Is this reboot starring The Rock and Zac Efron going to be stupid in a good way or stupid in an annoying, way-too-tongue-in-cheek way? Find out in our review next week! R. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, Tigard, Vancouver.
If you've been hoping to take your teenage daughter or son to a smug, facile and deeply offensive YA melodrama, here's your chance. That said, this adaptation of Nicola Yoon's novel is an abomination with benefits, including Amandla Stenberg's sweetly charismatic performance as Maddy, an 18-year-old with severe combined immunodeficiency, which prevents her from leaving her IKEA-catalogue home. Everything in Maddy's life is sanitized—her clothes are "irradiated" and her house has an airlock—except for Olly (Nick Robinson), a dashingly hairy charmer who lives next door, much to the chagrin of Maddy's hyper-domineering mother (Anika Noni Rose). An inevitable romance takes root as Maddy and Olly shyly flirt and Stenberg and Robinson revel in their tangible chemistry, but both actors are undermined by dull dialogue—the film's sole memorable line is a Cher exclamation that Maddy borrows from Moonstruck—and a staggeringly moronic plot twist that cheapens the entire movie and betrays the emotional investment it demands from its audience. Maddy may wrestle with whether it's worth venturing beyond the glass walls that shield her, even if it means risking death, but the film offers an insultingly easy solution that will horrify anyone who cares about logic, storytelling or disability rights. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Fox Tower, Lloyd, Oak Grove, Tigard, Vancouver. Critic's Rating: 1/4 stars.
One wouldn't assume a documentary about New York Times obituary columnists would be laugh-out-loud funny. This dying art is practiced by an aging bullpen of wry hunters-and peckers who strive to immortalize striking details in the lives of people who made a quantifiable impact on the world—on deadline. The writers' stories are juxtaposed snugly beside the details of their subjects to create an exceptionally tight, often hilarious film. Morgue archivist Jeff Roth inadvertently turns in a show-stealing performance. NATHAN CARSON. NR. Cinema 21. Critic's Rating: 4/4 stars.
You'll have a sizable advantage with interpreting João Pedro Rodrigues' The Ornithologist if you're an English major. Based on the spiritual transcendence of St. Anthony, ornithologist Fernando (Paul Hamy) is busy bird watching along a canal in northern Portugal when his kayak gets swept away by a current. As a consequence, he ominously encounters a plethora of strangers who test him existentially and sexually. Even the most well-read moviegoer might have difficulty sympathizing with the plot holes and general turtlelike pace of the film, which drowns Fernando's odyssey long before his misfortune along the river. JACK RUSHALL. NR. NW Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium, May 27-28. Critic's Rating: 1/4 stars.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Where did the Pirates of the Caribbean saga sail off course? The smart money is on Dead Man's Chest, the 2006 entry in the series that first smothered Bill Nighy's savory smirk under a computerized octopus beard. Yet Dead Men Tell No Tales—the fifth installment in this dead franchise walking—is a treasure trove of embarrassments in its own right. What passes for a story in this cinematic shipwreck is a heap of pseudo-mythical babble about the ghostly Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem), who harbors a vendetta against Johnny Depp's irrepressible buccaneer, Jack Sparrow. Thanks to his comedic drunkenness and lithe innuendos, Depp still charms, although his eccentricities get buried under the galumphing theatrics of directors Joaquim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, who apparently would rather drag an entire building through a dusty street than go to the trouble of staging a coherent sword fight. They could learn a thing or two from Geoffrey Rush, who attacks his role as the marvelously bewigged Captain Barbossa with mad glee. He clearly understands what his directors don't: That if you're going to get some booty, you may as well earn it. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport, Lloyd, Pioneer Place, St. Johns Twin Cinema & Pub, Tigard, Vancouver. Critic's Rating: 1/4 stars.
Part of the Portland EcoFilm Festival, Promised Land centers on the Duwamish Tribe and the Chinook Indian Nation, two Native American tribes fighting for treaty rights to be recognized by the US government. Hollywood, 6:30 pm, Saturday, May 27.
This Belgian/Dutch arthouse drama opens with a mall cop looking so long at a block of security monitors that he nods off and then walks away. Just afterward, on those same monitors, we witness a teenage boy get suddenly stabbed while his friend Jesse looks on. And that's the rhythm of Bas Devos' nearly wordless, nearly plotless Violet: The first-time director presents a still, un-soundtracked shot and lingers for minutes at a time. Sometimes a character wanders into frame, and sometimes nothing happens at all. This style suggests Jesse's numbing bystander's guilt, but it's also minimalism on a mission. Like Kelly Reichardt's sparsest work, Violet is ripe for an academic discussion of how the cinematic image gives and withholds, how it can reveal and disguise its subjects at the same time. But this Berlin Film Festival prize winner lacks Reichardt's affection for character, as well as her astute and often funny eye for editing. No, Violet is like looking at a sequence of mounted photos. You may well find its beauty if you can hold the film's gaze, but the viewer's one-way relationship to this meditation on grief is so unchanging it'd take a monk to appreciate it. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Clinton Street Theater. Critic's Rating: 2/4 stars.
The Wedding Plan
"I want people to respect me because I have a spouse." So says Michal (Noa Koller), the Orthodox Jewish heroine of this pleasantly peculiar Hebrew-language yarn from director Rama Burshtein (Fill the Void). Unfortunately for Michal, who lives in Jerusalem, the respect that she desires proves difficult to attain, especially after she's dumped by her loutish fiancée during a feast of chicken wings. Not to be deterred, Michal schedules her wedding for the last night of Hanukkah, invites 200 guests and bets that she'll snag a groom in time for the festivities. Soon, suitors show up, including a singer (Oz Zehavi) beguiled by the eccentric Michal, whose novel ventures include running a mobile petting zoo that's home to a snake named Avi. Yet Burshtein's movie isn't about husband hunting—it's a rousing feminist fable in which Michal's fierce faith that the perfect wedding plan will coalesce becomes a defiant declaration that she's worthy of being loved. Her inspiring confidence is her power and the movie's, and it mostly makes up for a curiously wishy-washy conclusion that doesn't take too much away from Burshstein, who is a witty and masterful observer of the intersection between gender politics and faith. PG. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Living Room Theaters. Critic's Rating: 2/4 stars.
Eddie Izzard stars in the remake of the 1949 comedy about the inhabitants of a small Scottish island who try to steal 50,000 cases of whisky from a stranded ship during WWII. NR. Kiggins.