Since The Lion King is "a soulless chimaera of a film" (IndieWire), you might want to look elsewhere for your movie-going options. Fortunately, your alternatives abound—everything from the brand-new art cinema the Beacon's week of freebie screenings, including Magic Mike XXL and City Lights, to the perennially cool Pulp Fiction to the lovely Awkwafina comedy-drama The Farewell. Plus, if you haven't yet watched Todd Douglas's Apollo 11, the anniversary of the moon landing is the best time to do so! 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 (which are now location-aware!), and don't forget to see where outdoor movies are playing.
Note: Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise noted
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! JOULE ZELMAN
Pacific Science Center
The Art of Self-Defense
The current cultural discourse has become filled with stories of aimless, lonely young men who find direction and a kind of community through toxic and bizarre means. For Casey (Jesse Eisenberg), the weedy accountant shuffling through his beige existence in writer/director Riley Stearns’ The Art of Self-Defense, that feeling leads him to a karate class. When he steps into the dojo, he is intoxicated by the eloquent yet stern Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), who describes martial arts as a pathway to inner and outer strength. Where The Art of Self-Defense goes from this point—and how its note-perfect cast handles its premise—is what gives the movie its strength. At first, Stearns leans hard into the dark comedy, with stilted, mannered dialogue and quirky scenes that come across like a hyper-violent remake of a Hal Hartley film, or maybe Jim Jarmusch's Fight Club. But soon, Sensei’s sinister intentions become clear, and the emotional and psychological impact he has on the people in his orbit—especially Anna (Imogen Poots), the steely young woman who teaches the kids’ class—becomes harder for Casey to swallow. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Between Me and My Mind
Peer into the life of Phish frontman Trey Anastasio as the band prepares to play New York's Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve.
iPc Theaters at Redmond Town Center
The Biggest Little Farm
Skeptics might wonder whether a 90-minute documentary on farming is better used as 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.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
Cinema scholars have long agreed on the fact that the three finest films ever made are, in no particular order, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (1941), Federico Fellini's 8½ (1963), and Stephen Herek's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989). Notably, only one of those films was deemed great enough to warrant a sequel (Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, 1991), yet tragically, the saga of William "Bill" S. Preston Esq. and "Ted" Theodore Logan remains unfinished. ERIK HENRIKSEN
South Lake Union Discovery Park
Saturday only—outdoor screening
It's a new approach to legal issues around sex work—an experimental court in Queens, where predominantly black, Latinx, immigrant, and trans women who have left their pimps are given alternatives to their trade. This documentary by Stephanie Wang-Breal shows how these women are sometimes forced into the life by external circumstances, and what it takes to get out.
Northwest Film Forum
Zombies, daggers, zitmonsters, a giant foot, and deadly stringed instruments make this wuxia movie from the renowned Shaw Brothers studio a particularly weird one. You've got just one day to see it this week—for free!
The Little Tramp gets a man-panion in Charlie Chaplin's beloved 1931 film. Of course, the story is ostensibly about a blind girl (the utterly gorgeous Virginia Cherrill) who sells flowers by the side of the road. It's true that the film's funniest scene (a beautifully choreographed boxing match for which the Tramp is wholly unprepared) transpires because he's trying to win money to pay the girl's rent. But he bats his eyelashes at the other boxers beforehand! And the truly torrid affair is with a suicidal millionaire (Harry Myers) who loves the Tramp when he's drunk and claims not to know him when he's sober. After the Tramp saves the poor fellow's life, the two men have wild nights on the town (did the spaghetti hall scene inspire Lady and the Tramp?), sleep in the same bed, share the Rolls Royce, and bring each other bundles of flowers. It's all very romantic, but not in the way you've been led to believe. ANNIE WAGNER
Comedy Gold from the American Cinema
This summer, let the silver screen wash over you and enjoy old-school cool with comedic classics like After the Thin Man, in which the drunken detective couple Nick and Nora (with the help of their little dog) investigate the murder of Nora's rich cousin's husband.
Seattle Art Museum
Soooo...is this movie about gigantic bloodthirsty alligators wreaking havoc on hurricane-flooded Florida...good? According to reviews, no. But it's a lot of fun, like any dumb B-movie ought to be, says critic Jake Wilson (The Age): "It lives up to its schlock promise — delivering jokey shocks with a degree of expertise while retaining enough seeming naivety to let viewers have fun mocking its shortcomings." Aaron Yap of Flicks.co.nz is blunter: "You want big alligators attacking people? You’ll definitely get big alligators attacking the shit out of people."
The Dead Don't Die
I loved The Dead Don’t Die, despite the wafts of disapproval that—at least at the old-man-filled critics’ screening I attended—threatened to stink up the whole theater. Will you love The Dead Don’t Die? Well, that depends—on if you’re expecting another srs bsns drama like Only Lovers Left Alive, on if you share Jarmusch’s deadpan sense of humor, on if you like the gaggle of art-house stars who’ve come together to screw around: Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Chloë Sevigny. Through this whole thing, great actors lurch in and out of frame, each hilariously straight-faced as (1) zombies tear open the edible townsfolk of Centerville, and (2) Jarmusch cracks joke after joke. The Dead Don’t Die is what it is: an excuse for Jarmusch to round up his friends and have fun. ERIK HENRIKSEN
SIFF Cinema Uptown
When a hunky, lovably dense soccer who hallucinates fluffy puppies on the field loses the World Cup for Portugal, he experiences a crisis of self-confidence. Even worse, his twin sisters are conducting weird experiments on him that alter his gender identity, and a government agent in drag is spying on him. Add a conspiracy to withdraw Portugal from the European Union and you've got a movie with "cult classic" written all over it. Yet it's not all silliness: Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt's madcap film grapples with nationalism and the refugee crisis.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
This film about goddesses fighting over a magic stone in Paris is the start of French auteur Jacques Rivette's work with cinematographer William Lubtchansky.
If you had a fatal disease, would you want to know? This question lies at the heart of a 2016 This American Life segment called “What You Don’t Know” by Lulu Wang. Her 80-year-old grandmother, known as Nai Nai, had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and given three months to live. Her family decided not to tell her she was sick at all. Now Wang has written and directed a film, The Farewell, based on her family’s experience. It features Awkwafina, the wonderful rapper and actor, in her first starring role. GILLIAN ANDERSON
SIFF Cinema Egyptian
For All Mankind
The top three albums by Brain Eno are, in this order, Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978), Discreet Music (1975), and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks (1983). Two of the three most beautiful tracks on Apollo, "Always Returning" and "An Ending (Ascent)," dominate the soundtrack of the 1989 documentary For All Mankind, which was initially called Apollo and concerns the space mission that took two humans to the moon. Those who, like me, know Eno's albums even better than the back of their hand, will be surprised that the 80-minute documentary, directed by Al Reinert, does not follow Apollo's very clear track list. For example, one expected the album's penultimate track, the majestically ethereal "Always Returning," to score the Apollo mission's return to Earth. All that said, For All Mankind is still worth watching because it is as close as we will ever get to the amazing film that's depicted on Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks. CHARLES MUDEDE
It's some snarky paranormal investigators/ghost removers—played by Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson—versus all the ghouls of Manhattan in this gooey, goofy send-up of horror and monster movies.
Gold Diggers of 1933
This Depression-era musical has all the hallmarks of a Busby Berkeley-choreographed extravaganza: jaunty songs, the old-timey charm of stars Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell, and, most importantly, hallucinatory dance sequences on elaborate sets that still inspire amazement.
When we think of Studio 54, we think of Roy Halston Frowick. Known simply as Halston, he was the fashion designer and hat maker who brought the world ultra-suede minimalism. Think of Liza Minnelli with her sleek, long pants. Andy Warhol and his coked-out models. Jacqueline Kennedy and her caftans. This is the world of Halston, and it’s a world that is dramatic, tragic, and—up until now—without a proper documentary. This has the potential to be one of the best fashion docs of the year. CHASE BURNS
SIFF Cinema Uptown
In the Aisles
This German festival hit wends its way into the secretive nocturnal lives of box-store stockers. The quiet Christian develops a crush on the mysterious, married Marion from the sweets department. As feelings grow between them, Christian's past threatens his equilibrium. Critics from all over the world have hailed Thomas Stuber's deceptively ordinary romance for its "quotidian magic." (LA Times).
Polaroids might seem like they should have gone the way of other analogue media, and indeed, Polaroid itself sold its last working factory. But this facility was scooped up by a group of Polaroid lovers, so the snaps live on. Dutch filmmaker Willem Baptist sets out to tell the story of the Polaroid and delve into its unkillable appeal.
Northwest Film Forum
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Inspired by a true story, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is about the city’s rapid gentrification and those crazy looks white folks give Black and brown people for daring to feel at home in their own neighborhoods. It centers on carpenter Jimmie Fails, who becomes obsessed with his massive childhood home in the city and sets out on a mission to buy it. These days, it’s going for a cool $4 million. Fails plays a fictionalized version of himself in the film, which he cowrote with his best friend, director Joe Talbot. Almost right off, there are hints the film was directed by a white person. In this San Francisco, white neighbors don’t call the cops, but rather use the threat of calling the cops as a weapon in order to get Black people to scram. A breath of fresh air: There’s no romantic subplot or “classic” nuclear family. Instead, the film’s emotions stem from Jimmie’s fixation on his childhood home, his friendship with the autistic aspiring playwright Montgomery, and his complicated relationship with his city. But after finishing the film, I was left with questions about these characters’ lives: How does Jimmie find time to make money? Where do these Black San Franciscans get their food? It adds another level of too-smooth glaze to the film to never see its main characters working or doing any other life stuff. JENNI MOORE
Magic Mike XXL
Do we need to see this same cast of beefheads grind on each other some more, but with higher stakes? Does anyone need more of this? Answers: Yes and OMG YES. FUCK YES. SO MUCH. Channing Tatum returns as Mike Lane, the stripper with a wang of gold. Three years after the first film, Mike's now running his own custom furniture business and wears shirts to his job. Then his old stripper—sorry, MALE ENTERTAINER—pals call him up for a road trip to a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach! Chatum balks for all of four seconds, and then away they go. I loved every second of Magic Mike XXL because I love dancing and hot guys and glitter. But I also loved it because it's important to this moment in society. Instead of seeing women as nothing but orifices and/or nags, the dudes of MMXXL worship them. ELINOR JONES
With all the depressing sexist crap going on in the world, you deserve an inspiring pick-me-up, and what better than a documentary on Tracy Edwards, the former charter boat cook who led the first all-female crew on the Whitbread Round the World voyage in 1989? By nearly all accounts, Maiden is a thrilling tribute to ambition and comradeship, a great contribution to the sports doc genre.
Regal Meridian 16
The basic plot of Mandy is nothing you haven’t seen before: Contented middle-aged man (Nicholas Cage) witnesses a hideous act of violence against his beloved; very discontented man employs an overabundance of esoteric weapons to wreak awful revenge. The bad dudes (and ladies) in this film are way more entertaining than usual: a drugged-out, dysfunctional hippie cult headed by a failed psych-rock star and the Cenobite-like bikers he summons from darkness. But what really distinguishes Mandy is its art-film slowness as it gently builds a world around Andrea Riseborough and Cage. The art direction is joyously unfettered by subtlety—the whole movie mimics a series of vintage metal album covers, and heavy filters, slo-mo, motion blur, trippy superimpositions, and animated sequences abound. JOULE ZELMAN
When we meet college student Dani (Florence Pugh), she's isolated, enduring a nerve-shredding family crisis behind a mask of feminine selflessness and apparently afraid to reveal her emotions to her distant and manipulative boyfriend, Christian. But once an affection-starved Dani, along with Christian and his bros, follow their friend Pelle to his cultish village in rural Sweden for a mysterious pagan festival, Midsommar blossoms into a flower of a different color. The Americans respond to their surroundings in varying ways: Christian and fellow PhD student Josh try to probe the village's secrets for academic glory, while douchey Mark ogles long-tressed local girls. Dani, meanwhile, wavers between unease with the cult's weird rituals and attraction to its sense of unshakable fellowship. Soon, they're all swept up in rites involving dancing, feasting, and tripping out, unaware that far more transgressive acts are being prepared. The ensuing narrative is expansive, a bit funny, full of elaborate invented culture, and overall less exhausting (and exhilarating) than director Ari Aster's Hereditary. Where Hereditary is about losing a family, Midsommar is about gaining one, a process that's a lot less wholesome than it sounds. JOULE ZELMAN
Starring Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet, Non-Fiction tells the story of a Parisian writer who blurs the line between fact and fiction by drawing on his real-life love affairs in his incendiary new novel, setting off a chain reaction in his social circle. This flirty, chatty, smart comedy is French and bohemian as hell: Everyone is cheating on each other, having a midlife crisis, expounding on the nature of romantic relationships, and voicing loud opinions about technology. But Non-Fiction feels like breezy, seductive, European fun. So much so, you’ll need a cigarette afterward. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Remember when Quentin Tarantino was young and fresh, and everything he did felt novel, exciting, and unique? He’s arguably never been better than he was writing and directing Pulp Fiction. Remember the first time you saw it and you were like: "What the fuck just happened? Hang on a sec, I’m gonna go see that again"? Remember how Uma Thurman was so cool in that dark bob and lady suit, and John Travolta made his big comeback after years of stinkers as a sweaty, pale, overweight hit man? And Samuel L. Jackson was prime Samuel L. Jackson, all perfectly placed one-liners and righteous monologuing? Remember how the most dark, shocking, and violent scenes in the film are also some of the most hilarious, including the most epic case of instant karma in a pawnshop that has ever been imagined? I was 14 when this movie came out, and it felt like a revelation. I miss that Tarantino. A 35 mm print of Pulp Fiction is being screened at Grand Illusion in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary. LEILANI POLK
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."
Admiral Theatre & AMC Pacific Place
Singin' In the Rain
You haven't seen a movie musical until you've seen Singin' in the Rain. Ostensibly about the troubled times when Hollywood changed from silent movies to talkies, Singin' in the Rain is a chance for Gene Kelly, probably the Most Talented Human Being on Earth at the time, to show off. It's physically impossible to watch the slapstick dance number "Make 'Em Laugh" without dropping your jaw in awe. PAUL CONSTANT
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Part of 'Dressed to the Nines: Cinema Style'
Got a need for speed (and Keanu Reeves)? Hunker down with other museum-goers to watch the 1994 thriller starring Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Dennis Hopper, and a bus that can't slow down. Plus, enjoy food, drink, and photo-ops.
Spider-Man: Far from Home
For those who have been salivating for a sequel to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming—and more Spider-Man than we got in the last two Avengers movies—you can relax. Spider-Man: Far from Home is pretty freaking good! It has almost everything you loved from Homecoming, plus better action sequences. That said, while Homecoming crackled with originality, Far from Home is far from what made its predecessor so great. Sure, it’s got snappy jokes, terrific characters, top-notch action, and loads of delicious teenage awkwardness. But it lacks the one thing Homecoming had in abundance: a laser-sharp focus on the emotional horror of being a teen. And yet? I still loved it. It’s better and more emotionally resonant than the vast majority of superhero flicks, and Far from Home is an excellent sequel that will occasionally illicit ear-to-ear grins. WM STEVEN HUMPHREY
Stop Making Sense
Revisit one of the greatest concert films of all time, Jonathan Demme's immortalization of the Talking Heads on their Speaking in Tongues tour with P-Funk’s Bernie Worrell and Lynn Mabry. It's weird, exultant, funny, showy, trancy, and full of amazing tunes like "Psycho Killer," "Once in a Lifetime," "Take Me to the River," and more.
Northwest Film Forum
There may not be any major surprises in Joseph Cross's coming-of-age drama, about a group of friends boozing up, rocking out, and thinking about breaking up, but it's reportedly a sweet and empathetic film full of strong performances.
To Be or Not To Be
Ernst Lubistch’s 1942 farce is about Carole Lombard and Jack Benny making Nazis look like dummies.
Toni Morrison: The Pieces That I Am
The rise of the prolific Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison dishes on her life busting up the white male literary hegemony in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders's documentary, with appearances by Hilton Als, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Banks, and Angela Davis, among others.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Too Late to Die Young
In this '90s-set Chilean drama, two teens and one child come of age in a beautiful village at the base of the Andes mountain range. The dictatorship of Pinochet has just ended, and an era of freedom is beginning—but there are still dangers. Dominga Sotomayor's widely praised drama captures a specific time in Chile's history and the cyclical conflicts of adolescence.
Northwest Film Forum
Toy Story 4
How can Pixar continue a peerless run, without turning on autopilot or trumpeting the same themes in movie after movie? The Toy Story franchise is the best example of how Pixar has avoided those pitfalls. Each is about the adventures of a gaggle of charming kids’ playthings, but as the franchise has carried on, the ideas underpinning those high jinks have gotten richer and darker. By Toy Story 3, the first Toy Story's simple message of tolerance became, in part, an exploration of accepting death. The fourth installment eases up a bit, with a much simpler theme of not being afraid to grow up. That’s the challenge facing Bonnie, the little girl who was gifted all of these toys. But with a little help from Woody, she makes a new friend: Forky, a spork with glued-on googly eyes, popsicle sticks for feet, and a pipe cleaner for arms. This strange crafts project becomes Bonnie’s new favorite plaything—which means Woody must protect and mentor this bundle of nervous energy, which only wants to return to the trash from whence it came. ROBERT HAM
Before the official Movies at the Mural series kicks off, the amphitheater will screen the cult classic Wayne's World (party time, excellent, wee-oo-wee-oo-wee-oo) about two metalheads who host a public-access show in their basement. Certain Bite of Seattle vendors will stay open late for your movie munchie requirements.
It’s time to get on board the Jessie Buckley train. The Irish singer and actress has been in a handful of movies and TV shows, notably the Isle of Jersey-set thriller Beast and supporting roles in the shows Chernobyl and Taboo. Buckley deserves to blow up in a major way with Wild Rose, which is not only her best acting role but also the first real opportunity American audiences have had to hear her sing. She plays Rose-Lynn, an aspiring, gifted country singer who’s stuck in hard-knuckle Glasgow—half a world away from Nashville. She desperately wants to make it, but whoever heard of a Scottish country singer? Rose-Lynn has other problems, too: She’s just finished a year in prison and is tied down by two young children she’s not particularly equipped to raise. With terrific supporting performances by Julie Walters as Rose-Lynn’s long-suffering mother and Sophie Okonedo as an affluent woman who wants to back the singer’s rise to stardom, Wild Rose is nonetheless a showcase for Buckley’s explosive talents. The movie opens with her absolutely nailing Primal Scream’s “Country Girl,” and she only gets better from there. NED LANNAMANN
Regal Meridian 16
The latest from director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire), Yesterday is about a musician, Jack, who, after a freak bus accident during a mysterious global blackout, wakes up to a world where the Beatles never existed (but Ed Sheeran—who plays himself—does?). Jack remembers the Fab Four, however, and finds rocketing fame and fortune (and a sense of dwindling creative self-worth) performing their songs as if they were his own. LEILANI POLK
Our critics don't recommend these films, but you might be interested in them anyway.