Weekend Watch List: Night of the Kings, Minari on VOD, and More

The Best Movies Streaming and Playing in Portland Theaters: February 25–March 3, 2021
February 25, 2021
Philip Lacôte's Night of the Kings, streaming via Northwest Film Center starting Friday, is this year's official Oscar submission from the Ivory Coast. (Memento Films International)

Buckle in for another COVID-era award show: the Golden Globes are streaming on NBC this Sunday. Though they're not without their share of controversy (see: Music, Emily in Paris), many of the nominees are worth watching and are currently streamable, like Nomadland and Trial of the Chicago 7. If you've already seen those and are looking for some fresh options, we've got picks for you, too, like Night of the Kings (streaming via Northwest Film Center) and Seventeen (streaming via Hollywood Theatre). We've also included some films playing in theaters at Living Room and, starting Friday, Century 16 Cedar Hills and Eastport. Plus, don't forget that the Mercury's amateur stoner short film fest SPLIFF is accepting submissions through March 5! And while we're giving reminders, be sure to get tickets for next weekend's Cinema Unbound Drive-In and its affiliated Portland International Film Festival

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


Night of the Kings
A young man is sent to a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates and, as tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning the tragic fate that awaits him if he fails to engage his audience until dawn, he settles on the mystical life of the legendary outlaw Zama King. Philip Lacôte's Night of the Kings is this year's official Oscar submission from the Ivory Coast. 
Northwest Film Center
Starting Friday

Made for PBS but cut before it aired, this doc took home the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1985 for its frank look at a group of high school students and their forays into drugs, partying, and interracial dating in a largely white, largely racist Muncie, Indiana.
Hollywood Theatre


Blithe Spirit
In hopes of curing his writer's block and, in turn, finishing his first screenplay and leaving London for Hollywood with his new wife in the roaring '20s, a best-selling crime novelist invites an eccentric mystic (Judy Dench) to perform a séance in his home. Unfortunately, the woman accidentally summons the spirit of the writer's fiery (and dead) ex-wife. 
Living Room Theaters
Starting Friday

Frozen: A Sing-a-Long Cinema Experience!
Procure your favorite car snacks and head to Oaks Park for a weekend of drive-in screenings of Disney's Frozen. Closed captioning will be provided for sing-along purposes, so don't be shy about belting "Let It Go" at the top of your lungs.
Oaks Park

Judas and the Black Messiah
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 Theaters, Century Theaters (starting Friday), and HBO Max

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 Theaters

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—from 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
Living Room Theaters and streaming via Cinema 21, Hollywood Theatre, and Northwest Film Center (and VOD, starting Friday)

After the economic collapse of her company in rural Nevada during the recession, Fern (Frances McDormand) sets out across the West in her camper, guided by real-life nomads Linda May, Swankie, and Bob Wells.
Living Room Theaters and Hulu


Sorted by number of nominations (most to least)

David Fincher's latest film is most certainly not what we expected from the director. It's a black and white, semi-autobiographical biopic of writer Herman J. Mankiewicz as he works on the screenplay for the acclaimed film Citizen Kane. It's been six years since Fincher made his last film, Gone Girl. This new feature could not be more different. I can't overstate how much it stands out as an odd entry in Fincher’s filmography. To be clear, odd does not mean bad. Just different. The praiseworthy aspects remain Fincher's devout commitment to creating precise visuals with near-perfect shot construction. One particular scene is when Gary Oldman's Mankiewicz, who prefers to go by the titular Mank, strolls onto a film set while nursing a hangover. Everything is meticulously crafted, and Fincher creates a unique feeling of being in a fantasy world that also happens to be sharply witty. CHASE HUTCHINSON
Nominations: Best Picture (Drama), Best Actor (Musical/Comedy), Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score

Trial of the Chicago 7
Based on the conspiracy trial of the 1968 Democratic National Convention protest leaders, Aaron Sorkin's political thriller stars Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Jeremy Strong as the major players in this historic case.
Nominations: Best Picture (Drama), Best Actor, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Song

The Father
In Florian Zeller's drama, a man (Anthony Hopkins) struggling with dementia moves in with his daughter (Olivia Coleman) when he can no longer care for himself.
Starting Friday
Nominations: Best Picture (Drama), Best Actor (Drama), Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay

Promising Young Woman
With directorial reign over the second season of Killing Eve and a starring role as Duchess of Cornwall in The Crown under her belt, Emerald Fennell's new revenge thriller stars Carey Mulligan as a justice-seeker who traps would-be sexual assailants at clubs and teaches them a lesson about consent. Come for the thrill of watching smarmy men get what's coming for them, stay for the string-quartet rendition of Britney Spears' "Toxic."
Various platforms
Nominations: Best Picture (Drama), Best Actress (Drama), Best Director, Best Screenplay

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
Sacha Baron Cohen returns 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. 
Amazon Prime
Nominations: Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), Best Actress (Musical/Comedy), Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

One Night in Miami
A minimalist film that's vast in its ambition, One Night in Miami is a simply magnificent debut from director Regina King. King, an acclaimed actor, has directed television before, but with One Night in Miami she has tapped into something transfixing as she tells the story of four legends of history who find themselves together in a singular motel room. These legends are civil rights leader Malcolm X, boxer Cassius Clay, football player Jim Brown, and musician Sam Cooke played by Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr. respectively. They all come together under the same roof as they discuss their individual and collective futures. The film's one night in question takes place after Cassius, who had yet to become Muhammad Ali, has defeated Sonny Liston. Well-directed boxing scenes are only the appetizer to the main course, which is scene after scene of crackling conversation. At the thirty-minute mark, the film settles in to become a canvas for reflective musings from the four friends.
Amazon Prime
Nominations: Best Actor, Best Director, Original Song

Filmed onstage by director Thomas Kail and cinematographer Declan Quinn at the Richard Rodgers Theater in June of 2016 (back when audiences could pack an auditorium shoulder-to-shoulder), Lin-Manuel Miranda's Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical about Alexander Hamilton is coming to Disney+. If you still haven't seen the show because you're wary of musicals, take the cue from its consistently glowing reviews—its hip-hop, jazz, and rap numbers have made people all over the country rethink their rigid anti-musical stance, and offered them juicy, controversial history about one of their Founding Fathers.
Nominations: Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

The Life Ahead
Sophia Loren plays an aging Holocaust survivor who forges an unlikely bond with a young immigrant from Senegal. 
Nominations: Best Picture (Foreign Language), Best Original Song

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Viola Davis stars in this George C. Wolfe adaptation of the August Wilson play, which harks to the fiery appearance of a trailblazing blues singer, Ma Rainey, at a Chicago recording studio in 1927. It also sees the late, great Chadwick Boseman in his final role as the singer's band's ambitious trumpet player.
Nominations: Best Actress (Drama), Best Actor (Drama)

The Mauritanian
A defense attorney, her associate, and a military prosecutor uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating the case of a suspected 9/11 terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for six years.
Century 16 Eastport & Cedar Hills
Nominations: Best Actor (Drama), Best Actress

News of the World
Five years after the end of the Civil War, a veteran captain with a heart of gold (Tom Hanks) takes a traumatized orphan through hostile territory in Northern Texas in order to return her to her only living relatives.
Nominations: Best Actress, Best Original Score

Palm Springs
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti star as a pair of wedding guests who get trapped in a single-day time loop together, à la Groundhog Day. There's a twist applied to this time-loop scenario that won't get spoiled here, but the application of that twist was so good that film studio NEON paid $17 million at Sundance for the rights, which is the highest purchase price in that festival's history. Not to make this movie sound all serious and thought-provoking—it's still a sun-drenched comedy starring Andy Samberg, after all. 
Nominations: Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), Best Actor (Musical/Comedy)

Did Soul really tackle the issues of racism in the US? Was the black experience finally translated into computer-generated images? The answer is "no." But this "no" does not in any way mean it was a bad film. I love Sidney Lumet's The Wiz like nobody's business, but I would be crazy to say that it realistically represents the most pressing issues of the black American experience in the 1970s. After Soul screened, praises and criticisms flooded social media. Most of the praise has been directed at the visual beauty of the work. For example, the scene in the black barber shop—its colors, its rays of light, its textures on the walls, chairs, and clothes—is one of the most numinous scenes that Pixar has ever produced. Also much expressed has been an appreciation for its metaphysical themes: birth, death, afterlife, the essences of human morality. The bulk of the criticisms, on the other hand, have mostly been directed at the film's failure to abolish certain old and new racist tropes. CHARLES MUDEDE
Nominations: Best Picture (Animated), Best Original Score

The United States vs. Billie Holiday
Lee Daniels (Precious) directs this dramatization of the FBI's harassment of legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday following the release of her famous anti-lynching ballad "Strange Fruit." 
Hulu (Starting Friday)
Nominations: Best Actress (Drama), Best Original Song


31st Annual Cascade Festival of African Films
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 (Sudan’s first Oscar submission) and Sam Soko's Softie, about a human-rights activist and provocative photojournalist who decides to run for office in a regional election in his native Kenya.

HUMP! 2021
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?

McMinnville Short Film Festival
Our nearby neighbors to the south will present winning films from the past decade of McMinnville Short Film Festivals, along with filmmaker Q&As.

Tag! Queer Shorts Festival 2021
Take in sexy shorts that eschew the cis/straight/white gaze by QTBIPOC directors, presented by Tag! Queer Shorts Festival.


Allen v. Farrow
This four-part documentary series takes a deep dive into the abuse allegation against Woody Allen made by his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, as well as Allen’s efforts to discredit his accusers. New episodes come out every Sunday. 

Two agents who work for a division of the government that investigates scientific anomalies (no, not Scully and Mulder) are determined to link the mysterious death of a hotel worker to the newly discovered remnants of a destroyed spaceship.
Starting Monday

Ginny & Georgia
It's Gilmore Girls... with crime! That's truly all you need to know about this Netflix original series about a teen girl and her young mom whose secrets get inconveniently trudged up from the past. 

Punky Brewster
The mismatched-shoe-wearing protagonist of the '80s sitcom Punky Brewster is all grown up and navigating life as a single mom and—following in the footsteps of Henry Warnimont, the man who took her in when her parents abandoned her—a professional photographer. 

Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry
Focusing on her close relationship with her mom, this doc goes inside the music-making process with pop sensation Billie Eilish. 
Apple TV+
Starting Friday


17 Blocks
You can't take your eyes off 17 Blocks for even a second. The raw, home video footage documentary offers an intimate view into the lives of the Sanford-Durants, a Black family struggling to find joy and stability in Southeast Washington D.C. So many of the documentaries we watch now are slick mash-ups of stylized reenactments and moody voiceovers, assuring us that history can be mapped neatly into an orderly sequence. 17 Blocks makes no such tidy promises. Instead, gritty, endearing moments rush in: A pair of brothers, 14-year-old Smurf and nine-year-old Emmanuel, play basketball in a neighborhood park. A friend helps Emmanuel put a caucasian skin tone bandage over a scrape. Their mother, Cheryl, points at an old photo of herself and says "Isn't that a pretty girl right there?" "That's you!" Emmanuel shouts. "That's not me!" Cheryl says. Emmy-award-winning director Davy Rothbart stitched these moments together, alternating between powerful portraits of poverty and warm moments of the family persevering, and cheering one another on. But, like I said, if you look away for a moment you're bound to miss some important detail to the puzzle that is this family's history. What happened to them? Well, a lot of things happened to them. SUZETTE SMITH
Hollywood Theatre

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
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

An unflinching look at the investigative journalists of the Romanian newspaper Gazeta SporturilorCollective 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
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

Days of The Bagnold Summer
Based on Joff Winterhart's graphic novel of the same name, this coming-of-age story is about a single mom's plight to reconnect with her Metallica-loving son. Belle & Sebastian provide an original soundtrack.
Cinema 21

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
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.
Cinema 21

Heartworn Highways
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
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

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

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

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 González Iñárritu.
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

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

While other RBG docs tend to cover the broad scope of the late Supreme Court Justice's life and career, this one focuses on how exactly she rose to her position out of law school—a brilliant feat considering the overrepresentation of conservative men on the Court and her passion for gender equality and women’s rights.
Cinema 21

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
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

Twilight's Kiss (Suk Suk)
Two closeted, married Chinese men meet in their twilight years and confide in their shared histories while contemplating a possible future together. "A story told with furtive glances and understated expressions, Suk Suk defies its potentially maudlin premise by bringing a pair of subtle and genuine performances out of its star," wrote Edmund Lee for the South China Morning Post. 
Cinema 21

Two of Us
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
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 ByDays of Being WildFallen Angels, Happy TogetherThe 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