Film clips / Feb. 7-13

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1917 (R)

At the height of the First World War, two young British soldiers, Schofield (George MacKay in a breakout leading performance) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are given a seemingly impossible mission. In a race against time, they must cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers — Blake's own brother among them. While its visual language and subjective camera might hold promise for conveying the suffering and sacrifice of World War I to a generation raised on video games and virtual reality, there are moments when "1917" feels as rote as any other exercise in leveling-up. Still, on the whole, "1917" leaves viewers with the indelible and overwhelming impression that war isn't just hell but an unconscionable waste. (Hornaday, The Washington Post — 1/11). 1 hour, 57 minutes. BC / BM / IC / NAM / TC / TM


There's not much humor, or even sense of play, in the films nominated for Oscars in the shorts categories. In the live-action category, "A Sister," directed by Delphine Girard, is a suspense piece with social pertinence. The animated films are all inventive, and Matthew A. Cherry, Everett Downing Jr. and Bruce W. Smith's "Hair Love" has a lot of compassion and charm. (Kenny, New York Times — 1/30). Live Action — 1 hour, 44 minutes; Animated —1 hour, 26 minutes. LC / TC


Based on real events, from visionary writer-director Terrence Malick, "A Hidden Life" is the story of an unsung hero, Franz Jagerstatter, who refused to fight for the Nazis in World War II. When the Austrian peasant farmer is faced with the threat of execution for treason, it is his unwavering faith and his love for his wife Fani and children that keeps his spirit alive. With August Diehl, Valerie Pachner, Michael Nyqvist, Matthias Schoenaerts, Jurgen Prochnow, Bruno Ganz. 2 hours, 54 minutes. TC


Along with a newly created elite team AMMO of the Miami police department, old-school cops Mike Lowery and Marcus Burnett team up to take down the vicious leader of a Miami drug cartel. The third edition of the "Bad Boys" franchise starts as it must: With a gleaming Porsche swerving at impossible speeds through Miami traffic under the expert control of Will Smith, with Martin Lawrence growing very sick beside him. All is good. We've again got Smith's cocksure Detective Mike Lowrey beside Lawrence's more cautious Marcus Burnett. We're in our '90s comfort zone. So it's so disappointing that "Bad Boys for Life" gets bloated as it tries to get deep. It's oddly flat and unfunny and strays so far from its gritty roots that it might be called "Bad Boys for Life Insurance." (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 1/18). 2 hours, 4 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


When Gotham's most nefariously narcissistic villain, Roman Sionis, and his zealous right-hand, Zsasz, put a target on a young girl named Cass, the city is turned upside down looking for her. Harley Quinn, Huntress, Black Canary and Renee Montoya's paths collide, and the unlikely foursome have no choice but to team up to take Roman down. With Margot Robbie,Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Ewan McGregor, Rosie Perez, Ella Jay Basco/ 1 hour, 49 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


After losing his wife seven years earlier, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle (Robert Downey, Jr.), famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria's England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company. But when the young queen (Jessie Buckley) falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of "Dolittle" isn't the incoherent story line, the suffocating CGI or the unfunny stable of celebrity-voiced creatures. It's that Downey's personality doesn't come through at all, either a victim of the surrounding mess or a party to it. With Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Harry Collett, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Kumail Nanjiani, John Cena, Marion Cotillard, Tom Holland, Selena Gomez, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Thompson. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 1/18). 1 hour, 51 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


A girl and her younger brother unwittingly stumble upon the house of an evil witch in the dark woods. The Brothers Grimm should really be outraged that their simple story about child abuse, malnutrition, cannibalism and witchcraft has been so twisted. Rob Hayes' script centers on Gretel — hence the title's name swap — and turns her into woke, coming-of-age super-heroine who outsmarts a witch. Why this dusty, nineteenth century ditty needed to be refashioned this way is unclear. It's dreadful. With Sophia Lillis, Alice Krige, Jessica De Gouw. (Kennedy, The Associated Press). 1 hour, 27 minutes. BM


A World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis), whose world view is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in her attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his naive patriotism. 1 hour, 48 minutes. TC / TM


Spencer returns to the world of Jumanji, prompting his friends, his grandfather and his grandfather's friend to enter a different and more dangerous version to save him. Whereas the original, "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," gave its high school protagonists simplistic but serviceable story arcs about overcoming teenage insecurity, this follow-up muddles its theme of rekindled friendship. There's fun to be had revisiting the cleverly conceived world of the 2017 "Jungle," in which teenagers found themselves magically transported inside a video game. But even with a new mission, some upgrades and a lot of character swapping, we're still playing the same game over again. With Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas, Danny DeVito. (Floyd, The Washington Post — 12/17). 2 hours, 3 minutes. BM / NAM


Based on factual events, "Just Mercy" is the story of Walter "Johnny D." McMillian, who in 1987 was arrested for a murder he didn't commit, but who was railroaded by a racist and incompetent legal system in Alabama. McMillian's case became famous by way of a "60 Minutes" episode and the memoir of Bryan Stevenson, a brilliant, Harvard-educated attorney who came to his defense and has gone on to become a visionary leader in criminal justice reform. Both on a macro and micro level then, "Just Mercy" might feel like something we've seen before. But in the judicious hands of director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton, it feels not new exactly, but fresh and urgent and more timely than ever. With Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson. (Hornaday, The Washington Post — 1/11). 2 hours, 17 minutes. TC


When renowned crime novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead at his estate just after his 85th birthday, the inquisitive and debonair Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) is mysteriously enlisted to investigate. In the whodunit, too much is usually a good thing. Give us all the movie stars, plot twists and murder weapons you can find. When done well, there is almost nothing better. And in "Knives Out," while it takes a little while to find its stride, the whodunit turns out not only to still have a few moves left but to be downright acrobatic. With Chris Evans, Michael Shannon, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Ana de Armas, Don Johnson, Katherine Langford, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jaeden Martell. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 11/28). 2 hours, 10 minutes. NAM / TM

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Quentin Tarantino's ninth feature film is a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood. The two lead characters are Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio), former star of a western TV series, and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Both are struggling to make it in a Hollywood they don't recognize anymore. But Rick has a very famous next-door neighbor ... Sharon Tate. With Margot Robbie, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Tim Roth. 2 hours, 39 minutes. NAM


Meet the Park Family: the picture of aspirational wealth. And the Kim Family, rich in street smarts but not much else. Be it chance or fate, these two houses are brought together. Soon, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two families. But this new ecosystem is fragile, and soon enough greed and class prejudice threaten to upend the Kims' newfound comfort. With Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-sik, Chang Hyae-jin, Park So-dam, Sun-kyun Lee, Yeo-Jeong Jo. 2 hours, 13 minutes. CT / TC


A scattershot, impatiently paced, fan-servicing finale that repurposes so much of what came before that it feels as though someone searching for the hyperspace button accidentally pressed the spin cycle instead. A laundry list of plot points cluster like an asteroid field in "Rise of Skywalker." It's a spirited, hectic and ultimately forgettable conclusion of the Skywalker saga begun 42 years ago by George Lucas. The film, for sure, tries its damnedest to come up with something. It is one busy, hardworking movie. But if anything has been proven by the many attempts to rekindle the magic of the original trilogy, it's that Lucas' cosmic amalgamation of Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa isn't so easily refabricated. With Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 12/19). 2 hours, 22 minutes. BM


Writer/director Guy Ritchie's action comedy follows American expat Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) who built a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he's looking to cash out of the business forever it triggers plots, schemes, bribery and blackmail in an attempt to steal his domain out from under him. "The Gentlemen" brings Ritchie back into his element, for better and worse, along with an all-star cast. The many-layered narrative, once it comes alive after lengthy exposition, is smartly plotted. And several of the actors are good. But the movie time and time again exalts the gallantry of its gentlemen heroes at the expense of those unlike them. With Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Michelle Dockery, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 1/24). 1 hour, 53 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / TM


Blake Lively makes a startling effective killer in this moody international thriller that turns a broken woman into a sleek, potentially franchise-leading contract assassin. Produced by two veterans of the James Bond series — Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli — this film is far from the slick, manufactured cool of 007. This is a spy thriller brought back down to human dimensions. With Jude Law, Sterling K. Brown, Daniel Mays, Ivana Basic, Nasser Memarzia. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 2/1). 1 hour 49 minutes.



A newly appointed nanny is charged with the care of two disturbed orphans, Flora and Miles, at a mysterious estate in the Maine countryside. Quickly though, she discovers that both the children and the house are harboring dark secrets and things may not be as they appear. Based on Henry James' "The Turning of the Screw." The filmmakers have spoken of injecting feminist themes into their adaptation, a "Turn of the Screw" for the #MeToo era. But it's not easy to to discern what they are. It proves harder still to discern the message in the film's abrupt ending. Yes, it's commendable to find new ways to tell a classic tale. It's just that this tale has been told better, and more clearly, many times before. With Finn Wolfhard, Mackenzie Davis, Joely Richardson, Brooklynn Prince. 1 hour, 35 minutes. BM / NAM


The theaters at which the movies listed in Film Clips are playing are:

BC: Beacon Cinema (57 North St., Pittsfield)

BM: Berkshire Mall 10 (Route 8, Lanesborough)

CT: Crandell Theatre (48 Main St., Chatham, N.Y.)

IC: Images Cinema (50 Spring St.,Williamstown)

LC: Little Cinema (Berkshire Museum, 39 South St., Pittsfield)

NAM: North Adams Movieplex 8 (86 Main St., North Adams)

TC: Triplex Cinema (70 Railroad St., Great Barrington)

TM: The Moviehouse (48 Main St., Millerton, N.Y.)


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