As the Seattle International Film Festival finishes its second week (see our list of SIFF picks this week and our full guide), other great movies are also playing around town. Aladdin is an ugly dud, but Olivia Wilde's Booksmart is deliciously acted fun, Terry Gilliam's long-awaited The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been released after 25 years of on-and-off production, and Travessias Brazilian Film Festival is full of cutting-edge trans cinema. Follow the links below to see complete showtimes, tickets, and trailers for all of our critics' picks. If you're looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings.
Note: Movies play Thursday–Monday unless otherwise noted
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
“Hell is other people,” goes the Sartre quote, a thought that gets thoroughly examined in the Swedish Aniara, a gorgeous and relentlessly bleak science-fiction film in which the sun-scarred residents of a climate-ravaged Earth board a massive spaceship to begin a “happy, new life on Mars.” Naturally, a collision promptly knocks the ship off course, sending it drifting into the infinite void. Based on Harry Martinson’s 1956 poem, and with echoes of Solaris and The Three-Body Problem, Aniara follows the doomed, miserable ship into the black abyss, where nothing really matters—but really, how’s that any different from living on Earth? For those onboard with its brutal fatalism, Aniara is remarkable—but for everyone else, here’s a reminder that Captain Marvel is also on movie screens at the moment, exploring a cosmos that offers slightly less existential terror. ERIK HENRIKSEN
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
The Biggest Little Farm
Skeptics might wonder whether a 90-minute documentary on farming is better used as an insomnia remedy than a night out at the movies, but John Chester's gorgeous film has been snatching up audience choice and best film awards all over the place. He and his wife, Molly, spent eight years striving to create a farm in California that was perfectly in accord with nature—despite drought, poor soil, and wildfires. Ultimately, they have to accept that they're not in control of nature and life. Come for the lovely footage of wildlife and farm animals, stay for the inspiration to fight for sustainability.
AMC Pacific Place
Booksmart is about Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever), two accomplished girls who are currently enjoying their final day of high school—and realizing that they've alienated all of their peers by focusing only on school and each other. When Molly decides the pair needs a party experience before graduation, it kicks off an epic night of social awkwardness, attempted hook-ups, accidental drug use, and inescapable theatre kids. The love-you-to-death friendship between Molly and Amy is the heart of director Olivia Wilde's movie, and major credit is due to Dever and Feldstein for crushing that chemistry. They’re lifted up by a brilliant supporting cast of fellow teen misfits (including Billie Lourd, who steals every scene she barreled through) and fuckup grownups (Jason Sudeikis, Jessica Williams, and Mike O’Brien) who round out a laugh-inducing, cry-inducing, and utterly relatable high-school universe that I wanted to inhabit and also gave me PTSD. ELINOR JONES
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
An underrated haunted-house film set in Seattle (though filmed mostly in Vancouver, even then). George C. Scott plays a famous composer (sure, why not?) whose wife and daughter are killed in a horrible accident. He immerses himself in his work, relocating to Seattle, where he rents what can only be called a preposterously massive mansion for one human to occupy. When the house starts groaning, howling, and pounding on its own pipes, his attention is aroused. A bit of research leads him to uncover the kind of long-suppressed shameful tragedy that underlies all gothic horror and nearly all American wealth. Scott is always a pleasure to behold (especially when pretending to be just a normal guy), as are the rare glimpses of pre-boom Seattle (the pencil building downtown was even more conspicuous and lovely 38 years ago), and director Peter Medak, late of The Ruling Class, would go on to make The Krays, Let Him Have It, and other dark gems. SEAN NELSON
DoNormaal Video Premiere
See the premiere of Vida Rose's music video for DoNormaal ("Her ease with rhyme surpasses flow with enchantingly hypnotic rapping that is an undeniable standout in the Seattle music scene"—Sophia Stephens) and hear live music by the much-lauded rapper.
Northwest Film Forum
The Fabulous Baker Boys
In this Seattle-set 1989 drama, two singer/pianist brothers (Jeff and Beau Bridges) with a cheesy lounge act decide to shake up their program and hire a singer. But when the sultry Susie Diamond and the unmarried brother, Jack, are tempted to start a romance, the trio's dynamic is threatened. Apparently Jeff Goldblum is a fan of this clear-eyed, unsentimental comedy-drama, so what other endorsement do you need?
John Wick: Chapter 3–Parabellum
John Wick: Chapter 3—Parabellum opens this weekend, cementing the bizarre fact that the ultraviolent, relatively low-fi action flick that was 2014's John Wick has grown into a massive, full-on, crowd-pleasing franchise. Hinted at in the first film, but expanded in the sequels, there's now a strange, remarkably thorough (if remarkably confusing) mythology that accompanies all of John Wick's righteous headshots, featuring secret societies of assassins, ancient and baroque codes of conduct, and really nice mansions (to shoot people in). Sure, the bread and butter of any John Wick movie is its skull-splitting, blood-splattering action scenes—filmed here, as inventively, exhilaratingly, and wince-inducingly as ever, by stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski—but nearly as interesting, it turns out, is the fantastical world John Wick skulks around in between his massacres. Plenty of action movies have shoot-outs; not many have Angelica Houston sneering, "Life is suffering, life is pain" as she rules over some very driven ballerinas. ERIK HENRIKSEN
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 Man Who Killed Don Quixote
For fans of Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), this is a big weekend. After 25 years of delays, disasters, and even deaths (see the documentary Lost in La Mancha about the fiasco), The Man Who Killed Don Quixote has been completed and will finally see the light. And according to critics, like many a Gilliam film, it's a bit of a mess with flights of genius. It's not exactly an adaptation of Cervantes's masterpiece; instead, it follows Toby (Adam Driver), a Hollywood filmmaker who discovers that a student film he made in Spain a decade earlier has had bizarre consequences for the entire cast. Namely, a Spanish shoemaker (Jonathan Pryce) who played Quixote has taken on the delusion that he is, in fact, a knight errant, and Toby must return to the village to figure out what's going on.
If you crave spectacular natural footage and beautiful music combined, this documentary about mountains and those who climb them, scored by Australian Chamber Orchestra and narrated by Willem Dafoe, should give you exactly what you want.
Featuring international star Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead, Rust and Bone, Far from the Madding Crowd) and directed by Laure Clermont-Tonnerre (Time Regained, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), this film is about a convict in Nevada in a rehabilitation program where he comes face to face with a nearly untameable horse. Despite its reported predictability, The Mustang has moved critics with its heartfelt study of masculinity and redemption.
Join this free cinema club to watch the acclaimed film Newton, the Indian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Academy Awards, about a bureaucrat trying to conduct fair elections in Central India while fears of communist guerrilla attacks put everyone on edge. Stay on after the screening to chat and snack.
A harried street photographer in Mumbai convinces a student to pose as his fiancee in this subtle, charming romance by the maker of The Lunch Box, Ritesh Batra.
AMC Seattle 10 & Meridian 16
Pokémon Detective Pikachu
Detective Pikachu wears multiple hats over the course of its 104-minute runtime. Sometimes the film is a wholesome, Spielbergian coming-of-age adventure. At other points, it’s a buddy comedy teeming with self-referential, mic drop-y in-jokes, many of which are bound to fly straight over the heads of its target demographic. Or maybe you want your Pokémon movie to be science fiction with vague sociopolitical subtext? Hey, it can do that, too! More than anything, Detective Pikachu feels like Turner & Hooch on a combination of mescaline and speed. MORGAN TROPER
The first in the Predator franchise, this movie tells the story of a practically invisible, incredibly dangerous, and mysterious hunter battling Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. "Come on! Do it! Do it! Come on. Come on! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! I'm here! Kill me! Come on! Kill me! I'm here! Come on! Do it now! Kill me!"
As anyone who's seen a Hayao Miyazaki film will attest, the story you follow is secondary to the sights you behold. The craggy reality of his twisting tree trunks capped with windblown tufts of leaves; the weighty presence of the rocks, whether rough or slicked smooth by water; the breathtaking vividness of light when the clouds part; the crouched expectancy of animals at rest—all of these are rendered as gorgeously as any animation I've ever seen, and in fact make a better plea for ecological sanity than the sometimes heavy-handed script. BRUCE REID
Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
To honor the recent passing of Scott Walker, Northwest Film Forum will be screening Stephen Kijak's 2006 documentary on the legendary singer/songwriter, 30 Century Man. From dreamy '60s pop crooner with the huge-in-England Walker Brothers to cerebral troubadour to struggling master of unlikely cover songs to nightmarish avant-gardist who collaborated with doom-metal illuminati Sunn O))) to soundtracker of cult films, Walker engineered a distinctive career trajectory that has few rivals. This documentary does an exemplary job of explicating Walker's art, examining his creative motives, and illuminating some facets of this reclusive genius. DAVE SEGAL
Northwest Film Forum
Thursday & Sunday
The Serengeti Rules
In the 1960s, a team of ecologists headed by Bob Paine discovered the importance of "keystone species"—a single type of animal whose disappearance from the environment causes the whole ecosystem to collapse. Can we use this knowledge to help save wildlife? This nature documentary offers something rare: hope in the face of climate change and the power of scientific curiosity.
Northwest Film Forum
Travessias Brazilian Film Festival
UW Center for Brazilian Studies and curator Emanuella Leite Rodrigues de Moraes will co-present this mini-festival of contemporary women filmmakers from the largest South American country. The films—short, feature-length, animated, documentary, and narrative—explore urgent issues of race, gender, and sexuality. They include the Marília Hughes and Cláudio Marques chosen family drama The City of the Future; the documentary Tr*nny F*g, about the black trans singer Linn de Quebrada; a short film program; and Don't Call Me Son, Anna Muylaert's coming-of-age drama.
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
We Have Always Lived in the Castle
If you are a spooky fiction fan who has never read Shirley Jackson's midcentury masterpiece We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a true landmark of the gothic feminine, go buy it right now. This book, about two sisters and their uncle living a marginal existence after a mysterious arsenic poisoning killed everyone else in their family, has been crying out for a film adaptation for decades. Merricat, Constance, and Julian exist in relative equilibrium until Cousin Charlie shows up and starts bossing everyone around. Stacie Passon directs this well-regarded screen version, starring Taissa Farmiga as Merricat.
If you love woman-centered horror—particularly when it's directed by women, à la The Babadook—you have to see The Wind, Emma Tammi's chilly Western about a frontierswoman who begins to suspect her homestead is haunted by a demon. In a favorable review, the nicely named David Fear describes it as akin to "Repulsion by John Ford," while Noel Murray of the LA Times praises Caitlin Gerard's "riveting performance" as the lead.
Our critics don't recommend these films, but you might be interested in them anyway.