Willamette week. (Portland, Or.) 1974-current, August 11, 2017, Page 42, Image 42

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    C O U R T E S Y O F WA R N E R B R O S .
TO BE CONSIDERED FOR LISTINGS, send screening information at least two weeks
in advance to Screen, WW, 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210.
Email: sgormley@wweek.com. Fax: 243-1115.
: This movie sucks, don’t watch it.
: This movie is entertaining but flawed.
: This movie is good. We recommend you watch it.
: This movie is excellent, one of the best of the year.
Blade Runner 2049
Thirty years from where the
original Blade Runner left off, Los
Angeles is still an opulently grimey
sprawl cloaked in endless rain. In
director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel
to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir master-
piece, the Tyrell Corporation has been
replaced by the Wallace Corporation,
which has figured out how to manu-
facture subservient replicants that
don’t stage bloody mutanies. The
older models of synthetic humans
are illegal, and it’s still the job of
blade runners like K (Ryan Gosling)
to hunt them down. But the flimsy
social order of humans over replicants
becomes threatened by something K
discovers at a protein farm. What he
finds there leads him on an odyssey
through gorgeous wide shots of
deserted metropolises coated in sun-
baked dust, a shootout strobe lit by
a malfunctioning Elvis hologram and
eventually to Harrison Ford’s gruff
Rick Deckard. With an overwhelm-
ing dissonant, bassy score by Hans
Zimmer, 2049 looks and sounds spec-
tacular. But 2049 wants to be more
than just visually stunning. It’s full of
dramatic one-liners and existential
musings, and dotted with literary ref-
erences. As a testament to the influ-
ence of the original, there isn’t much
2049 has to add about how technol-
ogy blurs our sense of self and soul.
Still, it has its own moments of beau-
tifully rendered longing. Gosling’s
lone-wolf stoicism is more kicked
puppy than hardened self-reliance,
and we meet Ana (Carla Juri), who
manufactures memories for replicants
in the small, sterile room she’s been
confined to since the age of eight.
But 2049 seems less concerned with
tiny moments of emotion than big
reveals from a twisty plot that seems
to define 2049’s imaginative boundar-
ies rather than expand them. Still, it’s
one hell of a spectacle. R. SHANNON
GORMLEY. Bagdad, Cedar Hills, City
Center, Clackamas, Division, Eastport,
Living Room, Lloyd Center, Moreland,
Milwaukie, Tigard,
My Little Pony: The Movie
Much has changed in Equestria
since a string of pastel centauresses
first cantered into theaters. The 1986
original incarnation of My Little Pony:
The Movie was a hastily assembled,
C-lister-voiced historic flop that’s
unrecognizable from the glossy new
release. Zoe Saldana voices a pirate
parrot, there’s con cat Taye Diggs,
seapony Kristin Chenoworth. Sia not
only wrote an original song for the
movie, but also voices the character
Songbird Serenade. The ponies’ sig-
nature visual style has evolved into
something like Lisa Frank anime—a
swirling pinkish, purply miasma of
flattened expressiveness. The under-
lying mythology has expanded, too.
A benevolent monarchy supports
the twinkly adventures of Twilight
Sparkle (Tara Strong) and other Mane
Six principals. There’s an obvious tot
appeal for the inane, song-drenched
quest of Twilight and pals to defend
their homeland against the Storm
King (Liev Schreiber) and his broken-
horned hench-unicorn (Emily Blunt).
But MLPTM creators are all too aware
they now serve two masters. However
kid-friendly the daft plot, its dialogue
has been sharpened for a much older,
far bitchier clientele. The taint of bro-
nyism hangs heavy over each knowing
aside and attempted clever refer-
ence. The constant stream of Reddit-
baiting badinage can’t help but curdle
the surrounding ethos of friendship,
sparkles and everything nice. PG. JAY
HORTON. Cedar Hills, Clackamas,
Divison, Eastport, Pioneer Place.
American Made
American Made is like a black-
market Forrest Gump—just slick and
loose enough to outweigh its his-
torical foolishness. It tells the hyper-
bolized story of pilot Barry Seal (Tom
Cruise), who flew covert smuggling
missions for the CIA and Medellín
drug cartel in the early ’80s. R.
Place, Lloyd Center, Eastport.
Willamette Week OCTOBER 11, 2017 wweek.com
Atomic Blonde
An adaptation of the Oni Press
graphic novel Coldest City, Atomic
Blonde depicts Berlin at the Cold
War’s last gasp. Charlize Theron
plays a British secret agent set to
meet up with James McAvoy’s rogue
operative and rescue a vital infor-
mant from East Germany. Even with
the playfully stylized flourishes
teasing coherency from a point-
lessly complicated narrative, the
film has a giddy devotion to its own
daft momentum. R. JAY HORTON.
Academy, Vancouver.
In Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.
we get to follow a few soldiers and
pilots and civilians at sea, but they’re
more like stand-ins for the other
400,000 like them marooned on
the beach or assisting in the rescue
effort. That’s fine, though. This movie
doesn’t really need characters, and
wasting time on distracting details
like what’s waiting at home for these
boys would only slow down the
headlong pacing of the operation.
I don’t think this film will win Best
Picture at next year’s Oscars, but it’s
a shoo-in a handful of technical nom-
inations. PG-13. R. MITCHELL MILLER.
Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Clackamas,
Fox Tower, Hollywood, Lloyd, Tigard.
Most movies described as
“inspirational” practically beg to
be dimissed as manipulative feel-
goodery. Yet this biopic of Boston
Marathon bombing survivor Jeff
Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal) resists the
allure of the triumph-over-adversity
cliches that would have doomed it.
Clackamas, Fox Tower.
Baby Driver
It takes a scant five minutes
for Baby Driver to feel like one of
the best car-chase films of all time.
At the wheel is Baby (Ansel Elgort,
whose face really sells the “Baby”
business), who combats his tinni-
tus by constantly pumping tunes
through his earbuds. Every sequence
plays out perfectly to the music in
Baby’s ears, whether it’s the rat-a-tat
of gunfire punctuating the snare on
an old funk track or clashing metal
with the cymbal smashes on classic-
rock oddities. It’s hysterically funny,
but not a straight comedy. It’s often
touching, but seldom cloying. It’s
the hyper-stylish car chase opera
the world deserves. R. AP KRYZA.
Academy, Laurelhurst, Fox Tower.
Battle of the Sexes
Battle of the Sexes had every
excuse to be a straightforward
biopic. It retells the epic 1973 tennis
match between rising women’s
tennis star Billie Jean King (Emma
Stone) and aging legend Bobby
Riggs (Steve Carell), who pub-
licly proclaimed he could beat King
because she is a woman and he is
a man. It’s already an epic premise
that could have just piggybacked on
the current marketability of #femi-
nism and Emma Stone’s post-La La
Land high. But it goes further, cre-
ating multidimensional characters
and taking a nuanced look at gender
dynamics in the ’70s. It’s a moment
in history worth retelling, and Battle
of the Sexes offers a lot more than
the satisfaction of poking fun at old,
rich, white men of the sports elite.
PG-13. LAUREN TERRY. Bridgeport,
Casacade, Cedar Hills, City Center,
Clackamas, Eastport, Living Room,
Lloyd Center.
Logan Lucky
In his comeback heist film,
Steven Soderbergh seems actively
disinterested in challenging his
legacy. This story of a supposedly
cursed West Virginia family, The
Logans, ripping off the Charlotte
Motor Speedway, nickname them-
selves “Ocean’s 7-11” on an in-movie
newscast. As the Logan brothers,
Channing Tatum and Adam Driver,
are laconic and weatherbeaten,
gentle roughnecks who need a win
in this life. And as explosives expert
Joe Bang, Daniel Craig’s brilliance is
in appearing like a maniac but never
detonating. Soderbergh is perhaps
Hollywood’s finest technician, and
it’s a pleasure to watch him tour
his Vegas act through Appalachia.
Bridgeport, Cascade, Fox Tower.
In his new psychological
thriller, Black Swan director Darren
Aronofsky continues to be extra.
Mother! stars Jennifer Lawrence and
Javier Bardem as a couple living in
a secluded house. Bardem (listed as
“Him” in the credits) is a writer strug-
gling to complete a follow-up to a
revered work. Aronofsky surrounds
Mother with unnerving, blood-
themed imagery. Soon mobs of
people, for whom “personal space” is
a foreign concept, are swarming the
house. For a while, it works simply
as exercise in anxiety. But the last
third of the movie drops into heavy-
handed metaphor. Rendering the
Struggles of the Artist into an exhibi-
tionist nightmare is an exercise only
the Artist could love. But man, what
a nightmare. R. Clackamas, Living
Room, Lloyd, Tigard.
Victoria & Abdul
Even the power of Judi Dench’s
fearsome gaze isn’t enough to
redeem Victoria & Abdul, a white-
savior fantasy from director Stephen
Frears (Philomena, The Queen). At
the center of the plot is Abdul Karim
(Ali Fazal), an Indian prison clerk
who travels to England to present
Queen Victoria (Dench, who also
played Queen Victoria in 1997’s Mrs
Brown) with a ceremonial coin. Abdul
beguiles Victoria, who promotes him
from servant to teacher—much to the
consternation of racists like her son
Bertie (Eddie Izzard). We’re meant to
be deeply moved whenever Victoria
defends Abdul by shaming Bertie
and his xenophobia, yet we learn
little of Abdul’s life, family or person-
ality. Instead, the film uses him as a
means for Victoria to prove her nobil-
ity. It’s meant to be a tender story
of an unlikely friendship, but it’s
hardly about friendship at all. PG-13.
Bridgeport, Cedar Hills, Clackamas,
City Center, Fox Tower.
Woodshock is a dark and dreamy
ode to the Redwoods and the weird
shit that happens in rural California.
Kirsten Dunst stars as Theresa, a
spacey medical dispensary employee
who laces a few grams of shwaggy
cannabis before rolling up a deadly
joint for her terminally ill mother.
Theresa is no stranger to this spiked
concoction—the film is interspersed
with flashbacks of her stumbling
through the woods in a silk night-
gown. The pain of grieving her
mother draws her toward a halluci-
natory escape, and sober moments
become fewer and further between.
Aesthetics aside, time spent during
lengthy shots of Dunst trailing her
fingers around redwood trunks
could’ve better served to flesh out
the rest of the characters. It’s more
fever dream than thriller, but per-
mafry has never looked prettier. R.