The 39 Steps
Hitchcock's 1935 classic. Laurelhurst Theater.
The Bicycle Thief
SPOILER ALERT: Life sucks and then your dad gets caught stealing a bike. Hollywood Theatre.
A film based on two Chekhov works, Tatiana Repina and Difficult People. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Celebrating Chekhov series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
With the way street art has moved in the last 20 years—deep into the crass, stupid logic of high-priced art—it's a relief and a minor miracle to experience major projects that are more than egotistical spectacles. Don't believe me? Watch Exit Through the Gift Shop. It's a hilarious and brilliant movie by the elusive British street artist Banksy, telling the story of "street" "artist" Mr. Brainwash, possibly the dumbest dangerous artist living, if he even is who he says he is (some question whether he's another Banksy act, which would be delightful). Mr. Brainwash, in the film, is Thierry Guetta, a Frenchman with a penchant for saying things like "Everything that I do, somewhere, brainwashes your face." The basis for his art—very big, very expensive (he sets his own prices, of course) colored prints and paintings—is celebrities and consumer products. If Warhol threw up, and then Damien Hirst threw up on top of that, and then the throwup threw up, Mr. Brainwash's work would be the result. And yet hundreds of people show up to his openings, buy the art, and pronounce how happy they are that this art isn't all snotty and exclusive. Here the banality is actually banal. The brainlessness is not ironic. The hype is the only meaning. Two hundred kids are standing in a line to get into the show because 199 other kids are standing in the line. In the film, Mr. Brainwash makes Banksy—who can be ingenious but has not been above an empty publicity stunt (painted elephant? Really?)—look like a monk. Banksy comes across as the smartest guy in the movie. Go figure: He directed. But Exit Through the Gift Shop is not a grisly dissection of the hump that has metastasized on the back of street art since it became popular. It's a funny-as-hell comedy. When Banksy was challenged about the veracity of the film, his defense was: You think I could have made that up? JEN GRAVES Fox Tower 10.
Field Guide to November Days
See review. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Filmusik: Hercules vs. Vampires
See My, What a Busy Week! Hollywood Theatre.
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 Cinema 21.
The Human Centipede
The Human Centipede joins the legions of gross-out movies that are way more fun to describe than watch. So, there's a brilliant surgeon who lives alone in the woods and specializes in separating conjoined twins. But he's German so, I guess, naturally he's also a pervo who dreams of connecting three people end to end, butt to mouth, like some sort of human... I dunno, worm or something. Gross, right?! Just don't accuse it of being uneducational, because viewers will learn how to train and care for their own human centipedes. DAVE BOW Cinema 21.
A Hunting Accident
Emil Loteanu's 1978 adaptation of Chekhov's The Shooting Party. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Celebrating Chekhov series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 isn't as well made as its predecessor—it's noisier, sillier, clumsier, and a bit less clever—but it's just as enjoyable. Everything important gets checked off: Robert Downey Jr. being awesome as Tony Stark/Iron Man? Check. Iron Man being superheroic and getting amusingly drunk? Check. Mickey Rourke as Whiplash, a ridiculous Russian villain who looks like an extra from Eastern Promises? Check. Scarlett Johansson as a spy/the hottest woman of all time? Check. AC/DC blaring on the soundtrack? Check. Roger from Mad Men playing Tony Stark's dad, thus indisputably proving that coolness is hereditary? Check. ERIK HENRIKSEN Various Theaters.
See review. Various Theaters.
The Lady with the Dog
Two married people fall in love in Ukraine in the early 1900s. Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Celebrating Chekhov series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
Letters to Juliet
See review. Various Theaters.
No One Knows About Persian Cats
See review. Living Room Theaters.
Ominium-Getherum Pt. II
This Cinema Project program collects Northwest premieres of experimental shorts, most of which debuted elsewhere last year. Of the two shorts available for preview, Nancy Andrews' On a Phantom Limb takes a wry look at the notion of humanity in the age of science, by way of a French-speaking cyborg, a surgery that splices a woman with a bird, and archival footing of old science experiments and psychiatric evaluations. Repeated motifs deepen as the short progresses, and there's a humor and sense of play on display that keep the work from getting bogged down in self-seriousness (see: a naked woman with the head of a bird reading a copy of Wonders of the Bird World). Kevin Everson's Company Line, meanwhile, is a poignant, straightforward mini-documentary about an African American neighborhood in Mansfield, Ohio. ALISON HALLETT Clinton Street Theater.
A locally produced documentary that examines how "constant exposure to commercial messages, violence, and sexualization" will "impact our children, our society, and eventually, our planet." Bagdad Theater.
When 19-year-old Malik (Tahar Rahim) starts his six-year sentence in a French prison, he's illiterate and naïve. He has no friends, no family, and no one to watch his back. Immediately, a gang of Corsicans—who rule both inside the prison and outside as the mafia—sweep in to put the young Arab under their thumb, alienating him from the Muslim prisoners and causing discord among the Corsican thugs. Green and inexperienced, Malik is coerced into murdering a fellow Arab—and for the next six years he is haunted by the murdered man's ghost, seemingly his only true friend in a world of sharks. Simply put, A Prophet is a prison drama—but more than anything, it's a robust and engaging character study of Malik, who goes from being a young doormat to a confident, Machiavellian linchpin in a dark transformation full of seething ferocity and quiet ambition. COURTNEY FERGUSON Academy Theater, Laurelhurst Theater.
See review. Various Theaters.
Another cinematic take on Chekhov! Screens as part of the Northwest Film Center's Celebrating Chekhov series. Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium.
François Truffaut's 1976 collection of vignettes. Hollywood Theatre.