WATCH: Variety and Smithereens
This week, watch some independent hidden gems that flew under the radar upon their respective releases—there’s still time to give them the well-overdue attention they deserve! In Variety, a scuzzy 1983 character study by Bette Gordon, a repressed woman working the box office at a pornographic theater in Times Square gradually becomes obsessed with a mysterious and wealthy patron. It is a startling portrait of female desire and voyeurism, with an acerbic script penned by famed punk novelist Kathy Acker. Also set in New York—this time against the city’s waning punk scene of the early ’80s—1982′s Smithereens follows a wannabe singer (Susan Berman) as she roams the garbage-strewn streets in her crimson high-tops, looking for a couch to crash on and making myriad mistakes along the way. Streaming on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Criterion Channel, Google Play, HBO Max, Kanopy, Mubi, Vudu, YouTube.
EXPLORE: Reel Robots
Twenty years ago this month, a mother abandoned her android child in the Oregon woods. This heart-piercing act break from A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)—the Steven Spielberg film’s sole scene shot in Gresham’s Oxbow Regional Park—sees robot child surrogate David (Haley Joel Osment) left to discover whether the outside world can validate his hardwired ability to love. And while Wilsonville roboticist Will Huff didn’t work on that particular Oregon-filmed scene, his visual effects contributions to A.I. foreshadowed a new personal chapter 15 years down the road. Much like little David, Huff would wander alone into a world of mechanical life, transitioning from makeup effects on blockbusters like Watchmen and Thor to building his own robots. From his lab, Robomodix, Huff seeks to invent a deeper emotional connection between organic and nonorganic life through “social robots” like Alan and Alena, humanoid busts with the ability to track motion, recognize faces and talk back. You can watch his progress on his YouTube channel, Reel Robots, including the development of a drink-serving robot named Arbee. He’s currently focused on navigation—how robots map and remember changing spaces. Watch on YouTube.
GO: Hunter Presents Star: Queens
DJxAnimal and DJ Trashleigh host drag queens not yet in RuPaul’s cinematic universe. Local girls Leilani C. Glamazon, Brit Neon, Babylon Brooks, Touché Douché, Tony J. Carmichaels and Starlite Safari help close out Pride Month. Star Theater, 13 NW 6th Ave. 7:30 pm Thursday, June 24. $15. 21+.
SEE: I Need You Dead!
Nothing screams “cinema is back” more than watching a self-consciously campy, no-budget, unabashedly drug-addled horror film in a small, packed room. Portland production house Bad Taste Video wrapped up I Need You Dead! just as the pandemic began popping off, and spent the past year holding makeshift drive-in screenings so moviegoers could see it. Now, it’s getting one last local showing in its ideal environment—in front of a surely boisterous audience at Portland’s oldest arthouse theater—before the team heads off to New York to shoot its next feature. So, what’s the plot? Well, there’s this guy named Dood, and some super-potent gummies, and a weird, fleshy little creature that looks like Krang from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and talks like Andrew Dice Clay and...honestly, you should probably just see it for yourself, ideally after taking some super-potent gummies yourself. Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 503-238-5588, cstpdx.com. 9 pm Friday, June 25. $8.
STREAM: Good in the Hood Multicultural
Festival Now in its 28th year, Good in the Hood is one of Portland’s most vital civic gatherings, celebrating the history and vibrancy of the Albina neighborhood. Unfortunately, given you-know-what, the festival is going virtual this year, but there’s still going to be plenty of celebration, with a digital marketplace, food delivery from Amalfi’s and Jamaican Homestyle Cuisine, and a livestreamed parade. Streams at goodnthehood.org. 3-7pm Saturday-Sunday, June 26-27.
DO: Edgefield Brewfest
Most of the big-deal beer festivals had to make executive decisions whether to go forward this season, given uncertainties over vaccinations earlier in the year. But never fear: You’ll still have some opportunities to get buzzed while standing in a field this summer, starting with the third annual Edgefield Brewfest. More than 50 beers and ciders will be on offer—not all from McMenamins, either—while you stroll the grounds of the local hospitality empire’s crown jewel. McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 SW Halsey St, Troutdale. 1-7 pm Saturday, June 26. $25, includes 10 beer tokens; kids $5, includes a soda token. All ages welcome, 21+ to sample.
GO: Oregon Contemporary Open House
After 20 years as Disjecta, one of Portland’s biggest art spaces now has a new name. The Kenton arts hub and organizer of the Portland Biennial announced it has rebranded as Oregon Center for Contemporary Art. The gallery hosts its first show under its new name this weekend, when there will be an open house for a new exhibit curated by executive director Blake Shell. Titled Time Being, the show brings together local artists for a meditation on the amorphousness of time and the messiness of history. Hopefully, it’ll also give a sense of the art space’s ambitions now that it has rebranded. Oregon Contemporary, 8371 N Interstate, Ave., oregoncontemporary.org. 5-8 pm Saturday, July 26.
GO: Coming to America with Cool Nutz
Everyone can pretty much agree at this point that the world didn’t need a Coming to America sequel, or at least the sequel we ended up getting. But the original is an unassailable comedy classic, back when Eddie Murphy made those. Speaking of unassailable classics: Cool Nutz, Portland hip-hop’s Mayor for Life, opens tonight’s screening with a set pulling from his decades long discography of thumping West Coast-via-Pacific Northwest rap—and low key, he’s pretty funny himself. The Lot at Zidell Yards, 3030 S Moody Ave., thelotatzidellyards.com. 6 pm Saturday, June 26. $35-$50 per person. All tickets sold as two-, four- and six-person seating pods. VIP seating pods available.