Remember the good old Renaissance, when dogma gave way to progress, when ignorance gave way to great science and art?
Hmm, maybe not. Some might argue we’re backsliding — look no further than the delta variant and “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” — but you can enjoy a dose of real greatness by revisiting Raphael, the painter and architect who’s considered one of the three superstars of Renaissance art.
The artist’s startling blend of freshness, intimacy and historical grandeur is on display in “Raphael Revealed,” a sumptuous documentary film that screens Oct. 13 and 17 only at the Liberty Theatre in Camas. The film is among the interesting offerings at local independent theaters this month.
Raphael’s cool, balanced, refined painting style ultimately rendered him less famous and revered than his more eccentric rivals, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. But during his lifetime he was the supreme rock star of the art world, beloved by popes and boss of a thriving art workshop. Raphael couldn’t take a walk without a phalanx of his reverential students forming an honor guard around him. At the time of his death in 1520 he was considered the greatest painter who ever lived, and the whole city of Rome — the center of the Western world — mourned his passing.
“Raphael Revealed” eases viewers down the corridors of the Scuderie del Quirinale, a historic Roman art gallery, during its summer 2020 celebration of the artist on the 500th anniversary of his death. It also relates Raphael’s destined-for-greatness biography, visits extraordinary, ancient sites that inspired Raphael (like Emperor Nero’s rarely seen “Golden House”) and spends long, lingering pauses closely studying the art.
Directed by Phil Grabsky, “Raphael Revealed” comes to the Liberty as part of its Event Cinema series, which brings to the screen fine-arts features like museum exhibitions and live theater and opera performances. This winter, a run of Bolshoi Ballet screenings at the theater will keep ballet lovers on their toes.
These are dark, difficult, deadly times — and what else is new?
“How civilized this world used to be,” sums up an evil scientist near the big-bang ending of “Kiss Me Deadly,” the latest installment in the Kiggins Theatre’s film noir series. It screens Oct. 11 only.
Film noir, a style generated by all the anxieties of modern life from urban alienation to gangsters with machine guns to atomic war, started growing in the 1930s and reached its peak in the postwar 1950s. Some say it never got more anxious and brutal (and toxically macho) than this 1955 study of expanding paranoia, which was based on a Mickey Spillane novel and directed by Robert Aldrich. It stars Ralph Meeker as ultra-tough private dick Mike Hammer and the young Cloris Leachman in her first important movie role: a hitchhiker on the run from a mental institution.
Hammer picks her up, gets embroiled in mysterious and highly screamworthy complications (there’s a lot of screaming in this film) and ends up in hot pursuit of a looming but ambiguous doomsday threat only known as “the great whatsit.”
“Does it exist? Who cares,” says Hammer’s girlfriend, Velda (Maxine Cooper). “Everyone everywhere is so involved in the fruitless search — for what?”
Hardcore anxiety fans will flock to “Lamb,” a subtitled Icelandic folk-horror film whose insane B-movie premise is swaddled like a snuggly demon baby inside layer upon layer of tense, cold, creepy atmosphere. Equal parts domestic drama and Nordic myth, “Lamb” is so cunningly directed (by Valdimar Jóhannsson) and sincerely acted (by Noomi Rapace, plus many supporting dogs, horses and sheep) that, by the time big reveals start arriving, there’s no more disbelieving the unbelievable.
In a wickedly fun choice of music, the trailer for “Lamb” features the Beach Boys’ supremely sunny “God Only Knows” what I’d be without, well, ewe.
Had enough of fear and anxiety? Try sheer silliness for Halloween.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” that ridiculously amiable, hummable, burlesque-style spoof of bad sci-fi movies, gets two screamings — er, screenings — at the Kiggins. Tim Curry plays a mad scientist in fishnet stockings to thoroughly steal the show from a young Susan Sarandon and Meat Loaf in this 1975 rock musical. The Oct. 23 and 31 screenings will be accompanied by the live shadowcast of the Denton Delinquents, a group of Portland superfans who can’t help dressing up and acting out.
Somewhere between scary and silly you’ll find “Campfire Tales: Monster from the Couve Lagoon,” the latest installment in the Clark County Historical Museum’s History on Tap lecture series. Museum executive director Brad Richardson will swap spooky stories about local places and people — and ghosts — with authors Pat Jollota and Jeff Davis. That’s set for Oct. 21 at the Kiggins.
Music films are reliable ticket sellers, so both the Liberty and the Kiggins are screening special October releases that should intrigue classic rock completists.
“Tom Petty: If You Feel Free,” a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Petty’s beloved 1994 “Wildflowers” album, screens Oct. 20 (the late Petty’s birthday) at the Kiggins and Oct. 20 and 21 at the Liberty. “The Doors: Live at the Bowl ’68: Special Edition,” a concert film that renders larger-than-life Jim Morrison even more monstrous than before, screens at both cinemas Nov. 4 only.
Look out below
Remember what winter used to be? If it never really gets cold and snowy enough for you in this temperate and warming part of the world, try the downhill slopefest “Warren Miller: Winter Starts Now,” opening Oct. 28 at Kiggins.
The late Miller was a young man when he merged his hobbies — skiing and photography — through a Super 8 camera he took with him on the trails. He was surprised when people got excited about his films and invited him to present and narrate them. Miller wound up producing hundreds of skiing films, and his company continues to crank them out.
In the latest, you’ll meet some of today’s premiere downhill skiers and snowboarders of all ages and differing abilities, and accompany them via drone and GoPro as they take on the most beautiful, slanted, snowy scenery on film.