Choose something scary, suspenseful, heartfelt, or innovative this weekend: Go back in time to your Halloween favorites like The Cabin in the Woods or Hocus Pocus, or witness fresh new cinema talent at NFFTY, the "young filmmakers' Cannes." 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.
Alien Invasion Pizza Party
Eat pizza and enjoy the thrill of alien monsters on 35mm with Seattle's trash film cultists.
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
The Cabin in the Woods
Drew Goddard's gleeful, winking parody/justification of decades' worth of horror tropes is enormously fun and a bit cruel: A gaggle of attractive young people vacationing in the woods is manipulated by secret bureaucrats into satisfying supernatural bloodlusts. But what happens when a few of them catch on to the conspiracy? Featuring the best non-smoking use of a bong in any movie.
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.
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
Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
The Devil We Know
Corporations do not exist to make the world a better place. They exist to make a profit. And making money make more money often requires making the world a worse place. This is The Devil We Know, a documentary about a huge US corporation, DuPont, and the social costs (which are negative) of a class of products it manufactures (Teflon kitchenware). To make and sell these things cheaply, it has to shift a large part of the cost of production to waste, which is mostly free but also often toxic. The doc is about how this waste affected factory workers in and residents around the corporation’s production site. An economics that ignores the laws of thermodynamics will always privatize profits and socialize negative externalities. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center
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
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
RaMell Ross spent five years shooting this intimate and poetic documentary in Alabama, probing deep into the lives of two young black men: "Daniel Collins, an aspiring college basketball player, and Quincy Bryant, a new father focused on raising his son." Ross's Full Frame Grand Jury Prize-winning film has been praised all around, with the New York Times's A.O. Scott calling it "a quietly radical challenge to assumptions about race, class, and the aesthetics of filmmaking."
Northwest Film Forum
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
This beloved fantasy/comedy film features a badass trio of witches (played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker) who want to suck out children’s souls.
When you go see King Kong, keep in mind that you'll be bearing witness to a colonialist heart-of-darkness narrative of the 1930s, but also a landmark in monster stop-motion that inspired later artists like the legendary Ray Harryhausen. It's both racist and an important piece of film history, a powerful myth of human greed unleashing out-of-control forces of sexuality and rage.
They proliferated in anxious postwar America and still occasionally return to brood and smolder onscreen: films noirs, born of the chiaroscuro influence of immigrant German directors and the pressure of unique American fears. Once again, the museum will screen nine hard-boiled, moody crime classics like Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground, which stars the great Robert Ryan (who looks like an old-school Bill O'Reilly and excelled at playing toughs, but was a pretty progressive guy) and the pioneering actor/director Ida Lupino as a corrupt cop and the blind woman he falls in love with.
Seattle Art Museum
The "young filmmaker's Cannes"—Charles Mudede called it "world-class"—this festival assembles the best films made by directors under 25. See works by promising cineastes who will make you feel very old.
The Old Man and the Gun
Based on a true story, the latest from David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) reteams the filmmaker with Robert Redford, who plays Forrest Tucker, the charming, handsome leader of a trio of geriatric bank robbers. Forrest’s partners in crime are Teddy (Danny Glover) and Waller (a fantastic Tom Waits). Like one of Forrest’s disarmingly polite robberies, The Old Man and the Gun starts out pleasant and sweet before revealing hints of darkness—each of these characters is deeper than they first appear, and one’s never quite sure what any of them are going to do next. Lowery is happy to tag along, capturing lives that are polished by time and dented by experience, but remain bright and sharp with wit and passion. Watching Redford have this much fun is, as always, a goddamn delight. ERIK HENRIKSEN
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
Sámi Mini Film Festival
Spend a day acquainting yourself with Sámi (indigenous Northern Scandinavian) culture with documentaries and short fiction films from Norway, Sweden, and Finland Sápmi (the name given to traditional Sámi territory). After watching such films as Kaisa's Enchanted Forest (the longest offering, at 86 minutes) and I Will Always Love You Kingen, stay on for a panel discussion.
Seattle Polish Film Festival
This film festival hailing from an important moviemaking center of Eastern Europe always has interesting features to offer. This weekend, try Małgorzata Szumowska's modern fairy tale Mug, about a construction worker who falls from a gigantic statue of Christ and loses his face, and don't miss Andrzej Wajda's bona fide classic satire Man of Marble, in which a young film student researching a labor leader of the '50s discovers Stalinian atrocity. (This film was made in 1976, during a brief thaw in Communist repression of the arts.)
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Shaun of the Dead
When it first came out, Portland Mercury critic Erik Henriksen wrote: "A sharp, clever, and gory horror-comedy that manages to be as scary as it is hilarious, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Shaun of the Dead shows all the marks of becoming a cult classic (and yeah, I know that sounds cliched, but in this case, it's actually true). In the recent glut of financially successful zombie flicks, from 28 Days Later to the remake of Dawn of the Dead, the UK-made Shaun is the clear spiritual and intellectual winner, a film that simultaneously respects and satirizes the zombie genre." He's been proven correct.
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.
AMC Seattle 10 & AMC Pacific Place
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
A Star Is Born
If you’re entering the theatre simply desiring a couple solid musical numbers, then your $15 will not have been spent in vain. Unfortunately, the movie falls flat as only a two-dimensional vignette of common misogyny can. Ally, the lead character played by Lady Gaga, is a woman who knows she has talent but needs to hear that she is sufficiently pretty to be an appropriate vehicle for said talent. Like any woman vying for a piece of the proverbial pie, she is just one man away from success. One man to lead her, to mold her, to push her through to the finish line. This man-shaped void is filled by her father, her husband, her manager, her producer, her choreographer, and her photographer, all of whom take credit or receive credit from other men for her creative output and appearance. A Star Is Born is a classic tale, meant to be mutable, fluid, to adapt within each age it is reimagined. But the flaws of the inherent narrative are too real, too every-day damaging to continue being told in the form of a cinematic fantasy. KIM SELLING
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.