Movies Worth Watching

45 Movies Worth Watching in Seattle This Weekend: January 16–19, 2020

Weathering With You, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The 2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, and Other Critics' Picks
January 16, 2020
Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) returns with another gorgeously animated teenage love story, Weathering With You. (GKIDS)

The Oscar nominees were announced this past Monday, and many of the nominees, like Little Women and Once Upon a Hollywood are still in or returning to theaters. We've noted which ones are up for awards below. (For more details on how to see all the nominees, check out our post here.) But there are many more fun and worthwhile films to watch, like the hallucinatory indie sci-fi trip The Wave, the silkily evil British classic Kind Hearts and Coronets, and the beautifully animated love story Weathering With You. 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.

Movies play Thursday–Monday unless otherwise mentioned.

* = Nominated for an Oscar

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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects

2019 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour
This annual film tour of abbreviated features includes the best of the best out of Sundance, all gathered together in one place for your viewing convenience. The seven 2019 films in the 96-minute theatrical program include the awkward yet sweet romance of Sometimes I Think About Dying, whose painfully introverted protagonist goes from wondering how corpse flies might feel walking around on her dead skin ("like a billion tiny massages?") to thinking about the thread count of her colleague's sheets; Muteum, a charming animated short from Estonia about a visit to the museum that takes a funny turn; and Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing winner Fast Horse, a doc about our country's first extreme sport, Indian Relay, where jockeys ride horses bareback and jump from one horse to another amid racing. Also screening: Suicide By Sunlight, Brotherhood,* The MINORS, and Crude Oil. LEILANI POLK
Northwest Film Forum

At the Video Store
 The great fraud of streaming services—and, perhaps, the entire internet—is that we believe them to contain everything. But anyone who has been to Seattle's Scarecrow Video knows that this isn't true. Scarecrow, the world's largest video library, currently has around 130,000 available titles. Netflix, by my last count, has less than 4,000 available in the United States. Amazon's Prime Video, while roughly four times larger than Netflix, still only offers a fraction of what you find in Scarecrow's library. Which is to say, video stores are important. New ones, like Baltimore's Beyond Video, seem to be popping up as we head into the new decade and viewers realize the limitations of streaming. At the Video Store—a new documentary featuring interviews with John Waters, Bill Hader, Nicole Holofcener, Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Thelma Schoonmaker, and The Stranger's own Charles Mudede—catalogs the great remaining video stores in the United States, including Scarecrow and Portland's Movie Madness.  CHASE BURNS
Northwest Film Forum
Thursday only

Bad Boys for Life
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are back for a sequel, but—happily—without Michael Bay as director. In the reprise of this long-dormant franchise, the two cops take on one last case after an assassination attempt almost kills one of them.
Various locations

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It’s unusual to witness real cinematic magic these days, but the Fred Rogers biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood absolutely has it. Director Marielle Heller (Diary of a Teenage Girl, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) wisely avoids the visual slickness one might expect from a Tom Hanks-centric melodrama, instead employing a lived-in style and scene transitions that consist of miniature cities harkening back to the opening of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Hanks is totally committed to Rogers’ appearance and manner, but A Beautiful Day is more about Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) a fictional journalist profiling Rogers. (Vogel’s work is based on a 1998 Esquire profile by Tom Junod; as is the case with the film, Junrod’s piece sketches a beautiful yet enigmatic image of Rogers.) Where Heller’s film becomes transcendent is in its cinematic pressure points: The striking slowness of the narrative (it’s meant to emulate the pace of Rogers’ show, and you get used to it), the mirroring of Rogers and Vogel in their interview styles and drawn-out reaction shots, and a profound moment of silence that grips your heart like, “Did that really just happen? Why was that so intense?” SUZETTE SMITH
Varsity Theatre
Nominated for: Best Actor (Tom Hanks)

Chulas Fronteras
Les Blank and Chris Strachwitz's 1976 film, recently selected for the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, is about the music of the Texas-Mexico border.
Northwest Film Forum

Death Race 2000 Add to a List
Comic book legends Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction will appear at this special screening of the exploitation classic set in the wake of a global economic crisis when the United States has abandoned democracy for totalitarianism and martial law—a plot that was probably much more shocking in 1975 (when the film was made) than it is now.
The Beacon
Saturday only

Dr. Strangelove
It’s difficult to gauge whether the picture’s evolution away from timelessness has more to do with its familiarity—its centrality, even, to the contemporary sense of humor—or with the inconvenient complexity of the current state of international affairs. Either way, Dr. Strangelove has changed. Or maybe it’s just gotten impossible to stop worrying. SEAN NELSON
Central Cinema

Edo Avant Garde
Linda Hoaglund's art documentary reveals the creativity and boldness of Edo-era Japanese artists by filming artwork in collections around the world in 4K.
Seattle Art Museum
Monday only

Faces Places
In 2016, beloved documentarian Agnès Varda took a trip through rural France with muralist JR, driving a box truck that doubled as a photo booth, creating murals of the people they met and establishing a friendship through their artistic (and uplifting) collaborations.
SIFF Film Center
Sunday only
Part of The Restless Curiosity of Agnès Varda

Fantastic Fungi
At its worst, Fantastic Fungi gets too woo-woo wacky for its own good (when the film’s discussion turns to magic mushrooms, the visuals turn into what is, as far as I can tell, just a psychedelic screensaver from Windows 95), but at its best, the doc pairs fantastic time-lapse imagery with a good dose of actual, mind-blowing science. Affable, passionate mushroom researcher Paul Stamets is joined by talking heads Michael Pollan, Andrew Weil, and narrator Brie Larson to examine everything from massive fungal networks that carry signals between disparate, distant plants to the psychological benefits of psilocybin. It’s an uneven trip, but a good one. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Varsity Theatre

*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
Regal Meridian 16 & AMC Seattle 10
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

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You'll get a startling education from Tod Browning's 1932 circus horror Freaks if you think that deeply fucked-up movies didn't exist before John Waters. A tawdry tale of carnival "freaks'" brutal vengeance against two heartless lovers who exploit them, Freaks is not exactly a heartwarming or enlightening portrait of people with genetic differences and atypical physiognomies. However, the "freaks" are played by people with disabilities, and they do so with humanity (though they're filmed with unsettling fascination). Given how few portrayals of folks with disabilities can be found in non-medical contexts in classic film, Freaks remains an essential piece of film history, even if the representation isn't everything it should be. JOULE ZELMAN
Central Cinema

*Frozen II
It starts out with Young Elsa and Young Anna, and, I don’t know, this is just my opinion, but I didn’t think that part was very necessary, necessarily? I thought the story was good. I thought the parts were well thought out and they had some depth to them, if you know what I mean? Like some parts were really sad, and some parts could be interpreted in a lot of different ways. Also, you know how in the first Frozen, there’s like this main song that you know is the main song? In this one, there’s like three or four different songs that could be that main song. There were songs that like Elsa and Anna and Kristoff sang that could qualify for that position. I thought they were fine. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Original Song ("Into the Unknown")

The Gleaners and I
Agnès Varda's most well-known documentary (her classification "essay" is more apt), inspired by old paintings of the peasant "gleaners" who would sweep the fields, post-harvest, for free food, a practice still legal under French law. A tradition carried on in the present day by Roma as well as fun-seekers, and extended into urban life in the form of scavenging the remains of markets and dumpster diving, Varda's full tour into this world reveals insights with social, environmental, self-reflective, and artistic relevance that are, as is characteristic of her work, ahead of her time. MARJORIE SKINNER
SIFF Film Center
Saturday only
Part of The Restless Curiosity of Agnès Varda

The Good Liar
The Good Liar is likely the most bonkers film I will see this year. What begins as a cautionary tale about the dangers of grandma’s online dating unfolds into a baffling series of reveals, all of which support the twist that we already gleaned from the trailer: Roy (Ian McKellen) is trying to double cross Betty (Helen Mirren) and take her money... but she's not that easy to trick! How all that happens, though? I could never have predicted it. What a septuagenarian mine cart ride! SUZETTE SMITH

Aside from the assistance that the formerly enslaved Harriet Tubman got from the Underground Railroad­, it’s hard to imagine exactly how she pulled off all her heroics. 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. 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
Nominated for: Best Actress (Cynthia Erivo), Best Original Song ("Stand Up")

The Hottest August
It's August 2017 in New York City, and it feels like the end of the world. In this strikingly shot documentary, Brett Story explores the apocalyptic fears of the current zeitgeist, touching on everything from white nationalism to climate change-induced natural catastrophes. Sinister, beautiful, tense.
Northwest Film Forum & SIFF Film Center

In director Numa Perrier's semi-autobiographical feature debut, a young woman named Tiffany is drawn—by her own phone-sex-operator sister—into the world of camgirling. Tiffany, the only black performer on her site, becomes very popular, and perhaps too close to one of their clients. By all reports, this film treats its sexually charged subject matter with tension and sensitivity instead of prurience. Seattle's own erotic dance celebrity Ms. Briq House will speak after the screening about sex and body positivity.
Ark Lodge Cinemas
Thursday only

*Jojo Rabbit
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design

Just Mercy
In this dramatization of a true, infuriating story, Michael B. Jordan plays the lawyer Bryan Stevenson, who, with the help of activist Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), fights racism and systemic legal injustice to save the life of an innocent condemned man, Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx).
Various locations

Kind Hearts and Coronets
One of the best (and most vicious) comedies to come out of London's famed Ealing Studios, Kind Hearts and Coronets stars Dennis Price as a down-and-out scion of a snobbish aristocratic family who sets out to gain the ancestral inheritance... by murdering all of his unloved relatives. All of whom are played by the magnificent Alec Guinness! It's mean, it's hilarious, and it features the adorable, deep-voiced Joan Greenwood, who should be much better remembered today. JOULE ZELMAN
The Beacon

*Knives Out
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
Various locations
Nominated For: Best Original Screenplay

La Collectionneuse
A free-spirited "collector of men" named Haydée interrupts the vacations of a playboy art dealer and his painter friend in Eric Rohmer's witty comedy.
Seattle Art Museum
Thursday only

*Les Misérables
Suburban poverty and police violence provide a throughline from the 19th-century setting of Victor Hugo's novel to the Muslim populace of present-day Paris in Ladj Ly's critically acclaimed, Cannes Jury Prize-winning adaptation. In a suburb of Paris, Brigadier Stéphane Ruiz takes part in an arrest that turns deadly, and the neighborhood responds with fury to the act of police brutality.
Regal Meridian 16
Nominated for: Best International Picture

Like a Boss
Like a Boss is barely long enough to qualify as a feature film, clocking at an hour and 23 minutes—which makes total sense, considering there's not much meat on this story, aside from a couple of central themes: the evergreen dilemma of choosing between a career and motherhood, learning how to spot frenemies, and evolving for the sake of a valued friendship. Thankfully, the hilarious cast—which includes Tiffany Haddish, Rose Byrne, and Salma Hayek—makes this mediocre movie watchable. JENNI MOORE
Various locations

In Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre)'s campy space horror, a vessel returns to Earth with only one survivor, plus a troubling guest: an insanely hot alien-vampire capable of sucking life energy from every human she comes across. The surviving astronaut races against time—and zombies—to save the world from this fierce feminine menace. As the Beacon writes: "What is LIFEFORCE? The object of a constructed sexual desire manifested and returned to destroy its subject? An inversion of ALIEN that replaces fear of bodily violation in a feminist register with the fear of losing control of an ideal exploited Other that exists only in the mind? An apocalypse of secret queer desire protested too much?"
The Beacon
Friday only

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The Little Mermaid
Some of the most underappreciated European movies came out of Czechoslovakia in the 1970s, an era in which governmental repression had clamped down on artistic political dissent, so filmmakers turned to rich, surreal fantasy. Karel Kachyna, one of the greats of the Czechoslovak New Wave, directed this version of the Hans Christian Andersen tragedy; other masters of the dissident filmmaker movement, composer Zdeněk Liška and cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, lent their art to this dramatic take on the story of love and sacrifice. JOULE ZELMAN
The Beacon

*Little Women
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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Best Costumes, Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay

Macross: Do You Remember Love
In this '80s space opera, a young pilot falls in love with a pop singer whose voice mysteriously appears on a long-ago recording. The song holds repercussions for the Earth's war with giant aliens.
The Beacon
Sunday only

*Marriage Story
As was the case in Noah Baumbach's Squid and the Whale, the specifics are aggressively upper class: Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) is a big-deal actress, Charlie (Adam Driver) is an acclaimed theater director, and along with their young son Henry (Azhy Robertson), they spend much of Marriage Story at either a bougie apartment in Manhattan or a bougie house in West Hollywood. But once again, Baumbach—within the film's opening seconds, even—drills down to unearth the singular combination of grief, fury, melancholy, and pain that can only come from divorce. Marriage Story is brutal and sharp, but it's also funny and sweet, and captures something that's impossible to put into words: The feeling of life as it changes, and the feeling of stories as they come to an end. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Big Picture
Friday & Sunday
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Adam Driver), Best Actress (Scarlett Johansson), Best Supporting Actress (Laura Dern), Best Original Score

My Twentieth Century
This sensual, feminist Hungarian fable by the surrealist filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi follows two separated identical twins, Dóra and Lili, who wind up on wildly different paths: One becomes an honest anarchist, the other a glamorous jewel thief.
The Beacon
Thursday only

*Once Upon a Hollywood
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
Varsity Theatre & Big Picture Seattle
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Quentin Tarantino), Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Brad Pitt), Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

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
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director (Bong Joon-ho), Best Film Editing, Best International Feature, Best Production Design, Best Original Screenplay

Property Is No Longer a Theft
An unhappy Marxist bank clerk who's literally allergic to money takes up a life of crime, partly in order to irritate a former client known as The Butcher. This bizarre crime comedy by the director of The 10th Victim and other cult favorites is new to American screens—"perhaps because it's just so utterly weird," speculates the Beacon Cinema.
The Beacon
Sunday only

Queen of Hearts
This dark tale, Denmark's submission to the Oscars, does nothing to dispel the image of Denmark's national cinema as ultra-bleak and morally challenging. An apparently upright married lawyer, Anne, becomes attracted to her husband's difficult teenage son. As one compromise follows another, Anne draws her stepson into an increasingly dangerous situation that threatens the whole family. Robert Abele of the LA Times writes: "The tricky brilliance of Queen of Hearts is in how [director May] el-Toukhy uses a well-worn narrative—the unsuspecting, hidden passion with the appearance of erotic freedom—to unveil what in reality is a poisonous tale of abuse."
Grand Illusion

The French make everything look delicious... including cannibalism, which happens to be the case in the wonderfully disgusting Raw. It’s a coming-of-cannibal tale by Julia Ducournau that’s as atmospheric as Let the Right One In, as dark as the 2007’s under-seen vagina dentata saga Teeth, and a Bildungsroman that makes The Hunger Games look like a tiptoe down the candy aisle. Bloody, stylish, and incredibly disturbing, Raw is a meaty piece of body horror about a virginal vegetarian who’s gagging for some sweet human flesh—figuratively and literally. COURTNEY FERGUSON
Scarecrow Video
Friday only

Spies in Disguise
I thought Spies in Disguise was very excellent. The plot device of someone turning into a pigeon through genetic manipulation was unique, to say the least. I think it may have been a little too complicated for some younger kids who may have been the target audience. I think some of it may have gone completely over their heads. Although that might not be true in any way. I’m almost definitely sure there’s going to be a second one of these. SIMON HAM, AGE 12
AMC Pacific Place & Thornton Place
Thursday only

*Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
I found The Rise of Skywalker, the last film in the Skywalker saga, boring. And it was not even a long movie, and I'm a fan of the director's (J.J. Abrams) work (particularly Mission: Impossible III—the best in that franchise), and many of the visual effects are impressive—particularly the haunting business of bringing the late Carrie Fisher back to life. But all together, the film is burdened by too much sentimental family stuff (you are my granddaughter, you are my son, you killed my parents, and so on), and its end did not know how to end for a very long time. CHARLES MUDEDE
Various locations
Nominated for: Best Visual Effects, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing

Uncut Gems
As Howard Ratner, a professional jeweler and asshole in Manhattan’s Diamond District, a great Adam Sandler rarely leaves the screen in Uncut Gems, and the plot is basically Howard and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. That isn’t a shock, considering the film comes from brothers/writers/directors Josh and Benny Safdie, who party-crashed the arthouse scene with 2017’s Good Time (in which Robert Pattinson was the one playing an asshole having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day). Uncut Gems is larger in scope, but like Good Time, it has a moral vacuum at its center—it takes place in the no-man’s-land where society’s walls crumble, and where those who look out only for themselves can best navigate the rubble. The Safdies aren’t interested in morality tales but amorality tales, and their stories’ no-holds-barred recklessness, at first freeing, steadily grows exhausting. Thankfully, the Safdies also know how to shoot, cut, and score like nobody else. There’s a twitchy, addictive energy to Uncut Gems, and the Safdies’ choppy, rapid-fire cuts coalesce into a surreal, exhilarating landscape of prismatic hues, blaring fluorescents, and sharp LEDs, all while the analog synth score by Daniel Lopatin (AKA Oneohtrix Point Never) adds to the lurid beauty. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Various locations

Vanishing Seattle Film Series Launch: Wa Na Wari
Over the last few decades, small businesses, family-owned restaurants, and other community-run spaces have been forced to shut down due to the immense amount of gentrification our city is going through. In 2016, activist Cynthia Brothers began Vanishing Seattle, a project that documents these places, acting as a space of remembrance and celebration of the communities that make Seattle special. The site is now embarking on a short-film series, the first one of which documents Wa Na Wari, a fifth generation black-owned home in the Central District that opened last year as a space for Black arts in the historically Black neighborhood. JASMYNE KEIMIG
Wa Na Wari
Thursday only

The Wave
If The Hangover took a hit of LSD and melted into Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then tripped into the space-time continuum, hitting A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life on its way down, you’d get something like The Wave. Justin Long stars as Frank, a corporate lawyer who is about to make a big chunk of change for his firm after finding a discrepancy in an insurance claim. It doesn’t take much for his friend and colleague Jeff (Donald Faison) to talk him into enjoying a (Tuesday) night out on the town. Of course, it’s not long before he ingests a drug that’s supposed to hit you “like a wave.” Instead, he wakes up in the same spot, finds his world has been turned upside down, and must retrace his steps from the night before in order to figure out what happened. There’s nothing really fresh in the premise, but throw in some existential ideas about karma and time, then add in some high-quality hallucinogenic camerawork, vibrant visuals, rotoscope animation, believable (and occasionally clever) dialogue, and a few over-the-top characters, and you’ve got yourself an entertaining 87 minutes. LEILANI POLK
Grand Illusion

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
Regal Meridian 16 & Thornton Place

When Lambs Become Lions
Many of the reviews of the brilliant documentary When Lambs Become Lions—about elephant poaching in modern-day Kenya—will claim that the director, John Kasbe, does not take sides on the issue. The director hunts elephants with the poachers, and he patrols the park with the armed game rangers. The poachers don’t give a fuck about the elephants. They are poor, and they need the money. The rangers also need money, as they have not been paid in ages by the government. And it is here that the director takes a clear side, his film clearly denounces the extreme poverty that both the poachers and the rangers face. If the poachers stop killing elephants, then the rangers will lose their jobs. Therefore, we have the poachers exploiting the elephants, and the rangers exploiting the poachers. The problem then is not the poaching; it is, of course, capitalism. CHARLES MUDEDE
Grand Illusion
Thursday only

Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain
Plunge into the wild world of '80s Hong Kong action movies in Tsui Hark's kid flick full of "flying swordsmen, ice maidens, wizard monks and the infamous Blood Demon," plus lots of lasers.
The Beacon
Saturday only

Also Playing:


The Grudge

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Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Reality Queen

Three Christs


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