The Best Movies to Watch in Seattle This Weekend: Oct 1-4, 2020

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Local film festivals are taking over the internet this weekend, and we’re certainly not mad about it. Read on below for all the details on French Cinema Now, the Social Justice Film Festival, and other options, plus newly streaming movies and shows available through local theaters and national platforms (like Hulu’s Monsterland). In other exciting movie news, the video store/Unstreamable haven Scarecrow Video is now taking appointments for limited-capacity visits! For more options, check out our guide to drive-in movie theaters in the Seattle area this week, or our calendar of on-demand movies streaming through local theaters and our fall guide to online film festivals.

Jump to: New & Noteworthy: Supporting Seattle Businesses | New & Noteworthy: Nationwide | Last Chance to Stream: Films Ending This Week

New & Noteworthy: Supporting Seattle Businesses

15th Annual Hump Film Fest – Encore Presentation
Our colleagues, the creators of HUMP!, were crushed to cancel their originally planned fall tour. But after receiving enthusiastic support and permission from the filmmakers to show their films online, they knew that the show must go on! Even if we can’t watch together in movie theaters, we can still watch the 16 sexy short films, curated by Dan Savage, in the privacy and safety of our homes. Dan will introduce the show and then take you straight to the great dirty movies that showcase an amazing range of shapes, colors, sexualities, kinks, and fetishes!
Available via The Stranger
Friday only

Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid is a documentary about 15-year-old Billy Price, an adorable, hollow-chested eccentric who rules the downtown strip of a small town in Maine. If the camera is to be believed, he’s cheerily tolerated by his mainstream peers at school, and he easily befriends the twerps who ride their bikes in circles in front of the local diner. It’s only when he tries to date the twerps’ older sister that his program of systematic chivalry falters and his basic weirdness carries the day. Billy was diagnosed with Asperger’s after the film wrapped, and if you know anything about the autism spectrum, this will not come as a surprise. So were the filmmakers somehow exploiting Billy by not acknowledging they had a real disorder on their hands? I think not. This documentary is a totally refreshing look at a person dealing with autism. ANNIE WAGNER
Available via SIFF
Opening Friday

Cinespace Virtual Film Screening
Short films about the great beyond come courtesy of filmmakers of all ages, presented online by the Museum of Flight, NASA, and the Houston Cinema Arts Society. 
Available via Museum of Flight
Opening Sunday

Coalition of South Asian Film Festivals
Second only to Toronto, Seattle plays host to one of the largest South Asian-focused film festivals in the world. Things are a little different this year, and not just for the obvious COVID-related reasons—the online event will bring seven South Asian film festivals across North America together for two weeks of free online screenings and special events. We’re definitely cueing up Behind the Bhangra Boys, about the Nova Scotia-residing Maritime Bhangra Group, who, when they’re not delivering pizza or filling cars with gas to make a living, create joyous, viral dance videos set against the backdrop of bleak northern winters. 
Available via Tasveer

Edward Scissorhands
A goth robot man with scissors for hands wins your heart and your soul in this pastel-hued Tim Burton classic. Cue it up and watch along with MoPOP.
Watch party available via MoPOP
Saturday only

The Keeper
An English lady and a German prisoner of war circa the very end of WWII fall hopelessly in love. The woman’s father, the coach for the local soccer football team, sees athletic greatness in his daughter’s lover and decides to recruit him, which yields a whole lot of socio-political drama but great success overall.
Available via Scarecrow Video
Opening Friday

French Cinema Now
This festival of French and Francophone cinema culture that’s usually crammed (effectively) into a single week will get over three months of attention at SIFF. Nine of this year’s feature films, presented on TV5MONDE, are directed by women, including emerging filmmakers like Manele Labidi, whose Arab Blues follows a woman who, after years of studying abroad in Paris, returns home to Tunis to pursue her dream of opening up her own psychotherapy practice.
Available via SIFF

Herb Alpert Is…
Living legend Herb Alpert put his band the Tijuana Brass on the map in the 1960s with his glorious trumpeting skills. This documentary traces five decades of his career, including his founding of the indie label A&M Records, through archival footage and interviews with the likes of Sting, Quincy Jones, and Questlove.
Available via SIFF
Opening Friday

Mountainfilm on Tour
The Mountaineers and REI present a program of romantic period pieces outdoor-focused films for the seventh year in a row, but online this time. Take in sweeping vistas, snow-capped peaks, and brave ascents.
Available via the Mountaineers

Port Townsend Film Festival
The only thing lost in this year’s Port Townsend Film Festival is the scenic drive to the Olympic Peninsula; the program, which boasts over 75 films and will stream online, is as noteworthy as ever. In addition to Her Effortless Brilliance, a music-filled documentary celebrating the late Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton, created by her longtime friend Megan Griffiths, features to look out for include Baato (through Oct 4), which follows a family’s annual 200-mile on-foot migration from their village in the Himalayas to sell medicinal plants in the city markets, which one year is intersected by a construction gang building a modern new highway to China. Another highlight is A Home Called Nebraska, a feature doc about the refugees who rely on the seemingly conservative midwestern state for safety from the violence of their home countries. 
Available via PTFF

Santa Sangre
A boy watches his mother’s arms get cut off, gets institutionalized, and then returns to help her. Help her kill people. And he grew up in a circus. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s ’80s comeback is newly restored for your twisted, hallucinatory pleasure.
Available via Grand Illusion
Opening Friday

Social Justice Film Festival
This film festival highlights fierce and powerful progressive movements around the world. As social justice provides the only throughline, many of the movies have little in common. But the selection skews toward limber, on-the-ground filmmaking in the midst of protests and conflicts. The ninth edition’s theme is “Transform,” all about the power of collective and personal transformation. Don’t miss Ask for Jane, based on a true story of a group of college women who developed an underground abortion network that helped over 11,000 people get illegal abortions in Chicago between 1969 and 1973.
Available via Northwest Film Forum

New & Noteworthy: Nationwide

American Murder: The Family Next Door
Shanann Watts and her two young daughters went missing in 2018, and her husband pleaded guilty to their murder. Jenny Popplewell’s Netflix documentary traces the events of the tragedy through text messages, home videos, and social media posts exchanged among the seemingly normal family.  
Available via Netflix

The Boys in the Band
The AIDS crisis long dominated the narratives of gay men in Hollywood films, which, as Alex Abad-Santos notes in Vox, is part of what makes the classic Boys in the Band (which started as a play in the ’60s, was adapted into a film in the ’70s, and returned to Broadway in 2018) unique; while the lives of the characters are still fraught with struggle, it centered their stories before the virus existed. Taking place over the course of an evening at a birthday party that turns into a tense reunion among frenemies, the newly adapted Netflix movie stars Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, and Andrew Rannells. 
Available via Netflix

Dick Johnson Is Dead
You’d think a film about an elderly man facing imminent death would be the wrong choice in these times, but the popular take on Kristen Johnson’s documentary is that it’s just as joyful as it is sad. The filmmaker brings her 85-year-old father, who is suffering from dementia, to live with her in her New York apartment, where the pair imagine all the ways the man could die—some of them outlandishly violent—as a way to cope with their limited time together. 
Available via Netflix
Premiering Friday

Emily in Paris
If the glamorous escapism of old Sex and the City episodes has been hitting the spot for you lately, turn to creator Darren Star’s new show that follows Lilly Collins and her glossy hair from Chicago, where she worked in marketing (duh), to the glittery city of Paris. It’s even costumed by SATC’s Patricia Field. 
Available via Netflix
Premiering Friday

And then there is the scene that happens at the top of a parking garage in the middle of the Twin Cities. Snow stopped falling some time ago. The air is cold and clear. And a car climbs up a ramp, turns, and comes to a rest. The driver is a salesman played by William H. Macy. What he sees is a dead body in the snow. The corpse is his rich father-in-law. That father-in-law was murdered by an incompetent criminal hired by the son-in-law. The murder is one of the many things that go wrong with the son-in-law’s plan to make money fast. The murder is one of the many things that make this Coen brothers film a masterpiece of ’90s neo-noir. The son-in-law pops open the trunk. CHARLES MUDEDE
Available via Netflix

The Good Lord Bird
Ethan Hawke stars as John Brown, the abolitionist who kick-started the Civil War by organizing a slave revolt, in this formerly postponed limited series based on the novel by James McBride. 
Available via Showtime
Premiering Sunday

Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a troubled kid, a real bad egg. At least, that’s how the system has labeled him. Shuttled from foster home to foster home, he’s—supposedly—a delinquent of unprecedented proportions, guilty of the following crimes, according to his social worker: disobedience, stealing, spitting, running away, throwing rocks, kicking stuff, loitering, and graffiti. Of course, Ricky’s actually an entirely normal 13-year-old boy, albeit one that’s been dealt a very shitty hand. Things finally seem to turn around for Ricky once he meets his newest foster family: Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Uncle Hec (Sam Neill), who live miles from anywhere that could be called civilized. Hec prefers to be left alone and spends most of his time out hunting in the New Zealand bush, but Bella becomes a surprisingly effective mother figure to Ricky; she’s not offended by his sullenness and gives him plenty of room to work through his adolescent anger. Sure, Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s scope is small, but it gives you everything you could want from a movie: It’s smart, emotional, and even a bit action-packed once Ricky and Hec embark on an unplanned adventure in the forest. But most of all, it’s funny. So, so funny. NED LANNAMANN
Available via Netflix

Rooting for the vulnerable human in the horror movie is usually standard procedure, but Hulu’s new psychological horror anthology series puts creepy characters—blood-drooling monsters, zombies, vampires—in the role of the underdog. Based on Nathan Ballingrud’s 2013 short story collection North American Lake Monsters and adapted for TV by Mary Laws (The Neon Demon), this looks like a fun and freaky diversion from your usual Halloweentime binge. 
Available via Hulu
Premiering Friday

Saturday Night Live
The 46th season of this sketch-comedy show will return to NBC (filmed live with social distancing restrictions in place) with a fresh round of timely impressions and other laughs. Namely: Jim Carrey as Joe Biden.
Available via NBC

Premiering Saturday

Southside with You
“There’s only one way you hold a nation as big and diverse as the United States together, and it’s not with Congress, or even with the electoral college. It’s with a story, an ongoing performance of a national identity and mission statement. No matter how you view the drone wars, or the number of deportations that took place during the Obama administration, or the expansion of fossil-fuel production on public lands, there’s little argument that Barack Obama’s political performance has radically reshaped America’s national story to date. A Black president, yes. A mixed president, yes. A president who consistently demonstrated thoughtfulness, patience, humor, and warmth, yes. A president who made accessible health care a keystone of his presidency, yes. One of the most skilled orators Americans have seen in our lifetimes, yes. Barack Obama became the latest chapter of the American story, and in response, white America is now trying to burn the book. In service of the Obama story—and the bigger story outside all of that—Southside with You presents a presidential rom-com in the midst of one of the ugliest election seasons in recent memory.” Former Stranger staffer Sydney Brownstone wrote that in 2016, and it still holds up. 
Available via Amazon Prime

Last Chance to Stream: Films Ending This Week

The story of a Cambodian teenager sold into forced labor on a Thai fishing boat drives Rodd Rathjen’s new minimalist Australian thriller.
Available via Grand Illusion
Thursday only

Looking for more ways to support local movie theaters? These on-demand streaming options through the Northwest Film Forum, SIFF, and elsewhere are available to watch anytime. 

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