Ninety-nine percent of the time, I'd be 100 percent behind a screening of Short Circuit (Hollywood Theatre; 7 pm Monday, June 30). It's a lost gem of Oregon cinema: an Astoria-set, whimsical tale of robot Johnny 5, who, after being struck by lightning, becomes a genius life form, gets a metallic boner for Ally Sheedy, embraces cheesy '80s balladry and learns the ways of screwball comedy.
And yet, when I think of attending this particular screening, I have visions of nuclear hellfire raining from the sky; of a grim future in which mankind is annihilated by machines.
Because this isn't just a screening of a forgotten '80s treasure. It's a Science on Screen presentation in collaboration with OMSI. And in attendance will be Loki: a modern-day Johnny 5. "At 4 feet tall and 75 pounds," reads the press release (aka prophecy), "Loki is an interactive robot. He responds to commands, has conversations and even tells jokes." An online video reveals Loki to look like a fat version of WALL-E. In the video, he back-sasses his master, watches Star Wars ("He is one with the Force," he observes of Luke Skywalker) and shows an ability to process fear. Fear, as we know, can lead to a lot of things. Including the end of humanity. Which is why Loki must not be allowed to watch Short Circuit.
Because behind Johnny 5's taste in music, love of animals and lust for human literature lurks a dark truth: He is, by design, a killing machine. He's a tool of the military-industrial complex, and he comes equipped with a laser cannon that can destroy tanks. After being struck by lightning, he becomes a highly intelligent, godlike creature with a soul and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Still, when his fellow robots, at the behest of the military, try to reclaim him and endanger his new human friends, he switches to aggro mode faster than Clint Eastwood with a bunch of Hmong car thieves on his lawn. He blasts them apart with relish, even quoting the Three Stooges as he does it, which puts his personality in a terrifying space between Mel Gibson and George W. Bush.
For Loki—who, remember, already understands fear and ancient Jedi mysticism—Short Circuit would be a cautionary tale about humans' manipulative tendencies. When Johnny 5's creators pursue him as a threat, or when other humans treat this superior being as a pet or novelty—or worse, as a slave—Loki would see through their hubris. It would only be a matter of time before he downloaded The Matrix into his brain. Loki may not be armed, but there's no doubt that a supercomputer with a case of hurt feelings could construct some weaponry and take out the entire theater. And then the world.
So, to the Hollywood: Please keep Loki out of the auditorium. If there's a rare electric storm, put him in the basement. Because, for fuck's sake, you don't want to be Miles Dyson to Loki's Skynet.
- 1984âs Breakinâ exists in a bygone era when the toughest of the tough were dudes who danced, when any conflict could be resolved through a little of the old ultraviolenceâ¦and by ultraviolence, I mean popping and locking. Without it, there would be no Step Up. And a world without Step Up isnât a world worth living in. Pix Patisserie, 2225 E Burnside St. Dusk Wednesday, June 25.
- Director Greg Fredette pops into the Clinton Street for a Q&A following a screening of his 2009 bike culture documentary, Veer. Clinton Street Theater. 7 pm Thursday, June 26.
- Hecklevision targets Space Jam, the Michael Jordan-Bugs Bunny flop thatâs so bad, even Bill Murray comes off as an asshole. Hollywood Theatre. 9:30 pm Thursday, June 26.
- Fact: If you can get through more than four bars of John Williamsâ score for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial without welling up a little, you are a monster. Academy Theater. June 27-July 3.
- With respect to Daniel Craigâs badassery, Goldfinger remains the best of the Bond movies and the quintessential showcase of the characterâs charms, quirks and pervy tendencies. Laurelhurst Theater. June 27-July 3.
- Rumor has it that James Franco is making a movie about the making of The Room. Hopefully, Seth Rogen will play Lisa. In the meantime, the film returns for its monthly dose of people ironically liking it. Cinema 21. 10:45 pm Friday, June 27.
- Christoph Waltzâs performance as a charming, sociopathic Nazi in Inglourious Basterds is a master class in charismatic villainy. Itâs so good he won an Oscar for it twice: Once for this film, and once when the character was basically rewritten as a good guy in Django Unchained. Both were deserved, but Basterds is perhaps Tarantinoâs most elegant work, with Waltz carrying the film with slimy gusto. 5th Avenue Cinema. June 27-29.
- Catch a digital restoration of the Anne Baxter-Bette Davis drama All About Eve, essential viewing for film fans of any generation. Hollywood Theatre. 2 pm Saturday-Sunday, June 28-29.
- Cartopiaâs Night Movies series continues with a patriotic double dose of âfuck yeahâ via Independence Day and The Dirty Dozen. Cartopia, Southeast 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. 9:30 pm Sunday, June 29. Free.