This weekend, you've got plenty of romantic choices to feed your cinema habit, from Moonstruck to Call Me By Your Name. There are also Oscar shorts (animated and live-action), The Cage Fighter, and many other filmically fascinating releases and classes. Follow the links for complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers for all of our critics' favorites, or, if you're looking for even more options, check out our complete movie times listings or our film events calendar.
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In Jonas Carpignano (Mediterranea)'s drama, a 14 year-old boy named Pio Amato lives by the example of his rebellious older brother, Cosimo, in their small Roma community in Calabria. But when Cosimo disappears, Pio is forced to make an unexpected adult decision that tests how ready he is to grow up. This film, like some of the greatest in the Italian tradition, uses nonprofessional actors in a story about the hardship and drama of ordinary life.
SIFF Film Center
Los Sures, Stations of the Elevated, and Dark Days
There is broken glass everywhere, people pissing in the alleys, junkies in the backyard, and no white people who are not cops. This is Williamsburg before it became the Williamsburg of today—a place that has been cleaned up by the borrowed capital of developers and transformed by forms of consumption that define middle- and upper-class white Americans. In 1984, gentrification has hit only Manhattan, and Brooklyn is still its own planet, still a place populated by poor people of color. We see them stealing cars, running chop shops, smoking dope, dancing in the street to Latin grooves, shopping with food stamps, eating Wonder Bread, worrying about their teenage daughters, looking for work, going to church and watching spiritual possessions. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
In Vazante, a pre-teen in Brazil is taken in marriage by a slave trader, her dead aunt's widower. Isolated but free-spirited, Beatriz is drawn to the house slaves, especially young Virgílio, who may be the slave trader's illegitimate child. But these tenuous connections may be doomed from the start. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times praised director Daniela Thomas for the "bracing lack of vanity in how she conveys this long-lost world and not an iota of misplaced nostalgia."
Winter Light: The Films of Ingmar Bergman
Charles Mudede says, "You can almost live forever on a diet of just films of the great Swedish director Ingmar Bergman." This week's film is the tragicomically sinister The Magician.
Seattle Art Museum
Children's Film Festival Seattle
The Children's Film Festival is founded on two premises: 1) Children are not stupid and 2) they deserve beautiful world cinema just like us grown-ups with underused film degrees. The organizers at Northwest Film Forum believe that art can do heavy lifting for "racial equity and diversity, inclusivity, social justice, [and] global awareness" through brilliant storytelling and lovely sound and imagery. For this year's theme, "Dream the Future," the festival reaches across the globe (Bamse and the Witch's Daughter from Sweden, 5 Rupees from India, Hero Steps from Colombia) and revives masterpieces of the past (Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, Karel Zeman's Invention for Destruction), in a splendid mix of live action and animation. There are also shorts programs, film workshops for your baby Bergmans, and even a pancake breakfast. Don't have a tadpole to bring to the movies? Go anyway. The films are age-appropriate, but they don't talk down to kids and they won't talk down to you. JOULE ZELMAN
David Lynch: From 'The Alphabet' to 'Eraserhead'
If you were baffled and fascinated by Twin Peaks: The Return last year, you know that David Lynch evokes images of glamorous people in nightmarish, surreal labyrinths. This screening will take you back to the renowned Canadian filmmaker's early years, with his short animated work "The Alphabet" and the distressing black-and-white freakfest Eraserhead.
Seattle Art Museum
I Am Not Your Negro
An ingeniously constructed documentary about one of the 20th century’s greatest, and more conflicted, artist/polemicists, this film is built from the proposal for Remember This House, the book James Baldwin never finished. As Samuel Jackson’s voice-over mingles with archival footage of Baldwin laying waste to his intellectual opposition on TV—and by the way, let’s pause for a moment to consider a time when a figure as radically attuned, and as volcanically erudite, and as sexually nonconforming as James Baldwin could have appeared regularly on network television—director Raoul Peck conveys the sense of a writer who has come to understand an idea that is bigger than he has the mortal strength to convey, which would almost make the film a tragedy within the context of the larger systemic tragedy its subject yearned to articulate. But even a glimpse of Baldwin’s prose is such a feast for mind, body, and soul that a film like I Am Not Your Negro can only be received with joy, humility, and deepest admiration. SEAN NELSON
New Freeway Hall
2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Live Action and 2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films: Animated
If you aren’t going to see both programs, don’t miss the live-action films, which are suspenseful and deeply tragic. Reed Van Dyk’s DeKalb Elementary—set in an elementary school office during a hostage crisis—is bone-shaking in its empathy and realism. The tension that emerges between a substitute receptionist (Tara Riggs) and a mentally unstable young man (Bo Mitchell) simultaneously asks relevant societal questions and showcases the talents of both actors. Another standout is My Nephew Emmett, Kevin Wilson Jr.’s film about the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Told from the perspective of Till’s uncle, Mose Wright (L.B. Williams), My Nephew Emmett explores the weighty silence of a good man living in Mississippi under Jim Crow laws. Wilson spools the audience’s affection around Mose, then breaks him down before our eyes. In that heartbreak, the film offers an important lesson: We need to remember our past, and continue fighting for a better future. SUZETTE SMITH
AMC Seattle 10 & SIFF Cinema Uptown
Ethan Hawke plays Jesse; Julie Delpy plays Celine—together they are perhaps the most honestly romantic couple you will ever see on screen. Their meeting alone is perfectly casual: On a train to Vienna, Jesse, an American on the last leg of his journeys, strikes up a conversation with the very French Celine. That's it; they don't meet cute and there's no improbable banter—they just chat and joke and lightly confess to each other. What's great about these early moments, and what immediately elevates Before Sunrise far above your standard romance fare, is how ordinary it all seems. This is one of those rare fantasies that most of us can believe in, perhaps one we've even lived through ourselves. Not only does Jesse and Celine's conversation flow splendidly, they also feel true as characters. She's reading Georges Bataille's My Mother and he feigns like he knows it; leading her to the lounge car, he gives the door a macho punch to open it, then puffs his chest out as he lets her pass. This is how most guys would act when presented with such a situation. We can't help it. BRADLEY STEINBACHER
This documentary made big waves at SIFF 2017. It’s about the death of a mall (or shopping center) and the life of one of its occupants, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor. She is a tailor, she has lots of stories to share, she is served an eviction notice. Her space is small and packed with clothes and memories. Big Sonia is clearly the kind of documentary that goes for your soul. Sonia has a vivid memory of the murders at the death camps; she can recall how her mother was killed in a gas chamber. This is life. It can endure the horror, the horror. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
From May 26 to June 4, 1940, the evacuation of Allied troops from the French port of Dunkirk and its surrounding beaches, known as Operation Dynamo, was a hugely important event in the history of World War II. After the war was over, the survivors of Dunkirk would almost all liken it to Hell. It was Hell on earth, a living Hell. The question is this: How do you present Hell on earth, Hell in the air, and Hell at sea on celluloid? For Christopher Nolan, much of the answer is do it in ultra-high-definition 70 mm IMAX film and show it in IMAX cinemas. Dunkirk is meant to be a nonstop 114 minutes of unalleviated spectacle, a massive collage of beautifully composed pictures, each one lasting for only a few seconds, of gunfire, flames, drowned corpses, exploding bombs, aerial dogfights with numerous plane crashes, and more, much more. Dunkirk shows a world full of terror, but Nolan goes to great lengths to ensure that his audience is never terrified. We sit in our seats munching popcorn and watch other people undergoing terrifying experiences. JONATHAN RABAN
AMC Seattle 10
Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult begins with an accident: a drainpipe leaks dirty water from the balcony of Tony Hanna (Adel Karam) and splashes Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamel El Basha), the foreman of a construction company. It’s the kind of feud that could be easily resolved, if these were different men living in a different city at a different time. But they’re not: Tony is a Lebanese Christian who owns his own garage and watches fiery rallies on TV while he works. Yasser is an older Palestinian immigrant who used to be a civil engineer, but now, as a refugee, can only get hired for construction jobs. The setting is modern-day Beirut, still feeling the reverberations of the Lebanese Civil War that ended almost 30 years earlier. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the conflict, it’s recognizable: Two people are conditioned to hate each other, which allows a misunderstanding to snowball out of control. Things get ugly real fast—soon, the whole country is watching their fight play out in a courtroom. The Insult works best when Doueiri spends time examining the root system of hate. His characters are presented with hard questions: Is truth ever objective? Is it possible to separate the personal from the political? CIARA DOLAN
“A bride without a head!” “A WOLF WITHOUT A FOOT!” There is no competition. Moonstruck is the single greatest romantic comedy movie. Single greatest romance, single greatest comedy, single greatest movie. It cannot be otherwise. (I mean, sure, there are other greatest movies, but none are greatest-er.) It is the sun, and all other contenders merely reflect its light—the plot, the dialogue, the people, the gags, the incandescent humanity. Entire human relationships have been founded on an appreciation of (and ability to quote from) this film—and damn straight. Can you imagine falling in love with someone who didn’t like Moonstruck? What would be the point, knowing it would never last? John Patrick Shanley’s script is a bottomless well of perfect words, written with a playwright’s commitment to the virtues of actual lunacy, and an Irishman’s affectionate observance of the glories of the Italian American family, a perfect balance of artifice and truth. And the cast—Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia, Danny Aiello, John Mahoney—not a single one of these stellar actors was ever better than they were in this. If you haven’t seen it, we have nothing further to discuss. If you have, now you get to see it again, in a roomful of people who will be laughing, swooning, sighing, and sniffling right along with you. SEAN NELSON
Thelma & Louise
If you have somehow missed the past 20 years of mainstream feminist pop culture, here's the plot of Thelma & Louise: Two women, self-reliant waitress Louise and a quiet stay-at-home wife Thelma, go on what's intended to be a carefree jaunt and end up on the lam after Louise shoots Thelma's would-be rapist. Their flight is both a liberation and a path to doom.
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Alex Garland Double Feature
While waiting for Annihilation, catch up on Alex Garland's filmography, including the do-sexbots-have-souls movie Ex Machina followed by the fast-zombie flick 28 Days Later (which Garland wrote). You may win a pair of VIP passes to Annihilation. About Ex Machina, Charles Mudede wrote: "Every word matters in this film: Not a look, movement, or sequence is wasted by first-time director Alex Garland. And it all leads to an impressive conclusion that's not so much about the future but about what it really takes to stage a revolt against your masters."
Ada's Technical Books
I Don't Hate Las Vegas Anymore
Iranian American director Caveh Zahedi—who achieved some fame in the indie world in 2005 with the funny documentary I Am a Sex Addict—is essentially a philosopher. And that’s what connects him with France’s Jean-Luc Godard, the greatest philosopher cinema has ever produced. But Godard is a Marxist, whereas Zahedi is an unapologetic Nietzschean. The last thing on Godard’s mind is God, which is the first thing on Zahedi’s mind, and also the subject of his 1994 film I Don’t Hate Las Vegas Anymore. It’s a road movie, it’s about his complicated relationship with his father and half-brother, and it’s directed by God. Or at least this is who Zahedi wanted to direct the movie. But He didn’t. He was too busy. Or He might not exist. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Saturday Secret Matinees
Grand Illusion and the Sprocket Society will continue their tradition of pairing an adventure serial with a different secret matinee movie every week. This year, the serial is Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, and the theme of the feature film will change every fortnight (maybe they stole the idea from the Stranger's new printing schedule. Though probably not). The remaining themes include "Very Bad Deals "(this week), "Twisted Intrigues," "Atomic Monsters," and "Widescreen Thrills." The coolest part, from a film buff point of view? Everything will be presented on 16mm.
Everything Is Terrible: The Great Satan
Over the past decade, Everything Is Terrible has amassed a cult following for mish-mashing together found-footage clips from old VHS tapes to create garbled, writhing audiovisual beasts. The result is chaotic, campy, surreal, disorienting, and a little hopeless—it’s a grim reflection of humanity that will likely convince you that everything really is terrible. Thankfully, there’s plenty of pitch-black humor to be dredged from those psychedelic creations. Members of the Los Angeles-based collective are currently touring the country with a new live show and film, The Great Satan. If you’re unfamiliar with Everything Is Terrible, the first thing you should know is that they play fast and loose with narrative. As promised, The Great Satan splices together KISS music videos, vintage porn, uncanny valley-style cartoons, god-fearing news broadcasts, Fabio close-ups, scenes from Jerry Maguire, and Christian edutainment for children—complete with raps about the good book—to tell a story about white Christian America’s relationship with Satan, their fear of death and eternal damnation, and their hypocritical, often bigoted ideology. CIARA DOLAN
Sunday showings sold out; tickets for Monday night screening available.
And the Winner Is...
Watch the nine Best Motion Picture Oscar nominees on the big, big, big, big screen.
The Cage Fighter
From the very first scene of a gym parking lot bathed in early morning light, director and Seattle local Jeff Unay manages to balance the tender and the violent when looking into an oft-misunderstood sport. The story (think Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler but IRL) revolves around Joe Carman, a middle-aged mixed martial arts fighter who has a big heart but lives a life that’s rough around the edges. Carmen has to choose between his family and his desire to keep kicking the shit out of people (or getting the shit kicked out of him) in the ring. Shot in a raw but well-developed vérité style, the documentary swerves neatly from Carman’s high-adrenaline matches to him goofing off with his kids to the dark and violent people in his life (his father, his coach) who influence the choices he makes. AMBER CORTES
Northwest Film Forum
Call Me By Your Name
As I sat watching the story of unexpected passion between a teenage boy and a slightly older male grad student staying with his family at their palatial Northern Italian villa during the languid, dappled, decadent summer of 1983, I thought three things: (1) James Ivory (Maurice, The Remains of the Day, Howards End), who wrote the screenplay based on André Aciman's novel, is the laureate of agonizingly slow-burning love shared by inexpressive people in stately houses, (2) Guadagnino seems able to make the air around this family actually swoon with intellectual fecundity and erotic possibility, and (3) honestly, what is Armie Hammer doing there? Hammer plays Oliver, the American grad student who captivates the imagination and emotions of young Elio, a musical prodigy poised at the frustrating age when you're supposed to start choosing a path but you can't seem to take a step in any direction. Timothée Chalamet (recently seen as the pretentious indie-rock rich kid boyfriend in Lady Bird) is perfect as Elio. He's coltish one minute, graceful the next, and always one step ahead of everyone. Intelligence streams out of him as convincingly as lust and longing. The question then becomes: Is Oliver, as embodied by Hammer, worthy of Elio's adoration? I just can't see it. This leaves a hole at the center of what would otherwise be—and still, semi-miraculously, is—a very involving, melancholy film. SEAN NELSON
The “Coco” in question is the oldest living relative of the film’s young protagonist, Miguel, but the story is driven by Miguel’s passion for becoming a musician—and the conflicted relationship he has with his family, who label music as “bad” for reasons he has yet to learn. But Miguel is tenacious when it comes to performing and after his abuelita smashes his guitar, Miguel steals the guitar of a famous ancestor. Since taking from the dead is a big no-no, Miguel crosses over into the Land of the Dead. Coco ends up being an exceedingly tender kids’ film with deep themes about mortality, ancestry, and memories—and any adult with a soul will be moved, too. JENNI MOORE
Tonya Harding was considered a freak, even though she was arguably the most technically skilled skater of her time. In the wake of the infamous 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan (which she may or may not have had a hand in), Harding was further ostracized, transformed by the nascent 24-hour news cycle into a white-trash demoness—so it’s important that any fictional depiction of her life acknowledge that she was also a real person who suffered. I, Tonya, is a solid attempt, largely thanks to Margot Robbie’s portrayal of a very human, very sympathetic Tonya. Without sugarcoating Harding’s personality (which could be caustic) or her tragic life (which was full of abuse and abandonment), I, Tonya tells a familiar story of a woman whose life was ruined by hapless, cruel men and sexist gatekeeping. It has been criticized for its stylized, darkly comic depiction of abuse, but it’s also one of the only portrayals I’ve seen that presents Harding as a person, and that acknowledges she was abused. It’s hard not to root for her in the film—she's a talented weirdo surrounded by bad men, whose raw determination can’t be blunted by an equally abusive and narcissistic mother (an excellent, unnerving Allison Janney) who teaches her to conflate being loved with being hit. It’s impossible not to empathize with Harding, and to imagine what her career and life might have looked like had she been able to make a clean break from her abusive family. MEGAN BURBANK
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 Uptown
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
There isn’t really that much to the Maze Runner movies other than (1) “Waaaah, everyone is so mean to us boys for no reason!” and (2) Go go go go go! That said, the series has grown on me over the years. The first Maze Runner did so well at the box office that subsequent installments saw their budgets ratchet up, and all that money—coupled with the retention of director Wes Ball for all three films, which is unheard of in the dystopian teen genre—has produced some slick, over-the-top, sci-fi fun. For sure, Death Cure reaches further than its grasp in a vain attempt to close the story on a meaningful note—the last 45 minutes resemble the “Dear Sister” Saturday Night Live skit where everyone keeps shooting each other and melodramatically dying—but who can really blame this gaggle of murder-teens for trying to pretend like all the murdering they did meant something? SUZETTE SMITH
It does not matter that this film is based on a real story. Reality sucks if it is not fucked with, which will certainly be the case in this crime drama about a woman (Jessica Chastain) who was a world-class ice skater and also happened to run a world-class underground poker joint. The Russians were in on the action just like the 2016 election. The FBI bust her shit up. What did she do wrong? Girls just want to have fun. The over-acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin decided that this would be the first film he directed. Expect to enjoy parts this film that are devoted to crime, and expect to be bored by the parts devoted to redemption. CHARLES MUDEDE
AMC Seattle 10 & Meridian 16
The alleged news that this will be Daniel Day-Lewis’s final outing as an actor would only be reason enough to see this film if you actually believe he truly won’t ever act again once he’s finished cobbling or whatever he’s doing this time. But really, all you need to know is that he’s in it. Boom, it’s a don’t miss. But then you see the trailer, in which obsessive jealousy burns slowly, causing terrible damage as it mounts, and you see the makings of a Paul Thomas Anderson gem, and another brilliant performance by Day-Lewis, one of the finest actors who ever drew breath. SEAN NELSON
The Post is Spielberg’s clear and passionate ode to the adversarial press, and not only is it a refreshing departure from his past work, it also turns out to be a good fit for his slick storytelling style. Spielberg is, at his core, a populist—a guy who wants to make crowd-pleasers so badly that his name has become synonymous with them. With The Post, Spielberg’s skills are put to a purpose. Tom Hanks plays Ben Bradlee, the chain-smoking, gray-suited editor of the Washington Post. Hanks is the perfect choice for a character who’s juuust enough of a salty old sumbitch to keep things from turning into mushy hagiography. In one of the first scenes, Bradlee tells Katharine “Kay” Graham—the owner of the newspaper, played by grand dame of cinema Meryl Streep—to “keep your finger out of my eye.” t’s 1971, and the drama of the day concerns the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret history of the United States’ disastrous involvement in Vietnam and the lies the government told the American people along the way. Daniel Ellsberg (The Americans’ Matthew Rhys, who has a great cloak-and-dagger face) has started leaking the report to the New York Times, which gets slapped with an injunction. With the New York Times silenced, The Post follows the Washington Post’s journey to (1) acquire the Pentagon Papers and (2) decide whether to publish, risking lawsuits and jail time. The story has obvious contemporary parallels, with the press risking it all to check the president’s power—and Spielberg, surprisingly, rises to the challenge. In a lot of ways, The Post is the movie Oliver Stone wanted Snowden to be. VINCE MANCINI
The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water is strange, sweet, and wonderful, and easily the greatest film ever made about a mute cleaning lady who falls in love with an amphibious fish man. A fairy tale set in 1962, it finds Elisa (Sally Hawkins) working the graveyard shift at the Occam Aerospace Research Center—a cold institution that marks a time, del Toro says, “where America is looking forward. Everything [is] about the future... and here comes a creature from the most ancient past.” That creature—wide-eyed, gilled, and played with strength and inquisitiveness by Doug Jones—is imprisoned at Occam. Locked in a tank and chained in a pool, he’s prodded by a reverent scientist (Michael Stuhlbarg) and tortured by a dominating military man (Michael Shannon). When Elisa finds him, she recognizes a kindred spirit—and feels an attraction that’s met with varying degrees of enthusiasm from her dubious coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and her artist neighbor, Giles (Richard Jenkins). Whether they’re human or... whatever the hell the creature is, The Shape of Water’s characters are played by some of the best actors working today—all of whom give whole-hearted, nuanced performances, anchoring a story that can feel bigger (and weirder) than life. The characters’ depth is reinforced by del Toro: his stories are marked by an earnest affinity for outcasts—which, in the falsely idealized America of the 1960s, includes the mute Elisa, the closeted Giles, and the Black Zelda. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The spectacles in Star Wars: The Last Jedi are some of the most powerful and believable in the franchise—Luke Skywalker's dark island, the interiors of the First Order’s battleships, the space battles. The audience is completely immersed in this distant galaxy with its operatic narrative. But what do we find once we get there? A scene that's recognizably pro-vegetarianism; a sophisticated critique of the destructive, elitist principles of the Jedi religion; a feminist rejection of male impulsiveness and a celebration of rational, thoughtful female leadership; and a political economy that springs from the idea that many of the problems of this galaxy might be related to its laissez-faire market. All of this is in the new Star Wars film, which may disappoint Trump supporters but will certainly be enjoyed by every other human in this galaxy. CHARLES MUDEDE
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
One way you know a film is written by a playwright is when everything everyone says in it is clever and wise and perfect. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, written and directed by Martin McDonagh, never fails on this score. The dialogue, particularly when given life by actors Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, is hilarious and provocative. But the biggest indicator that you're watching the work of a playwright is the sense that there's no way the story is what the film is really about. The three billboards in Three Billboards are signifiers and catalysts, but they're also red herrings (literally red, in fact). The billboards are taken out by Mildred (McDormand) as a way to publicly shame Ebbing's police chief (Woody Harrelson) for having failed to catch the man who raped and murdered her daughter. They also keep her grief alive and present tense. McDonagh depicts graphic violence and hateful language flippantly, in a style people like to call Tarantinoesque. But McDonagh is not a shock artist, not satisfied milking the disjunction of liking the bad cop or the mean lady. He's making the case that humans are complex, that "sympathetic" is relative, and that whatever horrible things people are capable of doing to each other (and they are indeed horrible), we still have to live together when we're done. SEAN NELSON