FilmWatch Weekly: Men, Math, Chicken, and Czechs

Alternatives to this week's superhero spectacle include zany Danish comedy, offbeat family dysfunction, and the secret stars of "Star Wars"

It goes without saying (but we’ll say it anyway) that about a million times more people will see “Captain America: Civil War” this weekend than any of the films listed below. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s a crackerjack action film, designed to release a flood of serotonin into the brain of any Marvel Comics fan who watches it. But viewers looking for other options may feel stymied by its ubiquity. That’s what we’re here for.

ARTSWATCH REVIEWS:

“Men & Chicken”: This wacky Danish comedy, which played during PIFF, stars Mads Mikkelsen (“Hannibal”) as one of a pair of adopted brothers investigating their bizarre birth parentage. Erik McClanahan reviews(Opens Friday May 6 at Living Room Theaters)

“The Family Fang”: Jason Bateman (who directed) and Nicole Kidman star as adult siblings who were forced as children to participate in their parents’ (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett) bizarre performance art stunts. Marc Mohan reviews. (Opens Friday May 6 at Cinema 21)

“Elstree 1976”: You might think the subject matter for documentaries about the “Star Wars” phenomenon has been exhausted, but this affectionate tribute to the actors whose small roles made them a tiny part of movie history proves otherwise. Marc Mohan reviews. (Opens Friday May 6 at the Kiggins Theatre)

New Czech Cinema: The Northest Film Center presents their annual survey of films from the Czech Republic, including the droll comedy “Schmitke,” the touching drama “Home Care,” and the rediscovered sci-fi “The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.” Marc Mohan reviews. (Friday May 6 through Saturday May 14 at the Northwest Film Center)

“The Man Who Knew Infinity”: The true story of Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), who grew up poor in India but attends Cambridge and becomes a noted mathematician. Well-heeled co-stars include Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, and Stephen Fry. Eric D. Snider reviews. (Opens Friday May 6 at Regal Fox Tower)

“Dough”: Jonathan Pryce stars as a kosher Jewish baker who takes a young Muslim pot dealer under his wing in this affecting, amusing tale of tolerance and the different meanings of “baked.” Marc Mohan reviews.  (Opens Friday May 6 at Living Room Theaters)

 

THE WEEK AHEAD:

Friday, May 6

The Beaches of Agnes: Venerable French New Wave icon Agnes Varda revisits her career in this captivating 2008 documentary. (5th Avenue Cinema, through Sunday)

Filmed by Bike: The annual festival of cycle-centric cinema features dozens of shorts spread over four programs, as well as VIP screenings on Sunday at the NW Documentary Project. (Hollywood Theatre, through Saturday)

Touch of Evil: Orson Welles’ 1958 thriller is known for its epic opening tracking shot, but there’s so much more to it than that, with a cast including Charlton Heston, Marlene Dietrich, Jane Leigh, and Zsa Zsa Gabor. (Laurelhurst Theater, through Thursday)

Chinatown: If you’ve never seen Roman Polanski’s quintessential takedown of L.A. history, featuring maybe Jack Nicholson’s best performance, then here’s your chance. Don’t forget it, Jake. (Academy Theater, through Thursday)

Home Care: See review of New Czech Cinema. (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm)

Saturday, May 7

This May Be the Last Time: This first-person documentary reveals the history of traditional hymns sung by the Creek and Seminole peoples. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” (Northwest Film Center, 4 pm)

Schmitke: See review of New Czech Cinema. (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm)

Sunday, May 8

Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner: This visually stunning 2001 adaptation of an ancient Inuit legend was the first feature film ever made in the Inuktitut language. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” (Northwest Film Center, 3 pm)

Bayou Maharajah: Documentary profile of James Booker, the man Dr. John famous called “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” (Hollywood Theatre, 7 pm)

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne: See review of New Czech Cinema. (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm)

Monday, May 9

Northwest Animation Festival: This week-long explosion of animated goodness features family-friendly, queer-themed, and other special programs, as well as a 10th anniversary screening of Laika’s breakthrough effort, “Coraline.” (Hollywood Theatre, through Sunday, May 15)

Tuesday, May 10

Enter the Game of Death: One of the best-known examples of “Brucesploitation,” i.e. martial arts movies made to capitalize on the posthumous fame of Bruce Lee, this one stars Bruce Le (sic) and is presented via the only known 35mm print. (Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm)

Wednesday, May 11

Käthe Kollwitz: Images of a Life: To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the famed East German film studio DEFA, the Portland German Film Festival will screen this biopic about the famed painter and printmaker who died in 1945. (Clinton Street Theater, 7 pm)

All About Chris Freeman: The Portland filmmaker and performer presents a selection of his heartfelt, deadpan, sometimes hilarious first-person videos. (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm)

Thursday, May 12

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance: This 1993 documentary explores a 78-day standoff in 1990 during which member of the Mohawk Nation tried to prevent their land from being turned into a golf course. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm)

Twister: From the minds of author Michael Crichton and director Jan de Bont came this 1996 blockbuster that struck fear into the hearts of mobile home park dwellers across America. Presented in Hecklevision. (Hollywood Theatre, 9:30 pm)

 

 

ON THE HORIZON:

“A Bigger Splash”: Tilda Swinton reunites with the director of “This Is Love” for a tale about a rock star recuperating on a Mediterranean island. (May 20)

“The Lobster”: After its initial distributor went under, there was some question whether this marvelous, bizarre comedy starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz would see the light of day. One of the hits from this year’s Portland International Film Festival. (May 27, Cinema 21)

“Belladonna of Sadness”: This 1973 Japanese animated feature, never before released in the U.S., is an adults-only psychedelic fantasia. (May 27, Hollywood Theatre)

“Dheepan”: The director of “A Prophet” returns with this Cannes favorite about a Sri Lankan immigrant trying to adapt to life in Paris. (May 27, Living Room Theaters)

“Love and Friendship”: Whit Stillman, the sophisticated auteur behind “Metropolitan” and “Barcelona,” tackles Jane Austen with the help of Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. (May 27)

 

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