There are plenty of cinematic ways to celebrate Halloween, like a live-scored The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari or the Booktoberfest Halloween Horror Movie Marathon. But if you're looking for something more serious, critically acclaimed stories of resistance are opening this weekend: the moving biopic Harriet, starring Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, and Taika Waititi's daring Nazi Germany-set comedy Jojo Rabbit. And for something more escapist, you can always admire Linda Hamilton in Terminator: Dark Fate. See all of our film critics’ picks below, and, If you're looking for even more options, check out our film events calendar and complete movie times listings. In the South Sound? Check out our list of the best movies playing this weekend in the Tacoma area.
Note: Movies play Thursday–Sunday unless otherwise noted
70MM Film Festival II
The large-format film series is back for more! Return to the huge theater for classics like Vertigo and The Untouchables as well as more recent hits like Interstellar and Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood.
Writer/director James Grey's follow-up to 2016's excellent, underrated The Lost City of Z is a clunkier affair, with sad-sack Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) embarking on an almost-certainly doomed voyage through the solar system to track down his MIA astronaut father (Tommy Lee Jones). Along the way, he fights battles both external (space pirates!) and internal (daddy issues!), and he also spends a whole lot of time monologuing, thanks to an unnecessary, on-the-nose voiceover. But it's when the movie shuts up—when Gray's camera skims the plains of the Moon, when an antenna towering into Earth's atmosphere begins to shudder, when the screen is filled by the shadow-blue rings of Neptune or the churning storms of Jupiter—that Ad Astra hits the profundity and scope that all McBride's monologuing fails to get at. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The Beacon Halloween Special
Horror movies are one thing, but there's nothing like revisiting that episode of Freaks and Geeks where Lindsay accidentally eggs her little brother while he's trick-or-treating with his friends. The Beacon will pay tribute to your favorite TV shows' quintessential Halloween episodes and shower you with candy. Costumes are obviously encouraged.
The three great science-fiction works of the first half of the 1980s are Blade Runner by Ridley Scott (1982), “Clear” by Cybotron (1983), and Neuromancer by William Gibson (1984). With these three we get the images of the urban future. Los Angeles is the city in the movie, Detroit is the city in the music, and Tokyo is the city at the center of the book. All of these works have withstood the test of time, and so reward frequent visits. We still have so much to learn from the sounds, words, and cinema of the post-humanist world. Blade Runner is also packed with amazing urban details: the sushi bar, the hotel room, the nightclub. I could live here forever. CHARLES MUDEDE
Showing in recognition of the film's setting in time, November 2019!
Booktoberfest Halloween Horror Movie Marathon
The library will present four classics that you can watch for free: A Bucket of Blood, Little Shop of Horrors, Carnival of Souls, and Night of the Living Dead (the original).
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
Removed as they are from the modern movie-going experience, silent movies possess a special kind of hypnotic otherworldliness—and few are stranger than Robert Wiene's 1919 Expressionist masterwork The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a tale of a malevolent fairground "doctor" and the unfortunate sleepwalker who murders at his command. Don't miss your chance to see this film with a live score by award-winning Seattle keyboardist Wayne Horvitz and his ensemble.
The Royal Room
Dolemite Is My Name
Of the many stars of the Blaxploitation genre of the early ’70s, Rudy Ray Moore may not be the most famous, but he was certainly the most original. After recording several comedy albums, he used the money to self-produce his starring vehicle, 1975’s Dolemite—about a rhyming pimp trained in kung fu who takes revenge on the rival who put him in jail. In Dolemite Is My Name, Eddie Murphy plays Moore from his days as a struggling comedian/singer/dancer who worked as a record store manager, to making comedy albums and eventually willing his cinematic visions to life. The film deftly captures the hardship of inner-urban life in the ’70s, where classism and privilege kept Black entertainers who were unwilling to play the game out of the mainstream. Dolemite Is My Name is a bittersweet, filthy-mouthed comedy that also sneakily educates its audience in the Black experience. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Ark Lodge Cinemas
Ishiro Honda's original Godzilla in its Japanese version, believe it or not, is a sad, elegant drama of sacrifice and hubris that just so happens to have a man in a monster suit tromping through Tokyo. If you've only seen the sequels or remakes or the bowdlerized American cut, go back to the newly restored source, the Ur-kaiju.
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Godzilla returns, but he's on our side now! Yoshimitsu Banno's 1971 Godzilla sequel pits the King of Monsters against a deadly smog monster that feeds on toxic waste. This one gets trippy.
Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace
April Wright's documentary celebrates the golden age of ornate movie theaters.
Guy Maddin's Seances
The great Canadian and art house director Guy Maddin presents a performance that connects silent-era films with the latest technology (cloud computing), and the past with the future of the image. Seattle is a cloud city. Northwest Film Forum is one of Seattle’s top art houses. Seances will be a cinematic experiment that can’t go wrong because Maddin will there (for every show), and he is really a great director, and seeing him do his thing (clouds and images) will definitely be fun. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum
With Harriet, audiences are given a live-action reimagining of Harriet Tubman’s journey to self-liberation: changing her name, hiding in bales of hay, being chased by dogs, and getting cornered by armed men on a bridge before jumping into the river. Harriet shows how Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) got help from a secret network of safe houses and trusted free Blacks (Leslie Odom Jr. and Janelle Monáe) who stuck their necks out to help her cause. Throughout the film, the only music you’ll hear, gladly, are negro spirituals—songs that enslaved Blacks used to express their sorrow and joy, and to secretly communicate. (Tubman, who was nicknamed Moses, would sing “Go Down Moses” as a signal to enslaved Blacks that she was in the area, and would help anyone who wished to escape.) Harriet doesn’t subject the sensitive viewer to excessive gore or violence (though there is one particularly unsettling scene), because for once, this is a story in the “slave movie” genre about tremendous triumph, leadership, and Tubman’s unwavering faith, both in God and herself. JENNI MOORE
Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is based on the true story documented in “Hustlers in Scores,” a 2015 New York magazine article by Jessica Pressler. The movie kicks off in 2007, before the effects of the recession were fully felt, and when things were still fun and business was still good. Wall street guys were making bank, and a considerable amount of that dough made it into the hands of strip club workers. But in 2008, the financial crisis started to affect the club’s clientele, which also meant a decline in the dancers’ pay. Hustlers shows how an all-out class war ensued, with a group of four stripper friends (played by Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Keke Palmer, and Lili Reinhart) targeting their rolodex of wealthy clients, drugging, and guiding them to a club where the women had negotiated a percentage of their spending. Once there, the women would easily persuade their drunken victims to hand over their credit cards, racking up thousands of dollars in expenses. Ultimately, the funny, fleshy Hustlers is solid because the strippers are uniquely portrayed as real women with full lives, but also, let’s be honest: It’s just fun to watch Wall Street pervs get taken advantage of for their money. JENNI MOORE
AMC Seattle 10 & Meridian 16
The latest from Taika Waititi starts off with a bright, Wes Andersonian whimsiness: Young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) joyously bounces about at summer camp, having the time of his life as he frolics and laughs with his second-best friend Yorki (Archie Yates) and his first-best friend, the imaginary Adolf (Waititi). Just one thing: Jojo is at Hitler Youth camp—their campfire activities include burning books—Adolf is Adolf Hitler, and World War II is winding down, with Germany not doing so great. Both because of and in spite of its inherent shock value, Jojo Rabbit—based on a book by Christine Leunens—is just as clever and hilarious as Waititi’s other movies, but as it progresses, the story taps into a rich vein of gut-twisting melancholy. There’s more to the complicated Jojo Rabbit than first appears, and only a director as committed, inventive, and life-affirmingly good-hearted as Waititi would even have a chance of pulling it off. He does, to unforgettable effect. ERIK HENRIKSEN
AMC Pacific Place & Thornton Place
Joker isn’t really the story of a good man gone bad; clown for hire Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is troubled from the outset. He’s barely scraping by, living with his mother (Frances Conroy), and coming undone due to cuts in social services. Sure, Phillips overdoes it with long, panning explorations of Fleck’s bruised, skinny ribs, but then again, men with insecurities about being skinny are presumably the film’s target audience. The first half hour unfolds like a dog-whistle symphony for insecure guys who think they have it bad. Fleck berates his black social worker (Sharon Washington) for not listening to him when she’s obviously doing her best. He fixates on a black single mother (Zazie Beetz) after the briefest sign of camaraderie. Yet there are a series of trap doors throughout Joker that unexpectedly drop its audience into new perspectives. Early on, an obvious foreshadow shifts Fleck onto a new path, and as that plotline plays out, Joker offers some surprisingly rewarding reflections on the relationship between the villain and Batman. (Oh yeah! This is a Batman movie, remember?) Both men, Joker suggests, might be equally deranged, making sweeping moves against the world without regard for those who become collateral damage for their respective manias. SUZETTE SMITH
A biopic about the last months of famed entertainer and Wizard of Oz star Judy Garland, Judy features an uncanny, spot-on performance from Reneé Zellwegger that’s unfortunately paired with a script that veers from affecting to eye-rollingly ham-fisted. Bouncing back and forth from Judy’s famed London Palladium gigs six months before her death and her childhood that was crushed under the abusive thumb of Louis B. Mayer while filming The Wizard of Oz, Zellwegger gives an honest, raw performance that lays bare Garland’s crippling depression and addiction. However, her valiant attempts at subtlety are betrayed by a shallow script that relies too heavily on emotional manipulation. That aside, Zellwegger’s gloriously accurate hair and makeup is almost reason enough to see this film, and when she belts out “The Trolley Song,” you'll long for the days when consummate pros like Garland pushed past their personal demons to bring audiences to their feet. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Timothée Chalamet stars as Prince Hal, forced to abandon his carefree ways and ascend the throne, in this non-Shakespeare film about Shakespearean material. It takes some chutzpah to revisit a history already dramatized by the most famous writer of the English language, but reportedly,a zany Robert Pattinson as the sneering French Dauphin makes it fun. (Tip: See more of RPattz directly below!)
The Lighthouse, the second film from Robert Eggers, the director of the excellent, wildly disconcerting period horror The Witch, is... funnier than expected? Sure, it’s also fucked-up and intense and distressing, but there are significantly more fart jokes than one might expect. Robert Pattinson, with a voice like The Simpsons’ Mayor Quimby, and Willem Dafoe, with a voice like The Simpsons’ crusty old sea captain, play two lost souls manning a decrepit lighthouse on a miserable, unnamed island. Like The Witch, this is a story and a setting that feels old, and Eggers captures it in joyless black and white, antiquated dialogue, and a squarish, 1.19:1 aspect ratio. Pattinson and Dafoe squabble and fight and scream, and something is lurking on the rocky cliffs, and something else is lurking at the top of the tower, and man, this one seagull really hates Pattinson. Things get weird, and sad, and unexpectedly touching; Dafoe and Pattinson are both great, and if you’re going to descend into Eggers’s particular brand of fraught, bleak madness, one could hardly ask for better company. As we head into another dour, dark Northwest winter, Eggers’s whipping gales and damp despair are here to remind you that hey, things could always be worse. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Keith Watson of Slant magazine called this film about dogs in a Chilean skatepark "a quietly radical attempt to view the world from a non-human perspective that also doubles as a chilled-out buddy comedy of sorts." Follow Chola and Football as they hang out with skaters who discuss "personal addiction, trouble with the authorities, and a variety of other subjects" (to quote publicity materials).
SIFF Film Center
Director/star Edward Norton’s decision to turn Jonathan Lethem’s postmodern neo-noir novel into a literal 1950s-set noir, with jazz music and vintage cars aplenty, is both an asset and a liability. Motherless Brooklyn is easy on the eyes, and the all-star cast conveys the sense—if not the suspense—of a twisty-turny mystery populated by crooks, dames, reporters, jazz musicians, and an ultra-powerful tycoon inspired by infamous New York City developer Robert Moses. But the movie’s overlong and unfocused, too, and there’s almost no emotional purchase, even as stakes escalate. NED LANNAMANN
Joseph Losey's blistering portrait of French complicity in the persecution of the Jews doubles as a paranoid, existential drama about identity. A Catholic man, Klein (played by Alain Delon), is making a bundle exploiting Jewish people who are trying to flee Occupied Paris. But when he's confused with another Klein, an unknown person, he finds himself on the wrong side of France's racial laws. This masterpiece was scripted by Franco Solinas, who also wrote The Battle of Algiers, and launches the retrospective on the Marxist screenwriter, titled "To Win a Revolution."
My Own Private Idaho
Imagine you’re Gus Van Sant in the early 1990s. You’ve living in Portland, you’re fascinated with the grime and grunge of the city. You’ve got three partially formed ideas for screenplays: one based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, one about a young man trying to find his mother, and one about a narcoleptic sex worker with the face of an angel. Well, Early ’90s Gus Van Sant, mash those ideas together into one problematic-but-somehow-still-charming script and call Keanu! You’re about to make My Own Private Idaho! BRI BREY
This begins the Sex Work Is Work series.
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—like all of Tarantino's movies, 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. Two of these people—the ones who're beginning to realize the world is no longer all that interested in what they have to offer—are fictional. The third is not, and how much you know about the real-life events that occurred in and around Los Angeles in 1969 will profoundly color your experience watching the film. 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
Parasite is director Bong Joon-ho at his very best. It's a departure from the sci-fi bent of his recent movies, though it's no less concerned with the state of society today. Set in Seoul, South Korea, the families and class issues at play reflect our global era, in which the disparity between the haves and have-nots seems to be widening. Parasite follows the Kim family, who secretly scam their way into the lives of the wealthy Park family. Slowly and methodically, the Kims begin to drive out the other domestic workers at the Park residence, each time referring another family member (who they pretend not to know) for the vacant position. And so the poorer family starts to settle comfortably into the grift—until a sudden realization turns their lives upside down. The resulting film offers an at turns hilarious and deeply unsettling look at class and survival, its essence echoed in the environments the characters inhabit. JASMYNE KEIMIG
SIFF Cinema Egyptian & AMC Pacific Place
Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook
Republicans have been on a mission to make it harder to vote, especially for minorities and poor people. This documentary paints the grim picture while giving updates on the fight against voter suppression.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
How does a new generation of fighters for trans rights inherit Dr. Frank N. Furter of Transsexual, Transylvania (played by Tim Curry), in this campy 1975 horror musical? Susan Sarandon costars, along with ripped fishnet stockings, corsets, and the dreams of science fiction.
AMC Pacific Place 11
This Franco Solinas-penned anti-establishment drama is based on the real Sicilian bandit, presenting him as a figure caught up in the machinations of the underworld and the police. The acclaimed neo-realist film continues the Franco Solinas retrospective.
Nadav Lapid's lauded autobiographical comedy of culture clashes is about an erratic young Israeli evading mandatory military service and deciding to "become French."
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Terminator: Dark Fate
If nothing else, Dark Fate has one thing going for it: Sarah Connor. Linda Hamilton is back, which means there's a Terminator movie worth watching again. Well, it's worth watching, I guess, if you, like me, have devoted entirely too much of your ever-shrinking life span to thinking about terminators. For everyone else, Dark Fate's appeal—which largely hinges on seeing Hamilton, Arnold, and various bloodthirsty murderbots back in action—might be limited. Deadpool director Tim Miller does a lot of things right: His action sequences are messy but intense; he knows to let Hamilton, with her wry eyebrows and smoke-scratched voice, steal scenes whenever she feels like it; and he somehow pulls off the insane-sounding task of making a Terminator movie that's legitimately, consistently funny. But at the end of the day, Dark Fate is another sequel that tries, with mixed success, to reboot a rusty series, and several of the attempts it makes to feel current land with a wet thud. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The wonderful noir actor Richard Conte stars in this early Jules Dassin film about a long-haul trucker seeking revenge on the louse who crippled his father. This movie kicks off the Beacon's exciting retrospective of the blacklisted director, "And Not a Word to the Cops."
The Wrong Man
In one of Hitchcock's lesser-known but still compelling tales of an innocent man beset by a judicial nightmare, Henry Fonda plays a meek, devout jazz musician wrongly accused of murder. This film is screening as part of the 42nd Film Noir Series.
Seattle Art Museum
Zombieland 2: Double Tap
The problem with comedy sequels is that it's hard to tell the same joke years later, but funnier. Despite the ravages of time and changing tastes, filmmakers must suplex the lightning back into that bottle. But despite lurching into theaters a full decade after the original, Zombieland: Double Tap avoids those pitfalls while delivering a suitably zany Zombieland experience with the easy charm of an off-brand Mike Judge picaresque. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Emma Stone all return to banter and blast zombies, and their wry camaraderie speaks a seemingly genuine desire to play in this viscera-splattered sandbox again (rather than, as with many long-delayed sequels, simply the desire for a new beach house). Added to the mix are a spate of goofy newcomers, including a delightfully unapologetic flibbertigibbet (Zoey Deutch) and a pair of dirtbag doppelgangers (Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch). It's more a live-action cartoon than a serious entry in the zombie canon, but as a low-key genre comedy, it totally works. BEN COLEMAN
Our critics don't recommend these films, but you might like to know about them anyway.