Judy David Hindley / LD Entertainment / Roadside Attractions

Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective
A sprawling survey of the Iranian filmmaker’s work. Current screenings include Case No. 1, Case No. 2; Homework; The Report; The Traveler; and A Wedding Suit. (Through Mon Oct 28, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Ad Astra
Writer/director James Grey’s follow-up to 2016’s excellent 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. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

B-Movie Bingo: Strike Commando
Fill out your bingo card of B-movie clichés while beholding the violent adventures of one-man-army Michael Ransom (Reb Brown), “the best, most highly trained war machine in Vietnam.” (Tues Oct 1, Hollywood Theatre)

Birthright
Oscar Micheaux’s autobiographical drama from 1939. (Sat Oct 5, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Blue Velvet
Cult films don’t get much cultier—or, paradoxically, appeal to a wider audience—than the David Lynch masterpiece Blue Velvet. In this ass-clenching exploration of the filthy underbelly of Reagan-era suburbia, a Hardy Boy-esque Kyle MacLachlan discovers a severed ear and tumbles headlong into a mystery that turns darker and uglier by the second. An emotionally broken femme fatale, a gas-huffing sexual sadist/crime boss (never order a Heineken in front of this man, by the way), freakish dandy Dean Stockwell, icky visuals of bugs and the robins that eat them, and a sweet-as-pie Laura Dern as the embodiment of true love make this flick just as fun as when it first blew your mind way back in 1986. Good times! (Fri Sept 27-Thurs Oct 3, Academy Theater) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Bridge of Frankenstein Universal

Bride of Frankenstein
Is this the first rock-solid example of the sequel being better than the original? Writer William Hurlbut and director James Whale approached their follow-up to one of the first horror films ever made by adding a whole lot of metatextual winks to the audience alongside some dark comedy and sly domestic satire. Not only was the iconic Bride birthed in this film, but so were the first real sparks of ideas we now recognize as “genre-bending” and “franchise filmmaking.” Those ideas weren’t fully-formed by 1935, of course, but it’s hard to argue that James Whale wasn’t way ahead of the curve. It only took the industry, oh, about 50 years to catch up with him. Screens in 35mm. (Fri Oct 4-Thurs Oct 10, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

The Brood
There’s the David Cronenberg who made The Dead Zone, A History of Violence, and Eastern Promises, and that Cronenberg is great at making controlled, focused, perfectly tuned engines of tension and introspection. But that Cronenberg is not the same mild-mannered man as the deranged fucking weirdo behind the camera of Videodrome, or The Fly, or 1979’s body-horror classic The Brood, a profoundly disturbing splat of indie cinema that gets even more fucked-up when you find out it’s a loosely autobigraphical account of Cronenberg’s divorce, except with way more psychoplasmic dwarf children hell-bent on grisly homicide. (Fri Oct 4-Thurs Oct 10, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Collide-O-Scope: Music Movie Mash-Ups
Anyone who’s ever found themselves at the bottom of a YouTube rabbit hole filled with fan-made tributes to your favorite films will be happy to know that hole empties out into the Hollywood Theatre with Collide-O-Scope, a night full of cinematic mashups that takes songs by Christine and the Queens, the Beastie Boys, Solange, and Chvrches and uses them to score expertly-sliced montages of vintage film. (Fri Oct 4, Hollywood Theatre)

Cult & Genre Oddities: I Was a Teenage Serial Killer, Over the Edge, and Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore
The Northwest Film Center’s series presents two films by Sarah Jacobson (1993’s I Was a Teenage Serial Killer and 1996’s Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore) along with Over the Edge, Jonathan Kaplan’s 1979 film about rebellious teens (oh, those rebellious teens!). (Sun Sept 29 & Sun Oct 6, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Danseur
A small scandal rocked the world of dance recently when Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer poked fun at England’s six-year-old Prince George for practicing ballet. The comment and its thoughtless delivery shone a light on the casual harassment endured by male ballet dancers (danseurs) just for being athletic and doing cool high jumps. If you want to know more about this issue (or just see lean, muscled guys slowly pirouette), the Portland Ballet presents Danseur—a 2018 documentary containing interviews with more than 20 danseurs—and a panel conversation with director Scott Gormley and three local ballet dancers: Zachary Carroll, Peter Franc, and Theodore Skye Stouber. (Sun Sept 29, Cinema 21) SUZETTE SMITH

Downton Abbey
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. (Now playing, the multiplex by your mom’s house) BLAIR STENVICK

Essential Cinema: Girlfriends and An Autumn Afternoon
Two drama-slash-comedies presented by the Northwest Film Center: Claudia Weil’s Girlfriends (1978) and Yasujiro Ozu’s An Autumn Afternoon (1962). (Sun Sept 9 & Sun Oct 6, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Fantastic Fungi
At its worst, Fantastic Fungi gets too woo-woo wacky for its own good (when the film’s discussion turns to magic mushrooms, the visuals turn into what is, as far as I can tell, a psychedelic screensaver from Windows 95), but at its best, the doc pairs fantastic time-lapse imagery with a good dose of actual, mind-blowing science. Affable, passionate mushroom researcher Paul Stamets is joined by talking heads Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, and narrator Brie Larson to examine everything from massive fungal networks that carry signals between disparate, distant plants to the psychological benefits of psilocybin. It’s an uneven trip, but a good one. (Opens Fri Sept 27, Cinema 21) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Fashion in Film: Rear Window
Hitchcock’s best movie? Hitchcock’s best movie. Screening as part of Portland Textile Month, and drawing particular attention to the contributions of costume designer Edith Head. (Mon Oct 7, Hollywood Theatre)

First Love
Read our full review, this issue. (Opens Fri Oct 4, Cinema 21)

Gemini Man
How in the world did Ang Lee wind up here, carrying James Cameron’s filthy water while pursuing 3D high-frame rate exercises in techy bullshit instead of just, you know... making good movies? I bet it was Hulk. I bet that’s what broke him. Once upon a time this guy made things like The Ice Storm and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Now? He’s directing TV-movie knockoffs of Jason Bourne starring Will Smith and a slippery-mouthed crybaby computer de-aged Will Smith who doesn’t even look that different because Will Smith doesn’t fucking age. If you’d have told me 10 years ago I’d be more excited for Bad Boys 3 than an Ang Lee movie, I’d have told you to pound sand. Joke’s on me. (Opens Thurs Oct 10, various theaters) BOBBY ROBERTS

The Good Place
Guys, The Good Place is ending. That’s right: The last vestige of sunshine in this terrible world—and the only good remaining show on network TV—is calling it a day. And what a weird, unlikely gem it’s been: a philosophical but hilariously upbeat sitcom about morality, the afterlife, and the consequences of our actions, starring one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled. We’ve only got 14 episodes left, so get ready to say goodbye to your favorite character (I’m torn between Manny Jacinto as Jacksonville Jaguars fan Jason and D’Arcy Carden as not-robot Janet). (Thurs Sept 26, NBC) NED LANNAMANN

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. (Now playing, various theaters) NED LANNAMANN

Hollywood Babylon: Dr. Jekyll & Mr Hyde
A 35mm print of the Oscar-winning 1932 film, screening as part of Hollywood Babylon, programmer Chantell Halsted’s showcase of pre-code movies made between 1929 and 1934. (Thurs Oct 10, Hollywood Theatre)

H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
Back in 2015, those overseeing the prestigious World Fantasy Award—an annual prize for outstanding genre fiction—revised the appearance of the award, which had previously featured a representation of H.P. Lovecraft. The decision came after years of controversy—readers, writers, and editors had been noting for decades that many of Lovecraft’s works are pretty intensely racist—and after the award was won by an increasingly diverse array of deserving writers (recent nominees and winners have included Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin, Haruki Murakami, and Kazuo Ishiguro). But even as Lovecraft himself makes a long-overdue retreat into the background, the legacy of his dark, creepy work maintains a firm grip on horror. Portland’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival highlights Lovecraftian features and shorts, and this year boasts a particularly strong lineup of guests: pulp cinema godfather Roger Corman; Victoria Price, the daughter of actor Vincent Price; and filmmaker Richard Stanley, who’s best known for Hardware and getting fired from 1996’s disastrous The Island of Dr. Moreau, the chaotic making of which was charted in the fascinating Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. Stanley will be presenting the Pacific Northwest premiere of his latest, Color Out of Space, based on Lovecraft’s 1927 story and starring the inimitable, irrefutable Nicolas Cage. (Fri Oct 4-Sun Oct 6, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Hustlers
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is based on the true story documented in “Hustlers in Scores,” a 2015 New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler. Ultimately, the funny, fleshy Hustlers is solid because the strippers are uniquely portrayed as real women with full lives, but also, let’s be honest: It’s just fun to watch Wall Street pervs get taken advantage of for their money. (Now playing, various theaters) JENNI MOORE

It: Chapter Two
It: Chapter Two gets better as it goes, but be warned that it goes for 169 minutes. (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

Joker
See review. (Opens Thurs Oct 3, various theaters, including that one by the alley where Batman’s mom and dad got shot)

Judy
A biopic about the last months in the life of famed entertainer and Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland, Judy features an uncanny, spot-on performance from Renée Zellweger that’s unfortunately paired with a script that veers from affecting to eye-rollingly ham-fisted. Bouncing back and forth from Judy’s famed London Palladium gigs six months before her death and her childhood that was crushed under the abusive thumb of Louis B. Mayer while filming The Wizard of Oz, Zellweger gives an honest, raw performance that lays bare Garland’s crippling depression and addiction. However, her valiant attempts at subtlety are betrayed by a shallow script that relies too heavily on emotional manipulation. That aside, Zellweger’s gloriously accurate hair and makeup are almost reason enough to see this film, and when she belts out “The Trolley Song,” you’ll long for the days when consummate pros like Garland pushed past their personal demons to bring audiences to their feet. (Opens Fri Sept 27, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Kung Fu Theater: Seven Brothers Meet Dracula
A 35mm print of the 1974 Shaw Brothers/Hammer Studios co-production that proves “a fatal fist works as well as a wooden stake when driven into the chest of a vampire!” (Tues Oct 8, Hollywood Theatre)

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 that 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. (Now playing, various theaters) ROBERT HAM

Memory: The Origins of Alien
See review. (Mon Oct 7 & Tues Oct 8, Hollywood Theatre)

Support The Portland Mercury

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Monty Python’s comedy classic, newly restored for its 50th anniversary. (Fri Sept 27 & Sat Sept 28, Cinema 21)

Mister America
Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Wed Oct 9, Hollywood Theatre)

Mr. Robot
When Mr. Robot premiered in June 2015, no one could have guessed its vivid dystopia of corporate malfeasance, online disinformation, identity disorder, and opioid dependency would pale in comparison to reality. (And who would’ve known its super-talented star, Rami Malek, would win an Oscar for a super-crappy movie?) That’s why it feels a little unfair to criticize the show for not quite living up to the promise of that brain-scorchingly great first season. In this fourth and final season, creator Sam Esmail wraps up his saga of Elliott and the fsociety hackers; whatever direction these 13 episodes take, they’re bound to cement the legacy of an innovative, powerful show whose fascinating characters and incisive plotting now feel closer to escapism than sky-is-falling nihilism. We live in a future Esmail could’ve never predicted—although he’s trying his hand at prognostication again by heading up a continuation of Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica for Peacock, NBC Universal’s upcoming streaming service. (Sun Oct 6, USA) NED LANNAMANN

Ms. Purple
Writer/director Justin Chon’s low-key family drama set in Los Angeles’ Koreatown, dealing with childhood traumas of abandonment. (Opens Fri Sept 27, Regal Fox Tower 10)

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’s hair, which 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. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN


Blade Runner 2049 Alcon Entertainment

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. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Portland Dance Film Festival
The third annual celebration of music, movement, light, and energy, featuring 20 dance short films, four mini-docs, and a workshop for people looking to incorporate dance into their own creative pursuits. (Thurs Oct 3 & Fri Oct 4, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Portland EcoFilm Festival
While the concept of climate change was raised as far back as 1896, scientists' concerns didn't start burgeoning until the late 1960s. That's when the warnings began, each year growing increasingly dire. Most decided not to listen. They decided to keep having cars and hamburgers and kids, figuring that someone else would fix it. Nobody did, so now we've got two crummy options: Do nothing and die, or do what we can to make an oncoming catastrophe just a bit less catastrophic. The popular conversation about climate has felt different the past year or so, in large part thanks to the work of the Sunrise Project, Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg, and even the climate plans of 2020's most forward-thinking presidential candidates. It's still not enough—but thankfully, things like the annual Portland EcoFilm Festival keep reminding people why and how they should fight. Now in its sixth year, the fest offers a weekend of features and shorts that show us what we're working toward, how we're doing it, and what we need to do better. (Fri-Sun Sept 27-29, Hollywood Theater, click here to read our festival preview, and click here for titles and showtimes) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Queer Commons: Adam
Director Rhys Ernst’s film about an awkward high schooler Adam (Nicholas Alexander) who falls for Gillian (Bobbi Salvör Menuez), who assumes Adam is trans. Adam goes along with it. Local trans filmmaker Kai Tillman in attendance for a post-screening discussion. (Wed Oct 9, Hollywood Theatre)


Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins Alan Pogue

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins
It would be hard to botch a documentary on Molly Ivins, the brilliant, no-bullshit Texas journalist whose charmingly caustic political commentary rattled even the cockiest lawmaker. But filmmaker Janice Engel manages to use Ivins’ life story—told more than a decade after her death—to go beyond the easy caricature of a fiery, beer-drinking feminist. Throughout Raise Hell, Ivins’ sharp, uncensored perspective on American politics feels almost prophetic: In clips from past interviews, Ivins warns about the creeping influence of money in politics, reminding listeners that the country belongs to the people and that politicians are simply the folks hired to “drive the bus.” Paired with NYT-bashing anecdotes and armadillo-related metaphors, Raise Hell exemplifies the critical role uncensored, honest criticism plays in a healthy democracy. (Opens Fri Oct 4, Living Room Theaters) ALEX ZIELINSKI

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

Stories of Our Watershed
River Restoration Northwest presents short films “that represent a diverse set of perspectives, challenges, and projects associated with watersheds from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.” Filmmakers in attendance. (Thurs Oct 3, Hollywood Theatre)

Strange Territories: The Short Films of Miri Gossing & Lina Dieckmann
Six experimental shorts, shot on 16mm, from the German filmmaking duo of Miri Gossing and Lina Dieckmann. (Wed Oct 9, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Transparent
What happens when a groundbreaking show about trans identity and gender fluidity fires its lead actor for sexual misconduct? Not good things, unfortunately—the Jeffrey Tambor-less finale for the otherwise excellent Transparent is something of a disaster, a 100-minute musical that undercuts its ensemble of heartbreakingly wonderful characters in favor of hammy Broadway pap. It was a fun idea for Buffy, but here it falls utterly flat. (Fri Sept 27, Amazon Prime Video) NED LANNAMANN

Wake Up Dreaming Noir Fest: Kiss Me Deadly
Of all the actors to have stepped into the role of private dick Mike Hammer (including his creator Mickey Spillane), no one embodied the character’s moral flexibility and gruff sensibilities better than Ralph Meeker in the 1955 classic Kiss Me Deadly. And no film better captured the bleak tone and Cold War fears of Spillane’s tart novel than this adaptation directed by the underrated auteur Robert Aldrich. (Mon Sept 30, Hollywood Theatre) ROBERT HAM