19 Movies Worth Watching in Seattle This Weekend: Sept 27–29, 2019

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A terrible father but pretty cool hitman drives the action in Takashi Miike’s Rainy Dog.

It’s a big week for festivals: In addition to the wrap-up of Local Sightings Film Festival, this weekend marks the beginning of the 70MM Film Festival, French Cinema Now, and Tasveer South Asian Film Festival. Plus, watch some Takashi Miike throwbacks at Grand Illusion, or a new restoration of the great Soviet love story The Cranes Are Flying. See all of our film critics’ picks for this weekend below.

Note: Movies play Friday–Sunday unless otherwise noted

Heading to Portland or Tacoma? Check out EverOut to find things to do there and in Seattle, all in one place.

70MM Film Festival
Put down your phone and surrender to the splendor of actually-epic-scale cinema in the cathedral that is the Cinerama. Not much unites the films in this 13-day festival other than a commitment to MAGNITUDE, but several are essential viewing. I know you’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again: Seeing a film in a darkened theater with strangers is a secular sacrament. The fact that you can’t pause, talk, text, or tweet until it’s over is a feature. Please enjoy it while it’s still available. SEAN NELSON
Cinerama
Friday–Sunday

Abbas Kiarostami Retrospective
Four treasured Seattle arthouse cinemas will revisit the masterpieces of one of the most important filmmakers of the 20th and 21st centuries: the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, who died in France in 2016. During his long career, he explored the fine line between documentary and fiction, the relationship between spectator and image, and the mysteries of life and death. The theaters are showing eight of his extraordinary movies, including this week’s very meta reflection on reality and fiction, Close-up, as well as Through the Olive Trees. Here’s Charles Mudede on the latter: “Abbas Kiarostami’s Through the Olive Trees is one of the peaks of the Iranian new wave movement, which began around 1987 and ended in 2006. The movie is about a young and poor laborer who falls in love with a young and middle-class student. The laborer spends the entire film following the educated woman and making big promises—if they marry, he will be a good husband, he will give her all the intellectual freedom she needs, he will do all the work and she all of the reading. The ending of this film is, for me, the greatest ending in all of cinema.”
Grand Illusion

Becoming Nobody
Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher, author, and former colleague of Timothy Leary, converses on camera with director Jamie Catto (who’ll be in attendance at the Forum on Sunday). The interview is intercut with archival footage.
Northwest Film Forum
Saturday–Sunday

Class War: Comedies of Poverty and Wealth
Let the Beacon give you a cinematic panorama of dark comedies about the haves, the have-nots, and the endless conflict between them, including masterpieces like this weekend’s Monsieur Verdoux, in which Charlie Chaplin casts off his beloved “Tramp” character to play a “bluebeard” based on the infamous French widow-killer Henri Désiré Landru.
The Beacon
Sunday only

The Cranes Are Flying
One of the most famous films to emerge from Russia, Mikhail Kalatozov’s gorgeous 1957 love story (here presented in a new restoration) takes place in Moscow on the night of Operation Barbarossa, the Third Reich’s invasion of the Soviet Union. It’s a simple plot filmed with Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky (I Am Cuba)’s daring camerawork: dizzying crane and handheld shots abound.
The Beacon

The Farewell
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
Majestic Bay

French Cinema Now
For one week, Seattle turns into a center for French and Francophone cinema culture, offering some of the best movies you’ll see all year. Notable features: the farce Kiss & Tell, the thriller Mother’s Instinct, the contemporary French Muslim reimagining of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and the drama Stars by the Pound, whose lead, Laure Duchêne, will be visiting.
SIFF Cinema Uptown

The King of Comedy
In anticipation of Todd Phillips’s forthcoming failed-comedian crime drama Joker, watch Martin Scorsese’s classic failed-comedian satire, starring Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard as a couple of stalkers who kidnap a talk-show host (played by Jerry Lewis) in a bid for fame and love. A notorious flop, this twisted black comedy has since made the New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made and similar lists. Watch it before you see De Niro play a talk show host in Joker.
The Beacon
Friday only

Clementine courtesy of Northwest Film Forum

Local Sightings Film Festival
This year, the regional film festival will get even more local, partnering with homegrown nonprofits and media production companies like Indigenous Showcase, Sustainable Seattle, Langston, Pr0n 4 Freakz, NFFTY, and more. Once again, the city will become a hub for indie filmmakers who eschew New York or LA for the earnest and eccentric Northwest. Local Sightings acts as a showcase and watering hole for regional filmmakers, VR artists, and others who range from emotional storytellers to nature documentarists to political essayists. Many of them will attend, which makes for an opportunity for local professional and aspiring moviemakers to meet at the screenings, workshops, and parties. This weekend’s offerings include the tense mumblecore Clementine (Friday), the Haida-language drama Sgaawaay K’uuna (Saturday), and the 1938 DIY climate change sci-fi As the Earth Turns. JOULE ZELMAN
Northwest Film Forum

Manhattan Short Film Festival
Judge finalist short films from all around the world at the Manhattan Short Festival, which tours worldwide. Your ballots for Best Actor and Best Film will be counted, along with those of thousands of other filmgoers.
Varsity Theatre
Friday–Sunday

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Miles Davis was one of the greatest musicians ever. He was also a nasty motherfucker. Stanley Nelson’s documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool pivots on these two immutable elements of the jazz trumpeter’s existence with a penetrating, analytical approach that doesn’t stint on emotion. It’s about as rewarding a dissection of a great artist and problematic human as one could hope for in under two hours. Nelson enlists an elite cadre of Davis’s bandmates, wives and lovers, childhood friends, family members, promoters, music critics and historians, managers, label bosses, and Carlos Santana to provide key insights into this tormented genius. They’re generous with praise, but not afraid to call out the man’s faults, of which there were plenty. While the film’s commenters deem Davis the epitome of a hip black man who took no shit, he was also physically and mentally abusive to some of his wives and girlfriends, actions that would likely get him “canceled” today. Nelson fairly presents Davis’s blemishes and virtues, but he ultimately can’t help elevating Davis to godhead status. DAVE SEGAL
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

Monos
This is one strange beast of a movie. Set in the fog-enshrouded mountains of Colombia, the action centers on the scrappy, Lord of the Flies–like members of a guerrilla operation called The Organization. When they aren’t dancing around bonfires, firing assault rifles into the air, and beating up on each other, the soldiers are training to do… something (the politics are intentionally vague). Their companions include a compact drill sergeant, a milk cow named Shakira, and a POW they call Doctora (Julianne Nicholson, fully invested in a physically demanding role). If you insist on likability in your movie characters, Monos isn’t for you, because these kids are basically assholes. Recommended mostly for the jaw-dropping topography, Mica Levi’s synapse-scrambling score, and the Apocalypse Now–level cinematography. KATHY FENNESSY
SIFF Cinema Uptown

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise
This “Anime Sunrise” screening invites you to spend your early afternoon with Hiroyuki Yamaga’s Space Force in this 1987 drama about an idealistic scientist trying to keep the space program out of the hands of a war-hungry government.
The Beacon
Sunday only

The Secret World of Arrietty
Written by Spirited Away’s Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, this anime story masterfully demonstrates the worldview of the borrowers. The film is packed with special little details—like when Arrietty uses a leaf as an umbrella and flies through the yard trying to avoid an entanglement with a grasshopper. Despite the inherent dangers of Arrietty’s world, the landscape looks slightly like an impressionistic painting, and the wind is always whistling through the trees. AMY SCOTT
Various locations
Sunday only

Slither
Guard all your orifices as you watch James Gunn’s gruesome The Blob-esque creature feature about devilish little slug-monsters of death.
Central Cinema

Support the Girls
Before there was mumble rap, there was mumblecore, and many believe that Andrew Bujalski’s debut film, Funny Ha Ha, is the first film in this genre, which produced many boring films but also launched the careers of a few movie stars, like Mark Duplass and Greta Gerwig. Bujalski’s new film, Support the Girls, is instantly interesting because, unlike other films by this white director, it has black people in it. More than that, it stars a black woman. Even more than that, the star is none other than a veteran of black cinema, Regina Hall. She plays Lisa, a woman who manages Double Whammy, a restaurant that is somewhere between Hooters and Fado Irish Pub. CHARLES MUDEDE
Scarecrow Video
Sunday only

Takashi Miike’s Black Society Trilogy:Shinjuku Triad SocietyandRainy Dog
Ahead of the release of Takashi Miike’s new drama, First Love, revisit the auteur’s hard-boiled ’90s trilogy (in a new restoration) about crooked cops, a gay crimelord, hitmen, sex workers, and various unlucky folks. In Shinjuku Triad Society (playing Saturday and next week), a corrupt policeman chases his Chinese gangster quarry from Shinjuku to Taiwan; in Rainy Dog (playing Sunday and next week), a hitman’s estranged ex-girlfriend dumps their child at his place. The third movie, Ley Lines (playing Monday and later next week), is about three Japanese young people of Chinese ancestry who get into trouble in the big city.
Grand Illusion
Saturday–Sunday

Tasveer South Asian Film Festival
Seattle is lucky to have one of the largest South Asian-focused film festivals in the world, second only to Toronto. Now in its 14th year, the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival continues with a focus on stories from under-heard communities via a women-geared short film series (dubbed “She Persisted,” Saturday) plus programming of seven LGBTQ+ movies. Films of note: The Price of Free (Saturday), about child labor and child slavery/abductions in South Asian countries (with guest Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi) and A Monsoon Date (Saturday), a short outing from transgender Bollywood writer Gazal Dhaliwal (who is scheduled to attend). LEILANI POLK
Various locations

Time is Undefeated: The Best Action Movies of the Decade
Thrill to the most kickass films of the past decade. Keep your adrenaline up with John Wick 1–3 (Saturday), and Flooding with Love for the Kid (Sunday).
The Beacon
Saturday–Sunday

Heading to Portland or Tacoma? Check out EverOut to find things to do there and in Seattle, all in one place.

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