This weekend, our film critics recommend watching everything from Blade Runner 2049 to Shaun of the Dead to movies at the Tasveer South Asian Film Festival. We've compiled them all below, with links to see trailers and complete showtimes (all movies are playing all weekend long, unless otherwise noted). Find even more options on our movie times calendar.
1. American Made
American Made is a movie about Barry Seal, a former TWA pilot who smuggled weapons for the Contras and cocaine for the Medellín Cartel in the 1980s. Well, ostensibly it’s about Barry Seal. American Made, like all movies starring Tom Cruise, is actually about Tom Cruise. The movie’s a bit of a mess, but it does enough things really well that it’s always fun to watch. Cruise’s strengths are front and center, and despite the movie depicting a seedy world of drugs, weapons, and bad 1980s fashion, it’s essentially a fairy tale for excitement-loving boys. And there’s no one better than Cruise’s ageless, wrinkle-free Prince Charming to waltz us through it. NED LANNAMANN
2. Atomic Blonde
Atomic Blonde isn’t subtle. On about the 89th shot of Charlize Theron walking coolly down a Berlin street wearing sunglasses to an 1980s new wave hit, I wondered if it wasn’t a little excessive. Yes, of course—it’s absolutely excessive. But also: great! Excess is great! Sunglasses and Charlize Theron and 1980s jams are all great. Theron plays a British spy (OR IS SHE?) trying to out-spy some other spies (OR ARE THEY?) who murdered this one other spy (HRRMMM??) and there’s also a mega-list of spies to track down (SPY SPY SPY!). Look, no one can explain the plot of a spy movie without sounding dumb or crazy or both, and the hallmark of a good one is giving up and saying, “Whatever, it’s fun!” (This is what I am doing here.) ELINOR JONES
3. Battle of the Sexes
Battle of the Sexes is about the real-life tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell). It was the most-watched sporting event of its time, and revisiting it now is like two tall glasses of red wine for our abused and blackened souls. Battle of the Sexes is directed by the same husband-and-wife team behind the chirpy Little Miss Sunshine, and you can tell—it’s got the same heart and levity that make you want to cry, not from laughing too hard but because life is sad. It's fun and suspenseful, and rounded out by a delightful supporting cast, including Sarah Silverman and Alan Cummings. Basically, watching a hardworking woman beat an entitled sexist prick on an international stage is glorious, and something I want on instant replay inside my eyelids so I can close my eyes and watch it instead of whatever's actually happening in 2017. ELINOR JONES
4. The Big Sick
This film comes with a few red flags attached (rom-com set in the world of stand-up, etc.), but haters be damned. The true story of Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley, Portlandia) and his real-life wife Emily Gordon’s tumultuous courtship is hilarious, warm, and genuinely affecting—a best-case scenario in every department. The cross-cultural differences at the center of the story are written and played with empathy and truth, and the performances (especially from Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, and Adeel Akhtar) are deep, surprising, and bursting with multidimensional humanity. SEAN NELSON
AMC Seattle 10
5. Blade Runner 2049
Director Denis Villeneuve has his work cut out for him. 2049 not only has to stay true to Ridley Scott’s circa-1982 concept of the future, but also has to deliver a future that feels plausible in 2017. The result—in large part thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins’ jaw-dropping talent—doesn’t disappoint: 2049’s future feels safer and cleaner, lacking Blade Runner’s sensuous grime (there’s not a single cloud of cigarette smoke), but its imagery is no less striking, particularly when Villeneuve and Deakins go wide with hypnotic vistas of a decaying Earth. Even if this future is less believable and tactile than Scott’s, it gets the feel right. The worst parts of 2049 are those that lean hardest on Blade Runner, but thankfully, Villeneuve & Co. are mostly content to build and expand rather than revisit and rehash. There are moments of strange and genuine creepiness; there are jarring sights that, without a single word, evoke hundreds of years of history; there’s a desolate ache that makes the future seem both beautiful and horrible. At its best, 2049 finds LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling) moving through a dreamlike, half-familiar dystopia—asking a few old-school Blade Runner questions about the nature of identity, and adding many more of his own. ERIK HENRIKSEN
6. Brad's Status
The latest from Mike White (director of Year of the Dog), Brad’s Status perfectly captures the way anxious people avoid addressing big underlying fears by coming up with peripheral worries to quietly freak out about. Brad (Ben Stiller) is one of these people: When a tour of New England colleges with his son sparks terror about his kid leaving home, and also death, he does what any good neurotic does and obsesses over something else. Namely, the fact his life may not measure up to those of his fancy bros from Tufts, who seem like a bunch of terrible people. Thankfully, you don’t need to relate to Brad to appreciate his development. Brad’s is a slow arc of delayed maturation as he’s gradually reminded that, even though he isn’t young anymore, life is still worth living. Though I found it laughable that a person who owns a home, has a happy family life, and does work that aligns with his values would act like he’s really struck out in life, I also get it? Life is complicated and hard, no matter who you are. MEGAN BURBANK
Allow writer and director Kogonada to take you on a bizarrely fascinating, visually stunning, and subtly sensual tour of Columbus, Indiana’s modernist architecture. Besides churches by Eero and Eliel Saarinen, libraries by I.M. Pei, and Will Miller’s enviable living room interior by Alexander Girard, the film centers on intersecting stories of familial responsibility. Jin (played with authority by John Cho) is a middle-aged man who should care that his father is dying in a hospital, but he doesn’t. Casey (played by Haley Lu Richardson, who turns in a phenomenally good, sophisticated performance) is a recent high-school grad who needs to cut the cord, but that’s complicated. The two shouldn’t like each other in any sort of romantic way, but that’s also complicated. Kogonada includes all the troubles Indianans face—meth problems, having to work two manual-labor jobs to pay rent, racial tension—but he smartly builds it into the characters’ motivations and backstory. Elisha Christian’s cinematography and Kogonada’s story reveal the deep relationship between architecture and people that many might miss. RICH SMITH
8. Danger Diva
It’s hard to imagine a better futuristic, Seattle-set whatsit than Alan Rudolph’s Trouble in Mind, where Divine played a heavy and Seattle played Rain City. If Danger Diva isn’t quite on that level, Robert McGinley’s sci-fi musical is a zippier affair. An opening title sets the scene: “Seattle: Sometime in the Near Future.” It’s a city much like our Amazonian present, filled with tech gurus toiling away on “disruptive” technologies. CEO Stanley Arkoff (Tim Gouran) meets the diva of the title, Devi Danger (Thunderpussy’s Molly Sides), when he gets a taste of her singing voice, which he wants to incorporate into a new AI initiative—or so he says. Naturally, he’s up to something more sinister. Devi needs the money, so she becomes his musical guinea pig and ends up with an instrument that doubles as a weapon. It works to her advantage when she and bandmate Scattering (Conner Neddersen) try to make a getaway, but the tech folks eventually catch up with them. McGinley (Shredder Orpheus, Jimmy Zip) also throws evil scientists, miracle babies, and brainwashed worker bees into the mix. The filmmaker has cited Neuromancer and Blade Runner as influences, except the results play more like a micro-budget Rocky Horror Picture Show. The acting can be rough and the fight scenes are awkward, but no matter, because Ms. Sides can really sing, whether in electro-Julianna Barwick mode or a Janis Joplin-esque blues idiom. KATHY FENNESSY
The winner of SIFF's Golden Space Needle Audience Award for Best Documentary, Peter Bratt's Dolores follows the life of civil-rights icon Dolores Huerta, the "most vocal activist no one has ever heard of." SIFF explains further: "She was eventually pushed to defend her rights as a woman when she was subsequently forced to leave the union she helped establish. Juggling her responsibilities as a mother of 11, she was a key leader in the 1965 Delano Grape Strike, which compelled 17 million Americans to boycott grapes to bring attention to the plight of farm workers." Not just well loved by audience members, the film has also received wide critical acclaim, including from Roger Ebert: "Huerta is such a commanding figure, and the array of historical footage marshalled on behalf of her story is so impressive, that the film makes a strong impression."
SIFF Cinema Uptown
10. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
Go behind the scenes of the massive, 92-branch New York Public Library system in legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman's 42nd documentary. Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wrote, "Ex Libris has no narration and it lasts three hours and 17 minutes, which sounds like torture (or, alternately, 3½ episodes of Game of Thrones). Somewhat surprisingly, the movie rushes by at the speed of life."
Northwest Film Forum
Our critics didn't agree on It. For Erik Henriksen, it was just a run-of-the-mill horror: "Here, even the jump scares underwhelm—maybe because this time, creepy clown Pennywise (Bill Skarsgård) is more childlike than threatening, with the script only rarely balancing out his playful menace with actual danger. Meanwhile, Derry—which, for all intents and purposes, is one of It’s major characters—feels more like Anytown, USA than a time-worn, cold-hearted place where fear and loss suffuse each home, each block, each day." Sean Nelson took exception to this description: "If you’re even remotely susceptible to the charms of horror films, and have even the dimmest memory of life in the suburbs of the Reagan era, you should absolutely scrap your weekend plans and go see It, which is brilliantly designed, perfectly cast, surprisingly funny, interestingly observed, and rich in cinematic invention (i.e. not just a bunch of CGI spiders or whatever)." We at Stranger Things To Do think you might love it if Stranger Things appealed to you: It's all about dorky kids pitted against the apathy and cruelty of adults—and the terrifying, fantastical personification of hate.
12. The Force
Dashcam video shows a police officer approaching a vehicle as a black suspect, who is reportedly wielding a knife, opens his passenger door. The officer yells, "Don't you move or I'll shoot you," before the man climbs out of the car. The officer fires multiple shots into the suspect's body. By now, we're used to seeing videos like this—the lives of black men killed by police officers replayed on cable news and Facebook feeds. In Peter Nicks's documentary The Force, it's Oakland police cadets who rewind the video and dissect the timeline of events leading to another black man dead. Nicks secured incredible access to the department from 2014 to 2016, when it had already ticked off more than 10 years of noncompliance with a negotiated settlement agreement. As the nation turns its eyes on its police departments, Nicks offers an interior view of one adapting to the dictates of 21st-century policing. But his lens doesn't make any judgments. He leaves it up to his footage to tell the story. No interviews. No narration. STEVEN HSIEH
13. Kingsman: The Golden Circle
The first Kingsman movie shouldn’t have worked half as well as it did. Essentially James Bond cosplay, Kingsman: The Secret Service was based on a comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. It succeeded thanks to its complicated but deep affection for old Bond movies and its charmingly immature compulsion to inject R-rated depravity and computer-generated wow into 007’s musty old tropes. Unsurprisingly, Kingsman: The Golden Circle suffers from sequel-itis. It’s bloated and overlong, with some fun retreads of ideas from the first Kingsman, a few new tricks done incredibly well, and more than a few stretches that pale in comparison to the original. In other words, The Golden Circle what we should’ve expected from a Kingsman sequel—worse than the original, but still more fun than it has any right to be. NED LANNAMANN
A two-hour nightmare, nearly every frame of Mother! is designed to be deeply unpleasant. Since that's the goal, and since it accomplishes that goal so well, Mother! kind of has to get an A+, four stars, two thumbs up, right? I'm not sure I can tell you what the fuck Mother! is, but I am pretty sure it's exactly what writer/director Darren Aronofsky meant to make. Good for him! Whether that's good for anyone else is TBD. Mother! starts with a whole lot of Rosemary’s Baby: From the moment she wakes up, a subtle dread follows an unnamed woman (Jennifer Lawrence) who’s living her best Martha Stewart impression, fixing up her half-decrepit, half-beautiful mansion in the middle of nowhere. As Lawrence’s blank, bland woman restores and polishes and paints and bakes, her unnamed poet husband (Javier Bardem) fights a case of writer’s block. When a creepy unnamed man and a cruel unnamed woman show up at the front door, thingsens get weirder. Even before it’s halfway over, this slow-motion anxiety attack feels like a lot, but as Mother! veers from surreal to silly and back again—throwing in some jump scares, a few excellent stretches of purely visual storytelling, and not a single joke. ERIK HENRIKSEN
15. The Mountain Between Us
The Mountain Between Us follows brain surgeon Ben (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex (Kate Winslet), two strangers who impulsively charter a plane to get around an airline cancellation and then promptly crash on a mountain. Elba and Winslet are both supremely talented actors, but do I really want to spend 100 minutes watching them brood and bicker and forage for kindling? Well... yes, actually. These are two well-drawn, reasonably flawed people learning how to work together, and while some of the dialogue gets a bit clunky, there’s a lot to like in how Elba and Winslet go about delivering it. In other words, The Mountain Between Us is a good date movie for a couple that can’t stomach gauzy, Nicholas Sparks–style faux drama. BEN COLEMAN
16. North by Northwest
A great film is much like a great party, and what makes a party great is not the host or even the location but whom the host invites. North by Northwest, one of my favorite movies, is great because of the guests invited by the director, Alfred Hitchcock. There is the screenplay provided by Ernest Lehman (Sweet Smell of Success), the stunning title sequence by the graphic artist Saul Bass (Anatomy of a Murder), the faces of Cary Grant, James Mason, and a young Martin Landau. And, of course, there’s the big, brassy, bold, and lusty score by Bernard Herrmann. Hitchcock knew how to throw a great party. CHARLES MUDEDE
17. Orcas Island Film Festival
Head to Orcas Island for this film festival—with 30 feature-length and short films—featuring progressive plots and directors. From the festival: "Going into its fourth year, the Orcas Island Film Festival has presented extraordinary films from around the world that have garnered 25 Academy Award Nominations and 6 Oscar wins. The 2017 edition—October 6-9—has some of the best films fresh from their debut at Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, Venice and the New York Film Festival."
18. Seattle Latino Film Festival
This year's Seattle festival of hispanic and Latinx cinema will highlight the Dominican Republic and feature nine days of independent films, filmmaker panels, workshops, parties, and more.
19. Shaun of the Dead
When Shaun of the Dead first came out, Erik Henriksen wrote, "A sharp, clever, and gory horror-comedy that manages to be as scary as it is hilarious, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg's Shaun of the Dead shows all the marks of becoming a cult classic (and yeah, I know that sounds cliched, but in this case, it's actually true). In the recent glut of financially successful zombie flicks, from 28 Days Later to the remake of Dawn of the Dead, the UK-made Shaun is the clear spiritual and intellectual winner, a film that simultaneously respects and satirizes the zombie genre."
20. Tasveer South Asian Film Festival
Tasveer, the largest South Asian film festival in the United States, has one main goal: Engage the community. Based in Redmond, the 12th annual festival (which also hosts year-round programming at venues like the Bellevue Art Museum) opens on October 6 and will highlight films from Nepal. Their community engagement seems to be working—submissions are up 42 percent from last year, and most of their growth has come from new artists. Their screenings are accompanied by discussions with filmmakers or representatives from relevant local organizations. No matter the focus, they want to give audiences the chance to talk and think things through. Tasveer is the opposite of a mindless rut—every screening, talk, and exhibit is full of intention and intellectual curiosity. In addition to the 18 features and 38 shorts, appearances from several dozen filmmakers (including super-famous Aparna Sen), and galas (of course), they’re offering a day-long symposium titled “Boundaries and Belongings,” presented in partnership with the South Asia Center at the University of Washington. JULIA RABAN
21. Wind River
Beginning with a scarily enigmatic midnight chase, the plot follows a Wyoming wildlife officer (Jeremy Renner) tasked with hunting predatory animals through the frozen high lonesomes. (Viewers with a fondness for wolves should be prepared to avert their eyes early on.) After discovering the corpse of a young Native American woman in the mountains, he teams with an inexperienced FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) to track down the killer—and as their path leads them to the local reservation, he must deal with his own ties to the deceased. As his previous screenplays have indicated, screenwriter/director Taylor Sheridan has a real gift for the tired wiseassery of lawmen, and his streak continues here, with the byplay between jaded professionals giving spark even to routine procedural scenes. (Graham Greene, as the reservation’s deadpanning sheriff, not only steals every scene he’s in, but possibly those of whatever is playing next door in the multiplex, too.) If Sheridan proves to be a little more indulgent toward moments of tough guys waxing poetic than the directors of his previous work, at least the extra words earn their keep. ANDREW WRIGHT