In addition to some excellent American blockbusters (Thor: Ragnarok) and indies (Lady Bird), this weekend is a fine one for international cinema, from the Cinema Italian Style festival to the Mexican documentary Brimstone and Glory. All of our critics' picks from now until Sunday are below, so get out there and enjoy movies from the world over. Follow the links below for complete showtimes and trailers, or, if you're looking for even more options, check out our complete movie times listings, and our film events calendar.
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Chavela introduces American audiences to the eponymous Chavela Vargas, a Costa Rica–born Mexican ranchera singer who rose to fame (and infamy) in the 1940s. The film documents the artist’s solitude as a semi-closeted lesbian in macho Mexico and her struggle with alcoholism, all while dazzling audiences with Vargas’s powerful and soul-crushing performances. Director Catherine Gund blends frank and funny interviews with Vargas in 1992 with evocative glimpses into the artist onstage, and also sit-downs with those who know and love her. She died in 2012. If you thought mariachi bands were the only musical export Mexico had to offer, Chavela is here to remind you how wrong you are. ANA SOFIA KNAUF
Northwest Film Forum
Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future
This is the doc for those who are always moved by images of neo-futurism (which has become retro-futurism in our late times) in American architecture. The central figure in this movement, which left nothing untouched (chairs, tables, windows, staircases, factories), is Eero Saarinen. He is famous for the TWA Flight Center at the JFK International Airport. That building looks more like a spaceship than an airplane. In fact, one would expect it, and not the planes it connects people to, to take off and fly to the thinnest parts of our atmosphere. The title of the documentary, Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future, says it all. Saarinen saw the future from the first and most prosperous period of the Golden Age of American Capitalism, which came to an end in 1972 (Saarinen died in 1961, a year before the TWA Flight Center was completed). Saarinen’s future is strange and wonderful because it is no longer our future. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
God's Own Country
A lonely young shepherd works for his hard-bitten parentsin rural Yorkshire, and God's Own Country's cinematography captures the coldness of the light on moors. When Johnny's father suffers a stroke, the family hires a young Romanian immigrant named Gheorghe to help during lambing season. Something unexpected happens: At first resentful of the intruder, Johnny develops feelings for his kind-hearted co-worker. Director Francis Lee (himself a Yorkshire native) teases out a heartfelt romance in this bleak landscape; God's Own Country, his first film, has earned comparisons to Moonlight (as well as, inevitably, Brokeback Mountain).
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Here Comes the Night: 40th Film Noir Series
As Charles Mudede says, “If you love cinema, then you must love film noir”—a category he describes as full 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.” This Thursday, the SAM is screening Pickup on South Street, a tough Cold War-era thriller about a pickpocket who accidentally steals from a Communist spy.
Seattle Art Museum
Watch a screening of Fritz Lang's 1927 silent film Metropolis, a futuristic German Expressionist masterpiece set in a dystopian 21st-century city.
Adapting a book by Brian Selznick, the story starts off in the 1970s with a young Minnesotan boy (Oakes Fegley) struggling to cope with the loss of his mother. After a freak lightning strike leaves him deaf, he runs away to New York to find his mysterious father. As clues inexorably lead him toward the gargantuan American Museum of Natural History, the movie keeps flashing back 50 years, zooming in on a hearing-impaired girl (Millicent Simmonds) with a similar tie to the landmark. Unfortunately, the backdrops often tend to overshadow the actual goings-on: Charming as the young performers are, the lengthy sequences of them traipsing through various exhibits come off as maybe a bit less entrancing than intended. Once Wonderstruck’s stories finally sync up, however, it’s possible to forgive quite a bit. Set within the Queens Museum’s astounding model of New York, Wonderstruck’s finale finds Haynes in top form, depicting loss, memories, and hope in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Sheer movie magic should never be discounted, even when it takes a while to arrive. ANDREW WRIGHT
AMC Seattle 10
Jennifer Reeder's Signature Move plays like a cross-cultural cross between Netflix's GLOW and Rose Troche's Go Fish, a key film in the New Queer Cinema movement. Zaynab (co-writer Fawzia Mirza), a Chicago lawyer of Pakistani descent, lives with her widowed mother, Parveen (Bollywood star Shabana Azmi), the only person in her orbit who doesn't know she's gay. While Zaynab spends her days practicing immigration law, learning how to wrestle like a luchador, and zipping around on her moped, Parveen, a shut-in, spends hers watching Pakistani soap operas and praying that Zaynab will meet a nice Muslim man and settles down. Instead she meets Alma (Sari Sanchez), a pretty Jewish-Latina bookstore owner. Alma is also the daughter of a former Mexican wrestler (Charin Alvarez) to whom she tells everything (it's worth noting that there are no white men in this film, and you aren't likely to miss them). Though Alma swears she isn't looking for a relationship, the two start spending all of their time together. Zaynab even introduces her to Parveen, but her refusal to come out drives a wedge between the women. If the more experienced Azmi nearly steals the spotlight from the lead actresses, Reeder finds the perfect note on which to end. KATHY FENNESSY
Northwest Film Forum
Set in 1990s Paris and focused on a French activist group modeled on ACT UP (Acte! Oope!), BPM is beautifully shot, with impressionistic and associative editing. Surreal scenes of demonstrations that incorporate fake blood and scattered pills dissolve into dialogue-less, strobing club scenes—which then bleed into shapes that slide into focus as infected immune cells, only to become flowers in the next shot. In the world of BPM, there are no good victims or virtuous doctors, no recuperation arcs or desexualized queer characters. Instead, we see complex scenes of intimacy, the whole messy group of activists arguing over whether to employ an incremental, diplomatic approach, or to just throw fake blood on political leaders who don’t take AIDS seriously. It’s not a spoiler to say that young people die of AIDS in BPM, and when they do, they aren’t romanticized or made into martyrs. Instead, their deaths are treated as the senseless, unjust fates they are. MEGAN BURBANK
AMC Seattle 10
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia is a completely insane movie, an overstuffed ensemble of dying old men and child prodigies and biblical plagues and Tom Cruise’s best performance ever. One of the greatest casts of American actors plays a bizarre assemblage of lonely people—“I really do have love to give,” former Quiz Kid Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) moans through a bloody mouth of broken teeth, “I just don’t know where to put it!”—desperately in need of a deus ex machina. And boy, do they ever get one. Magnolia isn’t always a good film, but it is an American classic. PAUL CONSTANT
Jayne Mansfield was famous during her short life for being lovely, huge-bosomed, and outrageous. This entertaining film by the creators of the documentary Room 237, about the conspiracy theories surrounding Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, takes a similar approach to Mansfield's glitzy high-camp image, dishing rumors, speculation, and wild invention. You're invited to consider whether Mansfield was a practicing devil-worshipper, whether she really had a thing with the founder of the Church of Satan, and whether she died by accident or diabolical curse.
The Swedish director Ruben Östlund is a rising star in European cinema. And judging from the buzz about his latest film, The Square, it is only a matter of time before he conquers the United States. At the center of the film is Christian (Claes Bang), the head curator of X-Royal, a huge and powerful modern art museum in Stockholm. One day, three con artists on a city street lure Christian into a clever trap and mug him. He loses his wallet and slick smartphone. Back at the office, and still in a state of shock from what happened to him in broad daylight, he locates his smartphone on the web. It is in a place that we in the US would call the projects. Encouraged by a friend, he decides to take matters into his own hands and does something that changes his life.Before the act, the art was just about names, money, and academic concepts concerning the human condition in a world that has no alternative to neoliberal capitalism. After the act, the art is directly about his life, clothes, car, job, relationships, and city. The art asks: Why is there so much poverty in a rich city? Why is it so easy to ignore beggars? Why is wealth so unfairly distributed? And if it were fairly distributed, would crime vanish? What kind of animal is the human? CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Brimstone & Glory
Tultepec, Mexico is one exciting town. More than 75% of its residents work in the pyrotechnics industry, preparing for the 10-day festival of San Juan de Dios, the patron saint of fireworks. This tribute to the death-defying artistry of an entire town offers your eyes and ears some literally awesome spectacles—multicolored explosions, life-size glowing papier-mâché bulls, and GoPro views from the heads of men climbing terrifying scaffolding.
Northwest Film Forum
The Found Footage Festival
The Found Footage Festival has dredged the internet (and elsewhere?) for propaganda from the Satanic panic era, music videos, instructional tapes, and other sources of bizarreness. If you're a fan of Something Weird, Collide-O-Scope, and other collections of inscrutable, sometimes awful, material, check it out.
Two deeply depressed Iraq War veterans, struggling to cope with thoughts of suicide and guilty memories, embark on a 2,700-mile trek from Wisconsin to California. Michael Collins's documentary follows them, inviting the audience to confront one of the hidden human costs of war.
Northwest Film Forum
I’m guessing that most people can quote at least a couple of lines from this justifiably famous film—a rare example of something you can accurately describe as iconic—without ever having seen it. Which means you sort of build the film you think it is in your mind and believe you have it sorted. That is a disservice to you and to Casablanca, a story of resistance, romance, and sacrifice that is legitimately surprising, heartbreaking, uplifting, and cathartic to behold. If you say you love movies, you really owe it to yourself to see Casablanca. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon, and for the rest of your life. SEAN NELSON
Feel thankful for all the cooked food you're going to eat on Thanksgiving by watching a screening of Julia Ducournau's horror film RAW—a very literal take of "the hungers that drive us." In this very gross but emotionally mature film, two sisters—one older and brash, the other young and naive—at the same veterinarian school cope with some unusual appetites. Guests can also enjoy 10 percent off food from the brewery.
Naked City Brewery
A Bad Moms Christmas
When I got home from A Bad Moms Christmas, my boyfriend asked me what made the moms so bad. “THEY WERE FINE,” I said, in all caps, because I was mad. “THEY’RE JUST WOMEN TRYING TO LIVE. AND ANOTHER THING...” He nodded, because he gets it. He didn’t go with me to A Bad Moms Christmas because he was at home putting our daughter to bed while I was at a movie by myself on a Monday night, because most human parents enjoy time away from their children—even if that time is mostly spent being confused about why the Bad Moms movies are in any way subversive. Also! This movie was written by men (*spits on ground*) and you can tell. Funny women with dirty mouths are a beautiful thing, and I don’t know why none were asked to liven up this awkward script. We work twice as hard for our money and this movie is what we’re supposed to spend it on? PLEASE!*
* It is important to support films starring women, so I still encourage you to see this movie, even though we deserve a lot better. ELINOR JONES
AMC Seattle 10
Battle of the Sexes
Battle of the Sexes is about the real-life tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell). It was the most-watched sporting event of its time, and revisiting it now is like two tall glasses of red wine for our abused and blackened souls. Battle of the Sexes is directed by the same husband-and-wife team behind the chirpy Little Miss Sunshine, and you can tell—it’s got the same heart and levity that make you want to cry, not from laughing too hard but because life is sad. It's fun and suspenseful, and rounded out by a delightful supporting cast, including Sarah Silverman and Alan Cummings. Basically, watching a hardworking woman beat an entitled sexist prick on an international stage is glorious, and something I want on instant replay inside my eyelids so I can close my eyes and watch it instead of whatever's actually happening in 2017. ELINOR JONES
AMC Seattle 10 & Majestic Bay
Blade of the Immortal
Takashi Miike has pinballed from genre to genre during his singular career. Blade of the Immortal, Miike’s 100th film (nope, not a typo), finds the director in something approaching traditionalist mode, using his penchant for splattery weirdness to bolster the story, rather than careen entirely off the rails. While the swordplay here isn’t as crisp as in his previous Thirteen Assassins, it more than compensates with sheer riotous excess. Critically speaking, this thing’s a hoot. Compressing Hiroaki Samura’s long-running manga series, the story follows a grumpily honorable swordsman (Takuya Kimura) rendered unkillable after being infected with sacred bloodworms. After half a century of wandering, he finds himself entrusted with helping a young girl avenge her family. Heads soon roll, along with pretty much every other conceivable body part. Blade of the Immortal’s best element proves to be its main character, whose deadpan, long-suffering demeanor gives the film its final touch of welcome absurdity. Whether fighting a woman armed with a lethal musical instrument, or facing off against what may literally be a zillion goons during the hallucinatorily gooshy finale, for him it’s still somehow just one damned thing after another. ANDREW WRIGHT
Blade Runner 2049
Director Denis Villeneuve has his work cut out for him. 2049 not only has to stay true to Ridley Scott’s circa-1982 concept of the future, but also has to deliver a future that feels plausible in 2017. The result—in large part thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins’ jaw-dropping talent—doesn’t disappoint: 2049’s future feels safer and cleaner, lacking Blade Runner’s sensuous grime (there’s not a single cloud of cigarette smoke), but its imagery is no less striking, particularly when Villeneuve and Deakins go wide with hypnotic vistas of a decaying Earth. Even if this future is less believable and tactile than Scott’s, it gets the feel right. The worst parts of 2049 are those that lean hardest on Blade Runner, but thankfully, Villeneuve & Co. are mostly content to build and expand rather than revisit and rehash. There are moments of strange and genuine creepiness; there are jarring sights that, without a single word, evoke hundreds of years of history; there’s a desolate ache that makes the future seem both beautiful and horrible. At its best, 2049 finds LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling) moving through a dreamlike, half-familiar dystopia—asking a few old-school Blade Runner questions about the nature of identity, and adding many more of his own. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Cinema Italian Style
There’s no neat way to sum up the range of style and talent at this year’s Cinema Italian Style Festival, except that it will draw from the richest veins of the country’s filmic life. For one thing, two films cast nonprofessionals in lead roles, a hallmark of the Neorealism movement of the 1940s and ‘50s. The War of the Yokels stars young first-time actors in a visceral fable about a war between rich and poor teenagers in rural Puglia. A Ciambra, the second film by Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea) and this year’s Italian Oscar submission, immerses itself in the life and community of a marginalized Roma boy. Speaking of Neorealism: If you have any doubts that filmmaking can be an expression of profound love and empathy for one’s fellow humans (and animals), see the restoration of Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D, a 1952 masterpiece about a destitute retired civil servant, his desire to die with dignity, and his bond with an adorable dog. If you’ve never been, make this your first rendezvous with Cinema Italian Style. It looks like a particularly good year, full of the humanist spirit and earnest fun that’s always abounded in the country’s art. It might be exactly what you need as the year grows dismal.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Florida Project
The real reason The Florida Project is a breakout success, and the reason everyone should see the film, is the rowdy, previously unknown seven-year-old actor Brooklynn Prince. Moonee, played by Prince, is a mischievous tyrant who spends her days terrorizing the Orlando hotel she calls home. Like director Sean Baker’s Tangerine, the characters in The Florida Project don’t want anyone’s pity. Prostitution, drugs, arson, assault—it all goes down in the Magic Castle, the purple hotel (or project) where Moonee lives. Prince—with considerable help from her costars, Baker, and screenwriter Chris Bergoch—resonates beyond the twee and cute. At the film’s climax, Prince delivers a performance that would make even the surliest curmudgeon cry. CHASE BURNS
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & AMC Seattle 10
HUMP! Film Festival
Every year we put out the call to sex-havers everywhere to submit a homegrown amateur porn film depicting whatever they're into (barring poop, kids, and animals, of course). The result is an incredibly diverse representation of human sexuality in all its straight, gay, trans, queer, kinky, funny, pissy, painful, and pretty forms. (And then it goes away, allowing the filmmakers to go back to their normal lives, thanks to the festival's strict privacy and security policies.) That diversity is also reflected in HUMP!'s audiences, making for a unique theater experience. The person sitting next to you might be seeing your everyday kind of sex for the very first time. In a world where fear and ignorance breed hatred, HUMP!'s demystifying inclusivity is on the front line of deflecting destructive alienation. (You also might surprise yourself by getting turned on by something unexpected.) And, like the best film festivals, it's also fun, thought provoking, and often hilarious. MARJORIE SKINNER
On the Boards
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Yorgos Lanthimos's morality play uses the myth of Iphigenia—who was sacrificed by her father to appease the gods—as a springboard, but it's the mythology of cinema that Lanthimos is intent on exploding as he uses sterile, slow, almost Kubrickian imagery to interrogate the story. What's happening onscreen isn't important. What's going on beneath the surface is. The lives of husband-and-wife doctors Steven (Colin Farrell) and Anna (Nicole Kidman) are all surfaces. Other than some doctor-patient sex play in the bedroom, the only thing that suggests anything other than tranquil domesticity is Steven’s unconventional relationship with a teenage boy, the nature of which is deliberately ambiguous at the film’s start but becomes painfully defined as it unfolds. Sacred Deer is, in the moment, an unpleasant experience. But as the director is careful to announce early on, this is not a film about what you see—it’s about what you realize hours, maybe days, after you’ve left the theater. Lanthimos gets under your skin and stays there. NED LANNAMANN
AMC Seattle 10 & SIFF Cinema Uptown
Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan, never better) is a teenage girl striving to find a self she can live in while stranded in moribund, lower-middle-class Sacramento, "the Midwest of California." Her efforts begin with that name, which she bestowed upon herself—Christine was too normal—and loudly demands that everyone call her at all times. The crusade also manifests in the form of hair dye, petty crime, habitual lying, sexual experimentation with unworthy boys, and musical theater. Though Lady Bird will perform for anyone, the only audience she truly wants is her exasperated, judgmental, sharp-tongued mother, Marion (Laurie Metcalf, almost certainly the greatest living actress). It's an exquisitely observed portrait of a mother and daughter so intractably at war that they can't see how close they are until it's too late. SEAN NELSON
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
We’ve already had a few fine cinematic attempts to tell the story of the brilliant yet tortured Vincent van Gogh. The one element missing was the beautiful, slightly unsettling look of Van Gogh’s groundbreaking artwork. Loving Vincent, the latest from animators Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela, is the first of these biopics to get it right. That’s because the entire film is composed of actual paintings: The international production employed more than 100 artists to paint each frame of the film on canvas, copying the thick brushstrokes and brash colors of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works. The rest of Loving Vincent doesn’t hit the same heights. Kobiela and Welchman’s script is a leaden, Citizen Kane-style attempt to investigate Van Gogh’s final days in France through the efforts of Armand (Douglas Booth), a young postman’s son attempting to deliver the artist’s final letter. It’s a well-meaning way to let us cross paths with many of the villagers whom Van Gogh painted, but it’s hampered by conspiracy theories and a lumbering pace ROBERT HAM
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Before he was the first black justice on the United States Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall was a lawyer who traveled the country as the NAACP's first attorney, defending innocent black people who had been accused of crimes they didn't commit. Marshall is about one of those early cases. In a courtroom plastered with murals of bound Native Americans, Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) defended a black man accused of raping a wealthy white woman (Kate Hudson). Marshall wasn’t allowed to speak in the courtroom; that honor fell to his white co-counsel, Sam Friedman (Josh Gad). If this case were tried today, we’d know the cards were stacked against them—but this took place in the 1940s, when schools were legally segregated and Black people were still at the back of the bus. There are a few weird things about Marshall. The first weird thing is that it’s... funny? Boseman and Gad are both great, and the smarmy DA (Dan Stevens) is deliciously hittable. The second weird thing about Marshall—which is notably less delightful than the first—is that a large part of the film focuses on proving that a woman lied about being raped. This is gross, no matter how much we're rooting for the defendant. ELINOR JONES
Ark Lodge Cinemas & Majestic Bay
Thor: Ragnarok is, finally, a legitimately great Thor movie—one that proves goofy comedy, goofier mythology, 1980s-tinged sci-fi and fantasy, and Led Zeppelin aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, all that stuff goes together like... whatever Norse gods eat instead of delicious sundaes! And the cherry on top is the Incredible Hulk! And a giant wolf! And Jeff Goldblum! Jeff Goldblum in space! Wow. This sundae analogy fell apart fast. I’m not great at sundae analogies, and to be fair, Ragnarok isn’t great at... ah... narrative cohesion. Some might quibble that Ragnarok is disjointed; I’d counter that its tone—exciting and quippy and sweet—is always dead on. For that, and for Ragnarok’s constant hilarity, we can thank Taika Waititi, the New Zealand director who, until now, has made slightly more low-key fare: Flight of the Conchords, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Like those projects, Ragnarok is as good-hearted as it is clever; as much as its characters might smash each other across garbage planets, and as godlike and monstrous as they might be, Waititi treats them like real people. ERIK HENRIKSEN