Film Watch Weekly: “Sing Street,” “Purple Rain,” and more

This week's movies take us from 1980s Dublin to the slums of New Zealand, and from 1980s Minnesota to the dusty streets of Niger

It’s a relatively slow week movie-wise, as the big studios take a breath before beginning their summer assault next Friday, and the indie theaters continue to ride hot titles like “Midnight Special,” “Green Room,” “Everybody Wants Some!!,” and “Miles Ahead.” That doesn’t there’s not movie goodness out there, though, as detailed below:

ARTSWATCH REVIEWS:

“Sing Street”: John Carney, the writer and director of “Once” and “Begin Again,” return with another semi-autobiographical, music-driven film, and it might be his best yet. Set in 1985 Dublin, it centers on a teenager named Conor who starts a band for the most ordinary of teenage boy reasons: To impress a girl. But his group of musical misfits ends up crafting some catchy tunes, and Conor just might end up with that girl in the end. Sure to be an art house crowd-pleaser. Eric D. Snider reviews. (Regal Fox Tower)

The cast of "Sing Street."

The cast of “Sing Street.”

“Papa: Hemingway in Cuba”: In the late 1950s, a Miami newspaper reporter wrote a fan letter to Ernest Hemingway, and ended up being invited to Papa’s Cuban estate, becoming a surrogate member of his family, and witnessing the Cuban revolution first-hand. Marc Mohan reviews. (Regal Fox Tower)

ALSO OPENING:

The Dark Horse”: New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis delivers a reportedly outstanding performance in this biopic about a Maori chess champion who overcame mental illness to become a chess coach for a group of at-risk youth. (Living Room Theaters)

Lyel Timu stars as Rangimarie and Te Rua Rehu-Martin as Murray in Broad Green Pictures release, THE DARK HORSE. Credit: Kirsty Griffin / Broad Green Pictures

Lyel Timu stars as Rangimarie and Te Rua Rehu-Martin as Murray in Broad Green Pictures release, THE DARK HORSE.
Credit: Kirsty Griffin / Broad Green Pictures

“White Lies”: A Maori medicine woman is hired by a wealthy white woman to help her abort a pregnancy and keep a secret in this New Zealand-made drama from the writer of “Whale Rider.” (Liberty Theater)

“Keanu”: The duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele make the leap to the big screen after five years of their acclaimed sketch comedy series “Key & Peele,” playing cousins who pose as drug dealers to try to rescue a kidnapped kitty. (multiple locations)

“Mother’s Day”: From the people who brought you “Valentine’s Day” and “New Year’s Eve” (no, really) comes another star-studded ensemble designed to capitalize on holiday sentiment. Jennifer Aniston, Chris Pine, and Julia Roberts (still paying back “Pretty Woman” director Garry Marshall) stars in a film that’s already been called “a goddamn trash masterpiece” and “a cinematic adaptation of Walmart.” (multiple locations)

Ratchet and Clank”: A computer-animated feature-length product adapted from the popular video game series about some sort of Rocket Raccoon knock-off and his robot buddy. Let’s hope that Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, and Rosario Dawson spent their voice-over checks wisely. (multiple locations)

REVIVALS:

“Purple Rain”: As the world continues to mourn the death of Prince, there’s no shortage of options for those looking to revisit the 1984 film that turned him into a multimedia superstar. The most alluring of those options are the 99W Drive-In in Newberg (Friday-Sunday), the Hollywood Theatre (Monday), and the Laurelhurst Theater (all week).

“Saboteur”: Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 thriller features a memorable climax atop the Statue of Liberty. (Laurelhurst Theater)

saboteur

“Little Miss Sunshine”: This sharply-written indie crossover hit follows a dysfunctional family on a road trip to a child talent contest. It features an eye-opening performance by Steve Carell, and Oscar-winning one from Alan Arkin, and a retrospectively typical one from Paul Dano. (Academy Theater)

“Waitress”: Actress Adrienne Shelly’s third feature as a director would turn out to be her last, as she was murdered months before it premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Even that tragic legacy, though, can’t tarnish this charming comedy about a pregnant, unhappily married waitress (Keri Russell) who falls for her doctor (Nathan Fillion).

WEEKLY SCHEDULE:

Friday, April 29

Carmen from Kawachi”: The final entry in the Film Center’s 14-film Seijun Suzuki series, this rarely-seen transposition of Bizet’s opera to 1960s Tokyo was made during the same fertile period that produced the director’s most notorious films, “Tokyo Drifter” and “Branded to Kill.” Northwest Film Center, 7 pm. 35mm

As You Like It”: This 1963 adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy, screening as part of the 400th commemoration of his death, stars Vanessa Redgrave in a role she made famous on stage. Clinton Street Theater, 2 pm, FREE.

Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time”: This locally-made action-comedy follows its titular hero, a special agent from the future, as he hops around the timestream trying to recapture his escaped nemesis. With appearances by David Ogden Stiers, Walter Koenig, and a bevy of handcrafted puppets. Hollywood Theatre, 7 pm & 10 pm

Saturday, April 30:

“Fat City”: John Huston made so many great movies that a late masterpiece like this can easily get lost in the shuffle. It shouldn’t, though. Stacy Keach and a young Jeff Bridges star as a couple of small-time boxers in this all-American tale of dreamers, strivers, and losers. When people talk about the early-1970s golden age of American cinema, this is what they’e talking about. Susan Tyrrell gives the best performances of her career as a miserable barfly. Northwest Film Center, 7 pm. DCP (also Sunday, May 1, 4:30 pm)

Saturday Morning Sword and Planet: Flash back to those halcyon days of childhood with this assemblage of animated episodes, including “Thundarr the Barbarian” and “Flash Gordon.” Breakfast cereal will be served. Hollywood Theatre, 2:30 pm.

Rock’n’Roll Mamas”: Local documentary maker Jackie Weismann profiles three women balancing independent music careers with motherhood. A benefit for the Masonic youth organization Job’s Daughters. Clinton Street Theater, 4 pm.

“The Witch Who Came from the Sea”: This 1976 British horror flick was banned by the BBFC as a “video nasty” for a time, and is now considered one of the best exploitation flicks of the period. A woman (Millie Perkins, “The Diary of Anne Frank”) goes on a killing spree in a coastal town. Hollywood Theatre, 9:30 pm.

NWFC Student Screening: The free public screening showcases the work of the students in the Northwest Film Center’s Winter 2016 classes. Northwest Film Center, 4 pm. FREE

“Son of the Sheik”: The sequel to the film that made Rudolph Valentino a romantic screen icon would prove to be his last, as the star died mere weeks after the film’s premiere in 1926. Presented with a live organ score by the Columbia River Theatre Organ Society. Hollywood Theatre, 2 pm.

Sunday, May 1:

“Neria”: This screening of the highest-grossing film in Zimbabwean history—a 1993 drama about a woman struggles to survive after becoming a widow—is a fundraiser for Portland’s sister city of Mutare, Zimbabwe. Hollywood Theatre, 2 pm.

“Smoke Signals”: The opening title in the Northwest Film Center’s series “Through Indian Eyes” is also the best-known. A mismatched pair of Native American buddies embark on a road trip in director Chris Eyre’s 1998 film. Screenplay by Sherman Alexie, based on his own book “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.

“SMART”: This documentary by local filmmaker Justin Zimmerman profiles the Los Angeles-based Specialized Animal Mobile Rescue Team as they rescue a whole lot more than cats from a whole lot more than trees. Zimmerman will be in attendance for this screening sponsored by Multnomah County Animal Services. Hollywood Theatre, 6 pm.

Monday, May 2:

“Drunktown’s Finest”: Writer-director Sydney Freeland follows the lives of three disaffected Navajo youths in her impressive first feature, which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes.” Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.

“Tuareg Purple Rain”: The movie’s full title in its original tongue is “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai.” It’s the first ever feature film shot in the North African Taureg language, and it’s inspired by Prince’s “Purple Rain.” (The title translates literally as “Rain the Color of Blue with a Little Bit of Red,” because there’s no word for ‘purple’ in Taureg.) It was made by Portland-based ethnomusicologist Chris Kirkley, but was shot on location in Niger. It may be the most offbeat way you’ll be able to pay tribute to the dearly departed Purple One. Kirkley will be in attendance. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.

Tuesday, May 3:

“Shadow Warriors”: The holy trinity of 1990s B-movies—Hulk Hogan, Carl Weathers, and Shannon Tweed—unite in this 1997 monstrosity about terrorists with poison gas and the mercenaries who love them, or something. Also known as “Assault on Devil’s Island,” if you care. Presented in B-Movie Bingo style. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.

Wednesday, May 4:

“The Spaces Between the Cities”: Seattle filmmaker Salise Hughes organized the creation of this “exquisite corpse”-style collaboration between twenty international filmmakers that resulted int a feature-length road movie. Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.

“Frankenstein Island”: The Joy Cinema’s Weird Wednesday offers this 1981 oddity, often ranked as one of the worst films ever made, about a quartet of hot air balloonists who land on an island populated by hot chicks in leopard-print bikinis. Based on the novel by Mary Shelley. Joy Cinema & Pub, 9:15 pm.

Thursday, May 5:

“Erasures and Spaces: The Revisionist Films of Salise Hughes”: The second night of Hughes’ work features her playful, subversive reinventions and manipulations of found footage, including Michelangelo Antonioni’s “The Passenger” and the 1963 Cary Grant flick “Charade.” Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.

“Voice of the Eagle: The Enigma of Robbie Basho”: Basho, who died at 46 in 1986 in a freak chiropractic accident, was an eccentric, even otherworldly, master of the 12-string steel guitar. All of his records were out of print at the time of his death, but a resurgent appreciation of his life and work has led to this documentary portrait. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.

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