B Frank Wesley was born Franz Wolfsohn in 1918 Germany. As a young Jew growing up under Hitler's reign, Frank was briefly imprisoned in a concentration camp before he escaped from Germany, immigrated to the United States, joined the Army and was among the American soldiers who liberated Buchenwald—the camp in which he'd once been held captive. Once the war was over, Frank moved to Portland's Hawthorne Boulevard and went on to become a psychology professor, author, father, devout jazz fan and saxophone player. Director David Bee invites the audience to meet Frank. We see him playing sax on the porch, gardening with family, and celebrating at his 95th birthday party. Aside from the occasional photograph or brief interview with his children, the audience is rarely given the opportunity to see anyone other than Frank. The decision to keep the camera almost exclusively focused on the film's main subject adds an undeniable sense of intimacy to the film, but it's a shame that there aren't more visual accompaniments. Though Frank is incredible and captivating enough to stand alone, this is a film, after all. Frank's Song is less a formal documentary, more an invitation into the life of an extraordinary old man. NR. CURTIS COOK. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Thursday, Jan. 12. Screening rescheduled to Jan. 30 due to weather.
Live by Night
C The first reel of Live by Night teases some vision of the movie Ben Affleck claimed to be writing and directing—a rollicking pastiche of those classic Warner Bros. shoot-'em-ups borne on breakneck pace, creased fedoras, and romanticized bootleggers. From the moment we're introduced to Affleck's WWI-weary minor hoodlum, Joe Coughlin, the film spews forth a Model T-exploding, moll-banging, gangster-slaying frenzy with all the kinetic allure and narrative cohesion of mismatched vintage paperback covers. Shame, then, the last 90 minutes crawl by as an extended estate-planning commercial replete with endless widescreen ogles of classic cars passing lush Floridian vistas. Live by Night suddenly veers from blood-dimmed South Boston revenge yarn to logy faux-epic celebrating the social justice meted out by a rum-running middle manager cleaning the Klan out of Tampa. However much the screenplay champions racial equality, supporting actors of color appear only as adoring sidekicks or symbolic touchstones, and the woefully constrained options allowed female leads (Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana and Elle Fanning) nearly justify the refuge for abandoned women our hero keeps promising to build. Blinkered self-deceit is an essential component of the cinematic American gangster, and the best mob movies focus squarely on the moral disconnect between good ends and evil deeds. Still, burying your head in the sand doesn't mean you live by night. R. JAY HORTON. Bridgeport, Clackamas, Division, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Tigard.
C+ When resident small-town misunderstood tough kid Tripp (Lucas Till) finds an enormous, oil-drinking manatee-octopus thing at the junkyard one night, his first mistake is to call his tightwad sheriff stepdad (Barry Pepper) about it, who doesn't believe him. Tripp's second dumb idea—which turns out to be not just a blessing in disguise, but the entire premise of this movie—is to specially soup up his Chevy truck so the monster can live in it and use the fluorescent cilia on its tentacles to make the car run at super-speed. For a movie advertised as "from the director of Ice Age" (Chris Wedge), Monster Trucks is really, really good. For a movie, in general, it's not that great. But give it a chance: The screenplay is straightforward, resisting both the planted quips meant to make kids' movies bearable for parents and the goo-goo-ga-ga simplicity that make them unbearable for everyone. Narratively, the story is dumbly predictable, but some choices made in its telling are fresh—Rob Lowe plays despicable oil tycoon villain Reece Tenneson, for one, and some pretty relevant lessons about environmentalism are generously sprinkled in. Actually, all the movie's moral takeaways hold water: Oil companies are evil, animals have feelings, science is cool, parents are clueless, and kids know everything. PG. ISABEL ZACHARIAS. Cedar Hills, Clackamas.
A- Patient, watchful and quietly transcendent, this urban odyssey from Jim Jarmusch chronicles seven days in the life of Paterson (Adam Driver), a bus driver who moonlights as a poet. Or is he a poet who moonlights as a bus driver? It's never entirely clear. For Paterson, work and writing are inseparable—as he ferries passengers though the city that bears his name, Paterson, N.J., he often composes verses in his head, including an unlikely yet eloquent ode to Ohio Blue Tip Matches. To the chagrin of his adoring partner Laura (Golshifteh Farahani), Paterson prefers scrawling these poems in his "secret notebook" to pursuing publication, though their disagreement never provokes a squabble. Instead, Jarmusch delves into the subdued spectacle of Paterson's daily routine, which he mines for cheeky absurdities and simple acts of decency, like keeping a young girl company after she's been abandoned outside a factory. It all adds up to a poignant and heartening portrait of a working-class artist. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Cinema 21.
The new Peter Berg-Mark Wahlberg collaboration about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Not screened for critics. R. Bridgeport, Clackamas, Division, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Tigard, Vancouver.
Reel Music Film Festival
NW Film Center's 34th Reel Music Film Festival, three weeks of new and old movies about music, kicks off this week with legendary photographer Robert Frank's raunchy, rarely seen Rolling Stones rockumentary, Cocksucker Blues (1972), which followed the band while it promoted Exile on Main Street. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Friday Jan. 13.
As part of its Sonic Cinema series, the Hollywood screens Danny Garcia's new documentary about Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, following the couple up to Nancy's stabbing death at the Hotel Chelsea in 1978. Hollywood Theatre. 9:30 pm Saturday, Jan. 14.
C+ Silence is not a film that should exist. Culled from a footnote of history not important or interesting enough to warrant telling outside of the classroom, this story is too steeped in colonialism and religion to appeal to mainstream audiences. But by the grace of God and Martin Scorsese, here we are, on the beaches of 17th-century Japan, where Portuguese Jesuit priests Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) sail to track down their mentor, Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson), who disappeared and reportedly apostatized. Silence is the exact kind of lifelong passion project you'd expect a 74-year-old man to make about religion: a winding, sincere mess of heavy-handed symbolism and old-timey racism, set off with bad accents and worse voice-overs. Nonetheless, Scorsese is Scorsese. The film takes a turn for the compelling when a play on the unreliable narrator that worked in Shutter Island hints at a deeper discourse on faith and arrogance than the abysmal first act suggests. Until it doesn't: Scorsese overplays his hand, and Silence ends, 30 minutes late, on the exact syrupy note you expect it to. R. WALKER MACMURDO. Bridgeport, Clackamas, Division, Fox Tower, Lloyd.
12 Monkeys (1995)
Terry Gilliam's time-traveling apocalyptic neo-noir starring a frantic Brad Pitt comes to the huge OMSI screen right before anime season begins, as part of the Science on Screen series. The science tonight comes from Pacific University physics professor James Butler, who'll present a lecture titled "Cause, Effect, and the Physics of Time" before the show. Empirical Theater at OMSI. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Jan. 11. Lecture begins at 6:30.
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Shot in five days and clocking in at just over an hour, Roger Corman's grim cult satire of '50s beat culture in Los Angeles follows a busboy-turned-heralded artist who quickly resorts to murder after he accidentally kills a cat and sculpts it into clay. Presented in a rare 16 mm print. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, Jan. 17.
King: A Filmed Record…From Montgomery to Memphis (1971)
Celebrate MLK Jr. Day with Sidney Lumet and Joseph L. Mankiewicz's massive, Oscar-nominated documentary, widely regarded as one of the best in history, that follows Dr. King's civil rights campaign from 1955 to his death in 1968. Clinton Street Theater, 7 pm Monday, Jan. 16, free; Hollywood Theatre, 7 pm Monday-Sunday, Jan. 15-16.
If you're grieving over the recent loss of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, the Kiggins is here for you. It's screening Albert Brooks' 1996 comedy about a middle-aged, twice-divorced sci-fi writer (Brooks) who moves back home to Debbie Reynolds, co-starring in her first major role in 20 years, and Fisher/Chevy Chase comedy Under the Rainbow the same weekend (see below). Both are free! Kiggins Theatre. 1 pm Sunday, Jan. 15
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Back from winter break, the wacky kids at PSU's student-run 5th Avenue Cinema are bringing the classics to the big screen. This time it's Marilyn Monroe as the generation-defining Lorelei Lee in Howard Hawks' golden age comedy about unashamed materialism. 5th Avenue Cinema. Jan. 13-15.
Academy Theater: The Thing From Another World (1951), Jan 11-12; The Blob (1958), Jan. 13-19. Clinton Street Theater: Marriage in the Shadows (1947), 7 pm Wednesday, Jan. 11; King: A Filmed Record…From Montgomery to Memphis (1971), 7 pm Monday, Jan. 16. Hollywood Theatre: Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) double feature, 7:30 pm Friday, Jan. 13; The Battle of Algiers (1966), 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 14; Maggots and Men (2008), 4:30 pm Sunday, Jan. 15. Kiggins Theatre: Under the Rainbow (1981), 1 pm Saturday, Jan. 14. Laurelhurst: Something Wild (1986), Jan 11-12; Animal House (1978), Jan. 13-19. Mission Theater: The Godfather (1972), Jan 12 and 15; Vertigo (1958), Jan. 16-17; Rear Window (1954), 5 pm Monday, Jan. 16. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium: Cocksucker Blues (1972), 7 pm Friday, Jan. 13; King of Jazz (1930), 4:30 pm Sunday, Jan. 15.