It's a beautiful weekend for movie-going, whether you love indie dramas, seasonal favorites (like The Craft and Psycho), or major Hollywood spectacles. Feel cosmopolitan as heck by going to the German cinema showcase Kinofest or the Seattle Polish Film Festival, or catch Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell in the touching new drama Beautiful Boy or Sophia Mitri Ross and Melanie Lynskey in Sadie. 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 film events calendar and complete movie times listings.
Bad Times at the El Royale
If a computer algorithm were to generate a movie about the late 1960s and early ’70s, using information solely gleaned from the films of Quentin Tarantino, the result might look something like Bad Times at the El Royale. A femme fatale with a dark secret? A scary-sexy cult leader? Muscle cars? Writer/director Drew Goddard attempts to cram all the terror and confusion of that era—from Watergate to Vietnam to the Manson murders—into a kitschy roadside motel that straddles the California-Nevada border. Unfortunately, by the end, I was just glad Bad Times was over. It seems like Goddard’s priority was creating an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia, with five strangers who are lying about their identities stuck in this eerie alpine waypost in the middle of a storm. That said, some people will love Bad Times; it’s an odd hybrid of noir and horror, with smoky tension and violent jump scares. CIARA DOLAN
I’ve never been a parent or a junkie (yet!), but I found a lot that resonated in Beautiful Boy, a low-key film based on a pair of interconnected memoirs from father and son David and Nicolas Sheff. David (Steve Carell) chews himself up over son Nic’s (Timothée Chalamet) spiral into meth and heroin addiction, asking what he could have done to prevent it and wondering how he can fix it. Nic, meanwhile, copes with not only his body’s betrayal but with the disappointment he feels, both self-directed and from his patient, confused father. From Beautiful Boy’s perspective, Nic is really only guilty of having a curious mind, while David, a good father in every recognizable way, might have simply waited too long to show his beloved son some tough love. The performances make the whole thing sing. Carell and Chalamet both do expectedly good work, and they’re matched by Amy Ryan as Nic’s mother and Maura Tierney as his stepmother. Beautiful Boy is driven by the real-life horror of watching a loved one succumb to drugs, but it’s a family drama devoid of most of the genre’s manipulative qualities, substituting them with honesty, empathy, and fully drawn human beings. NED LANNAMANN
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
About 100 years ago, an Arizona town mass-deported 1,200 striking immigrant miners to the middle of the desert. On the exact anniversary of this act of cruelty, influential filmmaker Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine) recorded current citizens of Bisbee as they performed reenactments of their history.
SIFF Film Center
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
AMC Seattle 10
Keira Knightley embodies the 19th- and 20th-century French novelist Colette as a country girl who blossoms sexually and artistically after marrying a witty small publisher in Belle-Epoque Paris. Critics love the biopic's wit and convincing depiction of a truly well-matched and adventurous couple.
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Seattle 10
There are many reasons you are/should be/will be obsessed with The Craft, Andrew Fleming's cult '90s-era film about telekinetic wannabe witches. I will list four of them. One, Nancy's studded choker. Iconic! Two, Neve Campbell's fake cries. Horrible! Three, Laura Lizzie losing her hair for being a racist piece of shit. Satisfying! Four, LIGHT AS A FEATHER, STIFF AS A BOARD! CHASE BURNS
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 space stuff is great. When La La Land director Damien Chazelle’s biopic about Neil Armstrong focuses on NASA’s insanely ambitious and dangerous plan to put a man on the moon, it thrums with thrill and threat—from the astonishing scope of space to the claustrophobic confines of the command module, the best parts of First Man are worth experiencing on the biggest screen possible. Ryan Gosling offers an excellent turn as Armstrong, but even Gosling can’t liven up the story’s more pedestrian elements, which largely involve Armstrong’s relationship with his wife (Claire Foy) and his stoic mourning of his daughter. First Man bears the familiar curse of the biopic—it somehow feels both overlong and unsatisfying—and never quite escapes the shadow of The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman’s remarkable 1983 film that told a similar story with more grace and smarts. Still: the space stuff is great. ERIK HENRIKSEN
This highly praised, dizzying documentary reveals the heart-stopping journey of Alex Honnold as he conquered Yosemite's El Capitan wall without ropes or safety gear. You don't need to be a climber to be thrilled at this glimpse into human accomplishment.
This excellent Nordic thriller gets the job done. It’s tense, it’s tight, it has an unstable lead character and a mystery that just keeps popping. Set in a Copenhagen emergency call center that looks like a room in the hell for fallen cops, the film begins in a place that all stories should begin, which is not the beginning but the middle. This is the middle of the character’s life. He (Asger Holm) has come from somewhere, but he is going nowhere. He desperately needs something to do. But most of the calls he receives are for dumb shit (someone stole my computer, the bouncer at this club sucks, and so on). Then the call he has been waiting for happens, but you can’t tell if his desperation for action is making matters worse or solving a crime. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Watching the original Halloween in 2018, it can be hard to appreciate exactly what was so scary about it in 1978. We’ve seen so many derivations of it (from Friday the 13th to A Nightmare on Elm Street) and we’ve seen it referenced, analyzed, parodied, and homaged so many times (in Scream and everything else) that going back to the source is bound to be a little anti-climactic. It certainly was for me, a guy who had not yet been born in 1978. Michael Myers didn’t kill the most people. John Carpenter’s Halloween wasn’t the goriest, the trashiest, or the kitschiest. Yet it essentially spawned an entire genre: the slasher film. And here we are in 2018, still making Halloween movies. Or at least, David Gordon Green and Danny McBride have made a Halloween movie. It’s an unlikely combination of content and creator, but an intriguing one. VINCE MANCINI
Kids take on climate change at the world's biggest high school science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Is this feeling...hope?
SIFF Cinema Uptown
This short festival, co-organized with the Portland German Film Festival, screens new and classic German-language cinema from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This year's lineup includes some intriguing biopics, like Egon Schiele — Death and the Maiden, about the mesmerizingly morbid/erotic Austrian artist, and Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe, about the ill-fated Austrian Jewish writer of The Royal Game and Letter from an Unknown Woman. There's also a drama about the clandestine Jewish survivors of the Nazi regime in Berlin, The Invisibles, a documentary following David Lama as he sets out to climb an insanely difficult Patagonia peak, Cerro Torre, and more.
SIFF Film Center
In 2017, it was hard to escape the mania around Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors, which exhibited at SAM and other major art institutions all over the US. Everyone wanted a selfie in front of Kusama's famous dots, but did anyone want to know about the woman herself? Kusama, a giant in contemporary art who had her work copied by an embarrassingly large number of male pop artists, including Andy Warhol, now gets a major documentary on her life, and it's just as fascinating as those peculiar, infectious, maddening dots. CHASE BURNS
Northwest Film Forum
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 Egyptian
Matangi /Maya / MIA
As the daughter of one of the founding members of the Sri Lankan guerrilla group the Tamil Tigers, M.I.A., born Matangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, and her family fled Sri Lanka in the mid-80s, going to the United Kingdom as political refugees while her father remained behind. The film's title tries to tie together all parts of Arulpragasam's identity: Matangi, the potential soldier in Sri Lanka; Maya, the talented art student in London; M.I.A., the world-famous rapper that’s not afraid to flip off Middle America. The film makes a compelling case for the existence of all three women, pushing against the idea M.I.A. embodies only one experience, one identity. Relying on a mixture of media footage and extensive home videos that she shot herself over the past 20 years, it’s clear that the rapper struggles to reconcile her expansive and contradictory history. If the documentary is unsatisfying, it’s because it gives us no definite answers about identity, about a reconciliation of self, about how to live in this world as many contradictions, belonging everywhere and nowhere. JASMYNE KEIMIG
SIFF Cinema Uptown
MoPOP Matinee: 'Young Frankenstein'
Mel Brooks's sublimely absurd comedy about a reluctant mad scientist (the staggeringly funny Gene Wilder) and his monstrous yet sensitive creation (Peter Boyle) will be shown after a reading from The New Annotated Frankenstein by Leslie S. Klinger and the unveiling of a bust of Mary Shelley.
Museum of Pop Culture
The Most Dangerous Game
After a shipwreck, a cocky hunter and a couple of fellow passengers find themselves stranded on the island of General Zaroff, a genteel sadist bored with hunting non-human animals. He turns the three victims loose and starts after them with deadly weapons...all for the fun of the chase. This classic, dark adventure tale from 1932 is still suspenseful and has that golden-age charm.
The Night Eats the World
A young man parties too hard and sleeps through the zombie apocalypse in Paris. He barricades himself in his apartment building...but he's not alone. According to critics, this zombie movie focuses more on the isolation and terror of the survivor, distinguishing it from the usual shambling crowd.
The Old Man and the Gun
I have not seen this movie, which Robert Redford says will be his farewell to the silver screen. The man has been in the business forever. He is a Hollywood icon. He exits as a friendly bank robber. Redford is also the first human to see my daughter walk. This happened in 2001 during a party at the Sundance Institute. “She can walk,” he announced. And I did not realize who he was talking about until I saw that he was looking at my baby. I had never seen her walk before, nor had my wife. It was Robert Redford who had that first chance. Fare forward, Sundance Kid. CHARLES MUDEDE
When you think of a horror movie, you think of high-pitched, escalating music. You think of building tension. You see the knife coming for the woman in the shower. You want to scream at her to turn around, but you’re helpless. You watch as it all unravels, just as you suspected. Or so you thought. Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest feat, Psycho, is the quintessential horror flick. It’s got mystery and intrigue, it’s got twists and turns, and it’s got Norman Bates, who you don’t want to say is attractive… but there is something kinda sexy about how off-putting he is. Well, sort of. At least he’s a loving son, right? NATHALIE GRAHAM
Puget Soundtrack: William Tyler presents 'Too Much Johnson'
William Tyler of the Silver Jews and Lambchop (Dave Segal called him "brilliant") will live-score a reconstruction of a once-lost filming of a stage production of Too Much Johnson, which was edited by Orson Welles. Too Much Johnson was a 1894 farce written by William Gillette; quite possibly, the title is meant as a naughty pun.
Northwest Film Forum
The latest from local filmmaker Megan Griffiths (Lucky Them, Eden) has a perfect Northwest feel. Sadie is 13 and lives with her mother in a dilapidated trailer park. Sadie worships her absent father, while being impossible with her harried mother. She is smart and precocious, trying to come to an understanding of how the world works, but the adults around her have their own problems. The film shows the way adults communicate with kids, never talking to them directly, trying to fool the kid and themselves. This leaves young people with half-ass ideas, and they run with them without really understanding the situation, with mixed results. The film has a great cast: The wonderful Melanie Lynskey plays the mom, with Sophia Mitri Schloss (from last year’s SIFF favorite Lane 1974) as Sadie. Danielle Brooks (Orange Is the New Black), John Gallagher Jr. (Short Term 12), and Tony Hale (Arrested Development) ably round things out. GILLIAN ANDERSON
Northwest FIlm Forum
Seattle Polish Film Festival
This film festival hailing from an important moviemaking center of Eastern Europe always has interesting features to offer. This weekend, don't miss Ashes and Diamonds, Oscar-winning director Andrzej Wajda's essential drama of postwar Poland's internecine political factions; Pawel Pawlikowski's bleak historical romance Cold War, and Łukasz Palkowski's Breaking the Limits, about the champion sprint-canoer Jerzy Gorski.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
SHRIEK! Pet Sematary
It's time again for SHRIEK!, the class on women and minorities in horror films, which includes a screening and discussion led by Clarion West alum and author Evan J. Peterson and "Seattle's Film Maven" Heather Marie Bartels. Watch Stephen King's infamous Pet Sematary, the movie that made you afraid of your cat and your baby brother, then discuss with an eye on gender.
Naked City Brewery
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.
The Sisters Brothers
A darkly funny, satisfyingly violent adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s novel, The Sisters Brothers follows four men whose bumbling paths cross in Oregon and California in 1851. The titular brothers are assassins, and are played with predictable excellence by John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix; when they aren't drinking or bickering, they're chasing two other men, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed (also excellent, also predictably). There are intense shoot-outs and there are goofy pratfalls, and there's dread and sadness and mishaps involving everything from an angry bear to a well-loved shawl. Somehow, the ungainly contraption holds together beautifully. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
TWIST Queer Film Festival
Local shorts, indie features, and national or international releases will stoke and satisfy your appetite for gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and otherwise queer-focused films, from hot romances to incisive documentaries to perverse suspense flicks. If you love queer movies and moviemakers, this festival is indispensable. Among this weekend's films are White Rabbit, about a Korean American performance artist reeling from a breakup; the self-explanatory Drag Roast of Heklina, featuring Jinkx Monsoon, Peaches Christ, and other prominent queens; Paternal Rites, a trans filmmaker's investigation into his parents' fateful road trip; and much more. The closing film will be Rafiki, Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu's landmark work—banned in her home country for its "clear intent to promote lesbianism.”
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.