2001: A Space Odyssey
See Feature, this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
There's no doubt that Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest is very clever about what it says. The question is if it has anything to say. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre.
Neill Blomkamp has become our generation's definitive sci-fi auteur. His work is visionary, unmistakable, and rigorously designed—each film he does is his, from the thick veneer of grime to his native South African patois. Most distinctively, his visions of the future are dominated as much by poverty as by affluence. And if you care about big-budget spaceships and societies and robot suits (as I do), you want him to succeed. His heart is in the right place, and for a high-profile genre director, that's a rare thing indeed. The problem is he can't tell a story to save his fucking life. BEN COLEMAN Various Theaters.
Of all the Disney princesses, Cinderella is the most problematic. It may not be suitable reparations for the animated version, but Cinderella does take baby steps toward restoring humanity to the character. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
A big chunk of the striking Citizenfour was shot in Edward Snowden's Hong Kong hotel room, and it's an up-close look at history being made (a seriously up-close look—the hotel room is small). But director Laura Poitras doesn't limit her focus: Pulling in NSA whistleblower William Binney, hacktivist Jacob Appelbaum, the NSA's gargantuan Utah data storage facility, and the Obama administration's unprecedented persecution of those who speak out against it, Citizenfour is an overview of where we are and how we got here—a surveillance state so surreal that Snowden feels the need to remind us "it's not science fiction." ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
Death Cafe Goes to the Movies
A series focused on films about death, with post-film discussions. This month features the short films How I Coped When Mommy Died and Acting Out: The Scarlet Ds on their Grief Trip. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
The Fisher King
"Jack, I may be going out on a limb here, but you don't seem like a happy camper." Clinton Street Theater.
1998 called; it said Will Smith is dope, and it's right. Suck it, Jaden. ELINOR JONES Various Theaters.
Life is pain, even in the gorgeous French Alps. What starts as a perfect family vacation goes hideously awry in Force Majeure, Ruben Östlund's darkly hilarious and/or darkly horrifying tale of a marriage on the rocks. Or maybe that should be "on the slopes"? I don't know. The important thing is that these people are fucked. ERIK HENRIKSEN NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A high-intrigue crime story based on a 1996 murder. (If you aren't familiar with the crime itself, I won't spoil it—in the movie's atmosphere of flat menace, it comes as a shock.) In adapting the story to the screen, however, director Bennett Miller (Moneyball) seems so determined to avoid salaciousness that he errs too far in the other direction. Miller's reserve is both commendable and frustrating, and the result is a chilly, distant film that observes its characters without explaining them. ALISON HALLETT Laurelhurst Theater.
Gett: The Trial of
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
In horror movies, and sometimes in life, a girl alone at night is a victim. Shadows are ominous, noises are frightening. The night doesn't belong to her. Which is just part of why Ana Lily Amirpour's debut feature is so exhilarating. The Girl (Sheila Vand) is a taciturn, hijab-clad vampire in a tiny Iranian town called Bad City, gliding through the deserted streets like a not-so-friendly ghost. The night is her domain, though the men she encounters might assume otherwise. The Girl does what she wants, and usually what she wants is to drink somebody. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
Grindhouse Film Festival
A rare 35mm print of Lucio Fulci's 1981 "holy shit how in the living fuck did anyone allow something like this to be filmed" horror classic The Beyond. Includes vintage 35mm Italian horror trailers before the screening. Hollywood Theatre.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
A series where the audience texts their best jokes directly onto the screen. This month, one of the '80s' single worst cinematic experiences, Howard the Duck. Hollywood Theatre.
Life gets messy when a teenager driving an SUV hits a cyclist. What's the value of a human life anyway? Human Capital asks that question in this smart point-of-view story, using old Italian archetypes of the Mother, the Lover, and the Fool. JENNA LECHNER Living Room Theaters.
The best mysteries are the unpredictable ones—and the unpredictable ones rely on quick-switches and surprise reveals, buried details and long-forgotten connections. So when I tell you that Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice has all of those things, and also that it flickers onscreen through a thick blur of marijuana smoke, it won't come as a surprise when I add that the movie makes hardly any goddamn sense. Maybe it does if you see it twice, or if you've read the Thomas Pynchon book it's based on, or if you—unlike me—possess enough foresight to sneak a joint into the theater. Or two, or three: Inherent Vice is two-and-a-half-hours long, and for some, that'll feel like a long time to be confused. For Inherent Vice's dubious hero, Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix), that feels like a long time to be sober. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
To say too much about the journey of Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his small team of astronauts—Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Doyle (Wes Bentley), Romilly (David Gyasi), and two friendly robots (!)—would kneecap Interstellar's eye-widening moments of fear, excitement, melancholy, and above all else, discovery. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Into the Woods
Fellow musical theater dorks: Worry not! This movie is not only true to the original Sondheim production, but is perhaps better on screen, with bigger giants, scarier witches, and more of those woods they're always singing about. ELINOR JONES Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Liberty Theatre, Valley Theater.
In conjunction with the Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945 exhibit at Portland Art Museum, the NW Film Center explores the cinema of Italy since the decline of neorealism in the early 1950s. The fabulous clothes might be the link to the museum's exhibit, but the most worthwhile film of this series has the most tenuous connection. Dino Risi's Il Sorpasso is a fantastic, hilarious, and touching buddy comedy with Jean-Louis Trintignant and an incredible Vittorio Gassman. The two careen around Italy in a Lancia Aurelia Spider (complete with in-dash turntable!), wreaking havoc and making merry at every stop. See "Luci, Motore, Azione!," Film, March 4. NED LANNAMANN NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
See My, What a Busy Week!, this issue. Academy Theater.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
You can tell a lot about someone by which James Bond is his or her favorite. Judging from Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn's favorite is Roger Moore. Moore's Bond films were glamorous, extravagant trash, and Kingsman is both a love letter to that goofy camp and a mild critique of the dour, serious Bond we've got now. Based on a comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman is smashingly fun, finding common ground between today's comic-book action flicks and classic British espionage thrillers. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
A documentary sharing the story of an ex-con who left prison and went on a journey to become the best mariachi player in North America. Director and subject in attendance; presented by the Media Institute for Social Change. Academy Theater.
A Most Violent Year
Thanks to great turns from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, the latest from J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost, Margin Call) thrums with dread. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
Buster Keaton's silent film about an heir trying to claim his fortune without being killed by his girlfriend's brothers. Features a live score performed by Mood Area 52. Hollywood Theatre.
Queen and Country
John Boorman, almost 30 years later, finally makes a sequel to Hope and Glory, about a grown-up Bill Rohan in the army. Not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters.
Carla Rossi hosts a collection of genre shorts and live storytelling from queer artists and filmmakers. Hollywood Theatre.
"I'd buy that for a dollar!" Laurelhurst Theater.
Run All Night
Even if it doesn't always deliver on its stripped-down promise, Liam Neeson's latest deserves a healthy measure of respect for unearthing a rich, world-weary vein of noir fatalism. It'd punch you if it could. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
A movie by retirees, for retirees. See review in the Willamette Week. Various Theaters.
Something Borrowed: Found Footage Films and Videos by Roger Beebe
Filmmaker/curator/professor Roger Beebe presents short works. Clinton Street Theater.
What We Do in the Shadows
A mockumentary (wait, keep reading) about vampire roommates (just a little further) from the Flight of the Conchords brain trust. Blissfully, consistently silly throughout (Jemaine Clement's virile Coppola posturing gets funnier with every frame) with some knowingly wobbly effects by Peter Jackson's gang that only enhance the giggles. ANDREW WRIGHT Cinema 21.
I'm not totally sure, but I'm pretty sure that Barri (producer Sophia Takal) is the most annoying person in New York. That's problematic, considering that she and her fiancé Noah (writer/director Lawrence Michael Levine) are the focus of this bizarre mash-up of an indie relationship dramedy and throwback amateur-sleuth caper that comes complete with a winkingly ham-handed soundtrack. Barri and Noah are the type of protagonists you hope will die, which almost completely miffs up the perfectly diverting premise of Wild Canaries, which is made periodically less annoying by the additions of Alia Shawkat, Jason Ritter, and Annie Parisse. But if you can stifle your legitimately boner-killing dislike of Barri's babyishness (I literally thought her character had a traumatic brain injury for the first 10 minutes), it's not half bad. MARJORIE SKINNER Laurelhurst Theater, VOD.
Six short stories revolving around the micro-meltdowns of society. In each case, things fall definitively and spectacularly apart, as the gray areas of characters' motivations clash with bad luck, terrible timing, and, most of all, each other. Wild Tales is disaster porn for the socially scarred skeptic, and it restored my ability to laugh at the messy bullshit we all encounter in our pursuit of a nice life, which is all I'd dare to ask of two hours spent in a dark theater. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
The Wrecking Crew
"The Wrecking Crew" was the informal name of a group of LA studio musicians who played on an unfathomable number of hits in the 1960s, including those by the Beach Boys, Phil Spector, Sonny and Cher, Lee Hazlewood, the Monkees, Herb Alpert, and a ton more. Here's an alternate version of California rock 'n' roll history, told by those who actually played it. Director Denny Tedesco is the son of legendary studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco, who along with bassist Carol Kaye, drummer Hal Blaine, and others, were responsible for an embarrassing number of hits. A movie like this sinks or swims depending on how many of those songs they could secure the rights to. The Wrecking Crew got 'em all, and despite jumbling the chronology, it undeniably swims; hearing this fantastic music with fresh ears will blow you away. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre, VOD.