★ MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday-Thursday, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.
Isiah Medina’s 2017 pseudo-documentary asks questions about the nature of film as a storytelling medium, and reality. It also basically throws Winnipeg, Ontario, into a blender with the lid off and points the results at a screen. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Daveed Diggs (Hamilton) stars as a mover, literally carrying the furniture for the rich folks rapidly gentrifying his hometown of Oakland, California, as he tries to make it through the last 72 hours of his felony probation—despite the best/worst troublemaking efforts of his tryhard whiteboy best friend. Various Theaters.
The Cannon Films classic that made Boogaloo Shrimp and Shabba-Doo household names in the ’80s. Keep an eye peeled for Jean Claude Van-Damme’s first onscreen appearance in a spandex biker-shorts thingy dancing extremely poorly. Portland State University Parking Structure 2.
This Trainspotting sequel might be the saddest film in that unlikely trilogy, following a completely domesticated Renton, living a quiet, square life under an assumed identity, hounded by plush hallucinations with gentle voices, reminding him of the personal wreckage left in his wa—wait, hold on. (Checks notes.) Oh shit. Apologies, readers! Apparently this is a Winnie-the-Pooh movie. That makes way more sense! Various Theaters.
THE DEVIL WE KNOW
A documentary from Stephanie Soechtig and Jeremy Seifert, about a group of environmentalists in West Virginia who took on a corporation guilty of dumping toxic chemicals into their water supply. Part of the Peace in the City film series. Ellen Bye Studio at the Armory.
A Lifetime movie that escaped its kennel, ran away, got adopted by a loose conglomerate of sketch comedians, and became a theatrical feature. Various Theaters.
DON’T WORRY, HE WON’T GET FAR ON FOOT
Gus Van Sant’s biopic of Portland cartoonist John Callahan slots in comfortably with the rest of Van Sant’s work from the last decade: It’s compassionately made and graced with subtle, artsy touches, but it’s also presented with a slight tentativeness, as if fearful of alienating a wide audience. ROBERT HAM Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
Aw-shucks/jokes/keyboards YouTube star Bo Burnham wrote Eighth Grade about his own youth, then swapped in a girl character to spice it up, and I’ll just call that what it is: wearing girlhood like a costume to make a familiar story more interesting. SUZETTE SMITH Cinemagic.
Usually, YouTube is a barely coagulated grease-trap of unboxing videos, male rage, gaming walk-throughs, and those super-creepy automated videos for toddlers. But it can also be inspiration for serious art: When Marcel the Shell with Shoes On creator Dean Fleischer-Camp stumbled on a channel featuring context-free hours of footage of an unassuming American family just filming their lives, he realized that he could, through judicious editing, transform their normal life into a plausible tale of Bonnie & Clyde-styled crime sprees. Fraud is the result. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
GANJA & HESS
One of the more unique takes on vampire mythology ever filmed, 1973’s Ganja & Hess returns to theaters for the first time in a few decades with this “director’s cut” version that restores the breadth of director Bill Gunn’s vision of the film, which was commissioned to be a cheap Blacula ripoff. Gunn was not interested in being a party to something so simple, and instead took the $350,000, cast Night of the Living Dead’s Duane Jones, and made a fever-dream of existential horror. Producers saw all this monologuing and angst linking scenes of sex and violence, decided that about 40 minutes of all that could just go away, and proceeded to hack the film down to 76 minutes. All that stuff is back now, and the already rich, kaleidoscopic messiness is just that much deeper. BOBBY ROBERTS NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
Arguably the scariest horror film of the past decade was 2012’s Queen of Versailles, photographer Lauren Greenfield’s documentary about the ludicrously wealthy Jackie and David Siegel—and their ludicrously misguided quest to build themselves a garish, 85,000-square-foot palace modeled after Versailles, complete with a grand ballroom, three indoor pools, 11 kitchens, a baseball diamond, and a 30-car garage. Versailles was a jarring portrait of the Siegels, but like Wolf of Wall Street, its true subject was the corrosive acid of American capitalism and the Roman excess of a dying civilization. Now Greenfield’s back with Generation Wealth, which tackles many of the same themes, beginning with her youth in privileged Los Angeles. Greenfield examines how the American dream turned into “a quest for fame and fortune” by abandoning “the values of hard work, frugality, and discretion that had defined our parents’ generation”; along with talking heads that include Bret Easton Ellis and Chris Hedges, she examines our sociopathic obsession with consumerism that began under Reagan and now spreads from Iceland to China. Greenfield includes everyone and everything: TV, the 2008 housing crisis, adult actress Kacey Jordan, hip-hop, plastic surgery, Donald Trump, her own career, and motherhood. But without such remarkable focal points as the Siegels, Generation Wealth doesn’t cohere; the result is simply tableau after tableau of gilded desperation. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
With its charming pop-art magical realism, cinematic flashbacks, and the ability to present intimate documentary-style footage of Hedwig’s misfit band on tour with their charlatan business manager, the movie version of Hedwig is able to emphasize the rich plot far better than the stage version did. Although, admittedly, the movie ending—a Christ-like nude walk across a city street with a close-up on Mitchell’s ass—is still wildly obscure. (I could never figure out Tommy or Rocky Horror either.) JOSH FEIT Clinton Street Theater.
★ KUNG FU THEATER: FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS
This month’s installment in Dan Halsted’s ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is the only known 35mm print of 1982’s Five Element Ninjas, a film whose legendary badassery makes itself apparent the second the Shaw Scope logo hits the screen, escalates upon learning the stars of the film are credited not individually but as the Venom Mob, and then—while you’re still working out how self-confident you have to be to just walk around all day as part of something called “the Venom Mob” and not get constantly clowned for that level of corny hubris—fucking GOLD NINJAS appear onscreen. Shiny as fuck, deadly as hell GOLD NINJAS. And they’re only one finger of the deadly fist that are the Five Element Ninjas. This is one of the most relentlessly entertaining (and wince-inducing) kung fu films ever made—don’t miss your chance to behold the gold on the big screen while you can. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
★ LEAVE NO TRACE
If you lived in Portland in 2004, you remember it: the discovery that, for years, a father and daughter had been living in Forest Park in an undetected campsite. They were eventually found and housed by the authorities, but soon disappeared again. The story inspired a novel, My Abandonment, written by Reed College creative writing professor Peter Rock, and that book has been adapted into a compassionate, graceful movie by Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre.
THE LORD OF THE RINGS (1978)
Nope, this is not a marathon of Peter Jackson’s landmark live-action trilogy—though why would you want it to be that, anyway? Who told you sitting for 12 hours in a theater with odorous strangers watching that pillow fight for the 20th time was a worthwhile endeavor? Whoever it was lied to you. Anyway, this Rings represents the first real crack at adapting J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic by over-ambitious animator Ralph Bakshi. Bakshi’s Rings has a few notable moments (some of which Jackson lifted for his own adaptation) and there’s always a weird otherworldliness to the visuals that makes the fantasy just a little more fantastical. But the budget running out on Bakshi means you’ll end up with only half a story (the film ends after Helms Deep), and a mess of badly adapted, badly acted, badly designed characters gesticulating wildly at literally everything. As a film? It’s a loud, tone-deaf mess. As a rough draft of the trilogy that would come decades later? It’s a fascinating, fitfully entertaining rotoscoped document of failed vision. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN
I want to reconsider my stance on marriage so that I can marry Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. I want it to be one of my daughter’s fathers. It is the lightest timeline. It is the good place. Aside from parenting my child, it is the most uplifting experience I’ve had in the last two years. It’s important to be engaged, but mental health breaks are important, too, and while you could just silence your phone and try to ignore each news alert signaling our further descent into doom, it’ll be much better to watch Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and fully immerse yourself in pure, batshit joy. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
★ MARATHON OF THE APES
Cinema is a proud and illustrious art form, and its wondrous contributions will echo throughout the centuries. And yet, out of all of humankind’s tens of thousands of motion pictures, eight stand above all others as the apex of human achievement: THE PLANET OF THE APES MOVIES! Thank Caesar that the Hollywood Theatre is recognizing this indisputable fact with their Marathon of the Planet of the Apes, which will show each and every Planet of the Apes film on the big screen to celebrate the series’ 50th anniversary! Things kick off with 1968’s classic Planet of the Apes (Sat Aug 4), the thrilling, brilliantly allegorical classic that maroons Charlton Heston on a planet full of talking monkeys! Then, the ape-pocalypse continues with the batshit crazy sequel, 1970’s Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Sun Aug 5), which features TELEPATHIC MUTANTS WHO WORSHIP A NUCLEAR BOMB, and 1971’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes (Mon Aug 6), in which loveable super-chimps Cornelius and Zira visit 1973 Earth! (Please note: This film also features Ricardo Montalbán and a montage in which chimps be shoppin’.) Things take a serious turn with 1972’s smart, dark Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (Thurs Aug 9), which swerves hard into social and racial commentary... only to be followed by 1973’s low-budget (and, okay, pretty stupid) Battle for the Planet of the Apes (Mon Aug 13). BUT WAIT! The Hollywood is also showing the critically acclaimed reboots: 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Mon Aug 20), 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Wed Aug 22), and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes (Mon Aug 27), all of which are must-sees for man and ape alike. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s documentary charts the life and career of the fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen. Fox Tower 10.
★ MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — FALLOUT
In terms of pure action cinema, Fallout absolutely sings. Every punch cracks teeth, every bullet thuds against brick or body armor with a sense of weight, and every stunt has a very real feel of risk to it. (Probably because there was.) Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie directly draws from the weighty European car combat of 1998’s Ronin, but hey, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. And in echoing a masterpiece, McQuarrie has created a masterpiece himself—at least in terms of frenetic motorcycle chases through downtown Paris. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
MONDO TRASHO: FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
The last great(ish) thing Terry Gilliam ever did, this adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo travelogue is probably the closest anyone ever got to lifting the lid on Thompson’s dome and accurately portraying the nest of writhing, hyper-aggressive lizards screaming, shitting, and fucking behind his eyeballs. It’s also one of the few movies about being fundamentally altered that works best while seen stone sober. Sure, people love getting ripped out of their fucking gourd and putting on the Johnny and Benicio show (BTW, this is also the last great thing Depp ever did), but the real power of Gilliam’s work is in how he manages to translate the feeling of Hunter’s astronomical fucked-upitude to utterly straight, square minds. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
NEVER GOIN’ BACK
Writer/director Augustine Frizzell’s story of two high school dropouts who decide that no matter what, they’re going on a vacation to the beach to smoke lots of drugs and take very satisfying shits. Various Theaters.
ONE SINGS, THE OTHER DOESN’T
A 1977 drama from Agnès Varda about two French women who become—and stay—lifelong friends against the backdrop of that country’s women’s movement. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
What better film to pair with Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess than this companion piece, following-up his weird and experimental dissection of vampire mythology with a weird and experimental deconstruction of soap operas? Shot on video, Personal Problems uses the smeary, low-resolution visual vocabulary of ’80s-era daytime television to really dig into the emotional wreckage that occurs when women’s domestic and emotional labor is taken for granted. NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium.
★ THE PRINCESS BRIDE
This movie is 100 percent pure charm in film form. That’s not to say Rob Reiner’s adaptation of William Goldman’s novel isn’t also shot through with moments of real romance (“As you wish”) and cathartic satisfaction (“I want my father back you sonofabitch,”) but the reason this movie occupies such a precious place for so many is the charm radiating off its styrofoamy sets, through a score that sounds like it’s coming out of a Casio keyboard’s single built-in-speaker, humming under dialogue written so beautifully the actors can’t help but smile at the magic flowing out of their mouths. It proves you don’t need $200 million and two years of post-production to realize pure imagination. Not when you’ve got a big heart and all the charm in the world. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
RECORDS COLLECTING DUST II
The newest installment in Jason Blackmore’s documentary series about the record collections of influential punk rockers, featuring Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye, Cro-Mags’ John Joseph, Dischord Records’ Amy Pickering, and more. Hollywood Theatre.
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA
Stephen Nomura Schible’s documentary unfolds with the same measured pace and beauty as the compositions of its subject, Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto. There are no critics or fellow artists singing Sakamoto’s praise, nor any narration; instead, we’re gently placed into the stream of his creative process, watching him as he worries over his solo album async and, through archival footage, his film scores for The Revenant and The Last Emperor. The heart of Coda are the personal and environmental concerns that inform much of Sakamoto’s work—as the film begins, he is still undergoing treatment for throat cancer. And throughout, we’re taken along with him on his travels to the North Pole and to the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster as he seeks to reckon with, and be inspired by, the destruction of our planet by our own hands. ROBERT HAM Living Room Theaters.
A documentary following collector Mike Zahs as he discovers he owns a considerable stash of very rare, very old films that once belonged to William Franklin Brinton, one of the movie industry’s best (and now mostly forgotten) barnstormers. Hollywood Theatre.
Memes can be movies now, did you know? And why shouldn’t they be? If you can make a giant-ass movie based on a game of fuckin’ Battleship, you can pull some creepy decade-old bullshit out of the Something Awful message boards and give it to the guy who directed Stomp the Yard. Various Theaters.
★ SORRY TO BOTHER YOU
It says a lot about the regressive state of America in 2018 that perhaps the only effective way to inject a pro-union theme into a movie is to cloak it in an outrageous, surrealist, science-fiction-tinged dark comedy. Not that Sorry to Bother You restricts itself to a single “message”—writer/director Boots Riley, of hip-hop group the Coup, has made a dense, dizzy pageant of social commentary and sheer what-the-fuckery. It’s an angry screed against racism, capitalism, violence as entertainment, and economic inequality, but it’s also hilarious and wholly unique. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater, St. Johns Twin Cinemas.
TEEN TITANS GO! TO THE MOVIES
The surprisingly subversive superhero show for kids (why the hell aren’t they all for kids, by the way) makes the leap to the big screen without becoming a drab, sour-faced live-action slog (cough-ahem Batman v Superman) and without a desaturated, gun-toting Robin stabbing street criminals in the neck and uttering the words “fuck Batman” before stomping out of frame (ahem-cough-hack Titans ahem). Instead, it’s a mile-a-second satire/parody of the genre that looks to out-joke Deadpool, minus all the profanity and headshots (and thankfully, without T.J. Miller, too). BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
Solo: A Star Wars Story was not the first Lucasfilm project Ron Howard directed. In 1987, George Lucas, who created a world-changing film series 10 years prior because he couldn’t get the rights to Flash Gordon, asked Howard to replicate that phenomenon after not getting the rights to Lord of the Rings. Thus: Willow, starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer as pseudo-Frodo and Asshole Aragorn who fight evil witches, skull-faced enforcers, and rescue baby princesses. Willow is an ungainly little family film, pinballing between pulp fantasy, awkward romance, cornball kid’s flick (ugh, the fucking Brownies), and Harryhausen-esque adventure, but thanks to Kilmer’s charm, Davis’ pluck, and one hell of a score from James Horner, Willow—while getting nowhere near the resonance of Lord of the Rings—ends up being a mostly okay fantasy pastiche. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Was Fred Rogers—the writer, producer, and star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood—really a soft-spoken, sweet-tempered man? Spoiler alert: Yes, he was! Finally, one single thing has escaped your childhood without scandal! SUZETTE SMITH Cinema 21.