The 30 Best Movies & TV Shows to Watch in Portland: Fri Nov 22-Thurs Dec 5

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The Dragon Prince Netflix

21 Bridges
Well, there’s Jeff, and Lloyd, and Beau… uhm, I don’t think there’s any more? Pretty sure that’s all the Bridges. (Opens Thurs Nov 21, various theaters)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It’s unusual to witness real cinematic magic these days, but the Fred Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood absolutely has it. Director Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) wisely avoids the visual slickness one might expect from a Tom Hanks-centric melodrama, instead employing a lived-in style and scene transitions that consist of miniature cities harkening back to the opening of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Hanks is totally committed to Rogers’ appearance and manner, but A Beautiful Day is more about Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) a fictional journalist profiling Rogers. Where Heller’s film becomes transcendent is in its cinematic pressure points: The striking slowness of the narrative (it’s meant to emulate the pace of Rogers’ show, and you get used to it), the mirroring of Rogers and Vogel in their interview styles and drawn-out reaction shots, and a profound moment of silence that grips your heart like, “Did that really just happen? Why was that so intense?” (Opens Thurs Nov 21, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

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Polyrhythmics with Mesitzo Beat at Aladdin Theater on November 22

Atlantics
The much-discussed winner of the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, Atlantics—a drama/comedy/ghost story—marks the feature debut of French-Senegalese director Mati Diop. (Screens Fri Nov 29-Mon Dec 2 at Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium; streams on Netflix starting Fri Nov 29)

Best in Show
While This is Spinal Tap is obviously the big-bang that made mockumentaries an entire cinematic universe unto itself, Best in Show is arguably its brightest, shiningest, brace-faciest star. God bless dog show people, and god bless Parker Posey. (Fri Nov 22-Wed Nov 27, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

Charlie’s Angels
I love Elizabeth Banks, and I intend to continue loving Elizabeth Banks. I do not love the newest reboot of Charlie’s Angels, which Elizabeth Banks wrote and directed. Banks’ version isn’t a complete disaster, and the last third significantly loosens up and becomes the fun, action-packed adventure you are hoping it will be. But the first two-thirds? Eeeeeeeesh! It’s a leisurely slog through molasses, with characters you really don’t give two craps about. (Now playing, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Dark Waters
As infuriating and horrifying as the subject matter of Dark Water is—it’s based on “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” a 2016 New York Times Magazine story by Nathaniel Rich—it is, in many ways, another paint-by-numbers, based-on-a-true-story legal thriller. Here, Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), a corporate lawyer with a history of representing chemical companies, switches sides to reveal DuPont’s decades of catastrophic malfeasance. It’s a long battle, and Dark Waters takes its time, setting up the case’s complexities while also fitting in some genre-mandated tropes. But Portland arthouse director Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol) oversees things here, and he captures Dark Waters’ sickening story in chilly blues and jaundiced yellows while figuring out exactly how to get the most from his cast. (Opens Tues Nov 26, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings
An anthology series based on the Holy Texts of Dolly Parton, our Lord and Savior. (Streams Fri Nov 22, Netflix)

The Dragon Prince
Netflix’s impressively clever and fun animated fantasy returns for what should be an excellent third season. (Streams Fri Nov 22, Netflix)

Ford v Ferrari
If you’re a lover of car-racing movies, you should probably check out Ford v Ferrari—because this film is likely to be one of the last of its kind. A biopic about the late ’60s rivalry between failing racecar company Ferrari and the “wants to be sexy soooo bad” Ford Motor Company, F v F is about how corporations can’t help but crush the passion and innovation they so desperately need. In this case, the crushees are race car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driving phenom Ken Miles (Christian Bale), both of whom are forced to cajole, finagle, and manipulate the suits at Ford in an attempt to win the famed Le Mans road race. But it’s impossible to ignore the two elephants in this room: The fetishization of white male toxicity and car culture. Ford v Ferrari a very good movie that, a decade ago, would’ve been considered great. Now it feels like a brand-new film that’s already an antique. (Now playing, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Queen & Slim Andre D. Wagner / Universal Pictures


Frankie
Movies as quiet and graceful as Frankie are becoming harder to come by, and not even one starring the legendary Isabelle Huppert, in one of the most understated, poignant performances of her storied career, is going to change that. In part, that’s because a story like this is a hard sell to the masses: A beloved French actress (Huppert), diagnosed with cancer, draws her extended family to a vacation on the coast of Portugal to settle her affairs and say farewell. The ensemble drama gets messier and messier, but remains blessedly free of histrionics and showy performances. Everyone involved, including the great Brendan Gleeson and Jérémie Renier (as Frankie’s husband and son, respectively) and Marisa Tomei, playing her longtime friend, never feel like they’re acting, giving Frankie an intimacy that, along with its gorgeous setting, is warm and deeply affecting. (Now playing, Regal Fox Tower 10) ROBERT HAM

Frozen II
It starts out with Young Elsa and Young Anna, and, I don’t know, this is just my opinion, but I didn’t think that part was very necessary, necessarily? I thought the story was good. I thought the parts were well thought out and they had some depth to them, if you know what I mean? Like some parts were really sad, and some parts could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Also, you know how in the first Frozen, there’s like this main song that you know is the main song? In this one, there’s like three or four different songs that could be that main song. There were songs that like Elsa and Anna and Kristoff sang that could qualify for that position. I thought they were fine. I don’t hate them but I don’t like them. They’re not my style. They’re tolerable. This second movie was more dark and generally, on the scare-o-meter, it would be higher than Frozen. I thought the animation in the movie was actually pretty good. There were those ice figures, and seeing the memory of Elsa’s mother and father. And the salamander fire dude was honestly really cool because he’s really cute and he’s a small salamander that causes large fire things. So I would honestly give the CGI a thumbs up. (Opens Thurs Nov 21, various theaters) SIMON HAM, AGE 12

The Good Liar
The Good Liar is likely the most bonkers film I will see this year. What begins as a cautionary tale about the dangers of grandma’s online dating unfolds into a baffling series of reveals, all of which support the twist that we already gleaned from the trailer: Roy (Ian McKellen) is trying to double cross Betty (Helen Mirren) and take her money… but she’s not that easy to trick! How all that happens, though? I could never have predicted it. What a septuagenarian mine cart ride! (Now playing, various theaters) SUZETTE SMITH

Grindhouse Film Festival: Alligator
Robert Forster fights a giant alligator that haunts the sewers of Chicago! Written by John Sayles, 1980’s Alligator is a fun, pulpy creature feature, and it screens here in 35mm. RIP, Robert Forster, nemesis of alligators. (Tues Nov 26, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Honey Boy
Oh, how easily this could’ve gone sideways. There’s nothing more cringingly embarrassing than a privileged white artist depicting their tragic life on film, forcing their audience to wallow alongside them in their self-serving importance. But in Honey Boy—a mostly autobiographical depiction of Transformers star Shia LaBeouf’s scary upbringing as a child actor—there’s so much more. In a dazzling, heartbreaking performance, LaBeouf portrays his real-life father, a recovering addict, Vietnam vet, and frustrated performer who’s in the witheringly humiliating position of being employed by his successful 12-year-old son, Otis (a fantastic Noah Jupe). Running parallel are harrowing scenes featuring an adult Otis (Lucas Hedges), who’s working out some well-earned and very deep shit in rehab while trying to stave off an emotional implosion. Dreamy imagery from director Alma Har’el and cinematographer Natasha Braier brilliantly captures this slow-motion train wreck of a tale that, weirdly enough, supplies a modicum of hope while depicting the toxicity that fathers inflict on their sons—and what results from the poison they inherit. (Opens Thurs Nov 21, various theaters) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Knives Out Claire Folger


The Irishman
The chatter around The Irishman has mostly involved Martin Scorsese shit-talking Marvel and/or how Netflix stepped up to fund a three-and-a-half-hour epic after traditional Hollywood studios told Marty to fuck off. All that’s interesting, but not nearly as interesting as The Irishman itself. A reality-inspired crime epic that spans decades, The Irishman’s heart is Frank Sheeran (De Niro), who “paints houses” for big-shot gangsters; his paint, it should be noted, only comes in blood red. Sheeran’s main employer/benefactor/BFF is the intense, sharp-eyed Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), though once Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) enters the picture, Frank’s torn between the sometimes clashing demands of two hard-willed, charismatic men. De Niro’s great (and, thankfully, the distracting, de-aging CGI fades into the background after a while), but this is Pesci and Pacino’s movie: With mania and fury, Pacino rips every scene apart, while Pesci takes a different approach, subtly and slowly building an aging crime boss who’s both heart-achingly soulful and blood-chillingly brutal. Seeing Scorsese masterfully track all this harkens back to Goodfellas and Casino, but the jarring, moving The Irishman is, remarkably, better than both. While the intense focus on Frank & Pals comes at the expense of other characters, like every single woman (Anna Paquin plays the most prominent one, with maybe three lines of dialogue), the end result is still stunning: A saga that’s horrifying and funny and melancholy, sometimes in different scenes, sometimes all at once. (Now playing, Hollywood Theatre; streams Wed Nov 27, Netflix) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Jojo Rabbit
There’s more to the complicated Jojo Rabbit—set in the waning days of WWII, it focuses on fanatical young Nazi Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and his imaginary BFF, Adolph Hitler (Taika Waititi)—than first appears, and only a director as committed, inventive, and life-affirmingly good-hearted as Waititi would even have a chance of pulling it off. He does, to unforgettable effect. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Knives Out
Will Rian Johnson, the man responsible for making the best Star Wars movie ever, continue his remarkable streak of releasing genre-bending insta-classics like Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper? Probably! Will that fact enrage a tiny cadre of extremely-online Star Wars-obsessed pissbabies? Absolutely! It’s a win-win! Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Previews Fri Nov 22 & Sat Nov 23, opens Tues Nov 26, various theaters)

Last Christmas
The new romantic comedy Last Christmas explores humankind’s greatest question: what if we took George Michael’s song “Last Christmas”… LITERALLY???!?? This movie is bad. It’s so bad. But what’s great is that if it’s even a modest hit, it could inspire a whole cinematic universe of movies loosely based on George Michael songs, and “Father Figure” would be weird as hell. Go see Last Christmas! (Now playing, various theaters) ELINOR JONES

Stage Meets Screen: Legend
Artists Repertory Theater presents Ridley Scott’s very terrible fantasy movie, starring Tim Curry as Fantasy Satan, Tom Cruise as Glitter Hero, and a unicorn. (Mon Dec 2, Hollywood Theatre)

Margaret
“When Lonergan began shooting the film in 2005, after taking two years to write the screenplay, Margaret had a lot going for it,” wrote Joel Lovell in The New York Times Magazine in 2012, discussing the “thwarted masterpiece” of Kenneth Lonergan, the writer/director of You Can Count On Me and Manchester by the Sea. “When it was finally released six years later, in late 2011—after a brutal and bitter editing process; a failed attempt by no less a cinematic eminence than Martin Scorsese to save the project; and the filing of three lawsuits—several serious film people called it a masterpiece. And almost no one saw it.” Margaret is, in fact, a masterpiece—not only thanks to its remarkable lead performance from Anna Paquin, and not only thanks to Lonergan’s keen eye and ear, but because it offers the overwhelming sense of experiencing someone else’s life. The best way to watch Margaret is via the three-hour “extended edition” released on DVD in 2012—a version that, thanks to bypassing the aforementioned “brutal and bitter editing process,” flows and works and affects in ways the clunky, chopped-up theatrical version simply can’t. As of the Mercury’s deadline, however, it’s looking like the Northwest Film Center will be showing the theatrical edit—and while that’s disappointing, the rare chance to see Margaret on a big screen, even in its lesser form, will likely be worth the effort. (Fri Nov 22, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Marriage Story
Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Opens Fri Nov 29, Cinema 21, streams Fri Dec 6, Netflix)

Modern Times
The award-winning story of a misunderstood factory worker who gets super ripped after eating cocaine and learns very uncomfortable truths about society’s self-imprisonment under the soul-crushing American capitalist system. Also funny mustache man fall down go boom, ha-ha. (Fri Nov 29-Thurs Dec 5, Academy Theater)

Parasite
Going into Parasite, it’s hard to know what to expect. Advance reviews and discussions of the film—which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year, the first South Korean film to do so—speak of the film obscurely. For good reason: There’s a gleeful and terrifying twist—which I won’t spoil—that radically and dramatically alters the tone of the film. But Parasite is director Bong Joon-ho at his very best. At turns hilarious and deeply unsettling, it’s a departure from the sci-fi bent of his recent movies (the post-apocalyptic Snowpiercer in 2013 and the factory-farming-themed Okja in 2017), though it’s no less concerned with the state of society. (Now playing, Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre) JASMYNE KEIMIG


Waves A24


PDX Native Film Night
The “PDX” is short for “Pretty Damn X-traordinary” at this free screening of Warrior Women, the story of “We Will Remember” Survival School founder Madonna Thunder Hawk, followed by a panel discussion on Indigenous women activism featuring Tawna Sanchez, Deborah Shipman, and D’Ana Valenzuela, moderated by Shilo George. (Mon Nov 25, Hollywood Theatre)

Pipe Organ Pictures: Metropolis
That whole “Star Wars” deal will take over every theater in the world next month, but before it does, revisit the great granddaddy of all sci-fi movies, 1927’s still-astonishing Metropolis! Fritz Lang’s visionary, weird, eye-widening classic is always worth revisiting, but that’s especially true this time, since the Hollywood Theatre is presenting a restored version of the film with live organ accompaniment, featuring an original score from organist Dean Lemire. This is what going to the movies used to be like—which is to say, awesome. (Sat Nov 30, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Portland Latin American Film Festival:I Am the People: Venezuela Under Populism
A recent documentary about Venezuela, followed by a panel discussion with Elliot Young, a Latin American and migration historian at Lewis & Clark College. (Wed Dec 4, Hollywood Theatre)

Queen & Slim
Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Opens Wed Nov 27, various theaters)

The Report
The Report is short for “The Torture Report,” which is short for “The Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” which is short for the 6,700-page account of one of America’s most horrifying and shameful stretches of history. Expertly distilling an infinitely complicated, infinitely disturbing chain of events, writer/director Scott Z. Burns follows the efforts of increasingly troubled Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver, excellent as ever), who, under the oversight of Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), works to discover and document the CIA’s continued use of barbaric and ineffective “enhanced interrogation techniques” on prisoners captured after 9/11. (Now playing, various theaters) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Waves
To explain much of the plot of Waves would be a disservice. Even a quick description of writer/director Trey Edward Shults’ story—a uniquely American, character-driven drama about a Florida family’s idyllic bubble bursting—feels like too much of a reveal. As with its title, you need to give yourself over to the film’s turbulent narrative and see where it takes you. The immersiveness of Waves is heightened by its structure: Cinematographer Drew Daniels’ vaporous camera movements and splashy colors combine with a distorted score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and Shults and editor Isaac Hagy find the perfect rhythm keep the film flowing so smoothly that 135 minutes breeze by. What lingers the longest is the work of the actors playing the family at the center of Waves: Sterling K. Brown, Taylor Russell, Kelvin Harrison, Jr., and Renée Elise Goldsberry hit every beautiful, ugly emotion, straight and true. (Opens Wed Nov 27, various theaters) ROBERT HAM

Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Twelve eco-focused films presented by Willamette Riverkeeper. (Thurs Dec 5, Hollywood Theatre)

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