About Band Aid, playing on Sunday and Monday (and featuring Fred Armisen), Sean Nelson writes, "It’s strange the way movies can make you like people who would annoy you in life."

The Seattle International Film Festival is now bearing down on its second weekend. See our complete SIFF guide for showtimes, trailers, and ticket links for each of the 400 films playing at the festival, as well as critics' picks and reviews. You can also find a short list of can't-miss films during the full festival here, but if you're just looking for the best movies to see this weekend, you're in the right place. Whether you're in the mood for the bloodsucker romance-comedy Vampire Cleanup Department, the surrealist genius of Alejandro Jodorowski's Endless Poetry, or a fascinating documentary about a Chinese woman who's not often mentioned in film history books (Finding KUKAN), we've got you covered. For non-SIFF options, check out our complete movie times calendar.


Jump to: Friday Only | Friday-Saturday | Saturday Only | Saturday-Sunday | Sunday Only | Sunday-Monday | Monday Only


FRIDAY ONLY
Chronicles of Hari
Hari is a member of a Yakshagana theater troupe, traveling around to small towns performing traditional stories from dusk to dawn. Hari is popular for his skill at playing female characters. But Hari seems less and less inclined to return to his male self: “I can’t play one self at night and another during the day.” He faces the attitudes that plague many gender-nonconforming people: Why can’t he just try to fit in? Be what they are comfortable with? But he can’t. The ideas the film looks at are interesting, but the story is slowed by lots of pouty musing. It is beautifully shot in rural India, and the performance scenes with the elaborate makeup and costumes are neat. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Gholam
Gholam is an Iranian living in a gritty part of London. He has two jobs, driving a cab and working in a garage, which offers little time for sleep. There is a group of people trying to recruit him to do something, but what it is isn’t clear. And he seems to be biding his time for something else. The whole situation is vague: Who is he? What happened to him in the past? Why has he left home? What does he want? Shahab Hosseini (star of the Oscar-winning The Salesman) has an engaging presence, and the film has a meditative quality that carries it along nicely. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

Handsome Devil
A self-conscious teenage rebel (Fionn O’Shea) finds his views on male bonding shifting after his latest boarding school forces him to room with a handsome rugby star (Nicholas Galitzine). Director John Butler’s film keeps the life lessons mostly buried, concentrating instead on sheer breezy entertainment. Lots of fun throughout, featuring realistically witty dialogue, some very appealing give-and-take between the two leads, and a downright terrific supporting turn by Andrew Scott, as a teacher who sometimes seems wary of his own awesomeness. Blatant crowd-pleasing isn’t a bad thing when it works. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Inversion
When pollution forces an elderly matriarch to move out of the city of Tehran, her squabbling family must decide who will leave their life behind and accompany her. After drawing the short straw, the youngest, unmarried daughter (Sahar Dolatshahi) begins to question if she ever had a choice in the matter. The premise sure sounds like a downer, but director Behnam Behzadi’s exploration of female liberation thankfully stays lively, even amid the omnipresent smog. Both provocative and pleasingly subtle, particularly during the warm moments between the lead character and her atypically supportive niece. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

The Smuggler and Her Charges
A story of one of the 50,000 “hidden children” who survived the Holocaust turns more complicated than you expect in its second act. Told by the son of its subject, the documentary is part personal narrative and part historical investigation as the filmmaker, Michaël Prazan, discovers that the story his father always told him about the woman who smuggled him into the safe zone wasn’t as simple as he believed and that the woman—“the smuggler”—paid a price for her bravery he’d never known. If you’re sick of every Twitter account and corporation branding itself as part of “The Resistance,” watch this for a powerful reminder of what fighting tyranny really means. (HEIDI GROOVER)
Pacific Place

Vampire Cleanup Department
Super campy, Vampire Cleanup Department proudly wears its B-movie status on its sleeve. Kung fu fighting with brooms, gory vampires, and cheesy special effects abound in this vampire romance. The story centers on the coming of age of a young, naive man Tim Cheung (Babyjohn Choi), as he learns to become a vampire slayer. His ragtag army includes his grumpy uncle, Chau (Chin Siu-ho), who becomes his sifu, but the central narrative is his budding romance with a rare “human vampire” that he meets and keeps hidden in his apartment. Her name is Summer (Lin Min-chen). Of course, she is pretty and sweet, and he can’t bring himself to kill her, so he teaches her how to eat and walk and smile. Not groundbreaking stuff, but sweet and light and a way to forget Trump for a few hours. (TRICIA ROMANO)
Pacific Place

FRIDAY-SATURDAY
*Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
Catherine Bainbridge’s important documentary traces the impact that Native American musicians have made on blues, rock, jazz, hiphop, and heavy metal. Using Link Wray’s menacing 1958 instrumental “Rumble” as its anchor (akin to Do the Right Thing’s use of Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”), Bainbridge relates stories of several influential, distinctive performers, including the Band’s Robbie Robertson, activist folkie Buffy Sainte-Marie, Mildred Bailey, Charley Patton, and a cat named Jimi Hendrix. Rumble asserts the primacy and resiliency of Native culture despite the government’s concerted efforts to suppress and erase it. (DAVE SEGAL)
Paramount Theatre & SIFF Cinema Uptown

SATURDAY ONLY
*The Fixer
Radu (Tudor Istodor), the wiry Romanian at the heart of this sly procedural, is always on the move. Rumpled and unshaven, the trainee photojournalist zips from assignment to assignment. When he isn’t working, he’s berating his girlfriend’s son for his swimming technique. He expects everyone to work as hard as he does. As a fixer, he assists a crew of French journalists in investigating a sex-trafficking ring, where his impatience meets its match in tough nuns and traumatized victims. Director Adrian Sitaru avoids moralizing as he depicts Radu’s dawning realization that there are things in life more important than winning. (KATHY FENNESSY)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Hedi
Hedi is a car salesman, but people aren’t buying because of political instability. He is getting married, so he has to give up his bachelor pad in Tunis and move back into his bossy mother’s house. He is a pallid, limp sort of person: dispassionate about work, marriage, everything. On a business trip, he meets a new woman. They have fun together, talk about their dreams, and are physically affectionate. He is a different person when he is with her, able to break free from the strict societal expectations. Which brings us to the conundrum: Will he choose responsibility and family duty, or will he chuck it all for a life of freedom and uncertainty? (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
Shoreline Community College

Quit Staring at My Plate
Marijana is a serious person; her life has been buttoned-up under her very strict, controlling father. She lives in a small apartment with her family, gives her paychecks to her family, and hangs out with her family. When her dad has a stroke and becomes incapacitated, Marijana starts experimenting with new things: friends, going out, drinking, men. It seems she can’t decide if she wants to be responsible or go completely off the rails. Mia Petricevic, who plays Marijana, has a great face, and the film gives an interesting look at life in Croatia. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
Pacific Place

*Wùlu
In 2007 Mali, an honest prantiké (bus driver), Ladji, is disheartened by his lack of prospects in the driving business and breaks into drug trafficking. In this new criminal world in which Al-Qaeda drug lords reign, life is expendable. The protagonist quickly ascends in wealth and status at the expense of life as he once knew it. While others benefit from his sacrifices, the ghosts of his past come to haunt him. Cinematically, Wùlu offers a Malian aesthetic, beautiful in its realness. Politically, the film reveals the sinister undercurrents that led up to Mali’s devastating 2012 coup d’état unraveling. (KAIA CHESSEN)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

SATURDAY-SUNDAY
*A Date for Mad Mary
The titular character, Mary, played by Seána Kerslake, reminiscent of an Irish, redheaded Scarlett Johansson, is indeed mad. Mad at the world, mad at her family, mad at her best friend, Char, who is getting married. Mary has been sprung from prison for an assault, has a bad rep around town, and gets drunk and thrown out of clubs in her small Irish town, Drogheda, located near Dublin, on the regular. Ostensibly, much of the movie is built around Mary trying in vain to find a date for the wedding. Her high-school best friend has become a bridezilla—a snobby perfectionist trying to shed her lower-class roots—and she clearly merely tolerates Mary and needs Mary’s date to be “acceptable.” But the usual rom-com plot unfurls to reveal something more touching and nuanced—as well as an unexpected love story. (TRICIA ROMANO)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & Shoreline Community College

Finding KUKAN
Living in a world that historically erased contributions and innovations of women and people of color, it’s no surprise that Li Ling-Ai isn’t often mentioned in film history books. In this fascinating documentary, filmmaker Robin Lung tries to give Li the credit she deserves: the female producer of KUKAN, the documentary that revealed the horrors of World War II China to US audiences. Finding KUKAN tracks Lung’s nearly decade-long search for the last existing copies of KUKAN and her struggle to learn the legacy of one of documentary filmmaking’s unsung heroes. It’s worth suffering through the overwrought transitional scenes. (ANA SOFIA KNAUF)
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Pacific Place

*The Hero
Lee (Sam Elliott) has cancer, he smokes a lot of weed, he is divorced from his wife and has been neglectful of his adult daughter, and his successful acting career is in the past. This is an intense, quiet movie about a man possibly facing his death and evaluating his life. There are some nice moments of levity provided by a drug-dealing friend (played by Nick Offerman). Sam Elliott is wonderful, and so are his eyebrows and mustache. (But a small—okay, big—quibble: Why can men in movies not date women within their own age range?) We root for Lee’s revitalization even as he questions whether it is worth it to try to buy more time. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & Pacific Place
The screening on Saturday is part of "An Afternoon with Sam Elliott," which will include an interview and Q&A.

SUNDAY ONLY
Anishoara
It’s hard not to be charmed by Anishoara’s old-world, quiet beauty. It begins with an adorable elderly man speaking directly into the camera, telling a mythological tale of a woman’s longing. The cinematography of the Eastern European countryside is gorgeous, and while it’s set in current times, it feels like a decades-old time capsule. The old people sing folk songs from a distant era; the young people load watermelons into a truck with joyful camaraderie. There is little speaking, instead using lingering shots of the characters’ faces to tell the story of a beautiful young woman’s coming of age. (TRACIE LOUCK)
Shoreline Community College

Godspeed
A washed-up taxi driver picks up a pudgy young drug runner who is headed towards the southern tip of Taiwan. Along the way, the pair develops a buddy-movie kinship, nearly dying several times and at one point getting extorted at a funeral. They stumble from one dangerously violent situation to the next. Taiwanese director Chung Mong-hong’s fourth feature film, Godspeed, is a darkly hilarious meditation on the meaning of friendship in the face of the absurd. Hong Kong acting legend Michael Hui shines as the taxi driver, who spends a considerable portion of the film talking his passenger’s ear off on his search for meaning and finding ways to jack up his fare. (STEVEN HSIEH)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

Rocketmen
This locally produced serial by Stranger Genius Award winner Webster Crowell has been in the works for a few years, and it shows. Handcrafted animation and excellent comedy (courtesy of a retinue of Seattle’s finest stage and screen actors, including Alycia Delmore, Basil Harris, Evan Mosher, Christopher Dietz, Sara Coates, and about 923 others) combine with unmistakable narrative ambition. One unforeseen side note: Seattle has already visibly changed in the time since Rocketmen was shot, making its retrofuturist aesthetic all the more meaningful. (SEAN NELSON)
Shoreline Community College

What Lies Upstream
An exploration of the increasingly toxic levels of ick in the drinking waters of West Virginia, as well as the scary repercussions for the rest of the country. If that description and the horror-ish title didn’t already worry you enough, be advised: Trump’s tweets make an appearance. Director Cullen Hoback may follow the standard Michael Moore playbook a little too closely—remember when documentary filmmakers mainly stayed behind the camera?—but the levels of malfeasance that he uncovers are genuinely impressive. Both enraging and informative, with more than a few satisfying moments of politicians squirmingly hoisted with their own petard. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

SUNDAY-MONDAY
Angry Inuk
“I’m watching a documentary about seal hunting,” I said, and everyone gasped. Afterward, I knew my own ignorance and was ready to put in an order for a seal-skin coat made on Baffin Island. Watch Angry Inuk for an insider ethnographic exploration, a demonstration that environmental marketing campaigns are damn effective, and a question to consider about the value of human life versus the value of (in this case, nonendangered) animals. For a local example, think spotted owls. One difference is that hunting in this Inuit community—not just for food, but for money—is infinitely more moral and sustainable than most jobs. (JULIA RABAN)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Band Aid
It’s strange the way movies can make you like people who would annoy you in life. The married couple at the center of this surprisingly affecting and well-modulated feelings comedy are archetypal white millennial trash: a failed writer/Uber driver and a half-assed graphic designer who live on the east side of LA, smoke tons of weed, can’t/won’t fuck each other, and generally feel mordantly disaffected from their ever-more-successful contemporaries. Then Anna (writer-director Zoe Lister-Jones) has the idea of forming a band and transforming their recurring arguments into songs. It’s a thin premise that goes a long way because the songs are pretty good and the performers are game and credible. Midway through, you look up and realize you weirdly care about these people because they’re funny, and suffering is relative, and empathy exists in the world. Fred Armisen is very good as the band’s weirdo neighbor-drummer. (SEAN NELSON)
Pacific Place & SIFF Cinema Uptown

MONDAY ONLY
Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall
The dancer, YouTube sensation, and RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Todrick Hall was heading out on tour to meet his fans when he decided to write an all-new stage show called Straight Outta Oz. Because most of his fans knew him through YouTube, and because he wanted his fans to know the material when they got to his shows, Hall had just two weeks to make and distribute 16 elaborate new music videos. This documentary charts the breakneck pace of his creative output and the story of Hall’s life, from growing up black and gay in a religious family in Texas to his star turn on Broadway. Essential to his success: a loving mom who drove him to dance classes an hour and a half each way, six days a week, when he was little. (CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

By the Time It Gets Dark
A neophyte filmmaker interviews an older woman about a legendary Thai student uprising, which then somehow segues into digressions on the nature of performance, a brief how-to about tobacco harvesting, and lots of cool shots of mushrooms. It makes more sense when you’re watching it. Honest. There’s a lot to unpack, certainly, but writer/director Anocha Suwichakornpong’s WTF tone poem of a film casts a bewitching spell, even/especially as it periodically reinvents itself. Intriguing and severely beautiful throughout, even during those moments when it seems like logic has taken a flyer. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

*Endless Poetry
With this autobiographical film, Alejandro Jodorowsky, the surrealist genius behind El Topo and The Holy Mountain, has created the most accurate portrayal of a poet’s life in cinema history. When young Alejandro discovers a book of Federico García Lorca’s, he escapes his family’s house, becomes a poet, moves into a weird artist co-op, and only physically ages after having major life experiences. Every non-artist in Santiago de Chile, where the action takes place, is either a sleeping drone or a murderous pervert. Life in this world seems impossibly lonely until he meets a pink-haired woman warrior who kicks and spits at everyone she encounters. Equal parts goofy and gorgeous, plus violent and theatrical. Very magnifico. Highly recommended. (RICH SMITH)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Glory
A Bulgarian railway worker finds a bunch of loose cash on the tracks and attempts to do the honorable thing by reporting it to the authorities. Sensing an opportunity for positive coverage, the local engines of bureaucracy quickly switch on the nitro. An absolutely wicked satire, made more potent by small, sharp character beats throughout. (The central figure’s obsession with his antique watch is definitely not a stray detail.) Both mordantly funny and savage, with a final sting that seals the deal. Keep listening during the end credits for maximum squirmy effect. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Pacific Place

Kakehashi: A Portrait of Chef Nobuo Fukuda
Think of it as Jiro dreams of something entirely new: a story of a Japanese chef completely devoted to his craft of cuisine, but instead of the familiar sushi, this documentary follows chef Nobuo Fukuda as he works to bridge (the literal translation of the title) Japanese and American cuisine. While his journey from strict, traditional Japanese culture to freewheeling ski patroller and on to award-winning chef is the focus of the plot, the film’s real draw is watching Fukuda put together his complex, unique five-course meal at his Arizona restaurant. (NAOMI TOMKY)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

A Life in Waves
Suzanne Ciani is a unique figure in electronic music: She straddled the worlds of highbrow experimentation and high-pressure advertising (Coke, Atari) with astounding aesthetic and commercial success when few women broke through in either field. Brett Whitcomb and Bradford Thomason’s documentary opens with the synth wizard demonstrating her gear on David Letterman’s TV show circa 1980. “Do the one where it sounds like the whole studio’s going to explode,” the host prods, and whoa, she does. The rest of the film evocatively reveals Ciani’s artistic and personal triumphs and struggles. “I wanted technology to be sensual,” Ciani says, and she’s manifested that ideal sublimely for 50 years. (DAVE SEGAL)
Lincoln Square Cinemas

*Pow Wow
Fourteen brief chapters about the life and times of selected residents of the Coachella Valley, ranging from history-minded lifers to recently retired transplants. (Also, Shecky Greene!) The latest from Robinson Devor (Police Beat, Zoo) is gratifyingly, absorbingly odd, stocked with a cast of real characters who are all effortlessly off-kilter. (“What would my life be like if I died?” is just one of the wobbly, near-gnostic sayings on display.) Hypnotic viewing, with an eerily majestic use of drone shots and the goddamndest helicopter you’ll ever see. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Pacific Place

This Is Our Land
This Is Our Land is about a sweet, simple French nurse named Pauline. With a little nudging, she becomes convinced to run for mayor under the wing of a political leader that in both looks and politics imitates Marine Le Pen. The politicians/manipulators are “centrists” who “care about the French people.” At first, Pauline claims to be left-wing, but smiles her way through hateful conversations. The paranoid self-interest that defines her new party is easy to swallow because Arab groceries have stayed open while her favorite shops have closed. Director Lucas Belvaux captures the fear that sustains far-right politics, the way conservatives feel “persecuted,” the transformative effects of power, and how populist movements can embolden milquetoast people to the point of vocal bigotry. But the dramatic violence mutes the effects of policy. Hatred can snowball into bloody terror, but politicians don’t need skinheads with clubs to destroy lives. (JULIA RABAN)
Shoreline Community College