If your nerves are frazzled from the Trump-incited mobs around the country this week, escape into the world of virtual cinema using our roundup of new streaming options through local theaters. You'll find them all below, from Victor Kossakowsky's experimental film Gunda via Northwest Film Center to Gillian Wallace Horvat's fourth-wall-breaking satire I Blame Society via the Clinton Street Theater, along with nationwide picks like the Netflix limited series History of Swear Words, hosted by Nicolas Cage. Plus, if you haven't heard, the Mercury's amateur porn film festival HUMP! is accepting submissions through this Saturday, January 8, as is the stoner short film fest SPLIFF, through March 5!
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LOCALLY STREAMING: NEW & NOTEWORTHY
A mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows take the place of human subjects in Victor Kossakowsky's sleepy, experimental portrait of non-human life. You shouldn't be at all surprised to learn that it's executive-produced by Joaquin Phoenix.
Northwest Film Center
I Blame Society
"Nobody wants you to make a movie as much as you want to make one yourself," says Gillian Wallace Horvat in her satirical low-budget faux documentary about a filmmaker who takes her nontraditional, female-driven murder plot into her own hands when male producers ignore it. She walks people through how she would commit the perfect murder, and in doing so walks the line between fiction and reality.
Clinton Street Theater
The 25th season of ABC's The Bachelor sees its first-ever Black star, Matt James, as the handsome single looking for love in front of an audience of millions of viewers. Will Abigail Heringer and Pieper James, the two Oregon-born contestants, win his heart? If you're already a fan of the show, we don't need to convince you to tune in on Mondays to find out.
Cobra Kai: Season 3
When YouTube was honestly trying to become an original content platform, it put out some...stuff, including a 30-years-after-the-fact sequel to The Karate Kid focused on Johnny (you know, the blonde asshole who got crane kicked in the face about 30 seconds before the credits rolled) as a middle-aged man running the Cobra Kai dojo. Nobody expected much from the low budget and the kinda off-putting premise. Which made it all the more surprising that Cobra Kai became a breakout success (relatively) and was also a very effective examination (and repudiation) of toxic masculinity in modern culture. Plus, you know... people kicking each other in the face! Its third season is here and takes place in Japan.
Does this dramedy series accurately reflect the life and inner world of Emily Dickinson? Probably not, but Hailee Steinfeld's portrayal of the great 19th-century American poet is decidedly enjoyable as hell. It's back for a second season that grapples with the poet's relationship with publicity.
Fleeing her abusive husband, an Irish woman with two small kids attempts to build her own home (by hand!) on land given to her by her employer.
History of Swear Words
For those nights this week when you want to watch something only slightly elevated from smooth-brain television—and maybe pick up a few new ways to express yourself—this limited series hosted by suited-up tantrum master Nicolas Cage (who else?) dives into the etymology of expletives with guest linguists, writers, and comedians.
It's always a fun time to revisit the 1986 musical dark fantasy that introduced the public to the yet-to-be-fully-dismissed theory that David Bowie is, in fact, a Jim Henson creation.
Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, and other platforms
If you have a Ted Danson-shaped hole in your life now that The Good Place is over, turn to this silly sitcom created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock in which he plays a man running for mayor in Los Angeles.
Pieces of a Woman
Ignore abusive Shia LaBeouf's appearance in this intense drama about the loss of a child, helmed by the riveting Vanessa Kirby (who you probably know for her former role as Princess Margaret in The Crown).
Pretend It’s a City
Two household names in their respective fields of cinema and cultural criticism, Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz sit down on stage at a dimly lit cocktail lounge to talk about *queue that big-city jazz standard* New York City and how it's influenced them. If the packed auditorium gives you COVID anxiety, know that this talk was recorded before the plague.
LOCALLY STREAMING: ONGOING
The Changin' Times of Ike White
Released in 1974, Changin' Times was the first commercial album recorded inside an American prison by an inmate, Ike White, who at 19 was sentenced to life for murder and eventually released under the endorsement of Stevie Wonder. This documentary delves into the R&B artist's life and unconventional career.
When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify certain mugs (those with dark skin and feminine features, specifically), she delves intoan investigation of widespread bias in algorithms.
Northwest Film Center
An unflinching look at the investigative journalists of the Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, Collective is a necessary examination of the corruption that can spread unchecked without a robust press to hold it accountable. It takes place following the horrifying fatal 2015 fire at the Collectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania. The fire killed 27 people. Widespread government health care fraud, corruption, and greed on all levels would kill 37 more. The film shows footage of the initial fire itself, caused by a pyrotechnic effect that set alight soundproofing foam, and the chaos that ensued. It is a starkly terrible event, which only makes it more horrific that the aftermath saw more preventable death. When the fire was put out, the horror continued for the victims and their families. The focus of the documentary is journalists Cătălin Tolontan, Mirela Neag, and Răzvan Luţac, who head up the team that blows the lid off the entire scandal. It is their reporting that shakes the country to its core. CHASE HUTCHINSON
Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan
You know Shane MacGowan as the wild-toothed lead singer of the Irish punk-rock band the Pogues, but Julien Temple's documentary delves into the musician's story before achieving fame, highlighting his extensive knowledge of music. Variety classifies it "in the upper echelon of recent rock docs."
A Dog Called Money
On his reporting trips to Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Washington D.C., photojournalist Seamus Murphy was accompanied by none other than British punk-rock icon PJ Harvey, who used what she saw to record a live album whose recording sessions were open to the public. This music-filled documentary goes behind the scenes into the studio and the lives of the people the pair met on their journey.
Clinton Street Theater
For his latest work, the 88-year-old director Manny Kirchheimer (Stations of the Elevated, Dream of a City) restored 16mm footage that he and his friend Walter Hess (heard of him?) shot in New York between 1958 and 1960, which shows a different version of the city we're used to seeing—one filled with quiet "in-between moments" and architecture around the boroughs.
The German Lesson
As part of his prison sentence after WWII, a man writes an essay reflecting on his childhood in a German village during the war.
Clinton Street Theater
Praised as the "Sex Pistols of the video game industry," this documentary provides an oral history of a group of highly dedicated Chicagoan geeks who created some of the most iconic video games of our time, from Mortal Combat to NBA Jam.
Jazz on a Summer's Day
Filmed on a balmy night in Fort Adams State Park at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, this 4K-restored classic is believed to be one the first concert films ever recorded (!). It boasts Louis Armstrong, Thelonius Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Anita O'Day, Chuck Berry, Dinah Washington, and other legends among its lineup, closing with Mahalia Jackson's rendition of "The Lord's Prayer" at midnight
Clinton Street Theater
Love in Dangerous Times
Filmed and set in Portland during COVID, writer-director Jon Garcia's romantic comedy follows a playwright who, in the midst of struggling to finish a play (could this be its own genre? seems like it) gets in meaningful cahoots with a woman he matches with on a dating app. Dating during the pandemic is something many of us can relate to, and everyone goes about it differently, so this should be an interesting anthropological study.
Hong Khaou's latest film stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) as a Vietnamese-born Englishman who returns to Ho Chi Minh City for the first time since childhood to reconnect with his roots after the death of his mother. There, an online date with an American clothing designer (Southside With You's Parker Sawyers) turns into something more.
Myth of A Colorblind France
The list of Black artists and creatives who have traveled to France (specifically Paris) to free themselves of America's racist bedrock is a long one, and ranges from James Baldwin to Josephine Baker to Augusta Savage. But to what extent was the City of Lights more accepting of people of color than the US? That's at the center of this documentary featuring interviews with French scholars Michel Fabre and Francis Hofstein, as well as contemporary artist Barbara Chase-Riboud, poet James Emanuel, hip-hop producer Ben the Glorious Bastard, and others.
Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte narrate William Greaves's long-lost, newly-restored film about the National Black Political Convention of 1972, where 10,000 black politicians, activists, and artists went to Gary, Indiana, to forge a national unity platform.
Hollywood Theater & Cinema 21
Donna Hayes's new film Silent Voices centers nine people of color who have been killed by Portland Police over the years, with each character coming to life to tell their stories. As they speak, a chorus of words taken from comments posted online and news articles about their killings echo in the background.
Sing Me a Song
Returning to one of the subjects of his 2013 drama Happiness, Thomas Balmès's new film follows a teenage boy studying in a monastery in the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, where smartphones and other modern technology are beginning to compete with ancient practices. Zoomer that he is, the music-loving student strikes up a friendship with a singer on WeChat from the capital city of Thimphu, and he ends up selling medicinal mushrooms to raise enough money to meet her IRL.
Song Without a Name
The newborn baby of Georgina, an Indigenous Andean woman, is stolen from the clinic at which it was born and is never returned. When she's met with indifference by the Peruvian legal system, Georgina goes to a journalist, who uncovers an epidemic of fake clinics and abductions in 1980s Peru. Melina Leon's thriller is based on true events.
Clinton Street Theater
World of Wong Kar-wai
Let Chinese director Wong Kar-wai take you over with the sonically perfect, poetic, excruciatingly cool, often blood-soaked romantic time-jumpers and thrillers featured in this Janus Films series. It includes all his greatest hits from the late '80s to the early 2000s, including As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild, Fallen Angels, Happy Together, The Hand, and his best-known works Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love. With many of the same actors gracing the screen in each film, we have no doubt that taking in his entire oeuvre will feel like one long, wild ride in a singular universe.
Hollywood Theatre & Cinema 21
If 2016's Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words didn't quell your obsession with the zany, occasionally cringy, ultimately very talented late rocker Frank Zappa, bust open a jar of peanut butter (Zappa's favorite tour snack) and catch this new documentary from Alex Winter, aka the guy who stars alongside Keanu Reeves in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.
Hollywood Theatre and various platforms