Science Goes to the Movies: Contact warner bros

1917
Legendary screenwriter William Goldman once said of the film industry, “Nobody knows anything,” and this is still mostly true, with one exception: If cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the movie, that movie is worth seeing on the biggest screen possible. Even if 1917 were solely the most impressive work of Deakins’ remarkable career—which it is—I’d be recommending it. But the World War I movie is also one hell of a stunning storytelling experience. (Now playing, various theaters) BOBBY ROBERTS

63 Up
The latest in director Michael Apted's pioneering documentary series. Man, these kids got old. Review forthcoming. (Opens Fri Feb 7, Cinema 21)

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Bad Boys for Life
Michael Bay’s absence behind the camera (although he briefly appears in a cameo that I reflexively booed) is immediately apparent in Bad Boys for Life, which finds Will Smith and Martin Lawrence coming together one more (last?) time as they cautiously descend the sunset slopes of their mountainous careers. For the first time that I can remember, this is a Bad Boys movie fueled by emotion as opposed to disdainfully rejecting it. And get this: That emotion? HUMILITY! I know. What the fuck, right? But fucks are abundant in Bad Boys for Life, and given often, flying just as freely as the one-liners, bullets, and grenades. (Now playing, various theaters) BOBBY ROBERTS

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
Review forthcoming. (Opens Thurs Feb 6, various theaters)

Cascade Festival of African Films
The 30th annual Cascade Festival of African Films features “five weeks of more than 30 feature, documentary, and short films by established and emerging African directors from 18 countries.” In other words, this free festival showcases works through the lens of Africans, rather than a festival curated for a Western audience. The amount of interesting flicks is almost overwhelming, from Eritrean film Life Is Fare (screens Feb 27 & 29) to Faraday Okoro’s Nigerian Prince (Feb 20 & 22). More at africanfilmfestival.org. (Fri Jan 31-Sat Feb 29, Hollywood Theatre and PCC Cascade’s Moriarty Arts & Humanities Bldg) JENNI MOORE 

Cinema Classics: The War of the Worlds
There’s a reason the 1953 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic alien invasion tale, War of the Worlds, is credited to producer George Pal instead of director Byron Haskin: It’s because Pal put a premium on channelling all the visual effects tools available in the early ’50s to bring an interstellar apocalypse to life. The people in this movie are barely people; mostly they’re as cardboard as the sets that inevitably all go up in amazing flames. But there are images in this movie that aren’t just “Good for the ’50s, I guess.” They’re still good, period. You know that feeling ’90s audiences had during the opening weekend of Independence Day? You remember that story about the yokels at the first-ever movie screening who dived under their chairs because they thought a train was going to barrel out of the screen? War of the Worlds was both of those things in 1953, at the same time, thanks to Pal. (Sun Feb 2 & Wed Feb 5, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

The Gentlemen
There’s an odd (and fun) sense of formality to The Gentlemen, director Guy Ritchie’s newest crime flick that trades the downtrodden, violent British grit of his former films (like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) for a classier vibe that’s still violently gritty. Matthew McConaughey is, as usual, McConaughey (that’s a good thing), Colin Farrell is a case study in unflappable hilarity, Hugh Grant is England’s greatest treasure, and The Gentlemen is a fun, twisty-turny joyride through Britain’s well-heeled drug trade. Its moments of shocking, often comical violence should pair nicely with a snifter of good cognac. (Now playing, various theaters) wm. steven humphrey

Little Women
Every hater on my block asked why we needed another Little Women movie when the 1995 version is “perfectly fine” and “has Winona Ryder in it.” The answer: You don’t know how good you can have it! You don’t know how good Little Women can be, you poor fools! Greta Gerwig’s Little Women is Romance-era-oil-painting gorgeous, but it’s also realistic, thanks to the performances of the film’s star-studded cast. (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

Locke & Key
Review forthcoming. (Streams Fri Feb 7, Netflix)

Mondo Trasho: Wild Things
Look, any film series with the word “trash” in its name is 100 percent obligated to give some shine to John McNaughton’s Wild Things, the 1998 erotic thriller that represents the absolute apex of Skinemax cinema. McNaughton’s jail-and-gator-bait-noir is unapologetically shameless, but it’s also very self-aware, and the way everyone involved (and it’s a stacked cast, with Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, and Kevin Bacon’s big ol’ dick) balances their gleeful indulgence of titillating sleaze with a strong dedication to executing McNaughton’s deceptively clever mystery makes Wild Things a legitimate must-see for fans of real pulp fiction. (Fri Feb 7, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Oscar-Nominated Shorts
Sure, the Oscars’ depressing obsession with Joker (11 nominations! lol) has done even more damage to the crumbling reputation of an obsolete institution that barely even pretends to be anything other than an artistically meaningless, months-long bullshit marketing campaign. But once you look past a certain movie about how hard it is to be a white clown in America, there is some stuff getting recognized that’s actually good—and you’ve got a decent chance of catching some of it in the programs that collect this year’s nominated live-action, animated, and documentary shorts. If you’re only catching one of the programs, the animated one’s generally the way to go. (Animated and live-action shorts open Fri Jan 31, Hollywood Theatre; animated, live-action, and documentary shorts open Fri Jan 31, Kiggins Theater) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Mean Streets & The Irishman Double Feature
Hey, you look like like the kind of HARDCORE CINEPHILE who relishes the chance to sit in a theater for a bladder-bursting five hours and 22 minutes! Well, you’re in luck: The Hollywood is presenting a double feature of two of Scorsese’s best, 1973’s Mean Streets (on 35mm!) and Netflix’s recent The Irishman. Both are great, and seeing one or the other is definitely recommended. Seeing both right next to each other will almost certainly be too much of a good thing. (Sat Feb 1, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Moonlight
Moonlight is a movie about what it’s like to grow up male in America. Moonlight is also a movie about what it’s like to grow up gay in America. And Moonlight is, in addition, a movie about what it’s like to grow up Black in America. That inevitably makes Barry Jenkins’ justly acclaimed film sound like it will appeal primarily to gay, Black, and/or male audiences. And indeed, people who share some or all of its protagonist’s characteristics will be overjoyed at the belated depiction of lives like theirs on screen. But Moonlight, if I can swoon for a moment, does what all true art aspires to do. It shares something unique but universal about what it’s like to be human. (Fri Jan 31-Sun Feb 2, Fifth Avenue Cinema) marc mohan

NW Tracking: Stories from the River & NW Music Video Showcase
Two offerings from the Film Center’s NW Tracking series: Stories from the River collects documentary shorts by director Woodrow Hunt, who shares stories by indigenous elders from the Columbia River region, and the NW Music Video Showcase is just that—a collection of some of the finest music videos made by local directors and performers, including Karma Rivera, Sleater-Kinney, Lance Bangs, Open Mike Eagle, Alberta Poon, Maarquii, Tim Neighbors, and more. (Stories from the River Thurs Feb 6, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium; NW Music Video Showcase Wed Feb 12, Jupiter NEXT)

OregonMade: The Shining
The Hollywood’s OregonMade series showcases a 35mm print of Kubrick’s The Shining, which was kind of sort of made in Oregon, if you count the use of a few exterior shots/matte paintings of Timberline Lodge. The actual movie was shot in England, complete with a mockup facade of Timberline. *pushes up glasses* Anyway, The Shining is great, and seeing it in 35mm should be a treat. (Mon Feb 10, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

The Outsider
Speaking of Stephen King adaptations, HBO’s version of the author’s The Outsider continues to impress, thanks to great turns from Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, strong direction (from, among others, costar Jason Bateman), and some brutally effective scripts from novelist Richard Price. Part crime procedural, part modern drama, and part WTF horror, The Outsider’s deliberate pacing, tangible detail, and bursts of shocking violence add up to something that’s unsettling in more ways than one. (Sundays, HBO) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools
HOLLA, Bars to Bridges, OnPoint Community Credit Union, and Warner Pacific University present a screening of a documentary that “reveals alarming disparities in the education and justice system in America.” A panel discussion and Q&A with students from East Portland will follow the film. (Mon Feb 3, Warner Pacific University)

The Rhythm Section
Blake Lively does the action hero thing, in a movie not-so-auspiciously released at the exact time of year when Hollywood does the whole “dumping movies that probably aren’t very good” thing. Review forthcoming. (Opens Thurs Jan 30, various theaters)

Science Goes to the Movies: Contact
WNYC’s Science Friday radio show/podcast presents 1997’s Contact—the perennially underrated sci-fi drama starring Jodie Foster, directed by a back-when-he-was-good Robert Zemeckis, and based on the novel by the greatest human who ever lived, Carl Sagan. Following the screening, Portland State University’s Myka Jaap Youngápelian and Dr. Anne Santiago will “explore the science, technology, and astronomy” of the film. (Wed Feb 5, Kennedy School)

Shrill
Shrill’s second season picks up right after previous season’s climax, with Annie ( Aidy Bryant) running through the streets of Portland, high off confronting an online troll in person and throwing a rock at his car. And that’s only the beginning of the sweet-tempered madness that is Shrill season two, a show that’s narrative trajectory could be summed up pretty easily as “the arc of Annie learning to be an amazing bitch.” It’s worth noting that Shrill’s second season loses the vivid, Portlandia-style visual zhuzh of season one, there are still plenty of gorgeous moments, like the brightness of Annie’s eyes against the flush of her skin after she pukes in a bathtub. (Now streaming, Hulu) SUZETTE SMITH

Star Trek: Picard
See review. (Now streaming, CBS All Access)

Varda by Agnès
A near-complete retrospective of the pioneering work of Agnès Varda, kicking off with a double feature of 1955’s La Pointe Courte and 1962’s Cléo from 5 to 7 (screens Fri Jan 31) and including decades’ worth of Varda’s shorts and features before wrapping up with 2019’s Varda by Agnès (Sat Feb 29). More at nwfilm.org. (Through Sat Feb 29, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

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Weathering with You
Audiences seem to love director Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) and his approach of pairing an original plot with standard anime emotional blocking: boy meets girl, girl has weather powers, boy and girl reach for each another’s arms in climactic moments, a character runs until they are exhausted and then they keep running, and also someone must die. Even when Shinkai introduces some interesting ideas about an impending climate apocalypse (oh, like us!), it all feels familiar. (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

Wyrd War on Wheels
In honor of the One Moto Show popping wheelies all over Portland, Wyrd War is putting their regular Wyrd War series on wheels and running a motorcycle mini-fest, starting with the North American premiere of Gareth Maxwell Roberts’ documentary Oil in the Blood, followed by back-to-back grindhouse biker classics whose names will be kept secret until they peel out all over the screen. (Thurs Feb 6, Hollywood Theatre)

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