Animation Show of Shows

recommended The Animation Show of Shows
I don’t know what it is with animators and why they can’t be nice to their parents, but five out of 17 shorts in this year’s Animation Show of Shows involve heart-wrenching familial sacrifice. For a show that I usually watch to see pretty, cool, new animations, this struck me as uncharacteristically dour. I prefer the more ironic shorts like Anchi Shen’s hilarious Barry, about a goat surgeon (whose parents sold themselves to pay for his college tuition! auuugh, my emotions) facing interspecies workplace discrimination (it’s still really funny!), and Eusong Lee’s whimsical, visually stunning My Moon, about the Earth’s throuple relationship with the sun and moon. The other great thing about the Show of Shows is that I always find at least one animator whose career I want to study. Eusong Lee is this year’s Instagram follow. (Opens Fri Feb 8, Cinema 21) SUZETTE SMITH

recommended B-Movie Bingo: Johnny Mnemonic
Your monthly opportunity to literally check off a bingo card full of B-movie clichés! This month: Keanu Reeves’ first crack at being a demi-god of the internet, 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic, a looser-than-a-Jedi’s-robes adaptation of the William Gibson novel—an anti-corporate work of dystopian fiction that became a Sony-produced multimedia clusterfuck. (Tues Feb 5, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Set in Beirut, Capernaum follows the life of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), an imprisoned 12-year-old who’s suing his parents for bringing him into the world. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Capernaum is driven by alternately heartbreaking and heartwarming performances from its nonprofessional actors (whom director Nadine Labaki asked to improvise in many scenes), specifically al Rafeea, who carries himself with the exhaustion and world-weary cynicism of someone many decades older. At times, the film can be difficult to watch; prepare for intense depictions of malnourished, neglected, poverty-stricken kids and child marriage. However, even when it’s presenting a grimly realistic view of humanity, flashes of humor and resilience ultimately make Capernaum feel hopeful. (Opens Fri Feb 1, Living Room Theaters) CIARA DOLAN

Cold Pursuit
You know that trailer you kept seeing throughout the Christmas movie season? The one with Liam Neeson as a snowplow driver that almost kinda-sorta looks like a parody of all his Old Man Vengeance movies? But you can’t really tell if it’s actually a self-aware joke? This is that movie. (Opens Fri Feb 8, various theaters)

Cold War
Pawel Pawlikowski’s black-and-white love story set in Cold War (duh) Europe. (Now playing, Cinema 21)

recommended Coraline
A benefit screening of Coraline—Laika’s stop-motion animated film, which turns 10 this year—put on by Travel Oregon to benefit areas in Oregon that are recovering from last summer’s wildfire damage. Proceeds from this screening fo to the North Umpqua Trail Project and the Lower Deschutes River Post-Fire Restoration Project; following the Portland screening, similar ones will be held across the state at theaters in Astoria, Bend, Ashland, and more. (Mon Feb 11, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, The Invitation) directs this bleak, bleary LA noir about a damaged cop (Nicole Kidman, under layers of de-prettifying makeup) tracking down the leader of a crime ring in which she spent months undercover. But Kusama makes this a character study foremost, at the expense of the supporting characters and the story’s more interesting genre elements. (Now playing, various theaters) NED LANNAMANN

Glass is a pretty but emptily ponderous mess, its sole accomplishment being a near-total waste of whatever goodwill M. Night Shyamalan had left after spending the better part of a decade as a punchline. (Now playing, various theaters) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended High Flying Bird
See review. (Streams Fri Feb 8, Netflix)

The Kid Who Would Be King
The Kid Who Would Be King reminds me of the kids movies I watched as a kid, where an actual child comes into possession of something they shouldn’t, like a spaceship, or a professional baseball team, or, in this case, King Arthur’s enchanted sword Excalibur. Wildly irresponsible behavior and at least one heartfelt exchange with a single parent ensues, and everyone learns a valuable lesson about the value of family and the importance of teamwork. (Now playing, various theaters) BEN COLEMAN

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part squarely occupies (sorry!) a middle ground between the first The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie: The premise is played, but there’s still some fun to be had, and you can see it with your kids. The sneaky bold messaging of the first film isn’t present here, and the morality slides off after 15 minutes so. But it’s nice that the movie tried to teach me how to share, even though the message probably won’t stick. SUZETTE SMITH (Opens Fri Feb 8, various theaters)

recommended Miami Connection
The bloody, bizarre, and beautiful 1987 action epic Miami Connection—in which a group of kung-fu kickin’ BFFs, who are also all orphans, and who are also all in a band called Dragon Sound, fight off a bunch of scummy bikers/cocaine dealers—was nearly lost forever. Rediscovered by the Alamo Drafthouse in 2012, it’s since become a legendary cult classic… and tonight, Portland band Rad Max will show it on the big screen, promising “antics” and “hard-edged trash pop” before, after, and during the movie. Sure! What could go wrong? Thanks, Rad Max! (Fri Feb 1, Clinton Street Theater) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Miss Bala
See review. (Opens Fri Feb 1, various theaters)

Mondo Trasho: A Dirty Shame
This month’s installment in the Hollywood Theatre’s series of mostly irredeemable trash “classics” goes back to the pungent well of John Waters with 2004’s A Dirty Shame. (Fri Feb 8, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended Queer Horror: Seed of Chucky
Spending Valentine’s Day with Carla Rossi and the gang at Queer Horror has become something of a Portland tradition, and with good reason: Carla keeps screening Jennifer Tilly movies, which are often astoundingly entertaining—especially her entries in the bewilderingly long-running Chucky series. (Thurs Feb 14, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

recommended They Shall Not Grow Old
See review. (Through Feb 16, NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Reel Music
With fewer films than previous years, this year's Reel Music is a more focused, manageable batch to navigate, with a handful of must-sees (and a couple you should skip). See “Movies for Your Ears: Northwest Film Center’s Reel Music Returns” for our picks. (Through Feb 16, NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

recommended Shoah
Claude Lanzmann's 1985 Holocaust documentary is not easy viewing. With its harrowing subject matter, staggering nine-and-a-half-hour length, and ragged-edge filmmaking, Shoah will challenge even the most dedicated viewers to stick it out—though, as anyone who has can tell you, it'ss worth it when you do. (Sun Feb 3, NW Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) JAMIE S. RICH

Stan & Ollie
Stan & Ollie seeks to bring the comedy duo back into the spotlight, at least for a bit, and to that end, it’s got one major coup: Great casting, with John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy and Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel. And... that’s about it, because the rest of Stan & Ollie is shallow and slapdash. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Support The Portland Mercury

Velvet Buzzsaw
Good art is to die for. That’s the idea behind the engagingly outlandish Velvet Buzzsaw, which begins as a fang-toothed satire of the Los Angeles art scene and turns into something else altogether. The humor is wry and dry and enjoyably mean, and while the story’s more ridiculous elements eventually dominate, Buzzsaw’s never less than effortlessly watchable. If you enjoy watching bad things happen to bad people, Velvet Buzzsaw gives you more than you bargained for, transforming into a not-particularly-scary horror movie whose appealing oddness and cruel humor goes down with disturbing ease. NED LANNAMANN (Streams Fri Feb 1, Netflix)

recommended Wild at Heart
This is kinda the perfect movie to watch for Valentine’s Day—your romantic life, or lack thereof, will look peaceful and not-insane in comparison to the hurricane of crazy love that is the thrashing sex-frenzy of Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage. (Fri Feb 8-Thurs Feb 14, Academy Theater) COURTNEY FERGUSON

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30