It's good weekend for indie releases, like the dramatic Borg Vs. McEnroe sports movie and the lovely Americana piece Lean on Pete. But there are plenty of other films big and small, old and new, that are worth your time, whether you love martial arts movies, classic madcap comedies, big dumb action flicks, or intense documentaries. 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.
Alfred Hitchcock's Britain: Young and Innocent
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, see Young and Innocent, based on Josephine Tey's murder mystery A Shilling for Candles.
Seattle Art Museum
All About Eve
Margo Channing, a Broadway diva—unforgettably played by Bette Davis—is initially charmed by pretty aspiring actress Eve. But Eve has her eyes on Margo’s role… and beyond. This gloriously written, affecting backstage drama was nominated for 14 Oscars and remains one of Davis’s most celebrated films.
Ark Lodge Cinemas
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
Big Fish & Begonia
Inspired by a dream one of the directors had—about a small fish that grew too big for any container—Big Fish & Begonia tells a tale similar to Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away: A heroic girl, Chun, lives in a world of mythical monsters whose presence and histories remain as mysterious as they first seem. When Chun is sent to the human world as a rite of passage, she nearly drowns before being rescued by a human boy—who then immediately drowns instead. Racked with guilt, Chun goes on a quest to try to save his spirit and restore him to life. There’s some choppiness as the animation moves between panoramic CGI-assisted scenes of enormous whales swimming across the sky to smaller-scale sequences that are supposed to look hand-drawn, but aren’t. If you can let these aesthetics marry in your mind, there’s a chance you can fall under Big Fish & Begonia’s spell. SUZETTE SMITH
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
Borg Vs. McEnroe
Tennis star John McEnroe hates Borg vs. McEnroe, Janus Metz's film about McEnroe's famous 1980 Wimbledon match with Björn Borg. McEnroe thinks that Shia LaBeouf's portrayal of him is bad and makes him look like a jerk. But of all the things that made McEnroe a household name in the 1980s, none even comes close to this simple truth: He is one of the greatest jerks in the history of television. Indeed, I even think LaBeouf and the director didn't go far enough with his iconic antics. Though Shia LaBeouf doesn't push his character to the limit, Sverrir Gudnason, a Swedish actor, does. His portrayal of Björn Borg is just superb. The look on his face when he is standing on a balcony with a view of the Mediterranean Sea, or when he is fleeing fans on a city street, or while he waits for a serve is never anything but compact and hard. Little from the outside world enters it, and nothing from inside leaves it. This athlete is a soul-cold winning machine. What makes Gudnason's performance so remarkable is this: Every moment he is on the screen, he expresses the interiority of a man who can't afford to lose even one match. One crack, one defeat, and his whole mind and being would go down like a massive ice shelf crashing into the sea. CHARLES MUDEDE
ByDesign Film Festival
One of the richest institutional collaborations in this city is that between the ByDesign Festival and Northwest Film Forum. Here, two arts that are very similar, film and architecture (both are capital intensive), meet in the theater. This year, the festival’s key and must-see documentary is Dream Empire (playing Friday). It concerns a company that employs actors to transform “remote Chinese ghost towns into temporary international booming cities.” Why? To trick “visitors into buying overpriced property.” This is the sad story of our world, which is sloshing with surplus capital that has nowhere to go. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Other screenings include Hacer Mucho con Poco (Thursday) and Tall: The American Skyscraper and Louis Sullivan (Saturday).
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
In Claire's Camera, one of three Hong Sang-soo features that premiered in 2017, he also plays with time (a fractured narrative) and language (characters speak Korean, French, and English). Isabelle Huppert, in her second go-round with the filmmaker, plays a music teacher visiting Cannes during the film festival. At different times, Claire bonds with So, a director, and Manhee, the sales rep with whom he had a one-night stand. When the rep's boss, Yanghye (Mi-hee Chang), finds out, she fires Manhee for "dishonesty." Claire, who always has a Polaroid camera at her side, takes separate pictures of the three of them, explaining, "If I take a photo of you, you are not the same person anymore." Though Huppert's billing is sure to garner the most attention, the film belongs to Kim as much as Hong's On the Beach at Night Alone. If her English seems charmingly shaky at first, she grows in fluency by the end of this brief, but perfectly formed picture (Hong shot it in 2016 while Huppert was in Cannes promoting Elle). By the end, Claire's camera really has changed her life. KATHY FENNESSY
Northwest Film Forum
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
It is a moment of pure beauty. It is the bamboo sequence in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. How the character played by Chow Yun-Fat ends up fighting the character played by Zhang Ziyi is very complicated. But there they are on the top of a bamboo forest that appears to be endless. The two fighters—one calm, the other angry—dreamily sway back and forth, rise and fall with the bamboo. It’s like they are leaping from one green gust of wind to another. This film is one of Ang Lee’s best, but this sequence I think is the most perfect piece of cinema in his large body of work. CHARLES MUDEDE
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
Distant Sky - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds Live in Copenhagen
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds did not come to Seattle in 2017 on their tour. This recording from Copenhagen will show you what we missed—bad-boy growls, folkloric terror, apocalyptic lighting, and fans in paroxysms of ecstasy.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
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
This collection of shorts highlights Native filmmakers. One, Mountains of SGaana by the Haida Gwaii filmmaker Christopher Auchter, uses elements of traditional art to tell the story of the abduction of Naa-Naa-Simgat and his lover’s journey to the bottom of the sea to rescue him. The faces of the humans are Disney-sweet, but the underwater realm looks like your most gorgeous nightmares, and Auchter’s mimicry of Haida tapestry brilliantly fragments space in one of the coolest split-screen devices ever.
Henry Art Gallery
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
Lean on Pete
At first glance, this film by Weekend and 45 Years director Andrew Haigh looks like it might simply be a story of inexpressive white males brooding meaningfully in the rural Pacific Northwest. In reality, however, it’s one of the most surprising and affecting stories about the isolation, agony, and resiliency of youth since The 400 Blows. Based on a novel by Portland musician/writer Willy Vlautin, the story is about the travails of a kid named Ray who lives on the edge of poverty with his unreliable dad. Circumstances lead him to a job with a low-rent racehorse owner (Steve Buscemi) and an unlikely friendship with the animal who gives the film its title. Together they see America in a way that threatens to swallow them whole. Please don’t miss this fantastically unlikely movie. SEAN NELSON
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
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
AMC Pacific Place & Meridian 16
Frank Borzage's 1948 film noir is about a man grappling with his father's execution who finds himself threatened with the same fate when he accidentally kills a man. Recommended to all fans of expressionist film direction, labyrinthine story structure, and classic melodrama.
The Murder of Fred Hampton
The Murder of Fred Hampton was not supposed to be about the murder of Fred Hampton. It was supposed to be about the life of the young Black Panther activist. But Hampton was killed by the Chicago police while Mike Gray and Howard Alk, the producer and the director, were working on the documentary. They were in Hampton’s apartment the day after the Chicago police shot the sleeping 21-year-old community organizer twice in the head and once on the shoulder. This doc was released in 1971, a little over a year after the assassination, and so it has about it (the interviews, reenactments, police footage, scenes of the Black Panther gatherings) a sense of urgency. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
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
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
Rampage is an expensive video-game movie about a giant ape and a flying wolf and a spiky lizard—and they all fight each other. It’s exceptionally dumb, exceptionally fun, and weirdly faithful to its 16-bit source material. Rampage the game was about monsters smashing buildings and eating people, and Rampage the movie is also about this. Dwayne Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a primatologist who works at a primate center full of awful millennials and, for some reason, at least one grizzly bear. When the titular rampage begins, the film earns its keep, as the three rowdy-ass monsters pulverize the streets of Chicago and tear through tanks, helicopters, gunships, and a Dave & Buster’s. BEN COLEMAN
AMC Pacific Place & Meridian 16
The smaller the scale of a portrait, the more the individual brush strokes tend to matter. The finely tuned relationship drama Rogers Park successfully captures a compelling slice of life where there are no clear-cut heroes or villains, just normal everyday folks with some recognizably unlovely facets to their personalities. Set in the titular Chicago neighborhood, the script by Carlos Treviño follows two closely intertwined couples (Jonny Mars and Christine Horn, Sara Sevigny and Antoine McKay) who find themselves deeply mired in the Long-Suffering stage of their respective relationships. Over the course of a year, an impressive array of skeletons come tumbling out of more than a few closets. Director Kyle Henry gets sharp performances out of his entire cast—Sevigny is particularly good as a teacher with control issues that extend beyond her classroom—while also giving a painfully real feel to their interactions. Micro-by-design movies can be easy to overhype, and the way that Rogers Park eschews big speeches in favor of small character beats can occasionally feel, well, possibly a little too subtle. Once you get into the film’s unforced rhythms, however, it’s tough not to be impressed at how it depicts even the most critical decisions with wit, maturity, and a reasonable modicum of hope. ANDREW WRIGHT
Some Like It Hot
This is one of the greatest comedies in human history. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon play two Chicago jazz musicians who witness a gang shooting and end up on the run from the mob. Disguised as women, they join an all-girl band and head down to sunny Florida to perform at a seaside resort. A very voluptuous Marilyn Monroe, who plays a shy and alcoholic singer, manages to do what she has always done best: Look highly attractive without being unapproachable. I have watched this movie a million times and still can’t help but split into laughter when Tony Curtis pretends to be a playboy millionaire with a broken heart. Pure genius. CHARLES MUDEDE
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
Vitrified: A Film Screening with Etsuko Ichikawa
Watch Ichikawa's experimental film, part of her beautiful, green multimedia exhibition about human effects on the environment called Vitrified, and share popcorn and whisky with the artist.
Winston Wächter Gallery
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
Beloved, campy, morbid, tasteless...No wonder Baby Jane has endured, inspiring the odd drag spinoff to boot. Bette Davis plays Jane, an aging child star resentful of her older, more famous sister Blanche (Joan Crawford), who has lost the use of her legs. Jane begins a campaign of terror against Blanche as her own grasp of reality slips. Just watch Davis squawking "I've Written a Letter to Daddy" and you can see exactly where John Waters came from, artistically speaking.
Ark Lodge Cinemas
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
Admiral Theatre & AMC Pacific Place