An American Werewolf in London
Thirty-four years down the road, John Landis and Rick Baker's 1981 flick An American Werewolf in London still boasts the greatest, goriest, and most horrifying man-wolf transformation ever. H. PERRY HORTON Hollywood Theatre.
Hou Hsiao-Hsien's drama/wuxia film, starring Shu Qi as a young killer. Fox Tower 10.
Beasts of No Nation
The efficient dismantling of sentiment and structure is a trademark of writer/director/cinematographer Cary Fukunaga, who's best known for helming the first season of True Detective. The same deft hand and ghoulishly fecund aesthetic is on display in Beasts of No Nation—but while Detective floundered on the shoals of gnomic middle-class existentialism, Fukunaga trains his eye on a single African boy's descent into a single heart of darkness. This time around, there isn't a single wasted shot or extraneous monologue. BEN COLEMAN Living Room Theaters, Netflix.
Bone Tomahawk lies somewhere between western and horror, and the less you know going in, the better. A magnificently bearded Kurt Russell plays a small-town sheriff who embarks on an all-but-doomed rescue mission; along for the ride are Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins, and Matthew Fox. S. Craig Zahler's film ebbs and flows, but it's strongest when relying on stark landscapes, Russell's grizzled charm, and moments of jarring violence. This thing wasn't released in Portland theaters, but if you're a fan of either of the aforementioned genres, it's well worth checking out. The only disappointing aspect is that Russell's character, tragically, is not named Bone Tomahawk. But that's okay. I hereby vow to bestow that name upon my firstborn child. ERIK HENRIKSEN On Demand.
Bridge of Spies
Spielberg's first film since 2012's Lincoln is an exceptional job of work—a deliberately old-fashioned hybrid of courtroom drama and Cold War skullduggery that's so expertly put together that you may not realize the beauty of its construction until after the fact. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters.
Church of Film
The screening series presents VIY, a late '60s ghost story from the Soviet Union. Clinton Street Theater.
A screening of the classic luchador film Santo y Blue Demon Contra Dracula y Hombre Lobo. Hollywood Theatre.
"It's not a ghost story," Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) says in Crimson Peak. "It's a story with a ghost in it." Edith isn't talking about Crimson Peak, though she might as well be. Guillermo del Toro's latest is a visually sumptuous gothic romance—one that, amidst all the melodrama, offers slivers of sly wit, loving nods to classic horror, and, by the time it's over, quite a bit of blood. It also has a ghost in it. Or two. Or three. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Death Cafe Goes to the Movies
A series focused on films about death, with post-film discussions. This month: One Million Dubliners. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
"Have you ever heard of exorcism? Well, it's a stylized ritual in which the rabbi or the priest try to drive out the so-called invading spirit. It's been pretty much discarded these days, except by the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of an embarrassment. But uh, it has worked." Academy Theater.
Social psychologist Stanley Milgram worked on the "six degrees of separation" theory, but he's better known for an experiment that measured people's willingness to inflict pain on strangers. That's the subject of Experimenter, a playful, self-aware movie with a personality as eccentric as Milgram's. Played by a twinkly-eyed Peter Sarsgaard, Milgram breaks the fourth wall to narrate the story from the standpoint of one who has already lived it, while writer-director Michael Almereyda uses visual metaphors (an elephant in the room) and fake backdrops to remind us of the movie's—and the experiment's—inherent artificiality. He shrewdly avoids giving Milgram's entire biography, focusing instead on the more easily managed story of this experiment and the notoriety that followed. As Milgram, Sarsgaard is resourceful and optimistic, a trustworthy pal who's eager to let us in on his secrets. The study raised alarming questions, but the film is enjoyably relaxed, a humorous, upbeat account of a fascinating phenomenon. All social science should be this entertaining! ERIC D. SNIDER Hollywood Theatre, On Demand.
Chilly and unsettling, this examination of the relationship between a vain and distant mother, recovering from plastic surgery, and her twin boys gradually builds its mysteries to a horrifying crescendo. A gorgeous arrangement of sterile but stylish modern furnishings contrasting with the boys' visceral interest in nature—cornfields, hissing cockroaches—becomes a backdrop for emotional and physical cruelty. The plot is impossible to unpack without disturbing Mommy's central plot twist, but be prepared to grapple with shifting sympathies and tragic confusion. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
A greatest hits-collection of all the most memorable Big Bads from R.L. Stine's beloved Goosebumps series. Slappy the ventriloquist's dummy, the Invisible Boy, the Blob That Ate Everyone, those pissed-off garden gnomes—they're all here, and so is the author himself, a reclusive curmudgeon (played by Jack Black), who keeps his monsters locked away in books. (Until chaos ensues. Low-stakes, goofy, easily resolved chaos.) Stine has always been an author with a wry sense of humor, and Goosebumps' most adult-friendly gag sees the author bitterly comparing his success to Stephen King's. (It's an off-base comparison, though: Stine is the Dean Koontz of kids' horror novelists; Christopher Pike is the Stephen King. I have been waiting 20 years to write that sentence.) ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
A two-week series showcasing seven remastered exploitation flicks of the '80s: Lamberto Bava's Demons and Demons 2, Frank Henenlotter's Brain Damage and Frankenhooker, plus Prom Night, Street Trash, and 1985's impeccably titled Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, which features a story by Bruce Campbell and a rare acting turn from a young Sam Raimi (as, natch, "Cult Leader"). More at laurelhursttheater.com. Laurelhurst Theater.
Grindhouse Film Festival
A double-feature of nasty classics sharing the theme of "getting stuck in the woods with murderous rednecks really sucks," including 1980's Mother's Day and 1982's Madman Marz. Hollywood Theatre.
Stephen King once very famously wrote an entire book so coked out of his gourd that he didn't remember writing it. He, so far as anyone knows, has no such excuse for his first and only film, Maximum Overdrive, which is really only notable for being the first appearance of the Green Goblin. Luckily, this is a Hecklevision screening, so all those turds he laid onscreen are now nuggets of comedy gold for you to claim! BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
A 35mm presentation of the 1993 Disney family comedy that starts at "sugar high" and ends somewhere past "diabetic shock" on the saccharine scale. At least it's not Teen Witch. Hollywood Theatre.
Jem and the Holograms
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Last Witch Hunter
See review this issue. Vinious Theaters.
Set in a fantastical near-future in which America adequately funds its space program, The Martian is the best ad for NASA since Ahmed Mohamed's T-shirt. Just about every frame reinforces a core sentiment: It's time to start caring about space again. The fact that The Martian manages to sell this idea—convincingly and rousingly, with a fair amount of humor—is all the more impressive given that it follows a man who's been marooned 140 million miles away and is forced to spend his days desperately trying to delay his all-but-inevitable death. It's funnier than it sounds. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Even if Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's latest project together feels like an afterthought when compared to Greenberg and Frances Ha, it's also their most consistently amusing, cleverly self-critical film to date. KATHY FENNESSY Laurelhurst Theater.
New Scandinavian Cinema
A showcase of 12 recent films from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
On Art and Artists
The NW Film Center's series of movies about... well, art and artists. This week's film: Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. More at nwfilm.org. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Paradise is There: A Memoir by Natalie Merchant
The Hollywood's Sonic Cinema series features this doc following Natalie Merchant as she rerecords Tigerlily on its 20th anniversary. Hollywood Theatre.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
This would've been better if it was called The G-G-G-G-Ghost Dimension! It isn't, though. It also wasn't screened for critics. Various Theaters.
This Bobby Fischer biopic seems to have been made not because someone had insight into the chess champion's character, but because someone realized Bobby Fischer was famous but didn't have a biopic yet. ERIC D. SNIDER Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
It is just barely the end of WWII, and survivors are washing up from the camps, living proof of everything the German people want to pretend never happened. Among these is Nelly (Nina Hoss), a woman who was shot in the face and left for dead. Reconstructive surgery leaves her beautiful but unrecognizable, and she ferrets out the husband whose betrayal led to her arrest—not out of revenge so much as a stumbling fugue-state of shock, unable to process that the life ripped away from her is irretrievable. His inability to recognize her reflects the mass denial that surrounds them, and the film becomes a tragic allegory for a nation at wits' end, filmed with a Hitchcockian moodiness that transcends the less believable moments in the plot. MARJORIE SKINNER Lake Theater & Cafe, Laurelhurst Theater.
Portland Latin American Film Festival
Monthly screenings from the Portland Latin American Film Festival. This month: Bad Hair, about a young boy whose desire to keep his hair straight sparks a homophobic panic in his mother. Hollywood Theatre.
POWFest's film series, featuring films "made by women that address issues of gender equality and the varied nature of women's lived experiences." This month: Pet Sematary, directed by Mary Lambert. Clinton Street Theater.
"Come on! Come on! Do it! Do it! Come on. Come on! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! Come on! Kill me! I'm here! Come on! Do it now! Kill me!" Fifth Avenue Cinema.
The bimonthly horror series returns just in time for Halloween with Nocturnal Submissions, featuring short submissions from amateur filmmakers. Hollywood Theatre.
The third in Hollywood's trilogy of Halloween double features, Re-Run Theater might actually have the best scares pound-for-pound, with an episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker followed by an episode of The X-Files. BOBBY ROBERTS Hollywood Theatre.
Rock the Kasbah
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Ron Mann Retrospective
A selection of films from one of Canada's most well-known documentarians, including Altman, Know Your Mushrooms, and Comic Book Confidential. Mann will be present for all screenings, and will hold a Q&A at every screening. More at cstpdx.com. Clinton Street Theater.
What's the opposite of evaporate? Whatever it is, that's what Sicario does. When so many movies and TV shows disappear from memory as soon as you're finished watching, Sicario lingers. It clots. Denis Villeneuve's new drug thriller is phenomenal. Its story is both personal and political, a scathing portrait of the drug war, as well as an elemental allegory in which moral dilemmas are depicted by characters crashing violently into each other. NED LANNAMANN Various Theaters.
Smut Without the Smut
A double-feature of classic porn films that have been edited to have the sex pulled out (eh? EHHH?) of them, including 1976's The Haunted Pussy and 1971's The Mad Love Life of a Hot Vampire. Hollywood Theatre.
A lesser film might have gone full biopic, with all the bloat and sentiment inherent to that genre, but with Steve Jobs, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin does audiences the favor of cutting out the bullshit. What remains is a story told in a few key sequences, each set in the moments preceding the launch of a new product: the Macintosh, the NeXT Computer, the iMac. As Sorkin writes it, just about every important conversation Jobs ever had took place in the frantic seconds leading up to these launches, when friends, family, and enemies would swarm, all sharing some phenomenal dialogue with Jobs before he went onstage. (If you guessed there's a lot of West Wing-style walking and talking through backstage hallways, CORRECT.) ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Stretch & Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives
A documentary focused on the pivotal place in hip-hop culture occupied by the Stretch and Bobbito Show in the '90s. Hollywood Theatre.
Amy Schumer fans should take heart: I'm with you. As far as I'm concerned, she's a national treasure, so it's weird to see her sharp-edged humor dulled by a movie that essentially hews to a classic boy-meets-girl-plus-problem format. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.