Amélie, Daughters of the Dust, Toni Erdmann, And More Picks For Feb 10-12

by Stranger Things To Do Staff

Heading to the movies this weekend? Check out one of these films recommended by our critics, like Julie Dash’s rightfully legendary 1991 feature debut Daughters of the Dust, two classic romantic films from 2001 (Amélie and Moulin Rouge), or Toni Erdmann, the 2016 German film nominated for this year's Academy Awards. Tapping on a link below will open a new web browser page with specific movie times trailers.


1. John Wick Chapter 2
As with the first John Wick, each action sequence—and there are a lot of them—aims to entertain, surprise, and deliver the sort of thrill that can only come from a hyper-stylized, perfectly orchestrated shoot-out. Or car chase. Or fistfight. Even if it doesn’t have the freshness of the original, Chapter 2 offers plenty: It never stops being Looney Tunes funny, but it’s also baroque, dark, and weird, moving at a burning-rubber pace. John Wick: Chapter 2 does not disappoint, and it’s a welcome reminder of how fun and exciting a well-crafted action movie can be. If Buster Keaton were alive today and saw John Wick in action... well, he’d probably be disgusted and horrified at how violent movies are now. But once he got over that, he'd probably clap pretty hard. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Pacific Place, Meridian 16 & Sundance Cinemas

2. Rings
Cinematic magic tricks rarely benefit from repetition, even when they involve a dead girl crawling out of an appliance. Rings' plot follows a woman (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) who becomes concerned when her boyfriend’s Skype transmissions from college start to get a little... funky. Investigating, she stumbles into an underground attempt to reboot the old VHS curse for the #viral #video #generation. Vincent D’Onofrio shows up as a blind priest, which is something that most horror movies could use. Unfortunately, the jump scares and plot twists begin to pile up as things progress, culminating in a remarkably weak justification for further movies down the road. Still, even if there are few surprises for fans of the series, the first half of Rings does locate enough of that uneasy nexus between technology and the supernatural to warrant a matinee. ANDREW WRIGHT
Meridian 16 & Sundance Cinemas



3. Daughters of the Dust
Julie Dash is a black female director, and the fingers on one hand can count all of the major black female directors in the history of American cinema without depletion: Dash, Kasi Lemmons, and Ava DuVernay. Dash, in my opinion, is the most talented of the big three, and I base this opinion on the lyrical greatness of Daughters of the Dust, a film set in a strange time (1902) on a strange island (Georgia's St. Helena Island), and negotiates a strange cultural zone (between black Africa and black America) with a poetry that, though romantic, has anthropological sophistication. Black women are the stars of this work, which has a profoundly (if not surprisingly) American ending. You must watch Daughters because you will not find a film like it anywhere. It's like some rare bird that's not only striking because of its unusual colors but because of the perfection of its form. You must also watch Daughters if you have plans to watch Raul Peck's Oscar-nominated doc, I Am Not Your Negro. CHARLES MUDEDE
Northwest Film Forum


4. Silkwood
Mike Nichols's drama stars Meryl Streep as real-life whistle-blower Karen Silkwood, who blew the whistle on dangerous conditions at a nuclear plant and was deliberately sickened by her bosses in retaliation.
Scarecrow Video


5. 2017 Oscar Nominated Shorts
Prepare for the Academy Awards on February 26 by watching short films nominated in three categories. SIFF Cinema Uptown and Guild 45th will play the animated and live action nominees, and Sundance Cinemas will play the documentary nominees.
Various locations

6. Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America
Career musician Daryl Davis has made it his life's mission to build bridges by befriending KKK members—and since 1990, has collected tons of Klan memorabilia, including 20-odd Klan robes and hoods. See, befriending Davis, a Black man, has shaken some of them—including former imperial wizard Roger Kelly and former grand dragon/gubernatorial candidate Scott Shepherd—to the point that they've left and renounced the movement. Davis's story is compelling, and if it influences the unsure within that movement, young or old, then great. [But] his message will likely be lost on anybody who doesn't believe in explaining themselves to, as dream hampton put it, "people who are committed to misunderstanding" them. LARRY MIZELL JR.
Grand Illusion

7. Amélie
A beautifully kinetic testament to human sweetness that had audiences lining up around the block and contrarians carping about its artificiality. I'm not saying you have to be an asshole to not like Amélie, but it would probably help. SEAN NELSON
Central Cinema

8. Moulin Rouge
Baz Luhrmann’s ode to Paris, Nicole Kidman’s consumption, and Ewan McGregor’s brow. You know you love it. Don’t pretend.
Central Cinema

9. Toni Erdmann
Toni Erdmann, the character, is a death clown, a life coach, and a big, hairy Bulgarian monster. Toni Erdmann, the Oscar-nominated film from German filmmaker Maren Ade, is a farce, a tearjerker, and a bonkers take on globalization and its discontents. It begins with a shaggy German music teacher, Winfried (Austrian theater vet Peter Simonischek, soulful and impish), who likes to play practical jokes no one appreciates. When his daughter, Ines (the wondrous Sandra Hüller), drops by for a short visit, she spends most of the time making work calls. Later, Winfried decides to visit Ines in Bucharest where his attempts to make her laugh—involving a set of false teeth and a cheese grater—fall flat, so he reemerges as Toni Erdmann, a goofy gent who pops up at the most inopportune times. If the 162-minute film threatens to wear out its welcome, director Ade brings everything home with a humanist's light, loving touch. KATHY FENNESSY
SIFF Cinema Uptown


10. 20th Century Women
"We are a generation of men raised by women,” sneered Fight Club’s Tyler Durden. To which Mike Mills would probably reply, “I know! Awesome, right?” Mills’s new movie is called 20th Century Women, and it’s just as much a celebration of female wisdom, power, and complexity as the title suggests. It’s set in 1979 Santa Barbara, and told mostly from the perspective of 15-year-old Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann), who’s being raised by his middle-aged single mom, Dorothea. If that setup makes you worry for a moment that this is another story about women from a male perspective, you’re not alone. But thanks to a ferocious, textured performance from Annette Bening as Dorothea, and Mills’s digressive, empathetic script, the movie works. MARC MOHAN
SIFF Cinema Uptown & Guild 45th

11. Arrival
Arrival is an ominous, thrumming, beautiful thing that starts out being about aliens who need a decoder ring. It ends up being about something quite different. Arrival is about Big Things—and the manner in which Villeneuve gets to them, as his camera slowly traces structures and landscapes both familiar and strange, can’t help but surprise and impress. Visually and aurally remarkable, Arrival sometimes unfolds like a clever puzzle and other times like a raw-nerve thriller; throughout, with heart and wit, Heisserer and Villeneuve never lose sight of the film’s characters—creatures in a situation that’s weird and mournful, exciting and threatening. ERIK HENRIKSEN
Meridian 16 & Sundance Cinemas

12. Fences
Recently, while leaving a screening of the solid and engaging film adaptation of August Wilson's play Fences, which was directed by Washington himself, a man walking behind me said to the woman walking next to him that this is not the kind of Denzel Washington film he likes. It's too act-y, it's all about the Academy Awards. Clearly, he wanted Washington to shoot more and talk less. But Fences has no guns and a whole lot of talking about life—it deals with failed dreams, race relations in mid-century America, marital problems, parenting problems, working-class problems, drinking problems, problems with debts, mental health, and, ultimately, death. What might kill the character Washington plays in Fences, Troy Maxson, is not a car chase or a shoot-out, but blocked arteries to the heart. He is a normal guy with a very standard suite of personal and social issues. The man behind me was correct: It is likely that Washington will be recognized by the Academy for this performance. And thank God! It is good to see a great actor take a break from his fall into the abyss of crap and produce something of social, artistic, and cultural value. The Academy will probably also recognize Viola Davis, who plays Rose Maxson, Troy's wife. CHARLES MUDEDE
Pacific Place & Sundance Cinemas

13. Hidden Figures
The function of white ideology is to place the blame of black poverty on black people themselves. They are not smart enough, they are lazy, they are like children—therefore they live in the projects, they are on welfare, they perform poorly academically. But the golden bowl of this logic gets a crack whenever a person or an event makes the truth visible: Blacks are as stupid or as smart as any other group of people. This is why a movie like Hidden Figures is so important—a film about a black mathematician, Katherine Johnson (played by Taraji P. Henson), who worked for NASA and participated in its key projects in the 1960s. The mathematician was also a woman, and so she challenged not only white ideology but also male ideology. She had to be hidden twice. The movie also stars Janelle Monáe, who made her mark in the best movie of 2016, Moonlight. CHARLES MUDEDE
Various locations

14. I Am Not Your Negro
Sixteen years after Lumumba, Raoul Peck, who is Haitian, has directed I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary about one of the greatest writers of 20th-century America, James Baldwin. Now, it's easy to make a great film about Baldwin, because, like Muhammad Ali, there's tons of cool footage of his public and private moments, and, also like Ali, he had a fascinating face: the odd shape of his head, the triangle of hair that defined his forehead, and his froggy eyes. Just show him doing his thing and your film will do just fine. But Peck blended footage of Baldwin with dusky and dreamy images of contemporary America. These images say: Ain't a damn thing changed from the days of Baldwin and the Civil Rights Movement. But they say this with a very deep insight about the nature of time. CHARLES MUDEDE
SIFF Cinema Egyptian

15. La La Land
You guys, I LOVED La La Land, and you will too. Don’t be afraid of it just because it’s a musical about a struggling actress (Emma Stone) and a pretentious jazz musician (Ryan Gosling) who meet and fall in love and sing and dance in a romanticized, cartoony LA. Yeah, it’s splashy and grandiose and full of hazy violet Southern California sunsets, but its emotional core is genuine. Take it from shriveled-hearted me, the Unearned Sentiment Police: La La Land is a grand, over-the-top, razzly-dazzly love story that won’t make you puke one bit. It might even help you forget the horrors of reality, however momentarily—and after the year we’ve had, that practically makes La La Land a public service. MEGAN BURBANK
Various locations

16. Lion
Based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir A Long Way Home, the film, an inspiring drama that earns tears without jerking them, begins with five-year-old Saroo (played by a bouncing ball of energy named Sunny Pawar) becoming separated from his mother and brother and ending up a thousand miles away in Calcutta. Saroo’s path may be unclear, but Lion’s isn’t: Like the train that took him away in the first place, the film moves steadily toward its tearful destination, propelled by sincere performances and Volker Bertelmann and Dustin O’Halloran’s gently urgent musical score. Kidman shows great tenderness as the adoptive mother, underscoring the theme of “family” not being limited by biology, and Patel is serious-minded and haunted. But it’s little dynamo Sunny Pawar that you’ll remember best, his infectious cheery optimism encapsulating the film’s hopeful tone. ERIC D. SNIDER
Sundance Cinemas & Meridian 16

17. Manchester by the Sea
In Manchester, Lee Chandler (Affleck) seems content to shovel walkways and unclog toilets for a living in Boston, until word comes that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler, seen in flashbacks) has died of a heart attack. Joe’s will stipulates that he wants Lee to move back to his titular hometown and become Patrick’s guardian. Lee, however, is haunted by past events and resists, with a toddler’s tenacity, every effort by the people around him to help him come to terms. I feel for the guy, and you will too, but after two hours, I wanted to grab him by the collar and tell him to buck up. After all, he’s at least going to get an Oscar nomination out of it. MARC MOHAN
Various locations

18. Moana
Moana is the Disney princess movie everyone needs right now—or, at the very least, Moana is the princess I've been dreaming of since I was a little girl. Not every kindergartner can see herself in Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, or, even nowadays, Frozen. After years of witnessing people of color gunned down and beaten on-screen, having a whole movie dedicated to showcasing the knowledge and beauty of brown people felt restorative. Yes, Moana is an animated children's movie, but it is important for children of color to be able to see movie audiences sit in awe of their people's stories. Representation matters regardless of age. ANA SOFIA KNAUF

19. Moonlight
Moonlight is a film that has all of the major film critics in the country singing the loudest praises, and is already breaking box-office records, and happens to be a coming-of-age tale of a black American male. But I want to make this clear: The director of Moonlight, Barry Jenkins, did not come out of nowhere. He also directed and wrote one of the best films of the previous decade, Medicine for Melancholy (2008). The wonder is that it took him so long to make his second feature, which will most likely make a big splash at the next Oscars. Expect Jenkins to be one of the few black Americans to win the award for best director. CHARLES MUDEDE
Various locations

20. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This is one of the darkest films in the Star Wars series. In Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the theology of that faraway galaxy with its Force takes a backseat, and the troubled soul of the rebellion is at the controls. The Empire is not a joke. Its economic and military power is immense, and the power of its uniformity is almost unstoppable. To challenge it, you need more than just the Force. A rebel must, above all, feel that the realization of the ideal future—here in the form of a harmonious, heterogeneous galactic society—far surpasses (1) the evils of war and (2) the self. If you miss this point, the sacrifices of a revolution, then you will not understand the greatness of Rogue One. CHARLES MUDEDE
Pacific Place

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