If you’re not raring to be traumatized by a clown-monster in It: Chapter Two, feel moved to your core by the devastating horror-drama Tigers Are Not Afraid. Want something more upbeat, but still plenty weird? Satoshi Kon’s gorgeously psychedelic Paprika will make your brain do somersaults, plus a run of The Land Before Time will make you cry baby dinosaur tears. See all of our film critics’ picks for this weekend below, and, if you’re looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings (which are now location-aware!).
Note: Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise noted
Angel Has Fallen
Angel Has Fallen, the third movie in the inelegantly named ______ Has Fallen series, pulls off an unexpected trick: It’s actually pretty good! Star and coproducer Gerard Butler reportedly wanted to sunset the franchise in the spirit of 2017’s masterful Logan, and damn if he didn’t get pretty close. Here, secret service super-agent Mike Banning (Butler) is beginning to feel the effects of his previous escapades: He’s got a compressed spine, some sort of chronic post-concussion syndrome, and a low-key opioid habit that he hasn’t told his wife about. And while he’s still fully capable of taking down a dozen elite commandos at a time, these cracks in his action-hero armor contribute to a genuine sense of tension in the film’s claustrophobic, deftly choreographed combat. Gone are the previous entries’ generic, nonwhite terrorist villains, replaced with aggrieved middle-class military contractors brandishing tactical gear and tricked-out automatic rifles. For a franchise that’s always felt at least a decade removed from relevance, Angel Has Fallen ends up being an intense, surprisingly of-the-moment action thriller. BEN COLEMAN
Art & Mind
The subject matter of this documentary, which is really art and madness, is not that interesting. We all know artists can be wacky, we know that genius and insanity are closely linked, we have heard this sort of thing a million times. But the mood, sound, and pacing of this film, directed by Amélie Ravalec, is actually hypnotizing. Ravalec, who has made documentaries about urban decay and techno music, never gets to the heart of artistic genius—indeed, no one can. Nevertheless, there is a rhythm of images and sound design in this work that’s very compelling. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
Thursday & Saturday
Blinded by the Light
A young Pakistani British man, feeling like an outcast and depressed by the racism around him, finds new inspiration in the music of Bruce Springsteen in this charming film by Gurinder Chadha.
Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
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. ELINOR JONES
Brittany Runs a Marathon
Me, for the first 70 minutes of Brittany Runs a Marathon: “This is some fat-shamey nonsense and I hate it.” When Brittany (Jillian Bell in a freakin’ fat suit) visits a doctor in hopes of scoring Adderall, she instead gets a lecture on her weight—despite the doctor knowing nothing else about her health. But anyway, Brittany decides to get her life together by losing weight and training for a marathon. I’m happy this wasn’t actually a feature-length film about how losing weight can change your life (vomit), because once she’s out of the problematic prosthetics, Bell is hilarious. There are plenty of enjoyable things in this movie, but I can’t recommend it to anyone who’s struggled with disordered eating. ELINOR JONES
The City as Character
Learn about issues that have affected Seattle neighborhoods throughout history at this screening of documentary shorts made from archival footage.
Northwest Film Forum
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 Martin Scorsese’s unrelenting The Wolf of Wall Street (Thursday), the deathless classic of Depression-era farce My Man Godfrey (Sunday), and the weird Stanley Kubrick sex cult thing Eyes Wide Shut (Sunday).
Thursday & Sunday
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
Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw
The first of the Fast & Furious spinoff films, the ampersand-fueled Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw is exactly as goofy and fun as it should be. Free of the core saga’s melodrama, the buddy cop comedy finds Dwayne Johnson’s tough guy Hobbs and Jason Statham’s tough guy Shaw flex-bickering and secretly loving each other as they work with Shaw’s super-spy sister (Vanessa Kirby, AKA the sister on The Crown) to fight Brixton Lore (Idris Elba), who, notably, has a robot motorcycle. (In the first five minutes, somebody asks Lore who he is, and he says, “Bad Guy,” which is almost as good of a name as “Brixton Lore.”) If you thought F&F couldn’t get any sillier, Hobbs & Shaw is happy to prove you wrong (the Rock fights a helicopter), and if you thought F&F couldn’t get more emo, Hobbs & Shaw is also happy to prove you wrong (once again, we learn that families, both those we inherit and those we create as we flip dune buggies through the air, are Very Important). In conclusion, vote Hobbs and Shaw in 2020. ERIK HENRIKSEN
If you think a 12-year-old saying “Fuck” is kinda funny—and for the record, I’m not judging you—then you’ll probably have fun with Good Boys. There are a bunch of 12-year-olds in it, and they all say “fuck” a lot, which also doubles as the film’s plot synopsis. BEN COLEMAN
Harold & Maude
The perfect date movie—and the ultimate May-December romance—is about a death-obsessed young man who falls in love with an old woman (played by Ruth Gordon) who has a huge appetite for life. They meet at a series of strangers’ funerals—they both like to attend, for different reasons—and go on a series of adventures.
Northwest Film Forum
Part of Erin O. Kay’s Fog City Cinema
I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians
Odessa, October 1941: Invaders from Germany and their Romanian allies crush the Red Army’s defenses and murder the Jewish population of the city. According to the director of this dead-serious black comedy, Romania only officially acknowledged its complicity with Germany as a condition for joining the EU in the 2000s, and the average Romanian doesn’t want to talk or hear about it. This film follows the Romanian director of an increasingly fraught reenactment of the Odessa massacre. She confronts her own amateur actors and crew’s indignant nationalism, specious historical mansplaining, and even Holocaust denialism. Barbarians was one of the more intellectually daunting movies at SIFF in 2019, with its single-take scenes, philosophical references, and meta approach. But it is, unfortunately, relevant and necessary viewing. JOULE ZELMAN
The Invisible Vegan
If you’re troubled by the impact of meat production on the environment and are considering eliminating animal products from your diet, join director Jasmine Leyva for a screening of her documentary The Invisible Vegan, followed by a discussion. Vegan snacks will be provided, courtesy of Chef Ariel.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
It: Chapter Two
Originally produced as a moderately scary though still PG-rated TV miniseries in 1990, Stephen King’s doorstop of a book It—about a group of outcast kids who unite to destroy a shape-shifting monster preying on the children of their town—got revived for the big screen in 2017 and scared the living shit out of people. It was well-cast and well-shot, and it hit all the right notes of terror and creepiness. The story concludes with It Chapter Two, in which the kids are now adults (played by Bill Hader, James McAvoy, and Jessica Chastain, among others) who must return to their old hometown and conquer that motherfucking clown monster thing once and for all. LEILANI POLK
Every once in awhile, a film bursts out of the 90–150-minute time frame and dares to create a work of durational art. Mariano Llinás’s La Flor, which took more than a decade to make and is divided into six episodes, is one such example. It veers from genre to genre—expect storylines that dip into musicals, spy thrillers, and metafiction—and defies the demands for beginnings and endings. Watch it all or watch a little; your ticket allows you to enter the screenings for all four parts.
Northwest Film Forum
The Land Before Time
Get ready to dissolve into nostalgic tears as baby sauropod dinosaur Littlefoot and his friends search for the Rock That Looks Like a Long-Neck, which will point them to safety and plenty in the Great Valley. Remember: Dreams see us through to forever!
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. 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. 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
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Midsommar: The Director’s Cut
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. Dani 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 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
Distributors are smart to emphasize the presence of Jeff Goldblum in The Mountain. In this somber, 1950s-set drama—the fifth feature from Spokane-born director Rick Alverson—Goldblum plays a lobotomist struggling to keep his career going as the procedure falls out of favor. While The Mountain possesses an oppressive elegance, there’s little to appeal to a mainstream audience apart from his performance as a very ordinary ghoul: a dyspeptic, soft-spoken intellectual whose rumpled charm dissolves virtually every night into drunken lust and self-pity. The Mountain follows Andy (Tye Sheridan), a practically inert young man who agrees to accompany Fiennes, his mother’s disgraced former doctor, on a road trip to different mental institutions. It’s no accident that The Mountain pits dynamic, internationally respected character actors against a static protagonist. But it’s is so keen on flouting the narrative expectations of an active hero that, once Goldblum leaves the picture, it results in a dead-end atmosphere. JOULE ZELMAN
Northwest Film Forum
White art about colonialism frequently favors the Heart of Darkness narrative: a white man penetrating the wilds and losing his superficial bond with “civilization.” But in the new film from Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), set in Australia in 1825, “civilization” is merely a handy euphemism for exploitation and genocide. After British soldiers rape her and commit horrific acts against her family, an Irish convict, Clare (Aisling Franciosi), hires an Aboriginal tracker, Billy (Baykali Ganambarr, in his first-ever acting role), to help her hunt down the bastards in the Tasmanian jungle. Clare initially calls Billy “boy,” and Billy is justifiably reluctant to work for a white woman. In this suspenseful, moving, and often hard-to-watch film, their changing relationship is a rare solace amidst scenes of historically accurate barbarity. JOULE ZELMAN
AMC Seattle 10
Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood
Once Upon a Time doesn’t have the self-conscious, This Is a Quentin Tarantino Film™ feel of the filmmaker’s past few movies. Make no mistake: Nobody besides Tarantino could have made Once Upon a Time—it’s a singular thing, uniquely dialed in to his obsessions and quirks. But like Tarantino’s best movies, it feels neither reliant nor focused on those obsessions and quirks. We spend the bulk of our time with three people: Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), an earnest, anxious, B-list actor whose career is right about to curdle; Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), Rick’s toughed-up, chilled-out former stuntman and current BFF; and Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie), a bubbly, captivating actress who’s just starting to enjoy her first taste of success in show business. How Tarantino plays with history in Once Upon a Time is one of the more intense and surprising elements of the film—and, thankfully, it’s also one of the best. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Sci-fi, suspense, and midnight-movie madness converge in this anime extravaganza from Perfect Blue‘s Satoshi Kon. Research scientists engaged in dream analysis spring into action when a thief takes off with one of their experimental devices and starts to invade their consciousnesses. With the aid of an auburn-haired dream girl and a lantern-jawed detective, Dr. Chiba and her associates try to track down the perpetrator before Tokyo turns into a nightmare-state. Like Waking Life hopped up on bubble tea, Paprika is a riot of psychobabble, J-pop, creepy dolls, and dancing appliances. KATHY FENNESSY
Part of Psycho-cinema Freak-out Fest
The Peanut Butter Falcon
A young man with Down’s Syndrome (Zack Gottsagen) runs away from his group home with hopes to become a wrestler. He’s abetted by a small-time criminal (Shia LaBeouf) and, more reluctantly, a nursing home attendant (Dakota Johnson). Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle doesn’t give it high praise, exactly, but hints that it might please some: “The Peanut Butter Falcon is a nice little movie that barely goes anywhere, but audiences, in a certain mood, might be willing to drift along with it.”
Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
Kurosawa’s legendary multiple-perspective drama, starring Toshiro Mifune and Machiko Kyô and based on a story by the great writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa, remains a suspenseful, spooky, and gorgeously shot experiment in subjectivity. One horrible crime—the murder of a samurai and the rape of his wife by a bandit—is shown from the point of view of the three involved (yes, the samurai speaks from beyond the grave). Will we ever know the truth?
SIFF Film Center
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
A group of sweet young things (Michael Garza, Zoe Margaret Colletti, et al.) stumble across a cursed book of stories, which are based on the classic ’80s children’s chillers by Alvin Schwartz. One by one, the stories start coming true, trapping and killing each of the unfortunates. The framing device is a little flimsy, and the film’s monsters—based on Stephen Gammell’s truly unsettling original art—suffer from excessive CGI. The movie ends up cuter than it is scary. But André Øvredal (The Autopsy of Jane Doe) works in a few genuinely suspenseful moments, the ’60s-era production design is beautiful, and the appealing cast keeps things watchable. JOULE ZELMAN
AMC Pacific Place
The not-so-coyly named SECS FEST presents short and feature-length cinematic tales to titillate, favoring “films that defy audience expectations for sexually explicit films”—in other words, movies that deviate from the hetero/cissexual, ableist, male-gaze norm.
Space Adventure Cobra
Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video has called this 1982 anime “like an animated sci-fi Diabolik. A constant wave of graphic abstractions & baffling, unselfconscious genre tropes.” It’s about a sexy space pirate named Cobra who comes out of hiding and winds up fighting a huge criminal network led by Crystal Boy.
Spider-man: Far from Home
For those who have been salivating for a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming—and more Spidey 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. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Tigers Are Not Afraid
An assured, suitably creepy horror/drama/coming-of-age film from writer/director Issa López, Tigers Are Not Afraid takes place in an unnamed drug-war-ruined Mexican city, where young Estrella (Paola Lara) finds herself on the streets with a gang of tough, abandoned kids, led by the tiny, unpredictable Shine (Juan Ramón López). On the run with these boys—and hiding from a cruel local gang that vanishes adults and children alike—Estrella begins glimpsing eerie visions and hearing the raspy demands of vengeance-thirsty ghosts. Beautifully shot, and with moving performances from its young cast, Tigers is getting compared a lot to Guillermo del Toro’s early work, and for good reason: While it isn’t as graceful or inventive as Cronos or The Devil’s Backbone, it subtly, effectively creates a sense of something being deeply wrong—both in our world and, perhaps, in one that’s right next to it. ERIK HENRIKSEN
SIFF Cinema Uptown
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 the rousing Rocky spin-off Creed, the Michael Mann technothriller Blackhat, the clever Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, and the Telegu/Tamil-language epic Baahubali: The Beginning.
Our critics don’t recommend these films, but you might be interested in them anyway.