This weekend, our film critics recommend everything from Chris Marker's cine-essays The Case of the Grinning Cat and Cat Listening to Music (part of the Hep Cats series) to Puget Soundtrack: Sailor Moon R to the artsy The Price of Everything. 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 listings.
Movies play Thursday-Sunday unless otherwise noted
14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival
The 14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival, the world's biggest and best porn short film festival, premiers in Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco this November! After the opening festival concludes its run, HUMP! will hit the road in 2019 and screen in more than 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada. HUMP! invites filmmakers, animators, songwriters, porn-star wannabes, kinksters, vanilla folks, YOU, and other creative types to make short porn films—five minutes max—for HUMP! The HUMP! Film Festival screens in theaters and nothing is ever released online. HUMP! films can be hardcore, softcore, live action, animated, kinky, vanilla, straight, gay, lez, bi, trans, genderqueer—anything goes at HUMP! (Well, almost anything: No poop, no animals, no minors, no MAGA hats.) DAN SAVAGE
On the Boards
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
I heart Queen. The song this film is named for was on the soundtrack of my youth. But early reactions to the film biopic (that’s more about Freddie Mercury than the British rock band he led) have been mixed to bad. The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan tweeted that Bohemian Rhapsody “is a glorified Wikipedia entry but Rami Malek plays Freddie Mercury (and wears his wonderful costumes) with incredible gusto.” Our own Chase Burns was not a fan at all. ("The 15-minute long shit I took during the middle of the movie was more nuanced than the straight-washed hagiography peddled in that movie theater.") In sum, enter at your own risk. LEILANI POLK
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.
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.
Majectic Bay & Ark Lodge Cinemas
A black woman, Clara, becomes a domestic servant to an upper-class pregnant white woman. Their formal relationship turns deeply weird when Clara discovers her boss’s grotesque nocturnal habits. At first satirizing the exploitation of the working class, the Brazilian Good Manners segues elegantly into romance and then supernatural horror—and that’s just in the first hour. At that point, the script abruptly abandons its most fascinating, queerest themes to chase a less unique plot thread. Luckily, Isabél Zuaa as Clara is so subtle and intense that you never want her to leave the screen. JOULE ZELMAN
SIFF Film Center
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
Cats in movies have symbolized everything from elegance to curiosity to evil, but sometimes—like in the films of the French experimentalist Chris Marker—they are simply their wonderful selves. Hep Cats delivers a handful of these ailurophilic flicks, beginning with Chris Marker's cine-essays The Case of the Grinning Cat and Cat Listening to Music. JOULE ZELMAN
Northwest Film Forum
Israeli TV Dinners: Your Honor (Kvodo)
The highly regarded Israeli TV series Your Honor is a riveting drama about an upright judge whose inflexible moral code is undermined when his son accidentally kills a member of a mob family. Watch a marathon of the award-winning show in advance of its American release and eat some tasty Middle Eastern food.
Stroum Jewish Community Center
My Neighbor Totoro
Two sisters encounter a mythical forest sprite and its woodland friends when they move to rural Japan.
Mid90s tells the story of 13-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who, after he’s rejected and bullied by his older brother Ian (Lucas Hedges), finds new role models in a crew of skaters led by the wise and magnanimous Ray (Na-kel Smith). Stevie’s willingness to repeatedly fall on hard concrete as he tries to maneuver a skateboard that looks half his height endears him to his newfound friends. The resultant feelings—and the film’s title—places Mid90s squarely in Hill’s nostalgic memory, where he both dramatizes and idealizes the kids’ adventures. SUZETTE SMITH
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 David Miller's Sudden Fear, in which a successful playwright (played by Joan Crawford) winds up marrying a struggling actor she fired one time, only to discover that he's plotting her murder.
Seattle Art Museum
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 Price of Everything
The timing could not be better for The Price of Everything to open in Seattle—it is exactly four weeks after the Banksy print Girl with Balloon (purchased for $1.4 million) "self-destructed" at the London Sotheby's auction house. This stunt, and Nathaniel Kahn's documentary, captures the buying and selling of art as exactly what it is: an aristocratic struggle for control, status, and ownership. Kahn pays just as much attention to the viewpoint of the artists as to the participants in the auctions themselves (the buyers and sellers). A cinematic cutting between responses from each creates a fabricated town-hall-type dialogue about material valuation and what it means to love/covet art. LEAH ST. LAWRENCE
Northwest Film Forum
Puget Soundtrack: Sailor Moon R
Puget Soundtrack invites musicians to create and perform a live score for a film of their choosing. Sundae Crush, the Seattle-by-way-of-Denton, Texas, dreamy pop electronica band, have aptly chosen Sailor Moon R: The Movie for their turn at the series. The sweet, sentimental, stubbornly spacey band is a perfect fit for the cult anime.
Northwest Film Forum
Call Me by Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s reinterpretation of Argento's film Suspiria is a precisely choreographed mindfuck, and progressing through the film’s six acts feels like peeling off layers of an onion until you reach the reeking core. It’s swift, brutal, and breathtaking, but it’s also frequently bogged down by overcomplicated subplots and distracting details. The original premise remains the same—ancient ballerina witches trying to live forever by sacrificing students—but this time around, the Markos Dance Academy is located right next to the Berlin Wall in post-World War II Germany, and Susie Bannion (a very meh Dakota Johnson) is a runaway Mennonite from Ohio. Whatever parallels Guadagnino hoped to draw between the traumatic aftermath of the Holocaust and the bloody chaos going on inside the coven ends up feeling more confusing than profound. CIARA DOLAN
AMC Pacific Place & AMC Seattle 10
The Romanian Film Festival Seattle
This brief but mighty film festival screens features from one of the most fertile, innovative, intellectual film industries in Europe. This year's edition of ARCS's annual event, the fifth, is subtitled "Uncanny Worlds," which sounds awfully promising. Alongside the festival, artist Danny Ursache will have a show called Uncanny Figments at Art/Not Gallery.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
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 Pacific Place
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
V for Vendetta
In 2006, cultural critic and philosopher Steven Shaviro described V for Vendetta as a film that “pull no punches” and “doesn’t draw back from its more dangerous initial implications in the ways that high-budget adaptations of comics so often do.” He also stated that the “destruction of the British Parliament at the end of the film is the most emphatic such endorsement of subversive terrorist action since Fight Club.” The 2005 movie is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore, stars Natalie Portman, and gave anarchists around the world an identity: the Guy Fawkes mask. And it is here that Shaviro provided a deep insight about revolutions. The transformation of an ordinary subject into a revolutionary one requires the destruction of the former. Shaviro, borrowing from another important cultural critic (Slavoj Žižek), calls this "subjective destitution." CHARLES MUDEDE
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.