7th Planet Picture Show
Local blogger/KJ Will Radik hosts a film screening during which he and others heckle the shit out of crappy movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000-style. Mt. Tabor Theater.
A community sparks a national debate when it allows police officers to arrest anyone they think might be an illegal immigrant. Arizona in 2010? Nope, it's Prince William County, Virginia, in the months leading up to the 2008 election. Directors Eric Byler and Annabel Park document the polarization of the county, and the hapless legislators who are swept along for the ride. The film (originally a YouTube serial) can be slow and wonky at times, but its cameras are on at all the right moments. The heroes from start to finish are the immigrants, whose message is clear: leading the nation in racial anxiety can have dire economic and social consequences. Co-director Byler in attendance on Fri, July 16. STEFAN KAMPH Cinema 21.
Aguirre: The Wrath of God
A new print of 1972's Aguirre, which is a pretty big deal in the Werner Herzog/Klaus Kinski canon, and for good reason: Once again, Kinski plays a megalomaniac who drives a bunch of people to their doom, hypnotizing them with his crazy, crazy eyes and terse, barked-out German diatribes. Kinski's Aguirre is one of a bunch of idiotic conquistadores who're ineptly hacking their way through South America in search of El Dorado; when Aguirre sets up a mutiny, chaos erupts, people die, and monkeys take over a raft. Like another Herzog/Kinski joint, Fitzcarraldo, Aguirre takes its time getting going, but once it does, watch out. Also see My, What a Busy Week! ERIK HENRIKSEN Clinton Street Theater.
A young boy is sent to the Yucatan cost to work alongside his fisherman father in Pedro Gonzáles-Rubio's acclaimed 2009 film. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
All the Real Girls
David Gordon Green's 2003 flick starring a pre-She and Him, pre-weird ad for cotton, pre-The Happening Zooey Deschanel. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
"The more I thought, the more I felt like crying. Life seemed so sweet and so sad, and so hard to let go of in the end. But hey, man, every day is a brand new deal, right? Just keep on working and something's bound to turn up." The Press Club.
Alfred Hitchcock's silent film from 1929, with live musical accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra of Cambridge. Screening as part of the Northwest Film Center's Top Down festival, taking place on the roof of the Hotel deLuxe. Hotel deLuxe.
A not-screened-for-critics doc about the Tour de France that "touches on the rich history, passion and true grit of the tour." Clinton Street Theater.
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Whatever the reasons Coco Chanel has captured the imagination of filmmakers lately, her life makes a sumptuous backdrop for unusual forays into romance and feminism, even with fashion at the periphery. Although the films are—aside from their shared protagonist—unrelated, Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky begins slightly overlapping where Coco Before Chanel left off (I'm surely not the only one mentally planning a future back-to-back viewing marathon involving pajamas and champagne). The Chanel of Stravinsky is older, arch, thin and imposing, tight lipped, and demanding. She's also beautiful (more credit to actress Anna Mouglalis here than to historical accuracy) and self-possessed, honest about taking what she wants, however selfishly, and confident in her own invincibility. What she wants, according to the imagination of this film, is an affair with the controversial composer Igor Stravinsky (Mads Mikkelsen). MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
The Complete Metropolis
The Complete Metropolis, as the version playing this week in Portland is billed, is a bit of a misnomer—thanks to bits of film lost to time and poor storage technology, there are still missing scenes and interstitials explaining plot chunks. But after a 16mm copy of the film was found in Argentina, containing a full half-hour of footage that nobody thought existed, this is the closest the world has come to seeing Metropolis the way it was intended to be seen since 1927. Sure, there are versions of Fritz Lang's cautionary tale about unchecked capitalism that exist on video that attempt to make up for the film's missing reels by careful mood-tinting of the black-and-white hues or added synth-rock soundtracks—but the version screening at Cinema 21 not only features entire restored subplots, but a beautiful rerecording of the original score. BOBBY "FATBOY" ROBERTS Cinema 21.
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
The biggest film thus far from the mumblecore crowd, Cyrus has extremely high expectations attached to it. Those who've been cheerleading the films of this underground genre—not to mention fans of Cyrus' cult favorites John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Jonah Hill, and Catherine Keener—want it to be the breakout film they've been waiting for. It is a legitimization of the style, at least, and the cast members' presences are a weighty endorsement, though the film seems to choke a bit on its good fortune. It's not a bad film, but we're familiar with stories about love triangles created by jealous, threatened mama's boys. This one just talks more. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters.
The Darkest Corner of Paradise
I learned three things from this film. First: Don't major in accounting. Second: Stay away from creepy tattoo parlors. Third: Not all local films are terrible. Shot in black and white, The Darkest Corner of Paradise centers around recent college graduate Peter Landsman (Patrick O'Driscoll), an idealistic accounting major who just can't catch a break in life, with a crappy job, a crappy apartment, no friends, and a whole lot of creepy guys from Portland's seedy underbelly trying to kill him. Marginal acting and some shaky camera moments aside, this is actually a pretty decent, believable film that shows another side of Portland—far from the sanitized version that most of us are used to. SARAH "THE INTERN" HARDY Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Days of Being Wild
Wong Kar-Wai's sensuous homage to urban and feminine beauty from 1991. MARJORIE SKINNER Northwest Film Centers' Whitsell Auditorium.
Do you have kids? If so, take them to this movie: They won't remember it a week later, and neither will you, but at least they'll stop crying for 95 minutes (kids, right?). ANDREW "THE INTERN" MICHAAN Various Theaters.
The Father of My Children
In this nuanced, patient, and gripping film, writer and directer Mia Hansen-Løve tells the story of a family shocked by financial ruin and changed forever by the personal tragedy that comes as a result. When Grégoire (a brilliant Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) can no longer hide the financial woes of his independent film production company, his seemingly perfect reality begins to unravel. Hansen-Løve's pacing sometimes teeters towards self-indulgence, but her perfectly cast ensemble and engaging script more than make up for these moments of conceit. NOAH "THE INTERN" DUNHAM Living Room Theaters.
Filmusik: Gulliver's Travels
The 1939 animated film screens with audio accompaniment—"music, voices, noises, and bouncing ball sing-a-longs"—from Filmusik and Opera Theater Oregon. Hollywood Theatre.
The Girl Who Played with Fire
The second film based on Stieg Larsson's best-selling Millennium trilogy sees the return of 90-pound badass Lisbeth Salander (the titular girl with the dragon tattoo from the first book and the 2009 film adaptation), a '90s-era hacker with a panache for piercings and black clothes ('cause that's how she feels on the inside). This installation of the rape-y, murder-y series continues in much the same vein, with an intricate plot dealing with abused young girls in a sex ring. In theory, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a thriller, but it's too listless and filled with plot points to be much of one in practice. It's well shot and acted, but it has a cold detachment as it veers into a violent world of abuse and sadism. COURTNEY FERGUSON Fox Tower 10.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and a bestseller in Europe and the US. The new film adaptation centers on the unlikely relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth, a journalist and a young hacker who team up to investigate a long-unsolved mystery—and the pathological misogyny that is apparently endemic to Swedish culture. But even at 152 minutes, no insights emerge, other than that women get raped and murdered a lot. It's a shame, too—Girl is beautifully shot, and Mikael and Lisbeth are odd, sympathetic characters. I just wish their investigation didn't involve quite so many pictures of naked, mutilated dead women. ALISON HALLETT Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird
Enthusiasm counts. A lot. The South Korean spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, the Weird is 30 minutes too long, and I'm pretty sure it's packed with allegories to South Korean history/and or politics that'll go right over most Americans' heads. (At least, I certainly felt like a good chunk of subtext was drifting overhead.) But still: For anybody who likes westerns and action flicks, it's a must-see. Director Kim Ji-Woon clearly has so much fun staging the film's epic, ludicrously brilliant action sequences that one can't help but be consumed by their exuberant exhilarating chaos. ERIK HENRIKSEN Laurelhurst Theater.
Grindhouse Film Fest: Gone with the Pope
"The story of low-level gangsters who hatch a plan to kidnap the pope and blackmail every Catholic in the world." Originally shot—but never finished—in 1976, this lost grindhouse non-classic has finally been finished, courtesy of frequent Sam Raimi editor Bob Murawski (Army of Darkness, the Spider-Man movies, and Drag Me to Hell), who recently won an Oscar for his work on The Hurt Locker. Hollywood Theatre.
Early in Grown Ups, when Kevin James breaks an above-ground swimming pool (because he is fat, you see), I laughed. I also laughed when Salma Hayek threw a rock and it hit a kid in the nuts. Clearly, I do not have lofty standards for comedy. And yet: Those (hilarious!) moments aside, Grown Ups feels 9,000 hours long. Its existence will convert some viewers to atheism. In endless stretches, tone-deaf jokes fall flat; entire scenes collapse with the thud of incompetence. It is boring. It makes one nostalgic for the act of laughing. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
I Am Love
The extravagance of this melodrama is as overwhelming as the opulence of the upper crust Milanese family it preoccupies itself with. Starring Tilda Swinton as a wife and mother whose senses are reawakened just as her children begin to fly the nest, it will hypnotize the passions of any viewer prone to the influence of culinary mastery, Italian tailoring, and the architecture of man and nature. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. 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'll pay her, Joan Rivers' persona has come 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 is a performer who's legitimately influential, pioneering, and above all, pretty damn funny. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
The Kids Are All Right
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
The Last Airbender
Even with lowered expectations, this live-action take on Nickelodeon's great Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon is impressively shitty: entire scenes seem to be missing; a clumsy voiceover pounds out clumsier exposition; half-assed 3-D makes everything look like a pop-up book. Somehow, M. Night Shyamalan's taken a story about magic kung fu—magic kung fu, for fuck's sake—and made it boring. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet has made some remarkable films (Delicatessen, Amélie), and his latest is nearly one of them. Bazil (Dany Boon) has a bullet inside his head, which could kill him at any moment. He joins a merry group of outcasts who live in the junkyard, and together they plot revenge on the weapons manufacturers who made both the bullet in Bazil's brain and the bomb that exploded his parents. It's the kind of whimsical story that only Jeunet could make work, and it approaches the poeticism of Amélie and the surrealism of Delicatessen, even if it falls short of the high marks of Jeunet's best work. NED LANNAMANN Fox Tower 10.
Nicole Holofcener makes complex, thoughtful movies about women. About female friendships, in the cult classic Walking and Talking; about female self-image, in the underrated Lovely and Amazing; about female careers, in the capable Friends with Money. With her newest, Please Give, Holofcener makes it clear from the film's opening moments that her focus hasn't changed: The credits roll over a montage of naked breasts, varied and unshapely and a little uncomfortable as they're weighed and smooshed into mammogram machines. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Royce (Adrien Brody) is one of a slew of badasses who've been dumped onto an alien planet. There's our core crew—grumpy mercenary Royce (you can tell he's smart 'cause he quotes Hemingway!), grim soldier Isabelle (Alice Braga), and skittish doctor Edwin (Topher Grace)—along with a bunch of other dudes who I don't think even have names: A quiet Japanese Yakuza dude. A huge black guy who runs African genocides. A kidnap-crazy Mexican (Trejo) who should be in this movie a lot more than he is. All these tough guys (and, okay, fine, the one tough girl) better figure out how to work together, though, 'cause they're up against some pretty horrible shit: (A) the merciless aliens that're hunting them for sport, and (B) Topher Grace's constant whining. "This planet is a game preserve," Brody dramatically declares, "and we're the game." "Waaaahhh, I'm just a doctor! Why am I heeeeerrrrrreeee???" whimpers Topher. Then some predators kill some motherfuckers, annnd... scene. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
ACTUAL PRESS RELEASE: "If you loved High School Musical... then think Junior High School Musical as you shake to the awesome high-energy dance moves, listen to the cool new tunes, and laugh your way through this hip original family film that will leave you feeling uplifted and ready to put on your dancin' shoes.... Every cast member has their own success story to tell which embodies the Standing Ovation message to ALL young people who have a similar dream: 'If you are a Wannabe, then you Gonnabe!'" Century Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Mall 8.
Suck My Flick Film Night
A night of homemade short films. More info: portlandfilm.org. Curious Comedy Theater.
Three Days of the Condor
Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway star in Syndey Pollack's badass conspiracy thriller from 1975! Worth seeing for Redford's majestic sideburns alone, though the rest of the movie's pretty great, too. Laurelhurst Theater.
The Windsurfing Movie II
A creatively named windsurfing doc that wasn't screened for critics. Cinema 21.
Like Deliverance, Winter's Bone will make urbanites never ever want to venture into the woods. Ever. Fucked-up shit happens out there, you guys. And like The Road—a book and film with which it shares a few similarities—Winter's Bone is bleak, wearying, and haunting. It'll wear you down as you watch it, and after it ends it'll clatter around in your head for days—but it'll do so in all the best ways. ERIK HENRIKSEN City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.