B+ Marvel Studios gets psychedelic in this likable lark. The story—or rather, the film's flimsy approximation of a story—spotlights Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch, slumming with panache), a crippled surgeon who becomes a disciple of a sorcerer named "the Ancient One" (Tilda Swinton). Under her tutelage, Strange blossoms into a scarlet-caped superhero and defends Earth from Dormammu, a malevolent entity that looks like a giant meringue. Thanks to director Scott Derrickson's confidently superficial storytelling, Strange's journey is cleanly shorn of messy and meaningful emotions—when it comes to movies, Marvel is no longer the House of Ideas. Yet the film's imagery has a dizzying power, especially during a battle where skyscrapers fold in on each other like paper cranes and a trippy sequence in which Strange hurtles through a celestial dreamscape that recalls The Tree of Life. Derrickson also nods toward Batman Begins by sending a broody, bearded Strange to Asia. While Doctor Strange looks tacky and childish next to Christopher Nolan's soulful epic, it's hard to resist. It's impossible to dislike a movie so buoyantly entertaining that you're charmed, not irked, when it slips in some very noticeable product placement for jalapeño Kettle Chips. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Cinemagic, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, St. Johns Twin Cinema & Pub, Tigard, Vancouver.
B- Iggy and the Stooges were a quartet of brilliant, savage artists who forged punk eight years early and blew it with bad behavior, losing the grace of their unsympathetic industry overlords until their eventual reunification proved them one of the most influential cult acts in rock history. With Gimme Danger, auteur director Jim Jarmusch tells one of the greatest rock-and-roll stories about one of the greatest rock-and-roll bands. But Jarmusch (Coffee and Cigarettes, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai) leaves no fingerprints, making this documentary a rather straightforward, artless exercise. Nevertheless, the film is carried by its subject matter, the music and a handful of long interviews with Iggy Pop that largely serve as narration. This gives Jim Osterberg (Ig's real name) the chance to continue painting his own myth—that he was a young Midwestern bluesman, simultaneously fascinated with Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Soupy Sales. Though Jarmusch is clearly out of his element, it's nonetheless entirely worthwhile to see and hear this story told by the men who made the music. Bands like Anvil were rescued from obscurity by a great documentary. The Stooges' legacy was rescued long ago by three classic albums and the legends of the band's unprecedented stage antics. R. NATHAN CARSON. Hollywood.
C A morally repugnant bloodbath from its shallow, sermonizing first act to its ferociously brutal finale, this would-be epic stares into the maw of World War II through the eyes of combat medic Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), who rescued dozens of his comrades at Okinawa—without ever firing a gun. With the same daredevil grin he perfected while playing Spider-Man, Garfield sells Doss' pacifism. Yet Hacksaw Ridge is so gruesome that it's impossible to take its attempts to preach the gospel of nonviolence seriously—the movie's lovingly detailed shots of mangled intestines and dead bodies covered in rats carry an unmistakable whiff of fetishism. And while there are moments when the film erupts with moral urgency—including a courtroom scene in which Doss defends his right not to bear arms—the stench of hypocrisy grows so pungent that when the film's director, that bastion of virtue Mel Gibson, bathes Doss in a shower of angelic light, it's difficult not to laugh at the incongruity. The real Doss once said that in battle he prayed, "Lord, please help me get more and more, one more…." Hacksaw Ridge strikes down that prayer in favor of a carnage-addicted director's: Let me kill one more. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Vancouver.
B One bright, clear day in 1966, a man named Charles Joseph Whitman sat in the tower in the center of the University of Texas campus and began firing into unsuspecting crowds of students walking below. The new documentary Tower revisits this atrocity, combining archival video, interviews with people who lived through the shooting, and rotoscopic animation of key scenes. On one hand, some animations are effective, like the hallucinogenic visions of a pregnant woman bleeding out on the pavement, or the angular, adrenalized graphics of an officer sprinting for cover. On the other, turning these terrifying scenes into literal cartoons undermines some of the tension the filmmakers probably hoped to create. The bigger problem, however, is that without a core narrative or ideological framework on which to hang events, the story becomes effectively indistinguishable from dozens of other instances of mass murder perpetrated across this country in the intervening years. That's not to say this story matters less, but based on the way the story is related, one might think this sort of shooting was just an act of nature. Hopefully, this documentary provides those involved with some sort of catharsis, but it's asking a lot to expect the rest of the audience to ignore such a noisy elephant in the room. NR. ZACH MIDDLETON. Living Room Theaters.
B+ The troll world is covered in glitter, echoing in giggles, and it's mandated by law that you must hug every hour. But this wonderful place is threatened by the trolls' long history of being eaten by Bergens: terribly ugly giants that suffer from depression that they believe can be cured only by digesting trolls. Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the bubbly leader of the Troll community, and Branch (Justin Timberlake), a serial pessimist, must save a handful of their goofy friends from ending up as troll soufflé on the Bergens' dinner table. Like every contemporary kid's film, Trolls is rife with enjoyably nauseating life lessons like "no troll left behind" when outrunning Bergens, and that happiness comes from within, not from ingesting a troll. Every energetic scene is paired with well-known sing-alongs, for which Kendrick and Timberlake offer their talented vocals. And for an animated film built for short attention spans, the storyline stays pitch perfect, with modern-day pop culture references, whether they be the familiar voices of Gwen Stefani, Russell Brand or Zooey Deschanel or Auto-Tuned troll Guy Diamond (Kunal Nayyar). DreamWorks even delivers the psychedelic scene, perfect for parents nostalgic for their acid trips, and it will keep their kids entertained for at least an hour and a half. PG. AMY WOLFE. Bagdad, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Roseway, Vancouver.
A Humphrey Bogart-obsessed car thief kills a policeman and tries to go on the run to Italy with his American girlfriend in Jean-Luc Godard's pioneering first feature film, one of the most influential in the French New Wave movement and widely considered one of the best movies ever made. Academy Theater. Nov. 4-10.
Dead Ringers (1988)
There's creepy David Cronenberg, and then there's Dead Ringers. Jeremy Irons stars as twin gynecologists Elliot and Beverly Mantle, the former of whom seduces patients for the latter. When Bev falls for a famous actress, the twins' relationship gets really out of hand. Part of the Wordstock: Film to Page series, a conversation with novelist Jonathan Lethem (A Gambler's Anatomy) and Portland author Casey Jarman follows. NW Film Center. 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 4.
Malcolm X Speaks (1971) & Angela Davis at Malcolm X College (1972)
In collaboration with Portland's Black Creative Collective: Brown Hall, Cinema Project presents Black Cinema 2: two 16 mm films addressing race in America. Gil Noble's Malcolm X Speaks is a documentary about the activist made five years after his 1965 assassination, and Angela Davis is a rare interview discussing the 1972 presidential election and her freedom after time in prison. Portland Community Media. 7:30 pm Friday, Nov. 4.
Let the Right One In (2008)
One of the best horror flicks in recent years is this Swedish tale about Oskar, a bullied adolescent who befriends a mysterious new neighbor girl named Eli just as a bunch of gruesome, unexplained murders start occurring across town. Who could be responsible? Laurelhurst Theater. Nov. 2-3.
Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)
Twenty years ago, the Hollywood District's Grant High School was transformed into a film set to create this family drama about composer-turned-high school teacher Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss), who tries to share the importance of music with his pupils in the face of a hostile school administration. Portlanders who participated in the film's production are encouraged to share stories in a discussion that follows. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 5.
Do You See What I See? No.
Portland visual artist Vanessa Renwick—recent recipient of a 2016 Fellowship Award by the Regional Arts & Culture Council—presents three new short films interspersed with live musical performances from Portland musicians Michael Hurley, Sam Coomes (Quasi) and Marisa Anderson. The headliner is Next Level Fucked Up: a collection of shorts born from Renwick's frustration with demoralizing news media, originally played as video installation at the Portland Art Museum. Strabismus, a short about Renwick's experience with ocular surgery, and Eclipse, about wolves, also premiere. NR. WALKER MACMURDO. Hollywood Theatre. 7 pm Monday, Nov. 7.
5th Avenue Cinema: Meek's Cutoff (2010), Nov. 4-6; Everyone Else (2009), Nov. 4-6.
Church of Film (North Star Ballroom): Olesya (1971), 8 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Hollywood Theatre: The Great Dictator (1940), Nov. 5-6.
Laurelhurst Theater: Memento (2000), Nov. 4-10.
NW Film Center: Gas Food Lodging (1992), 7:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 3; Close-Up (1990), 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 5; Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol (1990), 2 pm Sunday, Nov. 6; A Face in the Crowd (1957), 4 pm Sunday, Nov. 6; Contact (1997), 7 pm Sunday, Nov. 6; Modern Times (1936), 6:30 pm Monday, Nov. 7; Letters Home (1986), 8:30 pm Monday, Nov. 7.