This weekend, whether you're in the mood to drink in a spectacle, like Avengers: Infinity War or Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, or artsier fare like the metaphysical sci-fi flick The Endless, you'll find a great option on our list of film critics' picks 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.
This fascinating metaphysical goulash makes for a total mess of a film that I highly recommend. William Hurt, in his first film role, plays a scientist whose experiments with psychedelic and psychoactive drugs and sensory deprivation tanks cause him to quite literally revert to earlier stages of human evolution. You really couldn’t pick a director and screenwriter with less natural affinity than Ken Russell and Paddy Chayefsky (who had his name taken off the film). The result is a tug-of-war between visceral surrealist sci-fi and didactic brainiac research project. No one wins except the patient audience. SEAN NELSON
Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel’s attempt to put an exploding bow on 10 years of corporate synergy, is a lurching, ungainly colossus of a blockbuster, with far too many characters and storylines stretching across a series of planets that resemble 1970s prog-rock album covers. The thing is, though, while you’re watching it? None of these elements feel like debits. Sometimes, excess hits the spot. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo deserve a huge amount of credit for simply making sure all of Infinity War’s 5,000 performers hit their marks—but they also find room for most of these characters to get an honest-to-god character moment or two. The Russos aren’t exactly stylists, however, and there’s a flatness to the establishing scenes here that feels similar to Marvel’s first wave of films. A little bit of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther panache would’ve gone a long way. But once the action kicks in, the ridiculous scope of this thing takes over and sweeps away any quibbles. ANDREW WRIGHT
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
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
For years, the Austrian-born Hedy Lamarr was known as the hottest, most sophisticated lady in Tinseltown. But Alexandra Dean’s documentary, using archival footage, testimony, and some recently rediscovered interviews with Lamarr, reveals just how shallowly studio executives viewed their scandalous asset. When still a teenager, Hedy Lamarr was quite possibly the first person to simulate an orgasm onscreen. After fleeing a bad marriage in the Third Reich for the safety of Hollywood, she became frustrated with her pigeonholed status as a European sex symbol. But worse than the limitations on her acting career was the dismissal of her intellect. She collaborated on a frequency-hopping torpedo signaling system with the American composer George Antheil. While the Navy ignored their idea, their patent inspired technology essential to secure wifi, bluetooth, and military communications. Bombshell is an essential re-examination of the fascinating woman obscured and cheapened by Hollywood mystique. JOULE ZELMAN
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. Tonight is a screening night titled "Cross Section" focused on Northwest filmmakers.
Northwest Film Forum
The great Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman's first film, Saute ma ville (which means "blow up my town"), will form the basis for a performance/inter-arts dialogue with Paris-based cellist Sonia Wieder-Atherton. Wieder-Atherton plays inside the project film frame, drawing on the music of Béla Bartók, Leoš Janáček, and Sergey Prokofiev as well as traditional Jewish melody. Here's a rare opportunity to explore the multimedia resonances of the work of a much-mourned filmmaker.
Northwest Film Forum
Minneapolis may not be known as a film mecca, but that's not fair to its vibrant indie scene. Over the weekend, watch movies from the Midwest capital that range from legendary classics to new low-tech but charming features: Driver 23, Lake Street Detective, Marvin, Seth and Stanley, and In the Wake of a Second Cook. All films were be screened with shorts by Kevin Obsatz.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
The cigarette-chomping, ass-kicking space bounty hunter romp that is Cowboy Bebop is returning to the big screen. The iconic 1998 series is a fixture of Japanese science fiction with an endless array of Western influences, including Alien, Taxi Driver, Desperado, the Rolling Stones, and 1940s-era jazz. Set in the year 2071, the movie’s plot falls in between episodes 22 and 23 of the original series, with the Bebop crew racing against time to save a now-populated Mars from a bioterrorist threat. Series director and anime legend Shinichiro Watanabe heads the controls for this film with a mix of nostalgia, canon, and refreshing attitude. SOPHIA STEPHENS
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
Justin Benson and Aaron Moorehead’s mind-unspooling sci-fi thriller The Endless is one of those strange films that feels lightweight while flirting with cosmic ideas. The writer-directors play brothers, imaginatively named Justin and Aaron, who escaped a UFO cult as teenagers. When the men receive a concerning videotape from the true believers at Camp Arcadia, Aaron demands that they drive back into the wild to find out what happened, and Justin reluctantly agrees. Surprisingly, they’re welcomed by pleasant sights: old friends who apparently haven’t aged, including the benevolent de facto leader, Hal, and the flirtatious Anna. But as their visit stretches on, an unseen presence creepily betrays itself. The tone of The Endless skids from time to time, as Benson and Moorehead’s broad banter makes it hard to take their sibling conflict too seriously. But visually, it succeeds with delicious, slightly Gothic weirdness, from psychedelic tweaks of filmic time to uncanny celestial phenomena to fun tricks with mirroring and repetition.JOULE ZELMAN
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
If you’re looking for an encyclopedic portrait of Jamaican dub-disco-funk diva Grace Jones, Sophie Fiennes’s Bloodlight and Bami ain’t for you. (And, yes, Fiennes is a member of the Fiennes Dynasty.) If you want to know what motivated a black Caribbean woman to cover one of history’s most unnerving, robotic synth-pop tunes (the Normal's “Warm Leatherette”), you'll be disappointed. But if you want explorations into Jones’s humble Spanish Town roots, her durable family bonds and traumatic history, and ability to navigate the world’s glitziest nightlife scenes while still making vital music in her 60s, this documentary delivers. Musical insights are scarce, however, as are observations about the film’s subject from her band members—including dub legends Sly & Robbie. Nevertheless, the concert footage (featuring exceptional versions of “Pull Up to the Bumper” and “Nipple to the Bottle”) and Grace’s dazzling costumes compensate for these voids. DAVE SEGAL
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
House of Tomorrow
A homeschooled teenage boy lives with his grandmother in a geodesic dome house, inspired by the grandma's mentor, Buckminster Fuller. "Nana" has hopes that young Sebastian will help spread Fuller's ideas, but when she has a stroke, the boy develops plans of his own: to become a rock star. According to Bilge Egiri at Village Voice, House of Tomorrow has its flaws but "manages to be a touching exploration of what 'tomorrow' actually means."
The activist artist Ai Weiwei, who is most notorious not for his art but for having been persecuted, beaten, and jailed by the Chinese government for adamantly refusing to bow to state censorship, has turned to cinema to advance the aesthetic and political concerns that have always fueled (and one might argue defined) his work. The screening of his 2017 refugee crisis documentary will be followed by a Q&A (Q&Ai?) with the artist, broadcast via live stream. In his review of the film, Stranger contributing writer Andrew Wright wrote that Ai “takes a subject that could consume a documentarian’s entire career and seemingly attempts to get it all in one go. While the constant stream of jaw-dropping imagery can sometimes feel like a case of Too Much Information, the sheer macro power of the visuals packs a wallop. Shot in more than 20 countries… Ai’s mammoth passion project travels between overpopulated crisis points around the world, pausing briefly for interviews with refugees and aid workers. The Google Earth-style views of huge masses of people on the move never stop being absolutely dumbfounding.” SEAN NELSON
Center for Architecture and Design
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
The French director Arnaud Desplechin makes tangled, pained family histories and casts splendid actors to bring them to life. In this case, Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace and a lot of better French films), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist, Nymphomaniac), and Marion Cotillard (Inception and...a lot of better French films), play out the story of a film director, his new lover, and his long-vanished, suddenly returned wife. Amalric plays the titular Ismael, caught between woman as he makes his own film about a diplomat. This film has gotten fantastic reviews, but the actors alone make it worth catching.
Kholoud Al-Faqih, the West Bank’s first Sharia judge in the Palestinian court, is on a mission to educate Muslim women about their rights. Erika Cohn documents her approach to reforming Islamic law’s governance of family life.
Northwest Film Forum
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 & SIFF Film Center
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
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
Ran ("Chaos") is perhaps Akira Kurosawa's most awe-inspiring film: a bloody, ferocious, poetic epic based loosely on King Lear (but with sons instead of daughters and set in medieval Japan). It's grand and hypnotic, but what may stick in your mind is Mieko Harada's astonishing performance as Lady Kaede, who gets one of the most shocking character reveals in the history of cinema.
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Kurosawa's legendary drama, starring Toshirô Mifune and Machiko Kyô and based on a story by the great writer Ryûnosuke Akutagawa, remains a suspenseful, spooky, and gorgeously shot experiment in subjectivity. One horrible crime—the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife by a bandit—is shown from the point of view of the three involved (yes, the samurai speaks from beyond the grave). Will we ever know the truth?
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Rebecca (Part of "Alfred Hitchcock's Britain" Series)
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, the "Alfred Hitchcock's Britain" series will turn to Rebecca, a Gothic melodrama based on Daphne du Maurier's novel about a young woman haunted by the presence of her husband's deceased first wife.
Seattle Art Museum
The Third Man
If this movie doesn’t glamorize the life of black market profiteers in immediate post-WWII Vienna, then no movie ever did. Joseph Cotten plays Holly Martins, a “scribbler with too much drink in him,” trying to clear the name of his recently deceased best friend, the nefarious Harry Lime (Orson Welles, at his cherubic pinnacle). The acting, music, photography, and dialogue (script by Graham Greene, the British author, not the Native American actor) are peerless. SEAN NELSON
Northwest Film Forum
Where Is Kyra?
Eking out a meager existence in the deep outer-borough of New York most of us see only from the windows of passing trains or in the title sequences of films, Kyra spends her days taking care of her very old mother, helping her into the tub, laboriously walking with her to the bank to cash her pension checks, fetching her water, whiskey, and oxygen. Kyra's life proceeds from the grimness of being your "failing" mother's only caretaker to dressing up in her clothes and impersonating her agonized gait because it's the only way to cash her pension checks after she dies. Every day she looks for work, but there are no jobs—or they've just been filled. Where Is Kyra? is an unorthodox comeback vehicle for Michelle Pfeiffer—the film is truly a total bummer, the rare example of cinema that is both beautifully made and 100 percent joyless. But it remains noteworthy, and maybe even important to see as an unflinching statement about the exponential indignities of being anything other than rich in America. SEAN NELSON
SIFF Film Center
You Were Never Really Here
Joaquin Phoenix's dazed masculinity is put to the service of Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of a novel by Jonathan Ames, about a veteran detective who tracks missing girls and becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy. Ramsay directed We Need to Talk About Kevin, and by all accounts, her collaboration with Phoenix is just as harrowing a portrait of the peculiarly American appetite for violence.
SIFF Cinema Uptown and AMC Seattle 10
Lucrecia Martel is one of the most fascinating filmmakers to come out of Argentina in the past few decades. Unfortunately for South American film buffs, she’s made only four features—her second most recent, The Headless Woman, came out in 2008. Ten years later, she’s shot a thought-provoking period drama, Zama, about a lonely Spanish judge in a South American colony in the 17th century who refuses to adapt, growing more and more hostile to the people he’s supposed to govern. This story of mental deterioration and alienation, reportedly slow but full of rich detail, is Martel’s statement on colonial ills.
Northwest Film Forum
Also Playing This Weekend
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but they're major Hollywood films.