High Fidelity Phillip Caruso

The Assistant
Kitty Green’s The Assistant is one of the first films in this #MeToo-era to grapple with the people (men and women alike) and corporate structures that allow for abusers to flourish. They didn’t arrive into their respective scenes that way, rather, a misogynistic culture that mandated we “look the other way” helped to normalize their behavior. (Now playing, various theaters) JASMYNE KEIMIG

B-Movie Bingo: Lady Dragon 2
Cynthia Rothrock, the clock-cleaning queen of cock-knock, uses “the spirit of the dragon” (and kickboxing) to get revenge on those who attacked her family. (Tues March 3, Hollywood Theatre)

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Beanpole
Set in Leningrad in the months after the conflict, Beanpole focuses on the friendship of two former soldiers (Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina) as they grasp for some semblance of normalcy amid the rubble and rationing. It’s a bleak portrait, but its narrow scope and the lived-in performances keep the film from sinking under its own weight. (Opens Fri March 6, Living Room Theaters) ROBERT HAM

Call of the Wild
Basically, this dog, Buck, gets dognapped and taken to the Arctic and gets recruited by some person’s sled team to deliver the mail. The mail team gets canceled and he gets put with a mean master, and then Buck almost dies and he goes on an adventure with Han Solo. It was a really good movie. I knew that the dogs were CGI, but that’s not a bad thing. It was glaringly obvious, but it also wasn’t glaringly obvious. It was somewhere in between. You could notice it, but it wasn’t like, “Oh, that looks gross.” I give it 4.3 out of five dogs. (Now playing, various theaters) SIMON HAM, AGE 12

Cascade Festival of African Films
The Cascade Festival of African Films showcases works through the lens of Africans. More at africanfilmfestival.org. (Through Sat Feb 29, Hollywood Theatre and PCC Cascade’s Moriarty Arts & Humanities Bldg) JENNI MOORE

Cosmos: Possible Worlds
Originally scheduled for last year, the follow-up to 2014’s excellent Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey—a companion piece to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos—was delayed after sexual misconduct allegations against host Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Starts Mon March 9, National Geographic)

The Craft
High school is scary enough, but The Craft turns it up a notch with teen witches. (Fri March 6-Thurs March 12, Academy Theater) EMILLY PRADO

Downhill
The obvious question is “Why?” Why remake a film that was its own slice of perfection in the first place? The remake in question is Downhill, the new Will Ferrell/Julia Louis-Dreyfus flick that’s practically a carbon copy of Ruben Östlund’s 2014 Swedish dark comedy Force Majeure, in which a married couple faces an existential crisis while on a skiing holiday in the Alps While Ferrell and Dreyfus are an enticing comic draw, this movie is a FUCKING BUMMER, gang. (Now playing, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Emma
From the moment Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) bounded down the steps of his staircase in full scowl, I wanted to see Emma again. I went in pretty hyped up because Anya Taylor-Joy was making full use of her signature penetrating stare to play the character closer to the book—liittle did I expect that she would be matched frown for frown by Nighy, playing her father, whose background sighing and perpetual phobia of drafts lit up every scene with an endearing ridiculousness. (Opens Fri March 6, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

Feminist March
This year, the lineup at the Hollywood Theatre’s lineup of films “celebrating the women who have shaped the film industry, both in front of and behind the camera” is excellent, thanks in part to presenting partners Books with Pictures, the Cascade Festival of African Films, the Harriet Tubman Center for Expanded Curatorial Practice, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls. There are some can’t miss screenings: Mad Max: Fury Road (Mon March 16), Election (Sat March 14), Grey Gardens (Fri March 27), Clueless (Wed March 4), and The Lure (Fri March 20), alongside some other solid choices like Freeway (Fri March 27), Matilda (Sun March 29), Girlfight (Mon March 30), Josie and the Pussycats (Fri March 6), Johnny Guitar (Sat March 7 & Sun March 8), and Atomic Blonde (Sat March 21). There’s your March sorted, then. (Wed March 4-Mon March 30, Hollywood Theatre, Movie Madness Miniplex) ERIK HENRIKSEN

The Future Is Now: Film Noir Hybrids for the Nervous Generation
Elliot Lavine hosts a series of noir/sci-fi mashups: The Manchurian Candidate without Denzel (Sun March 8), Five (Sun March 15, 35mm), the Invasion of the Body Snatchers without Jeff Goldblum (Sun March 22, 35mm), and Seconds (Sun March 29). (Sun March 8-Sun March 29, Hollywood Theatre)

Guns Akimbo
Daniel Radcliffe plays some schlub with guns stuck to his hands! Bang! Bang! Crucio! Crucio! (Opens Fri Feb 28, various theaters)

Greed
Michael Winterbottom’s satire of the ultra-rich. (Opens Fri March 6, Living Room Theaters)

Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is Harley Quinn/Margot Robbie’s show, and just like in the not-so-great Suicide Squad, it’s a show she clearly steals—and a show with a distinctly feminist take on the glut of male-oriented superhero cinema. (Now playing, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

High Fidelity
After 25 years, Nick Hornby’s story—about a pop-obsessed sad sack slooowly realizing what an insecure, selfish jackass he is—is finally perfected. All it took was showrunners Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka reinterpreting it as a TV show, gender-flipping the lead, and giving a transcendent Zoe Kravitz all of Williamsburg to play in. It’s like a low-key, vibier sort of Fleabag riff. Except technically it predates Fleabag. And has a way better soundtrack. (Now streaming, Hulu) BOBBY ROBERTS

Invisible Man Mark Rogers / Universal Pictures

The Invisible Man
Film students and theorists are going to be studying the career of writer/director Leigh Whannell for decades, trying to suss out how this young Australian has mined piles of gold from high-concept but low-budget popcorn fare. Whannell's been responsible for bringing two hugely successful horror franchises into the world—the sagas of Saw and Insidious–and, in 2018, turned the fairly ridiculous B-movie plot of Upgrade into a hit thanks to his stylized direction and pulpy action sequences. Whannell is about to have another hit on his hands with Blumhouse Productions’ The Invisible Man, starring an excellent Elisabeth Moss. Made on a slender budget that was likely eaten up by CGI effects, this riff on H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic is a slow, steady squeeze from a vise that doesn’t release its grip until its final shot. (Opens Fri Feb 28, various theaters) ROBERT HAM

Isn’t She Great: 9 to 5
9 to 5 is powered by the solid comic chops of Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton’s infectious theme, Dabney Coleman’s sweaty swagger, and the mind-altering imagery of Lily Tomlin as Snow White. What’s even more amazing (and frustrating, and depressing) is how relevant the film still is, and how distant our heroic trio’s dream of equal rights and equal pay remains. 9 to 5 already had bite. Its teeth are even sharper now. (Fri Feb 28, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
If you’ve read Testimony, Robbie Robertson’s recent memoir, you don’t really need to watch Once Were Brothers. The film covers the same territory—Robertson’s time with the roots-rock group the Band—with the same self-congratulatory tone. Robertson continues to quietly throw his ex-bandmates under the bus, while lauding his own work as a songwriter and arranger. Only this time around, he has Eric Clapton and Taj Mahal on hand to do a lot of the hagiographic heavy lifting for him. (Opens Fri Feb 28, Cinema 21) ROBERT HAM

Onward
Especially when compared to Pixar's best, there's definitely stuff to nitpick in the studio's latest. Fair? Maybe, but then again, even Pixar movies can have a hard time living up to Pixar movies. But to focus on Onward's benign, minor missteps—none of which detract from the story's surprisingly emotional arc—is to miss the bigger picture. Funny and wholly original, it's a fantasy adventure that digs into something nearly all of us know but rarely talk about: How the memory of an absent family member can hang over the lives of the living. (Opens Thurs March 5, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

The Outsider
HBO’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Outsider continues to impress; its 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

The Photograph
LaKeith Stanfield and Issa Rae star in writer/director Stella Meghie’s romance. (Now playing, various theaters)

Pipe Organ Pictures: The Last Command
In 1928, Josef von Sternberg directed a satire of both Hollywood and Russian politics, and the film’s lead won the first ever Best Actor award for it. In 2020, Russian politics are our politics and our slapdick president doesn’t understand why Gone with the Wind isn’t popular anymore. What a time to be alive! Features an original live score as performed by organist Jonas Nordwall. (Sat Feb 29, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Portland EcoFilm Festival: Artifishal: The Fight to Save Wild Salmon
No good, very bad title aside, Artifishal sounds promising—a look at “wild salmon’s slide toward extinction, threats posed by fish hatcheries and fish farms, and our continued loss of faith in nature.” Features a post-screening discussion. (Thurs March 5, Hollywood Theatre)

Portland International Film Festival
See our story, pg. 43. (Fri March 6-Sun March 15, various locations)

Rubber
Rubber has a brilliant premise: Robert, an abandoned car tire, wakes from an inanimate slumber in the wilds of a desert to become a sentient, bloodthirsty force of nature. Unfortunately, Rubber’s execution (ahem) is tiresome, completely stripping the potential goofy mayhem in favor of a meta wankjob of an art film. (Fri March 6-Sun March 8, Fifth Ave Cinema) COURTNEY FERGUSON

Scarecrow
The 1973 film starring Gene Hackman and Al Pacino. Screens on 35mm. (Fri Feb 28-Thurs March 5, Academy Theater)

Star Wars: The Clone Wars
In 2003, Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Primal) accepted a pitch to make animated shorts set in the Star Wars universe. The result, Clone Wars, was the most kinetic, crazy, and adrenaline-infused thing to have the words Star Wars slapped on it. George Lucas then dismissed him and hired Dave Filoni (Avatar: The Last Airbender) to essentially re-do what Tartakovsky did, but in 3D, slower, and less intensely. Filoni's opening salvo, the 2008 Clone Wars movie, is both the lowest-grossing and lowest-rated Star Wars film in history. Not an auspicious beginning! But over time, and with the help of a small army of animation’s best writers, storyboard artists, and voice actors, Filoni & Co. made The Clone Wars TV show into arguably the best example of Star Wars’ storytelling potential—and its main character, Ahsoka Tano, retroactively justifies the existence of the prequel era pretty much all by herself. What happened to Rey in The Rise of Skywalker will never not suck, but it’s nice to know there’s a Star War that does right by its groundbreaking girl Jedi. (Fridays, Disney+) BOBBY ROBERTS

Support The Portland Mercury

Varda by Agnès
A retrospective of the pioneering work of Agnès Varda. More at nwfilm.org. (Through Sat Feb 29, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

The Way Back
Like Hoosiers, but with Batman! (Opens Fri March 6, various theaters)

The Wood
A lot of people first took notice of director Rick Famuyiwa with his 2015 teen comedy Dope. But his first film, The Wood, deserves some reappraisal. Turns out dude’s been doing that whole “nuanced, introspective, character-based comedy/drama” thing from jump. Plus look at how young Taye Diggs and Omar Epps are! My goodness. Screens in 35mm. (Fri Feb 28-Sun March 1, 5th Avenue Cinema) BOBBY ROBERTS