OMSI has always been a place to gaze at the stars, thanks to its planetarium, which doubles as a place to listen to loud-ass Floyd tunes in a half-dome reeking of residual doob.
This week, though, stars collide at OMSI, the only science museum where you can watch an alien get diabetes from Reese's Pieces, a future California governor mow down a room full of cops, and David Lynch totally botch a cult sci-fi flick, all in one day.
The second annual OMSI Sci Fi Film Fest is upon us, and boy, is it a doozy, offering up eight days of sci-fi classics from Fantastic Planet (Friday) and E.T. (Saturday) to full-blown visions like A Clockwork Orange (Tuesday), The Road Warrior (Sunday) and They Live (Friday).
Related: WW's Summer Movie Guide.
Let's take a step back. Five years ago, the prospect of OMSI's Empirical Theater becoming one of the best places to see a movie seemed a pipe dream. Now, it is one of Portland's best-kept secrets. It serves beer. It has one of the state's biggest screens, and the sound is bar none the best. Imagine John Carpenter's blues stomp rattling your nethers as Rowdy Roddy Piper kicks ass and chews bubblegum. Once known for showing nature docs—to be fair, the nature docs are great—OMSI has been piling on features, becoming the city's best place to catch a spectacle. With VP of marketing Russ Repp taking the lead on programming, we've seen increased repertory screenings, plus tie-ins with exhibits. Some of the best included a series timed to the museum's guitar exhibit that featured everything from concert films to The Sound of Music and Pulp Fiction.
What makes this sci-fi series so spectacular is its range. Families (or, let's face it, me alone) can catch WALL-E and an accompanying talk with robotics expert Dave Shinsel and his humanoid robot, Loki (July 13). Or, scare the shit out of your family with Alien (July 14). Or, do a triple feature of Terminator, Robocop and Blade Runner (July 15). I mean, what else were you going to do that Friday?
"We selected these particular films because they really stand out as influencers in the field, pictures that can withstand the test of time," says Repp. "There is a mix of films that are well-known and well-loved with selections that are a bit more esoteric but no less influential."
This is a chance for audiences to finally see why the Empirical is essential for fans of nature docs and bombastic, mind-blowing entertainment alike. Grab a beer and climb those huge-ass stairs to get a good seat. You may have seen Alien a million times, but until you witness the Xenomorph projected to the size of a building, its growl blowing your hair back, well, you haven't seen Alien.
The Hollywood's 90th anniversary celebration welcomes D.A. Pennebaker, the legendary rock documentarian whose work didn't just shape the way we see music cinematically, but also laid the groundwork (for good or ill) for every single music/film collaboration from Warhol on to MTV. The living legend hits the theater for two of his most profound works: Bob Dylan doc Don't Look Back and the concert film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. At the list of sounding unprofessionally biased: Holy fucking shit. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Wednesday, July 6.
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure makes a stop at Pix, perhaps to check out the restaurant's basement situation. Pix Patisserie. Dusk, Wednesday, July 6.
Church of Film's Queer Cinema series dials it back to 1931 for the pioneering German drama Madchen in Uniform, largely considered film's first lesbian love story. North Star Ballroom. 8 pm Wednesday, July 6.
Lawrence of Arabia is great, whether viewed on a stupid iWatch or a big screen. But 70mm is how it was intended to be seen and experienced. Hollywood Theatre. Friday-Sunday, July 8-14.
The Neverending Story gets the annual revival treatment to remind millennials it isn't as good as they remember, and that the rock eaters might be an allegory for the crack epidemic. Academy Theater. Friday-Thursday, July 8-14.
The classic 1932 MGM ensemble romp Grand Hotel—with John and Lionel Barrymore, Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo and other on-contract superstars—is like a blueprint for all star-studded, multi-plotted films to come. We can thank it for Altman. But we can also blame it for Mother's Day. Also, it's great, in case you were wondering. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Friday, July 8.
The Mission rings in Bastille Day early with the cinematic macaroons that are Amelie and Moulin Rouge!, some screenings of which are sing-a-longs. Opening Friday, July 8.
Steve De Jarnatt's overlooked 1988 gem Miracle Mile is a weird and wonderful blend of romance, nuclear-era paranoia and comedy that is as harried as it is entertaining. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Saturday, July 9.
First Manchurian Candidate. Then Network. Now Laurelhurst is showing 1972 paranoid thriller (that's scarier now than it was back then) The Odessa File. It's… like… something's aloof in the US… Laurelhurst Theater. Friday-Thursday, July 8-14.
An early breakout role for AL Pacino, 1971's The Panic in Needle rattled audiences with a gritty, realistic take on drug addiction, a topic that, in previous decades, was deemed too intense and unsavory by conservative censors. It's a landmark that still shakes you today. 5th Avenue Cinema. 7 & 9:30 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, July 8-10.
Bette Davis won her first Oscar for Dangerous, in which the actress perfected her career-long tendency to use her image (here, she plays a Broadway superstar) to draw attention, only to tear it to shreds (she's a goddamned hot mess). NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Sunday, July 10.
The Princess Bride makes its required appearance at Cartopia's Night Movies, paired with an episode of The X-Files that features no rodents of unusual size. Cartopia. 9 pm Sunday, July 10.
Kung Fu Theater gets nasty with the 1980 lost classic Snake Deadly Act. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, July 12.