We encourage you all to take as many flicks at the Seattle International Film Festival as you can (see our list of SIFF picks this week and our full guide), but you should also know about the other great movies around town this weekend, like Rocketman (not our critic's favorite, but worthwhile according to most critics); the documentary Walking on Water about Christo, maker of monumental art; and good old The Princess Bride. 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–Sunday 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
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!
Pacific Science Center
This is the 47-minute "First Steps" edition.
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
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 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
AMC Seattle 10 & Meridian 16
Dazed and Confused
Richard Linklater's amazing stoner comedy takes place on graduation night in a small town in Texas.
Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival
See films about the Duwamish Valley made on Super 8 film by denizens of Seattle.
Seattle Design Center
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The first film in Warner Bros.’ “MonsterVerse” was 2014’s Godzilla, which showcased director Gareth Edwards’ ability to create legitimately awe-inspiring imagery and his propensity for leaving great actors hopelessly stranded. Director by Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ follow-up, 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, was a rocket-propelled freight train full of superheated stupid, seemingly made as a direct response to the criticisms of Edwards’ ponderous, ungainly epic. And if you could enter films into a calculator, and you divided Godzilla by Kong, you would arrive at Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It is literally the average of the two approaches, which makes a sort of perversely pragmatic sense in this Moneyball era of big-budget movie-making. BOBBY ROBERTS
The Image You Missed
Irish filmmaker Donal Foreman investigates the life of his estranged American father Arthur MaCaig, himself a documentarian who bore witness to the bloodshed of the Northern Irish Troubles. This filmic essay, which has won praise not only from reviewers in film and entertainment magazines but even from The Economist, examines issues of nationalism, family, art, resistance, and responsibility.
Northwest Film Forum
Indigenous Showcase: Embrace of the Serpent
The forum and the indigenous art movement yəhaw̓ will present a screening of Ciro Guerra (Birds of Passage)'s astounding Embrace of the Serpent, which upends the "white man discovering the jungle" narrative by focusing on the shaman who guides him. Based on a true story, Embrace follows Karamakate, an indigenous man who encounters two white scientists 40 years apart, both searching for a powerful psychedelic plant. Trippy, awe-inspiringly gorgeous, and elegiac, Guerra's film casts a fierce gaze on the arrogance of white colonialism and the damages it wreaks. The film starts at 7:30; show up early to shop an Indigenous art market. JOULE ZELMAN
Northwest Film Forum
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
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
For fans of Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys, Brazil, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), this is a big deal. 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.
Minute Bodies: The Intimate World of F. Percy Smith
For a period between the World Wars, English naturalist and filmmaker F. Percy Smith produced educational shorts about the micro- and macro-organisms that escape our everyday notice. Stuart Staples of the band tindersticks has assembled footage from some of these shorts into an enchanting wordless collage. From pulsing slime-mold networks to thrashing tadpoles, from swelling fungi to sexily twining pea vines, these denizens perform a kind of ballet in lovely black-and-white photography, accompanied by a score that's alternately playful and eerie. It's a revelation of common microbiomes, but it also illuminates how our minds can ascribe will and even personality to something as minute as a nematode, or as apparently inert as a bean. JOULE ZELMAN
Northwest Film Forum
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.
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 Princess Bride
Everyone who can factually claim to be an American has seen The Princess Bride 150 times. So why go see it on the big screen? Here's why: It's delightful and hilarious, and the goopy framing device gets out of the way fast, and there's that amazing scene where our heroine stands atop a hill, exclaims, "Oh, my love!" and hurls herself into a full-body roll.
The studio bills this as “a musical fantasy about the uncensored human story of Elton John's breakthrough years,” starring Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Richard Madden. The critics are happy so far with this non-literal biopic, praising director Dexter Fletcher's "dazzling cinematic inventiveness" (Rolling Stone) and "fan service of an especially and characteristically generous kind" (The New York Times). A notable exception is Morgan Troper of our sister paper, The Portland Mercury, who writes: "Rocketman doesn’t only presuppose that its audience doesn’t know about Elton John’s music, it assumes they wouldn’t even care. The result is insulting not only to the intelligence and taste of moviegoers, but to Elton John’s legacy as a songwriter, showman, and immensely significant queer idol."
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
Walking on Water
What does it take to create a massive public-art installation...on water? This documentary by Andrey Paounov reveals the logistical hell and beautiful results of Christo's The Floating Piers, a huge walkway constructed on Lake Iseo in Italy and opened to the public in 2016. (Sadly, it's now dismantled, so you can't join the 1.2 million people who got to tread upon it.)
Northwest Film Forum
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.