The Seattle International Film Festival runs through June 12 at several locations.
The Seattle International Film Festival enters its final weekend, with special guest Viggo Mortensen on hand for a tribute screening of “Captain Fantastic” (see below); he’ll also be honored with screenings of “Eastern Promises” (9:30 p.m. June 10, Uptown), “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (11:30 p.m. June 11, Egyptian) and “A Walk on the Moon” (11 a.m. June 12, Uptown). Also, festival co-founder Dan Ireland, who died earlier this spring, will be honored with a special program: remarks, clips, short films, and a 35mm screening of a classic romantic comedy (in the spirit of the Secret Festival, the title is not being released) that was one of Ireland’s favorite films (1:30 p.m. June 12, Egyptian; admission is free). Things wind down Sunday with a closing-night screening of “The Dressmaker” (see below) and a party at MOHAI. For more information, see siff.net. For tips on how to navigate the festival, go to seattletimes.com/movies.
‘Captain Fantastic’ ★★★
Viggo Mortensen plays Ben, the devoted if rigid father of an off-the-grid von Trapp family in Matt Ross’ moving, gentle feature, which begins just as the children’s mother has died. Though the film (shot partly in the Pacific Northwest) is at times a bit heavy-handed with the characters outside of Ben’s nuclear family, it’s nonetheless a compelling and original take on the well-worn territory of family ties. Mortensen’s tough, soulful performance is among his career best. Mortensen, Ross and producer Lynette Howell Taylor will attend both screenings (the June 11 screening is a Mortensen tribute that will include an onstage interview). (1:30 p.m. June 11, Egyptian; 2:30 p.m. June 12, Uptown) — Moira Macdonald
‘Don’t Think Twice’ ★★★
When improv comedy is done right, says a character in Mike Birbiglia’s smart new film, it’s like “watching people put the plane together while already in the sky.” Some of those without-a-net pleasures are present in this loose, funny tale of a longtime Brooklyn improv troupe that struggles after one member (Keegan-Michael Key) hits the big time on “Weekend Live”; it’s a nicely nuanced take on friendship, competitiveness and late-blooming coming-of-age. Birbiglia will attend the June 10 screening. (7 p.m. June 10, Uptown; 11 a.m. June 11, Pacific Place) — M.M.
‘The Dressmaker’ ★★
Seattle International Film Festival
Through June 12 at Egyptian, Uptown, Pacific Place, SIFF Film Center, Kirkland Performance Center. Individual tickets are $11 weekday matinees ($9 SIFF members), $13 evening/weekend shows ($11 SIFF members); various ticket packages available. Box office: 206-324-9996, siff.net or at festival venues.
The festival closes not-so-strongly with this wildly uneven comedy, seen at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, starring Kate Winslet as a 1950s-era femme fatale in rural Australia. Judy Davis, as Winslet’s mother, hams it up like an Easter dinner; the absurdly handsome Liam Hemsworth goes dramatically shirtless (it’s like a peace offering to a restless audience); and the whole thing left me thinking that the novel, by Rosalie Ham, surely must be much better. I hope. Gala closing-night screening 6 p.m. June 12 at Cinerama with director Jocelyn Moorhouse attending; also screening at 6:30 p.m. June 12 at Pacific Place. — M.M.
‘Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise’ ★★★½
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Bob Hercules’ tribute to writer Maya Angelou (who died in 2014) takes us — often in her own warm voice — through the whole of an eventful and fascinating life: early years in the tiny town of Stamps, Ark. (where “the atmosphere pressed down with the smell of old fears”); her career as a singer/dancer/actor; single motherhood; unlucky love affairs and marriages; and, always, her searing gift for crafting words into vivid stories and pictures — “scraping a pen,” as she described it, “over the scars.” Hercules will attend the screening. (4 p.m. June 11, Pacific Place)— M.M.
‘News From Planet Mars’ ★★½
Dominik Moll, the French-German director of the wonderfully creepy “With a Friend Like Harry,” is back with this similarly unsettling tale about a seemingly psychotic guest. Like “The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave” on “Saturday Night Live,” he won’t think of finding another home, and the host’s two kids, ages 13 and 17, are just as obnoxious in their own ways. Before it turns into a lecture on vegetarianism, the script is sharp and funny. (9:30 p.m. June 11, Pacific Place; 8:30 p.m. June 12, Kirkland Performance Center) — John Hartl
‘Red Gringo’ ★★★
This is a fascinating new documentary about Dean Reed, “The Red Elvis,” a Colorado native who became a Capitol Records best-seller in Latin America in the 1960s. His unexpected transformation from teen idol to political force is captured in song and archival footage that are genuinely inspiring. Producer Paulina Obando will attend both screenings. (7 p.m. June 9, Pacific Place; 6 p.m. June 11, Kirkland Performance Center) — J.H.
‘The Scent of Mandarin’ ★★½
Visually gorgeous if dramatically soapy, this French drama set during World War I is a romance between a young single mother (Georgia Scalliet) and a wounded cavalry officer (Olivier Gourmet). Filmmaker Gilles Legrand is a bit too fond of visual metaphors involving animals (most notably: an untamed horse and a wild deer) but the film is never less than a pleasure to look at, with the French countryside playing its supporting role beautifully. (7 p.m. June 10, Pacific Place; 8:30 p.m. June 11, Kirkland Performance Center; 4:30 p.m. June 12, Egyptian) — M.M.
‘Southside With You’ ★★★½
“Barack O-what-a?” asks Michelle Robinson’s father. Richard Tanne’s utterly charming feature debut is the story of a beginning: a warm Chicago afternoon-into-evening in 1989, when two young lawyers (Parker Sawyers, Tika Sumpter) went out on what wasn’t supposed to be a date, but became one. We become the third wheel, listening to their long conversation (think “Before Sunrise” crossed with “My Dinner with Andre”) and happily watching them connect. Tanne will attend both screenings. (7 p.m. June 11, Uptown; 7 p.m. June 12, Egyptian) — M.M.
‘Up For Love’ ★★★
Jean Dujardin, who won an Academy Award for best actor for “The Artist,” is back with a new French comedy in which he co-stars with yet another scene-stealing dog. Uh-oh, sounds like a franchise getting under way. But don’t judge too quickly. The dog has a few cameo shots and doesn’t interfere with the main agenda: a romantic comedy with a message aimed at size bigots. Dujardin plays a very short architect who falls for a statuesque lawyer (Virginie Efira), and they make the kind of couple who could charm their way through any obstacle. (8:30 p.m. June 10, Kirkland Performance Center; 6:30 p.m. June 11, Egyptian; noon June 12, Uptown) — J.H.
‘We The People 2.0’ ★★½
This is the world premiere of a documentary about resistance to corporate power. It’s familiar material, presented without much urgency, and sometimes as dry as toast. Still, the filmmakers make their arguments with clarity and some bold effects. Director Leila Conners, producer Mathew Schmid and film subject Thomas Linzey are scheduled to attend. (6 p.m. June 11, Uptown; 1:30 p.m. June 12, Uptown) — J.H.