All This Panic
Shot over the course of three years, this documentary follows the lives of a group of teenage girls growing up in Brooklyn. NR. Clinton Street Theater. April 27-29.
Best of the We Like 'Em Short Film Festival
A collection of animated and comedic short films from the We Like 'Em Short festival held in Baker City. The films include Armin Silijovic's 2015 Hard Money, about a shrewd businessman who calls people at random to practice his negotiating skills. NR. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. 7 pm Thursday, April 27.
Search "John Coltrane live" on YouTube and enjoy the results while perusing the jazz great's Wikipedia page. You'll come away only marginally less informed about the man and his music than if you'd paid $8.50 for a ticket to this underwhelming documentary. It isn't for lack of material—filmmaker John Scheinfeld has amassed an impressive lineup of family members, former bandmates, experts, and other horn legends to comment on all things Coltrane over the saxy soundtrack. But their collective contribution amounts to a fairly perfunctory biography with astoundingly little insight to his inner life, musicianship, or even personality. Part of the problem is the screen time given to fanboying from irrelevant famous faces—Bill Clinton, Common, Carlos Santana—but you have to imagine the likes of Sonny Rollins and Coltrane's kids had a lot more to offer that the director just didn't push for or left on the cutting-room floor. Yet, with the exception of a few meatier stretches past the halfway mark (one on how he composed "Alabama" after the 1963 Birmingham church bombing is exactly the kind of thing you hope to get out of a music doc), the people who knew Coltrane best mostly just offer up vague declarations that he was a brilliant musician, without ever explaining how or why. NR. RUTH BROWN. Cinema 21, Kiggins Theatre. Critic's Rating: 2/4 stars.
NW Film Center and BodyVox host a long weekend of contemporary films about dance, including Mr. Gaga, a look at Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, and compilations Dance@30FPS and Dancing Over Borders. NR. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium. April 27-29.
This new documentary from Briar Levit explores the Mad Men era of graphic design, before computers revolutionized the design industry. It's showing as part of Portland Design Week. NR. Hollywood Theatre. April 22-29.
Karl Marx City
This doc from filmmakers Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker sees Epperlein travel to the former East Germany, where her father, who may have been a Stasi agent, committed suicide. The film looks at the East German security state and examines the nostalgia felt by many who grew up during that era. NR. Hollywood Theatre. 7:30 pm Monday, May 1.
A new comedy-horror web series from Portland restaurateurs Aaron and Jessica Grimmer (Barlow, High Noon) and directors Courtney Eck and Jordan Firstman follows the son of the Grim Reaper, who has recently taken over the family business, recruiting people to the afterlife by way of elaborate dinner parties. NR. Begins streaming April 28 at vimeo.com/lastmealseries.
Academy Award-winning documentarian Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) turns her eye to Julian Assange after following him and his team for six years NR. Cinema 21.
"We don't employ a Jack Russell to write 'woof woof,' do we?" quips Catrin (Gemma Arterton) about her pigeonhole within the 1940 British film industry. She's been indelicately hired to punch up wartime propaganda screenplays to resonate with English women. Before long, the novice screenwriter's skeptical view of her duty to the Blitz-besieged nation evolves: Perhaps the pictures can make a difference. That sentiment ought to imply heavily how conventional Their Finest is, though it's not self-congratulatory the way an American alternative probably would be. English wit carries the day, as Catrin and her writing partner Buckley (Sam Claflin) fashion a chemistry worthy of that era in film. Like bookish, shell-shocked variants on Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, they thrive on undeniable attraction amid the crackle of sorting out their gender dynamic. But for a movie that's whole being says, "Print the fiction" for morale's sake, abrupt plot hiccups doom Their Finest to be needlessly and dissonantly depressing. It's hard to give the polite nod to light fare that suddenly reduces its lightness to rubble. At the very least, the movie-within-a-movie Catrin and Buckley co-write could be your primer for Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. R. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Bridgeport, Fox Tower. Critic's Rating: 2/4 stars.
Michael O'Shea's debut feature about an African-American boy who falls in with a group of vampires earned him a spot in Cannes' Un Certain Regard competition. NR. Kiggins Theatre.