Relationships on the fritz make for some of rock music's best mythology. In a twee reversal, Band Aid asks whether a civilian Carter-Cash or Buckingham-Nicks could take up songwriting as couples therapy. Anna and Ben (Zoe Lister-Jones and Adam Pally) bicker compulsively—about their mountain of dirty dishes, spiralling all the way to a miscarriage they can barely discuss. Transposing grievances into duets—backed by their neighbor Weird Dave (Fred Armisen) on drums—could be the remedy. It's a strong conceit from actor, writer and first-time director Lister-Jones (Breaking Upwards, Life In Pieces), and the movie hangs in the chemistry between her and Pally. Both are comfortable in a ping-pong battle between humor and drama, but it's the multitasking Lister-Jones who proves an uncommonly believable comedic presence. She beats back a world of doting Silver Lake moms and her classless Uber passengers with a dryness that never becomes schtick. Ultimately, though, like so many premise-driven indie comedies, Band Aid crescendos with enthusiasm but has no idea how to strike a resolving chord. It settles on letting its too-cute, Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus garage-rock songs soak in the limelight. R. CRITIC'S RATING: 2/4. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Living Room Theaters.
The Beguiled Sofia Coppola's Civil War-era tale of amorousness and limb-severing vengeance has a beautifully haunting opening: a scene where a young girl (Oona Laurence) happens upon the wounded Union soldier John McBurney (Colin Farrell). With its aura of quiet menace, that moment sets the style for the movie, which follows McBurney back to a Southern all-girls seminary, where his hosts (including Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning) both vie for his affections and subject him to ghastly torment. Coppola—who adapted the film from a Thomas Cullinan novel—may have packed the movie with intimations of repressed rage and sexuality, but she suffocates The Beguiled with monotonously pretty scenery and the tiresome spectacle of awful people doing awful things to other awful people. Only rarely does the film flicker with emotional life, which usually happens when the effortlessly charismatic McBurney is onscreen. He declares that he's "easily amused," which begs the question: Why doesn't Coppola try amusing us for a change? R. CRITIC'S RATING: 2/4. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Living Room Theaters.
Born on the Fourth of July
I'm not sure how one is supposed to celebrate the Fourth of July in Trump's America, but we basically live in an Oliver Stone movie now, so might as well watch one. In his most critically acclaimed role, Tom Cruise plays Ron Kovic, a real-life small town athlete whose life falls apart after he kills a fellow soldier and is paralyzed in the Vietnam War. WALKER MACMURDO. Clinton Street Theater, 7 pm, Monday, July 3.
When Jonathan Demme wasn't making Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia and Stop Making Sense he was making small, deeply personal documentaries that, though mostly unseen, spoke to his breadth and talent as a filmmaker. This week, the NW Film Center takes a look at some of these lesser works, like this profile of Demme's cousin Rev. Robert Castle, an Episcopalian minister who worked in the black communities of Jersey City and Harlem. WALKER MACMURDO. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm, Wednesday, June 28.
This week, Hollywood Theatre starts their Steven Spielberg on Film series. Though you're likely there to see Spielberg's massive hits, make sure to check out some of his deep cuts too. Duel, the story of a travelling salesman (Dennis Weaver) who gets trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse in the middle of the open road with a tanker truck driver, was Spielberg's mostly forgotten first theatrical film. Even legends start with truck chase movies. WALKER MACMURDO. Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm, Monday, July 3.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Since his heyday has long passed, it's kind of easy to forget that Steven Spielberg invented the modern blockbuster and was behind the reins of massive franchises like Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones. The story of a benevolent alien and his young friend Elliott (Henry Thomas) kicks off the Hollywood's Spielberg on Film series, a retrospective looking at a dozen of the director's early works on 35mm. WALKER MACMURDO. Hollywood Theatre, 7 pm, Saturday, July 1.
One of the earliest "quotable" movies of my time, Mike Judge's tale of suburban white collar drudgery launched both a thousand forays into the back catalogue of the Geto Boys and a thousand teenaged boys doing the "Oh face" scene at one another. God I love this movie. WALKER MACMURDO. Laurelhurst, June 28-29.