5 Flights Up
An adaptation of Jill Ciment's novel Heroic Measures starring Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton. Laurelhurst Theater.
A few good friends and some youngsters go for a beach weekend outside Tehran, hoping to couple newcomer Elly with recently-divorced Ahmad. When someone vanishes, a suspenseful drama unfolds. JANE CARLEN Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
TV and film are edging closer toward each other, and no soulless multimedia conglomerate embodies this hybridization better than Marvel. It isn't a coincidence that Marvel's best stuff has come from Joss Whedon, a third-generation TV writer who can turn massive casts, sitcom quips, and blockbuster spectacle into movies that are more than the sum of their billion parts. And there are a billion parts: Avengers: Age of Ultron is the 11th (11th!) Marvel movie. Things explode, the plot hurtles forward, and everybody cracks jokes. But more importantly—in between all the callbacks to previous films and setups for sequels—Whedon finds a great movie. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Hollywood's film series where audiences check off a bingo card full of wonderful B-movie cliches. This month's entry: Invasion USA, about Chuck Norris doing a bunch of Chuck Norris shit that will tickle the part of your brain that still values decade-old Chuck Norris internet memes. Hollywood Theatre.
In the late '90s, Hype Williams made a bunch of visually interesting hip-hop videos. And then someone gave him a bunch of money to make a film starring Nas and DMX that's half video, half Brian De Palma karaoke. It looks amazing. It sounds amazing, too. Lord knows what the story actually is, though. Just like De Palma! BOBBY ROBERTS Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Closer to God
A genetic scientist secretly clones a human, then hides the dark secret that comes along with her. WHAT COULD GO WRONG. Clinton Street Theater.
Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock & Roll
A documentary focusing on the Cambodian music industry. Presented by Mississippi Records. Hollywood Theatre.
Dope launched an all-night bid-off between distribution companies at Sundance, and it's easy to see why. Shameik Moore stars as Malcolm, a nerdy high-school kid from a rough LA neighborhood, who's obsessed with '90s hip-hop and just wants to get into Harvard and play punk songs about eating food and having a great day with his fellow nostalgia-obsessed geeks. Alas, it's not to be (yet)—Malcolm gets roped into offloading a whole bunch of drugs for a dealer played by none other than A$AP Rocky. (If you've seen Lana Del Rey's video for "National Anthem," you already knew that A$AP Rocky can act; if you haven't, please educate yourself.) MEGAN BURBANK Century Eastport 16.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Gus Van Sant's 1993 adaptation of the Tom Robbins novel, starring Uma Thurman, Heather Graham, and Keanu Reeves. Clinton Street Theater.
Far from the Madding Crowd
Hollywood has a nasty habit of ruining classic pieces of literature by adapting them into movies. Less often, it will do us a favor by taking dry 19th century novels we maybe wouldn't have delved into and convert them into something accessible for our limited modern attention spans and vocabularies. Lucky for us, Far from the Madding Crowd falls into the latter category. I've never read Thomas Hardy's book (am I right that it's dry?) and I'm glad I didn't bother; the movie is fully satisfying. ELINOR JONES Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Fare Thee Well: Celebrating the Grateful Dead
"Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead with the four remaining original members as they reunite at Soldier Field in Chicago for a live three-night performance." No thank you. Various Theaters.
The Farewell Party
Hollywood is never going to make a movie like The Farewell Party. In American mass-market cinema, the elderly are merely sources for comedy, trite drama, or easy surprise—excuses to have us marvel at how they're fighting crime or bedding young lovers or "beating the odds." You'll get no such antics here. This quiet, deeply felt, surprisingly funny film from Israeli directors Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon offers an unblinking look at the often ugly business of getting older and dying, revealing the uncomfortable truth that, as one character puts it, for most seniors, "inside they're like children; only their bodies have changed." ROBERT HAM Living Room Theaters.
Another found-footage horror flick that wasn't screened for critics, in which a school re-mounts a school play to celebrate the 20th anniversary of a horrific accident during the exact same play. Guess what? It's a fucking terrible idea. Various Theaters.
In the olden days, the internet was a place you could only go when AOL mailed you a CD and you placed it in your Packard Bell tower and plugged in a phone cord. And since most of us were playing Slingo and a/s/l'ing every chat room available, we weren't all that informed on how the internet actually worked. This is how movies like The Net were able to come out and make money. And that's why it's a perfect pick for Hecklevision, because holy shit watching Sandra Bullock anchor this "cyber-thriller" is fun as hell. Hollywood Theatre.
Are you the type of barren, childless adult who feels weird going to Pixar movies by yourself? Well... maybe you should. BUT! I strongly advise you to put those feelings aside (or rent a kid from your neighbors or the Duggar family) and see Inside Out, Pixar's latest kids movie that's actually for adults. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Albert Maysles' documentary about 93-year-old style icon Iris Apfel is delightful: Apfel and her dear husband Carl are basically happy, inspiring, busy people; their cheerfulness is only occasionally clouded by concern, usually related to health and aging. This makes them excellent role models and tame film subjects, and so Iris dodders on pleasantly enough. If Maysles wanted to scratch a bit deeper, he might've addressed the economic elephant in the room: The Apfels are rich, and while Iris may be one of the originators of "high-low" style, her ability to collect whatever catches her eye goes a long way toward the final, striking result. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
Nobody whooped when Samuel L. Jackson's arm fell off in the first movie, yet the crowd I watched Jurassic World with straight-up applauded when one minor character was mauled to death by a trio of dinosaurs. Are we supposed to feel like this? Is there some greater point being made about capitalism and human destruction? Are we, the viewers, being metaphorically eaten by this franchise? Whatever! ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
KBOO at the Clinton
Films presented by local radio station KBOO. This time: The Harder They Come. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
You can tell a lot about someone by which James Bond is his or her favorite. Judging from Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn's favorite is Roger Moore. Moore's Bond films were glamorous, extravagant trash, and Kingsman is both a love letter to that goofy camp and a mild critique of the dour, serious Bond we've got now. Based on a comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman is smashingly fun, finding common ground between today's comic-book action flicks and classic British espionage thrillers. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
A Little Chaos
A Little Chaos could be edited down to the C-plot on a single episode of Downton Abbey and it still wouldn't be as interesting as whatever's going down with Mr. Bates, who is always the most boring part of that show. ELINOR JONES Living Room Theaters, On Demand.
Mad Max: Fury Road
A brutal, beautiful, two-hour action overdose injected with a welcome feminist bent. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Magic Mike XXL
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Man, Al Pacino looks ROUGH in this movie! In Manglehorn, the former Michael Corleone-slash-Frank Serpico-slash-Tony Montana has more unkempt fuzzy white hair on his face than Bruce Dern had sprouting out of his ears in Nebraska. It feels similar, and equally bittersweet, to watch Pacino bumble around as a grumpy old man. Instead of chasing identity and winning lottery tickets like Dern did, Pacino tries to navigate his depressing world as the mayor of Regretsville. Oh, how regret and heartbreak embitter his day-to-day life as A.J. Manglehorn—a lonely locksmith, living in a dingy house with only a pet cat to keep him company. Thankfully, he meets both a cheery bank teller named Dawn (played by a whip-smart Holly Hunter) and one of the kids he used to coach in little league baseball, "Tan Man Gary" (played by a wildly funny and asshole-y Harmony Korine). Both shake up Manglehorn to his core, and force him to look to the future instead of wallowing in the past, in this David Gordon Green-directed film about second chances. KELLY O Living Room Theaters.
"A dog that helped US Marines in Afghanistan returns to the US and is adopted by his handler's family." Not screened for critics, probably because it would have made us cry too much. Because it is about a hero who is also a dog. Various Theaters.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
The latest entry in my favorite cinematic genre: Teen Movie; Subcategory: Quirky Misfits. On balance, it's a respectable entry in the field: All the familiar tropes are here, deployed with a wry humor that feels knowing rather than derivative. Me and Earl is self-aware and witty, and the coming-of-age tale at its nougaty center is good-hearted and enjoyable, despite a few major missteps. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Movies in Black & White
A series that brings people together to "watch movies and talk about race, featuring guest panelists from the worlds of film, art, and comedy." This time around: Blazing Saddles. Hollywood Theatre.
Have you guys ever had those nights where you stick around some probably horrible people because you're already kinda drunk and there might be fun drugs coming and if nothing else this could make for a good story? Now imagine doing that in your mid-30s, at your kid's first playdate in a new town. Welcome to The Overnight. ELINOR JONES Cinema 21.
Pitch Perfect 2
Anna Kendrick smells of chocolate-chip cookies and lemon verbena. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
Portland German Film Festival
The Portland German Film Festival presents Isabell Suba's Men Show Movies and Women Their Breasts. More at portlandgermanfilmfestival.com. Clinton Street Theater.
"Let's have some action! Let's have some asses wigglin'! I want some perfection!" Screens in 35mm. Hollywood Theatre.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
"Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and... how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities." Academy Theater.
One of the least watchable movies I've seen in years. It doesn't even work to judge it solely on the merits of its special effects, as it's impossible to illustrate catastrophe without humanity, and the California of San Andreas feels about as lifelike as Sim City (although I suppose one could argue that's a pretty accurate portrayal of Los Angeles). MORGAN TROPER Various Theaters.
A story of guns and horses and men, and a woman or two—a western, albeit a contemporary, art-laced, off-kilter one. (Can we stop calling every western that's been made since The Wild Bunch "postmodern" or "revisionist"? This particular genre has obviously found substantial room for mutation since John Wayne's heyday.) Slow West's best moments are the still, thoughtful ones, where gorgeous photography of an unravaged, almost magical West evokes the characters' inner thoughts. NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater, On Demand.
I had my doubts about Paul Feig's latest Melissa McCarthy vehicle, but right around the moment I realized I'd get to see McCarthy beat the shit out of lunky Bond villains for 120 minutes, I knew they were unfounded. I also physically could not stop laughing. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
A teddy bear who says "motherfucker" is only funny once. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Third Man
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The great promise of the Space Age—an era Tomorrowland gleefully fetishizes—was a combination of optimism and humanism. The Space Age asserted that science could, and would, solve the world's problems. While there are bits of that philosophy in Tomorrowland, they're hard to find, and harder still to piece into anything coherent. For all its ambition, Brad Bird's adventure film feels like a movie where entire scenes have gone missing, even as others blur by in a jumble of technobabble. By the time Tomorrowland ends, the only thing that's clear is that George Clooney might want to fuck an eight-year-old robot. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
What We Do in the Shadows
A mockumentary (wait, keep reading) about vampire roommates (just a little further) from the Flight of the Conchords brain trust. Blissfully, consistently silly throughout (Jemaine Clement's virile Coppola posturing gets funnier with every frame) with some knowingly wobbly effects by Peter Jackson's gang that only enhance the giggles. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21, On Demand.
When Marnie Was There
Supposedly, this is the last Studio Ghibli film we're getting. One could argue, though, that the studio really died once it shifted focus from bizarre, original projects to making movies out of well-known children's books. In 2010, Ghibli director Hiromasa Yonebayashi refashioned The Borrowers into The Secret World of Arrietty, and now he's adapted When Marnie Was There, a British children's book by Joan G. Robinson. SUZETTE SMITH Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
While We're Young
Noah Baumbach takes what could have been Look at These Fucking Hipsters: The Motion Picture and transforms it into a hilariously sharp look at the generation gap. The movie distributes its scorn equally and with a rueful good humor. It gets as good as it gives. ANDREW WRIGHT Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Six short stories revolving around the micro-meltdowns of society. In each case, things fall definitively and spectacularly apart, as the gray areas of characters' motivations clash with bad luck, terrible timing, and, most of all, each other. Wild Tales is disaster porn for the socially scarred skeptic, and it restored my ability to laugh at the messy bullshit we all encounter in our pursuit of a nice life, which is all I'd dare to ask of two hours spent in a dark theater. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
Willy Wonka and the
"Invention, my dear friends, is 93 percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple." Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater.
The seven Angulo siblings—six boys, one girl—spent their childhoods confined to a four-bedroom apartment on the Lower East Side. The brothers were home-schooled, barely socialized, and let outside only a handful of times a year—"one particular year," one boy says, "we never got out all." Movies are the Angulos' connection to the world: They watch their favorites over and over, and create detailed, elaborate costumes and props to film their own reenactments. "If I didn't have movies, life would be pretty boring, and there wouldn't be any point to go on," says one. First-time director Crystal Moselle is the first guest to have ever been invited to the Angulos' apartment. Rather than wallow in the details of their insane childhood, Moselle focuses on their creativity, their camaraderie, and the pleasure they derive from their wide-eyed forays into the outside world. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Woman in Gold
The fact that Holocaust victims and their descendants are attempting to reclaim art stolen by the Nazis in increasing numbers could have huge impact—not just on museum holdings, but on the world's ability to remember the ills of history. The case of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is perhaps the most significant—along with a rookie lawyer (Ryan Reynolds, trying to hide behind khaki pants and glasses), Altmann successfully sued the Republic of Austria for the return of several Gustav Klimt paintings, including a portrait of her aunt that had become the nation's equivalent of the Mona Lisa. That's pretty badass, but director Simon Curtis' depiction of the years-long battle is a plodding, oversimplified courtroom procedural spliced with pretty but wooden flashbacks. Content to cheerlead its protagonists, its refusal to engage in any reasonable way with the opposing argument is borderline irresponsible... and irresponsibly dull. The film also features Katie Holmes reprising her role as a housebound, baby-having yes woman. MARJORIE SKINNER Academy Theater.