This weekend, you can take part in the largest trans film festival in the world, Translations; catch a good old-fashioned romantic comedy with political themes, Long Shot; watch Elizabeth Moss tear the scenery apart in Her Smell; see the latest character-driven crime drama, Dogman, by Italian auteur Matteo Garrone; Hayao Miyazaki's exciting Porco Rosso; and much more. Follow the links below to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers for all of our critics' picks, and start compiling your Seattle International Film Festival schedule. 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
If memory serves, this 1980 disaster-film satire delivers about 10 laughs a minute—at least it did when I saw it upon its release when I was 18. Multiply that by 87 and you have an abdominal workout. You don’t need to know the source of Airplane!’s parodistic riffs—1957’s Zero Hour!—to ROFL at its ceaseless stream of puns, visual gags, slapstick shtick, and grossly inappropriate innuendos and scenarios that make the Three Stooges look like the height of decorum. If you don’t like one comedic gambit, wait five seconds and another humorous thing will tweak your funny bone. It’s quite the tour de farce. DAVE SEGAL
The double-platinum album Amazing Grace was recorded live, at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, in 1972. The singer was 29-year-old Aretha Franklin, returning to her gospel roots for two nights, and the shows she put on were electrifying. That album was the soundtrack to a documentary by Sidney Lumet that never got released for various reasons, some more understandable than others. After Ms. Franklin’s recent passing, Lumet’s film is finally available, and 2019 audiences can effectively pull up a pew and bear witness to how she put in work across those two days in the January of 1972. If you are not already familiar with the term “transcendent,” you should practice its usage—you’ll need it if you’re hoping to speak on what got captured in this film. BOBBY ROBERTS
Here's a film from the good old days when Seattle-set films were actually filmed in Seattle, not Vancouver. In this 1993 drama, Jeff Bridges plays an ex-con with a teenage son trying to build a life in our gray city. The film prompted NYT critic Janet Maslin to write, "It's time to recognize Mr. Bridges as the most underappreciated great actor of his generation."
Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) score this hypnotic-looking journey into weird British rurality and its denizens, using archival footage from the past 100 years of UK cinema. Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw hailed it as an "absorbing odyssey through bucolic calm, bizarre eccentricity, and what appears to be real-life horror paganism."
Northwest Film Forum
Ask Dr. Ruth
On a recent episode of The View, 90-year-old sex therapist and media personality Dr. Ruth warned the roundtable of women that threesomes are "very bad" for a marriage. "Do not engage in a threesome," she said, "because that third person might be a better lover." This is bad advice. Have threesomes. But this documentary isn't about Dr. Ruth's advice, it's about Dr. Ruth. And damn, her story is long overdue for a good documentary. She is a pioneer—and a very funny one. CHASE BURNS
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
In Avengers: Endgame, what happens to the world after the destruction of 50 percent of all large-scale life on Earth and other planets? People live in huts, gather food, eat less meat, spend more time with their families, and billionaires must learn to compost. This is what the Green New Deal will apparently look like. The horror. It is the mission of the Avengers to restore the American way of life. What is deeply missed on an earth globalized by American consumerism is the background of abundance: farm houses with gas-guzzling pickups, hot dogs that come with condiment choices (mustard, ketchup, or what have you). Avengers want you to believe that they are more than just about fast food and overstocked supermarkets. They are about families that feel deeply connected when eating hot dogs and hamburgers at a picnic table set on a piece land carpeted by the US's main crop, turf grass. CHARLES MUDEDE
Be Natural: The Story of Alice Guy Blaché
You may not know the name of Alice Guy-Blaché, but she deserves to be recognized for her importance to early cinema. One of the very first female filmmakers, she became the head of the French company Gaumont in 1896, at the age of 23. In 1910, she moved to the States and founded another company, Solax. All in all, she made 1,000 films. Find out more about this fascinating figure by watching Pamela Green's new documentary.
SIFF Film Center
British Comedy Classics: The Man in the White Suit
The finest British comedies of the 1940s and ’50s—Green for Danger, The Man in the White Suit—have aged marvelously well, thanks to understated, funny scripts and endlessly watchable professionals. In this week's very funny, very dark The Ladykillers (far superior to the Coen brothers' remake), a seedy "professor" (Alec Guinness) and a motley gang of bank-robbing ruffians pose as classical musicians and hide out at an innocent old lady's house. But are their murderous wiles any match for the well-intentioned, naive, accidentally destructive widow (played perfectly by Katie Johnson)?
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
A shy, cocaine-selling dog groomer finds himself embroiled in a dangerous relationship with a hot-headed former boxer in this much-praised, character-driven revenge drama by the director of Gomorrah, Matteo Garrone. David Fear of Rolling Stone had this to say about Garrone's artistry: "One of the few major lights in modern Italian cinema, he’s a writer-director with a talent for lacing a genre movie with captured-on-the-fly docu-journalism, or maybe vice versa." This is a depiction of Southern Italy that promises to stick with you.
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II, cinema's greatest sequel, offers such a rich, dark, sprawling trip you'll be tempted to think it's better than the first. Two storylines entwine: the rise of the young immigrant Don Vito (Robert De Niro, who won an Oscar) in 1920s New York as he enters a life of crime and the reign of his son Don Michael (Al Pacino, nominated for an Oscar) in postwar America. Full of dangerous alliances and betrayals, lush mise-en-scène, and Nino Rota's unforgettable melodies. Francis Ford Coppola was justly awarded Best Director at the Academy Awards for this apotheosis of the mafia movie.
“Sorry about the mess,” Lucien Greaves, the cofounder of the Satanic Temple, says to the crew of Hail Satan? as he welcomes them into the organization’s headquarters in Salem, Massachusetts. Like the Satanic Temple, director Penny Lane’s Hail Satan? isn’t quite what it seems: Yes, Lane’s affectionate and funny documentary does feature some pig heads getting slammed onto spikes, and yes, there are some naked writhing people. But Hail Satan? is more interested in the organization’s vision of “contemporary satanism”—one that doesn’t include worshipping the devil but does include progressive activism and providing a “sociopolitical counter-myth” in a country that’s too often characterized as a “Christian nation.” [Greaves:] "We are a secular nation. We are supposed to be a democratic, pluralist nation.” That’s a fact that seems ominously and increasingly forgotten in Trump’s America, so forget about the question mark. Hail Satan. ERIK HENRIKSEN
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
Hard Ticket to Hawaii
Let's be clear: This is not an occasion to savor brilliant filmmaking. This is a film you watch because it has a tagline like "Hawaii is a great place to visit, but you wouldn't want to DIE there." Oh, and also because it's an '80s crapsterpiece about tough babes, both men and women, wearing tiny garments and toting huge guns as they defend Molokai Island from diamond smugglers, drug dealers, and "a skateboarding maniac armed with an inflatable sex doll."
In the new film from Alex Ross Perry (Queen of Earth, Golden Exits), the indefatigable Elisabeth Moss (whose four front teeth I could probably write a love letter to) plays Becky Something, leader of the riot grrrl band Something. Over the course of five acts, Becky slowly descends into complete self-destruction: using drugs, fighting with her bandmates, spurning her family, bringing in a hack shaman to cleanse her of her problems. The New York Times calls this flick “relentless,” while Consequence of Sound says Moss “throws her entire being into the role.” My bet is that this film is a portrait of rock and roll we haven’t quite seen before. JASMYNE KEIMIG
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Claire Denis’s High Life is the French art-house director’s first science-fiction film and her first English script. It depicts outer space in a way we’re not used to seeing on-screen: through the utter absence of visual information. The spaceship is a clunky rectangular box, its interiors are shabby and grimy, and the cosmos is represented by a few sprinkles of light on a black background. Denis’s story is abstract and nonlinear, and her characters function like allegorical symbols rather than humans. Some will be impressed by the weightiness of Denis’s jag into zero gravity, but for me, High Life was a frustrating experience, a collection of half-developed ideas being sucked into an unfocused void. The nature of Denis’s provocations is clear: With High Life, she’s drawing a parallel between the desperate boredom of life and its ceaseless ability to perpetuate itself, even amid the most dire of circumstances. NED LANNAMANN
SIFF Cinema Uptown
HUMP! Film Festival Rescreening
Missed Dan Savage's boisterous festival of amateur porn, HUMP!, back in November? No worries! The films will be re-screened in all their raunchy glory. This year's festival was wilder than ever, full of kink, queerdom, and...human goats? so don't miss out.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Thankfully, Long Shot isn't another addition to the mid-2000s family of comedies where dude-bros are nagged to death into loving beautiful women. It’s maybe... 10 percent that. The other 90 percent is a reverse Pretty Woman, including lots of making out, amazing outfits, and yes, Roxette. Rogen is fully competent as a funny schlub, and Theron destroys as a secretary of state and presidential hopeful, and the two of them together are—I know, this is weird—charming as hell, and their relationship totally works. While the film’s final act gets a bit schmaltzy (it's way more rom than com), the overall experience is wonderful. I’ll never question a neckbeard’s value ever again. ELINOR JONES
The latest from Hillsboro-based stop-motion studio Laika is astonishingly beautiful. From the secluded, cerulean glens of Pacific Northwest timberland to the jaunty, slate-topped roofs of Victorian London, every scene represents artwork on the highest level from an army of masters in their craft. But despite its visual splendor and charming premise—a lonely bigfoot recruits a hard-luck cryptozoologist and a feisty adventuress to transport him to what he hopes will be a welcoming tribe of Himalayan yeti—it’s perplexing that a studio that’s had trouble with cultural representation in the past (“Why is the movie’s main cast so white?” asked BuzzFeed about 2016’s Kubo and the Two Strings) would pick a colonialist gadfly to serve as Missing Link’s protagonist. BEN COLEMAN
A cute Adélie penguin named Steve pals up with emperor penguin Wuzzo in this new nature documentary film from the Disneynature studio, narrated by Ed Helms. The footage looks gorgeous, at the very least, so this should be an excellent way to celebrate the wonders of the planet.
AMC Pacific Place & Thornton Place
How many of you have abrasively retorted, to some ridiculous proposition, “Pssssh, when pigs fly!” Well, the legendary Hayao Miyazaki has an answer for you ungrateful, cynical fucks: Porco Rosso, which translates as “red pig” in Italian—and boy, does this pig fly. Not with literal wings, but in a plane. (I’m not sure which one is more improbable.) This 1990s-era Miyazaki tale follows an Italian World War I veteran fighter ace and current freelance bounty hunter as he chases air pirates above the Adriatic Sea. He’s cursed to be a pig, though. A talking one at that. This is one of the few Miyazaki films to take place in a plausible historical context. JASMYNE KEIMIG
For many in the United States, Rafiki, the second feature by the talented Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu, will appear to be straightforward. There are two young black women. They fall in love, but their society is opposed to such unions. But what's interesting about this movie is not so much its story, but the type of black African society that's seen through the lens of a budding lesbian romance. We see a neighborhood in a part of Nairobi that's clearly middle-class. People have mortgages to pay and are engaged in forms of employment with secure incomes: nursing, civil service, the ownership of small businesses. My point: It's rare to see this side of Africa (middle-class, urban, post-postcolonial) on the screen. Also, Rafiki, which means "friends" in Swahili, has several utterly beautiful sequences, most of which involve the lesbian affair. This director knows how to capture on film the wonderful feeling of falling in love. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Uptown
The Russian Five
You might be familiar with the story of how the manager of the Detroit Red Wings sneaked behind the Iron Curtain to poach some of the finest hockey players of the Russian Red Army, helping them defect to America. But it's a thrilling enough story that it's worth going over again, which is exactly what this documentary by Joshua Riehl does.
SIFF Film Center
You like your nephew! He’s nine years old, absolutely adorable, and as boring as a bar of Ivory soap. And that’s pretty much the vibe of Shazam!, which, like Aquaman, is practically begging to be known as “the fun one” in DC’s line of grumpy, mostly unenjoyable superhero flicks. Based on the old-timey Captain Marvel comics, Shazam! tells the story of orphaned Billy Batson who stumbles into a wizard’s cave and is given god-like powers (and a buff adult’s body) to become the world’s super-charged champion against the seven deadly sins. Billy yells the name “Shazam,” lightning pops out of the sky, and bam—the transformation is complete. If you’re 9 years old, you’ll think it’s pretty good. There’s not a lot here to appreciate if you’re an adult. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
In Chinese director Qiu Sheng's debut, a team of engineers is sent to investigate mysterious craters. Meanwhile, in the same area, a young boy's friends disappear one by one. What the hell's going? This odd comedy combines a speculative story with a coming-of-age comedy.
Northwest Film Forum
Translations: Seattle Transgender Film Festival
Here is something that Seattle should take pride in. We have the world's largest trans film festival. Not Berlin, not London, not New York City—but Seattle. The festival is called Translations, and it features a bunch of films from places that do not have the largest trans film festival. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Films this weekend include The Garden Left Behind (opening night), Bixa Travesty, The Devils Magnificent, Jack and Yaya (closing night), and more.
University of Washington's Climate Change Film Festival
UW students were asked to make two-minute films about climate change, answering the prompt, "Together we can tackle climate change. What would it take to turn the tide?" Watch the finalists' films, help select the People's Choice winner, and find out which filmmaker will win $4,000 while you sample local food and drinks. EarthLab and the School of Environmental & Forest Sciences will host.
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
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.