FilmWatch Weekly: “A Bigger Splash,” “Tale of Tales,” and more

New films from the directors of "I Am Love," "Russian Ark," and "Gomorrah" top the week's art house releases



“A Bigger Splash”: A rock singer (Tilda Swinton) recuperates from throat surgery on a Mediterranean island with her boyfriend, when her old flame and his young paramour pay a visit. From the director of “I Am Love.” (Regal Fox Tower) READ REVIEW

(From L-R): Ralph Fiennes as "Harry," Matthias Schoenaerts as "Paul," Tilda Swinton as "Marianne" and Dakota Johnson as "Penelope" in A BIGGER SPLASH. Photo courtesy of Jack English. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

(From L-R): Ralph Fiennes as “Harry,” Matthias Schoenaerts as “Paul,” Tilda Swinton as “Marianne” and Dakota Johnson as “Penelope” in A BIGGER SPLASH. Photo courtesy of Jack English. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

“Tale of Tales”: Italian director Matteo Garrone’s first English-language feature stars Salma Hayek, John C. Reilly, and Vincent Cassel in a stylish adaptation of three 17th-century fairy tales. There’s also a giant flea. (Living Room Theaters, Hollywood Theatre) READ REVIEW

QDoc Festival: The tenth edition of the Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival offers a diverse array of non-fiction flicks, including a catchup session with the dancers from Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” tour and a sneak preview of festival founder David Weissman’s newest work. (Thursday-Sunday, Hollywood Theatre) READ REVIEW

“Francofonia”: Russian master Alexander Sokurov (“Russian Ark”) ponders the eternal glory of the Louvre in this cinematic essay on the importance of museums to our conception of common humanity. (Cinema 21) READ REVIEW

“Innocence”: This 2004 debut feature from director Lucile Hadzihalilovic (whose latest, “Evolution” played during this year’s Portland International Film Festival) is a haunting tale set at an isolated boarding school for girls. (Friday-Sunday, 5th Avenue Cinema) READ REVIEW




“The Nice Guys”: Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe go for the funny in this rare Hollywood summer movie that’s not a sequel, a remake, or an adaptation. Not that’s incredibly original: a pair of mismatched buddies ineptly investigate a missing woman in 1977 Los Angeles. Still, the period details are perfect, the jokes are funny, and the stars have some real chemistry. Director Shane Black (“Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”) knows how to do this sort of thing.

“Neighbors 2”: Speaking of sequels, here’s one we didn’t ask for, as Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne (poor, poor Rose Byrne) must contend with another batch of hedonistic scoundrels who move in next door. Only this time, they’re girls!

“The Angry Birds Movie”: Speaking of adaptations, here’s the first feature film based on an app. ‘Nuff said.



Friday, May 20:

“Black Girl”: The first feature film from Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene is considered the birth of sub-Saharan African cinema, and celebrates its fiftieth anniversary with a new digital restoration. In it, a young Senegalese woman takes a job as a domestic worker with a family in the south of France, but finds that the legacy of colonialism makes the transition difficult. (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm; also Saturday & Monday, 7 pm)

“Cape Fear”: The original 1962 inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake stars Gregory Peck as a civilized husband and father and Robert Mitchum as Max Cady, the savage criminal who targets him and his family. (Laurelhurst Theater, 6:30 pm; through Thursday, with additional shows Saturday & Sunday at 1 pm)

“Mean Streets”: Speaking of Scorsese, his 1973 breakthrough film stars Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel as friends growing up in rough-and-tumble Little Italy. It also features one of the most kick-ass soundtracks in film history. (Academy Theater, 1:55 pm and 9:15 pm; through Thursday, with no 9:15 pm show Thursday)

Saturday, May 21

“Kissed by Lightning”: A Mohawk painter tries to come to terms with her husband’s death while travelling to New York from Canada for a gallery show. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” (Northwest Film Center, 5 pm)

Sunday, May 22

“Who Are Us” Tour: The artists Thollem Electric and ACVilla comprise a duo that calls itself Silver Ochre, and they’re spending most of 2016 travelling around American making and showing films. This is their Portland stop. (Cinema Project at NXT Industries, 222 NW Davis St, Loft 301, 7:30 pm)

“Itam Hakim, Hopit”: Hopi director Victor Masayesva Jr. crafts a collage-like portrait of his people’s past and present in a film made to commemorate the 300th anniversary of a Hopi and Pueblo uprising against Spanish occupiers. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” (Northwest Film Center, 4 pm)

“Tikinagan”: This hour-long documentary profiles a Native-run agency in Ontario that works to keep Native children with their families. Part of the series “Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema.” (Northwest Film Center, 7 pm)

Monday, May 23

“International Youth Silent Film Festival”: The sixth annual event features the top films from the Northwest Regional competition open to filmmakers under the age of 20. (Hollywood Theatre, 7 pm; continues Wednesday, 7 pm)

Tuesday, May 24

“Chained Heat”: The Platonic ideal of the women-in-prison genre, made in 1974, stars Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”) and Sybil Danning (“Reform School Girls”), and makes for perfect Grindhouse Film Festival fare on 35mm. (Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm)

Wednesday, May 25

“A Case for the Rookie Hangman”: This 1970 Czech film is a loose adaptation of Part Three of “Gulliver’s Travels,” and incorporates references to “Alice in Wonderland.” In other words, it’s a vintage batch of Czech New Wave insanity. (Church of Film at Clinton Street Theater, 8 pm)

“1986: The Year in Videos”: I cannot for the life of me imagine why someone would want to revisit the apex (or is it the nadir?) of the MTV era, but then again I was a senior in high school so my memories are necessarily corrupted. Your mileage may vary. (Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm)

Thursday, May 26

“The Invisible Forest”: Director Antero Alli’s experimental feature follows a theater director who leads a troupe of actors into the forest, where weird stuff happens. Inspired by the work of Antonin Artaud. (Clinton Street Theater, 7:30 pm)

“True Stories”: The only feature directed by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, this 1986 film is an affectionate satire of Americana, as a small Texas town prepares to celebrated its sesquicentennial. John Goodman, among many others, stars. 35mm (Hollywood Theatre, 7:30 pm)



Many of the films we review at ArtsWatch come and go from theaters quicker than you can say “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared.” Some are available online or on demand through cable TV providers before they even open in Portland. And despite the decline of the DVD market, plenty of worthy films bypass Portland screens altogether. For all those reasons, we’re going to offer at least a semi-regular look at the best recent home video releases. This week’s highlights include a Humphrey Bogart classic, a 2015 Best Foreign Film Oscar nominee, and a locally made documentary.

“The Winding Stream”: Portland director Beth Harrington labored for years to complete this affectionate documentary that traces the intertwined histories of two families who provided the roots for American roots music: The Carters and the Cashes. The effort paid off, and the film has screened around the country at festivals and events for the last couple of years, including several Portland showings. Now it’s finally available on DVD and through Amazon and Itunes. Featuring interviews with Johnny Cash (one of his last), George Jones, Rosanne Cash, Kris Kristofferson, John Prine, and more, it’s a must-see for any fan of country music.

“In a Lonely Place”: One of Bogie’s darkest roles was as Dix Steele, a has-been, alcoholic screenwriter who becomes a murder suspect. The 1950 movie’s film noir credentials are impeccable, from director Nicholas Ray to co-star Gloria Grahame to novelist Dorothy B. Hughes. This new Blu-ray release from The Criterion Collection includes a new audio commentary from film scholar Dana Polan, a 1975 documentary about Ray, and more.

“Mustang”: Though set in a small Turkish coastal village, this moving, infuriating drama about the oppression of girls and women was a French submission to the Academy Awards, where it garnered a Best Foreign Film nomination. Despite the heavy subject matter, it’s an ultimately inspiring tale, well worth catching for those who missed its run at the Living Room Theaters earlier this year. Available on DVD/Blu-ray and through Amazon, iTunes, and other providers.


Comments are closed.

Oregon ArtsWatch Archives