Movies Worth Watching

45 Movies Worth Watching in Seattle This Weekend: January 23–26, 2020

Color Out of Space, The Cave, Fantastic Planet, and Other Critics' Picks
January 23, 2020
It's crazy Cage in spades in the Lovecraftian Color Out of Space! (RLJE Films)

There's a great diversity of excellent films, both new and old, on Seattle screens this weekend. Whether your tastes tend to searing documentaries (The Cave), botanical horror (Little Joe), or magnificent, classic crime dramas (Dog Day Afternoon), you can find plenty of options here. 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–Sunday unless otherwise mentioned.

* = Nominated for a 2020 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

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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

Always in Season
Not that long ago, white Americans in the South lynched black American men on the regular. These crimes not only went unpunished, but were actually popular events. White people—again, not too long ago—really enjoyed seeing innocent black American men swing with snapped necks from the branches of trees. The important documentary Always In Season explains why the blacks of our supposedly less barbaric times can’t just get over this history of blood and racial terrorism. It is still very much a part of our culture today. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum

And the Winner Is...
Cinerama screens the "absolute best in filmmaking this awards season," including this weekend's Academy-snubbed Hustlers and Best Picture nominees Ford v Ferrari and The Irishman.

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
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
Thursday only
Nominated for: Best Actor (Tom Hanks)

The Cave
The director of the devastating Last Men in Aleppo delivers a look into the lives of Syrian women doctors from 2016-2018. Despite danger and sexism, these women work to treat patients in an underground hospital under the city of Ghouta, near Damascus. This documentary won the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival.
Grand Illusion

A Chinese Ghost Story
The Beacon calls this frenetic wuxia/horror/romance a "singular genre-leaping oddity" full of bizarre monsters and featuring a lovely ghost and a smartass monk. A timid tax collector spends a night in an abandoned temple and finds himself in strange company. Don't miss this film if you want to see the cream of 1980s Hong Kong fantasy action.
The Beacon
Saturday only

Chinese Portrait
Wang Xiaoshuai's portrait of his family traces his ancestors' migrations across China over the last century. In fixed long shots, we encounter rural ethnic minorities, Han Chinese urban workers, and others from far-flung regions in the diverse and populous country.
The Beacon

A psychologically tortured death row warden played by Alfre Woodard finds herself growing close to the man she's supposed to help kill in this Sundance Grand Jury Prize–winning drama by Chionye Chukwu.
Regal Meridian

Color Out of Space
I didn’t go into Color Out of Space thinking it would be great, or even very good. Starring Nicolas Cage and based on a story by HP Lovecraft about a weird alien presence/virus/organism/wtf that comes crashing in from space via meteorite, I figured it’d be entertaining at the very least. And that it was, but it was also tremendously, spectacularly bad, with some classic bad-acting Cage on tap. You’re not here for the plot. You’re here for campy-as-fuck sci-fi horror and Nicolas Cage, of which Color Out of Space has both in spades. It has the potential to be the next great (terrible) cult classic, and will definitely find a sympathetic audience in both die-hard Cage fans and D-level horror film enthusiasts. Also, the colors are pretty. LEILANI POLK
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

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Dog Day Afternoon
People tend to knock older films down a peg or two because they didn't "age well," as if it really matters that you can tell when they made it. Rare is the film so strong you easily look past the awkward cultural artifacts encased in its celluloid. Even rarer is Sidney Lumet's day-in-the-life crime classic from 1975, Dog Day Afternoon, a film that somehow only becomes more up-to-date and relevant with every decade tacked onto its age. But even if it was just a dated bit of film history, it would still contain maybe Al Pacino's single best performance, and any opportunity to see John Cazale put in work is an opportunity you should seize. BOBBY ROBERTS
The Beacon
Saturday only
Part of How to Rob a Bank (and Why)

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 & Ark Lodge Cinemas

Fantastic Planet
I was really stoned watching the animated French film Fantastic Planet, for good reason—it’s trippy as fuck and can only be truly appreciated after a bong hit or two. In the distant future, humans are stolen from Earth and taken to the plant Ygam where they are kept as pets to a race of technologically advanced giant blue humanoids called Draags. The film follows a group of rebellious humans attempting to escape from Ygam to the Fantastic Planet where they are safe from the tyranny of these giant blue freaks. The Draags are a little disturbing to look at—their freaky, unblinking red eyes seem like they're beaming right into your soul. And the other creatures that inhabit this world are equally peculiar, coming straight out of the deep recesses of a surrealist subconscious. The score, composed by Alain Goraguer, blends elements of psychedelia, harpsichord, jazz, and wah-wah guitar that adds significantly to the far-out space-age-dystopia mood of the film. JASMYNE KEIMIG
The Beacon
Saturday only

*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
Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

*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 Gentlemen
Guy Ritchie’s latest wisecracking shoot-em-up, about a British crime lord trying to make a deal with a rich Oklahoman pot kingpin, boasts a huge cast of likelies and unlikelies: Hugh Grant (!), Henry Golding, Colin Firth, Charlie Hunnam, Matthew McConaughey, and so on.
Various locations

Georgetown Super 8 Film Festival 2019 Encore
See films about the Duwamish Valley made on Super 8 film by denizens of Seattle.
Northwest Film Forum
Thursday only

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")

*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
Thursday only

*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

*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 & AMC Seattle 10
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
Meridian 16 & AMC Pacific Place
Thursday only

Little Joe
Little Joe is a science-fiction film that is not set in the future. Its scientists are developing a flower that makes humans feel happier. The more a human cares for this plant, the happier the plant makes its caretaker by way of a scent that connects the flower to the mammalian nose. The scientist leading the project is Alice Woodard (Emily Beecham). She knows what she is doing. She has great confidence in herself and in her command of the science of plant breeding. She has a son, Joe, in his tweens, and a broken marriage. Joe wants his mother to date a man at her lab who has the hots for her. The director behind Little Joe is the underappreciated but brilliant Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner. Hausner never rushes a scene but wrings as much as she can out of it—the performance itself, as well as the blocking of the performance, and the space of the performance. She wants you to be aware of the development of the story, but without losing a sense of its ambiance. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Film Center

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
Sunday only

*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

Mad Max: Fury Road
If there has ever been a more astonishing display of a filmmaker’s prowess with kinetic action sequences than this late-career Gesamtkunstwerk by George Miller, I haven’t seen it. And neither have you, because there isn’t one. The Mad Max reboot is a staggering, stunning, sweeping, astonishing, literally breathtaking exercise in the defiance of physics. It moves so fast, and for such sustained periods, that “visionary” isn’t really the word. (“Glimpsarian”?) Regardless, you’ve never seen anything remotely like it. See it on the biggest screen you can find, in 3-D if possible. It’s noticeably dumb in certain ways, but its visual intelligence and wit vastly outweigh its concessions to the genre. SEAN NELSON
Museum of Pop Culture
Sunday only
Presented as a "Campout Cinema" event: Bring your own blankets and pillows and hear environmental talks

The Muppet Movie
The Muppets made their feature film debut in James Frawley's beloved, meta-inclined 1979 film, in which Kermit the Frog and friends (and hitchhikers) journey to Hollywood but are sidetracked by the nefarious restaurateur Doc Hopper. Hop on the Electric Mayhem and reaffirm the Rainbow Connection with everyone's favorite floppy puppets.
Central Cinema

Murder on a Sunday Morning
This 2001 Oscar-winning documentary by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, co-presented by the Washington Innocence Project, presents an all-too-familiar story: A 15-year-old black boy is accused of murder, and a combination of racism, incompetence, and misconduct put him in jail for a crime he didn't commit.
Northwest Film Forum
Sunday only

My Night at Maud's
A surprisingly rakish Catholic engineer conversationally spars with a free-spirited woman in one of Eric Rohmer's most celebrated (and most verbal) films.
Seattle Art Museum
Thursday only
Part of French Pleasures: The Films of Eric Rohmer

*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 & Crest
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

Patlabor 2: The Movie
The Patlabor franchise is sick. A popular addition to the mecha genre, the Patlabor world includes large, human-like robots, named "Labors," who essentially work in Amazon warehouses. The Labors produce labor more effectively than humans, but everyone is apparently surprised when Labors begin to randomly destroy buildings and commit crimes. Who's responsible for the chaos? The robots? The programmers? The politicians? The conversation is a little too timely. Andrew Yang's Freedom Dividend would probably be popular in the political world of Patlabor. CHASE BURNS
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 from a previous relationship. 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
Thursday only

Artist Matthew Barney’s experimental film, shot in the snow on Idaho’s gorgeous Sawtooth Mountains, tells the mythologically resonant tale of hunters “pursuing each other and prey.”
Northwest Film Forum

The Remains of the Day Add to a List
If you wish to see the very summit of the Merchant-Ivory years, then you must see The Remains of the Day, which takes its name and story from a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Indeed, it can be argued within all seriousness that the movie is better than the novel. Set just before and just after World War Two, The Remains of the Day is about a British butler (Anthony Hopkins) who misses his one chance at actual happiness (Emma Thompson). It’s a sad story. CHARLES MUDEDE
The Beacon
Sunday 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

The Swan
Young director Ása Hjörleifsdóttir’s adaptation of Guðbergur Bergsson's classic novel is a coming-of-age story about Sól, an angry little girl sent to live with her aunt in the country after getting caught shoplifting. This slow yet beautiful film is part of the Forum's new series, Women in Icelandic Cinema, which will continue next month.
Northwest Film Forum
Sunday only

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

A collage-comedy shot entirely on VHS, Jack Henry Robbins's exercise in retro hilarity is about a teenager who accidentally tapes over his parents' wedding tape. The result: an invasion of TV madness into the boy's reality.
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

White Snake
In this 3D-animated wuxia love story based in Chinese mythology, a snake catcher falls in love with a young woman, and the couple discovers a supernatural plot. This film is screened as part of Saturday Morning Cartoons, with coffee and doughnuts provided for viewers.
SIFF Cinema Uptown
Saturday only

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