Loosely based on the real-life subject of a portrait that currently hangs in a Scottish castle, Belle is a very Jane Austen-esque portrayal of Dido Elizabeth Belle. The illegitimate child of an African slave and an English gentleman, she was nonetheless raised among the high society of her father’s side. There’s plenty of fictionalization here, but the basic facts of the real Belle’s unusual position allow the film to effectively tackle a satisfying blend of social and personal issues. Race isn’t usually the primary topic of such impeccably costumed drawing rooms and garden parties (fear not: husband-hunting remains a close second), but Belle’s subject matter is more remarkable than its form—not a bad thing if you appreciate a well-executed, romantic (if conventional) sweep of a period drama (and I do). MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
A tight Dirty South revenge thriller that looks much better than its presumably low budget. Most notable is the almost entirely wordless first act, which introduces Dwight (Macon Blair), a high-functioning hobo on the Delaware boardwalk, and sets him on an odyssey of mayhem and graphic crossbow wounds. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's clearly the product of talent you should keep an eye on. BEN COLEMAN Cinema 21.
A documentary about Iceland's 2008 bankruptcy, and their decision to emerge from economic collapse by rewriting their constitution. Whitsell
Chel White's tale of a small-town Pacific Northwest militia is more of an emotional drama than an action film, bolstered by polished performances and crisp production—thanks in part to executive producer Tom Berenger, who also delivers a cameo appearance. Proceeds benefit the Hollywood Theatre. MARJORIE SKINNER
A must-see for anyone with an interest in the history of either the Trail Blazers or Portland itself, Fast Break comprises footage shot during the Blazers' legendary 1977 championship season. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
Finding Vivian Maier
Finding details the landmark uncovering of now-deceased photographer Vivian Maier's secret archives—more than 100,000 images that document the streets of New York, Chicago, South America, rural France, and beyond with an arresting sense of timing, humanity, and melancholy. As an introduction to the mysterious artist who's arguably one of the most important street photographers of all time, Finding is fantastic, even if the motives of the filmmaker (who happens to be the sole caretaker of her archives) are at times questionable. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
On paper, the directorial debut of John Slattery (Roger on Mad Men!) is more than promising: a tragicomic working-class tale set in a fictitious Philly neighborhood, starring Christina Hendricks, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins, the amazing Eddie Marsan, and, in one of his last roles, Philip Seymour Hoffman. But the comedy is pitched too dark, the characters' plights are relentlessly pathetic, and the film's fulcrum of moral intrigue—the cover-up of the workplace murder of Hendricks' punk kid—is quickly tossed aside. The result is a nicotine-yellow period piece that barely gains traction; the cast is great, but this isn't much more than poverty porn. NED LANNAMANN Living Room Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The House of the Devil
A perfect love note to the suspenseful, old-school horror flicks of the '70s and '80s, complete with the simple setup of a babysitter in an under-lit spooky house. It's a film that builds and builds to the point of jumping when a creaky door opens and fear bursts in your heart. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The HUMP! Tour
See My, What a Busy Week! Cinema 21.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
See My, What a Busy Week! Academy Theater.
Million Dollar Arm
In 2008, two young men were chosen out of alllll of India to come to America and train to be baseball players. Disney's sports flick Million Dollar Arm is ostensibly based on their story, but it's like a photographic negative of the movie that should have been: Instead of focusing on the two teenagers abruptly thrust from one culture to another in pursuit of a very large, very high-pressure dream, the film gives the audience a handsome white guy to identify with, following sports agent J.B. Bernstein (Jon Hamm) as he gets sweaty in India, falls in love with his hot neighbor (Lake Bell), and learns how to not be a total scumbag. It's not a bad movie; it's just the worst possible way to tell this story. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Neighbors pits cranky-old-man Mac (Seth Rogen), his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), and their shockingly adorable baby Stella (some baby) against the shenanigantastic fraternity next door, led by frat president Zac Efron. It's sort of annoying that Neighbors thinks it has to have any sort of moral, but there's some Serious Business about growing up crammed into the end. Spoiler: It's not the worst thing in the world! Babies are cute! If you need someone to explain those facts to you while you laugh at some dick jokes, then Neighbors is the middle-of-the-road comedy for you. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
NW Animation Festival
Animated short festivals are a dicey proposition in this day and age, given that you can find all or most of the material on YouTube. On top of that, you'll usually have to sit through an hour of conceptual scribbles that some film board has convinced itself is high art. Thankfully, that isn't the case for the annual NW Animation Festival, where the majority of selections are solidly entertaining cartoons you should be supporting with your money. More at nwanimationfest.com. BEN COLEMAN Hollywood Theatre.
Director Alain LeTourneau leads a Q&A after the screening of his new experimental documentary. Whitsell Auditorium.
QDoc: Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival
See Film, this issue. Kennedy School, Whitsell Auditorium.
A monthly series at the Hollywood Theatre, "showing vintage and contemporary films that are obscure, neglected, and from the fringe." This month: All Men Are Apes, 1965's "post-beatnik, pre-hippie black and white exploitation film." Hollywood Theatre.
William Friedkin's critically acclaimed, publicly ignored 1977 thriller starring Roy Scheider. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Sunset Boulevard deserves to go head-to-head with Citizen Kane and The Godfather for the title of the best American movie ever made. Director Billy Wilder deftly balances comedy, suspense, and drama for a movie that works on every single level. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.