This weekend, Hotel Mumbai promises a dramatization of a devastating act of terror in India and the heroism of ordinary people who responded. Tim Burton's Dumbo is also opening, but the reviews have taken a pretty dim view: Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal called it "a live-action remake of the 1941 animated classic with a grim tone and a dead soul." Fortunately, there are some very different cinematic colossi striding into town: the grand Russian epic War and Peace and a stunning new documentary on the Stalinist purges, Sergei Loznitsa's The Trial. You can also catch Bjork's film debut, the haunting The Juniper Tree. 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.
Note: Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise noted.
Alita: Battle Angel
I have never recommended seeing a movie in 3-D, let alone IMAX 3-D, because films should either succeed in 2-D or they aren’t worth seeing. But for Alita: Battle Angel, I will—for the first time—tell you to splurge on the IMAX. I can’t stop dreaming about the glimmering city in the clouds that hovers above the film’s sci-fi setting. The story (cyborg woman is found comatose in trash heap, makes heroic journey to rediscover her past and her martial arts skills) lovingly smooshes at least three story arcs’ worth of plot into a single 122-minute film. I have no idea how Alita could have been done better. I’ve read all the Battle Angel comics, which manga artist Yukito Kishiro started publishing in 1990, and I could rattle off all the differences and references in director Robert Rodriguez’s adaptation. But I’d rather talk about what this film is: a fun, exhilarating realization of a sci-fi story that, even now, audiences may not be ready for. Salazar’s sensitive portrayal—enhanced by Alita’s robotic limbs and oversized, anime eyes—only strengthens the focus on conflict and competition that makes Alita so exciting. From the very start, Kishiro’s Alita was a battle comic—a serialized story to entertain young people with artful fight scenes. SUZETTE SMITH
3D listings here
Todd Miller's superbly edited new documentary on the Apollo 11 mission, which put Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon (and sent Michael Collins around its dark side), adds no narration or talking heads, other than contemporaneous sources. Although you know how things turned out, you're plunged into the suspense of the moment, when even the slightest miscalculation could have doomed the astronauts to a lonely or fiery death. Listen to that amazing sound design!
The Beach Bum
The subversive creator of the hilarious Spring Breakers, Harmony Korine, has sneaked back into theaters with a very smoky, Lisa Frank-colored ode to stoned nihilism starring Matthew McConaughey, Isla Fisher, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, Martin Lawrence, and Jonah Hill. If Korine can pull off the same mix of candy pop and bile as in his star-studded hit, it might be worth catching (though other papers' critics have been less than kind).
Birds of Passage
Selected by Colombia as its entry for the Oscars’ best foreign language film category, Birds of Passage has received several excellent reviews for coupling stark images of rural life with an epic narrative. Directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (they’re also the pair behind the surreal and gorgeous Embrace of the Serpent), the film concerns the impact of the drug trade on a family. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott describes Birds of Passage as “an epic narco tale that will open your mind.” CHARLES MUDEDE
Why is it a good movie? Because it depicts and embodies the complicatedness of artistic collaboration, because it shows the downsides and the virtues of a brilliant person's out-of-control ego, because it dramatizes the way repression warps people, because it suggests what the world lost with an entire generation of gay artists who were wiped out (this was only one person, and yet the loss here alone is huge), because the music's fantastic (duh) and it was written by the characters we're seeing depicted on-screen, and because it manages to depict an artist who died of AIDS without ending with him on his deathbed succumbing to AIDS. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
A Bread Factory: Parts One and Two
The married lesbian founders of a small-town arts center are alarmed when a pair of Chinese performance artists build a monster-sized complex down the road. Patrick Wang’s subversive two-part comedy has been kindling rapturous feelings in the bosoms of critics. The film is divided into two parts; your ticket is valid for both at either screening time.
Northwest Film Forum
British Comedy Classics: Green for Danger
The finest British comedies of the 1940s and ’50s have aged marvelously well, thanks to understated, funny scripts and endlessly watchable professionals like Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Audrey Hepburn, and Peter Sellers. Catch a vintage treasure every Thursday at the museum, like this week's Green for Danger, a thriller starring the great Alastair Sim as a policeman investigating a patient's death during surgery.
Seattle Art Museum
What you need to know is that Captain Marvel is a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie, and MCU movies are generally good-to-excellent, and Captain Marvel is no different. It’s smart, funny, and deliriously self-aware, and there’s a bunch of cool explosions. There’s also a young Agent Coulson, an explanation of how Nick Fury lost his eye, and a goddamn kitty-cat named Goose. It is an all-around successful comic book movie, like the 5,000 MCU movies that came before it. “But wait,” you say. “It is different. Aren’t you going to mention… [points at boobs, from one to the other, back and forth, maintaining eye contact, making things weird]?” Ugh, FINE. I'll say it. Yes, Carol is a woman, and this is the first Marvel movie centered on a woman. I’ve really enjoyed my Bruce Bannerses and Steve Rogerses, but I liked my Carol Danvers even more. It was great to see someone who looked like me straight-up destroy alien bad guys. ELINOR JONES
3D screenings here
Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos knows how to get under the skin of emotions and situations in a way that’s surreal, but it makes his observations feel closer to actual truth. The Favourite is a historical period piece that pulls less heady tricks than his previous efforts, its focus on the relationship between two cousins (played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone) vying for the favor of Olivia Colman’s sickly Queen Anne in early 18th century England. The actresses churn out incredible performances, hysterically and humorously jockeying for control over each other, the palace, and themselves. Lanthimos still manages to throw in a few strange elements, like the use of a fisheye camera lens and silly dancing sequences, but in a way, it only heightens the characters’ believability. JASMYNE KEIMIG
The Future Is Female
Watch sci-fi shorts by women cineastes courtesy of the DUST streaming service.
Anybody who’s seen Gloria—the 2013 Chilean film from A Fantastic Woman director Sebastián Lelio—will feel some major déjà-vu watching Gloria Bell, a remake set in Los Angeles and starring Julianne Moore, in which Lelio recreates the original almost shot-for-shot. As someone who’s seen both, I’m going to be honest: I didn’t like Gloria Bell as much as Gloria. But it’s still great! Gloria works at an insurance company by day, spends her nights dancing at a disco-themed singles bar, and struggles to cede control in her relationships with her adult children. But Moore’s portrayal of the divorcée reveals the nuances of her personality and the complexity of her seemingly unremarkable middle-aged existence, whether she’s doing laughter therapy, dunking her boyfriend’s phone in soup, or walking barefoot through Caesars Palace. (Throughout the film, Gloria’s mood can be gauged by whether she’s belting along to ’80s hits in her car or driving in silence, along with her willingness to coexist with a Sphynx cat that keeps mysteriously appearing in her apartment.) Though Gloria ostensibly centers on a new romance, the reality is far more interesting: Lelio’s film captures an internal tide change with unexpectedly transformative results, and is a joyful celebration of the world’s countless Glorias. CIARA DOLAN
Green Book tells the supposedly true story of a Black jazz pianist, Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), and his white driver, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), as they go on a concert tour through the segregated South in 1962. Although they’re both from New York, they’re from entirely different worlds: Shirley moves through the rarified air of highbrow culture. Tony, on the other hand, is an Italian American stereotype made sentient, a “whattsamattayou” tough guy with a tenderly soft underbelly. Green Book’s biggest red flag is that it’s essentially another Driving Miss Daisy story about how to solve racism in three convenient acts. But the movie’s really nice, and it’s hard to get too mad at it. Ali and Mortensen are both awfully good, and the script, for all its familiarity, is kind of comforting in its shtick-y predictability. NED LANNAMANN
Varsity Theatre & Oak Tree
Terrorist attacks rarely happen in the United States or Europe. Indeed, one of the most recent horrific ones happened in Kenya, though Donald Trump had nothing to say about it on Twitter. Another series of horrific attacks happened in 2008 across Mumbai, India, including at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. More than 166 people were killed. The film Hotel Mumbai is a thriller/drama based on the 2009 documentary about that event. It also stars Dev Patel, a British actor who is famous for his lead role in Slumdog Millionaire. Expect to be on the edge of your seat with this one. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Juniper Tree
Bjork had her cinematic debut in this stark, witchy black-and-white Icelandic fairy tale by Nietzchka Keene, an American filmmaker. Two orphaned sisters, Katla and Margit (Bjork), are taken in by a kind-hearted family man—but things turn sour when the man's son finds himself having to fight for attention from his father. Critics have compared this film, shown here in a 4K restoration, to masterworks by Ingmar Bergman and Carl Dreyer.
Northwest Film Forum
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. LEILANI POLK
A young, nomadic mother (Imogen Poots) and her child are separated from the erratic father—a development that offers unexpected new possibilities—in this drama set in the frozen Canadian winter.
SIFF Film Center
Mysterious Doctor Satan
Grand Illusion's pulpy Saturday programming, which aims to resurrect the tradition of the serial matinee, is starting up again. This time, it's going to be The Mysterious Doctor Satan (1940), shown, as always, on 16mm. The serial involves a mad genius, an army of robots, and a hero known as "the Copperhead." But that's not all! After the episode, there'll be a secret cult, adventure, sci-fi, or art house film.
NHK: Japan's Documentary 'The New Wave of American Politics'
The theater will screen a documentary, made by NHK TV from Japan, on three progressive campaigns in the US, including that of Sarah Smith against Adam Smith for Representative of Washington's District 9. The event will also include a Q&A with Smith and political comic Brett Hamil. Bring canned goods for a food bank drive.
Northwest Film Forum
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
The jaunty, slapstick-filled, bluegrass-scored adaptation of the Odyssey never gets old, thanks to that obsessively detailed yet effortlessly goofy Coen Brothers touch.
Seattle Jewish Film Festival
This annual film festival explores and celebrates global Jewish and Israeli life, history, complexity, culture, and filmmaking. It showcases international, independent, and award-winning Jewish-themed and Israeli cinema, and the audience votes on their favorites. This weekend, check out 93Queen, a documentary about Hasidic women in Brooklyn taking charge of health issues; the Gilda Radner doc Love, Gilda; and a screening of Leonard Bernstein: Larger than Life with an interview with the great composer and conductor's daughter, Jamie Bernstein.
A Simple Story
Scarecrow Video is far from lacking in a diverse collection of titles from across the globe, but they still have a list of highly lauded but seldom-seen films they wish they had in stock. Thanks to their Wishlist Collection, you can see essential touchstones of cinema (in this case, French cinema) you may not have seen before, like Claude Sautet's 1978 Une Histoire Simple (A Simple Story), about a divorced woman who decides to abort her and her current lover's baby and return to her husband.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse
Mashing up the bombast of Marvel with the glory days of Pixar, Spider-Verse feels decidedly different—funnier, weirder, more daring—than most American animated movies. This is almost a meta, post-modern take on Spider-Man: Instead of being all about Peter Parker, Spider-Verse stars Miles Morales (excellently voiced by Shameik Moore), a kid who also gets bit by a creepy spider and also gets creepy spider-powers. But Miles—a Afro-Latino teenager who, for all his cleverness and heart, feels out of place at his fancy Brooklyn school—not only has a different perspective on the whole "great power, great responsibility" thing, but has his own obstacles to becoming a hero. Luckily for Miles, a whole slew of other spider-people from alternate dimensions show up to help him out. This is a big, fun blockbuster, but it's also the rare big, fun blockbuster that dares to have a strong point of view and a fresh, exciting personality. As Spider-Verse dazzles and twists, thumping to a hip-hop soundtrack and glimmering with every color in the universe, it captures the thrill, smarts, and irreverence that mark Spider-Man's best stories. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Meridian 16 & Crest
The acclaimed Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa (awarded Best Director at Cannes for Donbass) has recut and restored astonishing documentation of a Stalinist show trial in 1930, when eight economists and engineers were accused of planning a coup d'état. All were sentenced to death, despite the complete falsity of the charges. In the words of the production company, "Unique archive footage reconstructs one of the first show trials, masterminded by Stalin, which unfolds as a theatrical performance with actors—prosecutors, witnesses, defendants, judges—lying to themselves, to the audience and to the world." Odds are this won't be pleasant viewing, but it's a desperately important film.
Northwest Film Forum
Us is a movie about doppelgängers—our evil twins that, according to folklore, must be killed, lest they kill us and assume our identities. But Us is also about shadows emerging from their own darkness; the illusory depths of mirrors; the fear we project onto the “other” instead of examining our own brutality; and, more abstractly, the barbaric history of slavery and mass genocide that America has unsuccessfully tried to bury, how the country is actively destroying itself, and what it’ll look like when its chickens finally come home to roost. The unfortunate recipients of all this horror are the Wilsons—Adelaide (Lupita Nyong’o, who deserves a billion awards), Gabe (Winston Duke), and kids Zora (Shahadi Wright) and the perpetually masked Jason (Evan Alex)—who are just trying to enjoy a nice summer vacation in the warm California sun. As a horror exercise peppered with moments of comic relief and images that prove surprisingly unnerving, Us is an exceedingly great slasher movie. But there's a lot going on here, and Us suffers for it. CIARA DOLAN
War and Peace
A towering film adaptation of one of the most epic novels ever written: Sergei Bondarchuk's 1967 four-part masterpiece—awarded Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and scads of other awards—is based on Tolstoy's saga of three Russian nobles caught up in the Napoleonic Wars.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Part 1 (Friday–Sunday)
Part 2 (Saturday–Sunday)
Part 3 (Sunday)
Part 4 (Sunday)
Woman at War
A chorus teacher, Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir), is also Iceland’s most notorious eco-terrorist, and we follow her skulking around the countryside and taking out the country’s power lines, in protest of the government’s alignment with the foreign interests that are plundering Iceland’s natural resources. It’s a fun, funny movie whose two extended sequences of Halla in action are suspenseful and terrific—Jóhann Sigurðarson as her accomplice (and possible cousin) steals every scene he’s in—but the rest of the movie sags in comparison. (A subplot about Halla’s identical twin sister also feels like a reach.) But there’s a lot to like here, including the musicians and singers who appear onscreen, providing a live soundtrack and wry visual commentary. NED LANNAMANN
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
The question isn't how much you will cry. The question, which only emerges days into the aftermath of seeing this extraordinary new documentary about the life and work of Fred Rogers, is this: What exactly are you crying about? Possibility number one: good old-fashioned nostalgia. A huge chunk of the film consists of clips from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, the public TV show for children Rogers created, wrote, and performed multiple roles in for 33 years. Seeing the way he spoke directly to his viewers, making sure we knew we were valued, cared for, seen, and known is a powerful reminder of the early validation the show provided. But this footage also stirs up the memory of inarticulate childhood sorrow his attention helped to alleviate, taking you back to the time before you were capable of constructing the armor required for this nightmare of a world. SEAN NELSON
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.