Don't miss Friday's screening of First Reformed, the unexpected magnum opus from the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. (But if you do, there's also a screening next Tuesday.)

The first weekend of the Seattle International Film Festival is upon us, and it's chock-full of great films. We've already compiled a list of all of the picks for the full festival that you absolutely shouldn't miss, but, below, we've rounded up 22 movies for the weekend that our critics think are worth watching, like Paul Schrader's First Reformed and Sebastián Lelio Disobedience. Follow the links below for showtimes, trailers, and ticket links, and check out our SIFF Guide for the full schedule, including information on Thursday's Opening Night Gala (with a screening of The Bookshop) and Saturday's Nordic Night Gala (with a screening of Cake General).

The Charmer
This film, which is perfect until its final 15 minutes, is about a youngish Iranian man in Copenhagen who is trying to fuck his way to Danish citizenship. He is good-looking. His eyes are large and intelligent. His body is not too fit and not too flabby—in other words, it’s just right. The women love him, and it seems finding a match should not be a problem. But he doesn’t have much time—he needs a woman to be fucked so blissfully that she cannot say no to being his wife right quick. And the one Danish woman who is fucked in such a way, who will do anything for him, turns out to be married. He does not have enough time for her to get divorced and legally attached to him. She loses him and her mind. Another woman loses her mind during his desperate mission. She is also young and Iranian, and has citizenship. She falls in love with him. It’s a match made in heaven. But he has a secret, which turns out to ruin the end of this otherwise brilliant film. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

The Children Act
This is the second film in the festival based on a novel by Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan (the other is On Chesil Beach). This time, the screenplay is adapted by McEwan himself and directed by Richard Eyre. However, it is the casting of Emma Thompson (and Stanley Tucci as her husband) that elevates this sophisticated drama to resonate at a higher level. Thompson plays Fiona, a high-court judge who has a crisis in her profession and personal life when she must decide the fate of a very bright 17-year-old Jehovah’s Witness who is refusing a blood transfusion that could save his life. As she undertakes unusual measures to make her decision, she makes an error in judgment and becomes much more personally involved than she has ever allowed herself before. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

The Eternal Road
A Finnish man finds himself leading a dangerous double life on a Soviet collective farm in the 1930s. Director AJ Annila has a brawny, aggressive style (his earlier horror film Sauna maintained an impressively dreadful momentum), which gives this true story unusual amounts of kinetic oomph. Unfortunately, the content often seems to be weirdly at odds with the form, squandering more than a few sequences of potential energy by bogging down in standard bio-pic conventions. Still, this remains an interesting, largely unrepresented tale of reluctant heroism, even when you can feel it straining at the bit. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
AMC Pacific Place

First Reformed
Don’t make the mistake I made at the Telluride Film Festival when I skipped this unexpected magnum opus from the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. Paul Schrader’s latest film is a return to form. Infused with elements from his Calvinist upbringing and 1950s art-house cinema (check out his newly reissued book Transcendental Style in Film on Bresson, Ozu, and Dreyer), First Reformed revolves around the Reverend Ernst Toller (portrayed with devastating restraint by Ethan Hawke). He is a former military chaplain ministering to a tiny congregation in upstate New York, and he can’t get past the deep grief and spiritual isolation caused by the ill-fated death of his enlisted son. When congregant Mary (Amanda Seyfried) asks him to counsel her troubled (and radical environmentalist) husband, Toller discovers his church’s distinguished financial savior is an amoral corporate polluter, and he becomes obsessed with saving a world he believes is destroying itself. The film also stars Cedric the Entertainer as a mega-church pastor and Toller’s overseer. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Sweet Country
This movie does not fuck around. It gets right to it: the brutal colonization of Australia. Set in the 1920s in the outback of the Northern Territory, the film is about a black man, his black wife, and their black daughter, and the family’s religious instructor, a white man. It’s not paradise, but they manage to get along. One day, an alcoholic and rock-hard racist ex-soldier shows up and makes the black man work for nothing, rapes his wife, and considers raping their daughter. Eventually, the black man kills the white man. And this begins a time of trouble that ends with this question: How will Australia survive this madness? (CHARLES MUDEDE)
Ark Lodge Cinemas

Tigers Are Not Afraid
In drug-war-torn Mexico, Estrella is in a battle against circumstance and time. As she runs from the gang and cartel leader who murdered her mother, the dilemma already appears to have fully surfaced, but darker forces soon come into play. A thin but ominous stream of blood follows Estrella’s every turn, and her mother’s ghostly instructions mix with the rustling plastic that coats her corpse. Equally imaginative, humanizing, joyful, and tragic, this film is a dark fairy tale with a light that burns even more savagely than the darkness of its very real horrors. (SOPHIA STEPHENS)
Ark Lodge Cinemas

After the War
When the political assassination of a professor puts Italian law enforcement on high alert, a former terrorist (Giuseppe Battiston) grabs his family and holes up somewhere off the map in France. It works—for a while. This is a provocative, tautly paced directorial debut, with a whopper of a lead performance. Battiston, normally a comedic actor, is just fascinating to watch as a man whose unlovely sense of pride only grows as his situation gets more desperate. Even during moments of quiet, he still hears the hounds. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Dead Pigs
A river full of mysteriously expired pork serves as the fulcrum for a series of loosely connected stories about getting by in modern China. Also, there’s a musical number or two. Chinese American director Cathy Yan’s debut is a daffy polyglot of a movie, quick-drawing between various moods and styles with zero hesitation. The film is very entertaining, with a wicked sense of humor—watch out for those end credits—and a downright hilarious performance by Vivian Wu, as an immovable object in a leopard spot bathrobe. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
AMC Pacific Place

I Miss You When I See You
In a story that is constantly mutating, director Simon Chung mines the territory between gay and straight, love and obsession. After 10 years apart, one friend travels to Australia to catch up with the other. If Jamie has moved on with his life, Kevin had a breakdown from which he is still recovering. From out of the blue, he relocates to Hong Kong where he insinuates himself into Jamie’s life—staying at his apartment, working at his tutorial center, and hanging out with his girlfriend. When a student pursues one of the men, long-buried secrets rise to the surface, forcing a reckoning with the past. (KATHY FENNESSY)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Racer and the Jailbird
She races cars. He pulls heists. You can’t get much more high concept than that. Flemish director Michaël Roskam (Bullhead) has never exactly been a model of restraint, but here he goes for broke, with a propulsive first half that culminates in a wonderfully garish act of highway robbery. More’s the bummer then that the second hour slows way down, transforming into a maudlin prison movie that largely squelches out the outrageous chemistry between the stars (Matthias Schoenaerts and Adèle Exarchopoulos). Still, while it lasts, the fun is very fun. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
Meridian 16 (Regal)

Suleiman Mountain
The patriarch in this road-trip drama is a moodily charming con man with a gambling problem that drives him and his dysfunctional family through the Kyrgyzstan countryside as much as the Soviet-era truck they all call home. The matriarch is a religious woman who’s a swindler by marriage, earnest by trade, and shares her husband with a younger, pregnant second wife full of resentment about his divided attention and her situation. The former is willing to do anything it takes to remain in her position as first, if not preferred, wife, including hunting down her and her husband’s long-lost son (though what originally happened to him is never explained). Despite an ending that feels rushed and doesn’t fully address conflicts created at the film’s start, Suleiman Mountain is beautifully shot, poignantly wrought, and lovely overall. (LEILANI POLK)
AMC Pacific Place

Team Hurricane
Eight teenage girls use a youth center as the launchpad for what could very well be eventual world domination. Director Annika Berg’s shot-out-of-a-cannon debut impressively delineates between the different characters without ever slowing down, while also curating an absolute riot of colors and seemingly random imagery. (Even the subtitles have a neon Otter Pop glow.) A sensitive, funny (an increasingly awkward sex-ed sequence is particularly sharp), and highly caffeinated film that empowers without a whiff of condescension. As far as modern-day mission statements go, “Lets just overdo it and totally own it” isn’t bad at all, really. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

A Man of Integrity
Mohammad Rasoulof, a politically engaged director who has clashed with and is under indictment by Iranian authorities, shot this film clandestinely in rural Iran. It won the best film of the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival. Subsequently, Rasoulof was arrested and had his passport confiscated upon returning from the Telluride Film Festival. The heart, soul, and protagonist of the film is Reza, a former teacher who retreats with his wife and young son to raise goldfish in rural northern Iran. His refusal to participate in the endemic corruption and bribery necessary to succeed causes him to lose his money, car, and income. His rival is a vindictive farmer who has mastered the art of winning at any cost. The film has a slow burn until it ignites into a thriller with long-repressed violence expressed as a battle of good versus evil. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Is this the first major work of Northwest science fiction? Indeed, it imagines a moon that is like the evergreen forests that surround Seattle. The whole planet is green—gothic green. And the light on this strange moon is sharply slanted like Northwest light. The superb film is about prospectors (a father and daughter) looking for a root-made gem that will make them rich. The daughter, however, is keen to get off the planet because the line to it is about to be shut down. But her father is money-mad. If he does not make it here, he will never make it anywhere in the galaxy. Translucent insects float through the air. There are other money-mad prospectors in the endless forest. You do not leave this planet without paying a big price. Money is the root of all evil. (CHARLES MUDEDE)
(SIFF Cinema Egyptian)

It took winning a Tony Award for his dual roles as the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the musical phenomenon Hamilton for Daveed Diggs to get his long-gestating dream project to the big screen. It was worth the wait. Blindspotting is timely, explosive, poetic, and provocative. In rapidly gentrifying Oakland, Collin (Diggs) is trying to survive his last three days of probation when the slightest infraction will send him back to jail. He is also trying to make things work with his ex-girlfriend and keep his job. However, his best friend Miles (Rafael Casal) is white, wild, and reckless. Collin should avoid Miles, but he doesn’t. While trying to get home before curfew late one night, he witnesses a rogue cop pursue and shoot a fleeing black man. This sets in motion a chain of events that spirals out of control. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Moomins and the Winter Wonderland
The signature sleepy charm of Tove Jansson’s art comes to life in a sea of felt, color, and extra helpings of whimsy. Moomins and the Winter Wonderland finds the delightfully rotund Moomin family tackling a myriad of seasonal mysteries and unexpected guests, including the ever-lonely Groke, the Lady of the Cold, long-lost ancestors, the invisible creatures of the valley and Christmas herself. With dashes of small lessons around family, love, and the trials of change, this feel-good, family-friendly frolic is sure to please. (SOPHIA STEPHENS)
Majestic Bay

People's Republic of Desire
Westerners, and especially Americans, should know about YY, the Chinese social network that’s something like YouTube and Instagram Live, but on cocaine. Hao Wu’s documentary is a rare dive into the network, which sports more than 300 million active users (Snapchat reports 187 million users) who exchange virtual roses as a currency, with top users making as much as $20,000 a month for apparently doing nothing more than cam-girling without getting naked. It’s surreal. While Wu seems to be unable to land on a subject, the spectacular strangeness of the way people interact on YY is enough to earn viewers’ attention. (CHASE BURNS)
(SIFF Cinema Uptown)

The Return
A pair of Danish-Korean adoptees returns to Seoul in an attempt to find their birth parents. The process hasn’t exactly improved while they’ve been away. Malene Choi Jensen’s empathetic directorial debut successfully resides on the tricky line between documentary and fiction—the filmmaker and the majority of the cast are themselves adoptees—with an eye for the fine details. (The scenes delving into the byzantine method of contacting hospitals for records are authentically maddening.) Both insightful and impressively open-ended, with a superbly awkward/cathartic/awkward centerpiece set around an unfamiliar dinner table. (ANDREW WRIGHT)
AMC Pacific Place

A perfect thriller has to have the right balance of suspense, threat of danger, lust and sex, and melodrama. Beast wonderfully has all of these things and a great cast. At the center of the plot is Moll, who lives at home with her controlling mother. While celebrating her birthday, which her family doesn’t seem to care about at all, she drifts into town, has a wild night of partying, and finds herself being rescued by the piercing-blue-eyed Pascal. The inexplicable attraction between these two damaged souls is immediate and palpable. Their euphoric rush of first love and sexual attraction is uncontrollable. Meanwhile, a string of murders across the island has the locals looking for a suspect, and Moll and Pascal both already have black marks against them. Beast utilizes a cinematic canvas that recalls the works of Jane Campion and Lynne Ramsay to create an intoxicating psychosexual journey unlike any other. (CARL SPENCE)
Ark Lodge Cinemas

I didn’t expect Rachel Weisz would ever produce and star in a film with hot lesbian sex set in an Orthodox Jewish community. Ever. (Maybe I was misled by the fact that she is married to Daniel Craig, aka James Bond.) However, I wasn’t surprised that this film is directed by Sebastián Lelio, the award-winning director of the equally stirring A Fantastic Woman. Lelio has a proven knack for tackling stories with strong female characters. Loosely based on Naomi Alderman’s novel and co-scripted with playwright Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Disobedience revolves around two passionate women torn apart by their secular and devout lives. Ronit (Weisz) is happily single and living a vibrant life as a photographer in New York, but she is estranged from her highly respected Orthodox rabbi father in London. When she comes back for her father’s funeral, the flame for her former lover Esti (Rachel McAdams) is reignited and threatens to upend their lives and the entire community. (CARL SPENCE)
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Green Days by the River
In 1950s Trinidad, Shell is a charismatic 15-year-old who has moved to a new rural community. It is a beautiful place, all shades of green with lovely meandering rivers. He faces the usual teenage dilemmas: which girl to like, what job to get, what he wants versus what his parents want for him. The culture of Trinidad is fascinating, with descendants of Africans and East Indians mixing it up together, and it all comes into play in the film when young people come together (speaking their lyrical English Creole). The story is centered on the characters; they exist only in this place, with little entering from the outside world—and the gorgeous soundtrack helps carry it all along. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Sansho the Bailiff
In Kenji Mizoguchi’s 1954 masterpiece Sansho the Bailiff (set in the medieval days of warlords and human chattel), a railroaded governor’s wife and children are waylaid on their journey to join him in exile and are promptly sold into slavery, setting in motion a tragic tumble of events and injustices that rolls unpreventably downhill like a deadly avalanche. No other film so carefully interrogates the way the poison of social oppression and abuse stays in the system, and in the structure of society, over years of painful life. It’s not a film you should sit down to lightly; keep tissues, oxygen, and ice water close at hand. (MICHAEL ATKINSON)
SIFF Cinema Uptown