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.)
★★★★ “Widows” (R; 129 minutes): This movie, directed by Steve McQueen (“12 Years a Slave”) and starring the great Viola Davis, is smart, soulful and surprising in every frame, weaving statements on race, gender, crime and grief into a tick-tock (and tip-top) heist plot. Full review. Multiple theaters. — Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times arts critic
★★★½ “The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs” (R; 132 minutes): Classic Western-movie moments are curated and celebrated in the Coen brothers’ magnificent six-chapter, big-screen anthology, which was originally conceived as a made-for-TV Netflix series. Tim Blake Nelson stars. Full review. Crest. — Soren Andersen, Special to The Seattle Times
★★½ “The Front Runner” (R; 113 minutes): Jason Reitman’s film is so crowded with characters and overlapping conversations and crammed-full rooms that it’s easy to miss the quiet at its center: the enigma that is Gary Hart (played by Hugh Jackman). He was a dream presidential candidate, until the three weeks in 1987 when it all came tumbling down. Full review. Lincoln Square Cinemas. — Moira Macdonald
★★½ “Instant Family” (PG-13; 119 minutes): The family dramedy — about a couple (Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne) who adopts a set of siblings (Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz, Julianna Gamiz) — is not all heart-wrenching fights and impossible issues. It’s also incredibly funny. Full review. Multiple theaters. — Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
★★ “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” (PG-13; 133 minutes): The second installment in the Harry Potter backstory series replaces character depth with a fan-geekery plot and lots of whizzy special effects. You leave it not moved, but tired. Full review. Multiple theaters. — Moira Macdonald
“Monrovia, Indiana” (not rated; 143 minutes): It doesn’t sound like a scintillating topic for a documentary, but in the hands of Frederick Wiseman, you never get what you expect. A modest farming community of some 1,400 souls not too far from Indianapolis, Monrovia came to Wiseman’s attention almost by chance, and he and longtime cinematographer John Davey ended up filming there for nine weeks, sampling a great deal of what the town has on offer. The result is surprisingly companionable and enjoyable, an unhurried look at a location that is in no kind of rush, a place that is concerned most of all with preserving the way it’s always been. Davey has been Wiseman’s secret weapon for decades, and his work is especially strong here. Noteworthy is the way Davey provides gorgeous images of Monrovia’s rural setting, some of the most striking of Wiseman’s entire career. (The Los Angeles Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.) Northwest Film Forum. — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“The Last Race” (not rated; 75 minutes): Michael Dweck’s documentary focuses on a Long Island stock-car racetrack and the blue-collar drivers that call it home, struggling to hold on to an American racing tradition as the world around them changes. Multiple theaters.