What’s happening on Seattle’s movie scene this week.
Here are snapshots of what our reviewers thought of the movies opening this week in the Seattle area. (Star ratings are granted on a scale of zero to four.)
★★★★ “Roma” (R; 135 minutes): Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuarón is here telling a story from his own childhood; the film is dedicated “To Libo,” his former nanny. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly how “Roma” casts its spell; how it blends utterly devastating moments (several of which quite literally involve life and death) with a poetic, quiet everydayness, through which ever-growing children scurry. I only know that I watched it spellbound, and that it seemed over in an instant. Full review. Cinerama, Crest (comes to Netflix Dec. 14). — Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times arts critic
★★★½ “The Favourite” (R; 119 minutes): The real fun of Yorgos Lanthimos’ irresistibly nasty tale of lust, power and pet bunnies, set in the early-18th-century court of England’s Queen Anne, is in the three central performances (from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), each of which threatens to steal the film. Full review. Egyptian, Oak Tree, Lincoln Square. — Moira Macdonald
★★★½ “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle” (PG-13; 104 minutes): No previous screen rendering of the Rudyard Kipling classic “The Jungle Book” has been so very dark and wild and, surprisingly, thoughtful. Director Andy Serkis, who also voices the bear buddy Baloo, has used computer-generated imagery to render talking animals that are scarred, substantial and never to be trifled with. Rohan Chand, 14, capably handles the title role. Full review. Crest, iPic Theaters at Redmond Town Center and on Netflix. — Soren Andersen, Special to The Seattle Times
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★★½ “Anna and the Apocalypse” (R; 97 minutes): This holiday-themed, zombie-filled horror/comedy/musical is unlike anything in theaters right now: It’s a low-budget U.K. indie that got its start as an award-winning 2011 short film. And does “Anna” deliver? Well, it does for a while. Full review. Meridian. — Moira Macdonald
“Burning” (not rated, for mature audiences; 148 minutes): Desire, ravenous and ineffable, shudders through the latest from the great director Chang-dong Lee. Set in the present, the movie (selected as South Korea’s Oscar entry for best foreign-language film) involves the complicated, increasingly fraught relationships among three characters whose lives are tragically engulfed as desire gives way to rage. (The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.) Full review. In Korean, with English subtitles. Northwest Film Forum. — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“At Eternity’s Gate” (PG-13; 110 minutes): It seems almost impossible, or maybe foolish, that anyone would take on another biography of Vincent van Gogh, who died in 1890 at 37. All this time later, he can feel embedded and even lost in myth. But by focusing above all else on van Gogh’s work and its transporting ecstasies, director Julian Schnabel has made a vivid, intensely affecting portrait of van Gogh — played by a magnificent Willem Dafoe — toward the end of his life. Rupert Friend and Oscar Isaac co-star. In French and English, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Uptown. — Manohla Dargis
“Bathtubs over Broadway” (not rated; 87 minutes): While searching vintage record stores for albums to use as comic fodder for “The Late Show With David Letterman,” comedy writer Steve Young stumbled into the decades-long quest chronicled in this charming, goofy documentary. The object of Young’s obsession? The hidden world of industrial musical theater — full-blown stage shows and revues produced and financed by corporations for the sole purpose of inspiring their sales forces to sell, sell, sell and sell some more. Fortunately for Young, these shows were often recorded on vinyl as “souvenirs” for employees. “Bathtubs,” directed by Dava Whisenant, follows Young as he meets other avid collectors, tracks down participants and eventually co- authors a book, “Everything’s Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals.” (The Los Angeles Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.) Varsity. — Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times
“Return to Seattle” (not rated; 88 minutes): Filmmaker Brock Mullins, a Seattle native and University of Washington graduate, stars in his own feature debut as a man who returns home from Los Angeles after his mother passes away, moves in with his father (Gordon Coffey) to help him deal with the loss, and meets a woman (Allie Pratt) with a strong passion for nature. Together, they venture out to explore some of the most picturesque locales in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, while he also tries to resuscitate a filmmaking career. Southcenter 16. Mullins will take part in a Q&A after the 8:20 p.m. screening Friday, Dec. 7.