Pick of the Litter shows it's hard to be a working dog!

This weekend in Seattle cinemas is especially colorful, from the beloved anime Spirited Away to the bloody psychedelic thriller Mandy to the stylish mystery A Simple Favor. 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 film events calendar and complete movie times.

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70mm Film Festival
Put down your phone and surrender to the splendor of actually-epic-scale cinema in the cathedral that is the Cinerama. Not much unites the films in this 13-day festival other than a commitment to MAGNITUDE, but several are essential viewing. I know you’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: Seeing a film in a darkened theater with strangers is a secular sacrament. The fact that you can't pause, talk, text, or tweet until it's over is a feature. Please enjoy it while it's still available. SEAN NELSON
This weekend's movies are Days of Thunder, Wonder Woman, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country, E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and Lawrence of Arabia.

1968: Expressions of a Flame: The Swimmer
If you have not watched The Swimmer, you must do so in a theater (and with a little booze in your belly). The film—which stars Burt Lancaster and was released in 1968—captures perfectly, in my mind, the twilight of what many call the Golden Age of Capitalism. This period occurred from 1947 to 1972, and it should not be confused with the Gilded Age of the 19th century. They are not at all the same. The Swimmer explores the decadent and ultimately dark side of an American prosperity that was primarily enjoyed by whites, a look at the American middle class that began its long decline not long after The Swimmer was completed. It is for this reason that it’s being screened as part of Northwest Film Forum’s Expressions of a Flame series. The year 1968 is of great importance to the political and economic history of this country. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Saturday only

Andrei Rublev
The greatest director who ever lived, Andrei Tarkovsky (1932–1986), made only seven films. Andrei Rublev, his second (1966), is not, admittedly, his best. It is indeed my least favorite of his small body of work. But this has less to do with the film itself, and more to do with my weak interest in its subject matter (the life of a 15th-century Russian icon painter). Nevertheless, it’s still worth watching—and more than once. Why? Because its director is second to none in the art of filmmaking. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
Thursday only

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. 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
AMC Pacific Place

Betty: They Say I'm Different
Betty Davis is probably better known for being Miles Davis’s wife and for her wild garb on the cover of her album They Say I’m Different than for her libidinous funk opuses and sublimely raunchy singing. Phil Cox’s low-budget documentary, Betty: They Say I’m Different, strives over its too-brief 53 minutes to build a case for its subject's canonization, although the dearth of live footage of Davis and her stellar bands hinders things. That said, Betty is crucial to any fan who desires a deeper understanding of this pioneering female funk auteur who, among other things, played a large role in changing Miles Davis’s sartorial and musical directions—even as she endured his abusive behavior. DAVE SEGAL
Northwest Film Forum
Thursday only

BlacKkKlansman
Based on retired police detective Ron Stallworth’s 2014 memoir Black Klansman, director Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman stars John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington) as the first Black cop on the Colorado Springs police department in the early 1970s. Answering a recruitment ad in the local newspaper—and a knack for talking on the phone using his best “white guy” voice—Stallworth gets in good with the local Klan in Colorado Springs. But his attempt to infiltrate the organization hits an obvious stumbling block when it comes time to meet in person. Enter fellow police officer Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), a nonpracticing Jew who agrees to pretend to be Stallworth in person. It’s difficult to know what to make of Lee’s latest joint. As with many of his other films, BlacKkKlansman constantly feels like Lee’s not sure what tone he wants to hit, so he hits them all, often with the subtlety of a brick to the face. It’s a solid work, albeit one that’s flawed in the same ways that nearly all of Spike’s best films are flawed. DAVID F. WALKER
Various locations

Blindspotting
In rapidly gentrifying Oakland, Collin (Daveed Diggs) is trying to survive his last three days of probation when the slightest infraction will send him back to jail. 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. CARL SPENCE
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Thursday only

Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians is romantic-comedy gold that should be celebrated not only for its cast but also for its perfect execution of light, breezy escapism. It centers on the relationship between NYU economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding). Only when Nick takes Rachel to a buddy’s wedding in Singapore does she discover his family is richer than God. From its stunningly attractive cast to its setting of gold-plated opulence, Crazy Rich Asians is pure eye candy. And with its modern take on boy-meets-girl that shows us a film can still be funny without anyone pooping their pants, Crazy Rich Asians is heart candy, too. This will become a touchstone romantic comedy, and it better not be another 25 years before there’s another movie like it. ELINOR JONES
Various locations

DudeFest XX: 20th Anniversary
Celebrate the 20th anniversary of the cult classic The Big Lebowski and its white-Russian-slurping protagonist, the Dude, with an outdoor screening during Trucktoberfest.
South Lake Union Discovery Center
Saturday only

Juliet, Naked
After Annie (Rose Byrne) and Duncan (Chris O’Dowd) split after many boring years together—in part due to Duncan’s obsession with a vanished ’90s indie rock god, Tucker Crowe (Ethan Hawke)—Annie happens into a romance with Tucker. Then everyone has to stop, go “Whoa!” and reflect on their lives. Juliet, Naked isn’t nearly as navel-gazey as I just made it sound. It’s charming, funny, and very smart. And this might sound crazy, but I’ve never liked Ethan Hawke more than in this film, where he pokes fun at his own status as an aging ’90s icon. Juliet, Naked is based on a novel by Nick Hornby, who’s established a solid career from writing about middle-aged hipster assholes who slowly come to realize that no one likes middle-aged hipster assholes. But it differs from Hornby’s past works like High Fidelity and About a Boy in that it centers on a sympathetic woman dealing with idiot men rather than the idiot men themselves. ELINOR JONES
Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10

Jurassic Park
Even though you already know what happens—things go horribly awry at a dinosaur theme park, chaos ensues, some people are killed and eaten, often simultaneously, others narrowly escape. And even though the film’s then-groundbreaking computer-generated imagery and animatronic dinos are child’s play compared to what you see in the sequels, Jurassic Park (the 1993 original) still looks pretty good. It delivers the same thrill ride of action that’s pretty much nonstop once that T. rex breaks through the de-electricized fence, Jeff Goldblum is still his awesome self, and Ariana Richards is still annoying as fuck and will spur you into screaming at the screen with each of her character’s panicked, dumb decisions. It’s worth rewatching on the big screen in honor of its 25th anniversary. LEILANI POLK
AMC Pacific Place
Sunday only

Let the Corpses Tan
In this Belgian thriller, a Mediterranean-set throwback to heist movies, Westerns, and Italian giallo thrillers, violence erupts in a gorgeous, secluded town among a sexy artist, a gang of thieves, and a pair of cops. This adaptation of a classic Jean-Patrick Manchette novel looks entrancingly beautiful, pulpy, and violent.
Grand Illusion
Friday–Sunday

The Little Stranger
This film has got great ingredients for a ghost story. There is an old family secret, a manor that has seen better days, whispering servants, a man of reason who refuses to believe in anything that is not of this world, an evil spirit lurking in the window, and, of course, the upper-class mouth of British actress Ruth Wilson. This mouth was made famous by the TV show Luther. It cast a spell on the show’s star, Idris Elba. In The Little Stranger, Wilson plays Caroline, the sister of a man whose face was burned horribly during the war. When words like “there’s something in this house that hates us” come out of Wilson’s mouth, they sound very posh indeed. CHARLES MUDEDE
AMC Pacific Place
Thursday only

Mandy
The basic plot of Mandy is nothing you haven’t seen before: Contented middle-aged man (Nicholas Cage) witnesses a hideous act of violence against his beloved; very discontented man employs an overabundance of esoteric weapons to wreak awful revenge. The bad dudes (and ladies) in this film are way more entertaining than usual: a drugged-out, dysfunctional hippie cult headed by a failed psych-rock star (Linus Roache, doing his best to out-ham Cage) and the Cenobite-like bikers he summons from darkness. But what really distinguishes Mandy is its art-film slowness as it gently builds a world around Andrea Riseborough and Cage. The whole movie mimics a series of vintage metal album covers, and heavy filters, slo-mo, motion blur, trippy superimpositions, and animated sequences abound. Mandy herself is half oneiric goddess, half vulnerable loner, and Riseborough, who’s shown exceptional versatility in Death of Stalin, Nancy, and Waco, possesses a fascinating spookiness that makes you forget she’s a cliche. But don’t worry, lovers of Cage: Once the vengeance plot revs up, you get all the eye-bugging lunacy you’ve come for. There’s a chainsaw duel, a creature with a knife-penis, some spectacular beheadings and cranium-splittings, and a bouquet of nonsensical one-liners. JOULE ZELMAN
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & Meridian 16

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Even though this movie deservedly won the top prize at Sundance, I wasn’t initially sure we needed another story about a teenage lesbian forced to go to pray-away-the-gay conversion camp. However, a hell of a lot has changed since 1999 when But I’m a Cheerleader came out. Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) is sent to the camp after being caught with her pants down with another girl on her prom night. The irony is that sending gay kids to the same place provides them with a sense of community and the ability to discover they are not alone in the world. While not all of the kids make it out unscathed, Cameron is able to form a secret support group to survive. Infused with humor without being campy, this is a sophisticated and refreshingly honest adaptation of the Emily M. Danforth novel of the same name. CARL SPENCE
Varsity Theatre

Mission: Impossible – Fallout
What Mission: Impossible - Fallout brings to the table is the best action choreography I’ve seen since Mad Max: Fury Road and a serviceably twisty espionage plot. Functioning as a pretty direct sequel to 2015’s Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, Fallout assigns Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and crew (Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, and Rebecca Ferguson) a pretty standard “terrorists have nuclear bombs and that’s bad” scenario that gives them excuses to heist and fight and banter around Western Europe and Central Asia while dealing with an increasingly complex series of intelligence agency betrayals. But writer/director Christopher McQuarrie spoils a good thing by connecting a few too many vital plot threads to previous films in this decades-old, often-muddled series; even having recently rewatched Rogue Nation, I was still frequently baffled when characters started discussing the events of that film without context. In terms of pure action cinema, Fallout absolutely sings. Every punch cracks teeth, every bullet thuds against brick or body armor with a real sense of weight, and every stunt has a very real feel of risk to it. (Probably because there was.) BEN COLEMAN
Various locations

Never Goin' Back
The once proudly disreputable stoner comedy genre has become strangely genteel in the Judd Apatow era, featuring protagonists who eventually find their way off the couch and back into acceptable society. Those movies that still fully commit to the bit, however, can seem almost heroic. The smartly dumb Never Goin’ Back is a blissfully low-rent comedy that occasionally approaches the rarefied, hazy air of the sainted first half of Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie. Absolutely no lessons are learned, thankfully. The story follows a pair of 17-year-old ne’er-do-wells (Maia Mitchell and Camila Morrone) living a perpetually blitzed existence in a Texas suburb. After impulsively blowing their rent money on an upcoming birthday trip to Galveston, they make a plan to work marathon shifts at the pancake house, and … oh, they’ve already screwed it up. Making her feature-length debut as a writer/director, Augustine Frizzell finds a shambling, loose-limbed vibe immediately, generously giving the supporting characters small moments to shine, while also keeping the barely-there plot in motion. It all culminates in a fantastically gross sequence of bodily functions run amok that might prompt even John Waters hold his lighter in the air. ANDREW WRIGHT
Grand Illusion
Thursday only

Pick of the Litter
Pick of the Litter isn’t all roly-polies and snuggles and yips: The star dogs of the film work their tails off as they are trained to become service animals, and their journey is emotional, tense, inspiring. (And yes, cute as hell.) The film starts with a fresh litter of squeaky baby Labrador retriever woofers, called the “P litter” because they all get P names: Poppet, Patriot, Potomac, Primrose, and the everyman, Phil. We follow the five Ps through their highly regimented early lives that start at a breeding center, then move on to puppy raisers, to an academy, and, finally, at close to two years old, into the hands of a person who needs them. And because the squishy geniuses change hands so many times on their path to work, the film contains many, many minutes of people saying very emotional goodbyes to dogs or hellos to dogs. If you’ve ever done one of those things, you’re going to cry. ELINOR JONES
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Friday–Sunday

Puzzle
I occasionally try to finish puzzles on the ferry to Orcas Island, but I never knew there was a world of competitive puzzling. Marc Turtletaub (producer of Little Miss Sunshine, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Loving) wonderfully directs this sweet journey of a woman who discovers her uncanny knack for puzzles and has an awakening to pursue a more extraordinary life beyond the confines of her ordinary family. Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire, Trainspotting) is pitch-perfect as Agnes, and Bollywood star Irrfan Khan makes a great puzzle partner and protagonist to open Agnes’s mind and heart to explore her dreams and desires. Midlife crisis stories have so rarely focused on a woman character, and Macdonald refreshingly illuminates Agnes’s spirit as she discovers how to live, love, and make her own path for the future. CARL SPENCE
Varsity Theatre
Thursday only

Scanners
A race of telepaths has emerged amid the human race, and one of them, Cameron Vale, is being trained as a weapon. But after an attack on the program, Vale must go undercover to get close to a renegade fellow "scanner." If you already know you love body horror but haven't yet seen this David Cronenberg cult movie, go see it.
Central Cinema
Friday–Sunday

Searching
The problem with high-concept movies is that it can be difficult to lose yourself in them. Both filmmakers and audiences have generally agreed on a visual shorthand in film—a common language of cuts, camera angles and exposition that, when applied correctly, can become invisible, letting the movie take over. It’s like how your brain filters out the sound of the ocean after your third day at the beach. The downside of all these conventions, though, is that unconventionally structured films—regardless of how well they’re executed—can seem too self-aware for their own good. Searching, a mystery that takes place predominantly on a series of computer desktops, should fall into this trap, but it doesn’t. It’s one of the most engrossing films I’ve seen this year. One important element of Searching’s success is that it’s not confined to a single desktop. The story circles around a family of three: David, his wife Pamela, and their daughter Margot. Searching’s viewpoint shifts between these characters’ various devices and user accounts, each of which offer clues to aspects of their personalities. Add to that a very effective use of zoom and framing, and the POV never feels static or constraining unless it needs to. BEN COLEMAN
Various locations

SHRIEK: Lifeforce (Heckle Night)
Evan J. Peterson and Heather Bartels curate this film and community education series that examines the role of women and minorities in horror films. Once in awhile, they take a kinda dumb film and hold it up for enjoyment and ridicule—like Lifeforce, Tobe Hooper's "space-vampire-butthole-booby-bonanza" starring Mathilda May as a superhot energy-sucking alien.
Naked City
Sunday only

A Simple Favor
When beguiling, stylish Emily (Blake Lively) disappears mysteriously, her mommy vlogger friend Stephanie (Anna Kendrick) investigates. Paul Feig directed this well-received crime caper, which has been praised for its brains and the draw of its skillful and appealing stars.
Wide release

Sorry To Bother You
When hiphop 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
Ark Lodge Cinemas & AMC Seattle 10

Spirited Away
I guess Ariana Grande and I have at least one thing in common: We both love Hayao Miyazaki’s 2001 anime film Spirited Away. However, I will not, like Miss Grande, be getting a tattoo of Chihiro, the 10-year-old protagonist who becomes trapped in the spirit world after her parents fall prey to an enchantment that turns them into pigs. She, too, falls victim to the realm’s forces, tricked into a sort of slavery while she plots a way to break the spell and get herself and her parents out. Along the way, she meets fantastic supernatural beings, including a boy under a curse that periodically turns him into a spectacular dragon. The animation is, of course, dazzling and beautifully rendered in the trademark elegant Miyazaki style, the story is engrossing, and its execution makes for a thrilling, poignant, and overall masterful film. LEILANI POLK
Central Cinema
Friday–Sunday

VOYEUR: Bunny Lake Is Missing
The outré film series VOYEUR will show the bizarre 1965 Otto Preminger post-noir film Bunny Lake Is Missing, starring Keir Dullea and Carol Lynley, about a woman searching for her daughter whose existence everyone else denies. Here's VOYEUR-runner Samantha Lauren's description: "The cult classic features Noel Coward as a kinky landlord and even manages to fit in an appearance from English psych band the Zombies! Part film noir, part perverse fairy tale, Bunny Lake is Missing hardly passed the US production code standards of the time - which could be why the film was more beloved by British audiences."
Scarecrow Video
Sunday only

We the Animals
Three brothers in a working-class upstate New York family grapple with masculinity and maturity in this sensitive adaptation of Justin Torres's autobiographical novel. The two older brothers are rough-and-tumble imitators of their macho father; Jonah, the youngest, is a sweet kid discovering his own queerness. Starring Raùl Castillo (Looking) and Sheila Vand (A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Women Who Kill).
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Thursday only

What Keeps You Alive
A lesbian couple celebrates their one-year anniversary in a creepy forest cabin—but one of them has sinister plans for the other. Critics say it's fun to watch the murderous mayhem play out between the two women, although some have criticized the ridiculousness of having a rowboat chase in a suspense movie.
Grand Illusion
Friday–Sunday

The Wife
Based on a novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, the wife, in this case, is Joan Castleman—played by a brilliant Glenn Close, in perhaps the most captivating role in her career. Joan is married to Joe Castleman, a much lauded novelist who has just found out he's won the Nobel Prize. When Joe receives the good news, Joan celebrates and quietly simmers at once. The undercurrent of Joan's anger plays throughout the film, and the viewer doesn't know why, exactly, she can't fully indulge in her husband's big win. He's been selected to replace Bill Clinton on the cover of TIME (this, along with ample smoking indoors, is one of the few reminders that the film is set in the early '90s). Why can't she just be happy for her man? The Wife sticks with you. Watch it with a friend—or, even better, your spouse—so you'll have someone with whom to discuss this Oscar-worthy work of art. KATIE HERZOG
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Also Playing:
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.


The Happy Time Murders

Kin

The Nun

Operation Finale

Peppermint

Predator

White Boy Rick

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