What’s this? A Hollywood movie with big stars tackling a socially relevant issue in a summer movie? Don’t worry, “Money Monster” isn’t going to subvert the dominant seasonal paradigm that easily. And it probably won’t make much of a dent at the box office, coming in “Captain America”‘s wake. Luckily, as the mantra goes around here, there’s plenty more to choose from, including a long-awaited J.G. Ballard adaptation, a solid drama about backward Albanian gender customs (really!), and the continuation of series devoted to Czech Cinema and Native American-made films. Dive in!
“Money Monster”: A failed investor takes a cable TV financial guru (George Clooney) hostage on the air in this topical thriller that plays out in real time. Directed by Jodie Foster and co-starring Julia Roberts. (Living Room Theater & other locations) READ REVIEW
“The Meddler”: After her husband dies, a widow (Susan Sarandon) moves to Los Angeles to be near her daughter (Rose Byrne). But she turns out to be a bit of a meddler. That’s not a spoiler—it’s right there in the title. (Regal Fox Tower) READ REVIEW
“Sworn Virgin”: This Italian film shines a light on a bizarre Albanian custom in which women take a vow of chastity in order to be granted the simple rights that men enjoy in their society. (Clinton Street Theater) READ REVIEW
“High-Rise”: J.G. Ballard’s novel about a 50-story apartment building that’s a metaphor for the class system becomes a film from British director Ben Wheatley starring Tom Hiddleston and Jeremy Irons. (Cinema 21, Kiggins Theatre) READ REVIEW
“Last Days in the Desert”: Ewan McGregor plays Jesus in this visually stunning film that takes place during the final portion of His 40-day fast in the desert. He meets a family in need and tries to resist the temptations of the devil himself (also McGregor). (Regal Fox Tower) READ REVIEW
“Being Charlie”: Rob Reiner directed this addiction drama co-written by his son Nick and based on Nick’s real-world struggles.
“The Darkness”: Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell star in a horror film that wasn’t screened for critics.
Friday, May 13:
“Wadjda”: This inspiring drama about a girl and her bicycle was the first Saudi Arabian feature film ever directed by a woman. 5th Avenue Cinema, 7 pm & 9:30 pm; also Saturday, May 14, 7 pm & 9:30 pm, and Sunday, May 15, at 3 pm.
“The Way We Talk”: This locally made documentary explores the science and combats the stigma associated with stuttering. 5th Avenue Cinema, 7 pm; also Saturday May 14, 7 pm.
“Hump Film Festival”: The annual celebration of good-natured, homemade porn returns for another year. Cinema 21, 7:15 pm & 9:30 pm; also Saturday May 14, 6 pm & 8:15 pm.
“Crush the Skull”: In this indie horror flick, a band of burglars pick the wrong house for their latest caper—it turns out to the headquarters of a sadistic serial killer. Clinton Street Theater, 9:30 pm.
“East of Eden”: James Dean’s final film was this 1955 drama based on John Steinbeck’s novel. Laurelhurst Theater, 6:30 pm; through Thursday, May 19 with 1pm shows on Saturday & Sunday.
“Irma Vep”: Director Olivier Assayas’ 1996 film stars Hong Kong icon Maggie Cheung and is inspired by the classic silent French serial “Les Vampires.” Northwest Film Center, 5:30 pm.
“The Way Out”: A Roma family struggle to survive amid discrimination and poverty in this searing social drama screening as part of the New Czech Cinema series. Northwest Film Center, 8 pm.
“The Long Goodbye”: Robert Altman’s offbeat update of Raymond Chandler stars Elliott Gould as private eye Philip Marlowe. Academy Theater, 2:15 pm & 9:20 pm; through Thursday, May 19.
Saturday, May 14:
“Heaven Can Wait”: After his death, a lifelong playboy (Don Ameche) tries to convince the devil that he belongs in Hell in director Ernst Lubitsch’s delightful 1943 Technicolor comedy. Northwest Film Center, 4:30 pm; also Monday, May 16 at 7 pm.
“Gangster Ka”: An organized criminal who prefers to avoid violence gets pushed over the edge after a rival mobster murders his father. Part of the New Czech Cinema series. Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.
Sunday, May 15:
“Naturally Native”: Three American Indian sisters try to start a cosmetics company using their family’s traditional herbal remedies in this drama screening as part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” Northwest Film Center, 4:30 pm.
“Art and Craft”: Fascinating documentary about art forger Max Landis, who donated hundreds of faked masterworks to museums for years before being found out. Director Jennifer Grausman will conduct a post-film Q&A. Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.
Monday, May 16:
“Strange and Vicious War Cartoons”: Archivist Dennis Nyback dips into his collection and comes up with 16mm classics including Windsor McCay’s 1918 “The Sinking of the Lusitania.” Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.
Tuesday, May 17:
“How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things That Climate Can’t Change”: Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Josh Fox (“Gasland”) travels the world looking for reasons to maintain hope in the face of looming environmental catastrophe. Cinema 21, 7 pm, through Thursday, May 19.
“T-Bird Gang”: Roger Corman financed this low-budget 1959 thriller about a teenager who goes undercover with a hot rod gang to find his father’s killer. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.
Wednesday, May 18:
“Trudell”: This 2005 documentary profiles Native American poet, recording artist, and activist John Trudell. Screening as part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.
“The Invention of Morel”: Anna Karina stars in this 1974 Italian adaptation of the acclaimed 1941 Argentine novel by Adolfo Bioy Casares. Church of Film at North Star Ballroom, 8 pm.
“River of Grass”: The 1995 debut feature of director Kelly Reichardt (“Old Joy,” “Meek’s Cutoff”), about a housewife who takes up a life of crime in Florida, has been digitally restored. Reichardt will conduct a post-film Q&A. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.
Thursday, May 19:
“Strike a Pose”: The opening night film of the 10th Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival takes us back to the 1991 Madonna concert film “Truth or Dare” and catches up with some of the featured dancers 25 years later. The festival continues through Sunday, May 22. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm.
“As Time Goes By in Shanghai”: You might call them the Chinese version of the Buena Vista Social Club. This documentary profiles a group of elderly jazz musicians who have been playing together for decades, through political upheaval and in a country one doesn’t normally think of as jazzy. Clinton Street Theater, 7 pm.
“Rhymes for Young Ghouls”: A strong-willed Native girl resorts to dealing weed in order to stay out of reservation school in this slickly made thriller by Quebec director Jeff Barnaby. Screens as part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” Northwest Film Center, 7 pm.