Aquarela sony pictures classics

Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective
A sprawling survey of the acclaimed Iranian filmmaker’s work, kicking off with Where Is the Friend’s House?, And Life Goes On, and Through the Olive Trees. (Fri Sept 20-Mon Oct 28, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Ad Astra
Writer/director James Grey's follow-up to 2016's excellent, underrated The Lost City of Z is a clunkier affair, with sad-sack Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) embarking on an almost-certainly doomed voyage through the solar system to track down his MIA astronaut father (Tommy Lee Jones). Along the way, he fights battles both external (space pirates!) and internal (daddy issues!), and he also spends a whole lot of time monologuing, thanks to an unnecessary, on-the-nose voiceover. But it's when the movie shuts up—when Gray's camera skims the plains of the Moon, when an antenna towering into Earth's atmosphere begins to shudder, when the screen is filled by the shadow-blue rings of Neptune or the churning storms of Jupiter—that Ad Astra hits the profundity and scope that all McBride's monologuing fails to get at. (Opens Thurs Sept 19, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

AIMA Archival Screening Night
The Association of Moving Image Archivists shows off more than 20 films and videos from some of the world’s weirdest, charmingest, most intriguing collections. (Fri Sept 20, Hollywood Theatre)

Akira
My introduction to this movie was like many people’s: I told an older friend I liked Robotech or Voltron or some shit like that, and this kid then gave me a VHS tape and said, “If you want to know what anime is really about, watch this.” This is probably one of the worst introductions to both the genre and to Akira. It’s sort of like telling a little kid, “Oh, you think GI Joe is cool, huh? You should check out Apocalypse Now.” And yet, the artistry of the film is so compelling that revisiting it becomes almost mandatory—an animated itch you just can’t scratch to satisfaction, no matter how often you go back. The story never quite makes sense, even after your second or 12th viewing, but the combination of sights and sounds are still, more than 30 years later, one of the most potent examples of pure cinema there is. (Fri Sept 13-Thurs Sept 19, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Ana y Bruno
It took 13 years to make, cost 100 million pesos, won a whole bunch of awards, bombed spectacularly at the Mexican box office, and—most importantly—Guillermo del Toro and Alfonso Cuarón vouch for it: Ana y Bruno, an animated short about a spooky girl’s adventures with creepy critters. Imagine Tim Burton before he left Disney, working for Pixar before they joined Disney. (Sun Sept 22, Hollywood Theatre)

Aquarela
Movies are expensive, and going to theaters can be a pain, and “It’s a documentary... about water!” isn’t the most rousing tagline—but Aquarela is worth every bit of effort to see on the biggest screen and with the loudest sound. Ranging from Russia to Miami to Venezuela, director Viktor Kossakovsky’s gorgeous, jarring film captures stunning sights and sounds: Massive, cracking icebergs lurch like breaching leviathans. Intricate blades of glacial ice slice the sky. Wind and rain whip through a devastated ghost-city, a hurricane screaming as Aquarela’s camera cruises calmly through abandoned streets. Sailors are thrown by storms; flailing men plummet through ice; waves that seem the size of planets loom and loom and loom before exploding into chaos. The music, courtesy of Apocalyptica’s Eicca Toppinin, is thick with shuddering guitar riffs, underscoring Kossakovsky’s eye-widening, stomach-churning reminder of how, in comparison to a natural force like this one, the accomplishments and failures of humankind are laughably small and pathetically meaningless. Unspoken in Aquarela, but lurking behind each image, is another reminder: That, as we hurtle toward a changed climate, the water around us remains as beautiful and lethal as ever—and just as indifferent to our frail attempts to constrain it. (Opens Fri Sept 13, Regal Fox Tower 10) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Between Two Ferns: The Movie
The Funny or Die series gets turned into a Netflix movie. Not screened for critics. (Streams Fri Sept 20, Netflix)

Best of PPS Film Festival
Work from young filmmakers in the Portland Public Schools District. (Sun Sept 15, Hollywood Theatre)

Country Music
See this issue. (Premieres Sun Sept 15 on Oregon Public Broadcasting)

Cult & Genre Oddities: The Faculty
The Northwest Film Center’s series presents Robert Rodriguez’s fun, goofy body-snatcher movie from 1998, starring the very 1998 cast of Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Frodo, Usher, and the T-1000. (Sun Sept 22, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Downton Abbey
The wonderful thing about watching Downton Abbey on TV was that occasionally the plot would take a turn so British and so old-fashioned that it was hard to figure out what the hell was going on. Cousins got married and it wasn’t weird, men already wearing tuxedos fretted about not being suitably dressed for dinner, and I distinctly remember one episode’s plot hinging on the question of whether a maid was lying about her ability to cook a “restorative broth”—still not sure what that was all about! Now available in less-convenient movie form, Downton Abbey doubles down on the maddeningly whimsical British stuff, but lacks the grace and gentle tension of the series. I do recommend Downton Abbey to fellow fans of the series. But it might be best enjoyed not in a theater, but in the same way we watched the show: Streamed at home, where we’re free to gleefully repeat our favorite lines in questionable British accents. (Opens Thurs Sept 19, the multiplex closest to your mom’s house) BLAIR STENVICK

Essential Cinema: Paper Moon & The Swimmer
Upcoming selections in the Northwest Film Center’s Essential Cinema series. Director Frank Perry’s 1968 riff on a John Cheever short story, the weird and wonderful The Swimmer finds channing-but-disconcerting suburbanite Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster) just kind of... showing up in his neighbors’ backyards and swimming pools. (Paper Moon screens Sat Sept 21; The Swimmer screens Sun Sept 22, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

The Goldfinch
If you've read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, I am happy to report there’s zero need for you to sit through the remarkably tedious two-and-a-half-hour movie adaptation. If you haven’t read The Goldfinch, I am happy to report there’s zero need for you to sit through the remarkably tedious two-and-a-half-hour movie adaptation. (Opens Fri Sept 13, various theaters) NED LANNAMANN

Hustlers STX Financing, LLC

Hustlers
See review this issue. (Opens Thurs Sept 12, various theaters)

It: Chapter Two
It: Chapter Two gets better as it goes, but be warned that it goes for 169 minutes. It’s hard to argue with the film’s length, given the complicated, sprawling underbelly of lore and symbolism in Stephen King’s novel, but what does director Andy Muschietti do with all this time? Like the first film, Chapter Two has high points, but Muscietti also drags scenes out for far too long. This is an above-average blockbuster, and audiences who go to Chapter Two looking for a monster movie will find something much better than usual. But King fans will be left wanting—though perhaps in a way that makes them want to reread It and remember why they loved it so much in the first place. (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

Jonas Mekas in His Own Images, Sounds, and Words
Works from the 16mm filmmaker. Like, he shot on 16mm. He was taller than 16mm. (Sun Sept 15-Sun Dec 15, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Linda Ronstadt: Sound of My Voice
One of life’s greatest tragedies is that Linda Ronstadt’s singing voice—a once-in-a-millennium instrument of good in this wicked world—has been silenced due to her struggles with Parkinson’s. That’s made clear by directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman in Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, largely thanks to the numerous clips of Ronstadt’s performances they squeeze into the documentary’s 95 minutes. What they don’t include is enough of Ronstadt’s speaking voice, preferring to let talking heads tell the bulk of the 73-year-old artist’s story. The fact those dull talking heads are mostly dudes—including Ronstadt’s skeevy ex, J.D. Souther—only makes her silence feel that much louder. The only person who gets it right is Emmylou Harris, who’s reduced to tears when she’s reminded her friend can’t ever sing again. And when you hear Ronstadt performing everything from Buddy Holly to Gilbert and Sullivan, chances are you’ll cry too. (Opens Fri Sept 13, Cinema 21) ROBERT HAM

Mondo Trasho: Starship Troopers
Not sure whether this high-powered satire of glossy, vapid fascism is going to be funnier than it’s ever been before, or if it’s going to cause infrequent giggles between rolling waves of nausea and panic. Either way, it’s hard to pass up spending a couple hours on the big screen with Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, and Neil Patrick Harris. The bugs still hold up as visual effects, too! Better than the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, as a matter of fact. Screens on 35mm. (Fri Sept 20, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Northwest Tracking: A Perfect 14 & the Women in Film PDX: Member Screening
Upcoming selections in the Northwest Film Center’s Northwest Tracking series. Despite phenomenal talents like Ava DuVernay, Kathryn Bigelow, Greta Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, Nicole Holofcener, and more, the number of women filmmakers remains infuriatingly low: In 2018, a mere eight percent of the year’s top-grossing 250 films were directed by women. Supporting work from women filmmakers is always important, and you’ve got an excellent chance to do so at the fourth annual Women in Film PDX: Member Screening. Put on by the non-profit group made up of Portland women who work in film and media, the event features members’ new, short films and a post-screening dialogue. (A Perfect 14 screens Tue Sept 24; Women in Film PDX: Member Screening screens Thurs Sept 19, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Official Secrets IFC Films

Official Secrets
Keira Knightley plays Katharine Gun in this dry but effective dramatization of the events that transpired when Gun, a translator for British intelligence agency GCHQ, leaked information that could have prevented the Iraq War—and in the process, incurred the wrath of the British government, which was willing to overlook the slightly inconvenient fact that the administration of George W. Bush repeatedly lied to justify their invasion of Iraq. Knightley is solid, as is Matt Smith, who plays The Observer’s Martin Bright, but a restrained Ralph Fiennes and a not-restrained-at-all Rhys Ifans steal every scene they’re in. The cloak-and-dagger early stuff in Official Secrets, inside GCHQ and The Observer, works the best; once Gun is trapped in a vindictive legal nightmare, the film can’t help but lose some steam. Still, it all works, and it’s all important, and as far as movies about heroic whistleblowers go, it’s not too much of a stretch to put Official Secrets on the same shelf as Alex Gibney’s Chelsea Manning-adjacent We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks and Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ remarkable Edward Snowden doc. (Opens Fri Sept 13, Fox Tower) ERIK HENRIKSEN

OMSI'S 2019 Sci-Fi Film Fest
OMSI’s annual collection of science fiction classics and favorites is coming out strong this year, with a phenomenal line up of the usual suspects (2001: A Space Odyssey, Fantastic Planet, The Thing, and A Clockwork Orange—the latter being a “Reel Eats” screening that comes with “10-12 curated bites arranged in numbered boxes matching key moments in the film,” which should be… interesting) and some excellent, newer films: Not one but two from the brilliant Denis Villeneuve (Arrival and Blade Runner 2049), Jonathan Glazer’s jaw-grindingly creepy Under the Skin, Alfonso Cuarón’s masterful Children of Men, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, and Tom Cruise’s criminally underrated Edge of Tomorrow. There are also triple features (!) of both the recent, Kelvin-verse Star Treks (I very much want to hear that song from Star Trek Beyond blasting out of the Empirical Theater's speakers) and all the Matrixes (Matrices?), alongside heartwarming stuff like E.T., Terry Gilliam-y stuff like Time Bandits, and soul-stranglingly dark stuff like Aniara. (Through Wed Nov 6, Empirical Theatre at OMSI) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
This might be Quentin Tarantino’s best movie since Jackie Brown. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it’s even better than Jackie Brown? I know. Crazy! Once Upon a Time... is funnier, more affecting, and more genuine than anything the filmmaker’s made in decades. Screens in 70mm at the Hollywood Theatre from Fri Sept 13-Wed Sept 18. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

One Cut of the Dead
There is no sub-genre of horror as exhausted as zombies. This might be appropriate considering the subject matter, but it’s also disappointing if you want to, you know, like watching zombie movies. Director Shinichiro Ueda did his part to give the zombie canon a jolt with 2017’s One Cut of the Dead, a satire about filmmaking that blends gags and gore just as tightly as (if not even tighter than) Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. (Tues Sept 17, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

The Other Border
Justin Zimmerman’s documentary about the life of high school student Gerardo Hernandez, raised in the United States since he was six months old, arrested by ICE in 2018, detained in a prison for two months, and scheduled for deportation in 2020. You’re probably going to be pretty upset once the movie ends, which is good, because then you can take that righteous energy to the special guests in attendance, including representatives from the ACLU of Oregon, Voz Workers Rights Education Project, SOAR Immigration Legal Services, and the Oregon Justice Resource Center to find out how best to help stop these injustices from happening. Director in attendance, free admission. (Sun Sept 22, Hollywood Theatre)

Pipe Organ Pictures: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Curious as to what German expressionism is? It’s basically a fucked-up horrorscape of jagged angles and piercing symbolism, and it’s basically this movie, which now has live pipe organ accompaniment. (Sat Sept 21, Hollywood Theatre)

Portland Latin American Film Festival: The Mongolian Conspiracy
A semi-comic adaptation of Rafael Bernal’s 1969 noir novel, about a dour pistolero who turns out to be the only man in Mexico City who can stop a conspiracy to kill the President of the United States. Director Sebastian del Amo in attendance. (Wed Sept 18, Hollywood Theatre)

Portland Queer Film Festival
The fest showcasing queer-focused features, shorts, and docs enters its 23rd year with films including Nevrland, Straight Up, Mr. Leather, and Vita & Virginia. Films not screened for critics; full schedule at cinema21.com. (Fri Sept 20-Thurs Sept 26, Cinema 21)

Rambo: Last Blood
Goddammit, Sly. Why can’t you stop, huh? Why can’t you just fucking stop, man? Stop it. (Opens Thurs Sept 19, various theaters)

Re-run Theater: Hulk vs. Hulk
Re-run Theater presents a two-part episode of The Incredible Hulk TV show: The saga of "The First," which aired in 1981 and finds a traveling David Banner venturing into "a mysterious house containing ancient science equipment"—only to discover another, meaner Hulk! Will Marvel have the courage to remake this with Ed Norton and Mark Ruffalo? Or are they COWARDS? (Wed Sept 25, Hollywood Theatre)

Riot Girls
Director Jovanka Vuckovic’s debut feature, about a splintered teenage rivalry in a post-apocalyptic town, Riot Girls promises an interesting, rebellious lesbian love story between Scratch (Paloma Kwiatkowski), sporting a super-cool mohawk, and her friend/crush Nat (Madison Iseman). But—let me prepare you—the movie spends way more time establishing that the town’s jock bad guys are bad. (Why’re they bad? They comb their hair back, that’s why.) Riot Girls is quickly bogged down by an outdated, jocks-vs.-punks rivalry that I’m not sure kids are even doing anymore, and ultimately, its cringe-inducing acting and inconsistent seriousness regarding the end of the world place it squarely in B-movie territory. (Opens Fri Sept 13 at Clinton Street Theater, also available on demand) SUZETTE SMITH

Special Screenings: Island of the Hungry Ghosts & Walking on Water
Upcoming selections in the Northwest Film Center’s Special Screenings series. (Island of the Hungry Ghosts screens Sat Sept 21; Walking on Water screens Sat Sept 14 & Mon Sept 16, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
1982’s dark, smart Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan took Trek to new heights, and 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home delivered a crowd-pleasing adventure. And in between came 1984’s Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, which is bad. Screens as part of Northwest Star Trek Week; more at startrekweek.com. (Fri Sept 13, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Stephen King Road Rage Double Feature: Christine & Maximum Overdrive
You could contribute to It: Chapter Two’s box-office domination tonight, or you could revisit a simpler time, a time when Stephen King was but a young man brand, whose devaluation and resurrection was still in the future. This devaluing was hastened by King’s own Ed Wood impression with 1985’s Maximum Overdrive, a movie so fucking inept that King’s cinematographer literally lost one of his eyes while making it. But Overdrive is a great lesson in how difficult it is to be a good director, especially when juxtaposed against 1983’s Christine, the story of a toxic nerd and his demon-possessed car. King put his coked-out all into Overdrive, and it led to King movies being shorthand for “shitshow” for the next decade-plus. John Carpenter didn’t even like Christine, and he took the job for no other reason than he had bills to pay and smokes to buy, and he still delivered a darkly comic cult classic that works just as well now as it did in ’83. (Sat Sept 21, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

The Truman Show
Remember when this movie seemed portentous and damning, its dystopian near-future alarming in just how easily we saw ourselves in every cut to Truman’s viewers? Now, on the cusp of entering the 21st century’s second decade, the dark horror quietly fueling this film’s domestic comedy comes from recognizing just how fucking quaint it all seems in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, and Instagram. Don’t forget to like and subscribe, and check out my Patreon! (Fri Sept 20-Thurs Sept 26, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Undone
Two BoJack Horseman alum are behind Amazon’s stunning new psychological comedy/drama/sci-fi/mystery. With rotoscoped animation, the eight-episode show is both photorealistic and surreal, and the extraordinary central performance by Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) is raw and affecting, even from beneath all the rotoscoping. Salazar plays an aimless woman with hearing loss who becomes—to steal a Kurt Vonnegut term—“unstuck” in time after a car crash, and she sees visions of her dead father (Bob Odenkirk) while coming to terms with her mental instability. It’s weird, gentle, beautiful, and moving, kind of like Russian Doll by way of Waking Life. (Fri Sept 13, Amazon Prime) NED LANNAMANN

Villains
Why watch Bill Skarsgard be a clown in It: Chapter Two when you can watch him be a cutie-pie who sucks at crime and gets stuck in a creepy couple’s basement? (Opens Thurs Sept 19, various theaters)

Wake Up Dreaming Noir Fest: 99 River Street
Not usually mentioned among the typical murderer’s row of noir classics, 99 River Street is definitely worth catching as part of the Wake Up Dreaming noir series. John Payne leads this 1953 potboiler as an ex-boxer turned cab driver who has to escape a maze of homicidal tough guys and dumbass flatfoots thanks to his cheatin’, no-good dame stepping out with the wrong jewel thief. (Mon Sept 23, Hollywood Theatre)

Weekend Engagements: Chulas Fronteras & Say Amen, Somebody
Upcoming selections in the Northwest Film Center’s Weekend Engagements series. A little-seen documentary from the early ’80s, Say Amen, Somebody focuses on American gospel music pioneers Willie May Ford Smith and Thomas A. Dorsey. If you were moved by Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace (and if you saw it, you were), this doc will further nourish the soul, all the way down to its roots. (Chulas Fronteras screens Sat Sept 14 & Sun Sept 15; Say Amen, Somebody screens Fri Sept 13-Sun Sept 15, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) BOBBY ROBERTS

Zeroville
Beloved by cinephiles and bibliophiles alike, Steve Erickson's 2007 novel Zeroville tracks Vikar, a glowering, borderline autistic former seminarian who's so obsessed with movies that he's slathered his shaved head with a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. ("Who's Montgomery Clift?" people keep asking.) Arriving in LA in 1969, Vikar finds himself at the crux of cinema—learning how to edit movies from Dotty (Jacki Weaver); watching Sunset Boulevard ("A movie within a movie," Vikar marvels) with a guy who just broke into his house (Craig Robinson); getting drunk and shooting a .45 with Viking Man (Seth Rogen), a barely disguised stand-in for John Milius; falling in love with the remarkably named Soledad Paladin (Megan Fox); and skittering into the orbit of a skeevy-slick producer (Will Ferrell). Somewhere in there is a good movie, but James Franco—who directs and stars, proving better at the latter—can't find it, and Zeroville wobbles between indulgent surrealism and clunky drama, with too-few blips of dark comedy. Zeroville was shot in 2014, before Franco was accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct; regardless of the reasons for the film's delayed release, its timing now seems particularly lousy: Someone else just came out with an ambitious, meta epic about Hollywood in 1969, and for anyone who's interested enough in cinema to be drawn to Zeroville, their time is probably better spent rewatching Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood. (Opens Thurs Sept 19, Regal Fox Tower 10) ERIK HENRIKSEN