500 Days of Summer
In the 500 days this film spans, a familiar arc is described: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) date; Tom gets too attached; Summer breaks it off; and Tom lapses into the sort of melodramatic, self-pitying behavior that seems utterly ridiculous when engaged in by anyone but oneself. But wait. Problem: Breakups are depressing, and Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are far too adorable to squander on melodrama. So first-time director Marc Webb skirts the bummer factor by shuffling his story's chronology, splicing together out-of-order scenes from their relationship to chart its dissolution. Other gags further cushion the film's potential emotional impact: There's split-screen, a totally superfluous narrator, a musical number, and, as always, Deschanel's inability to register emotional depth—all of which collude to render a gut-ripping breakup as mild indie entertainment. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Away We Go
"I think we might be fuckups," Verona (Maya Rudolph) admits to Burt (John Krasinski). At 34 and 33, Verona and Burt are unsure of where to go or what to do—so they travel from Arizona to Wisconsin to Montreal to Miami, reconnecting with family members, college friends, and employers to try and figure out where (and how) to grow up. There are a bunch of really excellent things about Away We Go, from Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida's script to Krasinski and Rudolph's performances, but director Sam Mendes can't quite stick the landing: About 500 times during the film, the emo strumming of singer/songwriter Alexi Murdoch swells on the soundtrack, making Away We Go briefly feel like (A) an episode of The O.C., and (B) way too precious. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
It'd do a hilarious film a disservice to ruin any of the jokes here. Suffice to say that Brüno will definitely surprise you, possibly offend you, and certainly make you wonder if you and the guy behind you are laughing at the same punch line. And if that ain't good comedy, I don't know what is. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
Classic Concerts: Fashion, Lover
Concert footage of Donovan and the Kinks. Clinton Street Theater.
A weird, brilliant, brutal, and gorgeous science-fiction film. It's inventive and surprising and disarmingly unique, and it's one of those too-rare films that's both relentlessly entertaining and also has something to say. It's the sort of story you won't be able to stop thinking about afterward, and, not to build it up too much or get embarrassingly hyperbolic, but goddamn—in a whole lot of ways, this thing feels like a game-changer. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Evangelion: 1.0 You Are
Fourteen years after Neon Genesis Evangelion's multinational anime assault, animator Hideaki Anno once again bitch-slaps our inner otaku into submission with Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, the first of four feature-length films that he describes as a "faithful remake of the original series." Evangelion: 1.0 is, indeed, true to form, complete with a new widescreen format, reimagined character designs, some of the most frightening sound effects ever recorded, some conspicuous product placement (Doritos), and a not-so-conspicuous titty shot (titties). MIKE WILLIAMS Living Room Theaters.
A favorite amongst pea soup aficionados. Bagdad Theater.
The Final Destination
The fourth film in the series about Death huntin' down teenagers using increasingly ludicrous and convoluted methods. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Here's a friendly word of advice: Adjust your expectations for Funny People. If you're a Judd Apatow fan, and you loved Freaks and Geeks and The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and you think, as I do, that Apatow is consistently involved with some of the funniest and least-insulting comedies being made, then you're probably pretty excited for his newest—especially given the film's standup comedy bent and impressive list of participating actors. Well, dial it down a bit. Funny People is a long and not unentertaining cancer comedy (think Beaches with dick jokes) that splices together elements of every Apatow project to date—but it's less the pinnacle of his filmmaking than a synthesis of every theme he's spent his career exploring. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Here is the situation: Channing Tatum is the Best Soldier in the World Ever. When a couple of warheads filled with magical, metal-eating "nanomites" (invented by Cobra Commander Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are stolen (also by Cobra Commander Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and don't bother asking why someone would go to the trouble of stealing their own technology from their own selves because it DOESN'T MATTER), Tatum falls in with a special clan of underground fighty wax figurines called G.I. Joes. The rest of the movie goes like this: "Once unleashed, the nanomites will not stop. EVER." "Come on! We gotta get in this fight!" "Don't make me shoot a woman." "Oh my god. They're going to use him to weaponize the warheads." "Try this on for size, boys." "Zey're going to detonate one of ze war'eads at ze Eiffel Tower!" Robot fish, medieval flashback, 11 seconds of Brendan Fraser, a plane that only speaks Celtic, a dash of Face/Off, a buttload of Star Wars, aaaaaaaaand we're done. LINDY WEST Various Theaters.
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard doesn't quite make the sale, but really, the movie doesn't act like it's trying very hard. It's more or less a series of gags strung along against the backdrop of a Temecula, California, used car lot, where Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and his crew arrive to help poor Mr. Selleck (James Brolin) sell some cars. This is the first feature directed by Neal Brennan, a veteran of Chappelle's Show, and this movie possesses some of that infamous sketch show's fearless irreverence. But the little that Brennan makes work here, including a funny Will Ferrell cameo, only emphasizes that The Goods feels like a sketch padded out to feature length. NED LANNAMANN Century Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16.
Grindhouse Film Fest: Zombie
Probably the only film in existence in which a zombie fights a shark. Hollywood Theatre.
The sequel to the remake. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters.
Humpday is more focused and charming than most mumblecore films, taking the best qualities and leaving behind the characteristic sloppiness and over-privileged naiveté. The result is a breakthrough, and as we're led into the inner circle of the characters' earnest attempts to be communicative, positive, and open minded, it slowly dawns on you how mistreated we are by the studios' infliction of endless lashes of gender stereotype and homophobia, where 90-minute jokes are based on the supposed male aversion to talking about their feelings. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters.
The Hurt Locker
It's easy to say The Hurt Locker is gonna be one of the best movies of this year, because... well, it is. But that doesn't convey what an intense and challenging experience it is to watch Kathryn Bigelow's thriller about a bomb squad stationed in Baghdad in 2004, led by Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). You will feel fine going in to The Hurt Locker. You will walk out feeling like you lost a fistfight. ERIK HENRIKSEN Hollywood Theatre, St. Johns Twin Cinema and Pub.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
This Ice Age—the third in the series—is well paced, and the addition of 3D visuals is fine. It's not clever like a Pixar joint, but I get the sense that it was supposed to be touching. (I might not be the best judge of such things—during the movie's birth scene, a small boy in the theater cried tenderly, and I found myself unaffected.) You don't have to have seen the first two Ice Age movies to follow this one, but if you're older than seven, you might need to see them in order to care. JANE CARLEN Century Clackamas Town Center.
In the Loop
Armando Iannucci's In the Loop is a foreign-born freak of a movie, a bizarre amalgamation of broad humor and pointed political satire. Using an Office-esque mocumentary style, In the Loop careens through the halls of power in the days leading up to the Iraq War, as British and US politicians negotiate idealism and opportunism in a tense political climate. None of this makes for revelatory satire, but in Iannucci's hands, it's relentlessly entertaining nonetheless. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Overall, this is a hell of a picture, and parts of it are as great, if not better, than anything else Quentin Tarantino's done. Basterds' opening sequence is a nerve-wracking exercise in tension; throughout, there's a dark humor that'll make you snicker and clench your teeth; there are killer performances from Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz, who plays a particularly vicious Nazi named Colonel Hans Landa, AKA "The Jew Hunter." (Pitt's character, a charming, totally fucked-up Tennessean lieutenant named Aldo "The Apache" Raine, demands his soldiers scalp the Nazis they kill and gleefully carves swastikas into the foreheads of those he lets live; Landa, meanwhile, is so terrifyingly fascinating that he'll go down as one of the best movie villains in recent memory.) And then there's the rest of Basterds, which is a sizeable chunk, and which never works quite as well as the stuff above. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Julie & Julia
More or less entirely delightful, Julie & Julia has a pretty foolproof formula: It's a movie based on a popular book that's based on a popular blog that, in turn, was inspired by America's most popular chef. And the master of the chick flick, Nora Ephron, directs the thing, and Meryl Streep plays Julia Child, and Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, the New Yorker who decided to blog about cooking all 524 recipes in Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. Despite the fact that, bewilderingly, not a single person in the film notes the endless comedic potential of the oft-repeated phrase "boning a duck," Julie & Julia is still entertaining, enjoyable, and good-hearted throughout. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Late Night Double Feature
Boxxes' free movie night. This week's ingeniously paired selections: Pink Flamingos and Predator. Boxxes.
A three-hour long drama that uses over 50 characters to examine what happened to members of the American left following the '60s. Fox Tower 10, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
NW Documentary Workshop Screening
A selection of documentaries made by students in the NW Documentary Workshop. Screening features live music from Laura Gibson. More info: nwdocumentary.org. Mission Theater.
A loose retelling of "The Little Mermaid," Ponyo is reportedly the final film of legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. It isn't quite the masterwork one would hope he'd go out on—there's nothing quite as amazing here as the stuff in Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, or My Neighbor Totoro—but even when Miyazaki isn't at the top of his game, his stuff's still pretty great, and anybody watching Ponyo won't be disappointed. ERIK HENRIKSEN Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Clackamas Town Center.
Essentially an 89-minute pep talk for over-achieving graduates who have been preparing to take over the world since holistic pre-school, only to be shunted into a whimpering economy, Post Grad is utterly cardboard. Star Alexis Bledel, as Ryden, is bright-eyed and likeable, but everything from the quirky family members to the romantic interests are so underdrawn that when the whole shebang wraps, it feels like never even got properly started. Add Ryden's genetic advantage to her overachieving ambition, plus a convenient resolution to her employment problem, and you end up with a product that might exacerbate more insecurity than it soothes. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
Like any PG-13 erotica should, The Proposal hits a few of its marks, and you may find yourself torn between your own intelligence and the twinkle in Ryan Reynolds' eye. There's no real shame in this—during illness, say, or drinking alone—but this is one film that's best left for such weaker moments. MARJORIE SKINNER Century Clackamas Town Center.
Public Enemies takes a while to get going, but once it does, it's a hell of a reminder why Michael Mann is one of the best directors working today. Almost certainly, he's the best at action—from the way Mann splits your eardrums with the sudden explosion of gunfire to how his handheld digital cinematography rushes you along in an exhilarating immediacy, watching the guy work when he's in the zone is pretty incomparable. Mann can make desensitized audiences wince at the sight of a fist smashing into a face, yet he can also capture vistas and portraits with stunning grace and precision—and with Public Enemies, he gets the chance to do both, after he wades through an uneven script. ERIK HENRIKSEN Academy Theater, Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
The Queen and I
A documentary about Queen Farrah of Iran. Preceded by the short film Liberation. Hollywood Theatre.
With its interminable sex scenes and abandoned plot threads, some could say The Room is a "bad" movie, but this raises the question of what makes a movie "good." Is it a comprehensible script? Believable acting? Sets that don't look like they're going to topple over at any second? The Room contains none of these elements, yet that hardly detracts from its remarkably high entertainment value. In fact, The Room may have you questioning the reasons you've ever enjoyed anything in your life—as well as serving as incontrovertible proof that making a movie is very, very difficult. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
I didn't know who Séraphine de Senlis was at the start of this biopic, but I quickly deduced she was an actual person by the movie's ponderous, presumptuous tone. A devoutly religious maid who compulsively painted in her spare time, Séraphine was discovered in the French countryside by German art dealer Wilhelm Uhde, but then World War I broke out and she languished for years in poverty and obscurity, slowly going mental. The photography of Séraphine's paintings is genuinely gorgeous, but the script is stuffy, and the movie feels like a harangue. NED LANNAMANN Cinema 21.
A brisk, funny, madcap collection of interconnected vignettes—but more accurately, this is the sort of film in which characters have names like "Helvetica Black," tiny UFOs destroy filled classrooms, booger monsters lurch through subdivisions, kids named Loogie get drenched in pterodactyl poop, and James Spader plays Steve Jobs. The story here's ostensibly about a "wishing rock" that makes people's dreams come true, but mostly, it's just an excuse for Robert Rodriguez to let loose with a ton of CG, a slew of talented actors, and a sense of humor that's sometimes clever but usually just goofy. It's all giddily chaotic and fantastically absurd, and while I'm sure you could complain about parts of Shorts if you wanted to, you'd have to be a particularly assholish curmudgeon not to be grinning through this whole thing. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Director J.J. Abrams and writers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci have dusted off a doddering, weary franchise, injecting it with verve, punch, humor, and spectacle. Abrams & Co. have kept all that worked about Star Trek, but they've thrown aside everything that didn't—and the result is an epic, exuberant Trek that's remarkable for how much goddamn fun it is. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
The Time Traveler's Wife
The Time Traveler's Wife has been described as a meeting between science fiction and romance, but it's best not to look for many plausible explanations or a love story that isn't tainted by ultra-creepy undercurrents here. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
The Ugly Truth
It'd certainly be possible to write a panty-wadded screed on how offensive The Ugly Truth is, but anyone who's seen the previews knows exactly what they're in for: a feminist setback of a romantic comedy in which Katherine Heigl gets a makeover from Gerard Butler. It makes no sense, it's sexist, and worst of all, it's not even a little bit funny. But really... What'd you expect? ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A comedy starring Zach Galifianakis, presumably made before his role in The Hangover kicked him into another tax bracket. Preceded by the short Comandante, a film "about guerrilla rebels on Mt. Tabor." Clinton Street Theater.
Whatever Works could well be the title of Woody Allen's current cinematic style. Like many of his recent films, it feels muted, minimalist, and sometimes downright lazy: The camera stays static, the lines are read, and boom, we're on to the next scene. I've always had the feeling that Allen's best films were a matter of luck; his writing and directorial approach is almost always the same, whether the movie is good or bad. It's a journeyman quality that has resulted in a few wonderful films, and a huge amount of okay ones. NED LANNAMANN Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
A Woman in Berlin
See review. Living Room Theaters.
See review. Hollywood Theatre.