African American Film Festival
The third annual fest that aims to "celebrate the depth, contributions, history and more of African American film and filmmakers." More info: pdxaaff.com. Kennedy School.
Big Trouble in Little China
"Just remember what ol' Jack Burton does when the earth quakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah—Jack Burton just looks that big ol' storm right square in the eye and he says, 'Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it.'" Kiggins Theatre.
See review this issue. Living Room Theaters.
The Catechism Cataclysm
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Cyclo Cross Film Festival
A "new collection of cyclo cross-related short films." Clinton Street Theater.
"Experimental and psychedelic animation from around the world," presented by Floating World Comics. More info: floatingworldcomics.com. Hollywood Theatre.
I don't know if you will love Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive like I do. It's a Frankensteined thing—part revenge flick, part western, part noir, part heist movie, part car commercial, part music video, part SWEET CHRIST I DID NOT EXPECT THAT SPLATTERED BIT OF BRUTAL ULTRA-VIOLENCE. Each of Drive's parts slides slickly into my brain's receptors. There's one way to find out if it'll do the same thing to you, and I would recommend trying it. ERIK HENRIKSEN Fox Tower 10.
A must-see for anyone with an interest in the history of either the Trail Blazers or Portland itself, Fast Break comprises footage shot during the Blazers' legendary 1977 championship season. Much of the documentary is devoted to chronicling how Bill Walton spent his time off the court—which, because the man was a giant (literally) hippie, involved a lot of bike riding down the 101 and clambering through the woods picking blackberries. There's also a ton of great archival footage of the absolute frenzy that surrounded the team during that period, filtered of course through Portland's own hippie sensibility—a scene of a huge crowd singing a "Rip City" ballad as a folksinger strums on an acoustic guitar is particularly classic. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
Portland duo the 1939 Ensemble perform an original live score for Faust. More info: filmusik.com. Hollywood Theatre.
From the Inside Out
A documentary about free-ride mountain biking. Clinton Street Theater.
Happy Feet 2
Just some dancing penguin movie. Various Theaters.
See Feature, this issue. Cinema 21.
In which Greek gods fight in slow-motion. A lot. Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16, Cinetopia Progress Ridge 14, Oak Grove 8 Cinemas.
A film set in the near future, when everyone stops aging at 25. The good news: Everyone is super pretty! The bad news: Time is currency. Once you hit 25, a digital watch on your forearm starts counting down. Once your time runs out, you die. A latte costs four minutes. A sports car costs 50 years. And unless you come from a family with eons of stored-up time, you're left scrambling for seconds to add to your ever-diminishing clock. As he did in his great 1997 film Gattaca—hey, look, another high-concept dystopia full of beautiful people!—writer/director Andrew Niccol taps into a clever premise and runs with it. Not everything about In Time works—there are some clunky moments and a few logic jumps—but in general, this thing's witty, fun, and snappy. Also, it's totally about how busted our economic systems are! And about how rich people can be dicks. And about how Justin Timberlake can save us! ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Clint Eastwood starred in two movies with an orangutan called Clyde. J. Edgar Hoover apparently spent the bulk of his life in love with a man named Clyde, who also happened to be an associate director at the FBI. I don't have a punchline for this. I just think it's a funny coincidence. Okay, maybe not that funny—but J. Edgar, Eastwood's biopic of the legendary FBI director, is so self-consciously serious that you have to take levity wherever you find it. JAMIE S. RICH Various Theaters.
Jack and Jill
In which Adam Sandler plays his own sister. Various Theaters.
An unflinchingly honest portrayal of intense young love—and its frequent collaborator, carelessness. Ponderously shot and marked by tasteful montages and scenes of uneasily intimate pillow play, there's much to praise technically, including strong performances from Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. Boundary-testing truthfulness is Like Crazy's best attribute, however—lacking as it is of insight or any level of intrigue sufficient to sustain sympathy for its protagonists. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
A Lonely Place to Die
See review this issue. Hollywood Theatre.
Set at a Goldman Sachs-like investment firm just before the financial collapse, Margin Call features an old boy's club of showy, competent actors (Stanley Tucci, as always, is perfect, and Jeremy Irons plays the CEO with his menacing rolled r's and weary grace). In the beginning, attractive guys in expensive suits say "Fuck me!" in exasperated tones while staring at computers. Then comes the exposition, with characters telling each other to dumb it down for them. And in the end, everyone rationalizes their part in the whole mess. Margin Call really shines in the last bit, where a feral Paul Bettany explains that traders are the heroes who make the excesses of the western world possible until they suddenly become the villains. The movie couldn't be better-timed, but anyone looking for usable information should watch Inside Job instead. As far as heartfelt quests for the soul of a salesman go, this is a well-put-together but ultimately unexceptional entry. PAUL CONSTANT Hollywood Theatre, Living Room Theaters.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
"What is wrong with you?" That's the refrain directed at Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) with increasing urgency over the course of director Sean Durkin's first feature. College-aged Martha has just run away from a cult in the Catskills after a two-year absence from her former life. Taking shelter with her concerned sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson) and her husband Ted (Hugh Dancy), she finds it increasingly difficult to readjust to normal life: She skinny dips in front of Ted, she plops down on the bed while he and Lucy are having sex, and she accuses them of materialism even as she freeloads off their generosity. There's a sense that this arresting, moodily beautiful film doesn't quite know what to do with itself, and the narrative calls it quits just as another chapter appears poised to unfold. At first, the finish feels too abrupt—but when it sinks in, its ambiguity feels like a perfect reflection of its central character's guiding conundrum. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
The documentary Miss Representation covers old territory—oh no! women are horribly portrayed in media and called fat all the time!—but makes the material fresh and relevant, thanks to interviews director Jennifer Newsom snagged with high-powered, interesting ladies like Condoleezza Rice and Rachel Maddow. It's surprising to hear women of such authority talk frankly about sexism. With them, the film makes its point about male-dominated media, and it makes you angry. SARAH MIRK In Other Words.
EEEEEE! The Muppets! See next week's Mercury for our review. Various Theaters.
The Names of Love
A French romcom about a flighty young woman—so flighty she occasionally forgets to put on clothes! Imagine that!—who wages a one-woman war against "fascism" by sleeping with, and then converting, right-wing politicians. It's a rare film that manages to be at once exhaustingly precious and irritatingly strident, but The Names of Love pulls it off. ALISON HALLETT Living Room Theaters.
Paranormal Activity 3
Ostensibly a prequel to the preceding films, Paranormal Activity 3 feels more like a rewrite of a couple of rough drafts. With all-new leads and all-new directors (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, of last year's creepy, probably-fake documentary Catfish), the scares are smoother and the acting is less dubious. This time out the story feels much clearer, too, even if most of its DNA is made up of old horror standbys (babysitters in peril, creepy kids with "imaginary friends"). Familiar though the proceedings are, Schulman and Joost bring a remarkable amount of flair to them, grounding the cheap shocks in a creeping atmosphere of genuine dread. DAVE BOW Various Theaters.
Puss in Boots
Shrek's loveable kitty pal gets his own movie! Everything about Western culture is fucking awful. Various Theaters.
The Rum Diary
Based on the trailers, one could scarcely be blamed for thinking The Rum Diary was going to be Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas all over again. There stands Johnny Depp, after all, starring as another shade of Hunter S. Thompson in a trashed hotel room with bloodshot eyes. But Diary—based on the early novel Thompson abandoned until its eventual publication in the '90s—is only somewhat autobiographical, and its dedication to its characters' extremes of alcohol consumption is given stiff competition from the story's real meat—that of a writer finding his guiding light. For all its roughhouse antics, Diary's an earnest, somewhat naïve transmission of the reckless young reporter Thompson once was. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10.
The Skin I Live In
With his provocative new film, Pedro Almodóvar runs with the idea that Frankenstein's monster would be much more disturbing if sex were involved. This notion proves very, very correct. It'd be a laughable understatement to describe The Skin I Live In as "not for everyone"—it's strange, disturbing, and utterly unflinching in its literal deconstruction of gender and selfhood. But Almodóvar also baits this trap seductively—every surface is elegant and crisp, every shot so artfully composed that even the most grotesque medical footage has an undeniable beauty, and it's all leavened with a lurid smear of melodrama that plays with the line between horror and camp. ALISON HALLETT City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
Spokanarchy: Where Were You In '82?
As the largest city on that long, lonely stretch of I-90/94 stretching between Seattle and Minneapolis, Spokane could never be accused as being near the center of anything. During the '80s, though, the Eastern Washington city cultivated a healthy, flourishing, artistically diverse punk scene, virtually created out of nothing. Spokanarchy is an inviting, generous overview of that era, with interviews by a good number of guilty parties. In giving the under-regarded Spokane scene its fair due, the terrific film holds company with the very best music documentaries, and by the end you feel as if you'd been there. You weren't, of course, which is exactly the point. NED LANNAMANN Hollywood Theatre.
For a film that stars some very funny people—Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni, and Eddie Murphy—Tower Heist is surprisingly... not so funny. In fact, the first quarter is an exposition-filled snore fest until Murphy thankfully joins the mix. This is when lift-off finally occurs, and the scenes and its players zing with electric comic timing and chemistry... until we have to return to the plot, at which point, Tower Heist once again wilts on the vine. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters.
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
An SUV full of douchey college kids sets off into the woods for a camping trip in the Appalachians. They stop at a backwoods store. And there, at the creepy yokel Plaid Pantry, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil begins its supreme send-up of the horror genre. Director/writer Eli Craig's first feature blends broad (and hysterical) slapstick with tons of gross gore, loveable characters, and a genius upside-down riff on a horror trope. COURTNEY FERGUSON Kennedy School, Laurelhurst Theater, Mission Theater.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part I
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
Look, I'm not going to convince you that AVH&KXMas3D is must-see comedy, nor would I try to, but it does a decent job balancing half-assed vulgar wordplay with a gleefully outlandish plot. It's probably best enjoyed in 25-minute chunks on cable, but if you're stoned with nothing to do and looking for a giggle, you'll find it. Plus, it's got Patton Oswalt and Brett Gelman and Danny Trejo in a Christmas sweater, and I would argue any of those three things are added value to any movie. And that's to say nothing of "Wafflebot," the finest stoner-comedy sidekick since the robot falcon in Your Highness. What can I say, I'm a sucker for robot sidekicks. VINCE MANCINI Century Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16.
Emilio Estevez wrote and directed The Way, in which his dad, President Bartlet, walks the Camino de Santiago, a Christian pilgrimage route through France and Spain, in memory of his dead son (Estevez, annoyingly turning up in flashbacks) who was killed during a storm while also traveling the Camino. Along the way President Bartlet befriends three fellow travelers, all of whom are some variation of the lost white tourist looking to inject meaning into a privileged life. The movie's sentimental as all get out, but the scenery's good and The Way is surprisingly touching in non-formulaic ways. NED LANNAMANN City Center 12, Hollywood Theatre.
Women on the 6th Floor
Philippe Le Guay's film in which "a conservative couple's lives are turned upside down by two Spanish maids." Fox Tower 10.