The 36 Best Movies & TV Shows to Watch in Portland: Fri Oct 25-Thurs Nov 7

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Jack Ryan Jennifer Clasen

Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective
A sprawling survey of the Iranian filmmaker’s work. (Through Mon Oct 28, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Burden of Dreams
Les Blank and Maureen Gosling’s stunning documentary about Werner Herzog’s trials and tribulations making 1982’s Fitzcarraldo—trials and tribulations that included, but were somehow not limited to, hauling a goddamn boat over a goddamn mountain. Maureen Gosling in attendance. (Sun Oct 27, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

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The Wailers celebrate the 40th anniversary of Survival at the Aladdin Theater on October 24

The Current War: Director’s Cut
Thomas Edison (Benedict Cumberbatch) and George Westinghouse (Michael Shannon) battle for the crown of King of Electricity! The Current War screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and responses were… not great, but this version restores director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s vision, thanks to some support from executive producer Martin Scorsese. (Opens Fri Oct 25, various theaters)

Daughters of Darkness
Belgium is (unfairly) known more for things like waffles and Jean Claude Van Dammes, but they should be known just as well for this landmark lesbian vampire movie.  (Mon Oct 28, Hollywood Theatre)

Eraserhead
The Lady in the Radiator. The baby. Jack Nance. His awesome hair. The spookiest sounds ever committed to celluloid. Eraserhead! This David Lynch movie makes me feel like squishing oozy sperm things and singing, “In heaven/everything is fine/You’ve got your good things/and I’ve got mine.” Presented in 35mm. (Fri Oct 25-Sun Oct 27, Fifth Avenue Cinema) COURTNEY FERGUSON

Evil Dead 2
Rejoice Deadites and Kandarian Demon enthusiasts! It’s time to watch the greatest and funniest horror sequel of all time—1987’s Evil Dead 2. It’s a gore-soaked, maniacal package of fantastic featuring Bruce Campbell and his chin, more quoteables than The Big Lebowski, Sam Raimi’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, the scariest noises ever committed to film, and buckets of ooey-gooey blood. (Fri Oct 25-Thurs Oct 31, Academy Theater) COURTNEY FERGUSON

The Exorcist: Director’s Cut
The much-debated director’s cut of the horror classic, with some extra scenes and CGI additions. (Tues Oct 29, Hollywood Theatre)

Greener Grass IFC Films

Greener Grass
A hilarious, unsettling satire of suburban politeness, Greener Grass has my vote for this year’s unforgettable sleeper comedy, on par with films like Napoleon Dynamite or Wet Hot American Summer. But co-writers/directors/stars Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe have turned out something so much tighter than either of those films. Greener Grass is so relentlessly funny that I expect you’ll soon be hearing its lines traded around between film buffs. (“Do the children play soccer on graves? I haven’t noticed that before.”) My only criticism is in the time-honored casting of a large woman with greasy hair as one of the film’s more obvious villains, but then again, it’s suburbia—so really, they’re all villains. (Opens Fri Oct 25, Cinema 21) SUZETTE SMITH

Harriet
Aside from the assistance that the formerly enslaved Harriet Tubman got from the Underground Railroad­, it’s hard to imagine exactly how she pulled off all her heroics. With Harriet, audiences are given a live-action reimagining of Harriet Tubman’s journey to self-liberation: changing her name, hiding in bales of hay, being chased by dogs, and getting cornered by armed men on a bridge before jumping into the river. Harriet shows how Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) got help from a secret network of safe houses and trusted free Blacks (Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe) who stuck their necks out to help her cause. Throughout the film, the only music you’ll hear, gladly, are negro spirituals—songs that enslaved Blacks used to express their sorrow and joy, and to secretly communicate. (Tubman, who was nicknamed Moses, would sing “Go Down Moses” as a signal to enslaved Blacks that she was in the area, and would help anyone who wished to escape.) Harriet doesn’t subject the sensitive viewer to excessive gore or violence (though there is one particularly unsettling scene), because for once, this is a story in the “slave movie” genre about tremendous triumph, leadership, and Tubman’s unwavering faith, both in God and herself. (Opens Fri Nov 1, various theaters) JENNI MOORE

His Dark Materials
HBO (and the BBC) adapts the beloved Philip Pullman fantasy series, which could be seen as a ploy to prevent hemorrhaging those Game of Thrones viewers but—with a script by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child playwright Jack Thorne—certainly has potential to succeed on its own terms. We haven’t seen a minute of this yet, but it’s gotta be better than that Golden Compass movie. (Premieres Mon Nov 4, HBO) NED LANNAMANN

Jack Ryan
The first season of Amazon’s Jack Ryan, with John Krasinski taking over the Tom Clancy character/brand, was significantly better than it needed to be. Jack Ryan movies at their best (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games) have been solid espionage thrillers, and even the crummier entries (Clear and Present Danger, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and that insane one with Ben Affleck where a nuke vaporizes Baltimore) have at least a few more smarts than the average action flick. Thankfully, that first season of Jack Ryan leaned hard into Ryan’s skills for sleuthing and dot-connecting, with Ryan, at least to start with, using his brains more than his guns to fight a terror threat that—for a Tom Clancy-branded tale, anyway—came with a welcome amount of nuance. Jack Ryan’s second season, however, loses much of that that appeal—Krasinski’s still good, as is the great Wendell Pierce as Ryan’s cranky mentor, but the grounding influence of Dr. Cathy Mueller, adeptly played last season by Abbie Cornish, is sorely missed, and the plot falls back on boilerplate airport paperback stuff: Ryan has to fight Evil Assassin (Tom Wlaschiha), wrestle with Femme Fatale (Noomi Rapace), and exact revenge on Brutal South American Dictator (Jordi Mollà). It’s enjoyable but boiled-down; the usual dose of Clancy’s hoo-rah American exceptionalism goes down a lot less easy when it feels unearned. (Streams Fri Nov 1, Amazon Prime Video) ERIK HENRIKSEN

James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket
Director Karen Thorsen’s portrait of the writer, featuring footage from Baldwin’s public appearances and interviews with the likes of Maya Angelou. (Sun Oct 27, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium)

Jennifer’s Body
Megan Fox plays Jennifer, a high school hottie in the small town of Devil’s Kettle who, while wildly popular, continues to be BFFs with her nebbish childhood buddy, Needy (Amanda Seyfried). Jennifer and Needy have a complicated and symbiotic relationship, but things get even more complicated when a struggling emo band with an interest in the occult (not joking!) and a lead singer played by the hilarious Adam Brody (Seth from The O.C.—not joking!) accidentally turn Jennifer into an intestines-devouring demon. As the newly demonized Jennifer feeds on the horny teenage boys of Devil’s Kettle, the town is brought to its knees—and all of Jennifer and Needy’s relationship issues bubble up to the surface. Jennifer’s Body is smart, creepy, funny, thoughtful, disgusting, and, for a horror movie, surprisingly pro-woman. (Sun Oct 27, Northwest Film Center’s Whitsell Auditorium) WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY

Jojo Rabbit Kimberley French

Jojo Rabbit
Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Opens Fri Nov 1, various theaters)

Leprechaun
In which Wicket W. Warrick, Ewok Warrior, begins a transcendent journey that starts with the homicidal threatening of a prominent Friend, ventures into the depths of space, and ends one freestyle session and a dead Ice-T later, in the hood. (Fri Oct 25-Sun Oct 27, Fifth Avenue Cinema)

The Lighthouse
The second film from Robert Eggers, the director of the excellent, wildly disconcerting period horror The Witch, is… funnier than expected? Sure, it’s also fucked-up and intense and distressing, but there are significantly more fart jokes than one might expect. Robert Pattinson, with a voice like The Simpsons’ Mayor Quimby, and Willem Dafoe, with a voice like The Simpsons’ crusty old sea captain, play two lost souls manning a decrepit lighthouse on a miserable, unnamed island. Like The Witch, this is a story and a setting that feels old, and Eggers captures it in joyless black and white, antiquated dialogue, and a squarish, 1.19:1 aspect ratio. Pattinson and Dafoe squabble and fight and scream, and something is lurking on the rocky cliffs, and something else is lurking at the top of the tower, and man, this one seagull really hates Pattinson. Things get weird, and sad, and unexpectedly touching; Dafoe and Pattinson are both great, and if you’re going to descend into Eggers’ particular brand of fraught, bleak madness, one could hardly ask for better company. As we head into another dour, dark Portland winter, Eggers’ whipping gales and damp despair are here to remind you that hey, things could always be worse. (Opens Fri Oct 25, Hollywood Theatre) ERIK HENRIKSEN

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil
Mistress of Evil is a decent enough sequel, though it’s less magical than the first installment, which, admittedly, blew my mind. Jolie is still spot-on in Maleficent’s socially awkward unhuman-ness, Sam Riley is still excellent as her right-hand crow, Diaval, and while some might feel like Jolie is underutilized, this story is more focused on no-longer-sleeping-beauty Aurora (Elle Fanning), whom Maleficent has made queen of the Moors, to the delight of all the magic creatures and fairies. (THE FAIRIES ARE SO CUTE, MY GOD. I’D LIKE TO ADOPT ONE MUSHROOM FAIRY AND ONE HEDGEHOG FAIRY, PLEASE.) (Now playing, various theaters) JENNI MOORE

Mondo Trasho: Intruder
The Hollywood Theatre’s Mondo Trasho series returns to jolt audiences out of their suburban complacency with a rare screening of 1989’s Intruder, about a final girl in a grocery store terrorized by a mysterious stalker. Lawrence Bender (Pulp Fiction) and Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead) produced it, and Scott Spiegel directed it, so if you’re wondering how gleefully nasty this chop-shop is going to be, the answer is very. (Fri Oct 25, Hollywood Theatre)

Motherless Brooklyn
Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Opens Fri Nov 1, various theaters)

Night of the Living Dead
There are legends in film history, and then there are legends. George Romero is the latter. Horror as social commentary? He did that. Horror as art film? He did that. Horror as testing ground for some of the most innovative and stomach-churning visual and practical effects imaginable? He did all of that. There isn’t much in that world Romero didn’t pioneer in his career, and the genre resides in the darkness of his massive shadow. Celebrate his eye, his compassion, and his storytelling power with a screening of what is still a stunningly truthful look at how broken this country is when it comes to race: 1968’s Night of the Living Dead. (Fri Oct 25-Thurs Oct 31, Academy Theater) BOBBY ROBERTS

★ OMSI’s 2019 Sci-Fi Film Fest
OMSI’s annual collection of science fiction classics and favorites is coming out strong this year, with a phenomenal line up. See omsi.edu for schedule. (Through Wed Nov 6, Empirical Theatre at OMSI) ERIK HENRIKSEN

#OregonMade: Dr. Giggles
It’s weird that there are Goonies festivals but nobody flaunts their home-state pride for Larry Drake’s tour de force performance as the titular maniac in this dumb-as-rocks-yet-oddly-satisfying slasher. Wherefore art thine Dr. Giggles plushies on sale at DrakeCon 2019, huh? (Wed Oct 30, Hollywood Theatre)

Pain and Glory
Pedro Almodóvar has long warmed his filmography with flickers of details from his personal life. But Pain & Glory, his latest, brings us closer to the flame. In it, we look in on Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), a filmmaker in self-imposed exile due to a creative decline and a variety of physical ailments. After reconnecting with key figures from his past, he starts to pull himself out of his cocoon. Almodóvar is aware of the story’s potential for self-important navel-gazing, which he avoids through a restrained use of flashbacks to his childhood (brought out through Mallo’s brief dalliance with heroin), his tender relationship with his mother (Penelope Cruz and, in her older years, Julieta Serrano), and his blossoming sexuality. But what truly steers this film toward greatness is Banderas, who stifles his melodramatic tendencies to subtly, powerfully reveal Mallo’s internal agonies and slow evolution. (Opens Fri Oct 25, Cinema 21) ROBERT HAM

Pipe Organ Pictures: The Phantom of the Opera
The 1925 version of the oft-told story is also the best version of the oft-told story. (Sorry, musical theater dweebs!) This one features Lon Chaney as the Phantom, but the real star of this screening will be an original pipe organ score, performed live by Martin Ellis. (Sat Oct 26, Hollywood Theatre)

Portland Latin American Film Festival: Song without a Name
Peruvian writer-director Melina Leon’s adaptation of a baby-stealing story is so out there it’d be totally unbelievable—if it weren’t actually based on the true stories of a woman whose child was taken by a trafficking ring, and the closeted journalist who helped her crack the case. (Wed Nov 6, Hollywood Theatre)

Queer Horror: Elvira: Mistress of the Dark
The Hollywood’s bimonthly Queer Horror series is a goddamn Portland treasure, featuring scary flicks with an LGBT bent. For Halloween, host Carla Rossi pays loving, adoring, and (ir-)reverent tribute to Cassandra Peterson, best known as the one and only Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, with a screening of her sole theatrical vehicle, about Elvira effectively taking over a small town and crushing its many redneck yokels under her heel. (Thurs Oct 31, Hollywood Theatre)

Rocky Horror Picture Show
I see you shiver. In antici-

-pation.
(Fri Oct 25, Sat Oct 26, Thurs Oct 1, Sat Nov 2, Clinton Street Theater)

Rosemary’s Baby
Can’t help but shudder whenever you read the words “Roman Polanski”? You’re not alone! The disconcerting Rosemary’s Baby, at least, benefits from that feeling of already being thoroughly squicked out. Screens in 35mm. See Things to Do, pg. 21. (Sat Oct 26, Hollywood Theatre)

Stage Meets Screen: Pan’s Labyrinth
Artists Repertory Theater presents a 35mm screening of Guillermo del Toro’s masterful dark fantasy to coincide with their theatrical production of La Ruta. (Mon Nov 4, Hollywood Theatre)

Synonyms
Director Nadav Lapid’s acclaimed drama follows a former Israel Defense Forces soldier (Tom Mercier) trying to make a new life for himself in Paris. (Opens Fri Nov 1, Cinema 21)

Terminator: Dark Fate
Review forthcoming at portlandmercury.com. (Opens Thurs Oct 31, various theaters)

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Tobe Hooper’s debut feature is also his magnum opus, which is also a lot more subtle than both its title and your memories might have it. Hooper’s southern-fried horror classic is notable for how violent it isn’tMassacre nails its oppressively disconcerting tone through almost perfect pacing, framing, and amateur performances whose rawness lends sweaty desperation to an increasingly breathless movie, steadily escalating to a full-on hyperventilating freakout of almost incoherent imagery that just… stops. Hooper never got this good again, but almost nobody else in the genre has either. (Fri Oct 25 & Sun Oct 27, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

War and Peace
Yep. All 422 minutes of it. (Fri Nov 1-Sun Nov 3, Fifth Avenue Cinema)

Watchmen
Watchmen is based on the legendary comics that came out in 1986 and 1987, but it’s not a direct adaptation of that story; rather, the HBO series uses it as background material to tell an entirely new tale set (mostly) in 2019, a story devised by series creator Damon Lindelof, the mastermind behind Lost and The Leftovers. This Watchmen is about racism in America—its history, its evolution, and its implications in daily life. But rather than functioning as political commentary, it’s a fascinating thought experiment that springboards off Watchmen’s established alternate timeline, in which America won the Vietnam War because of a godlike superhero named Dr. Manhattan, which led Nixon to win reelection. In HBO’s Watchmen, eventually Robert Redford takes over the presidency long-term, ushering in a period of liberalism that rankles right-wing racists. (Hmm, not that alternate, is it?) It makes the provocations of Joker look like a bowl of wet noodles. (Sundays, HBO) NED LANNAMANN

Wyrd War: They Live
There are more than a few theaters across the country that semi-regularly screen 1984 as a response to the continued tenure of our corrupt, racist, slumlord sex offender of a president. But John Carpenter’s last bona fide classic—1989’s paranoid, left-wing, grindhouse sci-fi satire They Live—is a much more appropriate film for the strange, bewildering time we occupy. Alan Howarth, who composed and performed the film’s score with Carpenter, in attendance. (Fri Nov 1, Hollywood Theatre) BOBBY ROBERTS

Zombieland: Double Tap
Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone all return to banter and blast zombies, and their wry camaraderie speaks a seemingly genuine desire to play in this viscera-splattered sandbox again (rather than, as with many long-delayed sequels, simply the desire for a new beach house). It’s more a live-action cartoon than a serious entry in the zombie canon, but as a low-key genre comedy, it totally works. (Now playing, various theaters) BEN COLEMAN

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