Children of Men
Two decades from now, women can no longer conceive children. The reason is unknown, and frankly, unimportant: Director Alfonso Cuarón is concerned with the aftermath of this development rather than impetus. What is evident is that humanity's days are numbered, and for humanity's aging remnants, the world has become an uglier place: Nations rage through war as terrorists strike, governments clamp down with martial law, immigrants and refugees are feared and detained, and the upper classes recline in comfort while poverty and strife envelop everyone else. It's a dystopia that borrows as much from Orwell as it does the Bush administration—as rotting elementary schools lay eerily abandoned and suicide kits are sold over the counter, humanity accepts its end, though it refuses to do so peacefully. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater.
Chimes at Midnight
Brace yourself, movie lovers, for a bit of blasphemy: Chimes at Midnight is better than Citizen Kane. While the latter is rightly praised for its inventive narrative and gorgeous Expressionist cinematography, Orson Welles' real masterpiece—a condensed version of five Shakespeare histories—betters it with the help of one of the most thrilling battle scenes ever filmed, gritty black-and-white camerawork, and some truly awe-inspiring acting from Sir John Gielgud and Keith Baxter. It also features Welles' best on-screen work, as Falstaff, the bawdy, bloviating knight who wrestles with his place as a secondary character. Cinema 21's screening it this week, in a slick new restoration for the film's 50th anniversary. ROBERT HAM Cinema 21.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny
Crouching Tiger's original action choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping directs this sequel, which is about a mystical sword, though I won't bore you with much plot summary since it doesn't really matter. The other big difference is that this one's in English. It feels like it should be dubbed, but isn't, and the cast speaks English in a panoply of accents, giving the film a weird sense of universal exoticism. Like the original, the sequel combines martial arts action with high-art production design in a way that feels a little like B-movie interpretive dance. With Yuen at the helm, it leans a little more to the B-movie side. While his predecessor Ang Lee has a tendency to be... how shall I put this... up his own ass, Yuen knows he ain't winning any Oscars for this, which allows him to have a little more fun. The fact that Sword of Destiny knows it's a little silly doesn't take away from the impressiveness of the choreography and design—in fact, it probably makes it easier to enjoy. VINCE MANCINI Netflix
Alex Proyas' weird, atmospheric neo-noir sci-fi from 1998. Proyas would go on to direct the movie version of I, Robot, the Nicolas Cage thriller Knowing, and last week's cinematic punching bag Gods of Egypt—but don't hold that against Dark City. Laurelhurst Theater.
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.
Eddie the Eagle
An exuberant crowd-pleaser about ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards (played by the unrealistically adorable Taron Egerton), who had his 15 minutes of fame at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Despite all its underdog clichés—the drunken coach, the stuffy officials, the unsupportive dad, the taunting Norwegians—Eddie the Eagle succeeds for the same reason the real Eddie did: optimism, good humor, and infectious, heart-on-sleeve enthusiasm. ERIC D. SNIDER Various Theaters.
From Bombay to Bollywood: 50 Years of Indian Cinema
NW Film, with the help of the government of India, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and Portland's own DJ Anjali and the Incredible Kid, has put together a 10-film retrospective on the width and breadth of the Indian film experience. It ain't all singing and dancing at weddings, you guys. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Gods of Egypt
Save Geoffrey Rush's performance as sun god Ra—which provides some of the only moments of levity and humanity in an otherwise cadaverous script—Gods of Egypt is a flop of historic proportions, the sort of movie that in 10 years' time will appear on the same lists as Glitter and Highlander 2. It's not good, and it's not even bad good. Did I mention there's a spaceship? MORGAN TROPER Various Theaters.
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 Bagdad Theater.
Kung Fu Theater
This month's installment in Dan Halsted's ongoing celebration of all things whoop-ass is the only known 35mm print of 1980's Snake in the Monkey's Shadow, showcasing the might of the drunken-monkey style at the expense of vile, venomous practitioners of the snakefist. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Light and Shadows: Masters of Cinematography
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
London Has Fallen
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Match Cut Movie Club
A mystery screening series: Buy a ticket, be surprised. Past selections have included Mamet's The Spanish Prisoner and Coppola's The Conversation. More at matchcutmovieclub.com. Living Room Theaters.
Mere days after being released, the latest from Stephen Chow—the comic genius behind The God of Cookery, Shaolin Soccer, and Kung Fu Hustle—became the highest-grossing film in China. (Like, the highest-grossing film in China ever.) But Sony inexplicably fumbled the American release, dumping it in a scant few theaters with no notice, no ads, and not even an email to tell anybody it existed. That's too bad, because this frantic, sweet fable of a young mermaid (Lin Yun) sent to assassinate a money-grubbing business tycoon (Deng Chao) is a goddamn delight. Part romcom, part musical, part slapstick, and part ecological call-to-arms, the hilarious The Mermaid also serves as a reminder of how visually uninspired and thematically bland American comedies have become—especially when compared to something (anything) from the earnest, clever, wacked-out mind of Chow. This film also features a jetpack. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
Out 1: Noli Me Tangere
Jacques Rivette's 1971 magnum opus Out 1 is not the easiest movie to sit through, thanks to its unwieldy running time (just shy of 13 hours, broken up into eight 90- to 100-minute chunks) and its many drawn-out—and occasionally grating—scenes of two experimental theater companies working on a pair of Aeschylus plays. Spending the money and time to see the late director's complete vision is absolutely worth it, though, as it perfectly captures the feelings of excitement, desperation, and malaise that set into the minds of many French citizens following the mass political protests of May 1968. ROBERT HAM NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Portland Music Video Festival
A program showcasing "the work of musicians and filmmakers from Portland and across the nation." Will there be anything better than the video for Nelson's "After the Rain"? Well, that's the challenge, isn't it. Hollywood Theatre.
Portland Oregon Women's Film Festival (POWFest)
See Film, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
In most ways, Race is a totally ordinary biopic about track-and-field superstar Jesse Owens, cozily hitting all the obligatory marks, with Stephan James (Selma) as bland, likeable Owens and Jason Sudeikis (George Wendt's nephew—look it up!) as gruff, likeable coach Larry Snyder. In other ways, Race is kind of bonkers. Owens' talent took him to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where racial relations were... uh, shall we say, super fucking tense. So for the last half-hour or so, we watch a black American beat the mustard out of a bunch of Aryan athletes on the field, as Hitler and Goebbels grumpily watch. The stakes are A LOT higher than your typical feel-good sports movie. As a basic history lesson, Race could have been a lot worse; as an investigation of social issues that are still with us today, it cracks open an interesting window—even if it can't do more. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Atom Egoyan is not a man known for lighthearted romps, so it shouldn't be a surprise that his latest gut-punch of a movie features Christopher Plummer as an Auschwitz survivor with dementia who discovers the Nazi that murdered his family is alive and hiding in America. Living Room Theaters.
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.
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 Various Theaters.
999 is the police code for an officer down, and Triple 9 is the noir-tinged story of crooked cops falling down on the job—plus maybe one or two virtuous ones. Set in an Atlanta made out of parking garages, strip clubs, and abandoned housing projects, it's appropriately dark and seamy, and while director John Hillcoat's latest does a few things well, it doesn't do them well enough to qualify Triple 9 as a success. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Wim Wenders: Portraits Along the Road
See Film, this issue. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
There's a lot that can be said about The Witch, but what matters most is just how remarkable a horror movie it is. Aided by Mark Korven's droning marvel of a score, director Robert Eggers' film largely eschews the easy relief of jump scares, instead building a supercharged atmosphere that amps up whenever something new enters the immaculately composed frame, be it man or rabbit or goat. (Oh, that goddamned goat.) By the final enigmatic scene, a sustained state of magic terror has been achieved that more than justifies the acres of hype. Hype that includes, by the way, a rather lucid, well-reasoned endorsement from an organization known as the Satanic Temple. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, March 4-Thursday, March 10, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.