Wrinkles the Clown Magnet Releasing

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Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective
A sprawling survey of the Iranian filmmaker’s work. Current screenings include Taste of CherryClose-UpTen; and Shirin. (Through Mon Oct 28, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Basket Case
Ah, the ’80s. When the coke flowed like wine, the electronics were still wood-paneled, and you could pay a couple bucks to catch movies like Basket Case at the local theater and nobody would stop you, or really even question the idea that such a repugnant nug of shit could just splatter itself all over a theater screen like that. “Oh, you mean that nasty little movie about the murderous backwoods idiot hauling his hawked loogie of a little brother around in a giant picnic basket? Sure! I’ll sell you a ticket!” (Fri Oct 11-Thurs Oct 17, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

The Blair Witch Project
As a theatrical experience, Blair Witch is as close as any movie’s ever gotten to the elemental fear mined from a perfectly told campfire story at the most impressionable age. Those giggling children. The snapping twigs. The tent assault—Jesus, people still can’t agree, after 20 years, on just what the fuck is in that swaddled bundle of blood and hair. (Fri Oct 18, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Despite the fact that writer and creator Joss Whedon practically disowned this movie the second it was finished, even die-hard Whedonites (if such a thing still exists) have to admit the movie is worth a watch or two. It’s better than that “Beer Bad” episode, at least.  (Sun Oct 13, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) BOBBY ROBERTS

Candyman
Slashers aren’t particularly known for things like nuance, or thoughtfulness, or tendencies towards social progressivism and empathy—so seeing all those elements foregrounded in Bernard Rose’s adaptation of horror master Clive Barker’s short story is startling—and that’s before you get to the macabre artistry lent to the numerous (and harrowing) kills, perfectly underscored by the stark compositions of Philip Glass. (Fri Oct 18-Thurs Oct 24, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Carrie
Horror movies, even the most transgressive ones, tend to mellow a little as time and norms progress. Yet Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel is, somehow, even more disturbing now than it was upon release. (Fri Oct 11-Thurs Oct 17, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Dolemite Is My Name
Of the many stars of the Blaxploitation genre of the early ’70s, Rudy Ray Moore may not be the most famous, but he was certainly the most original. After recording several comedy albums, he used the money to self-produce his starring vehicle, 1975’s Dolemite—about a rhyming pimp trained in kung fu who takes revenge on the rival who put him in jail. In Dolemite Is My Name, Eddie Murphy plays Moore from his days as a struggling comedian/singer/dancer who worked as a record store manager, to making comedy albums and eventually willing his cinematic visions to life. The film deftly captures the hardship of inner-urban life in the ’70s, where classism and privilege kept Black entertainers who were unwilling to play the game out of the mainstream. Dolemite Is My Name is a bittersweet, filthy-mouthed comedy that also sneakily educates its audience in the Black experience. See full review, this issue. (Opens Fri Oct 18, Hollywood Theatre; streams Fri Oct 25, Netflix) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
I don't know what writer/director Vince Gillgan is planning on doing with this movie, but I do know one thing: Jesse Pinkman better get a happy fucking ending. Bitch(Opens Fri Oct 11, Cinema 21; streams Fri Oct 11, Netflix)

The Evil Dead
The first Evil Dead is a film that’s been a little misunderstood over the years. Its sequels veered strongly towards black comedy and splatstick, so people would go back to that first movie and not quite get it—why isn’t it funny? It’s supposed to be funny, right? No. Sam Raimi wasn’t trying to do anything but scar you with that first film, and once you stop looking for all the winks and nods that aren’t there, The Evil Dead reveals itself as the irresponsible and mean-spirited little poison pill it is. That pill will go down a little smoother tonight, thanks to a new restoration that makes all Raimi’s inventive gore look brand new, while giving composer Joe LoDuca 5.1 channels of sound to play in as opposed to squishing his music into a single mono channel. (Sun Oct 20, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Gemini Man
There used to be a time when even a bad Will Smith movie was a good movie because it had Will Smith in it, but not even two Will Smiths can save this one. (Opens Thurs Oct 10, various theaters) BEN COLEMAN

The I Never Trilogy
Oregon filmmakers Mig Windows and Rory Owens’ anthology horror film, “exploring themes of heartbreak, infidelity, suicide, and the supernatural.” Director Mig Windows in attendance. (Thurs Oct 24, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Isn’t She Great: Hocus Pocus
The 1993 Disney family comedy that starts at “sugar high” and ends somewhere past “diabetic shock” on the saccharine scale. Hey, at least it’s not Teen Witch. (Fri Oct 11, Hollywood Theatre)

Joker
I’m not ready to label Joker, The Hangover director Todd Phillips’ gritty look at Batman’s arch-nemesis, something as simple as “good.” Joker is problematic, transgressive, insulting, and it’s also probably art. At the risk of hyperbole, Joker might represent a new approach to popular cinema: This is a movie that works both for people who see it to luxuriate in the fearsome power of the Joker’s violence, and those who will instead see the character as pitiable. The fact that Joker works for both has me wondering if, going forward, more films will abandon a singular viewpoint. Phillips’ approach feels like a perfect fit for our current, polarized culture. See full review, this issue. (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

The Laundromat
See review. (Opens Fri Oct 11, Hollywood Theatre; streams Fri Oct 18, Netflix)

Loro
The most terrifying grin you’ll see at the movies this year doesn’t belong to the Joker or Pennywise. It’s affixed to the face of Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, as portrayed by Toni Servillo in Loro, the new film from Paolo Sorrentino. Berlusconi's grin is clownish and rictus-like, and he wields it as a tool of seduction. Whether he’s trying to woo a senator or a dewy young woman in a short skirt, his smile floats through this fizzy, caustic satire like the Cheshire Cat. You get so distracted by it, you don’t feel his claws sinking into your flesh. (Now playing, Living Room Theaters) ROBERT HAM

Lucy in the Sky
Lucy in the Sky is not good, but it’s a little hard to pinpoint why. It’s based on the story of Lisa Nowak, the astronaut who, in 2007, drove from Houston to Orlando wearing a diaper, chased down the guy she had an extramarital affair with, and attempted to kidnap his new girlfriend. Sounds like it should make for a pretty good movie, right? The diaper’s not in the movie, and Nowak here is called Lucy Cola; she’s played by Natalie Portman in a Dorothy Hamill bob and a stretchy Southern accent. Lucy drives to the San Diego airport, not Orlando’s, and there are other changes, too—rather than rehashing a tabloid scandal, Lucy in the Sky would rather use it as a jumping-off point to explore character and interiority. In the right hands, this would be a good sign for a smart movie. And the hands seem to be right. Lucy’s directed by Noah Hawley, whose track record on television has some exceptional high notes (Fargo), and even his lower ones (Legion) are usually because of an excess of ambition—too many good ideas rather than a lack of them. Hawley’s a terrific writer and a remarkable visual stylist; his debut feature film should be something worth leaving the house for. And yet. Lucy in the Sky is flat and cold and terribly dull. (Opens Fri Oct 11, various theaters) NED LANNAMANN

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
See review at portlandmercury.com/film (Opens Thurs Oct 17, various theaters)

Monos
Monos follows a team of teenaged guerrilla soldiers somewhere in South America, but we’re told nothing about them. Instead, we’re embedded with them—we watch them squabble and laugh and wrestle in the dirt; we see them try to keep warm at night; we see them fire off their rifles in the morning. Directed by Colombian-Ecuadorian filmmaker Alejandro Landes, the movie is split in two halves. The first takes place on top of a cloud-shrouded mountain, amid abandoned structures of concrete and rebar. It’s a gorgeous, forbidding place, and most of the film’s pleasures come from the lustrous scenery paired with the minimal power of composer Mica Levi’s score. The second half of Monos is a descent into the jungle, a claustrophobically verdant maze of mud, leaves, and rivers swollen with rain. By now the team has begun to fray, although their mission and their individual desires are never fully articulated. That lack of specificity hurts Monos: The hypnotic first half simply doesn’t give the audience enough to latch onto. (Opens Fri Oct 11, Cinema 21) NED LANNAMANN

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 lineup that includes two from Stanley Kubrick (2001 and A Clockwork Orange), two from Denis Villeneuve (Arrival and Blade Runner 2049) and a slew of other must-sees like Under the Skin, Children of Men, and Fantastic Planet. More at omsi.edu. (Through Wed Nov 6, Empirical Theatre at OMSI) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Portland Latin American Film Festival: The Good Girls
Director Alejandra Márquez Abella’s study of a very affluent woman at the dawn of the ’80s in Mexico City and how she copes with an economic crash. (Wed Oct 16, Hollywood Theatre)

Portland Unknown Film Festival
A fest that shines the spotlight on low-budget and analog filmmaking, bringing you a full weekend of curated works. More at portlandunknown.com. (Fri Oct 11-Sun Oct 13, Disjecta)

Psycho
Of all the things this Hitchcock classic is often championed for, maybe the most notable achievement is how completely it manipulates an audience’s empathy. Hitchcock has made better films, but never any as sneaky as Psycho. (Fri Oct 18-Thurs Oct 24, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Re-Run Theater: Wes Craven’s Summer of Fear
The Hollywood Theatre’s monthly TV party screens Wes Craven’s TV movie Stranger in Our House, an adaptation of Lois Duncan’s novel Summer of Fear. It premiered on Halloween night, 1978, and stars Linda Blair as a high school girl whose weird cousin moves into her house and is immediately suspected of being a goddamn witch. (Wed Oct 23, Hollywood Theatre)

Slumber Party Massacre
Slumber Party Massacre is queer activist Rita Mae Brown’s subversive, satirical, and yes, inspirational feminist revenge story about a party full of high-school girls fighting off a homicidal maniac whose (Freudian) weapon of choice is a power drill. (Sun Oct 20, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) BOBBY ROBERTS

They Live
There are more than a few theaters across the country that semi-regularly screen 1984 as a response to the continued tenure of our corrupt, racist, slumlord sex offender of a president. But John Carpenter’s last bona fide classic—1989’s paranoid, left-wing, grindhouse sci-fi satire They Live—is a much more appropriate film for the strange, bewildering time we occupy. (Sun Oct 13, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) BOBBY ROBERTS

Where’s My Roy Cohn?
The once-famous Roy Cohn has faded from the public consciousness, but the lawyer had a hell of a career, beginning with doing his part to destroy America alongside Joseph McCarthy and ending with doing his part to destroy America by representing a young Donald Trump. The documentary Where’s My Roy Cohn? spends much of its runtime examining Cohn’s arrogant, confrontational, and self-promoting public image, making a strong case that Cohn’s shiftiness and shittiness paved the way for today’s political belligerence. Cohn was also gay, though he never came out (he died from AIDS-related causes in 1986, shortly after being disbarred for unethical conduct), and his relationship with Ronald Reagan, even as Reagan ignored the AIDS crisis, is just one of a dozen eye-widening, stomach-sinking elements in director Matt Tyrnauer’s film. But by the time Cohn’s crazy, furious tale ends, one’s feeling isn’t of enlightenment so much as weary resignation: Terrible people have always existed, and they’ve always helped other terrible people be terrible, and a whole lot of these terrible people are also very powerful. Ugh. Sigh. Fuck all these motherfuckers. (Opens Fri Oct 18, Regal Fox Tower 10) ERIK HENRIKSEN 

Wrinkles the Clown
Director Michael Beach Nichols’ documentary about the internet’s favorite creepy clown has a few tricks up its polka-dotted sleeve. According to Wrinkles the Clown, the man beneath the Wrinkles mask is a 65-year-old retiree who lives in a van; enjoys fishing, Natty Ice, and strip clubs; and occasionally terrorizes both random Floridians and naughty kids whose parents hire him to provide “behavioral services.” (Those services, a developmental psychologist says in Wrinkles, are “really misguided,” while another interviewee, the very earnest Funky the Clown, mourns that thanks in part to Wrinkles, “there’s a whole generation growing up with no positive image of a clown whatsoever.”) “You gotta problem with it, you can take it up with mom and dad, ’cause I’m just doin’ my job!” Wrinkles growls from behind the wheel of his van. But a little more than midway through, Wrinkles takes a turn and starts digging into the shakiness of online celebrity and the spread of digital folklore; while everyone can agree Wrinkles is creepy as fuck, opinions will differ about the effectiveness of his movie. (Opens Fri Oct 11, Cinema 21) ERIK HENRIKSEN 

Zombieland: Double Tap
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone all return to banter and blast zombies, and their wry camaraderie speaks a seemingly genuine desire to play in this viscera-splattered sandbox again (rather than, as with many long-delayed sequels, simply the desire for a new beach house). It's more a live-action cartoon than a serious entry in the zombie canon, but as a low-key genre comedy, it totally works. (Opens Thurs Oct 17, various theaters) BEN COLEMAN