Absurdly Human: The Films of Roy Andersson
See Film, this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Fifty-four-year-old artist Ai Weiwei is both an art-world celebrity and an outspoken critic of China's record on human rights. After 2008's Sichuan earthquake, he worked tirelessly to identify those killed in the quakes, with particular emphasis on the schoolchildren who died in shoddily constructed schoolhouses. The Chinese government responded to such criticism by shutting down his blog (he's extremely active on social media), subjecting him to constant surveillance, and, in 2011, briefly imprisoning him. First-time filmmaker Alison Klayman gets all of the above on film in her remarkably absorbing and affectionate documentary. ALISON HALLETT NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Church of Film
The screening series presents Birds, Orphans & Fools, "a masterpiece of the Czechoslovakian New Wave." More at churchoffilm.org. Hollywood Theatre.
The 44th(!) film from director Johnny To serves as a brilliant reminder of the glory days of Heroic Bloodshed, an era when Asian men in bad suits and cheap sunglasses were the coolest dudes in the entire universe. The plot follows a hit team (led by Hong Kong stalwart Anthony Wong) dispatched to Macau to take out a former ally. After getting reacquainted via a friendly little gunfight, the gang decides to accompany him on one last mission. Their sadistic boss is not amused. To, a filmmaker whose biggest successes have been with more realistic gangster dramas like the recent Triad Election, here drifts into surrealism, with glorious results. (Whenever a bullet finds its mark, the result is a gorgeous little abstract puff of red mist.) Call it a flashback, a comeback, or the end of an era; all I know is that I want to see it again. ANDREW WRIGHT Fifth Avenue Cinema.
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 converting 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 Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
Good Will Hunting
Costarring Batman! Clinton Street Theater.
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.
"Japanese submarine slammed two torpedoes into our side, chief. We was comin' back from the island of Tinian to Leyte... just delivered the bomb. The Hiroshima bomb. Eleven hundred men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour." Quint's favorite beer, Narragansett, will be available at the Laurelhurst Theater in order to ensure a more authentic Quint-sperience. Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
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.
Kung Fu Theater
A screening of the only known 35mm print of 1978's Invincible Shaolin, featuring the stars of Five Element Ninjas. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Mad Max: Fury Road
A brutal, beautiful, two-hour action overdose injected with a welcome feminist bent. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Magic Mike XXL
Do we need to see this same cast of beefheads grind on each other some more? Does anyone need more of this? Answers: Yes and OMG YES. FUCK YES. SO MUCH. ELINOR JONES 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. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
This animated spinoff of the crappy Despicable Me series wasn't screened for critics. In related news, hey, did you know Inside Out is currently playing? And that, unlike some children's movies we could mention, it isn't cynical garbage? Various Theaters.
The Neverending Story
Grow up and get a job, Bastian. Academy Theater.
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.
Phantom of the Paradise
Brian De Palma's cult horror musical, screening as part of the Hollywood's rock opera series. Hollywood Theatre.
A Poem is a Naked Person
A rare screening of the recently restored Les Blank documentary about musician Leon Russell. Hollywood Theatre.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
"Professor of archeology, expert on the occult, and... how does one say it? Obtainer of rare antiquities." Screens in 35mm. Hollywood Theatre.
"In 1979, a cult-classic film called The Warriors shook the world with its depiction of New York City as a gang-infested concrete jungle," reads the opening crawl of Rubble Kings. "Nine years earlier, the real story was FAR WORSE." Shan Nicholson's documentary begins by examining how class stratification and the upheaval of the '60s led to the rise and reign of New York City's '70s street gangs. ("We will overcome?" remembers Carlos "Karate Charlie" Suarez, a former member of the Ghetto Brothers, before making a gun out of his fingers. "BOOM. No, you're not gonna overcome. You ain't gettin' nobody out of this fuckin' ghetto.") But it widens its scope to cover class and race, politics and violence, and the roots of hip-hop. Rubble Kings is the rare documentary where the talking heads—ranging from former gang leaders, to DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa, to Ed Koch—are as fascinating as the archival footage. Clocking in at just over an hour, Rubble Kings is worth seeing just for the historical images and the amazing gang names (the Savage Nomads, the Dynamite Brothers, the Dirty Ones, the Seven Immortals), and it's a must-see if you like The Warriors. It's also must-see if you give a shit about people or live in a city. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre, On Demand.
The Seeds: Pushin' Too Hard
Lovers of the Nuggets compilation albums know the Seeds well. Fronted by Sky Saxon, they were one of the great American garage-rock groups, laying the foundation for psychedelia and punk. The Seeds' spindly, druggy sound defined the LA scene of the '60s, and Pushin' Too Hard, a documentary from director Neil Norman, will likely be a thorough, comprehensive overview of their rise and fall. Director in attendance. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Songs She Wrote About
People She Knows
A satirical look at art therapy and the contemporary music scene via the story of an office worker who comes out of her shell through songwriting. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, and Hugo Weaving star in this story about child abduction in a remote Australian desert town. Fun! Laurelhurst Theater.
A series of indifferently staged PG-13 set pieces and heavy doses of foreshadowing for the already announced sequels. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Testament of Youth
A respectful, romantically hued British period drama based on the WWI memoir of Vera Brittain, who was proclaimed the voice of a generation and a celebrated pacifist. Actress of the moment Alicia Vikander is all dead-eyed and sulky as Brittain, whether entwined romantically with young soldier Roland Leighton (Kit Harington, disarmingly baby-faced without his Game of Thrones beard), facing off against her Oxford mentor (Miranda Richardson), or mopping up wounded soldiers as a war nurse. It's a well-made, almost scholarly film that provokes relatively little passion. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
The Third Man
Everyone thinks of The Third Man as an Orson Welles movie—despite the fact Welles neither wrote nor directed it, and despite the fact he doesn't even show up until the film's already been rolling for a long stretch. In true Welles style, once he does show up, he makes everyone else seem superfluous. As Harry Lime—an ostensibly dead expat in a Vienna that's rubbled and scarred from WWII—Welles is both sinister and mischievous, charming and menacing; all he needs to do to catch everyone off-guard, be they onscreen or in the theater, is give his brow an impish twist or take a quick step forward. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
To Die For
Nicole Kidman has her finest hour as a murderously ambitious weathergirl in Gus Van Sant's 1995 blacker-than-black comedy. NED LANNAMANN Clinton Street Theater.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Hey, here's an idea: Watch this again instead of reading Go Set a Watchman! Or reread the book? Or neither! Your call. Just so long as you don't read Go Set a Watchman, you'll be fine. Clinton Street Theater.
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.
Top Down: Rooftop Cinema
The NW Film Center's rooftop screening series, held on top of the Hotel deLuxe's parking garage. This week: Song of the Thin Man. More at nwfilm.org. Hotel deLuxe.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, On Demand.
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.
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.
"For what we are about to see next, we must enter quietly into the realm of genius." Laurelhurst Theater.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, July 10-Thursday, July 16, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.