The Best Movies to Watch in Portland This Week: Oct 22-28, 2020

The Bicycle Film Festival, a Stevie Nicks Concert Film, and More Top Picks
by Mercury EverOut Staff
October 22, 2020
Cycling is seen as a tool for social change in the long-running Bicycle Film Festival, presenting an international selection of three short film programs online this weekend. (Peter Gerard)

This week brings a few new releases to local indie theaters and drive-ins, like Stevie Nicks: 24 Karat Gold: The Concert at Cinema 21 and a double-feature of The Lost Boys and The Conjuring at 99W. There are also lots of options for movies to watch at home through local theaters and national platforms, like the documentary Nationtime at the Hollywood Theatre and the new Netflix mini-series The Queen’s Gambit, starring Emma's Anya Taylor-Joy as a chess prodigy. Read the full list below, and don't forget to get your tickets to the SLAY Drive-In for next week!

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The Book of Life
Jorge R. Gutierrez's 2014 animated film, which takes place in a small Mexican town on Día de los Muertos, is filled with bright colors and lively music. This drive-in screening presented by Rose City Rollers will be shown in English with Spanish subtitles. 
Cinema Under the Stars
Saturday only

Escape from Extinction
Helen Mirren narrates this documentary about major zoological organizations around the world combatting what scientists are calling the Sixth Mass Extinction. 
Cinema 21 (private screenings)

Rife with the eccentricities you'd expect from the director of The Future and You and Me and Everyone We Know, Miranda July's latest comedy stars Evan Rachel Wood as the youngest in a small family of grifters who parkours her way through Los Angeles avoiding security cameras and droning in a voice that hangs as low as her extremely long hair. The family's opposite is met in Melanie (Gina Rodriguez), an optician’s assistant who, through her endless optimism and comfort with displays of love, brings the family's insecurities to the foreground.
Cinema 21 (private screenings); also streaming via Amazon Prime Video

The Lost Boys & The Conjuring
This adults-only double-feature starts with the classic '80s vampire flick The Lost Boys, featuring Kiefer Sutherland at his sexiest, followed by the terrifying farmhouse horror The Conjuring
99W Drive-In; also streaming via Amazon Prime Video and elsewhere

Definitely leave your impressionable offspring at home for this private in-person screening of writer/director Brandon Cronenberg's terrifying-looking new sci-fi thriller, which follows a corporate assassin who takes control of people's bodies using brain-implant technology. We're terrified of what this "uncut" version has in store. 
Cinema 21 and Living Room Theaters (private screenings)

Monsters, Inc.
In this Disney-Pixar classic, a little girl named Boo ventures into the world's largest scare factory, leading the blue-furred James P. Sullivan (John Goodman) and the one-eyed Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal) to try to smuggle her back home by disguising her as a little monster. 
Cameo Theater; also streaming via Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video

Portland Comedy Film Fest
With an election on the horizon and the global pandemic still raging, this bi-annual showcase of short independent comedy films by filmmakers around the world couldn't come at a better time. The Sunshine Mill's drive-in theater will screen them—from commercials to micro-films to animated comedies to horror-comedies—for a week.
Sunshine Mill
Through Sunday

Save Yourselves!
Seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn, a Millennial couple (Sunita Mani and John Reynolds) decide to ~go offline~ and head upstate to Ben Sinclair's (High Maintenance) grandpa's cabin, only to be accosted by a host of deceptively cute aliens.
Living Room Theaters (private screenings); also streaming via Amazon Prime Video

Writer/director Cooper Raiff stars as Alex, a lonely college freshman who attempts to make friends at Shithouse, a fraternity infamous for its wild parties. There he forges a friendship with Maggie, who later ignores him, and whose attention he tries to win back again by returning to the booze-laden abode. This Grand Jury Prize Winner at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival is executive-produced by indie boy Jay Duplass. 
Living Room Theaters (private screenings); also streaming via Amazon Prime Video

Stevie Nicks: 24 Karat Gold: The Concert
Recorded over two nights of her sold-out 24 Karat Gold tour, the former Fleetwood Mac frontwoman and noted good witch Stevie Nicks busts out hits, deep cuts, and mystical fits in this limited-release concert film.
Cinema 21 (private screenings)


Beasts Clawing at Straws
This sharp new feature from Korean director Kim Yong-hoon follows a group of down-on-their-luck misfits who hunt for the bigger fortune behind a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with cash. 
Hollywood Theater
Opening Friday

The Dark Divide
This new documentary starring David Cross and Deborah Messing is based on the true story of renowned butterfly expert Dr. Robert Pyle’s 1995 journey across one of America’s largest undeveloped wildlands.
Hollywood Theater and Northwest Film Center

Ganja & Hess
In Bill Gunn’s classic 1973 Blaxploitation horror, the protagonists combat racist cultural stereotypes through vampirism after Dr. Hess Green, an anthropologist (played by Night of the Living Dead’s Duane Jones), gets accidentally stabbed with an ancient cursed dagger by his assistant. "If horror reflects our terrors and traumas, it can also embody our best hopes—albeit sometimes in a negative cast," wrote former Stranger staffer Joule Zelman. 
Hollywood Theater

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Just when you thought there was no gas left in the tank of revisionist vampire cinema, along comes A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, a tale billed as “the first Iranian vampire western.” Though it’s unlikely to become a crowded field, this black-and-white Farsi-language gem is rich in allusive metaphor (blood-oil-sex-religion) and deep, dark texture. First-time writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour comes by her genre bona fides honestly, via a palette of cinematic and literary influences—Jim Jarmusch most strikingly, but also Leos Carax, Jim Thompson, and Raymond Chandler—not usually seen in horror films of any nationality. And while Amanpour doesn’t deliver the visceral scare factor of Let the Right One In, she does manage to out-Jarmusch Jarmusch’s recent vampire inversion, The Only Lovers Left Alive. In the opening scene, a lean, rockabilly-styled kid rescues a stray cat and walks languidly through the sun-blanched streets of the deserted desert town Bad City. As he crosses a small bridge, oil derricks pumping savagely in the distance, you only casually notice the ravine full of corpses below his feet, and understand that you’re in for a smart, super-creepy film that demands and rewards close attention. SEAN NELSON
Hollywood Theater

La Haine
A riot erupts in the suburbs outside of Paris after a young Muslim man is arrested and beaten by police. From there, three of the victim's friends walk around in the aftermath, trying to cope with their anger over the injustice. Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 film won César and Cannes awards. 
Hollywood Theater

Marona’s Fantastic Tale
For a wholesome mental recharge, turn to Anca Damian's expressionistic French animated film told through the eyes of a stray dog who just wants a loving human to hang out with.
Northwest Film Center

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.
Cinema 21

In this documentary, directors Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan explore the joys and anxieties of four high-school seniors in the rural Florida Everglades. 
Northwest Film Center

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
Opening Friday

Native Son
When it came to adapting Richard Wright's 1940 novel Native Son into a film, ex-patriate Frenchman Pierre Chenal and Argentinian producer Jamie Prades swooped in when American filmmakers and actors at the time abandoned the project out of discomfort surrounding the deep current of racism in America that the story reveals. With Wright himself in the leading role, it's a noir thriller about a Black man trying to survive in a white world. This is a brand-new restoration.
Cinema 21

Nomad: In the Footsteps of Bruce Chatwin
There are documentaries, and then there's Werner Herzog turning the camera on himself to muse about all manner of existential concern. And that's what's going on here, with Nomad featuring the director/philosopher discussing his long friendship with travel writer Bruce Chatwin, who shared with Herzog an unquenchable thirst for truth.
Hollywood Theatre

Our Time Machine
Looking at the works of contemporary Chinese artist Maleonn, it's easy to see how much his father's former role as the artistic director of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Theater inspired him—Maleonn's conceptual pieces often center subjects in thespian-like costumes, surrounded by props, lit by warm spotlights. In this documentary, Maleonn undertakes a new project to connect with his aging dad through a couple of steampunk-ish mechanical puppets. "I want to use it to show my father how much I appreciate everything he's done for me," says the artist. You will absolutely sniffle and ponder your own mortality.
Hollywood Theatre

"Over the long course of her career, RBG repeatedly defended the rights of everyone to live free from bias, but, as Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg says, Ginsburg 'quite literally changed life for women.' With intimate interviews with family and friends, as well as RBG herself, the film captures the life of a woman with a heart none of us wants to stop ticking," wrote Katie Herzog about Julie Cohen and Betsy West's 2018 documentary. RIP, RBG.
Hollywood Theatre

Silent Voices
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.   
Open Signal

The tragic story of a pregnant young actress (Blue Is the Warmest Color's Adèle Exarchopoulos) becomes fodder her creatively stunted psychotherapist's (Virginie Efira) writing career. 
Northwest Film Center

A human-rights activist and provocative photojournalist decides to run for office in a regional election in his native Kenya, determined to prevail with a "clean campaign" despite his opponents' corrupt practices.
Hollywood Theatre

Totally Under Control
You don't need us to tell you that the current administration is largely to blame for the miserable failure in controlling the novel coronavirus and potentially avoiding the hundreds of thousands of deaths from the virus. Together with Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney explores why the system-wide collapse was possible in the first place.
Northwest Film Center

You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski
A special screening of this short documentary that does exactly what it says it does: Puts you in Charles Bukowski's living room for a night as the famously grumpy poet and writer smokes about five million cigarettes, drinks, and opines on whatever the hell crosses his frontal lobe at the time.
Clinton Street Theater

Vinyl Nation
Has the resurgence of vinyl in the digital age made music fandom more inclusive or more divided? This documentary traces the audio format's history and revival. 
Hollywood Theatre


Bicycle Film Festival 2020
The longrunning Bicycle Film Festival Northwest will present an international selection of three short film programs. In addition to screenings, the online event includes panel discussions with titles like "Bicycle, a Tool for Social Change" and "Women in Cycling."
Friday-Sunday only

Eastern Oregon Film Fest
No need to drive to La Grande, Oregon for this year's Eastern Oregon Film Fest—its genre-diverse program of nearly 50 locally made films will be streamed entirely online. 
Through Sunday

The Fungi Film Festival
As far as we know, this is the world's first short film festival dedicated to the mushrooms, lichens, and micro fungi of the Pacific Northwest. Premiering during the peak of mushroom-foraging season, the first night of the festival will also feature an event with mushroom growers, artists, and mycologists livestreamed from McCoy's Portland-based mushroom farm.

Portland Latin American Film Festival XIV
The Hollywood Theater is moving the Portland Latin American Film Festival online, which is bittersweet. Bitter: Everyone loves a big screen, especially at this historic gem. Sweet: You'll have a full 48 hours to watch a film once you hit play. From September to November, the festival will present six movies from Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Switzerland, and Belgium that celebrate and honor the cultural diversity of Latin America. The upcoming film (starting Saturday) is Maria Novaro's Tesoros, about a child's journey to find a long-lost pirate loot left behind by Francis Drake centuries ago on Mexico’s Pacific coast.
Hollywood Theater
Opening Saturday

From the freaks who brought you the HUMP! and SPLIFF Film Festivals comes something new, fun, and totally terrifying: SLAY! SLAY calls for filmmakers to send in homemade short horror films—eight minutes or less—capturing what scares them most. From classic ghost stories and slasher films to dystopian cults and political nightmares, SLAY dares you to show us your darkest fears. We know reality is scarier than fiction right now. Let’s purge our fears together. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY


Bad Hair
A woman's new weave takes on a life of its own and terrorizes all who cross its path in this Hulu original horror-comedy from Dear White People's Justin Simien. "This movie builds its fright night around the oppression Black women face in the form of discrimination against their natural hair. But despite the potentially heavy (or heavy-handed) material, Bad Hair is self-consciously and pleasingly campy, and it delivers a new cinematic monster: the sew-in weave," writes Teo Bugbee for the New York Times.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Sacha Baron Cohen is back as a Kazakhstanian reporter in the latest iteration of his mockumentary comedy film series Borat, this time tackling COVID, the presidential election, and a creepy, headline-making scene involving Rudy Giuliani and an underage girl. Watch at your own risk. 
Amazon Prime
Opening Friday

It's kind of strange that Todd Haynes—the director of Velvet Goldmine—has become a master of cinematic restraint, but Carol is perfectly attuned to the culture of mid-century repression it documents, and equally adept at showcasing the passions and prejudices that simmer below the surface. Carol and Therese are careful because they have to be, but their relationship is no less intense or profound for all its caution. Carol is set in the 1950s, which was not a great time for gay people getting to live the lives they actually deserved. That makes it all the more remarkable that the film, based on the Patricia Highsmith novel The Price of Salt, doesn't punish its characters by dooming them to misery or early death, like most of the nonhetero narratives Hollywood offers up. If creativity thrives within limits, Carol makes a pretty good case that love can, too—although it certainly shouldn't have to. ALISON HALLETT

David Byrne’s American Utopia
Following his acclaimed PhatBoy Slim collab Here Lies Love, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne's second Broadway musical will come to the small screen, directed by Spike Lee during a recording of its run at Broadway's Hudson Theater. With the help of 11 musicians and dancers from around the world, the artist imagines a dream world in which "human connection, self-evolution, and social justice are paramount." Gotta love it. 

On the Rocks
Drawing from his own history of infidelity, Bill Murray susses out a fishy situation with his daughter's (Rashida Jones) seemingly perfect husband in this new Sofia Coppola comedy.
Apple TV+

The Queen’s Gambit
The ultimate strategy game of competitive chess grounds both the plot and the life metaphors in this Netflix mini-series based on Walter Tevis’s popular 1983 novel. Anya Taylor-Joy (who starred in Emma., one of the first Hollywood films released online early on in the lockdown) plays Beth Harmon, a child chess prodigy who learned the game from the janitor at her orphanage in 1950s Kentucky.
Opening Friday

Ben Wheatley's adaptation of Alfred Hitchock's Oscar-winning 1940 film (based on Daphne Du Maurier's classic 1938 novel) takes some modern-ish liberties with the story of a young, working-class orphan who meets and falls in love with the wealthy widower Maxim de Winter (Armie Hammer) and struggles to match the apparent perfection of her new husband's late wife, Rebecca.

The Witches
The well-dressed and well-wigged witches (Anne Hathaway among them), cool grandma (Octavia Butler), and mice children from Roald Dahl’s classic story return in Robert Zemeckis’s fresh adaptation.