In the mood for emotionally deep, locally made cinema? Try Lynn Shelton's Outside In. Prefer a blockbuster horror film? A Quiet Place comes out tonight. Feeling nostalgic for Prince's days as a sexy megastar? Head down to Columbia City for Purple Rain. Find all of our film critics' picks for this weekend below, follow the links to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our complete movie times listings or our film events calendar.
Note: Movies play from Thursday to Sunday unless otherwise noted.
Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys was inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetée, a 28-minute film that’s composed entirely of still images and has an opening—the noise of jet engines, a soaring Russian choral piece—that sounds exactly like the end of the world. La Jetée is also the greatest film ever made, and it must be watched (on YouTube) before watching Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys, which borrows from it the themes of madness, memory, time-travel, and extinction-level catastrophe. 12 Monkeys, which was released in 1995, also stars Bruce Willis in his prime. CHARLES MUDEDE
Alfred Hitchcock's Britain: The 39 Steps
Sure, with the exception of the modestly budgeted, black-and-white Psycho, Hitchcock is known for his lavishly Freudian Technicolor thrillers from the ‘50s and ‘60s. But the films he made in his native Britain are just as worthy of note—taut, intricate, their perversity more elaborately disguised. This week is one of his best films ever, the dryly witty, exciting spy drama The 39 Steps, based on John Buchan's novel.
Seattle Art Museum
Annihilation could squeeze into just about any label you give it: a horror film; a science-fiction flick that toys with the possibility of extraterrestrial life; a wilderness adventure; a romantically yearning character study; a chilling, painfully suspenseful mystery; a “message” film about either the environment or male toxicity, depending on where you feel like directing your anger; an abstract, allegorical art piece with long stretches of dialogue-free visuals. The most accurate label is probably just to call it an Alex Garland film. After his stunning 2015 directorial debut (Ex Machina) and now the gorgeous, terrifying, and spellbinding Annihilation, we’re starting to get a sense of what that is. These are films that use the tools of genre—science fiction and horror, predominantly—to explore the liminal space between what is human and what isn’t. Annihilation is the best kind of cinematic experience, one that floods the senses without battering them into submission, and one that moves the mind and heart without manipulating them. It’s a staggering thing to witness. NED LANNAMANN
Because I do not want to spoil the experience of this movie, I will not describe the path of the film's plot to its core problem, which concerns the unification of black Africa with black America. Out of a comic book, director Ryan Coogler crafted an important concept about how, from the unification, a post-pan-Africanist global Africanism can emerge. It comes down to this: black Africans and black Americans have to admit their respective failings. (My feeling is that Coogler is much harder on black Americans than black Africans.) As a whole, Black Panther is lots of fun and will excite a lot of discussion and strong opinions. But the most revolutionary thing about Black Panther is its city. The capital of Wakanda has skyscrapers, a monorail, sidewalks of grass, green buildings, farmers markets, and no cars. The whole idea of private transportation is foreign to this fictional society. If this black African capital has anything to share with the world, it's its city planning. CHARLES MUDEDE
Buster Keaton: Features
Sean Nelson: "Yeah, yeah… Buster Keaton, classic silent cinema, blah blah blah. But guess what! Buster Keaton's work holds up better than ANY of the so-called classic screen comedians—Chaplin, Lloyd, the Marx Brothers (all of whom I'd take a bullet for)." If you'll be seeing his movies for the first time, count yourself lucky that your maiden experience will be on Grand Illusion's big screen (and in Grand Illusion's plush chairs). The movies are The General, often regarded as one of the best films ever, about a plucky but unfortunate Southern railroad engineer in the Civil War, and Steamboat Bill, Jr., in which Keaton plays a Boston college boy forced to return to Mississippi to take over the family paddleboat business.
Cadence: A Video Poetry Festival
The Film Forum celebrates National Poetry Month with a “cinepoem” series. It features text-based work by video artists Tom Konyves, John Lucas, Adam Shecter, Nissmah Roshdy, and John Bresland; visual and conceptual artists Addoley Dzegede, Nico Vassilakis, and William Kaminski; and poets Arturs Punte, Claudia Rankine, Mahmoud Darwish, Eula Biss, and Matthea Harvey. Thursday is a screening night, entitled "Core Sample"; Saturday will be dedicated to workshops led by Shin Yu Pai and Gretchen Burger and offering access to the Forum's editing labs.
Northwest Film Forum
Thursday (screening) and Saturday (workshop)
The China Hustle
This documentary is outstanding for two reasons. One is its style (it has the look, feel, and pace of Hollywood heist thriller). The other reason is its substance, which concerns a side of the Chinese economy that’s rarely discussed or filmed. Most Americans still think of China as one big factory, as a place that makes stuff like our toys, iPhones, and knickknacks. But this is only one part of its economic picture. China has also entered casino capitalism, and this documentary captures that transition and all the madness and excesses that go with it. The thing to keep in mind is that it’s almost impossible to make money in an honest way on the stock market. If you want to get rich quick, then rules have to be bent or broken. In the case of The China Hustle, the rules are bent and bent and bent. Despite all of the scamming that’s going on, no laws are actually broken. Jed Rothstein, the documentary’s director, is not exposing crooks, but all that is crooked about casino capitalism. When China crashes, the whole world will really feel it. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
The Death of Stalin
From Armando Iannucci, the creator of Veep, and more importantly, the vastly superior British politics TV series The Thick of It (and the film it inspired, In the Loop) comes a film, The Death of Stalin, that recognizes that farce, not tragedy, is the operative mode of true fascism. At least in retrospect. This is one of the grimmest, most harrowing films to ever make you double over with laughter. The heavyweight cast includes Steve Buscemi (as Khruschev), Michael Palin (as Molotov), and Jeffrey Tambor (as Malenkov), all of whom prostrate themselves to appear devoted to the regime while frantically tap dancing for their own survival—and eventual seizing of power. They are abetted in their machinations by UK eminences like Andrea Riseborough, Paddy Considine, Simon Russell Beale, and Roger Ashton-Griffiths. There’s no missing the present day resonances in the depictions of a regime that is both totally corrupt and plainly mediocre, but Iannucci is keen to remind you that the distance between even a toad like Trump and Stalin—who ordered the actual murder of approximately 60 million of his own comrade countrymen—is important to remember. But if the best thing you can say about a leader is that he isn’t exactly Josef Stalin, well… This film’s grave, absurd, brilliant, and brutal historical context has a way of making the future look, if not hopeful, then at least familiar. SEAN NELSON
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & AMC Seattle 10
Flower announces its outrageousness in its very first scene, which finds rebellious teen Erica (Zoey Deutch) giving a cop a blowjob at a scenic overlook of the San Fernando Valley. When he refuses to pay her in full, Erica’s best friends (Maya Eshet and Dylan Gelula) storm his cruiser, filming the compromising situation with their phones while Erica explains, “We’re not taking you to court—we’re just taking your money." The girls consider themselves rebels with a cause, delivering vigilante justice and profiting off the unsuspecting creeps in their suburban hamlet—at least when they’re not chugging Slurpees, playing arcade games, and ogling “hot old guy” Will (Adam Scott) at the local bowling alley. Director Max Winkler (spawn of the Fonz!) co-wrote Flower’s script with Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer, the man behind last year’s Ingrid Goes West. For Flower, it seems like the trio sourced inspiration from the whip-smart dialogue of Juno, the maximalist dude-bro humor of Superbad, and feminist rhetoric they clearly do not understand. Still, I’ll admit I laughed myself hoarse and even shed some tears. That’s all thanks to Deutch—she’s like a rainbow, and without her, I doubt director Winkler could’ve pulled off the film’s chameleonic transformation from dark comedy to neo-noir to road movie to millennial romance. CIARA DOLAN
Foxtrot is an extraordinary experience, full of sadness, humor, banality, and beauty, and you will likely come out of it changed, or at least moved. The film has a circular nature: The first and third sections in its three-act format echo each other in their near-claustrophobic focus on Michael and Dafna as they process the news that their soldier son, Jonathan (Yonatan Shiray), has been killed in action. Michael dominates the first chunk of Maoz’s triptych, and we watch him suffocated by disbelieving grief while Dafna sleeps under sedation in their Tel Aviv apartment. When Foxtrot’s poetic central section unfolds, it’s a remarkable mini-film of its own, depicting Jonathan at his post at a desolate border checkpoint. Surrounded by vast stretches of flat, muddy desert and only occasionally disrupted by a lone vehicle, Jonathan and his fellow soldiers are isolated in a limbo of repetition. The film’s tone turns comically bizarre, using surreal flourishes to depict the dehumanizing day-to-day boredom of the young men’s assignment even as it reveals the undeniable tug of hope. NED LANNAMAN
AMC Seattle 10 & Regal Meridian
Friday & Sunday
On the upside: Sharon Horgan has a small part in a halfway decent, big-budget Hollywood comedy! And so does Lamorne Morris! And hey, there’s Kylie Bunbury! They’re part of an overachieving supporting cast that makes the perfunctory Game Night a much better movie than it should have been. The comedy-movie genre is probably in its worst shape ever, so when Game Night achieves the bare minimum—making you laugh—it’s downright refreshing. The plot, not that it matters, involves Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams and a group of friends trying to solve a puzzle mystery that may or may not include Bulgarian gangsters, Fabergé eggs, and the kidnapping of Bateman’s brother (Kyle Chandler). Is it all a game? Is any of it real? I 100 percent guaran-fucking-tee you will not care. Look—Game Night isn’t worth a lot of deep thought, and it’s not going to provoke any type of cultural conversation. But it’s got some laughs, and that feels like a lot right now. NED LANNAMANN
AMC Pacific Place
Maya and her mother move into the expensive house of Maya’s one-night stand, who’s disappeared. They begin to think of the place as their home, but when the man’s sister turns up, Maya will act to defend her usurped territory. Lev Lewis’s film is part of Future//Present. Actor Melanie Scheiner will attend the screening.
Northwest Film Forum
Isle of Dogs
Wes Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation—following 2009’s unassailably wonderful Fantastic Mr. Fox—is full of delectable visual treats. This time, the director’s grade-school diorama aesthetic floods your ocular circuits with a retro-futuristic version of Japan, where all the dogs of Megasaki City have been exiled to Trash Island following an outbreak of snout fever. Isle of Dogs is leaps and bounds more advanced than Fantastic Mr. Fox—the deliberate herky-jerkiness of that film has vanished, replaced by a refined style of stop-motion that’s breathtaking in its elegance, even as it depicts Trash Island’s mountains of maggoty, flea-ridden refuse. But Anderson’s depiction of Japanese humans in Isle of Dogs leaves something to be desired. In what initially seems like a clever tactic, the dogs all speak English while humans communicate in un-translated Japanese. While this pulls us inside the dogs’ world, it flattens the depiction of the Japanese characters. Anderson—and the audience—remain Western outsiders looking in. But all in all, Isle of Dogs is worth recommending. NED LANNAMANN
Footage and interviews from the Rodney King riots in the 1990s are used to reconstruct this turbulent period of protest and violence. Join the Seattle Chapter of the Black Panther Party for this free screening. Co-director TJ Martin will attend.
Northwest Film Forum
The Leisure Seeker
The Leisure Seeker was always going to be a hard sell. Italian director Paolo Virzì’s movie isn’t overly precious about the realities of aging, so there’s a lot of gross old people stuff that I can’t imagine anyone is overly fond of. And both of its lead characters—Ella (Helen Mirren), a preening, slightly dotty Southern belle, and John (Donald Sutherland), a Hemingway-obsessed English teacher in the late stages of Alzheimer’s—initially come across as grating. To be fair, that’s how old people often are, but Virzì’s tin ear for naturalistic American dialogue certainly doesn’t help. But stick with The Leisure Seeker and you’ll be rewarded with something special, as Mirren and Sutherland begin filling in the pieces of their characters’ lives—obliquely at first, then in foggy but affectionate reminiscences and teary revelations. We begin to see the complex course of their lives—as lovers, as parents, as friends, as spouses—through the dimming window of their failing memories and bodies. BEN COLEMAN
AMC Seattle 10
If you're one of those people who only reads the first sentences of movie reviews, here you go: Love, Simon is FANTASTIC, and you should see it IMMEDIATELY. The best thing about it is Simon himself: A clever, kind kid with a loving family and good friends, he's having a hell of a time figuring out how—or if—he should come out. Not many YA protagonists feel as real as Simon, regardless of whether he's going through great stuff or drama. Simon's great stuff includes: a secret e-mail relationship with Blue, another closeted kid at his school. Simon doesn't know who Blue really is, and Blue doesn't know who Simon really is, but through hesitantly typed e-mails, the two find the beginnings of a relationship that's inspiring and complicated. Simon's drama includes: his dipshit classmate Martin, who stumbles onto his e-mails with Blue–and threatens to share them with everyone if Simon doesn't do what he says. Love, Simon thrums with heightened emotions, but it never feels false or silly; Greg Berlanti's smart enough to treat these kids like real, complicated people, and the result is a movie that feels both truthful and ridiculously engaging. ERIK HENRIKSEN
I was pleasantly surprised by Lynn Shelton’s latest, Outside In, filmed in suburban Granite Falls and Snohomish County, captured in all their rainy, tree-sheltered, moss-flecked glory. The subject matter is more urgent than Shelton’s usual fare: Outside In focuses on a subtext-heavy friendship between a high-school teacher, Carol (Edie Falco), and Chris (Jay Duplass), the 38-year-old former student she helped parole from the Walla Walla State Penitentiary after a 20-year sentence. As Chris, Duplass does some remarkable work with only his eyes and smile, under a beard so patchy, its mere existence triggers inscrutable sadness. Falco is great, per usual, as a conflicted, tightly wound woman in an Edith Wharton-grade bad marriage. And Outside In isn’t actually that far from a Wharton novel: It’s a completely believable web of conflicting desires among people who lack the language and wherewithal to ask for what they want. But stick with it, and Outside In’s relentless sadness gives way to something more gently hopeful than its numb beginning implies. MEGAN BURBANK
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Celebrate the life of Prince in Purple Rain—the film that gave Dan Savage his last wet dream. Prince's first film is a love story about a young man who risks it all to become a rock star. About this movie, former Stranger writer Angela Garbes wrote: "Prince made me feel weird, mostly because he reminded me of God. My brothers and I watched silently in our den—enraptured and confused—until my mother walked in at the exact moment Apollonia peeled off her leather jacket to reveal her beautiful bare breasts. The movie was abruptly shut off, though soon after I found a way to watch it and became forever enthralled by Prince's music, body, and movements. Prince was, in fact, a sexy MF. But there was always something transcendent and divine about his eroticism. He taught me sex wasn't filthy. At its best, it's generous and holy."
Ark Lodge Cinema
Friday & Sunday
Variety called this movie "a kind of Lady Bird in extremis": A recently widowed woman and her daughter clash continually, until the teenaged girl impulsively invokes a forest demon to kill her remaining parent. A childish gesture common to many dark-minded adolescents, or a fatal mistake? If you like subtle psychological horror, this new Canadian flick promises nasty delights.
A Quiet Place
This rural horror starring director John Krasinski and Emily Blunt is a fun, brawny horror flick with a surprisingly sugary heart and an ingenious gimmick. Human civilization is basically kaput and giant scythe-hand stealth-crab anthropoids roam the earth. They’re blind, but their huge, opalescent inner ears alert them to the presence of prey from miles off. A Quiet Place begins well after the creatures’ conquest. A man, his pregnant partner, and their son and daughter live in silence on an isolated farm, every aspect of their existence adapted to minimize noise: sand-covered trails, sign language, light and smoke signals, even cloth game pieces. But despite their ingenuity, the family must take increasingly drastic measures to protect themselves even as the pre-adolescent daughter, who’s deaf, rebels against her father. Their everyday yet all-important routines are a neat device for ramping up tension during the exposition. At the preview screening, we were all flinching when a lamp upended, shushing a character who cried too loudly. But it’s during the moments of crises—particularly when Blunt starts giving birth at a very inconvenient time—that Krasinski really shows he can twist your nerves in a way that shuts down your critical faculties. JOULE ZELMAN
People will wake up at 4:30 a.m. to stand in line for hours just to get a bowl of ramen at Osamu Tomita's tiny, 11-seater joint in Matsudo, Chiba. Koki Shigeno's documentary, Ramen Heads, portrays Tomita as Japan's reigning lord of noodle soup, a four-time Best Ramen Chef champion, and a mentor to younger cooks. Shigeno wants us to see this traditionally working class lunch the way Tomita sees it: As an art. As a way of living. As a way of paying attention. It's all about balance! Timing! Pig skulls in big pots! The visual meditations on the food satisfy on a primal level, and it's fascinating to learn about the ways different chefs make different kinds of ramen. However, as a character and a vessel for storytelling, Tomita doesn't really hold much interest. He's an exacting chef and a taskmaster who runs an extremely successful restaurant. That's about it. RICH SMITH
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
It’s a double bill of time travel movies at Central (with 12 Monkeys): The crew of the Enterprise slingshots back to the 20th century to save the earth from an alien probe by enlisting the help of whale song. One of the wittiest and best-acted Star Trek films, The Voyage Home will give you the chance to see our beloved, lost Leonard Nimoy again.
Stop Making Sense
What makes the Talking Heads and Jonathan Demme’s 1984 classic the best concert film ever? First, there’s the show’s striking performance-art sensibility, with David Byrne entering a blank stage with only a boom box, and band members joining him one by one as the set progresses. Second, there’s the hot-shit band, with the Heads foursome joined by P-Funk’s Bernie Worrell and Lynn Mabry. Finally, there’s the set list, featuring many of Talking Heads’ greatest songs—“Psycho Killer,” “Once in a Lifetime,” “This Must Be the Place,” “Life During Wartime”—in sharply theatrical performances. DAVID SCHMADER
Ark Lodge Cinema
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
A Wrinkle In Time
A Wrinkle in Time is an engrossing fantasy about a teenage girl, Meg, who—despite her anxieties and faults, and with the help of some friends and three extra-dimensional beings named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which—embarks on a cross-dimensional adventure to save her missing father from a terrifying monster of darkness and conformity named IT. Disney’s new blockbuster isn’t the A Wrinkle in Time I read as a child. Director Ava DuVernay (Selma, 13th) has updated the story and placed it squarely in the now: There’s an extended roller coaster-esque flight scene over otherworldly landscapes, a multiracial cast, instructions for self-care, and Oprah. DuVernay doesn’t cut the weird without adding wonder. Her update to the three Mrs. W’s is particularly spectacular. Rather than the beak-nosed ladies they were in the book, these Mrs. W’s are luminous, ever-changing chameleons in couture gowns. There’s an informal pairing off—one child for each extra-dimensional being—and Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey) is predictably charged with the anxious Meg (Storm Reid), who, like many of Oprah’s followers, just needs a little boost of self-confidence before she’s ready to stand up to a universe-devouring evil. SUZETTE SMITH