It's movie time! The Seattle International Film Festival is wrapping up (see our list of SIFF picks this week and our full guide). But there are other movies you should know about, like the Mindy Kaling comedy Late Night, the eye-opening Silicon Valley doc General Magic, and the Reagan-era sci-fi blockbuster The Terminator. (The latest Marvel cine-steamroller, Dark Phoenix, is sadly being panned just about everywhere.) 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
Always Be My Maybe
Ali Wong and Randall Park star as two fallen-out friends who, 15 years after their last fight, strike up a friendship and more. Wong plays a celebrity chef, and Park a chill musician who works for his dad. Critics are saying that Nahnatchka Khan's rom-com, co-scripted by Wong and Park, is unusually smart and sweet.
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
Ark Lodge Cinemas & Crest
Asako I & II
In Ryûsuke Hamaguchi's Palme d'Or-nominated adaptation of Tomoka Shibasaki’s novel, a young woman falls in love with a rather feckless but attractive young man, who eventually disappears out of her life. Two years later, she meets his doppelgänger, a considerate and faithful fellow. But thoughts of her first lover intrude—and what is the nature of love, anyway? Lawrence Garcia of AV Club hails Hamaguchi as "a rising master" who's created a pop melodrama with surprisingly intellectual ramifications.
Northwest Film Forum
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 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.
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
Meridian 16 & Crest
3D showtimes here.
Dammed to Extinction
Watch a film about the scientists, tribal members, and local community members working to restore salmon populations to the Puget Sound in an effort to save orcas from extinction.
If you scan the past, everywhere you’ll find ideas that were once very pregnant with the future but for some reason or another miscarried. General Magic, a 1990s Silicon Valley start-up that spun off from Apple, had an idea that suffered this kind of misfortune. Its freethinking commie founders envisioned a technology that’s easily recognizable to the inhabitants of the second decade of the 21st century as a smartphone, which is based on Apple’s iPhone, which entered the market in 2007. This kind of phone, which General Magic called a Pocket Crystal, is now universal. This documentary shows why we do not associate smartphones with General Magic but with Apple. CHARLES MUDEDE
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 Iron Giant
Warner Bros. dumped The Iron Giant into the crowded film landscape of 1999 with terrible promotion and minimal confidence, letting it wander off to be ignored like a neglected ginger in a mall. Brad Bird's Cold War-era story about Hogarth, an adventurous boy with an unfortunate name who discovers a robot in his backyard and tries to keep him, was rescued on home video thanks to scenarios like: "My kid likes robots. This has a robot in it. It's five bucks on VHS in a bin by the checkout counter. Why the hell not." Then the film—full of so many amazing moments that every viewing is like a tiny miracle of storytelling—worked its surprising magic. BOBBY ROBERTS
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
It’s 2019, and there are still no female late-night television hosts. In many respects, this isn’t surprising. But thankfully we have writers like Mindy Kaling to flesh out a world in which there’s one who has existed for 20 years. In Late Night, Kaling plays Molly Patel, a “diversity hire” in the writers room of Emma Thompson’s intimidating (and secretly, delightful) Katherine Newbury, a legendary late-night host who’s on the verge of being fired unless she changes up her act. This R-rated comedy doesn’t break the mold, but it is still a fun and engaging watch. JASMYNE KEIMIG
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.
Merata: How Mum Decolonized the Screen
Hepi Mita pays tribute to his filmmaker mother, Merata Mita, a documentarian who worked in the '70s and '80s to expose injustices towards her fellow Maori. According to the film description, Mita senior was "the first woman from an Indigenous Nation to solely direct a film anywhere in the world," so this highly rated documentary is bound to be an important watch. Presented by Sankofi Films.
Ark Lodge Cinemas
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.
On the Brink
UW Foster School of Business and Langston Seattle will bring you the first screening of a documentary on Seattle's Central District, a onetime bastion of African American and immigrant communities, currently in the course of rapid gentrification and the subject of fierce debates on displacement, cultural erasure, and housing justice. After the film, stay for a discussion with people involved in the film, including Slick Watts, Robbie Hill, Xola Malik, DeVon Manier, Rev. Dr. Phyllis Ratcliff Beaumonte, Jesdarnel 'Squirt' Henton, Carl Livingston, Damon Bomar, Kristi Brown, and Donald King.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute
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 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."
The best science-fiction films are found in the last three decades of the 20th century. The best decade of that period is without question the 1980s. And one of the highest achievements of 1980s-era sci-fi cinema is The Terminator, James Cameron’s film about a robot that’s sent from the future to kill the mother of a human rebel leader. True, the plot makes no sense. If the robot succeeds in killing the rebel leader’s mother, it will not just be the death of the rebellion but also the creation of a completely different temporal trajectory that begins at the point that the rebel leader’s mother’s life is terminated. And how that path unfolds is completely unknown. Though its philosophy of time is weak, the motor that drives the film’s story is powerful. There is not one dull moment in The Terminator, which made Arnold Schwarzenegger a household name. CHARLES MUDEDE
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.
'Yai Nin' Sneak Peek / Party
Be the first to catch a sneak peek of the upcoming documentary short by Champ Ensminger, Yai Nin, and stick around for a Q&A with the director. Thai dishes will be provided by SOI.
Northwest Film Forum
Our critics don't recommend these films, but you might be interested in them anyway.