK HENRIKSEN NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ THE TERMINATOR
One of the sadder ongoing stories in the film industry is the strange saga of the Terminator's sequels. As of this writing, James Cameron is helping shepherd another attempt at reviving this hapless series after its third failed reboot (fourth, if you're counting the television show that got canceled so Joss Whedon's dumb spy-brothel show Dollhouse could live). The only hope for whatever it is Cameron is cooking up is that he cease chasing the misguided, corny, bigger-is-better mindset of T2: Judgment Day and go back to source. Stripped clean of all the bloated, pandering bullshit that's come to represent Cameron's reign as King of the World, 1984's The Terminator is a lean, mean, straight-for-the-throat horror movie containing maybe three wasted minutes in total, and it's still the best use of Schwarzenegger ever captured on film. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
The news that Steven Soderbergh filmed Unsane in secret, on an iPhone, feels almost inevitable. The 55-year-old filmmaker has a history of experimenting with technology and messing with viewers’ expectations, and it only takes a few minutes of Unsane to understand why he chose to use the tiny lens of a smartphone to create this taut thriller. ROBERT HAM Various Theaters.
★ MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, March 30-Thursday, April 5, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.