From Boots Riley's ingenious satire Sorry to Bother You to the real-life designer in the documentary Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist and the Robert Pattinson- and Mia Wasikowska-fronted Damsel, this weekend's movies are full of giant personalities. Follow the links below to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers for all of our critics' picks, and, if you're looking for even more options, check out our complete movie times listings or our film events calendar.
Movies play from Thursday to Sunday unless otherwise noted.
Based on a true story about a plot to relieve the library at Kentucky’s Transylvania University of its most valuable tomes (including a drool-worthy Havell edition of Audubon’s Birds of America), director Bart Layton’s first foray into scripted filmmaking is an odd mash-up of his usual documentary style and narrative storytelling. Most of the time, the mixture works. The scripted, acted parts of the movie—which make up its bulk—are fully engrossing, and although Layton’s stylistic decisions are colored by familiar Scorsese and Kubrick influences, more often than not, the result is zippy and fun. Layton is also well aware of the countless heist movies that have preceded this one, and the film’s riffs on the genre add levels of unexpected complexity and sadness. These four young thieves were raised on Hollywood-glorified visions of crime, and American Animals exposes the aimlessness and emptiness at the heart of their caper. NED LANNAMANN
AMC Pacific Place
Ant-Man and the Wasp
While Ant-Man and the Wasp is fun, funny, and exciting, it also runs the risk of being incomprehensible to those uninitiated in the ways of Marvel. The first Ant-Man, while it showed promise in casting Rudd as the gentle, dad-bod superhero we’ve been waiting for, fell flat in a number of places and wasn’t nearly as funny as it could’ve and should’ve been. (The underuse of Rudd’s awkward, sweet natural charm bordered on egregious.) But Ant-Man’s visual playfulness saved the day: A movie about a tiny Paul Rudd had a unique opportunity to show audiences micro and macro perspectives, opening a whole new world of creativity and comedy. An intense, train-based battle that ends with a hard cut to a tiny toy train falling off its tracks? Outstanding. Happily, Ant-Man and the Wasp follows through on that stuff and goes even further with scale-shifting action sequences. More importantly, this film uses Rudd exponentially better, giving him plenty of opportunities to be goofy and charming and Paul Rudd-y. SUZETTE SMITH
Ask the Sexpert
Vaishali Sinha's documentary follows 93-year-old Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a retired obstetrician and gynecologist who, despite having spearheaded the first sex education program in India in 1976, didn't rise to fame until his daily "straight talking and humorous" sex advice column in the Mumbai Mirror in 2005.
There are two strong statements I want make in this brief note. One: The best film in the Blade series (1998 to 2004) is the second one, which Guillermo del Toro directed. Two: Blade II makes the list of del Toro’s best five films, and the fish-fucking one that did so well at the 2018 Oscars, The Shape of Water, does not. Yes, you heard that right: Blade II is much better than The Shape of Water. If you can’t live with this fact, how is it my problem? Blade II stars a pre-tax-trouble Wesley Snipes. He plays a human-vampire who helps humans and kills vampires. CHARLES MUDEDE
Writer/director Shana Feste’s films (Country Strong, The Greatest) tend to look like easily skippable mainstream studio fare, but that casing masks an artistic fascination with the way families can be both fragile and durable, depending on how willing their members are to invest in them. Her latest features a fantastic cast—Vera Farmiga, Christopher Plummer, Peter Fonda, Christopher Lloyd, and the hugely underrated Bobby Cannavale—in a story about a middle-aged woman forced to drive her estranged, pot-dealing reprobate of a father across the country after he gets ejected from a nursing home. It might not be the kind of film you can rally a big group of your friends into seeing en masse, but rather the kind you steal away to see at a solo matinee and find yourself wiping away tears as you emerge into the afternoon sunlight. SEAN NELSON
AMC Pacific Place
Bullitt/The Thomas Crown Affair
Coolness is a phenomenon that contains several contradictions: It’s both meaningless and profound, subjective and undeniable, ephemeral and, in the case of movie stars like Steve McQueen, eternal. Though no one has ever bothered to deny McQueen’s effortless magnetism, he has also managed—like so many pop culture phenomena once assumed to be unforgettable—to be a little bit forgotten. These two classic McQueen films, a heist caper and one of the great action thrillers of all time, are evidence of the actor’s immortal charisma, and also of the melancholy truth that even the best pop stuff can fall between the cracks of cultural memory if you’re not careful. SEAN NELSON
Carole Lombard: Queen of Comedy
The cool, brainy star of 1930s cinema starred in great movies like To Be or Not To Be, My Man Godfrey, and Hitchcock’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Watch the films that made her famous at this weekly SAM series, the first of which is 20th Century co-starring John Barrymore, in which a washed-up actor tries to win back his glamorous ex and boost his career.
Seattle Art Museum
Cinema Under the Stars
Watch high-quality, all-ages movies—on this occasion, the best shorts from the infinitely charming Children's International Film Festival.
Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska star in this zany postmodern Western by the Zellner brothers (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter). Critics agree: It's a hoot. "The Zellners [...] keep things intellectually curious and devilishly clever, as if they’ve just watched Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona for the first time while reading Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot aloud to each other. Their teamwork lets the comedy chips fall where they may in between bursts of bloody action and subversive provocation." (So says Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.)
Northwest Film Forum
Everything you could possibly want from a sequel to Deadpool is in place: the relentless breaking-down of the fourth wall; Deadpool’s twisted, self-flagellating humor and his snipes at pop culture, the X-Men franchise, characters in the franchise, the death of characters in the franchise. There are perfectly choreographed, partially slow-motion, and hilariously absurd CGI-augmented (and in some cases fully initiated) fight sequences; gratuitous and non-too-serious violence and carnage...Basically, Deadpool spends a lot of time wallowing in his own self-pity, the boundaries of his mutant-ness are tested, and once he figures out what he’s supposed to be doing—keeping a soldier from the future, Cable (Josh Brolin), from killing 14-year-old Russell Collins—the action re-starts in earnest. LEILANI POLK
En el Séptimo Día
A young undocumented man in Brooklyn works hard six days out of seven; the seventh day is devoted to soccer. But when José's boss demands that he work Sunday, the day of finals for his thriving soccer team, José must decide whether to risk his job to keep his self-respect. A quiet, restrained, very well-shot film by Jim McKay (Girls Town).
I have watched this French film, which is part fiction and part documentary, without the aid of English subtitles (my French is piss-poor), and it did not matter at all. The genius of this work, directed by Georges Rouquier, is not found in its story, which is about a French village and is set in the final years of the second great war of the 20th century, but in the utter beauty of the editing. Here, this key aspect of filmmaking reaches a level of poetry that is musical. Do not watch what’s in the film, but how it moves from shot to shot. It is so smooth, so lyrical. Your eyes will dance to this song of peasant life. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
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
AMC Seattle 10
Gabriel and the Mountain
A sweet young Brazilian man traveling the world on a shoestring decides, fatefully, to climb Mount Mulanje in Malawi. More than just a based-on-a-true-story travelogue, this semi-documentary film examines what it means to be truly changed by discovering the world, or by meeting a foreigner in your own land, and touches on the complexities of race (Gabriel is a "white man" to Africans, but his identity in Brazil is more complex). In perhaps its most fascinating aspect, while Gabriel and his girlfriend are played by professional actors, almost all the other actors are nonprofessionals who knew the real Gabriel.
If you’re not comfortable with the very real possibility that you’ll be drenched in sweat and cowering in the fetal position by the end of Hereditary, perhaps this is one cinematic experience you should skip. But you’d be missing out—writer/director Ari Aster’s feature debut might be one of the most beautiful and nauseating horror movies ever made. Hereditary centers on miniaturist artist Annie Graham (an Oscar-worthy Toni Collette), whose family is rattled by mysterious events following the death of her reclusive mother. Her daughter, tween outcast Charlie (Milly Shapiro), is apparently grieving the hardest of them all—she spends her free time making dolls out of dead pigeons and always looks like she’s got a category five hurricane brewing inside her head. Hereditary is brilliant—the whole thing hums with cold electricity that’s guaranteed to unsettle your soul. Aster gracefully illustrates humanity’s ancient fear of predestined fate in a setting, and with a family unit, that feels deeply rooted in reality. It’s also a powerful reminder of the horror genre’s underutilized potential as a source for empathy—proof that it’s possible to uncover great truths about the human condition, so long as we’re willing to kneel down in the dirt and pick apart the rotting carcasses of our worst fears. Like Hereditary, it’s gross, but it’s worth it. CIARA DOLAN
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Seattle 10
Incredibles 2 simply isn’t as tightly tied together as the first. Its villain, the Screenslaver, isn’t as key to defining Elastigirl’s character as Syndrome was to Mr. Incredible’s in the first film—so when everything climactically comes together in the third act, Incredibles 2 ultimately packs a weaker thematic punch. This isn’t really a knock, though. What Incredibles 2 (slightly) sacrifices in cohesion and heart it makes up for with action and comedy. He opens Incredibles 2 with back-to-back set pieces that quickly put the previous film’s finale in the rearview; he closes the film with a team-based triumph that any three X-Men flicks combined couldn’t compete with; and when he goes for the gag (which is often), it feels like Chuck Jones-era Looney Tunes via classic-era Simpsons (which Bird himself helped make classic). Incredibles 2 isn’t as good or affecting as the first, but it is prettier, louder, faster, and funnier—and if you have to make a trade, that’s not a bad one. BOBBY ROBERTS
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
I totally understand why people object to these films and their CGI manipulations, but I am helpless before the allure of plausible dinosaurs wreaking havoc on humans. I thought the original Spielberg ones were killer. I thought the Joe Johnston third sequel was killer. I thought the reboot Jurassic World was killer. And I think this new one, again starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, both of whom I can usually live without, looks, guess what: killer. I love films with dinosaurs chasing and killing people. It’s what movies are for. SEAN NELSON
On a road trip in Elvis Presley’s Rolls Royce, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki examines the waning years of Elvis Presley and the themes of American decline in a "penetrating look at how the hell we got here," featuring guests like Alec Baldwin, Rosanne Cash, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris, Ethan Hawke, Van Jones, Mike Myers, and Dan Rather.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Larger Than Life: The Kevyn Aucoin Story
Fashion documentaries existed before 1995's Unzipped, Douglas Keeve's fizzy profile of fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, but that's the point at which they exploded in popularity. The difference with Larger Than Life, a profile of Kevyn Aucoin, is that documentaries about makeup designers are fewer and far between. By the age of 11, he set out to build his life around women. While growing up in Louisiana, he collected Barbra Streisand ephemera and drew pictures of Diana Ross and other stylish icons. His adoptive father, a baseball coach, wasn't happy about it. It didn't deter him from dating boys and making up every female face he could find. After moving to New York in the 1980s, he worked on porn shoots and used his connections to segue to high fashion. Makeup artist Tiffany Bartok's directorial debut aims for dedicated followers of fashion. Aucoin wielded paints and powders in an era not yet overtaken by Botox, making it as much an elegy for a man who isn't around any longer as an elegy for a world that no longer exists. KATHY FENNESSY
Northwest Film Forum
The Last Suit
An extremely handsome and well-dressed Holocaust survivor from Argentina embarks on what feels like a final adventure to Poland to fulfill a promise he made during the Shoah. Though he’s charming and sympathetic, our hero is also a stubborn old man who has deeply disappointed all he’s sired. The quality and variety of the silk cravats in this film is enough to recommend it. But powerfully good acting and the heart-melting story of a survivor reckoning with an incomprehensibly painful past makes the film a must-see. RICH SMITH
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Leave No Trace
If you lived in the Pacific Northwest in 2004, you remember it: The discovery that, for years, a father and daughter had been living in Portland's Forest Park in an undetected campsite. They were eventually found and housed by the authorities, but soon disappeared again. The story inspired a novel, My Abandonment, written by Reed College creative writing professor Peter Rock, and that book has been adapted into a compassionate, graceful movie by Winter’s Bone director Debra Granik. The father and daughter in Leave No Trace—played by Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie—aren’t meant to be stand-ins for the actual people, and the movie’s plot doesn’t precisely follow real-life events. But everything else about Leave No Trace feels entirely authentic, from its patient rendering of life in the pair’s urban-adjacent campsite to the way it shows how a parent and child are able to communicate without words. Foster is excellent as Will, a veteran coping with PTSD by getting as far as he can from the disturbing elements of civilization while also doing his best to provide for his daughter. But the movie belongs to McKenzie, whose extraordinary performance as daughter Tom is heartbreaking, inspiring, and unforgettable. NED LANNAMANN
Midnight Movie Madness
Have a blast watching public domain horror films, boozing it up at the pay-what-you-want bar, or playing board or video games with the horror sketch troupe Drop the Root Beer and Run. A must for fans of comedy, low-fi horror, and cheesiness.
The Pocket Theater
All hail Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Better known as “RBG” to her fans (and “Bubby” to her grandkids), at 85 years old, the US Supreme Court justice still has a fierce intellect, a duty to the law, and an immense inner and physical strength. Over the long course of her career, RBG repeatedly defended the rights of everyone to live free from bias, but, as Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg says, Ginsburg “quite literally changed life for women.” And she’s still doing it. With intimate interviews with family and friends, as well as RBG herself, the film captures the life of a woman with a heart none of us wants to stop ticking. KATIE HERZOG
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Rooftop Movies After Hours
Unwind at the end of the week with a free movie and maybe a movie-inspired cocktail. This week's movie is the cult workplace comedy Office Space, which you can toast with a Lumbergh Lemonade.
Shriek! Friday the 13th
Watch the 1980 slasher flick with a more intellectual eye than usual at this Shriek! dissection hosted by Heather Marie Bartels, Megan Peck, and Evan J. Peterson. The class will focus on female heroes versus female villains, and the lack of female villains and monsters in horror franchises.
Sorry To Bother You
When hip-hop collective the Coup released their sixth album, Sorry to Bother You, front man Boots Riley, a former telemarketer and Occupy Oakland activist, described it as "a dark comedy with magical realism." That description applies equally well to his razor-sharp directorial debut. The title phrase, of course, is how telemarketers, like Cassius Green (Atlanta's and Get Out's Lakeith Stanfied), launch cold calls to potential customers. He's just a young dude trying to earn enough to graduate from his uncle's garage where he lives with his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson), a performance artist in Julianne Moore-in-The-Big Lebowski mode. Riley grounds things in a loose semblance of reality before shit starts to gets weird. Every time Cash makes a call, marks (people on the other end of the line) hang up on him, so he tries on a Putney Swope-like white voice (voiced by David Cross in spectacularly geeky form). Marks love their unctuous new pal and buy crap they don't need, and Cash finally gets to ride the Mishima-inspired gold elevator to RegalView's top floor where the Power Sellers, a shallow gaggle of strivers, congregate. The more money he makes, the more of a jerk he becomes. If he's making more than he deserves, his first-floor colleagues, like Danny Glover's old-timer Langston, are making less, at which point a union organizer (Steven Yuen), the film's true hero, steps up to the plate. Riley's satire enters the nightmare realm of Lindsay Anderson's O Lucky Man!. Riley's ability to transfer his leftist politics intact from turntable to screen is truly miraculous. His film has a distinct look that ranges from pop-art bright to demonically dark, and Stanfield's lightly absurdist performance holds it all together. KATHY FENNESSY
AMC Seattle 10 & AMC Pacific Place
Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert
The Seattle Symphony will perform the work of legendary composer and Hollywood score master John Williams, featuring Star Wars: A New Hope on the big screen with pitch-perfect symphonic accompaniment.
Through Her Eyes: Indigenous Shorts
Longhouse Media and Stranger Genius in Film awardee Tracy Rector will present films from Native women's perspectives at this event in conjunction with the Double Exposure: Edward S. Curtis, Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, Will Wilson exhibit.
Seattle Art Museum
In 1999, Chilean director Raúl Ruiz made the best movie based on a work by Marcel Proust. But I'm already misleading the reader. Though the film is called Time Regained, which is, for sure, the title of the last book of Proust's sprawling (4,215 pages) series of novels called, collectively, Remembrance of Things Past, the film is not really about Time Regained, but the whole novel, and also the last days of its author's life. Ruiz's decision to move between the real and the fictional Marcel—the novel's narrator shares the same name as its author—and between the first and the last books, is precisely what makes his film Proustian. In Time Regained, which is playing at Northwest Film Forum, an Italian actor with a very minor reputation, Marcello Mazzarella, plays Marcel (Ruiz picked him for his Proustian face)—but he is surrounded by the brightest stars of the art-house world of the time. There is John Malkovich, and Vincent Perez, and Emmanuelle Béart, and Pascal Greggory, and Catherine Deneuve. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Two Short Movies: "Straws" and "Tapped"
With the City of Seattle banning plastic straws and Starbucks pledging to stop offering them, it's a good time to watch this first short documentary (offered by Meaningful Movies) and discover why the single-use plastic nuisance is so bad. The second documentary is from the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car? and I.O.U.S.A. and explores the open dirty secrets of the bottled water industry.
Our Lady of the Lake
VOYEUR Presents: Leave Her to Heaven
The VOYEUR outré cinema club presents one of the most bonkers films noirs of the 1940s, set in the American West and starring Gene Tierney as a pathologically jealous wife whose obsession with her husband leads her to MURDER! It's one of the few classics noirs in full color.
Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist
At the start of the documentary Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood begs off discussing any part of her life on camera. The story has been told many times over. Why go over it all again? That scene is the perfect encapsulation of Westwood’s career: Throughout her 40-plus years making startling, stylish clothing from her home base of London, she’s continually looked ahead, not behind, predicting trends and seeking inspiration. By upending the usual way of telling that story, director Lorna Tucker does an impressive job capturing the spirit of Westwood and her work. Tucker saves the parade of celebrity endorsers, like model Kate Moss and Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks, for the movie’s closing moments, and spends the rest of the time weaving through the highlights of Westwood’s glitzy yet gritty life. But even then, Tucker doesn’t focus on the things you’d expect. We get a pointed view into the difficulties Westwood faced in gaining acceptance in her home country and how her persistence and vision won out in the end. It’s damn inspiring. ROBERT HAM
SIFF Film Center
"She was something I didn't want my sister involved with. It was evil. It was wicked," one of Whitney Houston's brothers says. As he does it, a chill goes up my spine. "I knew she was a lesbian, yes." He's talking on camera about Robyn Crawford, Whitney's intimate friend, possibly her true love, the woman who was by Whitney's side throughout her rise to mega-stardom, the woman who understood Whitney better than anyone, the woman who made an ultimatum to Whitney at one point: Bobby Brown or me. Whitney was already married at that point. Whitney chose Bobby. As the documentary reveals, fate turned its knife over and over in Houston's life. What everyone in the film agrees on is that Whitney Houston was one of the greatest vocal performers who's ever walked the earth. There is footage you expect to see (like her star turn singing "The Star-Spangled Banner"), and audio that amazes every time (like the vocals-only track to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody"). CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Seattle 10
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
The question isn't how much you will cry. The question, which only emerges days into the aftermath of seeing this extraordinary new documentary about the life and work of Fred Rogers, is this: What exactly are you crying about? Possibility number one: good old-fashioned nostalgia. A huge chunk of the film consists of clips from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the public TV show for children Rogers created, wrote, and performed multiple roles in for 33 years. Seeing the way he spoke directly to his viewers, making sure we knew we were valued, cared for, seen, and known is a powerful reminder of the early validation the show provided. And learning that this style of address arose from radical education theory, developed by Rogers himself (in conjunction with learned colleagues like Spock, Braselton, and Erikson), about the benefits of being candid with children, only deepens the admiration. But this footage also stirs up the memory of inarticulate childhood sorrow his attention helped to alleviate, taking you back to the time before you were capable of constructing the armor required for this nightmare of a world. Possibility number two: the impossibility of such a human existing again, either on television or, indeed, on earth. He represented a strain of religious conviction that seems inconceivable now. Through his show, he demonstrated the precepts of his faith—kindness, empathy, dignity, peaceful coexistence, safety, love—without ever once mentioning, or even gesturing toward, a deity. SEAN NELSON
Milestones call for celebration—or in the case of Yellow Submarine, which has its 50th anniversary this month, a good ol’ fashioned restoration. The animated musical fantasy—ostensibly made for children, but with surrealistic, psychedelic animations by George Dunning, appealing to adults of both the square and acid-eating varieties—was inspired by the 1966 Beatles song of the same name, and culls select other tracks from that seminal rock band’s catalog to soundtrack and illustrate its story: A group of musicians (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band) embarks on an underwater adventure through wildly surreal and psychedelic seascapes to save their Pepperland paradise from the music-hating Blue Meanies who’ve invaded and drained all the love, peace, and color from the place. Other than the film’s use of their likenesses (and their music), the Beatles were barely involved in its making; the project fulfilled a three-film contract to United Artists, and their sole live-action cameo in the final scene satisfied their contractual obligation to actually appear in the film. But it’s arguably the best of all the Beatles films, and seeing a fully remastered version on the big screen will be a rare treat. LEILANI POLK
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.