You want art? I’ll show you art!: FilmWatch Weekly for June 3-9

Art films go to extremes, while Hollywood studio product flows like molten slag.

It’s an especially R-rated edition of FilmWatch this week, featuring a couple of artist/filmmakers who have never been afraid to push boundaries and embrace extremes. We’ve also got a documentary about another noted artist, and a new movie starring Juliette Binoche opening in Portland. Hollywood counters with ninja turtles, “Saturday Night Live” skits, and sappy romance. Is it just us, or does it seem like it might be a long summer at the multiplex?

The slag flows in "River of Fundament."

The slag flows in “River of Fundament.”



“River of Fundament”: Admittedly, you have to be a pretty die-hard fan of the outer reaches of cinema to even consider digesting Matthew Barney’s three-part, five-hour, operatic, star-studded film. But if you are, it’s an extraordinarily rare opportunity to mainline work by a filmmaker who has (a) unbounded imagination and (b) the resources to realize his vision. (Friday-Sunday, Northwest Film Center) READ REVIEW

Vanessa Renwick: Speaking of uncompromising filmmakers, Vanessa Renwick has been challenging the status quo for over twenty years in Portland. She speaks with ArtsWatch about her latest installation piece, “Next Level Fucked Up,” at the Portland Art Museum, and next week’s retrospective of her film work at the Northwest Film Center. (Thursday, Northwest Film Center)

“Hockney”: Randall Wright’s documentary offers an appreciative portrait of British-born, Southern-California-besotted painter David Hockney. The boyish, blond-haired, bespectacled artist is now nearly 80 but going strong as he provides a guided tour of his work and his life. (Opens Friday, June 3, Living Room Theatres) READ REVIEW

“L’Attesa”: Oscar winner Juliette Binoche and rising French star Lou de Laage star as the mother and girlfriend of an enigmatically absent young man in the directorial debut of Piero Messina, a former protégé of Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino (“Youth”). (Opens Friday, June 3, Regal Fox Tower) READ REVIEW

“Presenting Princess Shaw”: The opportunities for globe-spanning, unlikely artistic collaboration are spotlighted in this documentary about an aspiring American singer/songwriter and the Israeli mash-up producer whose YouTube video gives her a shot at fame. (Opens Friday, June 3, Hollywood Theatre) READ REVIEW



“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows”: When they were created as comic book characters in 1984, this quartet served as a snarky black-and-white alternative to mainstream four-color fare. Now, after four television series and five feature films, that is no longer the case.

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”: The members of Lonely Island, including star Andy Samberg, made this spoof of boy bands and pop music excess that, as so many have before, tries to extend the humor of an “SNL” skit (or, in this case, digital short) to feature length. Godspeed, Samberg.

“Me Before You”: I’ve typed the title of this romantic drama starring Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) several times in the last few hours, but each time I have to look it up to remember exactly what it is. The generic title doesn’t bode well; the lachrymose plot involving a quirky young woman who gets a job as the caregiver for a rich, cynical paralytic bodes even worse.




Friday, June 3:


“Wendy and Lucy”: Director Kelly Reichardt’s stark and moving drama is about a young woman (Michelle Williams) and her dog, headed for Alaska but stranded and broke in a small Oregon town. Based on a story by Jon Raymond. (5th Avenue Cinema, 7 pm & 9:30 pm; repeats Saturday at 7 pm & 9:30 pm and Sunday at 3 pm)

“Bonnie and Clyde”: They’re young. They’re in love. And they kill people. No, it’s not “Natural Born Killers,” dummy. It’s the 1967 Depression-era story of bank robbers in love that made Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway into icons. (6:30 pm, Laurelhurst Theater; repeats through Thursday, with 1:00 pm matiness on Saturday and Sunday)

“Down by Law”: It’s a sad and beautiful world for Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Roberto Benigni (in his only non-annoying role) as they try to elude capture after escaping from jail in Louisiana. Jim Jarmusch’s 1986 black-and-white feature is heavily indebted to Wim Wenders, and all the better for it. (4:25 pm & 9: 25 pm, Academy Theater; repeats through Thursday)

“Raiders!” double feature: Surely you’ve heard the famous story about the three boys from Mississippi who made a shot-by-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” over seven years in the 1980s? If not, now’s your chance—a documentary about the amazing process will screen, followed by the rarely-seen adaptation itself, with two of the makers in attendance. (6:30 p.m. Friday, Hollywood Theatre; also 4:30 pm Sunday, Kiggins Theatre)

Saturday, June 4:

“Blue Velvet”: I went to see David Lynch’s 1986 masterpiece at the Bagdad Theater many years ago, and a group of presumably drunk jerks a few rows behind me laughed during some of the film’s most disturbing moments. I’ve never forgotten those hooligans. Don’t be like them. (3:30 pm, 7:00 pm, 9:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre; repeats Sunday & Monday [no 3:30 pm show on Monday])

Sunday, June 5:

“Satan’s Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels”: You may know her as Angel Walker. Or you may not. Either way, she’s a landmark figure in the history of both burlesque and San Francisco counter-culture. And this documentary tells her story. (7:00 pm, Clinton Street Theater)

Tuesday, June 7:

“Firepower”: In the urban hellhole of far-future 2007, crime is out of control and it’s up to two tough cops to restore order. Wrestling superstar The Ultimate Warrior stars in this 1993 turkey screened in all its B-Movie Bingo glory. (7:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre)

Wednesday, June 8:

“Young Goethe in Love”: Although the title sounds like it could be a Mel Brooks version of a literary-historical romance, this 2010 German film tells a fanciful but fact-based story about the early life of the 18th-century novelist and statesman. (7:00 pm, Clinton Street Theater)

Thursday, June 9:

“Margarita with a Straw”: This Indian drama about a young woman striving to live her life to the fullest despite suffering from cerebral palsy tackles taboo topics with sensitivity and grace. (7:30 pm, Hollywood Theatre)




“Wim Wenders: The Road Trilogy”: Fresh from their appearances at the Northwest Film Center earlier this year, these stunningly restored editions of the German filmmakers’ key 1970s works arrive on Blu-Ray courtesy of the Criterion Collection. “Alice in the Cities” (1974), “Wrong Move” (1975), and “Kings of the Road” (1976), each starring Rudiger Vogler as the director’s on-screen analog to some degree, comprise what’s arguably the peak of the prolific helmer’s career. The films, two of which are in black-and-white, look flawless, and the set includes a wealth of supplemental materials, including archival audio commentaries by Wenders and members of the cast and crew; behind-the-scenes footage; and recent interviews looking back on their creation as well as the current preservation work of the Wim Wenders Foundation. The highlight is a 75-minute interview conducted in 2015 with Wenders by filmmaker Michael Almereyda. But even without any of the extras, at least two of these three film belong in every self-respecting cinephile’s collection. (Criterion, $99.95)

“The Chase”: This lesser-known 1946 film noir stars Robert Cummings as a WWII veteran, apparently suffering from PTSD, who gets a job as chauffeur and valet to a cruel gangster (Steve Cochran). When said gangster’s wife (Michele Morgan) and Cummings run away to Havana, the crook frames him for murder and they’re forced on the run. Peter Lorre co-stars in a story based on a Cornell Woolrich novel. So far, so good, but the Blu-ray edition also includes an audio commentary track from none other than Canadian cult auteur Guy Maddin, who surely has some interesting things to say about this drama of obsession and escape. (Kino Classics, $29.95)

“City of Women”: Federico Fellini may have been past his prime when he made this decadent 1980 comedy in which Marcello Mastroianni finds himself beset by militant feminists. You’re never quite sure whether Fellini is trolling his critics or trying to make a legitimate point about the battle of the sexes, but either way it’s relatively enthralling to watch. The Blu-ray edition includes a 30-minute making-of documentary, as well as an interview with production designer Dante Ferretti. (Cohen Media, $39.98)







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