First Man

MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday-Thursday, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.

Bad Times at the El Royale
See review. (Opens Fri Oct 12, various theaters)

recommended Bubba Ho-Tep
Throughout history, cinema has told many great stories—stories that revolutionize cultures, that meditate upon emotion and philosophy, that attempt to define what it means to be this thing we call “human.” All of those stories are shit compared to Bubba Ho-Tep, a film in which Elvis (Bruce Campbell) and JFK (Ossie Davis) fight an evil mummy in a retirement home. Director Don Coscarelli in attendance. (Fri Oct 19, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Curse of the Demon
The latest in the Hollywood’s “Cinema Classics” series is Curse of the Demon, a startlingly effective hit of psychological horror from 1957 directed by Jacques Tourneur (Cat People). Tourneur wasn’t happy about a literal demon being inserted into the film over his protests, but producers figured, “It’s in the title! The people gotta have a demon!” To the producers’ credit, the demon, while kinda chintzy, is fairly unnerving (at first), but to Tourneur’s credit, the movie packs the wallop it does because of great performances by Dana Andrews and Niall MacGinnis. Martin Scorsese thinks this is one of the 10 best horror films ever made, so that’s probably all the recommendation you need. (Fri Oct 12, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

First Man
The space stuff is great. When La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s biopic about Neil Armstrong focuses on NASA’s insanely ambitious and dangerous plan to put a man on the moon, it thrums with thrill and threat—from the astonishing scope of space to the claustrophobic confines of the command module, the best parts of First Man are worth experiencing on the biggest screen possible. Ryan Gosling offers an excellent turn as Armstrong, but even Gosling can’t liven up the story’s more pedestrian elements, which largely involve Armstrong’s relationship with his wife (Claire Foy) and his stoic mourning of his daughter. These chunks have little of the verve and punch that Chazelle delivers whenever he crams a camera into the cockpit with Gosling—speeding through the atmosphere, spinning in space, flipping switches as strained bolts groan—or visits Armstrong’s fellow astronauts and scientists (played by a fantastic lineup of underused actors, including Jason Clarke, Corey Stoll, Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, and Coach Taylor). First Man bears the familiar curse of the biopic—it somehow feels both overlong and unsatisfying—and never quite escapes the shadow of The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman’s remarkable 1983 film that told a similar story with more grace and smarts. Still: the space stuff is great. (Opens Fri Oct 12, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

recommended A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
In horror movies, and sometimes in life, a girl alone at night is a victim. Shadows are ominous, noises are frightening. The night doesn’t belong to her. Which is just part of why Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature is so exhilarating. The Girl (Sheila Vand) is a taciturn, hijab-clad vampire in a tiny Iranian town called Bad City, gliding through the deserted streets like a not-so-friendly ghost. The night is her domain, though the men she encounters might assume otherwise. The Girl does what she wants, and usually what she wants is to drink somebody. (Fri Oct 19-Sun Oct 21, Fifth Avenue Cinema) ALISON HALLETT

Grindhouse Film Festival: Pieces
Pieces: Wow! I mean really! Unintentionally hilarious, with bizarre non sequiturs thrown into imaginative, gory death scenes, this is one you’ll really have to see to believe, from its badly dubbed beginning to its amazing, crotch-cringing ending. (Fri Oct 19, Hollywood Theatre) COURTNEY FERGUSON


Hale County This Morning, This Evening

recommended Hale County This Morning, This Evening
“We need more black folks taking pictures and videos of the area,” Hale County This Morning, This Evening director RaMell Ross explains to a neighbor as he films plumes of bonfire smoke filtering afternoon sunlight. Ross taught photography and coached basketball in Hale County, Alabama starting in 2009, and the product of his time there, Hale County This Morning, This Evening presents vignettes that are difficult to look away from. Some of these images should be commonplace, but all of them are exceptional—whether it’s seeds floating on the wind or teenage youths chilling on horseback—as the storylines of several subjects (like Boosie, who is pregnant with twins and, at least initially, “careth not about the film”) slowly unfold. (Fri Oct 12-Sun Oct 14, NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) SUZETTE SMITH

Halloween
See our interview with Halloween co-writer Danny McBride. (Opens Fri Oct 19, various theaters)

The Hate U Give
Compared to Angie Thomas’ YA novel, this adaptation of The Hate U Give feels decidedly like “edutainment.” The story—about the activism of Starr (Amandla Stenberg), a young Black woman, after she witnesses the shooting of her childhood friend by a police officer—feels co-opted, and Starr, as she mourns, is subjected to a series of teaching moments. One of the film’s most ??!? moments involves a monologue Starr’s Uncle Carlos (Common) delivers from a policeman’s point of view. The whole affair feels aimed at non-Black viewers who have only just started paying attention to the struggle Black people face, and who have never needed to have a talk with their parents about how to survive a routine traffic stop. (Opens Fri Oct 19, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

The Lost Boys
1987’s glistening horror-comedy The Lost Boys is one of two movies on Joel Schumacher’s resume that can be said to contain more good in it than bad. When the film stays focused on the Coreys and their pseudo-Goonies-ish adventures fighting Santa Clara’s enclave of noodle-haired, heavily mulleted vampires? When Barnard Hughes’ Grandpa is allowed to indulge his scene-stealing putter ‘n’ mutter routines? When Tim Capello, as the now iconic sexy sax man, is dripping and heaving on a carnival stage? The movie is a nice slice of fried ’80s gold. Unfortunately, a large chunk of the movie is also dedicated to following Jason Patric’s morose Michael around as the rest of the cast chants his name every 30 seconds, as if Schumacher wasn’t confident you’d caught it the first 3,000 times. Still though—the soundtrack is really solid (cryyyyyy little sistah!), and when the lurid finale finally kicks into frenetic, shrieking overdrive, you can almost see why studios kept giving Schumacher giant budgets to waste for the next decade-plus. (Fri-Sun, 99w Drive-In; Mon Oct 15, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Mommie Dearest
You’re supposed to take Mommie Dearest seriously. You cannot possibly take it seriously. There is nothing about it that works on any intended level. But that is fine. That is how camp is made. Not the sort of camp where people are going over the top knowingly, winkingly—letting you know it’s okay, we’re all in on the joke. Not that chickenshit half-assed camp they got ’round Rocky Horror way. This is Faye Dunaway serving up weapons grade camp in a form so undiluted that Walter White would marvel at the purity of its chemical composition. And that’s the whole point of seeing Mommie Dearest—because you’re a cringe-addict, a purveyor of superlative pettiness, and when you jones for unapologetic, manipulative, emotionally ugly trash, Mommie Dearest will always deliver. (Fri Oct 12-Sun Oct 14, Fifth Avenue Cinema) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended Not Sorry: Feminist Experimental Film From the 1970s to Today
“Experimental film is a kind of haven for marginalized groups that need an alternative way to express themselves,” says Mia Ferm, the education program manager at the NW Film Center. “But some people, when presenting the history of this work, are like, ‘Oh, I just show some Stan Brakhage and call it a day.’” Each Sunday this month, the Film Center is providing an alternative to that narrow view with the series Not Sorry: Feminist Experimental Film from the 1970s to Today. Co-curated by Ferm and PSU School of Film Assistant Professor Kristin Hole, each program spans the globe and the past four decades to give a crisp, pointed platform for a multitude of cinematic voices from society’s edges. (Through Sun Oct 28, NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) ROBERT HAM


The Old Man and The Gun

recommended The Old Man and the Gun
Based on a true story, the latest from David Lowery (Aint Them Bodies Saints, A Ghost Story, and 2016’s under-appreciated Pete’s Dragon) reteams the filmmaker with Robert Redford, who plays Forrest Tucker, the charming, handsome leader of a trio of geriatric bank robbers. Forrest’s partners in crime are Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (a fantastic Tom Waits); meanwhile, middle-aged cop John Hunt (Casey Affleck) tries to chase Forrest down as Jewel (Sissy Spacek) tries to figure out why her charming, handsome new boyfriend won’t tell her what he does for a living. Like one of Forrest’s disarmingly polite robberies, The Old Man and the Gun starts out pleasant and sweet before revealing hints of darkness—each of these characters is deeper than they first appear, and one’s never quite sure what any of them are going to do next. Lowery is happy to tag along, capturing lives that are polished by time and dented by experience, but remain bright and sharp with wit and passion. Watching Redford have this much fun is, as always, a goddamn delight. (Opens Fri Oct 12, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

recommended Pan’s Labyrinth
Arguably Guillermo del Toro’s masterpiece. Set in post-civil war Spain, Labyrinth follows a young girl, Ofelia (Ivana Baquero); as post-war fascism dominates her life, she discovers an ancient forest presided over by a faun who’s at once welcoming and sinister (Doug Jones). Descending into a world of myth, danger, and horror, Ofelia’s story becomes twofold—roughly half of Labyrinth deals with historical drama, while the other explores the fantastic and symbolic. (Fri Oct 10-Sun Oct 21, Fifth Avenue Cinema) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Portland Film Festival
In past years, this weeklong festival’s programming has been burdened by generic, forgettable indies and awkward vanity projects; while this year’s programming had yet to be announced by the Mercury’s print deadline, the organizers of the 2018 Portland Film Festival Presented by Comcast NBC Universal promise over 150 films (including “more than 35 films from local filmmakers”), along with the fest’s usual workshops and networking events. More at portlandfilmfestival.com. (Mon Oct 12-Sun Oct 28, various theaters)

Portland Unknown Film Festival
An “outcast film festival” offering shorts, music videos, a found-footage installation (If You Believe by Nicole Baker), and a feature (Micah Vassau’s Fingerilla), all collected with the aim of curating “a gallery of film for the underground, under-known, rough, and raw filmmaker,” and dedicated to “new innovative filmmakers and old punks who never sold out!” More at portlandunknown.com. (Fri Oct 19-Sat Oct 20, Disjecta)

Prince of Darkness
1987’s Prince of Darkness has the scariest set of bookends John Carpenter ever built—unnerving in the way they move and sound, to the point where your fight-or-flight response legitimately kicks in the longer you’re sitting in front of them. The problem is that the movie he places between those bookends is the worst fucking thing he ever made, and that includes Ghosts of Mars and Vampires. (Fri Oct 12-Thurs Oct 18, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended Queer Horror: Halloween H20
Carla Rossi’s bimonthly celebration of horror pays homage—in its own way—to the grandfather of the slasher film, John Carpenter’s Halloween. But Carla’s not screening the original. No, this installment of Queer Horror features 1998’s Halloween H20, a nonsensically titled return to form with a cast that is, in retrospect, maybe the best in the series? Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Williams, Janet Leigh, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are in this thing! Granted, Josh Hartnett is “leading” it, and LL Cool J is the comic relief, and Adam Arkin is... Adam Arkin-ing around (he’s like if George Clooney’s worst tics were downloaded into a talking ball of lint), so, yunno—it’s not perfect, but it’s still a lot of fun! And that fun will be augmented with one of Carla’s pre-show routines, and pints of Royale Brewing beer brewed especially for the occasion. (Thurs Oct 25, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution
Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution feels scrapped together like one of the zines that erupted out of the movement. Homocore, or queercore, developed from the fringes of punk scenes in the ’80s, so it’s fitting that Queercore isn’t polished—it’s a bunch of parts taped together to make one anti-establishment package. The film contains loads of hand-drawn dicks and nipples, which are cool, as well as some white power imagery, which is not cool. (While many aspects of the movement are thoughtfully explored, its skinhead roots never are.) (Sun Oct 21, Hollywood Theatre) ELINOR JONES

recommended Re-Run Theater: Trilogy of Terror
The Hollywood’s monthly TV party a suitably spooky October entry: 1975’s ABC Movie of the Week Trilogy of Terror, an anthology of Richard Matheson short story adaptations, none of which have anything to do with each other but all of which star the wonderful Karen Black acting her fuckin’ heart out as a revenge-fueled tutor, a victim of sibling rivalry, and a woman stuck in a room with a vicious fetish doll. With sinister ’70s-era ads during the commercial breaks! (Wed Oct 24, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended The Sisters Brothers
A darkly funny, satisfyingly violent adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s novel, The Sisters Brothers follows four men whose bumbling paths cross in Oregon and California in 1851. The titular brothers are assassins, and are played with predictable excellence by John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix; when they aren’t drinking or bickering, they’re chasing two other men, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed (also excellent, also predictably). There are intense shoot-outs and goofy pratfalls, and there’s dread and sadness and mishaps involving everything from an angry bear to a well-loved shawl. Somehow, the ungainly contraption holds together beautifully. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

recommended Smokey and the Bandit
What better way to pay tribute to the cinematic legacy of Burt Reynolds than with his biggest hit? Smokey and the Bandit, a 1977 romantic comedy about a beer bootlegger escaping the chubby grasp of a redneck sheriff, was the second biggest film of the year, and would have easily been number one if not for that one space movie about the farm kid and the glow sticks and the bleeping trash basket. But that movie had the benefit of never-before-seen visual effects and an all-timer of a score by John Williams. Smokey and the Bandit had... uh, it had “Eastbound and Down” as the score to a series of ridiculous car chases and the irresistable, smirking, fourth-wall-breaking charm of Reynolds. Every likeable wiseass of the ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s, from John McClane to Tony Stark, owes part of their existence to Burt, shiftin’ and grinnin’ out from behind the wheel of that legendary Trans Am. (Fri Oct 12, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended Sonic Youth: 30 Years Of Daydream Nation
Drummer Steve Shelley, archivist Aaron Mullan, and filmmaker Lance Bangs present this documentary triple feature celebrating the 30th anniversary of Sonic Youth’s landmark LP Daydream Nation, including 1989’s Put Blood in Music by Charles Atlas, focused on New York’s music scene; On Rust, a Dutch TV program, and Bangs’ Daydream Nation, capturing the band’s 2007 Glasgow performances. (Sat Oct 20, Hollywood Theatre)

A Star Is Born
I considered leaving A Star Is Born several times. For his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper remade the 1954 musical drama with himself playing the grizzled, alcoholic country rock star Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga as Ally, an unknown singer he discovers in a drag bar (her lack of a surname hints at just how much attention was given to her character development). Cooper clearly does not know how to read a room: He wrote the script with two other dudes (red flag number one). Although it’s presumably about the rise of Ally, the whole thing is told from Maine’s perspective—we even hear the ringing of his tinnitus and see the room spin when he’s drunk. And he’s constantly degrading her! It’s upsetting to see a film so blatantly romanticize an abusive relationship in 2018. I’d hoped this new version of A Star Is Born would somehow challenge the destructive narrative that a woman is worthless until a man deems her worthy of love, validation, success, or fame. Hahah, nope! (Now playing, various theaters) CIARA DOLAN

Venom
Venom is bad in a way I didn’t think it was still possible for superhero movies to be. It’s pre-Marvel Cinematic Universe bad. It’s pre-X-Men bad. Venom has all the hallmarks of a shitty superhero movie from 10-plus years ago: It’s a long, boring origin story with incoherent stakes, an aggressive indifference to the source material, and the color palette of muddy garbage. BEN COLEMAN (Now playing, various theaters)