If you go out this weekend, you'll find plenty of great movies are waiting, including new releases like the touching Pixar pic Onward or the Cosa Nostra drama The Traitor, as well as classics like Wild at Heart and (if you feel brave) Come and See. 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.
With 63 Up, director Michael Apted brings his long-running documentary series—charting the lives of 14 Britons, starting at age seven and checking in every seven years—back to the issues of class in England, something that was only alluded to in the original TV program. As he’s followed his subjects through this series, we’ve been able to see their prospects rise and fall, often due to the opportunities afforded them by their financial station. But the main issue hovering over the film is life’s finiteness. No matter how rich or poor you are or what color your skin is, you’re going to die. That’s our future. ROBERT HAM
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Legendary screenwriter William Goldman once said of the film industry, “Nobody knows anything,” and this is still mostly true, with one exception: If cinematographer Roger Deakins shot the movie, that movie is worth seeing on the biggest screen possible. Even if 1917 were solely the most impressive work of Deakins’ remarkable career—which it is—I’d be recommending it. But the World War I movie is also one hell of a stunning storytelling experience from director Sam Mendes, co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, and editor Lee Smith. “But wait,” you say, “isn’t the whole point of this movie that there aren’t any cuts? Why did they need an editor at all?” 1917’s hook (or less generously, its gimmick) is that it’s meant to unfold in a single, unbroken take. It’s one of the rare instances of a film’s marketing actually benefiting the finished film, because of the way this knowledge is both paid off... and then subverted. BOBBY ROBERTS
The second chapter in Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy, which has long been considered one of the monuments of global cinema, Aparajito continues the saga of the poor Bengali family we met in Pather Panchali. Young Apu turns out to be a talented scholar, but opportunity means leaving his lonely mother behind.
Bad Boys for Life
Michael Bay's absence behind the camera (although he briefly appears in a cameo that I reflexively booed) is immediately apparent. The action—still glistening, swooping, and forever circling, as directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah do some damn good Bay-raoke in their debut—is slower and mostly coherent. But even more remarkable: For the first time that I can remember, this is a Bad Boys movie primarily fueled by emotion as opposed to disdainfully rejecting it. And get this: That emotion? HUMILITY! I know. What the fuck, right? But fucks are abundant in Bad Boys for Life, and given often, flying just as freely as the one-liners, bullets, and grenades going off frequently and everywhere. BOBBY ROBERTS
Regal Meridian 16
An especially odd movie from Robert Altman (which is saying something), Brewster McCloud portrays the tribulations of a teenager living in a nuclear fallout shelter in the Houston Astrodome, where he romances a lovely girl (played by Shelley Duvall), tries to build a flying machine, and tries to avoid murderers on the loose.
Children's Film Festival Seattle
CCFS’s slate of international films features visual storytelling centered on narratives about childhood—the way that children view the world, deal with adult issues, and work as agents of change in their communities. Curated by Northwest Film Forum, the 2020 fest encompasses 175 animated, feature-length, and short films from 47 countries. For obvious reasons (read: short attention spans), the biggest chunk of offerings are shorts packaged in thematic and age-appropriate blocks. And there is just so much to see during the fest's run. Much of what you'll find on tap at the annual fest, now in its 15th year, can be experienced and enjoyed by adults—and they don't need to feel odd or out of place if they are unaccompanied by minors. LEILANI POLK
Northwest Film Forum
All events March 6-8 except festival workshops have been postponed to a later date, TBA.
In the 1960s, Harry Chuck documented counterculture activism in his Chinatown, San Francisco neighborhood, as Asian Americans took up the banner of civil rights. Years later, Harry Chuck and Josh Chuck have released some of this footage in a documentary about those rebellious years, featuring interviews with some of the activists of the time.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Come and See
There are sentimental-shit war films as-seen-through-little-eyes (Empire of the Sun, Hope and Glory, Au Revoir les Enfants), and there are bolder ones (Forbidden Games and The Tin Drum). Nothing tops Elem Klimov's shocking, poetic masterpiece. A Soviet Belorussian child shows us the German invasion of 1943. Go ahead and cry, baby. GREGORY TOZIAN
Dinosaurs of Antarctica
Paleoecologists study the lives of the massive bird-like creatures that traipsed around Antarctic forests and swamps hundreds of millions of years ago—and they try to understand how the southern continent transformed from a warm and bio-diverse Mesozoic to the modern-day frozen landscape we know today.
Pacific Science Center
From the moment Mr. Woodhouse (Bill Nighy) bounded down the steps of his staircase in full scowl, I wanted to see Emma. again. I went in pretty hyped up because Anya Taylor-Joy was making full use of her signature penetrating stare to play the character closer to the book—little did I expect that she would be matched frown for frown by Nighy, playing her father, whose background sighing and perpetual phobia of drafts lit up every scene with an endearing ridiculousness. SUZETTE SMITH
Indian American filmmaker Bijoyini Chatterjee (who'll skype in for Q&A after this screening) travels to Spain to make this documentary about catching the flamenco bug. She interviews Roma and Spanish people to try to understand just what makes this music and dance style so addictive.
Northwest Film Forum
Ford v Ferrari
F v F is about how corporations can’t help but crush the passion and innovation they so desperately need. In this case, the crushees are race car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and driving phenom Ken Miles (Christian Bale), both of whom are forced to cajole, finagle, and manipulate the suits at Ford in an attempt to win the famed Le Mans road race. Director James Mangold (Logan) smartly avoids the emotionally manipulative tricks found in other sports biographies, and Damon and Bale are, unsurprisingly, excellent and affecting. The problem? It’s impossible to ignore the two elephants in this room: The fetishization of white male toxicity and car culture, topics which society is trying to deal with and solve… not celebrate. This makes Ford v Ferrari a very good movie that, a decade ago, would’ve been considered great. Now it feels like a brand-new film that’s already an antique. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
There’s an odd (and fun) sense of formality to The Gentlemen, director Guy Ritchie’s newest crime flick that trades the downtrodden, violent British grit of his former films (like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) for a classier vibe that’s still violently gritty. Matthew McConaughey is, as usual, McConaughey (that’s a good thing), Colin Farrell is a case study in unflappable hilarity, Hugh Grant is England’s greatest treasure, and The Gentlemen is a fun, twisty-turny joyride through Britain’s well-heeled drug trade. Its moments of shocking, often comical violence should pair nicely with a snifter of good cognac. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is Harley Quinn/Margot Robbie’s show, and just like in the not-so-great Suicide Squad, it’s a show she clearly steals—and a show with a distinctly feminist take on the glut of male-oriented superhero cinema. WM. STEVEN HUMPHREY
The Hidden People of the Shadowy Rocks
In this surreal Icelandic film by the avant-garde couple Róska and Manrico Povolettino, a young farmer who takes up the fight against Danish imperialism is wooed by a sexy elf girl. Lee Lynch, who's in charge of this 1982 oddity, will be in attendance.
Northwest Film Forum
The Invisible Man
Film students and theorists are going to be studying the career of writer/director Leigh Whannell for decades, trying to suss out how this young Australian has mined piles of gold from high-concept but low-budget popcorn fare. Whannell's been responsible for bringing two hugely successful horror franchises into the world—the sagas of Saw and Insidious—and, in 2018, turned the fairly ridiculous B-movie plot of Upgrade into a hit thanks to his stylized direction and pulpy action sequences. Whannell is about to have another hit on his hands with Blumhouse Productions’ The Invisible Man, starring an excellent Elisabeth Moss. Made on a slender budget that was likely eaten up by CGI effects, this riff on H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic is a slow, steady squeeze from a vise that doesn’t release its grip until its final shot. ROBERT HAM
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. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Keepers of the Dream: Seattle Women Black Panthers
This mini-fest of five short documentaries, produced by Patricia Boiko and Tajuan LaBee, serves as an introduction to the courageous actions of women Black Panther activists, from Frances Dixon to Phyllis Noble Mobley. Local musical star SassyBlack provides the scores.
Northwest Film Forum
Postponed to a later date, TBA.
Knives Out [is] Rian Johnson's phenomenally enjoyable riff on a murder-mystery whodunit. The less you know going in, the better, but even those familiar with mysteries will likely be caught flat-footed. Things begin in the baroque mansion of famed mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), who is very, very dead. Through flashbacks, monologues, and the genteel but razor-sharp questioning of investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), we meet the rest of the Thrombeys—played by Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Katherine Langford, and more, with everyone clearly having a goddamn blast—and we hear about a billion motives and a billion alibis. Somebody killed Harlan, and while Benoit Blanc is on the case, Knives Out quickly spirals into unexpected territory. In a time when filmgoing is dominated by familiar franchises, seeing an original movie executed with as much care, glee, and skill as Knives Out feels like an experience that's entirely too rare. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko
In this anime, a girl composes a song for the boy she adores, but it somehow opens a portal to a magical land full of talking animals, cyborgs, monster turtles, and more.
I say this with my whole heart: Greta Gerwig's Little Women is wonderful. Full of wonder, inspiring wonder, embodying wonder. Which is hard to do as the eighth adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's beloved 1868 novel of the same name. Gerwig's adaptation—which she both wrote and directed—feels neither redundant nor stale. Rather, it's a fresh, modern-feeling take on a well-trodden story, stuffed with excellent performances, witty dialogue, and gorgeous costumes. The film jumps between Jo's "present" life in a post-Civil War America and her childhood, living at home with her three other sisters and mother, awaiting the family patriarch to return home from the war as they struggle to make ends meet. The direction and sense of characters are particularly strong in this adaptation. It fleshes each sister out so that she feels real and worthy of empathy, not purely serving as a star vehicle for Ronan in the same way the Winona Ryder version arguably did. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Regal Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Dubbed and Subtitled)
The latest installment of the anime franchise, in which Deku and his fellow heroes take on an evil villain on an island, should please fans.
Regal Meridian 16 & Regal Thornton Place
I'm obsessed with the Olympic Village, the makeshift town-within-a-town where athletes live while competing in the Olympics. Rebuilt for each Olympics, the sprawling village is like a college campus for the world's most fit people. It contains condos, arcades, lounges, and—most importantly—condoms. Lots of condoms, because there's a lot of sex happening at the Olympics. Olympic Dreams, a new film starring and written by Big Mouth's Nick Kroll and Olympic runner Alexi Pappas, got unprecedented access to shoot inside PyeongChang's Olympic Village. While the film is not exactly about wild orgies—it's a run-of-the-mill rom-com—the vibe remains horny. Kroll is fine in his semi-dramatic turn as a romantically forlorn volunteer dentist, but Pappas is remarkable. She elicits a surprisingly tender performance. But the reason to see the film is its setting. There are few locations as strange and utopian as the Olympics, a place with architecture designed to project our highest aspirations. CHASE BURNS
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band
History is written by the victors—and as a corollary, winners usually become the focus of music documentaries. When it comes to the tragic tale of the Band, guitarist and main songwriter Robbie Robertson definitely has emerged triumphant. Three of the five members of this influential rock group are dead, and the other survivor, keyboardist Garth Hudson, shuns the spotlight. With Once Were Brothers, Daniel Roher presents a conventional contextualizing rock doc with marquee-name talking heads—Van Morrison, George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen, et al.—and efficiently reveals Robertson's early family life (his mother was indigenous, his father Jewish) and musical evolution. Robertson is an articulate, passionate memoirist; the film is based on his 2016 autobiography, Testimony. With equanimity, he registers the Band's soaring highs and devastating lows, while his French ex-wife Dominique adds crucial observations about the inter-band dynamics and substance abuse that dogged the members. Tracing a story of relentless, upward mobility through the music industry, the doc emphasizes Robertson's inner strength and boundless ambition, which helped him to avoid the booze- and drug-related pitfalls that afflicted his mates. DAVE SEGAL
Regal Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
Especially when compared to Pixar's best, there's definitely stuff to nitpick in the studio's latest, Onward. Fair? Maybe, but then again, even Pixar movies can have a hard time living up to Pixar movies. But to focus on Onward's benign, minor missteps—none of which detract from the story's surprisingly emotional arc—is to miss the bigger picture. Funny and wholly original, it's a fantasy adventure that digs into something nearly all of us know but rarely talk about: How the memory of an absent family member can hang over the lives of the living. ERIK HENRIKSEN
An older couple's seemingly comfortable marriage is derailed by a breast cancer diagnosis, and their playful arguing turns to the rehashing of long-buried resentments, in this drama starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville.
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
The Indian master Satyajit Ray's debut film is an unbelievably beautiful glimpse of a child's life, as little Apu is sheltered and overshadowed by extraordinary women and girls like his rambunctious older sister Durga and his busy mother Sarbajaya. Pather Panchali is featured on numerous "best-of" lists.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
From Céline Sciamma (Girlhood), Portrait of a Lady on Fire is set in 18th century France, where young artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint a portrait of Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) for potential suitors to fall in love with. One thing: Héloïse does not want her portrait done, as she does not want to get married. So Marianne poses as her maid to get close to the lady, completing the painting in secret. But of course this closeness and secretiveness make them all hot for each other. Portrait was the first woman-directed film to take home the Queer Palm award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Rashaad Ernesto Green was named "Someone to Watch" at the Independent Spirit Awards for this heartfelt coming-of-age tale set in Harlem, about a 17-year-old aspiring poet (Green's co-screenwriter Zora Howard) who falls for a handsome stranger (Joshua Boone). Her newfound love seems to open up new possibilities, but learns that men sometimes disappoint.
SIFF Film Center
In 2015, an African American political science professor, Dr. Larycia Hawkins, who worked at a Christian college took a selfie wearing a hijab and expressed support for Muslims facing discrimination. The administration suspended her and moved to cancel her tenure. An alumna of the school, Linda Midgett, made this film to document Hawkins's struggle and explore issues of race, evangelism, and conservatism.
Another martial arts gem by wuxia filmmaking great Chang Cheh, in which besieged Shaolin monks hole up in their temple as they resist the Manchu regime. Finally, the monks decide to take on new pupils to continue their legacy.
Slumber Party Massacre
One of the few (only?) '80s slasher films directed by a woman, Amy Holden Jones, Slumber Party Massacre has just as much blood and T&A as you might expect from a horndog male director's schlocky sensibilities, but with slyly feminist undertones (courtesy in part of screenwriter Rita Mae Brown). Recommended for fans of the genre.
Part of Haunted Light
The Thing from Another World
Does it surprise you that the director of Casablanca also produced the movie on which John Carpenter's The Thing was based? Needless to say, the special effects are a little less over-the-top, but it's still a skillfully scripted, intriguing reflection of Cold War fears.
Part of The Art in Horror
Accomplished director Marco Bellocchio (Dormant Beauty) dramatizes the turning of Tommaso Buscetta against the Cosa Nostra. Buscetta has fled to Brazil, leaving total chaos within the Mafia back in Palermo. When he's extradited back to Italy, he makes a decision with momentous consequences. The Traitor stars the terrific actors Pierfrancesco Favino (Marco Polo) and Luigi Lo Cascio (The Best of Youth).
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Valerie and Her Week of Wonders
A masterpiece from the very end of the Czechoslovak New Wave of avant-garde cinema, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders follows a teenage girl as she flees from vampiric churchmen who hellbent on stealing her magical earrings. This 1970 mind-trip has amassed a cult following for good reasons: amazing surreal visuals, a dreamy score by Luboš Fišer, and an effective evocation of childhood terrors. JOULE ZELMAN
The Way Back
Ben Affleck plays an alcoholic coach who returns to the town where he was a teen basketball star in this redemption drama by Gavin O'Connor.
Weathering With You
Audiences seem to love director Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) and his approach of pairing an original plot with standard anime emotional blocking: boy meets girl, girl has weather powers, boy and girl reach for each another’s arms in climactic moments, a character runs until they are exhausted and then they keep running, and also someone must die. Even when Shinkai introduces some interesting ideas about an impending climate apocalypse (oh, like us!), it all feels familiar: The world isn’t saved, but the world doesn’t end. The world continues, changed. SUZETTE SMITH
Wild at Heart
The film features a horned-up, wild Lula (Laura Dern) constantly having melodramatic sex with the horned-up, wild Sailor Ripley (Nicolas Cage). I have a hard time focusing during Lynch's films, but so many of Wild at Heart's extreme scenes stick with me: The opening, which revs up from a polite Southern gathering to a brutal head-bashing in seconds; the scene where Ripley hijacks a microphone to sing while girls excitedly scream in the background, but they're pitched up to sound like eagles; the scene where Lulu pulls over her car because she can't handle the negativity of news radio, so she makes Ripley put on some hardcore music and then they rage in a pasture. The whole film is, as they say, hotter than Georgia asphalt. CHASE BURNS
The Wizard of Oz
At the end of this American cultural institution (we can no longer call it just a movie), which is made from the stuff of nightmares, Dorothy—the institution’s hero, and a girl from the middle of America, Kansas—throws water on the old Wicked Witch. This witch, who has a green face, begins to melt. As the witch disintegrates into a steaming puddle, she says to Dorothy and God and the universe: “Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!! You cursed brat! Look what you’ve done!! I’m melting, melting. Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world.” As much as I hate the witch, these words break my heart every time. There is no normal parent who has not been in a situation when they wanted to say exactly that to their stupid child. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Woman Who Loves Giraffes
In 1956, just after graduating college, Anne Innis Dagg went alone to South Africa to study giraffes. She was a pioneer in the research of a single animal in the wild, bringing back amazing film footage and observational notes. After returning from Africa, she earned a PhD, published numerous articles, wrote a foundational textbook on giraffes, and got into teaching. She wanted to do more giraffe research but found her way frustratingly blocked by sexist attitudes. So she worked to expose gender bias in academia and the failure to support women’s research. There’s been an effort lately to shine a light on women whose work may not have been adequately recognized before, and this doc shows the important scientific contributions and fascinating life of a giraffe-loving feminist pioneer. GILLIAN ANDERSON
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Our critics don't recommend these movies, but you might like to know about them anyway.