Your Weekly Roundup of New Movies: Michelle Yeoh Stars in a Hyperkinetic Fever Dream

What to see and what to skip while streaming or going to the theater.

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK

Everything Everywhere All at Once

*** A hyperkinetic sci-fi/martial-arts (kung fusion?) fever dream grounded in Asian American family dynamics, Everything Everywhere All at Once will be absolutely adored by some moviegoers from its very first moments. It’s a film made to be loved—and, given the sheer eye-popping technical wizardry at play throughout, nearly impossible to hate. Michelle Yeoh is typically dazzling as Evelyn Wong, a misanthropic laundromat owner who is called upon to save the multiverse from her daughter’s worst self (Stephanie Hsu, in a role intended for Awkwafina). Evelyn is an underwritten character, but Yeoh brings a welcome authenticity to the film, even if a performance of such finely shaded nuance isn’t best fit for the DayGlo sensationalism of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the filmmaking duo known as Daniels (Swiss Army Man). As with Terry Gilliam or Edgar Wright or any other avant-garde sentimentalist pressing restless rhythms and visual inventiveness into the service of a wholly undeserving story, the directors effortlessly pep up the slow parts and paper over the plot holes, but when the pace calms and the fireworks die down for an emotional climax, the film moves glacially. Inevitable? Perhaps, but it’s still disappointing that Everything Everywhere All at Once is less than the sum of its dazzling parts. R. JAY HORTON. Bridgeport, Cinema 21, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Hollywood, Laurelhurst, Lloyd Center.

ALSO PLAYING

Drive My Car

**** After you see the Best International Feature Oscar-winning Drive My Car, you will never look at snow, suspension bridges or stages the same way again. When you see the world through the searching eyes of director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, there is no such thing as mere scenery. There is only the living fabric of the places and objects that envelop Yûsuke (Hidetoshi Nishijima) and Misaki (Tôko Miura), whose compassion and complexity are a world unto themselves. Most of the film is set in Hiroshima, where Yûsuke is directing a production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya. Misaki is assigned to be his driver, but their relationship transcends the divide between the front seat and the back. During drives, conversations, and surreal yet strangely believable adventures, their reserve gradually erodes as they reveal their losses and their inner lives to each other, building to a cathartic climax that leaves you at once shattered and soaring. The film, based on a novella by Haruki Murakami, isn’t afraid to face the agony of grief and loneliness, but Hamaguchi’s obvious love for his characters suffuses the entire journey with life-giving warmth. A tender, hopeful coda set during the pandemic could have been cringeworthy, but like every moment of the movie, it’s worth believing in because Hamaguchi’s sincerity is beyond question. “We must keep on living,” Yûsuke tells Misaki. With those words, he speaks not only to her but to us. NR. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. HBO Max.

CODA

*** Near the climax of CODA, which won Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, audiences experience a much-foreshadowed concert from the perspective of a singer’s deaf family. It’s not just sound’s absence that seals the Apple TV+ film’s best scene; it’s how the camera registers Frank and Jackie Rossi gauging the crowd’s reaction to their daughter Ruby (Emilia Jones) belting. That’s the moment you know why CODA (which stands for child of deaf adults) won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize and why, despite playing on a clear inspirational formula and remaking a 2014 French film, it’s a smart and heartfelt portrayal of deafness in mainstream American movies. For one, there’s Ruby’s complex role as the only hearing member and de facto translator for her gruff yet charming New England fishing family. Playing her parents and brother, deaf actors Marlee Matlin (Oscar winner from Children of a Lesser God), Troy Kotsur (a newly minted Oscar winner) and Daniel Durant are grounded and multidimensional, signing with Ruby in rage, mockery, hubris and shame. While some of the supporting performances pale—Ruby’s fastidious choir teacher is more irritating than aspirational and her love interest is a classic doesn’t-deserve-her wet blanket—just try not to be moved by this loving, needy, overwhelmed and surprisingly horny family confronting change. The formula works for a reason. PG-13. CHANCE SOLEM-PFEIFER. Apple TV+, Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Fox Tower, Laurelhurst, Oak Grove.

The Lost City

*** Though it relies on premise more than plot, The Lost City stands tall among its rival predators in the catalog of action comedies. The story begins with author Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) reluctantly going through the motions of a press tour for her latest romantic adventure novel in which she’s forced to work with the book’s cover model, Alan (Channing Tatum), whose earnest portrayal of her leading man “Dash” puts them instantly at odds. Loretta is then kidnapped by an eccentric billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who believes she holds the key to finding the lost treasure featured in her novel. From there the film becomes much less about story and more about the comedic chemistry between Tatum, Bullock and the hilarious supporting cast. Brad Pitt provides the type of scene-stealing punch that’s made him one of the best bit players we’ve ever seen, and the fact that the story doesn’t get mired in the friction between Loretta and Alan lends an authenticity to the chemistry that anchors the film. Even though the story falls apart in the third act, the characters build enough goodwill it doesn’t matter. The Lost City is a film designed simply to entertain—and it succeeds. PG-13. RAY GILL JR. Academy, Cedar Hills, Cinemagic, City Center, Eastport, Fox Tower, Joy Cinema, Laurelhurst, Living Room, Lloyd Center, Pioneer Place, St. Johns Twin, Studio One, Wunderland, Wunderland Milwaukie, Tigard.

X

*** A skillful, clever, not entirely satisfying homage to the heyday of both skin flicks and slasher cinema, the latest left-field fearjerker by Ti West (The Innkeepers, The Sacrament) thrusts new meaning into grindhouse. It’s a blood-steeped farmer’s grandmother yarn about a van full of overripe, reflective, Linklaterian Texas stoners renting a ramshackle cabin from a decrepit couple for an amateur hardcore shoot. An undersexed harpie and long-suffering codger might not seem especially terrifying on paper, but West expertly teases, say, the looming specter of Chekhov’s Alligator just long enough for audiences to walk straight into the business end of a rusted pitchfork. If anything, the technical facility and lockstep set pieces can feel too perfectly composed. Given the sheer amount of gore on display, there’s an odd sense of restraint tempering the anarchic abandon that burbles throughout the classics of the genre. Halfhearted attempts at providing a psychological basis for the elderly couple’s homicidal mania weaken the lingering air of menace as swiftly an acoustic Fleetwood Mac cover kills any sexual tension. Like a cameraman/budding-indie-auteur character pointedly claims, every dirty (or scary) movie may as well strive for greatness. R. JAY HORTON. Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Hollywood, Laurelhurst, Living Room, Lloyd Center, Studio One, Tigard.

The Batman

** “What’s black and blue and dead all over?” In The Batman, the Riddler (Paul Dano) poses that question to the Dark Knight (Robert Pattinson), but blacks and blues don’t figure into the film much—visually, morally and emotionally, it’s a gray movie. While director Matt Reeves brought a majestic mournfulness to the Planet of the Apes series, he seems utterly lost in Gotham City. His nearly three-hour film is less a narrative than a mechanistic survey of a political conspiracy that the Riddler wants to expose—the story starts after the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents not just because we’ve seen it before, but because Reeves is more interested in plot than pathos. Even the soulful, sultry presence of Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman can’t liven up the film—she and the Batman flirt so chastely that if it weren’t for a few F-bombs and clumsily staged fight scenes, Reeves could have easily gotten away with a G rating from the Motion Picture Association of America. When Christopher Nolan was directing the Dark Knight trilogy, he tore into the Batman mythos with fervor, whereas Reeves just seems to be lackadaisically marinating in misery—especially when the film attempts an embarrassingly halfhearted critique of Bruce and the rest of Gotham’s 1%. What’s dead all over? The Batman. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Academy, Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Cinema 21, City Center, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Laurelhurst, Lake Theater and Cafe, Living Room, Lloyd Center, Mill Plain, Pioneer Place, Studio One, Tigard.

Morbius

* Jared Leto has been exquisitely vulnerable (Requiem for a Dream), exquisitely sinister (Blade Runner 2049) and exquisitely ridiculous (House of Gucci). Yet in Morbius, he’s something he’s never been before: disastrously dull. It may sound improbable that the man who bragged about sending used condoms to his Suicide Squad castmates could be boring, but as scientist-turned-vampire Dr. Michael Morbius, he’s more zombie than bloodsucker. Originally a second-tier Spider-Man adversary, Morbius has been drafted for Sony’s second attempt at a supervillain franchise, following Tom Hardy’s Venom series. Those movies are trash, but at least Hardy attacks them with gonzo fervor—he dived into a tank of lobsters to earn his paycheck. Leto, on the other hand, just gazes glumly from under the shadow of a dark hoodie, meekly surrendering the spotlight to Matt Smith (Doctor Who), who co-stars as a nastily charismatic fellow vampire named Milo. Smith understands that vampirism should be suave and sensual—in one scene, he dances seductively while donning a suit, doing an apparent homage to Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3 (that’s a compliment, by the way!). In a Jared Leto movie, Smith is the only one giving a Jared Leto-style performance. He’s goofy and hammy and weird, but at least he’s memorable. That’s more than you can say about the other actors in Morbius, including its newly languorous leading man. PG-13. BENNETT CAMPBELL FERGUSON. Academy, Bagdad, Cedar Hills, City Center, Clackamas, Eastport, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd Center, Pioneer Place, St. Johns, St. Johns Twin, Studio One, Tigard, Wunderland Milwaukie.