7 movies open Nov. 8 in the Seattle area; our reviewers weigh in – Seattle Times

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.)

★★★★ “Doctor Sleep” (R; 151 minutes): Sometimes returning to the darkest nightmare locked away in a vault in a far corner of the psyche is the only way to heal. This is what happens in Mike Flanagan’s jaw-dropping adaptation of Stephen King’s novel “Doctor Sleep,” the sequel to “The Shining.” Full review. Multiple theaters. — Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times arts critic

★★★½ “Midway” (PG-13; 138 minutes): The Battle of Midway, a pivotal World War II naval operation, changed the face of warfare forever. It’s worthy of no-nonsense treatment, and “Midway” rises to the challenge of portraying it with the respect it deserves. Full review. Multiple theaters. — Soren Andersen, Special to The Seattle Times

★★★½ “Pain and Glory” (R; 113 minutes): Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film feels so personal that you don’t so much watch it as live it. It stars Antonio Banderas, playing an aging Spanish film director — an obvious stand-in for Almodóvar himself — and he is gently and utterly mesmerizing. Full review. In Spanish, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Egyptian, Parkway Plaza, Alderwood Mall 16.

★★ “Last Christmas” (PG-13; 103 minutes): Paul Feig’s rom-com is stuffed full of George Michael songs, winsome smiles, social responsibility, positive messages and the occasional randomly amusing moment. But its central characters never find much chemistry — Emilia Clarke’s Kate is a one-note character, which is one note more than Henry Golding’s character gets. The elf costume, though? Just right. Full review. Multiple theaters. — Moira Macdonald

Also opening

“Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound” (not rated; 94 minutes): When it’s done right, sound in film doesn’t call attention to itself, it just comes off as perfectly natural. When Chewbacca speaks in the “Star Wars” saga, for instance, he sounds the way a Wookie should, end of story. Few people realize that his voice was carefully constructed by sound designer Ben Burtt out of, among many other things, a young bear hungering for a crust of bread. First-time director Midge Costin, a working Hollywood sound editor for 25 years, has put together an irresistible documentary that’s a savvy cinematic education as well as pure fun. (The Los Angeles Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.) Grand Illusion. — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

★★★½ “Midnight Traveler” (not rated, for mature audiences; 90 minutes): Hassan Fazili’s documentary is an extraordinary first-person account of the filmmaker’s escape from Afghanistan with his family, and their two-year journey to seek asylum in Europe after the Taliban threatened his life. But what’s even more remarkable is the way the movie was made: It was shot entirely on three cellphones by Fazili, his wife, Fatima, and their two young daughters, Nargis and Zahra. “This is a story of a journey to the edge of hell,” says Nargis, who cannot be more than 9 or 10, in a voice-over. Notwithstanding its dark moments, “Midnight Traveler” is incredibly hopeful. What the Fazilis seek is universal: a life free of danger, a better future. Their courage and equanimity in the face of hardship are genuinely inspiring. In Dari, Pashto, English and other languages, with subtitles. Grand Illusion. — Vanessa H. Larson, The Washington Post

★½ “Playing With Fire” (PG; 96 minutes): The creators of this clodhopping comedy, about California wildfire “smoke jumpers,” built in little pauses after many of the film’s sight gags and verbal jokes, presumably to accommodate audience laughter. Bad idea. Inside a theater, only a few kids’ fleeting giggles — and the crunching of popcorn — fill the void. John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Tyler Mane would be a solid comic team under better circumstances. Multiple theaters. — Jane Horwitz, The Washington Post

Seattle Times staff

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