FilmWatch Weekly: DIY art is the order of the day

New movies from France, China, and Mars (sort of) hit screens this week.

Recycled TV shows may dominate this weekend’s box office numbers, but our focus is on filmmakers who utilize pre-existing materials in more literal ways, as well as those who explore recurring themes through constantly varying stories.

 

“Microbe & Gasoline”: French director Michel Gondry tells a low-key (for him) story about two misfits who become friends and build a tiny car which they use to escape their humdrum lives. (Living Room Theaters) READ MORE

 

“Mountains May Depart” and “Jia Zhangke: A Guy from Fenyang”: The newest film from the Chinese auteur, which takes place over a 25-year span, screens along with a documentary about the filmmaker, one of global cinema’s leading lights. (Northwest Film Center) READ MORE

 

“A Space Program”: Artist Tom Sachs has constructed several installation/performance pieces over the last several years that mimic trips to the moon or Mars, but with equipment made out of plywood, Tyvek, and other ordinary materials. This documentary chronicles his latest effort. (Living Room Theaters) READ MORE

 

The Space Lady Plays to “Science Is Fiction”: The onetime street musician also known as Suzy Soundz brings her accordion and keyboard to Portland to provide a live soundtrack for the bizarre underwater science films of French documentarian Jean Painlevé.  (Hollywood Theatre, Thursday, July 28) READ MORE

 

“More Pay, Less Work”: The Hollywood Theatre celebrates its 90th birthday by screening the only known 35mm print of the silent comedy that opened the place way back on July 17, 1926. (Hollywood Theatre, Saturday, July 23) READ MORE

Zhao Tao stars in Jia Zhangke's "Mountains May Depart"

Zhao Tao stars in Jia Zhangke’s “Mountains May Depart”

ALSO OPENING:

 

“Star Trek Beyond”: Director Justin Lin takes over for J.J. Abrams, Sulu (John Cho) is revealed to be gay, and Anton Yelchin makes his final appearance as Chekov. Hopefully there’s as much drama on the screen for this third entry in the rebooted sci-fi franchise as there has been off of it. (multiple locations)

“Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie”: Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley finally bring their beloved, bumbling, booze-soaked characters to the big screen. The plot, for what it’s worth, has them accidentally killing supermodel Kate Moss and then going on the run. (Cinema 21 and other locations)

“Ice Age: Collision Course”: The continuing adventures of some sort of rodent attempting to acquire a bit of food, or something. Presented in cartoon form. (multiple locations)

“Lights Out”: A guy made a 3-minute short film about a monster you can only see in the dark. Then somebody gave him enough money to make a feature-length version, which probably isn’t as good as the short. (multiple locations)

“The Parallax View”: Warren Beatty uncovers a devious government conspiracy in this 1974 thriller directed by Alan J. Pakula (“All the President’s Men”). (Laurelhurst Theater, through Thursday)

“My Neighbor Totoro”: Hayao Miyazaki’s all-ages animated masterpiece will have you dreaming about catbuses for years to come. (Academy Theater, through Thursday)

 

THE WEEK AHEAD:

 

Friday, July 22:

“Colossus of Destiny: A Melvins Tale”: Documentary on the long-running hard rock band that was formed in Montesano, Washington in 1982 and continues to churn out sludge rock today. (Hollywood Theatre)

“Meatballs”: Bill Murray made his big-screen debut in this summer camp sex comedy directed vy Ivan Reitman—the two would go on to make “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters” together. (Kiggins Theater, through Monday)

“Lucha Mexico”: This documentary goes behind the mask to explore the popularity and personalities of Mexican wrestling. (Hollywood Theatre)

 

Saturday, June 23:

“The Wizard of Oz”: Celebrate the Division/Clinton Street Fair by popping in to this free afternoon screening of the timeless classic. (Clinton Street Theater)

“Fight Club”: Following the screening of the cult classic based on Portland author Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, the author will be interviewed on stage by fellow best-selling author Chelsea Cain. (I know her!) (Hollywood Theatre)

“Dark Victory”: Bette Davis plays a terminally ill socialite torn between the doctor trying to cure her (George Brent) and her Irish stablehand (Humphrey Bogart) in this classic melodrama. (Northwest Film Center)

 

Sunday, July 24:

“The Women”: One of Hollywood’s best ensembles shines in this witty, if dated, comedy about a group of Manhattan ladies who head to Reno in order to get divorces. Joan Crawford stands out as the woman having an affair with one of the husbands. (Northwest Film Center)

“Escape from New York”: Kurt Russell is Snake Plissken in John Carpenter’s fan-favorite B-movie set in a future (1997) where Manhattan has been turned into an enormous prison. (Hollywood Theatre)

 

Monday, July 25:

“Miss Tibet: Beauty in Exile”: An impresario decides to stage Tibet’s first Western-style beauty pageant, and Tibetan-American girl travels to Asia to compete in it. (Clinton Street Theater)

 

Tuesday, July 26:

“Flight from Death”: This thought-provoking documentary looks at the ways that our fear of mortality affects our behavior in frequent and surprising ways. (Clinton Street Theater)

“Zombie”: Lucio Fulci’s 1979 horror flick is legendarily gross. And it features the famous scene where a zombie fights a shark. Presented on 35mm. (Hollywood Theatre)

 

Wednesday, July 27:

“Willow Springs”: The Church of Film presents German director Werner Schroeter’s 1973 oddity about a group of women living in the California desert who abduct passing men. (Clinton Street Theater)

“Miami Vice Fest Five”: Two episodes of the emblematic show, “Smuggler’s Blues” (with Glenn Frey) and “No Exit” (with Bruce Willis), plus vintage commercials and lots of love for Crockett & Tubbs. (Hollywood Theatre)

 

Thursday, July 28:

“One Flaming Arrow Film Festival”: Opening night of the annual festival dedicated to providing a forum for Native American voices. The festival continues through July 31st at other locations.

 

 

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