Here’s what’s happening on the movie scene in Seattle during the week of Aug. 11.

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Eight movies are being released in the Seattle area this week. Here are snapshots of what our movie reviewers thought of some of them playing at several theaters.

 

★★★★  “Step” (PG): Director Amanda Lipitz (in a strong feature-length debut) focuses on three members of a step-dance team at a Baltimore high school for girls. All are funny and smart and lovely and inspiring, as is the film. Its dramatic high point isn’t what you’d expect — the finals of a step competition — but a quieter and far more impactful series of moments, when the students learn the results of their college applications. Full review.

— Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times arts critic

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★★★★  “Columbus” (not rated; for mature audiences): The quietly stirring, exquisitely photographed romantic dramedy is an art-house gem that beautifully illuminates not only the architecture of a small Indiana town, but also the characters that inhabit it. The ensemble cast, led by John Cho, shine. Full review.

— David Lewis, San Francisco Chronicle

 

★★★½  “Wind River” (R): You have undoubtedly seen many films that cover, generally, about the same territory as Taylor Sheridan’s “Wind River”: a murdered young woman; a cold, unforgiving landscape; a crime investigator carrying his own quiet tragedy. But you probably haven’t seen one quite like “Wind River,” a movie less interested in examining the crime than in uncovering the icicle of grief at its core. Full review.

— Moira Macdonald

 

★★★½  “13 Minutes” (R; in German, with English subtitles): This somber drama, based on actual events, is the story of a German working man’s doomed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Christian Freidel stars. Full review.

— Soren Andersen, Special to The Seattle Times

 

 

★★½  “The Glass Castle” (PG-13): Jeannette Walls’ memoir, which spent seven years on the best-seller list, is no fairy tale: It’s a poignant story of growing up in a deeply dysfunctional family, headed by parents spectacularly disinclined to parent. And yet, a gentle forgiveness shines through the book. The movie version is more problematic: Filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton can’t quite find that magical balance that Walls hits, and tilts the story too far toward sentiment. Full review.

— Moira Macdonald

Also opening

★★  “Annabelle: Creation” (R): In this prequel to “Annabelle’” (2014), which was itself a prequel of “The Conjuring” (2013), a doll maker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife (Miranda Otto) welcome a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home. Terror soon strikes when one of the girls finds a doll that seems to have a life of its own. “There are ‘gotcha’ jolts that definitely got me,” says Walter Addiego of the San Francisco Chronicle, “but for each of those, there must be a half-dozen scares telegraphed in very large letters.” Several theaters.

 

★½  “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” (PG): The animated sequel brings back Surly (voiced by Will Arnett) and his friends to battle an evil mayor (Bobby Moynihan), who plans to bulldoze the park that they live in. Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle calls it “a movie of distractions, not ideas. The action rarely stops, because that would be a reminder that the film has absolutely nothing to say.” Several theaters.

 

 

“Pop Aye” (not rated; in English and Thai, with subtitles): A Bangkok architect (Thaneth Warakulnukroh), in the midst of a midlife crisis, embarks on a road trip with an elephant he knew growing up. Grand Illusion.