The Best Movies to Watch in Portland This Week: February 11-17, 2021

Minari, Judas and the Black Messiah, and More Picks
February 10, 2021
Mercury contributor Chase Hutchinson calls Lee Isaac Chung's Minari "sublime." Stream it at home via Hollywood Theatre or Cinema 21, or buy a ticket to an IRL screening at Living Room Theatres, which reopens Friday. (Courtesy of Sundance Institute)

Living Room Theatres Add to a List reopens for limited-capacity public screenings this Friday for the first time since March, but if you (understandably) don't want to venture out, there are plenty of exciting new movies and shows to stream at home. Read on below for options available locally (like Lee Isaac Chung's Minari, streaming through Cinema 21 and Hollywood Theatre and playing at Living Room Theatres) and through national platforms (like Judas and the Black Messiah Add to a List on HBO). Plus, don't forget that the Mercury's amateur stoner short film fest SPLIFF is accepting submissions through March 5!

Jump to:  Locally Streaming: New & Noteworthy | In-Person | Virtual Film Festivals | Nationally Streaming | Locally Streaming: Ongoing


There is so much to love about the sublime¬†Minari, the reasons why could fill a film of its own. So, forgive me if I'm a little effusive.¬†Taking place in 1980s Arkansas, it follows a Korean American family as they attempt to start a farm. It's alluded that they've previously worked somewhere in California and in Seattle, where they were making just enough of a living to get by. Now, the family has purchased land that no one else wants in a long shot at making their own Garden of Eden.¬†Jacob (Steven Yeun), the family's somewhat naive but caring patriarch, initially gives the farm the biblical name. It soon becomes clear that he is driving the family to take the leap of faith with him. There is Monica (Yeri Han), the justifiably worried matriarch, who must balance out her husband's dreams with keeping the family whole.¬†The film clearly comes from a personal place for writer and director Lee Isaac Chung, who delicately breathes life into every corner of the film. His down-to-earth story combines with visuals that are boldly full of wonder‚ÄĒfrom the rich reds, seen in the hat on actor Steven Yeun's head, to the tranquil greens of the natural world around them. CHASE HUTCHINSON
Cinema 21 & Hollywood Theatre (also playing in-person at Living Room Theatres; see here for details)
Starting Friday

Reunion Add to a List
In this psychological thriller, a pregnant woman returns home to her recently deceased grandparents' family home to spend time with her estranged mother (the terrific Julia Ormand). Creepy ghost children abound, it looks like!
Clinton Street Theater

Thin Blue Line Add to a List
In this installment of Movie Madness University, Hollywood Theatre programmer Matt McCormick will examine how Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line fits into the history of documentary films, assess Morris's controversial use of reenactments, and consider what the film has to say about the nature of truth.
Hollywood Theatre
Thursday only


50 First Dates & So I Married an Axe Murderer Add to a List
On this unconventional Valentine's Day, tuck into unconventional romantic comedies at the Newberg drive-in with a double-feature of the Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore vehicle 50 First Dates and the '90s cult classic So I Married an Axe Murderer. The organizers assure you that "SNOW DOES NOT STOP THE SHOW!" 
99W Drive-In

Judas and the Black Messiah Add to a List
Shaka King's Judas and the Black Messiah, a favorite of this year's online Sundance Film Festival, stars Lakeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O' Neal and Daniel Kaluuya as Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton.
Living Room Theatres and HBO Max
Starting Friday

Land Add to a List
A film doomed by convention, Land is a competent but boring look at one woman's venture into Wyoming's wilderness that fails to go in any exciting narrative directions. The "find yourself in nature" story has become a subgenre of its own, and Land plays into nearly all of its cliches. In this case, the character finding themselves is Edee and is played by Robin Wright in what is also her directorial debut. The last time audiences would have seen Wright was briefly in last year's misfire that was Wonder Woman 1984. Thankfully, there is something more interesting going on here, with Edee running from her past, though only barely. If this film were a meal, it would be the cans of beans Edee eats over and over. The story's most compelling part is how it frankly and frequently portrays Edee as a selfish and self-centered character, though it only scratches the surface of this characterization. CHASE HUTCHINSON
Living Room Theatres
Starting Friday


31st Annual Cascade Festival of African Films Add to a List
This local film festival, which shows African films made by African filmmakers and encourages Western viewers to engage authentically with African cultures, will move online this year. The program, which lasts for over a month, includes buzzy new features like You Will Die at Twenty Add to a List  (Sudan’s first Oscar submission) and Sam Soko's Softie Add to a List , about a human-rights activist and provocative photojournalist who decides to run for office in a regional election in his native Kenya.

HUMP! 2021 Add to a List
Every year, The Stranger puts out the call to sex-havers everywhere to submit a homegrown amateur porn film depicting whatever they're into (barring poop, kids, and animals, of course). The result is an incredibly diverse representation of human sexuality in all its straight, gay, trans, queer, kinky, funny, pissy, painful, and pretty forms. Let's see what wild spins people put on their submissions that were created during the lockdown, shall we?
Thursday-Friday & Sunday

Indigenous Peoples' Film Festival Add to a List
Spend Indigenous Peoples' Week watching on-demand documentaries, shorts, and feature films (and sitting in on virtual discussions) that focus on the value of Indigenous food systems and resilience in the face of COVID-19 in this online event hosted by the International Fund For Agricultural Development. It's free!


Behind Her Eyes Add to a List
Let this adaptation of Sarah Pinborough's sexy psychological thriller novel step in as your new Netflix binge. 
Starting Wednesday

Clarice Add to a List
The fictionalized cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter has received his fair share of spinoffs, but now it's time for Clarice Starling, the FBI agent played by Jodi Foster in The Silence of the Lambs, to get her own. This CBS limited series stars Pretty Little Liars' Rebecca Breeds. 

Demonlover Add to a List
In its newly restored glory, French master Olivier Assayas's 2002 techno-thriller (one of the few that doesn't star Juliette Binoche) presents a ruthless world of corporate espionage and murderous ambition in which executives from different conglomerates battle for the rights to highly coveted pornography. 
Starting Friday

Map of Tiny Perfect Things Add to a List
Lev Grossman's YA novel gets the Amazon Prime Original treatment in this film about a couple of teens (Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen) who fall in love as they relive the same day over and over. If you like Groundhog Day Add to a List  and Palm Springs Add to a List , chances are this one will strike your fancy. 
Amazon Prime
Starting Friday

Men in Kilts Add to a List
With banter that gives The Trip duo Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan a run for their money, this series sees Outlander stars Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish driving around Scotland and being quite Scottish indeed. 
Starting Sunday

To All the Boys: Always and Forever Add to a List
The final installment of Jenny Han's delightful hit Netflix trilogy about teen romance sees its heroine, Lara Jean, facing the familiar on-screen hurdles of senior year: prom, college, and boyfriend dilemmas. 
Starting Friday

Young Rock Add to a List
Dwayne Johnson stans, this one's for you. NBC's newest sitcom lets the action star reminisce over his upbringing and early stardom with younger actors playing him in his various blossoming stages.
Starting Tuesday


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 & Cinema 21

The Changin' Times of Ike White Add to a List
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.
Hollywood Theatre

Collective Add to a List
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 CńÉtńÉlin Tolontan, Mirela Neag, and RńÉzvan LuŇ£ac, 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
Hollywood Theatre

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."
Hollywood Theatre

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 & Cinema 21

Free Time Add to a List
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‚ÄĒone filled with quiet "in-between moments" and architecture around the boroughs.
Cinema 21

Heartworn Highways Add to a List
In this 1976 gem of the music documentary canon, filmmaker James Szalapski travels to Texas and Tennessee in search of folk and bluegrass musicians who were rejecting the mainstream Nashville sound of the day. Think Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Steve Young, whose faces and songs all appear in the film.
Cinema 21 & Hollywood Theatre

Insert Coin
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. 
Hollywood Theatre

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.
Various platforms

MC Escher: Journey to Infinity Add to a List
The instantly recognizable and kaleidoscopic work of the Dutch graphic designer M.C. Escher floats throughout this documentary (voiced by British actor Stephen Fry), which also includes insights into the artist's life and ideas through his own diary entries, lectures, and correspondence.
Cinema 21

Mirror Add to a List
Andrei Tarkovsky's classic film traverses three generations of a poet’s family in 20th-century Russia, reflecting on both human memory and Russian history in what Cinema 21 calls a "hypnagogic hallucination." Don't miss a chance to see this brand-new restoration for a limited time.
Cinema 21

Monsoon Add to a List
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.
Cinema 21

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

Notturno Add to a List
Oscar-nominated director of¬†Fire at Sea, Gianfranco Rosi, tells the stories of those on the borders between Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, and Lebanon in this 2021 contender for the Italian Oscars. This SIFF screening includes a special pre-recorded conversation with¬†Rosi and fellow director Alejandro Gonz√°lez I√Ī√°rritu.
Northwest Film Center

Psycho Goreman
Siblings Mimi and Luke unwittingly resurrect an ancient alien overlord who was entombed on Earth millions of years ago after a failed attempt to destroy the universe. They nickname the evil creature Psycho Goreman (or "PG" for short) and use the magical amulet they discovered to force him to obey their childish whims.
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

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. 
Cinema 21

Some Kind of Heaven Add to a List
Four residents of America's largest retirement facility (Florida's gated, palm tree-lined Villages) strive for happiness and meaning in this Lance Oppenheim doc co-produced by Darren Aronofsky.
Cinema 21 & Hollywood Theatre

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

Two of Us Add to a List
Longtime lesbian lovers Nina and Madeleine have been together for decades in secret, but their relationship is put to the test when something happens that limits their ability to move freely between each other's apartments. Filippo Meneghetti's debut feature is France's official 2021 Oscar submission.
Cinema 21 & Hollywood Theatre

World of Wong Kar-wai Add to a List
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

Zappa Add to a List
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

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