Selections for the First Week of the Seattle International Film Festival

Our critic selects the best of the fest.

Michele Gondry's 'Microbe & Gasoline.'

Sunset Song British filmmaker Terence Davies (Distant Voices, Still Lives) is a master at conveying sadness and endurance—and there’s plenty of both in this slow, beautiful study of a woman in rural Scotland during the WWI era. She’s played by fashion model Agyness Deyn, proving that uncanny performances can come from anywhere. Egyptian, 4 p.m., May 20; Majestic Bay, 6:30 p.m., May 21

Weiner One hundred minutes of squirm. This brutally good documentary follows Anthony Weiner around during a 2013 New York City mayoral run, where his recent sexting scandals dog him. Uptown, 4:30 p.m., May 20 and 6 p.m., May 22

Microbe and Gasoline Michel Gondry lays on the whimsy—no surprise there—in this tale of two adolescent pals who build a kind of plywood RV and get into, alas, cute adventures in the French countryside. A little goes a long way. Majestic Bay, 1 p.m., May 21; Egyptian, 7 p.m., May 23

Love & Friendship Out of an obscure Jane Austen novella, Whit Stillman crafts a droll comedy of manners. Kate Beckinsale’s withering put-downs are so surgically lethal they’re almost invisible (why does she waste her time with blockbusters?), and a splendid British cast keeps it all cooking. SIFF Cinema Uptown, 5 p.m., May 21; Pacific Place, 4 p.m., May 22

Indignation The college days of an industrious Jewish student (Logan Lerman) in the early ’50s, oddly concentrated on the enormous ramifications of a single sexual encounter. Maybe that’s why the film seems so focused, despite the pokey pace. James Schamus adapted the Philip Roth novel; Sarah Gadon and Tracy Letts are superb in supporting roles. Pacific Place, 6:30 p.m., May 21; Lincoln Square, 3 p.m., May 22

Illegitimate A Romanian film of disintegrating family dynamics: A father’s shameful role during the oppressive Ceausescu regime is exposed, followed by a dark revelation about two of his children. Not as rigorous as other recent Romanian films, but some strong stuff contained within. Uptown, 4:30 p.m., May 24; Lincoln Square, 6 p.m., May 29; Egyptian, 9:15 p.m., May 30

Uncle Howard Filmmaker Howard Brookner (known mostly for an intimate documentary portrait of William S. Burroughs) died of AIDS in 1989, but his story is brought to compelling life by his nephew Aaron, who uses a huge cache of footage his uncle left behind. A fine character study and portrait of an era; its lingering question is what the generation of AIDS losses might have contributed in the years since. Howard’s film-school classmate Jim Jarmusch is on hand to reminisce. Egyptian, 9:30 p.m., May 25; Uptown, 3 p.m., May 26; Lincoln Square, 6:30 p.m., June 1

More in Film

Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, and director Marc Turtletaub put together the pieces on the set of Puzzle. 
Photo by Linda Kallerus/Sony Pictures Classics
Can ‘Puzzle’ Fit in the New Oscars Landscape?

The understated indie boasts a fabulous performance by Kelly Macdonald, but does that matter in the Best Popular Film era?

Teens bond at a gay conversion camp in The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Photo courtesy Beachside Films
The Conversion Immersion of ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post’

A strong young ensemble helps director Desiree Akhavan artfully takedown conversion therapy.

The ostentatious takes center stage in Generation Wealth. Photo by Lauren Greenfield
Show Me the Money

The documentary ‘Generation Wealth’ attempts to show greed’s shallowness, but somewhat loses focus.

Tom Cruise hangs onto his action hero bonafides with ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout.’ Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures/Skydance
Impossibly Not Getting Old

Tom Cruise and his action franchise remain sharp in ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout.’

Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill lead a hefty cast in <em></em><em>Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot</em>. Photo by Scott Patrick Green/Amazon Studios
Steady Footing

Joaquin Phoenix and Jonah Hill anchor ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,’ Gus Van Sant’s biopic about a quadriplegic cartoonist.

Kayla (Elsie Fisher) stays glued to her screens in ‘Eighth Grade.’ Photo by Linda Kallerus/A24
Embracing the Naturalistic Awkwardness of ‘Eighth Grade’

Writer/director Bo Burnham and star Elsie Fisher discuss making and living one of the year’s best films.

Golden Goal

On the Seventh Day takes an atypical sports movie approach while addressing immigrant issues.

‘The King’ explores the idea of Elvis as a symbol of America. Photo courtesy Oscilloscope Laboratories
‘The King’ of the U.S.A.

A new documentary on Elvis Presley tries to make the rock icon the embodiment of America.

Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), live outside of society 
in Leave No Trace. Image courtesy SIFF
Off the Grid

‘Leave No Trace’ weaves a poignant tale about a father running from society and a daughter who yearns for it.

Dino-Might

While peppier than its predecessor, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom still feels very calculated.

Image courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
‘2001’ in 2018

As Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi masterpiece returns to theaters for its 50th anniversary, have moviegoers betrayed its legacy?

Through their partnership with Dandelion Africa, Extend the Day supplied solar lights to 9,000 children in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Extend the Day
‘Into the Light’ Cuts Through the Darkness

A documentary about local non-profit Extend the Day shows what it’s like for over 1.2 billion people throughout the world who lack electricity.