B- A wealthy, middle-aged Armando (Alfredo Castro) spends his spare time paying street kids for sex acts. When Élder (Luis Silva) assaults and robs him, Armando confronts and slowly develops an unusual relationship with the young man. Don't get me wrong, Venezuelan director Lorenzo Vigas' Golden Lion-winning debut is a beautiful film—Armando's isolation in a deeply homophobic society is captured through lingering shots of apartments in muted tones and deep shots that turn a bustling Caracas into a faceless blur. And Luis Silva is absolutely stunning as Élder, whose raw, brutish masculinity appears to be constantly trying to burst from his body. But From Afar fundamentally enforces a—goddamnit—problematic conception of homosexuality by portraying Armando as an effete, predatory older man preying on financially vulnerable teenagers. From Afar is thematically caught in a Catch-22: It doesn't follow the same blueprint as other modern queer love stories (Tom Ford's A Single Man, Andrew Haigh's Weekend), but in so doing relies on a regressive portrayal of homosexuality that leaves the audience unable to empathize. Perhaps this film requires a deeper understanding of Latin American queerness than this reviewer possesses, but From Afar watches like an intimate film that lacks intimacy. NR. WALKER MACMURDO. Hollywood.
B+ With The Handmaiden, celebrated South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (the Cannes Grand Prix-winning Oldboy, Thirst) provides the answer to the question: "What would happen if Anaïs Nin directed a revenge thriller?" In a loose adaptation of Sarah Waters' novel Fingersmith culture-shifted to 1930s colonial Korea, Korean con man Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo) hires a young pickpocket, Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri), to help him rob vulnerable Japanese heiress Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) of a fortune controlled by her uncle Kouzuki (a brilliantly lecherous Cho Jin-woong). Those familiar with Chan-wook's oeuvre will have much to celebrate. The Handmaiden is as methodical in its exposition of revenge as cinematographer Chung Chung-Hoon is in shooting the gloomy Anglo-Japanese manor in which most of the film takes place. And Chan-wook's penchant for deadpan humor, dark sexuality and violence takes on a new life through Sook-hee and Lady Hideko's relationship, which quickly develops beyond one between master and servant. The Handmaiden is an undeniably lush, meticulously constructed film whose celebration of perversity is among the most artful you'll see. But the film spends so much time on world-building and sex you'll leave feeling little is being said about these characters, queerness or revenge beyond their gorgeous visual portrayal. Is this a bad thing? Uncle Kouzuki tells us he's just an old man who likes dirty stories. Surely, there's a moral to some of them. R. WALKER MACMURDO. Cinema 21.
Tom Hanks is back as Robert Langdon, the internationally renowned symbologist who, like most academics, has to save the world every couple of years from Catholic extremists. This time, he's got amnesia. Ron Howard directs the newest film in Dan Brown's (The Da Vinci Code) lucrative series. Not screened for critics. PG-13. Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Vancouver.
The Lost Arcade
When it first opened in 1944, Chinatown Fair (lovingly abbreviated by patrons and fans as "CF") was a penny arcade in New York City that featured a live, tic-tac-toe-playing chicken. Later, the venue evolved into a video arcade that was adored by gamers, discussed on The Late Show With David Letterman, and seen in a Ol' Dirty Bastard music video. This documentary chronicles the rise and fall of CF. But rather than focusing on the history of video games, the film shines a light on the small fraction of the NYC gamer scene that still prefers arcades to home consoles. These lost young men—ranging from social misfits to a runaway foster kid with nowhere else to sleep at night—once found comfort and community within the bright lights and incessant chatter of classic arcades. They've since been forced to bid adieu to many of the rapidly closing venues they once quite literally called home. The Lost Arcade is an endearing documentary, but the film nonetheless feels significantly longer than it's sub-hour and twenty minute run time. If you can make it past the close ups of button mashing, The Lost Arcade provides a heartfelt look into a somewhat forgotten scene struggling to survive. NR. CURTIS COOK. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 26.
Michael Moore in TrumpLand
America's most obnoxious liberal shortlister, Michael Moore (Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine), is back, and this time he took his one-man show to small-town Ohio to tell it like it is to Trump-supporting Republicans. NR. Hollywood.
Under the Shadow
B+ Shideh (Narges Rashidi) had aspirations of becoming a doctor, but those dreams are put to rest in the first few minutes of Under the Shadow. At the height of the Iran-Iraq War in late-'80s Tehran, a medical school administrator explains that her history of radical leftist activism disqualifies her from readmittance. So when her husband leaves to work as an army doctor on the front lines, the prickly Shideh stays home with her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi). Even away from the center of the fighting, though, Shideh and Dorsa aren't shielded from the danger of the war zone: sirens, broken windows, air raid alarms that prompt manic sprints to the basement of their apartment complex. Mother and daughter (and audience) are surrounded by constant auditory reminders of their vulnerable status as women in a war zone. And to make matters worse, there is something very "off" about one of the neighborhood boys who just moved into their building. What begins as a terse family drama veers sharply into the realm of supernatural thriller. Writer-director Babak Anvari employs only the cream of the horror-trope crop, from decapitated dolls to creepy mute children and a newly abandoned Cold War-era apartment complex. The effect is a gradual shift from the merely creepy to the utterly terrifying over the course of the film's 80 minutes. PG-13. GRACE CULHANE. Living Room Theaters.
Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981)
You can't celebrate Halloween without Michael Myers, the big daddy of classic horror, lurking around the corner. Another John Carpenter classic and it's equally beloved follow-up from Rick Rosenthal play at the Academy in one hell of a double feature. Academy Theater. Oct. 28-Nov. 3.
The Killing of America (1982)
Condemned as "graphic and obscene" by The New York Times, Sheldon Renan and Leonard Schrader's shockumentary examining violence in American culture was never distributed or made available for sale in the United States. The Hollywood is presenting a restored and uncut copy as part of an especially deep Halloween week lineup. Hollywood Theatre. 9:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 29.
David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club, Gone Girl) directed a dark, violent second movie after the less than stellar Alien 3. Se7en is an absolute classic for mid-'90s cool kids whose parents took them to R-rated movies when they were 12 years old. Se7en scared the shit out of those cool kids. Mission Theater. Oct. 26-Nov 1.
Theatre of Blood (1973)
Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart (horror icon Vincent Price, in reportedly his favorite role) gets revenge on his critics with gruesome executions straight out of the Bard's plays. Douglas Hickox's horror comedy finishes off the NWFC's Bending the Bard film series with a pound of flesh and more to spare. NW Film Center. 7 pm Sunday, Oct. 30.
The Wicker Man in Hecklevision (2006)
In one of the great shitty movies of the 21st century, a particularly amped-up Nic Cage stars as a detective sent to a mysterious island off the coast of Washington to find an ex-lover's missing daughter. Get ready to see a man in a bear suit punch a woman in the face. Presented in Hecklevision, which lets the audience crack jokes via text message in real time. Hollywood Theatre. 9:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 27.
5th Avenue Cinema: Cat People (1982), Oct. 28-30.
Academy Theater: The Howling (1981), Oct. 26-27.
Hollywood Theatre: Someone's Watching Me (1978), 7:30 pm Thursday, Oct. 26; A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), 7 pm Friday, Oct. 28; The Phantom of the Opera (1925), with live organ, 2 pm Saturday, Oct. 29; Rosemary's Baby (1968), Oct. 29-30; The Pit (1981), 7:30 pm Saturday, Oct. 31.
Laurelhurst Theater: The 'Burbs (1989), Oct. 26-27; Let the Right One In (2008), Oct. 28-Nov. 3.
NW Film Center: D'est (1993), 7 pm, Oct. 28; Eraserhead (1977), 9:15 pm, Oct. 28; Mapplethorpe: Look at The Pictures (2015), Oct. 29-31.