PIFF runs though Sunday, February 27. Not all films were screened for critics, and not all films were screened in time for press. See Movie Times for theaters and showtimes. For more info, see "When Japanese Schoolgirls Attack" and nwfilm.org.
Black Bread (Spain)
Finally, an awesome movie about everyone's favorite badass pirate! Wait. No. We read that wrong. This is some drama set in "the harsh years of post-war rural Catalonia." Oh. Never mind. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Boy (New Zealand)
Left alone to take care of his family, an 11-year-old boy's irresponsible father unexpectedly comes back into his life. Humor balances the gravity of his tragedies, making Boy realistic and completely worthwhile. CHARMAINE PRITCHETT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Brother and Sister (Argentina)
A "wryly amusing and heart-warming drama" about "the love-hate relationship between two sixtysomething siblings." Broadway Metroplex.
Look both ways before crossing the street in Argentina, where hundreds of thousands of auto-related injuries and 8,000 traffic fatalities occur annually—giving rise to a crooked industry of lawyers, scammers, and insurance thugs. Carancho tours this seedy, bloody, nocturnal world in a dark, fretful examination that does little more than provoke infrastructural worry. MARJORIE SKINNER Broadway Metroplex.
A western set during "Pancho Villa's failed 1916 invasion of Columbus, New Mexico." (Big mistake. Dude totally shoulda gone for Columbus, Illinois.) Broadway Metroplex.
Cold Weather (US)
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
Colors of the Mountain (Colombia)
Tensions between guerrilla forces and paramilitary soldiers in rural Colombia come into focus through the eyes of nine-year-old Manuel. Dimly aware of the adult perspective, Manuel's experience is of classmates disappearing and the retrieval of a soccer ball from a minefield. A sad, gently paced look at ordinary victims of political strife. MARJORIE SKINNER Broadway Metroplex.
Crab Trap (Colombia)
Crab Trap follows the stoic Daniel to a small village on Colombia's Pacific Coast. He's running from something... but what? Daniel rarely speaks, much less reacts to the villagers around him. Like this film, they're quiet, pensive, bored, and brooding. Without any arc, Crab Trap unfurls as more of a sketch of place than a scripted narrative. ANDREW R TONRY Broadway Metroplex.
Even the Rain (Spain)
A Spanish film crew shoots a historical biopic of Christopher Columbus in Bolivia and finds itself in the middle of an uprising. Bolivia's privatization of the country's water supply leaves its impoverished citizens—the film's extras—unable to afford water, and this politically charged film tells a fascinating story through an unpredictable framework. NED LANNAMANN Broadway Metroplex.
A wrenching film set in the Venezuelan slum of La Ceniza, Hermano chronicles the relationship between two soccer-playing brothers as they grapple with the organized crime and violence that pervades their environment. Death and tragedy dog them as they attempt to grasp their only means of escape: to be drafted onto a major league team. MARJORIE SKINNER Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
An autobiographical drama about a young boy and his father. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Last Circus (Spain)
Everything great about The Last Circus is also what makes it so divisive. Director Álex de la Iglesia has created a grand, cartoonish nightmare around a love triangle in a Franco-era circus that's too singular and ambitious to be dismissed, but much too strange to endear. This is the kind of movie that cults are built around. DAVE BOW Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A film about 16th century Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, AKA "The Spanish Neil Simon." Cinema 21.
The Man Next Door (Argentina)
At the center of this dark comedy is Swiss architect Le Corbusier's only residential project in the Americas. Inhabited by persnickety designer Leonardo and his family, their bourgeois perfection is shattered when an uncouth neighbor smashes out a window on a dividing wall, opening the door to weaselly manipulation and overblown insecurities. Watch the rich people squirm! MARJORIE SKINNER Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
A 75-year-old archivist is fired and replaced with a computer. Think of it as a underwhelming version of The Terminator. In Spanish. Broadway Metroplex.
Mutant Girls Squad (Japan)
When a bullied high school girl discovers she's a mutant (Oh, hello, creepy bulletproof claw!), she's taken under the wing of an X-Men-style gang of gals with similar attributes (including one who has a chainsaw sticking out of her butt)—unfortunately, things aren't what they seem in this super gory/hilarious decapi-thon, where heads never stop rolling and no one ever seems to slip on the copious buckets of blood being spilt. (Protip: Go high.) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Cinema 21.
My Life with Carlos (Chile)
Germán Berger's documentary about his father, who disappeared during the Pinochet regime. Broadway Metroplex.
Nostalgia for the Light (Chile)
"A poetic and visually stunning mediation" about an astronomical observatory in Chile's Atacama Desert, as well as the victims of Pinochet's regime, buried nearby. Fun for the whole family! Broadway Metroplex, Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Of Love and Other Demons (Costa Rica)
A sensual adaptation of Gabriel García Márquez's novel, Of Love and Other Demons' heavy-handed, tragic morality play between evil priests and nuns in colonial Colombia and a quiet, peculiar 13-year-old girl who is bitten by a rabid dog can be forgiven. Lyrical and dramatic, it favors bluntness over nuance, but does so with poise and intention. MARJORIE SKINNER Cinema 21.
The Revenant (US)
A horror comedy that's neither all that horrific nor all that funny, the overlong The Revenant follows Bart (David Anders), a dead Iraq War vet who comes back to life as a cross between a zombie, a vampire, and an asshole. Teaming up with his buddy Joey (Chris Wylde), the two cause chaos all over Los Angeles—but despite a great ending, there's nothing here that Shaun of the Dead didn't do better. ERIK HENRIKSEN Cinema 21.
An omnibus film that "commemorates the centenary of the Mexican Revolution." Broadway Metroplex.
A War in Hollywood (Spain)
This boring documentary examines Hollywood's sporadic relationship with Spain following the Spanish Civil War and during Franco's fascist regime. Those interested in 20th century Spanish history will have to make do with clips from The Way We Were and interviews with Susan Sarandon. Seriously, why is Susan Sarandon in this movie? NED LANNAMANN Broadway Metroplex.
When We Leave (Germany)
A young Turkish woman suffering abuse from her husband flees, with her son, back to her family—where she's rejected for bringing shame upon them. When We Leave is an extremely dramatic movie, but its message is powerful. CHARMAINE PRITCHETT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Woods (US)
Matthew Lessner's Sundance-approved "satirical attack on young, modern, globally conscious citizens." Cinema 21.
83rd Academy Awards
Amy Adams. Amy Adams! AMY ADAMS! Bagdad Theater, Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
See "Of Klingons and Bond Girls." Fox Tower 10, Hollywood Theatre.
The Bicycle Film Festival
New York's sleek, 11-year-old Bicycle Film Fest stops to throw a two-day party in Portland on its world tour. Friday night seems like the hotter ticket, with two programs mixing short bike movies with longer films. That said, the festival's feature(ish)-length flicks (Birth of Big Air, a doc about BMX legend Mat Hoffman; Empire, about fixies 'round the world; and Riding the Long White Cloud, about seven pro skaters biking through New Zealand) appear intolerable to anyone who is not into watching pretty movies about guys being macho on bikes. Stick around for Friday's afterparty at East End, featuring Guantanamo Baywatch. More info: bicyclefilmfestival.com. SARAH MIRK Clinton Street Theater.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son
Helmed by the director of Malibu's Most Wanted, BM:LFLS is a lazy, insulting turd, and everyone involved seems to know it. Martin Lawrence has never looked so sheepish as he breaks tables by falling on them ('cause Big Momma's fat!) and spouts lines like, "I grew up so poor we used to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and lick other people's fingers!" Brandon T. Jackson matches Lawrence in energy in the thankless role of his son, who also dresses in drag for stupid reasons. DAVE BOW Various Theaters.
Directed by Miguel Arteta (Youth in Revolt, The Good Girl, Chuck & Buck), the critical consensus on Cedar Rapids seems to be something along the lines of "Frank Capra's 'aw-shucks' earnestness meets the 'edge' of Apatow"—and if that sounds like just about the most mind-numbingly vanilla bullshit you've ever heard of, you're probably giving it too much credit. ZAC PENNINGTON Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Cinema 21.
The Company Men
Emmy-festooned television producer John Wells (ER, The West Wing, Southland) specializes in big, chewy, of-the-moment melodramas that wisely cut the soapier stuff with slow-burning character arcs. By comparison, The Company Men—Wells' feature-film debut as a writer/director—suffers notably from compression. Despite some terrific performances and an exceedingly timely subject, it ultimately feels like, well, a decent midseason pilot. ANDREW WRIGHT Fox Tower 10, Tigard 11 Cinemas.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
Follow that Bird
"This news just in, concerning a six-year-old runaway: The runaway is an eight-foot yellow bird who answers to the name 'Big Bird'." Laurelhurst Theater.
Gnomeo & Juliet
Some kids' movie about gnomes. Various Theaters.
The Grace Card
A Christian flick starring Louis Gossett Jr. Dammit, Louis Gossett Jr.! Where's Enemy Mine II: Enemy Miner? Division Street, Lloyd Mall 8.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
You've probably never heard of director Tom Shadyac, but a few of his films should ring a bell: Bruce Almighty, Patch Adams, The Nutty Professor, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective—pretty heady stuff, there. So when Shadyac wrecked on his bicycle and conked his head, he suddenly got contemplative about his life and the world, and wanted to do something about it. That "it" is the documentary I Am, for which he traveled all the way from Malibu, California, to San Francisco, California, to chat up people who have never seen his movies, like Desmond Tutu, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky. The childlike pretext to these conversations was to determine what is wrong with the world and how we can change it for the better. Yes, it really is that vague, but there are worse ways to while away the hours than to listen to what people like Tutu, Zinn, and Chomsky have to say. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
I Am Number Four
I Am Number Four was conceived in what Gawker dubbed "James Frey's young-adult fiction sweatshop"—Google it!—and movie rights were sold before the book was even written. A rational response to this information would be an earnest wish for Frey's calculated cash-grab to humiliatingly tank, and maybe for Oprah to yell at him again, like she did after it turned out his "memoir" A Million Little Pieces was largely fictional. But for all the Schadenfreude Frey inspires, it has to be said: I Am Number Four is a teen movie with a reasonable amount of heart that does not openly insult the intelligence of its viewer. (John Hughes is dead. In this age of sparkly vampires, we take what we can get.) ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
I Love You Phillip Morris
Jim Carrey has always struck me as a precocious but needy child, one that so desperately craves love and attention that he's been contorting himself through his entire career, overacting his way into as many hearts as can possibly stand him. This time around, Carrey's hamming his way through a fact-based homosexual love story with a streak of black humor, courtesy of directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (writers of Bad Santa). But whatever promise I Love You Phillip Morris holds is squandered by the end of its running time, as—like Carrey—the movie simply wears out its welcome. NED LANNAMANN Laurelhurst Theater.
Sylvain Chomet's follow-up to his beloved The Triplets of Belleville, based on a script for an un-produced live-action film that was written by Jacques Tati in 1956. The Illusionist follows the titular magician—aging, weary, facing obsolescence—and his companion, a young, wide-eyed woman named Alice, who jumps at the chance to escape her provincial existence, only to find that life in the city isn't all that she had hoped. Nearly free of dialogue and full of stunningly evocative visuals, The Illusionist is whimsical and bittersweet, gorgeous and melancholy. I hesitate to say too much about it, because its many charms—countless small moments of sadness and humor—sneak up on you, patient and subtle. ERIK HENRIKSEN Living Room Theaters.
Just Go With It
It must be awesome being friends with Adam Sandler, because he will gladly build an entire movie around the premise of hanging out with you. DAVE BOW Various Theaters.
If this year's Oscar nominees for best short films represent the best the global film community has to offer, it begs the question: What the hell happened to live-action short filmmaking? Did all the really clever filmmakers defect to animation? With the Hollywood Theatre showing both the Oscar-nominated live-action shorts and the nominated animated shorts, the contrast between the categories is striking: The live shorts are a trite, unimaginative bunch, while the animation shorts vary excitingly in style, substance, and theme. ALISON HALLETT Hollywood Theatre.
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors
Sergei Parajanov 1966 drama, based on the book by Mykhailo "Mikey" Kotsiubynsky. It's like Romeo and Juliet, but set in the Carpathians! Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Local film archivist Greg Hamilton's six-hour-long program of 16mm movie trailers, spread out over two nights—three hours on Sunday, three hours on Monday. Sunday features action, sci-fi, and noir trailers; Monday features war, comedy, musicals, monsters, schlock, Disney, and even more noir. Clinton Street Theater.
A documentary about "Carole King, James Taylor, and the singer/songwriter scene during the late 1960s and early 1970s." Living Room Theaters.
It's kind of like a Bourne movie if Liam Neeson killed and replaced Matt Damon. It works just fine. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
A 2009 neo-noir thriller from Hong Kong director Johnny To. Laurelhurst Theater.
Veritable Portraits Curated by Ariella Ben-Dov
Cinema Project presents two evenings with curator Ariella Ben-Dov, with the first night focusing on '70s vérité films by women filmmakers, and the second "exploring the ethnographic work of famed artist, musician, and filmmaker John Cohen." More info: cinemaproject.org. Clinton Street Theater.