The Seattle International Film Festival starts this weekend, and our critics have picked plenty of SIFF movies worth seeing (including 28 that you absolutely can't miss), but there are also lots of options outside of the festival. See our critics' non-SIFF picks below, ranging from new releases like Alien: Covenant to limited runs like the documentary Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story to continuing runs of popular movies like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Click through the links below for complete showtimes and trailers, see our movie times page for even more options (including The Lovers, a "dispiriting parade through all of the worst parts of adulthood"), or check out our film calendar for other special events happening this weekend, like the Red Planets: The Left Turn in Science Fiction discussion.
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THURSDAY ONLYDavid Lynch: The Art Life
Learn about how David Lynch became the filmmaking icon he is today by watching this 2016 documentary that explores his artistic development and personal life. Ben Kenigsberg at The New York Times describes the film as "a fond portrait of how one man nurtured his artistic temperament and risked being misunderstood — sometimes by his own family."
SIFF Film Center
The Films of Yasujiro Ozu: An Autumn Afternoon
The films in SAM's tribute to one of the three masters of Japan's Golden Age of film, Yasujiro Ozu, are all beautiful and have at their core the quiet spirit of their times and places—mid-century, post-war Japan. The second film in the series is Late Spring, which doesn't have much action in it but presents the kind of stillness that only a highly refined sense of one's culture can achieve; and the series ends with An Autumn Afternoon, which is a little more lively and has one of the best bar scenes in the history of cinema. CHARLES MUDEDE
Seattle Art Museum
This film is a part of the Seventh Art Stand series that was organized by Richard Abramowitz, the founder of Abramorama in New York City, and Courtney Sheehan, the executive director of Northwest Film Forum. The series concerns films from countries listed in Donald Trump’s xenophobic and racist Muslim travel ban. Iraq was initially on this list, but it was removed when Trump tried to impose the ban a second time. Iraqi Odyssey is a compelling documentary that looks at the history of Iraq from the many perspectives of a family that, like seeds in the air, was blown to and planted roots in every corner of this world. The Seventh Art Stand series has received the national attention it deserves. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
Mehrdad Oskouei’s concise documentary Starless Dreams is an exploration of intergenerational poverty, addiction, and abuse told through the stories of young women incarcerated in a juvenile detention and rehabilitation facility outside of Tehran. Interviews make up the bulk of the film, including questions from the off-screen documentarian as well as a memorably playful mock interview that the girls conduct themselves. The best thing that the film does is demonstrate the unquenchable will to survive that landed these young people in a locked detention center. For many of the subjects of the documentary, a life on the streets was their only option, and they grabbed power however they possibly could (drugs, weapons, threats of violence) so that they had a chance to make it through another day. Come for a bittersweet and engrossing depiction of trauma and resilient youth. JULIA RABAN
Northwest Film Forum
Hollywood’s greatest movie about itself is a fearlessly dark-hearted psychodrama narrated by a dead man and built around one of the mind-fuckiest performances in cinema history. Gloria Swanson—a former silent movie star with limited luck transitioning to sound—stars as Norma Desmond, a former silent movie star with zero luck transitioning to sound who goes extravagantly insane, dragging a struggling young screenwriter along with her. DAVID SCHMADER
Don't confuse this title with the 1960 drama starring Sophia Loren—this Two Women, from 2014, is based on Ivan Turgenev's play A Month in the Country (a controversial, ensemble-heavy production centered on love affairs) and stars Ralph Fiennes and Sylvie Testud.
Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story
Get a glimpse behind Hollywood's slick and fickle façade in this documentary about a 60-year-married couple who worked in pre-production, contributing to the look and texture of some of the greatest films out of the studios. Harold Michelson, storyboard artist, and his researcher wife Lillian worked on such iconic movies as The Ten Commandments, The Apartment, The Birds, Full Metal Jacket, and The Graduate. Their stable relationship was considered an anomaly in notoriously flighty Tinseltown. Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola, and other admirers appear in this documentary about an entertaining partnership.
As Alien: Covenant begins, its titular ship is under repair. After completing a fix, Tennessee (Danny McBride) picks up a stray communication, and the crew follows the signal to a pristine planet—at which point the film becomes four old Alien movies happening at once. David [the robot] shows up. (Surprise!) Bodies explode. (Surprise?) And, after 20 years, everyone’s favorite fanged penis-monster triumphantly returns. The result is a film that’s much less ambitious than Prometheus, but also significantly less pretentious and stupid. Covenant aims lower but hits more frequently. Covenant’s victory is minor—after 25 years, the Alien series has finally managed to make a movie that, however slightly, is better than 1992’s Alien3. BOBBY ROBERTS
Within the pantheon of American boxing movies, from On the Waterfront to Creed, none stray too far from the template. While Chuck fits almost perfectly into said pugilist film pigeonhole, it has a light-hearted self-awareness that sets it apart from the rest. It also holds up a mirror to other boxing films because it recounts a period in the career of real-life fighter Chuck Wepner, who—according to some, including Wepner—inspired Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. The meat of the film depicts the aftermath of Wepner’s 1975 fight with Muhammad Ali. Here, Wepner, aka “The Bayonne Bleeder,” is brilliantly played by Liev Schreiber, whose thick New Jersey accent never falters, and who moves through every scene with a goofy swagger. Consequently, the tragic tone that most boxing films have never comes into play. ARIS HUNTER WALES
The Fate of the Furious
"I choose to make my own fate,” Vin Diesel growls at the start of The Fate of the Furious, the eighth chapter in the greatest family saga since William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. This is after Vin—once again playing the lumpily majestic Dominic Toretto, criminal street racer turned special-forces operative—has raced through the streets of Havana, in reverse, in a car that is on fire. If you’re one of those joyless fucks who still thinks they’re too good for the Fast and Furious movies, you are only hurting yourself. For the rest of us: The Fate of the Furious is here. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Get Out is a feature-length version of the not-quite-joking sentiment among African Americans that the suburbs, with their overwhelming whiteness and cultural homogeneity, are eerie twilight zones for Black people. Far from being a one-joke movie, however, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is both a clever, consistently funny racial satire and a horror film, one that mocks white liberal cluelessness and finds humor in—but doesn’t dismiss—Black people’s fears. ERIC D. SNIDER
Meridian 16 & Sundance Cinemas
Gifted is about a little girl, Mary, who’s being raised by her uncle, Frank, after her brilliant mother’s suicide. Bonnie is a teacher who gets a little too involved after learning that Mary is brilliant, too. Or, like, beyond brilliant. Mary rules at math. Despite the fact that Chris Evans, Jenny Slate, McKenna Grace, and her one-eyed cat are all so charming and watchable that you almost forget how much math is on-screen, Gifted is the kind of movie most people will never hear about. But some people will accidentally watch it on an airplane, or when their parents are visiting, and they’ll be pleasantly entertained for two hours. ELINOR JONES
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The music is uniformly great, the jokes are whip-smart and delightful, the action scenes are exciting CG works of art, the characters are identifiable and lovable, and BABY GROOT IS (as mentioned earlier) GODDAMN ADORABLE. While the characters of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may be mired in their feelings, at least they have them—and aren't afraid to show them. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
17 years after X-Men kick-started the superhero genre, we get something like Logan. Something that isn't just a great superhero movie, but a great movie. No disclaimers, no curve: Logan is fantastic. Make no mistake: Logan is such a superhero movie—such an X-Men movie—that at one point Logan (Hugh Jackman) flips through an X-Men comic featuring his spandexed alter ego, Wolverine. He's not impressed. "Maybe a quarter of it happened," he grumbles, "and not like this." Despite his crankiness, Logan is full of the same stuff as the yellowed pages of X-Men and Wolverine: superpowered mutants. Nefarious evildoers. A rock-solid belief that violence fixes everything. But for all Logan's nods to genre—and it's as much a western as a superhero movie—it's about bigger things, too. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The Lost City of Z
It’s easy to see, with just a few tweaks, how The Lost City of Z could have been a by-the-numbers historical biopic, and its costumes and sets are perfectly on point. But the film offers something more complicated, and as Percy and his team travel deeper into unmapped terrain, writer/director James Gray takes us into uncharted territory within Percy’s psyche. Werner Herzog’s twin documents of white man’s obsession with the jungle—Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo—are easy touchstones here, but Gray’s outlook is far more humane, and he permits his story to exist as a rip-rousing adventure for long stretches, even as it delivers much more than that. NED LANNAMANN
Meridian 16 & Sundance Cinemas
Schumer can be A Lot, bordering on Too Much, and in Snatched, she’s just as vapid and ditzy and raunchy as usual, although aside from some mild jizz humor, everything here is relatively tame. It’s a mother/daughter movie that you can take your mother to and not have to avoid eye contact after. As a fatigued human existing in 2017, I was content to enjoy a short, B-minus of a movie like Snatched. ELINOR JONES