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Go Watch These Movies Nov. 23 - 29

This year, I'm thankful for all of the good movies I've watched.

New Movies


  B+  Robert Zemeckis directed this WWII suspense thriller, which is both clumsy and irresistible. Brad Pitt stars as Max Vatan, a spy for the Allies who parachutes into French Morocco to help fellow agent Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) assassinate a German ambassador. Romance follows, along with several closets' worth of luxuriant suits and gowns, and the movie's glamor is only mildly impeded by the revelation that Marianne may be a double agent working for the Germans. The more pressing obstacles are the ones that stand in the way of the movie's quest to charm and entertain, including limp dialogue—the film is filled with yawningly banal lines such as, "They said you were beautiful and good"—and Pitt's performance, which has all the charisma of a prim hunk of plywood. Yet while such defects would defeat most movies, Allied has a lush, hyperbolic eroticism that makes it addictive—when Max and Marianne make love in a car while a sandstorm roars outside, the scene's absurdity makes you swoon instead of sneer. Better yet is Cotillard, whose gleefully theatrical delivery is worthy of Grace Kelly. When Max hits the brake pedal during a speedy nighttime drive through Casablanca, Marianne urges him to keep up the pace: "This is how you drive in Casablanca," Cotillard says with a flirtatious flourish, seducing Pitt while the movie seduces you. R. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Tigard, Vancouver.

Bad Santa 2

  B-  Terry Zwigoff's deeply underrated Bad Santa succeeded because of watertight joke-writing and excellent performances from its supporting cast—the sadly deceased John Ritter and Bernie Mac—playing straight men to Billy Bob Thornton's foulmouthed, alcoholic mall Santa/drifter. In Mark Waters' decade-late follow-up, Thornton returns as whirlwind puke-and-piss monster Willie Soke to rip off a crooked charity with his former partner Marcus Skidmore (Tony Cox) and now-adult simpleton Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) in tow. But this time the heist is in Chicago, and he's accompanied by his mother, the equally foulmouthed and alcoholic career criminal Sunny Soke (Kathy Bates). Bad Santa 2 certainly has jokes. Quietly, Thornton is an excellent comic, and writer Shauna Cross wisely gives him the film's best material to laugh-out-loud effect, especially when it plays him off the do-gooding charity staff. Instead of letting Thornton's filth breathe, however, the film doubles down with Bates, whose dialogue is so outlandishly vulgar it dulls the senses. The film also suffers from a robust case of sequelitis, rehashing decade-old jokes and plot points to an audience that clearly sees them coming. Bad Santa 2 will help you get your "fuck" and "shit" quotas up before the new year, but it's by no means necessary holiday viewing. R. WALKER MACMURDO. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Tigard, Vancouver.

The Eagle Huntress

  A-  Set in the wilderness of Mongolia, this astounding documentary follows Aisholpan Nurgaiv, a 13-year-old Kazakh girl who hunts with the help of a golden eagle, a bushy beast trained to take off from Aisholpan's hand to swoop down and slay foxes. From the start, Aisholpan's adventures are a nonstop rush of exhilaration—when she clambers down a jagged cliff to nab her eagle from its nest, you get a suspenseful kick worthy of Alfred Hitchcock or The Bourne Identity. Even more remarkable is the fact that Aisholpan's feats of derring-do are undertaken in defiance of some of her community's elder members, who believe the mantle of eagle hunter should pass solely from fathers to sons. To see Aisholpan defy their sexism by hunting across a gorgeously snowy and rocky expanse is to be joyously stunned and thrilled. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Fox Tower.

King Cobra

  C+  If there's anything to learn from the second feature by writer-director Justin Kelly (I Am Michael), it's that the adages "sex sells" and "if it bleeds, it leads" ring true. King Cobra is based on the true story of gay teenage porn star Sean Paul Lockhart (aka Brent Corrigan) and his messy relationship with gay porn mogul Bryan Kocis—whose murder in 2007 was so brutal investigators had to use dental records to identify his body. Packed with softcore gay sex scenes, King Cobra is rich in subject matter, but brief and sporadic throws to comedy subvert the film's dark and under-explored themes of underage sex, sexual abuse, exploitation, manipulation, greed and violence. Christian Slater provides a sullen performance as the middle-aged Bryan Kocis, who pines for his lover and cash cow Corrigan (Garrett Clayton) with a somber mix of resentment and melancholy. These unsettling scenes are undermined by the familiar chaos audiences have grown to expect from James Franco, who plays an over-the-top, spendthrift producer of punny porn videos like "The Fast and the Curious." Slater and Franco are compelling in their roles, but King Cobra's jarring use of humor overly blurs the line between drama and satire while leaving a lot left unpacked. R. CURTIS COOK. Cinema 21.


  B+    If you were curious whether Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson could carry a tune, Moana is a ringing affirmative. In Disney's new Pacific island adventure, a rebellious teen, Moana (Auli'i Cravalho), makes it her mission to sail the open ocean with her brainless chicken, Heihei (Alan Tudyk), pairing up with the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) to reverse the curse placed on her people's land. Moana's likable, dynamic characters pair well with the bright, blue seas in 3-D. But Moana cuts its most meaningful and action-packed moments short—like Moana and Maui entering a cave of monsters with a memorable singing number by an evil crab, Tomatoa (Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement). Or, the two battling the Lava Witch, the film's villain, to save the day and restore Moana's village to its lush, green landscape. Ultimately, Moana's refusal to be labeled as any sort of princess makes for a progressive Disney movie promoting a "girl power" message. PG. AMY WOLFE. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Milwaukie, Pioneer Place, St. Johns Pub and Theater, Tigard, Vancouver.

Nocturnal Animals

Fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford (A Single Man) is back, and this time he's tackling Austin Wright's 1993 novel Tony and Susan. Susan Morrow (Amy Adams), the successful owner of an art gallery, receives a disturbing manuscript from her estranged ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) as her second marriage falls apart. R. Fox Tower.

Rules Don't Apply

  Infamous, womanizing movie mogul Howard Hughes (Warren Beatty) oversees his businesses in a dark bungalow full of his collected oddities. He has one rule for trusty driver Levar Mathis (Matthew Broderick) and new hire Frank Forbes (Alden Ehrenreich): no sleeping with any of the billowy-skirted actresses they transport in their swanky towncars. Beatty's fast-paced new film focuses on Marla Mabrey (Lindsey Collins), a sharp-tongued, Baptist girl debuting in one of Hughes' feature films while beginning a budding romance with Forbes. At its best, Rules Don't Apply documents Hughes' eccentric behavior, capturing him repeating himself in a dark room and demanding banana-nut ice cream. But the nuance is mostly drowned out by Beatty's attempts to fit all of Hughes' achievements alongside the development of Hughes. Like Hollywood itself, each scene passes by too quickly for the viewer to grasp what's actually going on. The vibrant Los Angeles backdrop and colorful characters make for some great film, but Rules Don't Apply comes with lots of turbulence and a bumpy landing. PG-13. AMY WOLFE. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Living Room Theaters, Lloyd, Tigard, Vancouver.

We Are X

This new documentary from Stephen Kijak follows Japanese hair-metal band X Japan and its drummer, songwriter and mastermind, Yoshiki, to a 2014 performance at Madison Square Garden. Not screened for critics. NR. Hollywood.

Old Movies

A Single Man (2009)

Tom Ford's new flick, Nocturnal Animals, may be blowing everyone's minds, but his first was a tightly shot queer drama about a man trying to cope with the sudden death of his partner with, big surprise from the former creative director of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, some really extraordinary costuming. 5th Avenue Cinema. 9 pm Friday-Saturday, 5 pm Sunday, Nov. 25-27.

Howards End (1992)

Although the term "Merchant Ivory" has fallen in cultural capital lately, Howards End is considered the gold standard of the production company's style. Set in Edwardian England and starring period-piece legends Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thomson, Cinema 21 presents a digital 4K restoration of the heavily costumed class drama that took three Academy Awards. Cinema 21.
Nov. 23-30.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Holy shit, people love this movie. Rob Reiner's goofball fantasy tale of Westley and his quest to save Princess Buttercup is a classic among cult classics. Kiggins Theatre. Nov. 25-29. 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Clinton may run it every week (a 38-year tradition), but this week the Kiggins is getting in on the fun too, with a 10 pm showing of the queen of midnight movies. Dress up, bring your props (to the Clinton; Kiggins has its own) and your buddies home for the holidays and have a great time. Kiggins Theatre; 10 pm Saturday, Nov. 26. Clinton Street Theater; midnight Saturday, Nov. 26.

Y Tu Mamá También (2001)

Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) may have graduated to the big leagues, but he made his name with this movie—one of the best-regarded of the 2000s—about two Mexican teenage boys who meet and seduce an older woman on a road trip. Academy Theater. Nov. 25-Dec. 1.


5th Avenue Cinema: Ida (2013), 7 pm Friday-Saturday, 3 pm Sunday, Nov. 25-27. Church of Film (North Star Ballroom): The Films of Artazavd Pelechian; 8 pm Wednesday, Nov. 23. Hollywood Theatre: The Last Waltz (1973), 7:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 23; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916), 2 pm Saturday, Nov. 26; Wild Wild West (1999), 7 pm Saturday, Nov. 26; The Muppets (2011), 7 pm Tuesday, Nov. 29. Laurelhurst: A Fish Called Wanda (1988), 6:30 pm Wednesday, Nov. 23; Gremlins (1984), Nov. 25-Dec. 1. Mission Theater: Home for the Holidays (1995), Nov. 23-29. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium: Intolerance (1916), 6 pm Sunday, Nov. 27.