hologram for the king

FilmWatch Weekly: “Green Room,” “Hologram” and more

A typically busy cinematic calendar has Tom Hanks, Patrick Stewart, a Japanese snow monkey, and Don Cheadle.

The big deal in Portland film this week is the long-awaited local premiere of “Green Room.” Director Jeremy Saulnier and a cast that included none other than Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Patrick Stewart, himself, shot the film in the Portland area during the fall on 2014. Nearly a year after its world premiere at last May’s Cannes Film Festival, the intense thriller gets to thrill the folks who might have glimpsed Sir Patrick gamboling about town wearing a Timbers scarf 18 months ago.

The movie’s about a punk rock band who end up trapped in a seedy, remote club that caters to racist skinheads. It’s not for the weak of heart, but it’s a nasty, fun ride that should be extra enjoyable in the midst of an enthusiastic crowd. ArtsWatch’s Marc Mohan, who moderated a Q&A session with the director and cast following a private screening with crew, interviewed Saulnier. (Cinema 21)

Patrick Stewart in "Green Room." © A24 Photo by Scott Patrick Green, courtesy of A24.

Patrick Stewart in “Green Room.” © A24 Photo by Scott Patrick Green, courtesy of A24.

Other April 22nd openings of note include the tantalizing notion of Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey as, respectively, “Elvis & Nixon,” in a film inspired by the famous real-life meeting between these oh-so-American idols. Eric D. Snider reviewed for ArtsWatch. (Living Room Theaters and other locations)


Film Review: “A Hologram for the King”

Tom Hanks stars as an American businessman in Saudi Arabia in this adaptation of Dave Eggers' novel

“A Hologram for the King” beams into theaters at kind of an awkward time. Tom Hanks, the ultimate walking metaphor for the American Everyman, plays a character who travels to Saudi Arabia for a business meeting with the country’s monarch. President Barack Obama, whose status as a representative of the United States is anything but metaphorical, has just concluded his own trip to the same nation, as relations between the U.S. and the KSA (that’s “Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”) are decidedly strained.

Alan Clay (Hanks) has been sent by his bosses to oversee a sales pitch presentation of a new holographic communication system. It’s a technology designed to make trips like Alan’s redundant, just as he (we later learn) made several hundred Schwinn bicycle factory workers redundant some years back. Now his life is falling apart, as exposited clumsily during the opening scene, which has Hanks performing a bastardized version of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” as his beautiful house and beautiful wife disappear into puffs of smoke behind him.