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Film Shorts

In Which We Hit It and Quit It


recommended Beetlejuice
"I've seen The Exorcist about 167 times, and it keeps getting funnier every single time I see it." Academy Theater

Black Mass
Touted as a return to Johnny Depp's early form, the gangster saga Black Mass encouragingly shows that it may be a bad idea to write off Depp. (Yes, even after Tusk.) The actor's love of makeup has, if anything, intensified; Here, he festoons himself with bad teeth, an elfin nose, and malamute eyes with fascinatingly grotesque results. (Some shots suggest that his mustache from Mortdecai may even still be attached, a few strata down.) What's new, however, is that he doesn't seem content with just pleasing himself this time, engaging with the material to create a full-blooded, occasionally terrifying center of attention. Unfortunately, the film can't quite measure up to this level of intensity, adopting a somber pace at odds with its star's level of enthusiasm. ANDREW WRIGHT Various Theaters

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
A benefit screening of the first feature-length documentary on the Black Panther Party. Includes a post-screening panel discussion with Rev. Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Kent Ford, Adrienne Cabouet, and Tessara Gabrielle Dudley, moderated by Jo Ann Hardesty. All proceeds benefit the Portland NAACP. Hollywood Theatre

Coming Home
Set in the immediate aftermath of China's Cultural Revolution, Coming Home examines the effects of large-scale political trauma on an ordinary family: Feng's (Li Gong) husband Lu (Daoming Chen), a professor, is imprisoned for 20 years, thereby missing his ballerina daughter Dan Dan's (Huiwen Zhang) entire upbringing. When he finally returns he finds his wife suffering from amnesia—she no longer recognizes him, though she remains faithful and expectant of his return. Though the family's circumstances reflect the pains of the larger society, Home is an intimate, sad, and beautiful rendering of a close relationship's unusual adaptation to odd and tragic circumstance. MARJORIE SKINNER Fox Tower 10

recommended Dope
Dope launched an all-night bid-off between distribution companies at Sundance, and it's easy to see why. Shameik Moore stars as Malcolm, a nerdy high-school kid from a rough LA neighborhood, who's obsessed with '90s hip-hop and just wants to get into Harvard and play punk songs about eating food and having a great day with his fellow nostalgia-obsessed geeks. Alas, it's not to be (yet)—Malcolm gets roped into offloading a whole bunch of drugs for a dealer played by none other than A$AP Rocky. (If you've seen Lana Del Rey's video for "National Anthem," you already knew that A$AP Rocky can act; if you haven't, please educate yourself.) MEGAN BURBANK Laurelhurst Theater

Everest has the same subject as Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air: the Mount Everest disaster of 1996, when eight people died in an attempt to climb, and descend, the mountain. But Everest offers something Krakauer's prose can't: The stunning imagery of the Himalayas. If you don't see Everest on the biggest screen possible, you might as well not see it at all—but if you do see it on a giant screen, the film's jaw-dropping visuals will provide some small sense of why otherwise reasonable people would risk their lives and spend tens of thousands of dollars to reach Everest's summit. It's good Everest's visuals get that across, because little else about the film does: Rushed and stilted, it's a jumble of characters and tragedies that never coalesce into an engaging narrative. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters

recommended Fast Break
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 Hollywood Theatre

recommended Goodnight Mommy
Chilly and unsettling throughout, 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

recommended Grandma
In Grandma, teenager Sage (Julia Garner) faces the all-too-common problem of having to come up with a fuck-ton of money for an abortion, like yesterday. Enter her cantankerous SoCal queer poet grandma (Lily Tomlin). She's not particularly equipped to help, but she tries anyway, in what's half-madcap quest, half-straight-up depressing reality. At times, Paul Weitz's dialogue is thin, his world not quite as solid as it should be. But then Lily Tomlin says something like, "Where can you get a reasonably priced abortion?" with the perfect grousing tone, and you realize you're watching a movie—finally!—about a teenager who has an abortion and turns out fine, and it couldn't seem more honest. MEGAN BURBANK Various Theaters

The Green Inferno
Eli Roth's cannibal horror flick. Not screened for critics. Various Theaters

The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon
Portland's annual celebration of all things slimy and betentacled. More at Hollywood Theatre

Hotel Transylvania 2
An animated Adam Sandler movie that we did not force any of our critics to watch. Various Theaters

recommended Inside Out
Are you the type of barren, childless adult who feels weird going to Pixar movies by yourself? Well... maybe you should. BUT! I strongly advise you to put those feelings aside (or rent a kid from your neighbors or the Duggar family) and see Inside Out, Pixar's latest kids movie that's actually for adults. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY Various Theaters

The Intern
A comedy starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. The studio rescheduled a press screening so that it would be after our deadline, so it's probably about as good as De Niro's other comedies. Various Theaters

recommended Mad Max: Fury Road
A brutal, beautiful, two-hour action overdose injected with a welcome feminist bent. ERIK HENRIKSEN OMSI Empirical Theater

recommended The Martian
See review this issue. Various Theaters

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials
The Maze Runner series may deservedly live in the shadow of YA book-to-film darling The Hunger Games, but it's got a few things going for it. Handsome and brave Thomas (Dylan O'Brien) leads the cast of plucky, likeable teenagers as they face a mysterious threat in the form of WCKD, the powerful scientific entity that rules their post-apocalyptic world. That said, for a series that gives itself so much latitude, introducing something as played out as a zombie plague is pretty lame. MARJORIE SKINNER Various Theaters

recommended Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation
Tom Cruise does not do anything halfway. Tom Cruise goes all in, with a fearless, relentless ability to entertain. Tom Cruise knows how he looks when he runs. Tom Cruise doesn't care, because if he's going to run, he's going to run. I will say nothing of Tom Cruise's running in Christopher McQuarrie's Mission: Impossible—Rogue Nation, other than to note that the very first time we see Tom Cruise in Rogue Nation, he is running—at which point he leaps onto the wing of a taxiing aircraft, runs up the wing, and manages to cling to the fuselage just in time for the plane to scream into the sky. This is only the first of Rogue Nation's many clever, intense, and largely wordless action sequences, and Tom Cruise does not do it halfway. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters

Mississippi Grind
A Southern gamblin' flick starring Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds. Written and directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck—the team behind Half Nelson and Sugar—but not screened for critics. Living Room Theaters

On Art and Artists
The NW Film Center's series of movies about... well, art and artists. This week's offering: Manufactured Landscapes (2006), a look at the work and philosophy of photographer Edward Burtynsky, who captures the weird, horrible, and sordidly beautiful ways humans have changed the planet—he focuses on piles of rotting computers, on carved-out mountainous holes of mining operations, on never-ending expanses inside Chinese factories. Stunning imagery can only go so far, though; those with short attention spans will want to look elsewhere. But otherwise: Pretty excellent stuff, this. ERIK HENRIKSEN NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium

Portland Queer Film Festival
The 19th installment of the festival (it was formerly the Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival) offers seven days' worth of documentaries, features, and web series, including queer athlete doc Out to Win and Peter Greenaway's Eisenstein in Guanajuato. More at Cinema 21

recommended Sicario
See review this issue. Various Theaters

recommended Sleeping With Other People
Sleeping with Other People isn't technically a When Harry Met Sally remake—"slavish homage" might be more accurate—but it poses the same question, with a twist: Can two hot sex addicts who are super attracted to each other and have literally no external barriers to a relationship ever really be "just friends"? (Look, sometimes you have to torture a premise before it gives up the goods.) And Sleeping with Other People is pretty good. By "good," I mean "succeeds in making me feel emotionally invested in whether two hot people are going to make out." The gold standard of the romcom. ALISON HALLETT Various Theaters

A discombobulating concoction of profoundly dumb writing, cartoonish historical fiction, and harrowing violence, Roland Emmerich's Stonewall undoubtedly means well. Its method of translating an under-taught history lesson to a wide audience uses the cliché-ridden Danny (Jeremy Irvine) as a white, handsome, all-American shield so that other white (and straight) all-Americans will have a recognizable protagonist as touchstone throughout an often ruthless depiction of life for teen hustlers in the late-'60s. But there's so much mess to pick through in the wake of this film—from wooden performances to hokey sets (they couldn't get the real New York) to mixed messages about violent protest, to real-life historical figures being shoved aside in order for the film's poster boy to remain in the thick—that it's hopelessly disorienting. There is fantastic potential for films depicting of this moment in civil rights history, and some of them may very well wind up being made in protest of this one. So thanks in advance for that, Roland. MARJORIE SKINNER Living Room Theaters

The Visit
There's a shocking twist in M. Night Shyamalan's The Visit! "That it's good?" you ask? Hahahahaha... no. The Visit is terrible. "That it's funny?" you ask, giving at least some credit to the fallen-on-hard-times filmmaker, who once made great movies like 2000's Unbreakable. Bwahahahahaha... no. The Visit is not funny—at least, not on purpose. Spoiler: The shocking twist is that the best scene involves a teenage rapper getting adult-diaper gravy smeared all over his face. Does this bit of (unintentional) comedic genius make the cringe-inducing The Visit worth seeing? Well, that depends (eh?) on your threshold for watching elders lose their shit. COURTNEY FERGUSON Various Theaters

Time Out of Mind
If you, like so many others, have been waiting to see Richard Gere play a homeless man, have we got a movie for you. Living Room Theaters

Voices in Action: Human Rights on Film
The NW Film Center's human rights film series. This year kicks off with We Come as Friends, 50 Feet from Syria, The Wanted 18, and Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy? Cartoonists is not an entertaining documentary, but it is stuffed to the gills with opinion about censorship, caricature, and danger as it explores the perspectives of 12 international cartoonists, each at the center of his or her own political intrigue. It's not beautiful, either, and almost everyone in it comes across as self-centered, but it feels honest. Filmed before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the majority of screentime goes to old white men complaining that everyone finds them offensive—but director Stéphanie Valloatto manages to include one or two women and people of color. Their stories are the best parts. SUZETTE SMITH NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium

recommended The Walk
See review this issue. Various Theaters

recommended MEANS WE RECOMMEND IT. Theater locations are accurate Friday, October 2-Thursday, October 8, unless otherwise noted. Movie times are updated daily and are available here.

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