Festival season is kicking up, and there's a fresh crop of new indies and big hits to choose from. Local Sightings Film Festival begins Friday, which means indie film lovers are starting up their happy dances. As always, there are plenty of arthouse picks (including the compelling Madeline's Madeline) and classics (like Rebel Without a Cause), and we've even thrown in a couple of film classes you might be interested in. 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.
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
The last film is 2001: A Space Odyssey.
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
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
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
The Haunted Palace
Get in an early Halloween mood with this Roger Corman-directed, Vincent Price-starring loose adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward," about a warlock's curse and terrifying (?) revenge. Camp is guaranteed.
The Heroine Awakens: Rey's Journey in 'Star Wars'
You probably learned about the Hero's Journey via Homer's Odyssey in your high school English class, but what about the Heroine's Journey? This talk will focus on the plight of Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
SIFF Film Center
I Am Not a Witch
On the face of it, this Zambian-set film by Welsh director Rungano Nyoni sounds terribly depressing: An eight-year-old girl is accused of witchcraft and confined to a small area where, she's told, she must stay or be turned into a goat. But the movie is actually reported to be a funny, fairy-tale satire about freedom and danger.
Northwest Film Forum
In the Realm of Guillermo del Toro
Film scholar Joe Trafton will lead you into the mind of the man who directed Pan's Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, Hellboy, The Devil's Backbone, and, of course, The Shape of Water.
SIFF Film Center
The Internet Cat Video Festival
A two-day celebration of the internet’s greatest (and arguably only) contribution to the cultural life of this planet: short clips of humankind’s second-cutest pets being cute as hell. Trainspotters will take note that this event is held at the same venue that has hosted The Stranger’s own HUMP!, another festival founded on the premise that people will not only pay for what they can get for free online, they will stand in line for the privilege of doing it together! Meee-ow. SEAN NELSON
SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Last Dragon
A young black man named Leroy Green (aka Bruce Leroy, played by Taimak) seeks knowledge of a secret martial art and a power called “the Glow” with the help of an amulet belonging to Bruce Lee, “Master Sum Dum Goy” (sigh), and a hot video host. Fun fact: the “performance art” piece in Sorry to Bother You features dialogue from this campy cult classic.
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.
Thursday & Saturday
Local Sightings Film Festival
Seattle’s only festival devoted to Pacific Northwest movies will screen 14 features and 10 shorts programs, as well as offering media workshops, appearances by about 40 filmmakers, and one kickass artsy opening party. Don’t miss Vancouver: No Fixed Address (Saturday), Charles Wilkinson’s documentary about our northern neighbor’s housing crisis and the global trend of offshore investment that precipitated it; North of Blue (Sunday), Portland animator Joanna Priestley’s psychedelic fantasia on the Yukon Territory; or the shorts programs showcasing local inventiveness like "North by North Weird" or "Letters from Home." JOULE ZELMAN
Northwest Film Forum
An experimental theater troupe director pushes a teenage girl to transform her troubled relationship with her mother (Miranda July) into art, and reality and artifice begin to blend in Josephine Decker's critically admired mindfuck.
Grand Illusion & Meridian 16
Directed by the lusty John Huston, starring the mid-century Hollywood hunk Humphrey Bogart and the mid-century Hollywood creep Peter Lorre, and based on a novel by the great hack Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon is lowbrow culture at its highest. CHARLES MUDEDE
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 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 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 Uptown
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
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
AMC Pacific Place & Meridian 16
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
Rebel Without a Cause
People who propose that James Dean is one of the best actors of all time will sometimes reference this film’s milk scene. In it, bad boy James Dean, tired of being such a bad boy, takes five enormous gulps of milk from a carafe, then aggressively/erotically rolls the bottle across his forehead, then finishes with the bottle on his cheek, giving the poutiest pouty face a bad boy can muster. He looks like a madman, but this wild, unexplained moodiness is the sort of acting Americans love, and Rebel Without a Cause is rife with it. CHASE BURNS
AMC Pacific Place
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
Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
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.
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. 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. 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. 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
Veracity: Black Mother
In Black Mother, the New York–based filmmaker and photographer Khalik Allah presents Jamaica in much the same way he presented Harlem in his first film Field Niggas: as a stream of social consciousness. The black bodies he films on the streets, in the alleys, in the churches, in homes, woods, and fruit-rich markets of the island conduct disembodied thoughts about colonial history, food, health, economics, religion, life, after-life, globalized exploitation, and racism. All of these thoughts flow from the body of the black woman. It is their point of origin and also motive force. In this way, Black Mother is like Beyoncé’s Lemonade, a sixty-five-minute exploration of pan-African female blackness that includes images shot by Allah. But the force of feeling in Black Mother is much deeper and even more dangerous than that which courses through Lemonade. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
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
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.