The drive-in movie theater is a magical place from a bygone era. It's where Dottie planned the ultimate seduction of Pee-wee. It's where teenagers get lucky in their parents' minivans. It's the only appropriate place to talk during a movie.
Which makes the NW Film Center's Drive-In at Zidell Yards all the more alluring (3030 SW Moody Ave.; dusk Friday-Sunday, July 18-20). Held on the South Waterfront, the popup series offers the chance to walk, bike or drive up to a massive screen overlooking the scenic non-beauty of the Ross Island Bridge.
Despite some missing elements—the speakers you pull into the car, for one—the series nails the most important aspect of the drive-in: the horribly mismatched double feature.
What, pray tell, would possess someone to match Purple Rain and Mean Streets? One is about Prince and Apollonia on the mean streets of Minnesota. The other is about, well, the mean streets of the New York mob world, and is the film that brought Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro into the national spotlight. Both are classics. But they have nothing in common…unless you can find a connection between a mythical guitarist whose blouse billows as he rides a purple motorcycle, and bookies and psychos in 1970s Little Italy.
Similarly, Saturday's screening was planned seemingly by throwing a dart at a VHS collection. First up is Dirty Dancing, the quintessential teenage girl fantasy celebrating abortion and statutory rape. It's followed by Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee's best film, in which he combats sex trafficking through sheer will. And nunchakus.
(Sunday offers a single feature, but it's Stand by Me, a film that needs no companion, though if they showed it twice, that would be boss.)
But these nonsensical couplings serve a purpose: the cultivation of hickeys, that other drive-in mainstay. Hickeys are a reward for compromise, and drive-in tradition dictates that every act of cinematic violence is balanced by a dance sequence. A dude can go to work on his girlfriend's neck while the Swayze and Jennifer Grey dance, and he can get the reciprocal treatment while Bruce Lee fights a squad of goons—and both will get the perfect drive-in experience, with the battle scars to prove it.
- Whoever booked La Vie en Rose for Pixâs Movies at Dusk series should get a bonus: Marion Cotillardâs masterful performance as Edith Piaf really makes you want to put back a bottle of wine and a sack of macarons. Pix Patisserie. Dusk Wednesday, July 16.
- The Hollywood Theatre celebrates its 88th birthday with Singinâ in the Rain, a movie that appeals broadly to the 88-year-old demographic. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Thursday, July 17.
- Alejandro Jodorowskyâs 1970 masterpiece El Topo is a surreal collision of cowboy and Eastern religious iconography, which Stephen King didnât rip off in the slightest when he was writing The Dark Tower. Hollywood Theatre. Opens Friday, July 18.
- For 2010âs Cave of Forgotten Dreams, gonzo documentarian Werner Herzog descended into a 30,000-year-old French cavern to capture the most well-preserved cave drawings known to man. 5th Avenue Cinema. July 18-20.
- The 1985 horror flick Demons doesnât make a lick of sense. It doesnât need to: Itâs about demons laying siege to a movie theater. One rides a motorcycleâ¦and has a sword. 5th Avenue Cinema. 9 pm Friday, July 18.
- Misogynistic and violent, Sam Peckinpahâs Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia gives Straw Dogs a run for its money with its depiction of women secretly enjoying being beaten and raped. Its appeal consistently befuddles me. Laurelhurst Theater. July 18-24.
- Last week, Earth to Echo tried and failed to capture the magic of films like 1986âs Flight of the Navigator. Probably because it didnât have Paul Reubens as the voice of an alien robot thingy that takes a sad little kid to space. Academy Theater. July 18-24.
- Eric Rohmerâs 1996 comedy A Summerâs Tale is a quintessential summer tale of adolescent longing. But itâs French, so donât expect anyone to fornicate with a pie or play baseball. NW Film Centerâs Whitsell Auditorium. July 18-20.
- A shirtless, big-haired heavy-metal band named Triton that fights Satan? Hell yes, Rock ânâ Roll Nightmare. The director of the 1987 cult film will be in attendance, along with star, metalhead and bodybuilding champ Jon Mikl Thor. FUCK YES. Hollywood Theatre. 6:45 pm Saturday, July 19.
- The Kevin Bacon sand-monster flick Tremors and the Coen Brothersâ Raising Arizona might seem an odd pairing, until you consider that theyâre probably the two funniest films ever to wreak havoc on the desert. Cartopia. 9:30 pm Sunday, July 20.
- In The Deadly Spawn, a three-headed alien holes up in an old house, eats people and spawns razor-toothed babies that look like crosses between penises and eels. Thereâs a lot of symbolism here, naturally. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Tuesday, July 22.