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New and notable
Theater guide below
'Abel Raises Cain' (NR)
Chronicled lovingly by his daughter, Jenny Abel, Alan Abel's career as a media prankster is fascinating and a little sad. The daughter implies heavily in her voice-over narration that her father never really got his due.
Still, the point is made: We live in a society that deserves to be skewered far more pointedly than it usually is. And many viewers will walk away with scheming glints in their eyes, trying to dream up a clever hoax of their own.
* 'Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem' (R)
Scary, swiftly paced and not for the squeamish, this sequel to 2004's 'Alien vs. Predator' is nonetheless a worthy addition to both monsters' respective film franchises.
The rematch also features a new creature, a hybridized 'Predalien,' and the dreadlocked, double-mouthed beast all but steals the thunder here.
It's surely the coolest, meanest mutant monster Hollywood has ever produced - unless Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell decide to mate.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Mall, Division Street
'Alvin and the Chipmunks' (PG)
Computer animation and live action combine for this newest movie concerning those high-pitched singing squirrels from the 1960s cartoon series. Jason Lee (from television's 'My Name Is Earl') plays the human friend of the rodent trio.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Mall, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
'American Gangster' (R)
Though this tale of a real-life Harlem drug kingpin stands fairly tall among its contemporaries, it can't quite emerge from the shadow of the films it recalls and sometimes references directly.
'American Gangster' always is solid and engrossing without ever establishing its own iconic identity, lacking the classic grandeur of 'The Godfather,' the propulsive ferocity of 'The French Connection,' or even the wacked-out rabidity of 'Scarface.'
Bagdad, Kennedy School, Mission, St. Johns Dome, Laurelhurst, Academy, Valley
This adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Ian McEwan is all spiffed up for Oscar night.
Although director Joe Wright (2005's 'Pride and Prejudice') dresses it up nicely, he never really lets it breathe. It's attractive, polite, respectable and almost too poised to live, like 'Masterpiece Theatre' with more theater than masterpiece.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower, Lloyd Mall, Bridgeport
'Before the Devil Knows You're Dead' (R)
Two brothers (Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke) in financial straits decide to rob their parents' jewelry store, with catastrophic results.
Director Sidney Lumet shakes off the years and shakes things up with the perfect family film for the holidays. The kind of family the Greeks used to write about.
There's a story about a hero and monsters here somewhere, but it's secondary to the unrelentingly in-your-face 3-D effects.
Mission, Academy, Valley
'The Bucket List' (PG-13)
Jack Nicholson fritters away all the charm from the crusty-geezer-with-a-good-heart role he perfected in 2003's 'Something's Gotta Give,' and Morgan Freeman cashes a post-Christmas bonus check playing his buddy in this tired comedy.
Two pals nearing the end of their lives decide to try out everything they've ever been afraid to do. It will have people wondering 'What's on my bucket list?' But it's doubtful that seeing this film is on anyone's.
Eastport, Pioneer Place, Lloyd Center, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport, St. Johns Cinema, Moreland
* 'Casablanca' (PG)
Venture back to a little piano bar called Rick's Cafe Americain in Morocco.
White suits, black ties, a movie legend who goes by the name of Humphrey Bogart, an elegant Swedish star known as Ingrid Bergman, and one timeless tune all can be found in 'Casablanca.'
'Casablanca' returns in high-definition for a run at the Living Room Theaters. It's a classic that defines the word, even as time goes by.
* 'Charlie Wilson's War' (R)
Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman, with the help of Julia Roberts, form an alliance to get the U.S. to back Afghanistan against the Russians in the 1980s.
The sharply written - and occasionally glib - account of true events captures the color of the characters while encapsulating the complexity of international politics and the fickle and self-serving nature of the U.S.'s concern with suffering abroad.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Pioneer Place, Division Street, Stark Street, Lloyd Center, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
'Chronicle of an Escape' (R)
Director Adrian Caetano's 1977 political drama still resounds 30 years later. After a member of a soccer team is kidnapped by Argentine government officials, tossed into a prison and tortured, he plots an escape with three other inmates.
Video director Anton Corbijn helms a biographical drama recounting the life of Ian Curtis, the lead singer of the late-'70s British band Joy Division, who committed suicide at age 23.
Disney pulls out all the stops for this star-studded holiday blockbuster. When a fairy princess is thrust into modern-day New York City, the world of fantasy (and animation) collides with the realities of everyday living.
Of course, romance pops in there somewhere, and the poor princess's heart is pulled by two heartthrobs: Patrick Dempsey and James Marsden. Julie Andrews narrates. Oh, and Susan Sarandon plays the evil Queen Narissa.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Center, Bridgeport
'First Sunday' (PG-13)
Ice Cube produced and stars in a comedy mixing crimes, misdemeanors and music. He and Tracy Morgan play a pair of low-grade criminals who plot to rob a neighborhood church.
A campy performance from comedian Katt Williams and the music - specifically the rousing church choir - may be what saves the flick from comedy damnation.
Broadway, Lloyd Center, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
'The Golden Compass' (PG-13)
In a perfect world, Hollywood muckety-mucks would realize that some books are just too big to make into a 113-minute movie.
That's the only real problem with this adaptation of Philip Pullman's fantasy kid-lit classic - but it's a huge problem, resulting in a film that gallops along so fast that it may make your head spin.
As complicated as it is, most kids probably will enjoy the fast pace, happily glossing over the plot details and enjoying the armored bears.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Pioneer Place, Lloyd Center, Bridgeport
The Great Debaters' (PG-13)
Denzel Washington directs and plays the teacher whose coaching takes his debate team from a small black college in Depression-era Texas to a competition with the very white champions of Harvard.
Washington dresses up the clichés handsomely - it's as ready for the Oscars as the team is for Harvard - but he can't disguise the threadbare familiarity of it all.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Mall, Bridgeport
'I Am Legend' (PG-13)
Director Francis Lawrence's 'I Am Legend' is the third official adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 sci-fi/horror novel, previously filmed in 1964 as 'The Last Man on Earth' and in '71 as 'The Omega Man.'
Lawrence, of the wacky 2005 comic-book adaptation 'Constantine,' simply animates the remains of other digitally plagued blockbusters to suck the dark mythic life out of Matheson's enduring tale.
Go out during the day, and get the book to read at night.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Pioneer Place, Lloyd Center, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
* 'I'm Not There' (R)
Portland-based director Todd Haynes' film is a magical, fictional kinda-sorta biography in which a number of different characters represent the various facets of Bob Dylan.
It isn't an easy film to digest, but it's an extraordinary experiment that may confound as much as it entertains. If you love movies, or you love Bob Dylan - or, hopefully, both - it's not to be missed.
Fox Tower, Hollywood
* 'Juno' (PG-13)
A killer cast and an endearing screenplay help this oddball comedy from Jason Reitman ('Thank You for Smoking') rise above its self-consciously hip approach.
It's cynical, yet sweet, sympathetic and charmingly askew.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Fox Tower, Lloyd Center, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport, Cinemagic
* 'King Corn' (NR)
Filmmaker and Lake Oswego native Curt Ellis and his friend Ian Cheney set out to grow an acre of corn in Iowa. The journey brings to light some of the harsh issues of modern-day farming.
'King of California' (PG-13)
Michael Douglas has been earning raves for his turn as Charlie, a former jazz musician just out of a two-year stint in a mental institution in this comedy-drama.
Evan Rachel Wood plays Charlie's teenage daughter who is tempted to follow Pop on his quest to find what he thinks is buried treasure.
'The Kite Runner' (PG-13)
Like another current Oscar-runner, this is the story of an adult's attempts to atone for a haunting childhood betrayal.
Bland and milky right down to the visuals (which include typically cartoony digital effects, this time of soaring kites), 'The Kite Runner,' however, feels at once hurried and drawn out.
There's a very good supporting performance - from Homayoun Ershadi as the protagonist's father - that stands out amid the wishy-washiness, but a story like this needs to inspire more than a vague warm and cozy feeling.
Fox Tower, Lloyd Mall, Bridgeport
'Looking for Cheyenne' (R)
Love and philosophy cross paths in French director Valerie Minetto's second feature. Cheyenne is an out-of-work journalist who has had her fill of capitalism and Paris, and heads to the countryside to track down a former girlfriend.
'National Treasure: Book of Secrets' (PG)
Nicolas Cage dons the treasure hunter hat again for the sequel to the 2004 flick 'National Treasure,' delving into 'Da Vinci Code'-like mysteries of American history.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Pioneer Place, Lloyd Center, Lloyd Mall, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
* 'No Country for Old Men' (R)
The Coen brothers, adapting Cormac McCarthy's novel, bring a biblical severity to bear on a tale that already combines Western and noir elements with a mesmerizingly controlled ferocity.
This is no movie for those who prefer to zone out and watch the robots. Its precision isn't measured in pixels, but in scenes drawn so tight your breath just has to wait.
Fox Tower, Lloyd Center, Bridgeport
'One Missed Call' (PG-13)
Once again Hollywood grabs hold of a Japanese consumer-tech thriller, reworking it into something fit for American eyes and ears.
But while 'The Ring' and 'The Grudge' were faintly frightening, this tale (callers hear their own death on their cell phones) is running on the genre's withering, last legs. A more apt title: 'Low Battery.'
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Lloyd Mall, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
'P.S. I Love You' (PG-13)
Did you love 'Message in a Bottle,' 'A Walk to Remember' and 'The Notebook'? Then you'll probably cringe - not weep - during each frame of this sappy rip-off of romance master Nicholas Sparks' novels-to-movies.
Hilary Swank sheds her previous, muscular personas, playing a grieving widow who discovers letters her husband (Gerard Butler) wrote to her before he died. Sequel idea: long-lost Post-Its reminding her to clean the cat box.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Broadway, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
'The Rape of Europa' (NR)
While the recent film 'Who the (Bleep) Is Jackson Pollock?' took the art world to task for its highbrow sensitivities and highly subjective art analysis, this documentary celebrates the deeds of a number of heroic curators and art historians who rescued and tracked down great works stolen during and after World War II by the Nazis. Joan Allen ('The Bourne Ultimatum') narrates.
'The Savages' (R)
A tense and tightly written family drama featuring a pair of powerhouse acting talents: Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. They play brother and sister sparring over care for their ailing father.
Director Mark Obenhaus captures the energized antics and daredevil attitudes of some of extreme skiing's top competitors for this high-octane documentary.
* 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street' (R)
Director Tim Burton's version of the deliriously dark tale of murder and meat pies is a near-perfect piece of cinema, truncating the original three-act musical while still celebrating its essence.
It's one of the very best films of the year - and one of the very best films in Burton and Johnny Depp's respective filmographies.
Eastport, Clackamas Town Center, Pioneer Place, Lloyd Center, Division Street, Bridgeport
* 'Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story' (R)
The Judd Apatow gang gives the Hollywood biopic (especially the music-star variety currently in vogue) just what it deserves in this affectionate and often hilarious tale of the periodic risings and fallings of a hillbilly singer played to perfection by John C. Reilly.
Broadway, Lloyd Center
'The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep' (PG)
Think of every kids' movie - from 'E.T.' to 'Free Willy' - that's been about a child who finds some sort of animal and keeps it a secret from his or her parents. 'The Water Horse' is that movie all over again, only this time the animal is the Loch Ness monster.
The scenery is lovely, the computer animation is passably good, and children who haven't already seen the 8,597 previous films with this exact same plot will probably be enchanted by it.
Eastport, Broadway, Lloyd Mall, Hilltop, Division Street, Stark Street, Bridgeport
MOVIE THEATER GUIDE
7818 S.E. Stark St.
3702 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.
503-249-7474, ext. 1
7329 S.W. Bridgeport Road
1-800-326-3264, ext. 1728
1000 S.W. Broadway
1-800-326-3264, ext. 321
Century Clackamas Town Center
12000 SE 82nd Ave., Suite 3000
616 N.W. 21st Ave.
2021 S.E. Hawthorne Blvd.
11700 S.E. Seventh St.
Clinton Street Theater
2522 S.E. Clinton St.
16603 S.E. Division St.
1-800-326-3264, ext. 323
846 S.W. Park Ave.
1-800-326-3264, ext. 327
325 Beavercreek Road
1-800-326-3264, ext. 319
4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
2735 E. Burnside St.
Living Room Theaters
341 S.W. 10th Ave.
1510 N.E. Multnomah St.
1-800-326-3264, ext. 325
320 Lloyd Center Mall
1-800-326-3264, ext. 326
McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.
503-249-7474, ext. 4
1624 N.W. Glisan St.
503-249-7474, ext. 5
6712 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.
OMSI Omnimax Dome Theater
1945 S.E. Water Ave.
340 S.W. Morrison St.
1-800-326-3264, ext. 683
7229 N.E. Sandy Blvd.
St. Johns Cinema and Pub
8704 N. Lombard St.
St. Johns Dome
8203 N. Ivanhoe St.
503-249-7474, ext. 6
2929 N.E. Kane Drive
1-800-326-3264, ext. 314
9360 S.W. Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
Portland Art Museum
1219 S.W. Park Ave.