FILMWATCH WEEKLY: Looking for love in all the wrong places

 

The big box office showdown this Memorial Day Weekend is between “X-Men: Apocalypse” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” but if you ask us, the best result would be if those two films engaged in mutually assured destruction and went extinct like the dinosaurs they so bloatingly resemble. Is that too harsh? Maybe, but when there are so many other worthwhile films in danger of getting crushed beneath these tussling titans, it’s hard not to feel a little resentful.

 

ARTSWATCH REVIEWS:

Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in "The Lobster."

Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in “The Lobster.”

 

“The Lobster”: In a near-future society, the newly single are sent to a matchmaking hotel where they have 45 days to meet someone new. Failure means being transformed into a wild animal and released into the forest. This hilarious satire on the relentless pressure to pair up stars Colin Farrell in perhaps his best performance to date. ArtsWatch’s Erik McClanahan interviewed director Yorgos Lanthimos. (Cinema 21)

“Love & Friendship”: Urbane director Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan,” “Damsels in Distress”) adapted a little-known Jane Austen story into a hilarious film. Kate Beckinsale stars as a boldly manipulative widow trying to flirt her way to a rewarding match. (Regal Fox Tower) READ REVIEW

“Dheepan”: Last year’s Cannes Film Festival jury, headed by the Joel and Ethan Coen, awarded its top prize to this French drama about Sri Lankan immigrants trying to make a new life in Paris. (Living Room Theaters) READ REVIEW

“Belladonna of Sadness”: This 1973 Japanese animated feature, never before released in America, graphically, psychedelically renders the degradation and eventual vengeance of a woman in medieval France. (Hollywood Theater) READ REVIEW

“Viva”: A gay hairdresser in Havana pursues a career as a drag performer while also dealing with the reappearance of the father who abandoned him years earlier. (Regal Fox Tower) READ REVIEW

“The Ones Below”: A new mother begins to suspect that her new downstairs neighbor has sinister designs on her child in this Polanski-esque thriller. (Kiggins Theatre) READ REVIEW

 

ALSO OPENING:

 

“Alice Through the Looking Glass”: Tim Burton surrenders the reigns to the belated but inevitable sequel to “Alice in Wonderland,” and he’s probably glad he did. This movie is a headache-inducing mess, a cascade of computer-generated soul-sucking badness to be avoided at all costs. (multiple locations)

“X-Men: Apocalypse”: Speaking of unwanted, terrible sequels, the latest installment in the Marvel mutant franchise takes a big step toward oblivion with its overstuffed cast of characters, bombastic CGI, and criminal misuse of Oscar Isaac as the titular villain. Don’t do it. (multiple locations)

“Sunset Song”: Veteran British director Terence Davies adapts a beloved Scottish novel about a young woman’s obstacle-laden life in the early 20th century. Look for a review next week. (Regal Fox Tower)

 

THE  WEEK AHEAD:

 

Friday, May 27:

“Boys Don’t Cry”: Hilary Swank won the first of her two Best Actress Academy Awards for her portrayal of Brandon Teena, the Nebraska transgender man whose brutal slaying inspired hate crime legislation. (7 pm & 9:30 pm; repeats Saturday at 7 pm & 9:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm; 5th Avenue Cinemas)

“Night of the Hunter”: Director Charles Laughton’s 1955 classic still holds the title of Best Movie Ever Made by Someone Who Never Made Another Movie. Robert Mitchum is the evil preacher pursuing two kids, Lilian Gish is the protective farm woman who takes them in. An all-time great. (6:30 pm; through Thursday, with 1:30 pm shows Saturday through Monday; Laurelhurst Theater)

“Ran”: Akira Kurosawa’s final epic masterpiece folds “King Lear” into a tale of medieval Japanese warfare, and in a newly restored digital print, it’s an absolute must-see on the big screen. (7 pm; repeats Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 3:30 pm; Northwest Film Center)

“Dog Day Afternoon”: One of Al Pacino’s most incendiary performances came in this 1975 fact-based thriller directed by Sidney Lumet about a New York City bank robbery that became a media circus. John Cazale co-stars. (1:30 pm & 9:15 pm; through Thursday; Academy Theater)

“Footloose”: For this screening of the 1984 Kevin Bacon-Lori Singer “classic,” members of Oregon Ballet Theatre will be on hand to teach viewers the steps they need to dance along during the high-stepping finale. (6:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

Saturday, May 28:

“A.K.”: Director Chris Marker’s (“Sans Soleil”) impressionistic, feature-length documentary on the making of “Ran” screens in conjunction with Kurosawa’s masterwork. (5 pm; repeats Sunday at 7 pm; Northwest Film Center)

“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”: Cast member Bill Moseley will be on hand to celebrate the 30th anniversary of director Tobe Hooper’s sequel to his landmark 1974 horror classic. Starring Dennis Hopper, oddly enough. (7:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

Silent Comedy Special: A quartet of vintage short featuring silent clowns Buster Keaton, Charley Chase, and more, presented with live, original organ scores. (2 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

Sunday, May 29:

“The Dirty Dozen”: This month’s crowd-chosen “This Is Your Theatre” titles is the iconic 1967 WWII actioner starring Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and several other men. (7 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

Tuesday, May 31:

“Forbidden Planet”: The first great science fiction film of the widescreen era was this Technicolor wonder loosely based on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and starring Leslie Nielsen before everything he said was automatically funny. 35mm (7 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

“It’s So Easy and Other Lies”: The latest title in the Sonic Cinema series is this warts-and-all documentary profiling the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle of Guns’n’Roses bassist Duff McKagan. (9:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

Wednesday, June 1:

Portland Horror Film Festival: From the depraved minds who brought you the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival comes this two-day event featuring a pair of independent features making their Northwest premieres, as well as a gaggle of gruesome short films. (6:30 pm, continues Thursday)

 

HOME MOVIES:

 

“The Player”: Robert Altman’s career comeback began with this scathing 1992 satire on the very industry that had left him for dead. Kicking off with a hilariously self-conscious ten-minute tracking shot, it proceeds to follow Hollywood studio executive Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) as he negotiates the amoral landscape of his business and personal lives. The supporting cast includes Fred Ward, Greta Scacchi, and Peter Gallagher, and the movie is stuffed with dozens of celebrity cameos, none better than the ones by Bruce Willis and Julia Roberts at the end. (Sorry, spoiler alert!) This new release, available on DVD and Blu-ray, from the Criterion Collection, features the original audio commentary by Altman, cinematographer Jean Lapine, and screenwriter Michael Tolkin that appeared on their 1992 laser disc edition. ($29.95 DVD/$39.95 Blu-ray, Criterion)

“A Married Woman”: One of Jean-Luc Godard’s numerous early masterworks, this 1964 film has a simple story about an unfaithful wife who discovers she is pregnant but doesn’t know who the father is. In Godard’s hands, though, of course, it becomes an experimental collage, shot in sterling black-and-white, that has something to say about the emptiness of consumer culture and the difficulty engaging with the historical reality of the Holocaust. So not your typical romantic melodrama. ($29.98 DVD, $39.98 Blu-ray, Cohen Media)

“The Private Affairs of Bel Ami”: An interesting counterpoint to “Love & Friendship,” this caustic romantic drama from 1946 stars the always watchable George Sanders as a social-climbing cad in 19th-century Paris who seduces and discards women as he makes his way up the ladder. The supporting cast includes Angela Lansbury, Ann Dvorak, and John Carradine. This is one of three films Sanders made for director Albert Lewin, including the classic “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” and before now it’s only been available on VHS. ($24.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray, Olive Films)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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