The 5th Wave
A film based on a series of young adult novels, which is a sentence I've written at least 100 times in the last four years. It stars Chloë Grace Moretz as a teenage girl who... you know what, it doesn't really matter. It's a dystopian future with fighting children, and she's the one who's got the pluck to bring the whole thing down, and maybe love-triangle some hunky male teens while she's at it. The title refers to all of the steps that a group of aliens must take to kill everyone on Earth, and it's an awful lot of steps for such a master race, especially once you get to the eponymous fifth wave, which is an all-around terrible plan. If I get much more into the plot, you may have some of the same questions that I did, such as: Why? And, what the hell? And can't she tell those people are obviously aliens?? ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Andrew Haigh's latest is a great little movie, complex and compelling and brilliantly constructed. Had Charlotte Rampling refrained from offering her opinion on the Oscars boycott ("racist to white people"), we'd all be offering unqualified raves of her performance here. Since she did recently share her antediluvian two cents, here's a qualified rave: It's a tremendous performance from an actress who's apparently kind of an old racist? Tom Courtenay, too, gives a rumpled and lived-in performance as a man torn between the siren song of nostalgia and his real life. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
72 Days in Iceland
A special screening of Scott Herriott's documentary about traipsing through the Icelandic countryside looking for a sasquatch. Of course, he doesn't find one (because they're not real), but he does find a lot of other very cool stuff, like a sorcery and witchcraft museum, a sea monster museum, and a penis museum. There are also puffins. No Björks though. Laurelhurst Theater.
In 1980, Ken Russell adapted Paddy Chayevsky's novel about a man who believes you can access other states of consciousness via flotation tank. Here in the 21st century, you can pay $30 an hour to do this, so you don't stress out about rising rents in Portland or whatever. But back in 1980, William Hurt would do this and physiologically devolve into freaky lumps of "what-in-the-living-fuck-am-I-looking-at" on a semi-regular basis. And if that's not weird enough, keep an eye out for Dan Fielding from Night Court and Commandant Lassard from Police Academy. They're in here too. Laurelhurst Theater.
In his screenplays for Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Adaptation, Charlie Kaufman demonstrated two things: that he's fond of exploring themes of identity, memory, romantic love, and self-loathing; and that his own un-spotless mind is a fevered, neurotic wonderland. Kaufman's latest, Anomalisa, isn't a departure from any of that. Its most obvious distinction—that it was filmed with lifelike puppets and stop-motion animation instead of live actors—is an ingenious and necessary component of the story, not an oddball aesthetic choice (or not just an oddball aesthetic choice, anyway). After the tragically under-seen Synecdoche, New York, this is only the second film that Kaufman has directed himself, and it has a similar heartrending poignance that resonates far longer than its comedic elements. ERIC D. SNIDER Cinema 21.
The Big Short
There's nothing subtle about The Big Short. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman) uses every trick in the Martin Scorsese handbook—freeze-frame, montage, fourth-wall-breaking narration—to tell the true story of a few investors who predicted the catastrophic financial crisis of 2008. Christian Bale, not exactly a low-key performer to begin with, is given Asperger's, a stutter, and a glass eye; Steve Carell's grieving money manager can't help but speak his mind; and Ryan Gosling is apparently the biggest sleaze in finance—an industry already oozing sleaze out of its finely tailored seams. These guys, among others, foresaw the burst of the housing bubble and invested against it—hoping to profit on Wall Street's unrepentant greed. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
Bridge of Spies
Spielberg's first film since 2012's Lincoln is an exceptional job of work—a deliberately old-fashioned hybrid of courtroom drama and Cold War skullduggery that's so expertly put together that you may not realize the beauty of its construction until after the fact. ANDREW WRIGHT Academy Theater.
With the exception of that time she played an assassin in Hanna, Saoirse Ronan is often confined to roles unworthy of someone who can actually act (see: The Lovely Bones). So it's exciting to see her carry a well-constructed film once again with Brooklyn, an understated study of a young Irish woman caught between her ancestral home in Ireland and 1950s New York. MEGAN BURBANK Cinema 21.
Carol is set in the 1950s, which was not a great time for gay people getting to live the lives they deserved. That makes it all the more remarkable that the film, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, doesn't punish its characters by dooming them to misery or early death, like most of the non-straight narratives Hollywood offers up. If creativity thrives within limits, Carol makes a pretty good case that love can, too—although it certainly shouldn't have to. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Remember how in The NeverEnding Story, a boy reads a mysterious book that comes to life before his eyes, plunging him into a thrilling adventure in an alternate universe? Watching a new movie from Nicholas Sparks, the romance author whose film adaptations are constantly slithering into multiplexes, is kinda like that, if instead of a badass adventure story with flying dog-dragons, you fell into a fancy plate with an inspirational quote on it. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Creed is the latest entry in the Rocky franchise, though it's the first that doesn't include a writing credit from Sylvester Stallone. It probably took a lot of nerve for the star to allow relative newcomer Ryan Coogler (who gave us 2013's excellent Fruitvale Station) to take the directorial reins—but the payoff is oh-so-worth it. Creed is not only a loving homage to Rocky, it builds upon the legend while maintaining the original film's heart and purity. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Academy Theater.
Will Ferrell. Mark Wahlberg. Fighting over the love of a household. What do you need, a roadmap? With regular collaborator Adam McKay busy doing The Big Short, this partial The Other Guys reunion feels even more erratically hangdog than normal, wobbling uncertainly between lengthy improv digressions and musty family comedy conventions, sometimes in the very same scene. Still, the chemistry of the leads is undeniable, especially when bouncing off of folks like Linda Cardellini and Hannibal Buress. (Thomas Haden Church, assuming the role that Gary Cole usually plays in these things, is an absolute hoot.) It'll do until the next one. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Ryan Reynolds' second crack at Marvel's most in-your-face character, following a forgotten appearance in the misbegotten X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Deadpool is a terrifically faithful adaptation of some awfully obnoxious source material—if you're a pre-existing devotee, the film's nonstop assortment of cartoony assholes and elbows to the ribs might very well make your head pop off in a paroxysm of joy. Viewers who aren't quite as in touch with their filthy inner child, however, may find the experience of being ceaselessly clobbered over the head with the fourth wall to be a bit much. One of the things that made Tex Avery and Chuck Jones such geniuses is that they knew to keep it under 10 minutes. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Jerry Orbach just wants to enjoy a nice relaxing vacation in the Catskills. But when a lithe, greasy exhibitionist catches the eye of his innocent, rhythmless daughter, Orbach must leap into action. How will this cardiganed hero of the common man maintain order in the face of such torrid summer chaos? Romance! Intrigue! Watermelons! Abortions! Join hands and hearts and voices, voices, hearts, and hands! Co-starring Lorelai's mom from Gilmore Girls and Space Jam's Wayne Knight. Academy Theater.
Grindhouse Film Festival
You might be inclined to write off a film titled Night of the Juggler as goofy or ridiculous. You'd be wrong. This month's Grindhouse Film Fest entry is a filthy little sleazefest starring James Brolin on a one-man vengeance spree careening through the cesspool of 1980s New York after some dumbass psycho makes the mistake of kidnapping his daughter. Liam Neeson ain't got shit on Josh Brolin's daddy. Hollywood Theatre.
It doesn't matter that Hail, Caesar! barely hangs together. It's too much fun to watch. Joel and Ethan Coen have given us more than their share of bone-chilling noir and ink-black comedy; they've made films that deal with morality and mortality and the divine absurdity of existence. With Hail, Caesar!, they've forgone the brow furrowing and decided to revel in their favorite topic of all—movies. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino's nasty new western isn't an epic. Sure, it's three hours long and shot in 70mm, but The Hateful Eight is a deceptively simple chess game that has more in common with Reservoir Dogs than Tarantino's last two films. Even the title is misleading: I counted nine, possibly 10 characters that could be considered "hateful." Bounty hunter John Ruth (Kurt Russell) is bringing wanted murderer Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the Wyoming town of Red Rock to be hanged. Along a snowy mountain pass he encounters another bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson), along with Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), supposedly Red Rock's new sheriff. The group seeks shelter at Minnie's Haberdashery, where other mysterious men are waiting out a blizzard. At least one standoff is inevitable. Despite the roadshow rollout, this isn't so much a grand-scale epic as much as an Agatha Christie-style chamber piece. (In other words, you'll be fine if you see it at the multiplex.) Sure, the photography is rich and pictorial—we see icicles dripping from the horses, and the deep focus works wonderfully for the lengthy interior sequences. But the characters and their shifting alliances drive Tarantino's wicked stagecoach. The very slow first half pays off in the grisly second, and the performances are spectacular (particularly Leigh and Goggins). Tarantino's suspenseful puzzle box requires patience—and rewards it. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
This might be the most challenging Hecklevision yet, because the longer you watch Masters of the Universe the harder it is to maintain a grip on the very concept of intelligence. In fact, it's likely you will end the night irreversibly stupider than when you began it. Granted, that sort of thing is basically the point of Hecklevision, but... He-Man! Say that shit out loud and listen to how fuckin' stupid you sound saying it! Now imagine late ’80s Dolph Lundgren being it! For two hours! Good luck and Godspeed to you, peanut gallery. Give our regards to Gwildor. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
How to Be Single
Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers focus-grouped my approximate demographic of women and attached sensors to us to see what made our hearts, brains, and nether regions tingle, then checked what we hearted on Tumblr, and then crammed all that shit into one movie with a crowd-pleasing soundtrack. Is this a cheap grab at our base emotions? Yes. Is it effective? Abso-fucking-lutely. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Set in a fantastical near-future in which America adequately funds its space program, The Martian is the best ad for NASA since Ahmed Mohamed's T-shirt. Just about every frame reinforces a core sentiment: It's time to start caring about space again. The fact that The Martian manages to sell this idea—convincingly and rousingly, with a fair amount of humor—is all the more impressive given that it follows a man who's been marooned 140 million miles away and is forced to spend his days desperately trying to delay his all-but-inevitable death. It's funnier than it sounds. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Portland Black Film Festival
"A lot of this is about having a good time," says Portland filmmaker and writer David Walker, who, in collaboration with the Hollywood Theatre, co-founded the Portland Black Film Festival in 2013. In a cultural landscape that's often embarrassingly normative when it comes to representation from filmmakers who aren't aging white men, a festival like this one—spotlighting work from African American filmmakers—is especially important. And by the sound of it, it's also really fucking fun. Also see "The Portland Black Film Festival Charts a Moviemaking Legacy" [Film, Feb 10]. MEGAN BURBANK Hollywood Theatre.
Portland International Film Festival
There are a whopping 97 features at 2016's PIFF, plus 62 shorts, representing four dozen different countries' perspectives in genres ranging from freaky, creepy sci-fi to ultra-raw documentary. If you subscribe to the Portland-common wanderlust, but didn't have the cheddar or foresight to actually get the heck out of Dodge, PIFF is your hidey-hole portal to foreign lands. It's not a flashy fest with red carpet premieres (though that has happened in the past), and it doesn't offer major awards or attention—but it does represent an affordable way to stay worldly, even if your damp boots never leave PDX. Also see "Venturing Into the Portland International Film Festival" [Film, Feb 10]. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Heading into Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there are only two things you're dying to see: Mr. Darcy and zombies. The more the better (especially of the Darcy variety). Well, good news for all you empire waistoids—this adaption of Seth Grahame-Smith's 2009 parody novel of Jane Austen's classic is playing with a full deck of whist cards. It's funny, gory, and packed with moist-eyed Mr. Darcys (well, just one, but he's got moistness in spades). COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Red Violin
François Girard's acclaimed 1998 drama follows a single red violin from its creation in the 17th century to hanging out with Samuel L. Jackson in the modern day. No, he does not shout loudly while staring menacingly at the violin. It's not one of those kinds of Samuel L. Jackson movies. It's the kind where he gives a shit. He still did that semi-frequently back in 1998. Hollywood Theatre.
The latest from Birdman's Alejandro González Iñárritu is based on the book by Michael Punke (which, in turn, was inspired by the life of a particularly unlucky 19th century frontiersman). This is a movie in which Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) tries to make his way through the Montana wilderness to kill John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the dickhead who left him to die in a shallow grave. After crawling from the frozen earth, Glass is reborn as a kind of unkillable ghost—determined to bleed, crawl, float, limp, and tumble his way to vengeance. And so the suffering commences, and continues, and continues, until The Revenant starts to feel less like a survival story and more like a live-action Looney Tunes. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
A reinterpretation of Jesus' resurrection as a buddy-cop procedural, starring Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare in Love) and Tom Felton (Harry Potter) as the detectives sent by Pontius Pilate to solve the mystery of the missing messiah. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
The Road Warrior
"You're a scavenger, Max. You're a maggot. Did you know that? You're living off the corpse of the old world." Hollywood Theatre.
Room is about a boy who is born in the garden shed where his mother, "Ma" (Brie Larson), has been kept captive for seven years, ever since she was abducted at age 17. Five-year-old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) has never seen the world outside of the shed—he doesn't even know such a world exists—and when Ma decides Jack is finally old enough to help carry out an escape attempt, the plan she concocts is dangerous and thrilling. But there's much more to this story: Room is based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Irish Canadian author Emma Donoghue. I read the book in one sitting—in a paroxysm of anxiety and emotional investment that kept me awake until 3 am—and came away impressed by its thoughtful, unexpected treatment of incredibly disturbing subject matter. The film succeeds by the same token. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Son of Saul
No genre of film is as simultaneously consequential and vulnerable as the Holocaust genre. The Holocaust was the Worst Thing; the only worse that could possibly happen would for it to be forgotten. So there's a tremendous responsibility to keep Holocaust stories alive—but then, over-abstraction, melodrama, and embellishment can all alter the course. Overwhelming respect for the gravity of that task has already resulted in a stunning accumulation of films. But in recent memory, none seem as capable of conveying the legacy of the Holocaust in as respectful and progressive of a manner as László Nemes' debut feature, Son of Saul. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d'Arcy James play the Boston Globe's "spotlight" team of investigative journalists who were tasked with looking into child molestation charges leveled at Boston's beloved Catholic Archdiocese. Translating a highly detailed true story to film could sound like a staged reading of a Wikipedia page, or worse, trivialize the victims' experiences—and Spotlight walks dangerously close to this precipice. However, other than a few hammy moments, this film somehow manages to pull it off. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens starts like Star Wars, has a middle like Empire Strikes Back, and ends like Return of the Jedi. It's a best-of Star Wars mixtape. But one doesn't go to the seventh chapter in the most-watched series of all time seeking originality. It's not a question of whether there's a lot of new here (although this is easily the prettiest, most kinetic film in the series), it's a question of whether director J.J. Abrams can do justice to one of cinema's best-loved pop songs. And thanks to stars Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, and the best work from Harrison Ford in decades, Abrams hits the notes he needs to, clearly and strongly. BOBBY ROBERTS Various Theaters.
Touched with Fire
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
Where to Invade Next
Michael Moore's latest isn't as laser-focused as something like Bowling for Columbine or Fahrenheit 9/11, which is both a blessing and a curse. The titular "invasion" refers to the sort of quip you might overhear at an NPR fundraising dinner: "What if instead of invading Arab countries to take their oil, we invaded European countries to take their progressive socialism?" Visually, this translates to Moore wandering around Europe with an American flag and interviewing people. His previous films covered a single issue with furious intensity, but Invade is more of a greatest hits album—exploring Iceland's finances, Norway's prisons, Germany's industrial middle class, and a dozen other topics. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The title of Paolo Sorrentino's new film is a bit of obvious misdirection. Make no mistake: Youth is about getting hella old, and to its credit, it makes becoming creaky and gray look like it's maybe not the worst thing in the world. It helps that composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and film director Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) have been hugely successful in their work—their moneyed lifestyles permit them an extended visit at the incredibly plush Swiss spa where almost all of Youth is set. NED LANNAMANN
I just watched Zoolander 2, and now I'm sitting here trying to write about it, and I can barely remember a thing. I remember laughing, so that's a good sign. I'm not totally sure why I laughed, but also, I'm not sure that matters? Like, nobody can actually describe why orange mocha frappuccinos are good, but we accept that they are. This is the critical lens I am applying to Zoolander 2, which is a film about idiots, for idiots. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, February 19-Thursday, February 25, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.