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Movies

October 17, 2013 01:00 AM

If you are wary of what we might term the “mature romantic comedy” — having been burned by things like the atrocious Something’s Gotta Give — please understand that I am right there with you. The previews for Enough Said didn’t do the movie any favors, and to want to see the film simply because it features James Gandolfini in one of his last roles feels slightly dark and morbid.

If you are wary of what we might term the “mature romantic comedy” — having been burned by things like the atrocious Something’s Gotta Give — please understand that I am right there with you. The previews for Enough Said didn’t do the movie any favors, and to want to see the film simply because it features James Gandolfini in one of his last roles feels slightly dark and morbid. But maybe you loved Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld, or you can’t get enough of Catherine Keener in roles that don’t insult her intelligence.

October 10, 2013 01:00 AM

Every once in a while, we are allowed the laughter of the gods. It is a pure laughter, sprung from joy rather than bitterness or irony. It is not schadenfreude. It has no victim. Rather, such laughter revels in creation the way a child revels in play — with pure mind and a freedom beyond the shackles of doubt. It is a thankful laughter, a barometer registering sheer gratitude.

Every once in a while, we are allowed the laughter of the gods. It is a pure laughter, sprung from joy rather than bitterness or irony. It is not schadenfreude. It has no victim. Rather, such laughter revels in creation the way a child revels in play — with pure mind and a freedom beyond the shackles of doubt. It is a thankful laughter, a barometer registering sheer gratitude.

October 3, 2013 01:00 AM

Make no mistake: The new movie by Joe Swanberg is not a romantic comedy. If you waltz into Drinking Buddies expecting the formulaic satisfaction of a rom-com by Nora Ephron, you will be violently disappointed. You will throw your popcorn at the screen and demand your money back.

Make no mistake: The new movie by Joe Swanberg is not a romantic comedy. If you waltz into Drinking Buddies expecting the formulaic satisfaction of a rom-com by Nora Ephron, you will be violently disappointed. You will throw your popcorn at the screen and demand your money back.

September 26, 2013 01:00 AM

It’s likely you already know too much about Prisoners, the excellent new film by young Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. Yes, Prisoners is about a kidnapping and its brutal aftermath. Yes, the movie’s scenes of unreconstructed violence are deeply disturbing. Yes, it has a crackerjack cast, which includes Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Jake Gyllenhaal as the talented and tormented detective assigned to the case.

It’s likely you already know too much about Prisoners, the excellent new film by young Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. Yes, Prisoners is about a kidnapping and its brutal aftermath. Yes, the movie’s scenes of unreconstructed violence are deeply disturbing. Yes, it has a crackerjack cast, which includes Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Jake Gyllenhaal as the talented and tormented detective assigned to the case.

September 19, 2013 01:00 AM

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist and/or work at a marine park. As you can see, I did nothing of the sort. But one thing lingers from those younger days: a whopper of a sense of awe at the sight of whales, seals, even sea lions, those goofy things — and orcas. 

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist and/or work at a marine park. As you can see, I did nothing of the sort. But one thing lingers from those younger days: a whopper of a sense of awe at the sight of whales, seals, even sea lions, those goofy things — and orcas. 

September 12, 2013 01:00 AM

Maybe the most bittersweetly delightful thing about James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now is the way it captures the feeling of a drawn-out ending. For Aimee (Shailene Woodley), Sutter (Miles Teller) and their classmates, it’s the end of high school, a time when everything is bitingly vital and yet nothing matters much, since it’s all going to change in a few weeks anyway. 

Maybe the most bittersweetly delightful thing about James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now is the way it captures the feeling of a drawn-out ending. For Aimee (Shailene Woodley), Sutter (Miles Teller) and their classmates, it’s the end of high school, a time when everything is bitingly vital and yet nothing matters much, since it’s all going to change in a few weeks anyway. What happens next is of the utmost importance, but no one really knows what that next thing will be, least of all Sutter, who has yet to get around to applying to college.

September 5, 2013 01:00 AM

If we’re going to invent new sub-genres for Edgar Wright movies, a la the rom-zom-com (Shaun of the Dead), we need one for Lake Bell’s directorial debut, which is a … well … it’s a fem-fam-film-rom-geek-com? That needs some work.

If we’re going to invent new sub-genres for Edgar Wright movies, a la the rom-zom-com (Shaun of the Dead), we need one for Lake Bell’s directorial debut, which is a … well … it’s a fem-fam-film-rom-geek-com? That needs some work. (Maybe Bell, a sharp and nuanced writer, can come up with something clever.) In a World… is a movie built for film geeks, trailer junkies and, well, anyone who’s ever noticed Hollywood’s sexist side. Which I like to think is, by now, all of us.

August 29, 2013 01:00 AM

It’s been six long years since the last Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg collaboration, the gets-better-with-age Hot Fuzz. Wright and Pegg have kept plenty busy: Wright directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, my favorite comic book movie that comes off like a video game movie, and Pegg, of course, is Scotty in the new Star Trek franchise. Pegg and the third member of this trio, Nick Frost, spent some time on the disappointing Paul, while Frost memorably appeared in the entirely excellent Attack the Block (which Wright executive produced).

It’s been six long years since the last Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg collaboration, the gets-better-with-age Hot Fuzz. Wright and Pegg have kept plenty busy: Wright directed Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, my favorite comic book movie that comes off like a video game movie, and Pegg, of course, is Scotty in the new Star Trek franchise. Pegg and the third member of this trio, Nick Frost, spent some time on the disappointing Paul, while Frost memorably appeared in the entirely excellent Attack the Block (which Wright executive produced). 

August 22, 2013 01:00 AM

Against my strongest instincts, I will resist saying too much, or anything too fancy, about Fruitvale Station, the excellent new movie based on the 2009 New Year’s shooting of a young black man by a security guard on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit line. When a critic encounters anything of this rarefied quality, it’s best just to get out of the way. The film is that good.

Against my strongest instincts, I will resist saying too much, or anything too fancy, about Fruitvale Station, the excellent new movie based on the 2009 New Year’s shooting of a young black man by a security guard on San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit line. When a critic encounters anything of this rarefied quality, it’s best just to get out of the way. The film is that good. It is art of the highest caliber. It speaks for itself. It has the power to break your heart.

August 15, 2013 01:00 AM

Science fiction, contrary to what its frequently fluffy appearances at the multiplex might lead you to believe, is a brilliant medium for ideas. You can invent anything: a starfleet based on equality, a future destroyed by robots, a world of passively invading alien parasites. 

Science fiction, contrary to what its frequently fluffy appearances at the multiplex might lead you to believe, is a brilliant medium for ideas. You can invent anything: a starfleet based on equality, a future destroyed by robots, a world of passively invading alien parasites. You can dream up new versions of the future, or meld past and present; you can envision impossible technology. Science fiction is built to tell us who we are by imagining where we might be going. 

August 8, 2013 01:00 AM

Perhaps, like Bauhaus furniture or the beauty of shallow people, Stanley Kubrick’s movies are meant to be admired but not loved. Kubrick was a master stylist, a director whose films are as quickly identifiable as those of Alfred Hitchcock or Michael Mann.

Perhaps, like Bauhaus furniture or the beauty of shallow people, Stanley Kubrick’s movies are meant to be admired but not loved. Kubrick, who died in 1999 at the age of 70, was a master stylist, a director whose films are as quickly identifiable as those of Alfred Hitchcock or Michael Mann. Steely, distanced, full of hard angles and wide vistas, a Kubrick movie is a study in formal technique, like looking upon a painting that magically, and rather sinisterly, animates itself.

August 1, 2013 01:00 AM

Broken begins with loosely shuffled snippets of character and drama. When the film snaps into narrative focus, it’s with a sudden act of violence: On a quiet cul-de-sac, a young man washes his car. A passing neighbor girl says hello. The boy appears not quite all there: He has a hard time putting words in order, but he seems kind. As the girl departs, another neighbor appears, pulling his shirt off before knocking the young man halfway across the car.

Broken begins with loosely shuffled snippets of character and drama. When the film snaps into narrative focus, it’s with a sudden act of violence: On a quiet cul-de-sac, a young man washes his car. A passing neighbor girl says hello. The boy appears not quite all there: He has a hard time putting words in order, but he seems kind. As the girl departs, another neighbor appears, pulling his shirt off before knocking the young man halfway across the car.

July 25, 2013 01:00 AM

It’s possible — though maybe not common — to go through your entire life not realizing that the line Merry Clayton sings in the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” begins, “Rape, murder!” 

It’s possible — though maybe not common — to go through your entire life not realizing that the line Merry Clayton sings in the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” begins, “Rape, murder!” 

July 18, 2013 01:00 AM

Tonto’s first appearance was on the 11th episode of the radio show The Lone Ranger on Dec. 7, 1938. The radio broadcast identified Tonto as a chief’s son in the Potawatomi Nation. The choice to make Tonto Potawatomi seems to come from the station owner’s childhood affiliation with Michigan. Tonto was created by a nonnative, which in my opinion, is undoubtedly Tonto — nonnative.

“ … The motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for children to grow up in this world. When Indian children watch television, and they watch films, and when they see their race depicted as they are in films, their minds become injured in ways we can never know.” — Marlon Brando, Oscar speech, 1973

 

July 18, 2013 01:00 AM

When Pacific Rim’s end credits rolled, a friend turned to me and said, “Now I kind of want to watch that Hugh Jackman ‘rock ’em, sock ’em’ robots movie.” Such is the effectiveness of Guillermo del Toro’s deliciously oversized robots vs. monsters movie: It’ll make you want more fighting robots, even of the sub-par kind.

When Pacific Rim’s end credits rolled, a friend turned to me and said, “Now I kind of want to watch that Hugh Jackman ‘rock ’em, sock ’em’ robots movie.” Such is the effectiveness of Guillermo del Toro’s deliciously oversized robots vs. monsters movie: It’ll make you want more fighting robots, even of the sub-par kind.

July 11, 2013 01:00 AM

Like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt has an all-encompassing biopic title, but focuses on one key moment of its subject’s life.

Like Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt has an all-encompassing biopic title, but focuses on one key moment of its subject’s life. In 1961, the German thinker and writer Hannah Arendt (Barbara Sukowa) went to Jerusalem to cover, for The New Yorker, the trial of Adolf Eichmann. It was a chance to get up close to the horrors of her past; as a young woman, she had been held in a camp in France.

July 3, 2013 01:00 AM

Rarely has a film begun with a more perfect quote than the one that opens Stories We Tell. Borrowing a line from Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, Michael Polley says, “When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion … It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all.”

Rarely has a film begun with a more perfect quote than the one that opens Stories We Tell. Borrowing a line from Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, Michael Polley says, “When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion … It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all.”

June 27, 2013 01:00 AM

For years, Joss Whedon fans have been reading about the writer-director-composer’s Shakespeare brunches — at which cast members from his beloved shows would gather, drink, eat, read the Bard’s plays and generally (we imagine) have about as much fun as nerds can have with their clothes on. With the release of Much Ado About Nothing, we finally get to attend one of these famed brunches, though the mimosas are BYO. 

For years, Joss Whedon fans have been reading about the writer-director-composer’s Shakespeare brunches — at which cast members from his beloved shows would gather, drink, eat, read the Bard’s plays and generally (we imagine) have about as much fun as nerds can have with their clothes on. With the release of Much Ado About Nothing, we finally get to attend one of these famed brunches, though the mimosas are BYO. 

June 20, 2013 01:00 AM

Superman, who originally hails from both a different planet and a different era, is often a tough sell with modern audiences who’ve gotten used to conflicted heroes, anti-heroes and intriguing bad guys. Superman — with a smile and a cape, the embodiment of a certain kind of American ideal — is just so good.

Superman, who originally hails from both a different planet and a different era, is often a tough sell with modern audiences who’ve gotten used to conflicted heroes, anti-heroes and intriguing bad guys. Superman — with a smile and a cape, the embodiment of a certain kind of American ideal — is just so good.

It turns out he’s a little conflicted after all. 

June 13, 2013 01:00 AM

In 1994’s Before Sunrise, twentysomethings Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met on a train. After one very talkative, very special night together, they parted ways, agreeing to meet in six months. It was nine years before they met again, in Before Sunset: Jesse wrote a book based on their first meeting, and Celine found him at a Paris reading. 

In 1994’s Before Sunrise, twentysomethings Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) met on a train. After one very talkative, very special night together, they parted ways, agreeing to meet in six months. It was nine years before they met again, in Before Sunset: Jesse wrote a book based on their first meeting, and Celine found him at a Paris reading. 

June 6, 2013 01:00 AM

There are 27-year-olds who have their shit together, but I wasn’t one of them. If you were, you may watch Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha as a sort of anthropological study: the still-questing twentysomething, running into pitfalls and learning (the hard way, of course) that expectation goes hand-in-hand with entitlement, and neither are in sync with reality very often.

There are 27-year-olds who have their shit together, but I wasn’t one of them. If you were, you may watch Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha as a sort of anthropological study: the still-questing twentysomething, running into pitfalls and learning (the hard way, of course) that expectation goes hand-in-hand with entitlement, and neither are in sync with reality very often.

May 30, 2013 01:00 AM

The popular perspective on animation tends to lie within the realm of Saturday morning cartoons or late-night adult comedy like South Park or Family Guy. But Portland’s Northwest Animation Festival is trying to change these classic conceptions of animation. And this year, the festival is bringing its expansive, carefully curated program down to Eugene.

The popular perspective on animation tends to lie within the realm of Saturday morning cartoons or late-night adult comedy like South Park or Family Guy. But Portland’s Northwest Animation Festival is trying to change these classic conceptions of animation. And this year, the festival is bringing its expansive, carefully curated program down to Eugene.

“We’ve put a lot of effort into building our audience in Portland,” says festival director Sven Bonnichsen. “We’re hoping to do the same in Eugene.”

May 23, 2013 01:00 AM

Four years ago, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot pulled off a slick little trick. A shiny, whizbang movie with an excellent ensemble cast, the 2009 Trek restarted the series timeline, giving Abrams and company endless freedom to boldly go to entirely new places, unencumbered by the history writ in the TV shows and earlier films. 

Four years ago, J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot pulled off a slick little trick. A shiny, whizbang movie with an excellent ensemble cast, the 2009 Trek restarted the series timeline, giving Abrams and company endless freedom to boldly go to entirely new places, unencumbered by the history writ in the TV shows and earlier films. 

May 16, 2013 01:00 AM

Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is a loud, lavish, unevenly paced but ultimately compelling adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel about a man, the woman he yearns for and how, in yearning for what once was, he is destroyed by the past — that past into which we are all ceaselessly borne back.

Director Baz Luhrmann’s risky, gamboling Romeo + Juliet (1996) proved, once again, that Shakespeare’s best stuff can withstand any infringement of time and run with it — including gang warfare, palm trees and the wowzers of an acid trip. Recall, if you dare, the raw but playful sexuality of this scene: Claire Danes as Juliet, spying through a massive fish tank and catching her first aquamarine glimpse of Romeo, as the gaunt, slightly extra-terrestrial face of a young Leonardo DiCaprio seems to swim through the coral. It’s an exquisite moment.