See a list of all film events in Seattle this summer on our Things To Do calendar.
THROUGH JUNE 12
America's biggest film festival has hundreds of movies and special events, including documentaries, foreign films, short film collections, feature presentations, and lectures with special guests. During the 25 days of the 42nd annual festival, which started May 19, there are screenings of 279 films, 71 of which are Stranger recommended. In the last week of the festival, don't miss Awaiting and The General.
Melodrama: Imitation of Life
At the end of what has to be the most curious film Hollywood ever made about the race problem, Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life (1959), the gospel legend Mahalia Jackson appears and sings "Trouble in the World." This is during a superfancy funeral that's been paid for by the poor person heading to the grave. And then the most amazingly cheesy thing happens. It's so cheesy that it's amazing. It's so cheesy that it just might make you cry. "Soon, we will be done, trouble in the world..." CM
My unrepentant Darwinism is the reason that the one horror film I really, really love and watch over and over is Alien. The economic realism of Alien (the workers worried about contracts, better pay, bonuses, and so on) is matched by the biological realism of the alien (the perfect organism). In fact, the first part of the movie is essentially Marx in space, and the second part of the movie is Darwin in space. CM
Free State of Jones
An action-drama inspired by the life of Newton Knight, who founded the Knight Company, a rebellious group of Confederate deserters who attempted to form a haven safe from civil unrest: the "Free State of Jones."
Independence Day: Resurgence
A sequel to 1996 science fiction thriller Independence Day, this new edition of "massive alien attack" features stars, including Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman reprising their original roles, as well as new faces from Liam Hemsworth to Maika Monroe.
I grow old; I grow old. I have lived long enough to be in the year that will release a remake of a film I saw back in 1984. That's a long time ago! And, if nothing kills me between now and the opening of the remake this summer, I will be back in the theater, back in the weird world that has a team of women (they used to be men) who are to the paranormal what dogcatchers are to the normal. I also can't wait to see the great black comedian Leslie Jones, who has been the star of the trailers. CM
Are you the type of barren, childless adult who feels weird going to Pixar movies by yourself? Well... maybe you should. BUT! I strongly advise you to put those feelings aside (or rent a kid from your neighbors or the Duggar family) and see Inside Out, Pixar's latest kids' movie that's actually for adults. If you have a 10- or 11-year-old, take 'em. They'll easily recognize themselves in Riley and spend the last reel of the film sobbing uncontrollably. But rest assured, that mist will definitely find its way into adult eyes as well, in between waves of thoughtfulness, laughter, and recognition. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Force Awakens does not offer much of a new story but simply and brilliantly retells much of the old one. It's also very faithful to the images, the technologies, the economy, and the wardrobe of the founding films in the Star Wars series. Indeed, the more you know about the first three films, the more pleasure you will get out of The Force Awakens. And maybe calling it a remix is not a strong enough expression—maybe we should call it a dub, in the Jamaican reggae sense. A remix essentially makes improvements on the past; a dub makes a ghost out of the past. And there are lots of ghostly elements in The Force Awakens. There are the ghosts of the old characters, the theology, the interstellar robot market—and, most brilliantly, the ghosts of the Star Destroyers that crashed on the desert planet. CM
If you love cinema, then you must love film noir. And if you love film noir, then you must love the Noir City festival, which comes to Seattle this week and will feature a number of known and less known movies in this genre that has lots of spiderlike women, lots of long knives, lots of rooms with dark curtains, lots of faces of the fallen, and lots of existential twists and turns. CM
Microbe & Gasoline
Michel Gondry, the director of one the previous decade's defining films, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, has been consistently (or successively) hit or miss. The We and the I (2012), for example, goes in the hit category. Microbe and Gasoline, Gondry's latest, falls into the miss one. The film is gorgeous but its story is so vapid, even with all of its dashes and splashes of magical realism (or pop surrealism). But in the way Gondry's successes are always interesting hits, his misses are always interesting failures, and so worth watching. CM
Pee-Wee's Big Adventure
So many '80s movies don't hold up on further investigation, but Pee-wee's Big Adventure improves with each passing year. Somehow, Paul Reubens made a perfect road movie composed entirely of quotable, memorable moments. You can study this movie, monklike, for decades and find new moments of sublime beauty every time. PAUL CONSTANT
I only want to say this: If this superhero film flops, then the career of one of its stars, a certain Will Smith, will permanently enter that sad zone we find Kevin Costner trapped in. This is the slump sans end. And what we find here is that the roles don't stop coming, but the hits do. CM
Mad Max: Fury Road
If there has ever been a more astonishing display of a filmmaker's prowess with kinetic action sequences than this late-career Gesamtkunstwerk by George Miller, I haven't seen it. And neither have you, because there isn't one. The Mad Max reboot is a staggering, stunning, sweeping, astonishing, literally breathtaking exercise in the defiance of physics. It moves so fast, and for such sustained periods, that "visionary" isn't really the word. ("Glimpsarian"?) Regardless, you've never seen anything remotely like it. SEAN NELSON
Singin' in the Rain
You haven't seen a movie musical until you've seen Singin' in the Rain; it's so full of huge production numbers, catchy songs, and fancy dance steps that it makes Chicago look like Lady in the Water. Ostensibly about the troubled times when Hollywood changed from silent movies to talkies, Singin' in the Rain is a chance for Gene Kelly, probably the Most Talented Human Being on Earth at the time, to show off. PAUL CONSTANT
Zootopia may ostensibly be an animated buddy-cop flick with a few winks to Chinatown, but it's also chock-full of smart, incisive observations on race and gender, as well as front-loaded with tons of laughs and heart. Disney is doing better. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
This science fiction/comedy film from 1999 follows the on-screen antics of tired science fiction stars as they're mistaken by aliens for the real thing.