★ MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday-Thursday, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.
Forget all the heist movies in which thieves steal humdrum things like diamonds or coaxium. The big score in American Animals is something to get really excited about: rare books. Based on a true story about a plot to relieve the library at Kentucky’s Transylvania University of its most valuable tomes, director Bart Layton’s first foray into scripted filmmaking is an odd mashup of his usual documentary style and narrative storytelling. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II
Once upon the 1980s, a young Republican in a life-vest, with the help of his science friend, traveled back in time, where he had to prevent his mother’s sexual advances and instead steer her towards Crispin Glover’s dick. He succeeded, but accidentally transformed the future into Planet Las Vegas, which sounds cool, but was actually kinda shitty. Even shittier? When this movie was written, the dystopian future on display was considered a satirical, way over-the-top farce featuring a disgusting, burnt-out America embodied by a caricature of Donald Trump that went too easy on the man by at least half. Back to the Future Part II was always the most mean-spirited film in the trilogy, sometimes aiming for fun but landing in teeth-on-tinfoil territory. Watching it in 2018? If it wasn’t for the whole time-travel thing, you would swear this shit was a documentary. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
★ FIRST REFORMED
Writer/director Paul Schrader redeems his recent misfires with the extraordinary First Reformed, a film whose outward restraint belies emotions just as explosive as those in his screenplays for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. Ethan Hawke gives a career-best performance as a pastor at a neglected church in upstate New York; after counseling a doomsday-minded environmentalist, he spirals into his own set of crises. In the movie’s second half, Schrader does a couple of audacious things that may alienate more literal-minded viewers, but this is a movie that seethes with ideas even as it, like Hawke’s pastor, maintains an outward asceticism. Plus, Cedric the Entertainer! NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
★ GHOSTBUSTERS (1984)
“THEY CAUSED AN EXPLOSION!” Academy Theater.
If you’re not comfortable with the very real possibility that you’ll be drenched in sweat and cowering in the fetal position by the end of Hereditary, perhaps this is one cinematic experience you should skip. But you’d be missing out—writer/director Ari Aster’s feature debut might be one of the most beautiful and nauseating horror movies ever made. CIARA DOLAN Hollywood Theatre.
Most genre films have an oddball character or two thrown in for color. An eccentric specialist or secretive fixer, they pop into the story for a bit, perform a difficult task, possibly while delivering a staccato monologue, and then disappear. “I’d like to see a movie that’s just about THEM,” one occasionally thinks. Hotel Artemis that movie, and it’s just as good as it sounds. It also features Jeff Goldblum playing a character named “The Wolf King of Malibu.” BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
INGMAR BERGMAN: A CENTENARY CELEBRATION
For all of June and most of July, NW Film Center pays tribute to an absolute legend of cinema, Ingmar Bergman, including the biggest hits in his filmography (The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander, and Persona) as well as many lesser-seen triumphs, all digitally restored by Janus Films and the Swedish Film Institute. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
MA VIE EN ROSE
Alain Berliner’s 1997 debut blends reality, fantasy, drama, and whimsy into the story of a young transgender girl in a small Belgian town who simply wants to marry the little boy next door. The ACLU of Oregon will host a post-screening talkback panel. Hollywood Theatre.
Gus Van Sant’s fleshing out the story of gay politician and activist Harvey Milk (Sean Penn) in such a moving and humane way is as invaluable as the words Milk would bark through bullhorns. Sure, Van Sant can’t resist putting in some treacly, melodramatic scenes that unfortunately stick out, but for the most part, Milk’s story is simply real, which makes it that much more powerful and relevant. AMY J. RUIZ Clinton Street Theater.
Clocking in at just over an hour, there’s not a lot of there there in Mountain, but what is there is fantastic: Awe-inspiring, breath-catching, and vertigo-inducing footage of some of the most beautiful and dangerous mountains on the planet—along with footage of climbers, skiers, snowboarders, bikers, wingsuiters, slackliners, and more doing absolutely insane shit on them. With an overly dramatic score performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Willem Dafoe narrating occasionally purple prose, Mountain isn’t perfect, but between its wondrous, humbling aerial cinematography and its clips from battered GoPros, it’s impossible not to be caught up in the majesty and adrenaline. I watched Mountain at home on my crappy TV and I was still inspired and terrified, but don’t make my mistake—see it on the biggest screen you can. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
★ THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN
Of all the big-screen Muppet adventures, 1984’s The Muppets Take Manhattan is the most uneven. But while the story (Kermit & Co. want to stage a Broadway musical) never quite takes off, even mediocre Muppetry is still a good time, and Manhattan boasts two legitimately great sequences: The wedding of Kermit and Miss Piggy (spoilers!) and the first-ever appearance of the Muppet Babies, whose adorability couldn’t be contained in a single film and went on to become a beloved, award-winning Saturday morning cartoon. Also starring Dabney Coleman, who is first-rate. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
There will be people who say that the Ocean’s 11 franchise is ruined now that it stars women. To them I say: What’s it like to be joyless? Because (1) heist movies are always good, and (2) it’s not like the Ocean’s movies were Citizen fucking Kane. This spin-off builds off of an already-insane universe and incorporates women’s empowerment and beautiful jewelry. What’s not to like?! ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE
Remember when Tim Burton made good movies? Okay, that's probably a little un-generous, so lets try this instead: Remember when Tim Burton made fun movies? And fun as in "Oh, that's so childlike and delightful," and not fun as in "Hey, Batman just shoved six sticks of dynamite into a clown's nutsack." 1987's Pee-wee's Big Adventure was Burton's feature debut, and partnered with Paul Reubens at his best, an exquisite red bike, and an expert deployment of "Tequila," it was a big, deserved win. In the 30-plus years since both men have traveled a very potholed road but this look in the rearview at their sunshiny success is still pure smile fuel. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
PORTLAND HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
This fest features shorts from all over the world spanning the horror spectrum—from funny-gross to gross-gross, from understated eerie to full-blown bizarre. Hollywood Theatre.
PORTLAND JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL
There are infinite ways in which to reshuffle categories of film, and the world puts out so much that the sheer quantity begs for organization. And so we have strange, simultaneous exercises in homogeny and disparity like the NW Film Center’s annual Jewish Film Festival. Come for the compendium of culturally specific accomplishments; stay for a series that covers a massive amount of ground in theme, geography, and style. MARJORIE SKINNER NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
PORTLAND LATIN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL: RITA: THE DOCUMENTARY
Monthly screenings from the Portland Latin American Film Festival. This month: Arturo Diaz Santana’s Rita: The Documentary, a portrait of the artist and Mexico in the 1990s. Director in attendance. Hollywood Theatre.
★ QUEER HORROR: SCREAM
Carla Rossi’s bimonthly celebration of a genre known for its predilections towards transgressive shock returns to the Hollywood Theatre with the post-modern deconstruction of slashers, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s Scream. Craven perfected the blend of self-awareness and scares that he indulged in 1994’s New Nightmare, and Williamson created a calling card so good that it gave him the leverage to get Dawson’s Creek made, ensuring that even if he never wrote anything as effective or engaging as Scream again (and he didn’t), his legacy would still be worthy of celebrating—which is exactly what Rossi will be doing with the night’s bloody, bawdy pre-show tribute. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not a silly person. She’s fucking smart. Like, I’m-embarrassed-that-this-idiot-brain-is-the-one-I-have-to-use-to-write-about-her smart. She was the second woman confirmed to serve on the Supreme Court. She was the first woman on both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review. She can do more push-ups than you. She eats prunes. She’s not a kooky old grandma. In fact, in terms of beloved old beings, she’s more Gandalf than Betty White. Y’all shall not pass shit. ELINOR JONES Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
REPRESSED CINEMA: GURU THE MAD MONK
This month’s deep dive into vaults of mostly-unseen cinema history unearths a rare 35mm print of notorious low-budget auteur Andy Milligan’s 1970 weird-horror curio Guru the Mad Monk. Milligan didn’t just write, direct, produce, edit, and shoot the picture, he went so far as to make the damn costumes. Granted, “making the costumes” often looks like “tie this towel around your neck,” but still, you can’t knock the hustle. Special guest Jimmy McDonough, Milligan’s biographer, will introduce the movie. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Michael Mayer and Stephen Karam adapt the Chekhov play for the big screen, with Saoirse Ronan and Annette Bening as two women at opposite ends of their lives caught up in a big fat romantic Russian mess. Fox Tower 10.
SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY
It’s fitting that Solo, a film about a charming dipshit who succeeds despite his dumbassery, is still a very entertaining movie! Much like its plot, Solo shouldn’t work. It doesn’t work. It wins anyway. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Come for the music, stay for Christopher Plummer ripping a Nazi flag in half with his bare hands, which is so much more cathartic than it really should be in 2018. Academy Theater.
From the producer of Lethal Weapon and the co-writer of Watchmen comes Director X’s (seriously) remake of the 1972 blaxploitation classic Superfly, with music by Curtis Mayfield uhh... Future. This wasn’t screened for critics, so whether any of what you just read constitutes a step up, sideways, or straight off the nearest ledge and into a sewage treatment facility is your adventure to choose. Various Theaters.
SURVIVOR’S GUIDE TO PRISON
A one-night-only screening of Matthew Cooke’s documentary about the ongoing atrocity that is America’s penal system and criminal justice process, featuring contributions from Jesse Williams, Deepak Chopra, Danny Trejo, Chuck D, and more. Clinton Street Theater.
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
This is not the court movie where Samuel L. Jackson screams, “Yes they deserve to die and I hope they burn in hell!” This is the older court movie about racial injustice in the South. The one where Gregory Peck very politely harrumphs at things and Robert Duvall just sorta... radiates energy. Also he’s got a full head of hair and that’s just fuckin’ weird. Anyway, if you haven’t watched this one, you really should. It’s a beloved classic for multiple reasons. Even better—watch this, and then read the Harper Lee book it’s based on. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
One of the things I miss most about my childhood is being able to enjoy movies that were kind of bad. Steven Seagal vehicles come to mind, but there were lots of others. Movies that weren’t good, exactly, and clearly hadn’t cost a lot to make, but nonetheless had a certain dynamism and visceral thump. They had grit before “gritty” meant a steroidal Batman. Upgrade is a throwback to those movies, a sort of schlock action sci-fi thriller that’s heavy on the viscera and light on the introspection. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.