Watch out: J.Lo and co. are out to steal your filmgoing dollars this weekend with the film Hustlers, in which a group of ex-strippers stick it to the man by robbing their rich-jerk clients. In another story of women's power, see Keira Knightley as a reluctant Iraq War whistleblower in Official Secrets. (Also released this weekend: The Goldfinch, which our critic called "remarkably tedious.") In addition, two unmissable (and very different) series are beginning this week: the art films of the internationally renowned, much-mourned Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, and the sexy horror-film/burlesque bash Nocturnal Emissions. For a serious look at police violence and Black Lives Matter, be sure to watch the emotionally perceptive documentary What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire? 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
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 will show eight of his extraordinary movies, beginning with Where Is the Friend's Home? and The Traveler at the Forum. Where Is the Friend's Home?, playing Saturday, is a deceptively simple story about a boy who accidentally takes home a fellow pupil's notebook; to keep his classmate from being punished, he must navigate the squabbles and distractions of rural life. The Traveler, playing Sunday, is also a closely observed study of Iranian society starring a child, a boy who'll stop at nothing to get to a Tehran soccer match.
Northwest Film Forum
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. 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
Meridian 16 & Thornton Place
Movies are expensive, and going to theaters can be a pain, and “It’s a documentary... about water!” isn't the most rousing tagline—but Aquarela is worth every bit of effort to see on the biggest screen and with the loudest sound. Ranging from Russia to Miami to Venezuela, director Viktor Kossakovsky’s gorgeous, jarring film captures stunning sights and sounds. The music, courtesy of Apocalyptica’s Eicca Toppinin, is thick with shuddering guitar riffs, underscoring Kossakovsky’s eye-widening, stomach-churning reminder of how, in comparison to a natural force like this one, the accomplishments and failures of humankind are laughably small and pathetically meaningless. Unspoken in Aquarela, but lurking behind each image, is another reminder: That, as we hurtle toward a changed climate, the water around us remains as beautiful and lethal as ever—and just as indifferent to our frail attempts to constrain it. ERIK HENRIKSEN
The Best 'Friday the 13th'
The Beacon is being coy and refusing to say which movie from the Friday the 13th horror franchise they'll be screening, except that it stars "Jason Voorhees" and "Doomed Teens." You'll be surprised! Drink $2 Rainiers at the specially priced screening at Seattle's newest indie cinema.
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
Certain Women is full of slow, quiet scenes in which women are putting on socks, smoking, or tending to chores. In another movie, these would be the passing moments in between the real action, or be used to quickly make clear who someone is or where she lives. In Kelly Reichardt’s subtle portrait of four women in Montana, these drawn-out depictions of rest and work are the meat of the film. Yes, lots of people will be bored in the theater, even though the plot eventually delivers hostage negotiations, prison visits, and illicit lesbian crushes. But the gorgeous, impressively empty landscape makes every small face that appears beneath it seem interesting and important. Reichardt is no stranger to the West, and the Oregon she portrays in her 2008 film Wendy and Lucy is melancholy and perfect. In Certain Women, every minute expression holds tremendous weight—which she uses to communicate the small yet crushing frustrations that come with being a woman. JULIA RABAN
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. Our reviewer hates Trading Places, but we do recommend the tastelessly insane Cronenberg-esque Society and Stanley Kubrick's cult-orgy trip Eyes Wide Shut (both playing Thursday).
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
The Films of Sarah Jacobson
Experience '90s B-movie punk feminism in this double feature of I Was a Teenage Serial Killer (tagline: "Mary was always good until she started killing men") and Mary Jane's Not a Virgin Anymore, newly restored by the American Genre Film Archive.
Fuselage Dance Film Festival 2019
At the second edition of this festival, see dance films from artists based in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The opening party on September 13 will sport food, drink, multimedia, and performances.
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
It's the 21st century and women film directors in America, while by no means rare, are still outnumbered by their male colleagues. This despite the fact that women behind the camera have a long history. Take Ida Lupino, an actress who directed several classic, tough B-movies in the 1940s and '50s, including The Hitch-Hiker, the only American noir by a woman.
Hatidze subsists in the Macedonian mountains in much the same world as her ancestors hundreds of years ago: a hut made of stones, no electricity, no running water, living off the land. She lives with her very old mother, surviving by harvesting honey and selling it in the town market. When a nomadic Turkish family with seven wild kids in an RV set up nearby with their herd of cows, they change the atmosphere drastically. The father is under heavy pressure to support the family, and he has little regard for the environment or engaging in sustainable practices. The doc is an interesting glimpse into a quiet, old way of life, but the pace is slow, and the film sags while the people just hang out and go about their daily business. GILLIAN ANDERSON
If you were looking forward to women-focused crime capers in The Kitchen and felt let down, rejoice! Hustlers, which rocks an amazing cast including Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, Cardi B (!), and freakin' Lizzo (!!!), is the real deal. Former erotic dancers, led by J.Lo, team up to rob their grossly rich clients. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone writes: "As a stripper who can work a pole better than rivals half her age, Lopez is that dazzling, that deep, that electrifying. This you don't want to miss."
Regal Meridian 16 & Thornton Place
Issaquah International Film Festival
SIFF will take movies to Issaquah for a weekend. See films like a sweet, funny Swedish drama about fourth grade, Sune vs. Sune; the Indian road-trip drama KD; the culture-clash comedy Go Back to China; the devastating Mexican fantasy/horror Tigers Are Not Afraid; and more. Best of all, screenings are free!
It: Chapter Two
It: Chapter Two gets better as it goes, but be warned that it goes for 169 minutes. It’s hard to argue with the film’s length, given the complicated, sprawling underbelly of lore and symbolism in Stephen King’s novel, but what does director Andy Muschietti do with all this time? Like the first film, Chapter Two has high points, but Muscietti also drags scenes out for far too long. This is an above-average blockbuster, and audiences who go to Chapter Two looking for a monster movie will find something much better than usual. But King fans will be left wanting—though perhaps in a way that makes them want to reread It and remember why they loved it so much in the first place. SUZETTE SMITH
In 2015, photographer Jay Maisel, who created Miles Davis's Kind of Blue album cover among other things, was forced to sell his 36,000-foot New York City home, known as "The Bank." This documentary by Stephen Wilkes chronicles Maisel's move as he contends with the end of a New York era.
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
AMC Pacific Place & Ark Lodge Cinemas
The films of the extraordinarily talented Indian director Mira Nair are built upon bearing witness to Indian culture as it collides with its various antagonists. What distinguishes Nair's vision from other nationalistically-minded filmmakers is her understanding that no matter which culture represents the colliding "other," India's central conflict is internal. In Monsoon Wedding, The conflict lies in the reunion of a Punjabi family for the arranged marriage of Aditi and Hemant, who has returned to Delhi from America for the occasion, having never met his intended. At first, it seems like Nair is just doing family drama. But within the patchwork of marriage melodrama, Monsoon Wedding presents a subversive argument about the insidiousness of progress and its fluid relationship with tradition. SEAN NELSON
Nocturnal Emissions: Night of the Creeps
Dark-minded burlesque maven Isabella L. Price and Clinton McClung of Cinebago Events will return with their cheeky, sexy, macabre series Nocturnal Emissions, which prefaces an unusual horror classic with "phantasmagoric" burlesque performances and other fun. They'll open with Night of the Creeps (1986), in which college nerds in the 'burbs take arms against "alien slugs, axe-slingin’ zombies, and a dude-bro named Bradster."
Northwest Film Forum
After catching wind of a plot to lie Britain into war with Iraq, a reluctant whistleblower (Keira Knightley) finds her freedoms rapidly slipping away. Gavin Hood's firmly buttoned-up drama strictly follows the based-on-actual-events playbook, right down to the now standard (and dramatically deflating) glimpse of the actual people at the end credits. Still, while the narrative may lack oomph, there is some good stuff in Official Secrets, particularly when the ridiculously stacked cast moves past the exposition-heavy setup and starts to actually interact. (As Knightley’s lawyer, Ralph Fiennes’s decision to underplay an already quiet character gets you leaning in to catch every word.) Compellingly dry, and dryly compelling.
SIFF Cinema Uptown & 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
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
Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins
Did you know one of George W. Bush’s most ardent critics was a journalist from his own state? Molly Ivins was the loudest liberal voice covering the Texas legislature. She eventually followed the Bush clan from the state house to the White House. But that was hardly the height of her career. Ivins had long made a name for herself as a journalist. Her sometimes abrasive style was unique and boisterous. In Raise Hell, Ivins’s story clips along breezily, punctuated by her dry wit. It’s an easy watch, but it’ll leave you wondering: What would the late Ivins have thought of the White House’s current tenant? NATHALIE GRAHAM
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Leo Gabriadze, director of the 2014 horror film Unfriended, has a very different film here: a tribute to his father Rezo Gabriadze, a famous Georgian puppeteer, artist, and screenwriter. Handpainted animation brings Rezo's distinctive folksy style to life.
Northwest Film Forum
Say Amen, Somebody
George T. Nierenberg's 1982 documentary is about two of gospel's most important figures: Thomas A. Dorsey and Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith. Say Amen, Somebody competently tells its protagonists' inspirational stories, mostly revolving around interviews with Ford Smith and Dorsey (plus family members and musical collaborators). To nonbelievers like me, many of these songs—besides coming off as a bit melodically stodgy—seem like overblown huzzahs to a godlike entity of dubious veracity. However, there are moments in the movie when even godless types may catch the spirit. Say Amen, Somebody climaxes near the end when Dorsey, shortly after breaking both hips, appears at the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, and performs with Ford Smith during a hugely emotional service. The rave-up during the final song is a true "holy shit" moment. It turns out that when gospel gets up to 120 bpm and over, even atheists have to hallelujah. DAVE SEGAL
Northwest Film Forum
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
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 Mission Impossible: Fallout, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, The Raid: Redemption, and Dredd.
Unico in the Island of Magic
Follow up your Sunday brunch with an adorable anime about a little unicorn who ignites the gods' jealousy, and who's hidden away in a deep forest where he meets a pair of siblings fighting an evil magician.
What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?
Roberto Minervini's documentary was shot in the American South in the summer 2017, during the aftermath of a rash of police killings of African American men. Some black people, like bar owner Judy, are trying to survive in the face of oppression and gentrification; others, like Kevin of the Mardi Gras Indians, are trying to keep precious traditions alive; others are acting more directly, like the Black Panthers. It's a stirring, un-preachy film that, according to Beatrice Loayza of the AV Club, "concentrates on the raw, emotional textures of [Minervini's] subjects."
Our critics don't recommend these films, but you might be interested in them anyway.