Another Happy Day
This sassy-kid-driven melodrama focuses on a deeply severed family coming together to celebrate the wedding of its eldest son, Dylan (Michael Nardelli). Dylan's birth mother Lynn (Ellen Barkin) desperately seeks to shield her children from Paul (Thomas Hayden Church), Dylan's father and her abusive ex-husband. While Sam Levinson's directorial debut attempts to paint Paul and his second wife Patty (Demi Moore) (RIGHT?) as the film's villains, the film's downfall is its uneven pacing: Valiant performances from the film's all-star cast get lost in the peaks and valleys of lovely, dark comedy and sudden, painful therapy. SUZETTE "THE INTERN" SMITH Living Room Theaters.
Michel Hazanavicius likes trying on different eras for size. Known primarily for OSS 117, his cheeky parody of 1960s spy movies, the French director's gotten more serious, and consequently more charming, with his latest. The Artist is the story of a silent film actor in decline, told as an actual silent film. It sounds gimmicky, and sort of is, but the sincerity of the delivery and the attention to detail make for a winning re-creation of a bygone age. JAMIE S. RICH Fox Tower 10.
Beauty and the Beast 3D
Huh. Various Theaters.
See review this issue. Cinetopia Progress Ridge 14, City Center 12, Fox Tower 10.
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
The Devil Inside
What's this? A crappy-looking horror flick that wasn't screened for critics? Why, I never.... Various Theaters.
John Waters' shtick, c. 1974. Fifth Avenue Cinema.
Musical group Bent Knee performs a live score for 1920's The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. The Headwaters Theatre.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Like most mysteries, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is less about story and more about the grinding mechanics of plot: exposition, process, exposition, process. Dragon Tattoo isn't just any mystery, though: Based on the first book in Stieg Larsson's wildly popular trilogy, this Dragon Tattoo is the latest from David Fincher, and arrives on the heels of his last awards-season effort, The Social Network. Those expecting anything on par with Fincher's best work—The Social Network, Zodiac, Fight Club—should probably lower their expectations closer to Benjamin Button levels. Fincher can be one of our best directors, but he's also one of the least reliable. With Dragon Tattoo, he's made a film that befits its airport paperback origins—if, you know, they showed movies with brutal rape scenes on airplanes. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
Holy Rollers: The True Story
of Card Counting Christians
See review this issue. Clinton Street Theater.
The Iron Lady
See review this issue. Various Theaters.
"Two choir members have differing opinions on how to win the national choir competition." Starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton. Review forthcoming, if we can find anyone who's even remotely interested in seeing it. Various Theaters.
King: A Filmed Record—From Montgomery to Memphis
See My, What a Busy Week! Clinton Street Theater.
Kaneto Shindo's "poetic and atmospheric" ghost story from 1968, in which a ghost tears out the throats of samurai! Nice work, ghost. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
The Life of Oharu
Kenji Mizoguchi's 1964 film documents a 17th century Japanese woman's dignified, tortuously slow descent into depravity. After Oharu falls in love with a man from a lower social class, she loses her position at the Imperial Palace, and it all goes to shit after that, as she is first sold as a concubine and later must turn to prostitution to survive. Oh, and it's also really boring. ALISON HALLETT Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Make It Short
Inspired by the Northwest Film Center's 40th anniversary, this program collects original works from Northwest filmmakers—all of which clock in at 40 seconds or less. Which is a perfectly reasonable length of time, LADIES. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
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 Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
"I'm thinking I might take that new chick from Logistics." Laurelhurst Theater.
See review this issue. Fox Tower 10.
It's awkward, being a sex addict. There's the possibility that your boss might discover all the porn you've got on your hard drive, or your sister might walk in on you while you're masturbating, or someone might casually open your laptop only to be propositioned by a topless girl on a webcam. In Shame, sex junkie Brandon (Michael Fassbender) runs into all of these difficulties, in between meaningless trysts with women he meets at bars and women he pays for. There's not much pleasure in watching Brandon hit rock bottom, but it's to the credit of both Fassbender and director Steve McQueen that Brandon is a complex and almost wholly sympathetic character even when behaving reprehensibly. ALISON HALLETT Cinema 21.
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 Laurelhurst Theater, Living Room Theaters.
This Is Your Life:
Three episodes of This Is Your Life, each of which focuses on a different woman who survived the Holocaust. Screens as a benefit for the Portland Jewish Film Festival. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Spying is, by definition, a tight-lipped profession. This partially accounts for the surprising restraint of director Tomas Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a new adaptation of John le Carré's classic Cold War espionage novel. But credit must be given to Alfredson, too, and the film's writing team, for trusting their audience's willingness to sit still and pay attention. Despite its innately thrilling subject matter (Globetrotting spies! Soviet moles!), Tinker is an assured, thoughtfully paced movie, slow to reveal its secrets. Of course, secrets become even more irresistible in the presence of actors like Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch—and a perfectly cast Gary Oldman as the mild-mannered George Smiley, le Carré's most enduring hero. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters.
Treasures from the UCLA
Film & Television Archive
A whole slew of films culled from UCLA's Film & Television Archive, a media materials collection rivaled only by the Library of Congress. Films include Native Land (1942), Cecil B. DeMille's The Crusades (1935), Rex Ingram's The Chalice of Sorrow (1916), and Alan Schneider's version of Waiting for Godot (1961). More info: nwfilm.org. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have made a film that's difficult to classify: It's either a comedy with no laughs, a drama with no character movement, or a social critique with no insight. ALISON HALLETT Fox Tower 10, Lloyd Mall 8.