10 Cloverfield Lane
Some movies let you know you're in good hands with the very first shot. The latest mystery wrapped in an enigma from producer J.J. Abrams, 10 Cloverfield Lane takes an instantly fraught premise and never stops stripping the screws. Within its narrow self-imposed parameters, it's just about perfect. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
April and the Extraordinary World
Animated films aimed at children have such a long history of corniness that I barely second guessed April and the Extraordinary World's most beloved character, a talking cat, for his continual nagging on April's love life. (Oh, yes—between jumping through huge, menacing clockwork machinery and trying to find your scientist parents abducted by a lightning cloud, it's important to keep yourself out there.) That said, this movie is so charming that even my feminist reservations couldn't keep me from having a ton of fun. Based on a graphic novel by Jacques Tardi, this English dub doesn't have Marion Cotillard voicing April (that's the French version, alas) but it DOES have Susan Sarandon as a sentient lizard in a robot body! And a chauvinist talking cat is still a talking cat. I'll take it! SUZETTE SMITH Academy Theater, Kiggins Theatre.
Barbershop: The Next Cut
One could assume that I'm not the target demographic for this movie because I'm white, and Hollywood tells us movies with all-white casts are for everybody, but movies with all-black casts are just for black people. But B:TNC is good for everybody. It's funny, smart, and sincere without being corny. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Captain America: Civil War
See review, this issue. Various Theaters.
Film students fucking love this thing, and for good reason, too: It's one of the most impeccably written, photographed, and edited films ever made, not a frame out of place, not a second gone to waste. But what if you're not a film student? What if you're just someone who wants to watch Jack Nicholson smart off and catch beatings for a couple hours? Good news! Aside from all the artsy-fartsy accolades heaped upon this neo-noir's slumped shoulders, it's a legitimately compelling story about a schlub who learns the hard way (always the hard way) that he cannot change the world, no matter how much he tries. And if that hit of pretty nihilism is not enough, then just pretend it's a prequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Because—amazingly—it's kinda-sorta that, too. BOBBY ROBERTS Academy Theater.
Elvis & Nixon
You've seen the photo: the King of Rock 'n' Roll and the Leader of the Free World, shaking hands in the Oval Office with cautious smiles and dazed looks in their eyes. Elvis & Nixon is an account—from director Liza Johnson and co-writer Cary Elwes—of that bizarre meeting in 1970. It's a piece of blissfully speculative fiction that takes its small but amusing concept and runs with it. It's hard to go wrong when you cast Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley and Kevin Spacey as Richard M. Nixon. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Everybody Wants Some!!
Most movies get male athlete group dynamics so wrong that when you actually find kernels of relatability, it feels like a revelation. In Everybody Wants Some!!, Richard Linklater's take on hazing ("everybody is going to be the chump at some point, it's how you handle your turn that defines you") is refreshingly unsensational. As is the movie as a whole. You know how in Magic Mike you kept expecting one of the characters to OD on drugs or get paralyzed in a car accident in order to teach everyone a valuable lesson? Then it never happens and you're happy to have avoided the moralizing? Everybody Wants Some!! is like that. It's about college, not learning. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
The Family Fang
Jason Bateman takes a stab at my favorite film category—the vaguely academic, dysfunctional family comic drama, as perfected by Wes Anderson, Nicole Holofcener, Tamara Jenkins, and Noah Baumbach—to pretty okay effect! Working from a script by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire about the disaffected adult children of maybe-psychotic performance artists, The Family Fang can be slow, and it lacks the charming idiosyncrasies that make those other movies enjoyable, and Nicole Kidman's American accent is distractingly bad. But its moments of brilliant art-world satire and actual plot twists (!) are enough to keep things interesting. MEGAN BURBANK Cinema 21.
Filmed by Bike
The bicycle film festival returns to the Hollywood. Hollywood Theatre.
Blue Ruin, Jeremy Saulnier's Kickstarter-funded 2013 calling card, fashioned a diabolically inventive revenge movie that repeatedly headed down unpredictably satisfying avenues. The writer/director's larger-budgeted follow-up, Green Room, gathers up that earlier promise and just goes sick with it, taking an intentionally stripped-down premise and jacking it up to ferocious speeds. Inspired by the director's experiences with hardcore punk shows, the story follows an idealist thrash band (led by Alia Shawkat and a terrifically spacy Anton Yelchin) reduced to gas-siphoning between concerts. While spinning aimlessly through the Northwest, they take a gig deep in the Oregon woods at a venue crammed to the rafters with neo-Nazis, fronted by an ominously velvet-voiced Patrick Stewart. Things do not go well, in ways that made a theater full of jaded critics repeatedly suck in their collective breath. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Following up last month's recent disaster San Andreas is the thick slab of '90s cheese known as Twister. Get your texting thumbs ready because the amount of remarkable bullshit flying off the screen will not be limited to tractor wheels and mooing cows. Look, it's impossibly young Philip Seymour Hoffman. Over there is Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off! Portland's own award-winning director Todd Field is, uh... wearing a hat and science-ing some shit, I guess? Hey, that's Helen Hunt! Goddamn she's annoying. Why in the world did people ever fucking like Helen Hunt? BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Set in a brutalist skyscraper in an unspecified year—everything here looks like how people in the '70s imagined the future—Ben Wheatley's High-Rise charts the Lord of the Flies-esque decay of the building's society. Early on, the lounging rich live up high and the working class below, their caste system as confining as iron bars. Then the tower's society falls apart: There are beatings. There's suicide. There's rape. Tom Hiddleston pats a dog on the head, then turns it on a spit. If you've got triggers, consider them warned: Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump dive into blood and squalor, with the Kubrickian backdrop of the high-rise getting more claustrophobic with each scene. Hiddleston—along with Luke Evans, Sienna Miller, Elisabeth Moss, and Jeremy Irons—is game for the film's mash-up of allegory and horror. No director better straddles the line between grindhouse and arthouse than Wheatley, and the surreal High-Rise offers him a perfect fit. ERIK HENRIKSEN On Demand.
The new film directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight, Aeon Flux, Jennifer's Body) doesn't kick into decisive action until about 15 minutes before credits roll. When that finally does happen, it's nail-biting, horrific, tragic yet satisfying, and boasts a final, long-delayed twist that colors the preceding bundle of tropes with something unanticipated. But however deftly executed the climax may be, for many the payoff won't be enough to justify the extent of the preamble. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
Key and Peele are comedy superstars. Keanu is a first-year expansion team. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
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 Enter the Game of Death, maybe the most gonzo of all the Bruceploitation films to surface in the wake of Bruce Lee's passing. The plot of the film (like it matters) is thus: Watch a man in a yellow tracksuit run the challenge tower of a Mortal Kombat game. That's all there is to it. Well, that and the disgusting level of kung fu ridiculousness constantly on display. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
The Man Who Knew Infinity
See review, this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The latest from Jeff Nichols continues the director's winning streak. While on its surface an affectionate throwback to the kid-friendly sci-fi adventures of yesteryear, its underlying themes of families under pressure make it very much of a piece with the filmmaker's other work. Told with a bare minimum of backstory, Nichols' script follows two armed men (Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton) on the run with an eight-year-old boy (Jaeden Lieberher), pursued by both a scarily determined religious cult and a baffled cadre of government agents. While a geeky NSA agent (Adam Driver) attempts to plot the trio's next move, an increasing number of mysterious events hint that the boy, well, just ain't quite right. There's the way his eyes tend to glow in the middle of the night, for one thing. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21.
Don Cheadle's free-form Miles Davis biopic skips over the biggest moments in Davis' life—the ones people going to see a movie about Davis will likely expect to see—and instead offers a narrative that skips back and forth in time, focusing more on establishing Davis as a character rather than as as a historical figure and musical genius. In addition to writing and directing, Cheadle also plays Davis, and from the opening frames ("Don't call my music jazz," he says. "It's social music"), it's clear this is a passion project. Cheadle is in this role, and like the best Cheadle characters, Davis is never anything less than fascinating. Which is where things get tricky: With a whole lot of fictionalized add-ons and unnecessary costars (like Ewan McGregor's imaginary Rolling Stone reporter), Miles Ahead never feels predictable, but it also never feels reliable. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Like those other holiday-based movies, Mother's Day is a large ensemble "comedy" of intertwined stories surrounding a hyper-sentimental day. This one stars Jennifer Aniston and Kate Hudson as Ultimate White Moms who always wear exercise apparel, as well Jason Sudeikis, who must have owed somebody a large cash favor, and Julia Roberts, who, sporting a bright-red mom bob, has pretty much just turned into a sentient acorn with teeth. Mother's Day's smooshed-together stories are all boring and forgettable, except for the racist one, which is memorable for being racist. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
New Czech Cinema
The annual touring program of contemporary Czech cinema, presented by the NW Film Center and Czech That Film. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
NW Animation Festival
See review, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Ratchet & Clank
For PlayStation 2 junkies, the Ratchet & Clank games were perfect lazy weekend time sinks—cleverly written and compulsively playable, yet never frustrating enough to make the player upend a two-liter or drop the pizza rolls. The big-screen animated adaptation keeps the basic charm of the source material, fitting snugly in the tier of movies for kids located somewhere just below Pixar. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
If you take off your glasses and watch Sing Street out of focus—as a lighthearted teen romcom about following your dreams—you'll love it. The idea of a mousy 15-year-old Irish boy named Cosmo (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) wrangling his equally mousy peers to start a "futurist" new wave band to woo model Raphina (Lucy Boynton) is charming enough. And the mid-'80s soundtrack is pretty good! But you might not love it if you get hung up on half-baked, passing mentions of alcoholism, divorce, and domestic violence that come out of nowhere, thrown into the narrative like poop Frisbees at a picnic. CIARA DOLAN Fox Tower 10.
The Hollywood Theatre's music-themed documentary series. Screening on May 5th: Voice of the Eagle: The Enigma of Robbie Basho, the story of the little-listened-to pianist who attained cult status after his death in 1986. And on May 8th there's Bayou Maharajah, an examination of the life of the one-eyed, gay New Orleans pianist James Booker. Hollywood Theatre.
Touch of Evil
There's a bit of a trick to appreciating Orson Welles' poisoned candy of a noir, and the trick is this: You have to move past the fact Charlton Heston is playing a Mexican. Your brain will want to seize on this. It will scream at you every chance it gets "Holy shit that's the fucking Omega Man, Mr. Cold Dead Hands himself, wearing five tons of bronzer and a pencil mustache like that's all it takes." Now if you can shunt this reaction to the side, if you can place this ridiculousness in its proper context (i.e. the late '50s were pretty backwards), you are now ready to digest this smoky, sleazy, paranoid little gut-punch of a mystery, starring characters so compromised and vile they make Sam Spade look like Fred Rogers. BOBBY ROBERTS Laurelhurst Theater.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, May 6-Thursday, May 12, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.