Art and Performance

The Best Movies To See This Winter

Picks from Seattle Art and Performance
December 9, 2015

Find all of our movie times listings on our Things To Do calendar.

Through DEC 10

Bikes vs. Cars
We are destroying the world that made us, that evolved us, and we have no idea if we will have a home in the world that is now replacing it. The reason we are condemned to live in this different world is certain humans have the political power to maintain and increase the burning of fossil fuels. This is indeed the most important and sobering message in the rather melancholy documentary Bikes vs. Cars. It's not so much that automobiles are dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists, or that cars cause psychological damage to those who spend hours in traffic snarls in Los Angeles, São Paulo, and Toronto (the main cities in the doc), but that their makers have successfully (meaning, politically) blocked the way to alternatives to their products and the form of energy they use (fossil fuels). CM
Grand Illusion

DEC 10

recommended An Evening with Auntie Mame
Spend the evening with everyone's favorite eccentric aunt, Rosalind Russell. AMC Pacific Place screens this 1958 classic, which they describe as a "homo for the holidays tradition."
AMC Pacific Place

DEC 11

recommended It's a Wonderful Life
Shortly after It's a Wonderful Life's 1946 release, James Agee, the most astute and eloquent American film critic of all time, noted the film's grueling aspect. "Often," he wrote, "in its pile-driving emotional exuberance, it outrages, insults, or at least accosts without introduction, the cooler and more responsible parts of the mind." These aesthetic cautions are followed, however, by a telling addendum: "It is nevertheless recommended," Agee allowed, "and will be reviewed at length as soon as the paralyzing joys of the season permit." Paralyzing joys are the very heart of George Bailey's dilemma; they are, to borrow words from George's father, "deep in the race." The sacrifices George makes for being "the richest man in town" resonate bitterly even as they lead to the finale's effusive payoff. Those sacrifices are what make It's a Wonderful Life, in all its "Capraesque" glory, endure. SEAN NELSON
Grand Illusion

DEC 15

recommended Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy: New Report, Artist Unknown
If this were a feminist world, the artist Wynne Greenwood once proposed, you'd have to have not only public policies and leaders that prioritized women but also, like, feminist car washes and feminist amusement parks, and what would those look like? The entire world would need to be reimagined. Starting with TV news, Greenwood and fellow artist K8 Hardy have an ongoing series of performances and videos they call New Report, in which they create pointed, funny, layered broadcasts for their fictional feminist TV news station, whose tagline is "Pregnant with Information." In the story line of this installment, called "Artist Unknown" (2006), Greenwood (as anchor Henry Irigaray) and Hardy (as at-large correspondent Henry Stein-Acker-Hill) are on the case of a mysterious painting abandoned in the street and what it has to say about women in contemporary art. JEN GRAVES
Frye Art Museum

DEC 18

recommended Star Wars: The Force Awakens
What will the new Star Wars episode be about? This will not be known until the waiting billions get to watch the J.J. Abrams-directed movie today. But the millions of us who watched the very first Star Wars back in 1977 know what it's about. The leading theme of that movie is junk: what to do with it, how to get rid of it, and how you can be confused with and crushed by it. The Millennium Falcon is a piece of junk, a whole race of little Bedouin-like nomads survive by selling junk on desert planets, and robots have only two conditions: being junk and being not junk. The base from which this fear, this preoccupation, this nightmare of junk arose was the real problem that America faced (or felt it faced) in the 1970s with consumer garbage. At the time, recycling was not yet considered to be a real solution to the problem, and so the only solution, and one that would prove to be dangerous, was to keep finding new empty places (spaces) to dump consumer junk. The problem is still with us today, but it's not dominating the American mind as it did back then, at the beginning of the end of the 20th century. What fears arose from the base of our times into the images and plot of Star Wars Episode VII? CM
Wide Release

recommended The Revenant
In this movie, which Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel, Amores Perros) directed, the actor Leonard DiCaprio plays a fur trapper who is almost killed by a bear, and then by people whom he thought were his friends. The film promises to have lots of snow, lonely moments in desolate locations, and DiCaprio's determined eyes, as he seeks a 19th century form of revenge. CM
Wide Release

JAN 15

recommended The 5th Wave
In 1977, the United States of America launched a spacecraft, Voyager, with lots of information about where humans are and what they are made of. Voyager also contained lots of images of humans eating things: grapes, ice cream, a cheese sandwich, and so on. The idea is that intelligent aliens will one day come across the spacecraft, open it, and find all of these facts and details about life on Earth. But what if the aliens are not nice? What if we have basically given bad aliens directions to a big blue restaurant and a list of items on the menu? In the science fiction movie The 5th Wave, the aliens are not nice but very destructive. They want all humans to be dead. They mean business. Earth has real value to them, and they do not want to share any of it with the "third chimpanzee" (let alone the second or the first). That's the whole story. And the people who bankrolled The 5th Wave, which stars Chloë Grace Moretz, hope that it "will do for aliens what Twilight did for vampires." CM
Wide Release


recommended Pussy Riot: A Conversation and Documentary Screening
Following a screening of a documentary about Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk protest group based in Moscow, band members Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will share their story with the audience. The conversation will be moderated by a local expert on Russian politics and culture.
Moore Theatre

FEB 12

recommended Eisenstein in Guanajuato
Those familiar with the work of the English director Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) will not be surprised to learn that his biopic of the early 20th century Russian director Sergei Eisenstein (Battleship Potemkin—baby carriage rolling down the steps) is quite over the top. Set in Mexico in 1931, the film is basically about the director's artistic and spiritual transformation by way of sex with a man. The scene, which happens in a hotel room with a grand bed, involves a handsome Mexican, olive oil, and anal blood. And because Peter Greenaway is Peter Greenaway, the scene is very long and pretty graphic. But it is clear, from the beginning to the end of Eisenstein, that Greenaway is very much in love with the subject of his film. CM
SIFF Cinema Uptown

FEB 29

recommended Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ
The Silent Movie Mondays "Silent Treasures" series finishes up with a screening of this renowned silent film, accompanied by a live score from The Police drummer Stewart Copeland and the Seattle Rock Orchestra.
Paramount Theatre