The 78 Project
A documentary that attempts to bridge music of today with music of the 1930s by gathering modern musicians to record old-timey songs onto 78rpm lacquer discs. Hollywood Theatre.
Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland
Joe Biel's documentary on Portland's cycling community and the advocacy that keeps it vibrant/obnoxious. Clinton Street Theater.
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's 1972 homage to the films of Douglas Sirk, about the turbulent relationship between a German woman and an Arab immigrant. Screens on 35mm. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Ballin' at the Graveyard
A documentary exploring the bonds built between longtime players of pickup basketball at the Graveyard, Albany's famous playground. Clinton Street Theater.
Watching porn in public is actually more silly and less creepy than you'd think it would be. At least that's the case with Bike Smut, the globetrotting, Portland-born "sex-positive, human-powered" film fest. The festival's mishmash of short, upbeat, feminist-friendly amateur pornos all revolve around bikes—and while they usually don't involve bike-fucking, per se, you'll likely never look at your saddle the same way. SARAH MIRK Clinton Street Theater.
Once a year for 12 years, director Richard Linklater summoned a cast of actors to film Boyhood, an utterly unique story of an utterly conventional American childhood. Boyhood is set in the 21st century, so there are divorced parents and videogames; it's Texas, so there are guns. It unfolds over 12 years, from 2002 to the present, but there are no title cards to tell you that time is passing—instead, the years are ticked off with pop songs and Harry Potter book release parties, new haircuts and new best friends. The story is fictionalized, but the passage of time is real; the nearly three-hour result is an affecting, heartfelt masterpiece. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
In 2011, John Michael McDonagh wrote and directed The Guard, a clever buddy cop flick starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle. Only McDonagh's second feature, the excellent Calvary strikes into far darker territory: Father James Lavelle (Gleeson) is in his confessional when he learns he's going to be killed. A man—unseen to us—sits in the shadows and speaks in a calm, strong voice hardened by years of anger. When he was a boy, the man says, a Catholic priest abused him; now the man wants revenge. Killing a guilty priest, the man says, isn't enough: He's going to kill an innocent one. In one week's time, he's going to kill Father Lavelle. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Close Encounters of the
Spielberg's acclaimed and beloved 1977 classic about an obsessed asshole who abandons his family. Hollywood Theatre.
A psychedelic, half-animated film that explores a dystopian future in which entertainment companies and fantasy-inducing drugs dominate human existence. Outside of Ari Folman's captivating visuals (he also made the fantastic Waltz with Bashir), the film also raises intriguing questions about our culture's relationship to celebrity and denial. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater.
Dolphin Tale 2
More pabulum to shovel into the unceasing maw of your screeching child. Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Duran Duran: Unstaged
David Lynch's Duran Duran concert documentary has been eagerly awaited by Duran Duran's fan. Hollywood Theatre.
A Five Star Life
"The sophisticated story" of a woman (Margherita Buy) who learns valuable things about her life and the way she lives it in the course of doing her job: inspecting five-star hotels around the world. Not screened for critics, due to its sophistication. Living Room Theaters.
An odd little comedy about what it's like to know a genius, in which Michael Fassbender hides his beautiful, beautiful face under a giant cartoon papier-mâché head while crooning stream-of-consciousness gibberish in the style of Jim Morrison. Also, Maggie Gyllenhaal is in it. FRANK BEATON Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
A scientific poll of Mercury employees (sample size: three) reveals that the average adult remembers two things about Lois Lowry's novel The Giver: It's about a world where no one can see color, and... something about apples? Lowry's Newbery award-winner came out in 1993. Since then, dystopias have gotten sexy—because nothing short of utter societal collapse will suffice when today's tweens are looking for metaphors for their growing-up feelings. And so The Giver has been gussied up from a grim parable about apples (?) into another moody YA love triangle about passion and futuristic oppression. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
God Help the Girl
A musical drama from Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, about a psychiatric escapee who flees to Glasgow to pursue her music career. Kiggins Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Good Will Hunting
Twenty percent of the Academy's ticket sales will go toward the Lines for Life suicide prevention hotline. Academy Theater.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hating Disney purifies my soul and simplifies my worldview, but despite being a mass-market product produced by an evil empire, Guardians of the Galaxy somehow feels like it was made just for me. It's so good! There's no way I'm going to be able to write about it without every word evoking the sound of saliva being sucked over a retainer. Adios, professionalism, you were no match for Chris Pratt and a talking raccoon. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
The Hundred-Foot Journey
Helmed by Lasse Hallström, in a clear bid to recapture some of that ol' Chocolat magic, The Hundred-Foot Journey focuses on Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), a bee-yoo-ty-ful young Indian man with near-mystical skill in the kitchen. He Is the One, Whose Divine Culinary Gifts Will Bring Michelin Stars to Us All; Lo! Gaze Upon His Glory as He Transforms a Humble Pan of Béchemel Sauce into Exotic Béchemel Sauce Simply By Adding a Hitherto Mysterious Dust Called "Coriander"! Soon enough, he falls for the trés French sous chef at the restaurant across the way—much to the chagrin of her boss, Helen Mirren. The food and love stuff is harmless enough, but Journey's a fairy tale whose pretenses to a social conscience are worse than none at all. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
I Am Not a Rock Star
A documentary made over the course of eight years in classical pianist Marika Bournaki's life. Director in attendance. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
It's official: The sudden synergy between commercial Christianity and Hollywood materialism has gotten weird. I wandered into a press screening for The Identical knowing next to nothing about it, which turned out to be a bit like taking mushrooms and wandering into a clown college audition. How should I prepare you for this experience? Basically, imagine if Tommy Wiseau from The Room was an evangelical Elvis impersonator who made a batshit, royalty-free vanity biopic about a Christian not-Elvis starring himself. As twins. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
If I Stay
Chloë Grace Moretz stars in a film in which a young woman has an out-of-body experience, then "must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined." Ten bucks says Chloë Grace Moretz's alternate life is one where she said no to that Carrie remake. Various Theaters.
Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
The result of years spent trying to reconstruct her face into relevance and shilling for any product that would pay her, Joan Rivers' persona came to overshadow her accomplishments. A Piece of Work gives her life and work a deserved re-contextualization—a reminder that behind the diva shenanigans and synthetic face was a performer who was legitimately influential, pioneering, and above all, pretty damn funny. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Kung Fu Theater
1978's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow isn't just Jackie Chan's breakthrough role—it's also the first of Yuen Woo-Ping's bonafide fight choreography classics. Screens in 35mm. Hollywood Theatre.
Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) doesn't really have a say in the matter. When he arrives at the Kentucky home of Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson), his former brother-in-law and a recently retired doctor, the reserved Colin expects to have dinner and catch up. But Mitch has other plans: He's booked them two first-class tickets to Iceland. Promising "the hot springs, the juicy, fantastic lobsters, and the gorgeous broads," the rowdy Mitch won't take no for an answer—and soon enough, the two septuagenarians are rumbling through Iceland's primal vistas in a massive Hummer, living it up in Reykjavík, and getting lost everywhere from night clubs to tundra, all while making their way through Mitch's copious supply of weed. Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz's boisterous comedy is fresh, earnest, and charming. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
Love Is Strange
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The Magnificent Seven
"We deal in lead, friend." Hollywood Theatre.
No Good Deed
A not-screened-for-critics thriller starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson. Various Theaters.
No No: A Dockumentary
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The November Man
At first, The November Man's subtle-yet-important tweaks to the Bourne formula (an R rating, no shaky cam, and very few government functionaries spouting geopolitical buzzwords in front of monitors) work perfectly—until about 40 minutes in, when you can all but hear the sound of the screenwriter's check clearing. Then it devolves from "Our involvement in this Chechen 9/11 scheme could be a political albatross!" to "Let her go!" and "If you hurt her I'll kill you!" The smart political thriller basically becomes a John Cena movie. VINCE MANCINI Various Theaters.
Odds and Ends
A program of short films, including The Ocean, a documentary about development on the corner of 24th and SE Glisan and how it affects Portland food cart culture. Clinton Street Theater.
1944's comedy of manners about two wealthy Victorian widows being pursued by two aristocrats. Screening on 35mm. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The One I Love
Mark Duplass plays Ethan, a husband trying to regain the trust of his wife Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) after he cheated on her. Their shrink sends them to an idyllic weekend retreat, in hopes that booze, weed, and sexy solitude will allow Ethan and Sophie to reconnect with the best versions of themselves and each other. But The One I Love makes that hope dangerously literal: Ethan and Sophie are baffled to discover that the guesthouse is inhabited by their exact dopplegangers—except Other Sophie and Other Ethan are funnier, sexier, and more relaxed. Ethan, desperate to reconnect with his wife, is suspicious of her pliable stand-in, but Sophie is susceptible to the charms of a kinder, cooler version of her husband. But for all its potential, the result is off-kilter and frustrating. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21, VOD.
A monthly "open screening potluck" that combines food and experimental film. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
A young inmate graduates from juvie to the real grown-up hoosegow and ends up incarcerated in the same wing as his father, who's serving life. Mixing a prison story and a British working-class drama is relatively novel, but if both of those movies are handled as generically as possible there's no benefit. Two fine central performances aside, Starred Up sports unremarkable handheld camerawork, a standard-issue father/son reconciliation narrative peppered with jailhouse details, and a dash of brutal violence and thickly accented swearing. Ironically, the final image is the thuddingly obvious one of a revolving penitentiary door; you'd think this one would have at least a fleeting idea of how many bland movies like it keep getting churned out. MATT LYNCH Living Room Theaters.
The Trip to Italy
British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have figured out the ultimate racket. They've somehow convinced the BBC to send themselves and director Michael Winterbottom on sightseeing trips ostensibly geared around local gastronomy. In 2010, they visited some of the best restaurants in the north of England for a six-episode series called The Trip, which was edited into a feature film for the US. Now they're back with The Trip to Italy—another six episodes, another condensed feature film for American theaters. Coogan and Brydon aren't food critics, or even particularly knowledgeable about what they're eating. But while The Trip and The Trip to Italy have dubious culinary merit, they're terrifically hilarious, thanks to Coogan and Brydon's bitchy, improvised banter and dueling competitive streaks. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, Sept 12-Thursday, Sept 18, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.