Here’s what’s happening on the movie scene in Seattle during the week of May 5.
Nine movies open in Seattle-area theaters during the week of May 5, including one that did not screen in advance for review — Laura Poitras’ “Risk” (not rated), a documentary about WikiLeak’s editor-in-chief Julian Assange. Here’s what our reviewers thought of the others.
★½ “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (PG-13): Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt), green-hued Gamora (Zoe Saldana), massively muscled Drax (Dave Bautista) and Rocket, the machine-gun-toting raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper), are back — with a big-eyed, sapling-sized and ultracute Baby Groot (Vin Diesel) stealing scenes with effortless ease. Yes, the toddler tree is the single righteously funny thing in the picture while everything else is noisy CG excess and no fun at all. Full review.
— Soren Andersen, Special to The Seattle Times
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“A Quiet Passion” (PG-13): How do you make a movie about Emily Dickinson? How do you capture the inner flame of a woman whose outward life mostly consisted of parlor conversation with her family and quiet hours spent writing poetry in her room? How do you dramatize a life lived almost entirely in the mind — and a death she foretold in poems so devastatingly intimate, it was as if a curtain lifted for her into another world? Well, for starters, you cast Cynthia Nixon. Full review.
— Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times arts critic
★★★ “Citizen Jane” (not rated): A war broke out in the middle of the 20th century over what urban planning could and should accomplish, a struggle engagingly documented in “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City.” And it is a kind of war movie, centering on the wildly differing visions of writer and activist Jane Jacobs and New York City planning czar Robert Moses. Full review.
— Walter Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle
★★★ “The Dinner” (R): Set mostly in an absurdly posh restaurant, with candles flickering like fairies in the warm darkness, Owen Moverman’s “The Dinner” tells a story that’s ice-cold. Gradually revealed, over the multiple courses of the elaborate meal, is the reason for its existence: The two couples (Richard Gere, Rebecca Hall, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney) dining are the parents of two teenagers who, we learn, committed a shocking, terrible crime. No one knows the boys’ identities, and so the parents must discuss: Do they, by doing nothing, conceal this story and protect their children at all costs? Or do they act, and require the boys to take responsibility for their behavior? Full review.
— Moira Macdonald
★★★ “Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent” (R): That chef Jeremiah Tower — not Alice Waters — was the creator of California cuisine, then the architect of his own series of downfalls, then left largely forgotten, sounds like the stuff of myth. But this documentary posits a revision of food history, chronicling the life of the magnetic, repellent man who changed American dining, then disappeared. Full review.
“Buster’s Mal Heart” (not rated): Rami Malek portrays an unkempt vagrant who wanders the hills of Montana. Once, in another life, he was a loving husband and father and a sleep-deprived night clerk at a characterless hotel. Between the two identities lies a dreadful, transformative event. Full review. The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
— Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
“Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary” (not rated): The legendary saxophonist is portrayed as a tirelessly forward-thinking artist. But as a biographical movie, “Chasing Trane” sticks to a conventional, dully informative format. Full review. The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
— Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” (not rated): This lovely piece of work, which benefits from some gorgeous black-and-white cinematography, is a sweet, warmly observed tale overlaid with just the right amount of Scandinavian melancholy, a combination that perfectly suits its quietly engaging protagonist. Set in 1962, it’s inspired by a crucial moment in the life of a real-life Finnish boxer, played by Jarkko Lahti. Full review. The Los Angeles Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
— Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times