Film clips / June 7-13

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Guy Ritchie — that lover of gritty gangsters and violent action — was always an odd choice to helm a big Disney romantic musical and proves utterly the wrong guy here. "Aladdin," in his hands, is more like "The Mummy" than "Frozen." Ritchie, who also is a co-screenwriter alongside John August, has basically taken the 1992 film's structure, added elements from the Broadway musical and made some nice script tweaks, most impressively by adding a second love story and updating Princess Jasmine from pretty eyewitness to fierce participant. The script also doubles down on the notion that everyone seems trapped in roles they are born into. Mena Massoud gamely plays the title character, a street urchin with good hair who falls for the free-spirited princess and has his life changed with one rub of a magic lamp. Naomi Scott is the princess and she is a worthy Disney heroine for 2019 — funny, strong, brave and with a sinfully good voice. Will Smith's Genie is a martini-drinking, yoga-posing, needy showoff with a top knot and an armful of popular culture references. When he's blue, he's purely a visual effect and trying too hard to be the late Robin Williams. When he's normal, he's Smith — and better. A scene in which the Genie tries to help the tongue-tied Aladdin at court is Smith at his funniest in years.With Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 5/24). 2 hours, 9 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / TM


The year is 1613, and Shakespeare is acknowledged as the greatest writer of the age. But disaster strikes when his renowned Globe Theatre burns to the ground. Devastated, Shakespeare returns to Stratford, where he must face a troubled past and a neglected family. Haunted by the death of his only son, Hamnet, he struggles to mend the broken relationship with his wife and daughters. In so doing, he is ruthlessly forced to examine his own failings as a husband and father. With Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench. 1 hour, 41 minutes. TC


Generous in humor, spirit and sentimentality, Anthony and Joe Russo's "Endgame" is a surprisingly full feast of blockbuster-making that, through some time-traveling magic, looks back nostalgically at Marvel's decade of world domination. This is the Marvel machine working at high gear, in full control of its myth-making powers and uncovering more emotion in its fictional cosmos than ever before. Providing even the most basic of plot points in "Endgame" is a fool's errand, but it's fair to say that it takes place some time after the rapture caused by the megalomaniac boulder Thanos (Josh Brolin). Having obtained all six of the "infinity stones," he wiped away 50 percent of Earth's creatures (and superheroes) at the end of "Infinity War" with the snap of his fingers. "Endgame," at its best moments, carries the thrill of classic comic-book twists and reversals. But the main difference is that a dose of finality has finally crept in to a universe where death is seldom visited on anyone but the bad guys. "Endgame" will likely be most remembered for its teary goodbyes. To say who would, of course, invite my own demise. But the send-offs, tender and sincere, capture something about the "Avengers" films. At their root, they are about family. Never has that been more apparent than in the daughters, fathers, sons, mothers, sisters, brothers and spouses that populate "Endgame," making up the connections that bind this fantasy realm — one that, for all its turmoil, is far more unified than ours. The conclusion of this chapter in the MCU, of course, won't last long; Marvel's assembly lines are already humming. And I suspect it will be some time before we understand just what Marvel has wrought with these movies. At their worst, they are colossal, inhuman products built for a supersized form of binge-watching. At their best, they are grand, mega-sized Hollywood spectacles. It's not a spoiler to say that "Endgame" verges more on the latter. At least I don't think so. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 4/25). 3 hours, 2 minutes. BM


Having spent their high-school years studying and preparing to launch their ambitious lives, Molly (Beanie Feldstein), the class president, is headed to Yale and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) to Columbia. With one last night to reverse course, the two friends embark on last/first hurrah, trying to cram a year's worth of partying into one night. The plot line won't startle anyone for its originality, but its vitality will. Wilde is especially good at sketching out the girls' classmates. It's a diverse and colorful spectrum of characters, the sort of fashionable and hip kids you might see at LA's Hollywood High. Wilde's movie is about how none of the people around us are necessarily who we think they are. One after another, the movie disarms superficial assumptions. Clich s get comically stripped away and real people step forward. It's a blast. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 2/24). 1 hour, 45 minutes. BM


During a life-threatening rescue mission in space, the X-Men's Jean Grey is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants of all. Wrestling with this increasingly unstable power as well as her own personal demons, Jean spirals out of control, tearing the X-Men family apart and threatening to destroy the very fabric of our planet. With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, Tye Sheridan, Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Evan Peters, Jessica Chastain. 1 hour, 53 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


A sequel in the loosest possible sense that requires minimal recall from the audience. Godzilla is here to provide some old-fashioned summer spectacle, no CliffsNotes required. It's a low bar, sure, but at least Godzilla is comfortable with its place in the blockbuster ecosystem. Michael Dougherty has taken the directing reins this time, from Gareth Edwards, and has done a fine job capturing the grandness of the titans, keeping the action coherent and balancing the human element thanks to a terrific cast. His script is also pleasingly light and often funny. This is turn-your-brain-off summer fun, and doesn't need to be anything more than that. With Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga, Millie Bobby Brown, Bradley Whitford, Sally Hawkins, Charles Dance, Thomas Middleditch, O'Shea Jackson Jr, Ken Watanabe, Ziyi Zhang. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 5/31). 2 hours, 11 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / TM


In this third installment of the adrenaline-fueled action franchise, super-assassin John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns with a $14 million price tag on his head and an army of bounty-hunting killers on his trail. After killing a member of the shadowy international assassin's guild, the High Table, John Wick is excommunicado, but the world's most ruthless hit men and women await his every turn. For every other bounty hunter, it's open-season on John Wick. And in these films, one lurks down every alley; the ratio of regular person to hitman is, like, 2 to 1. What was once a taut, minimalist action movie with an appeal predicated on low-expectations and leanness has grown into a franchise with a typically overcooked subtitle and de-rigueur world-building (the film's press notes reference "the Wickian universe"). With Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Anjelica Huston, Mark Dacascos, Jason Mantzoukas, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Said Taghmaoui. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 5/20). 2 hours, 11 minutes. NAM

MA (R)

A lonely middle-aged woman befriends some teenagers and decides to let them party in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober, don't curse, and never go upstairs. They must also refer to her as Ma. But as Ma's hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare, and Ma's place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on Earth. With Octavia Spencer, Juliette Lewis, Diana Silvers, McKaley Miller, Corey Fogelmanis, Luke Evans, Dante Brown, Missi Pyle, Gianni Paolo. 1 hour, 39 minutes. BM / NAM


"Pokemon Detective Pikachu " borrows lightly from film noir crime dramas to create a mystery in a world where humans and Pok mon co-exist. A young man called Tim Goodman (the terrific Justice Smith) joins with Pikachu (Ryan Reynolds' voice) to search for what happened to the man's father, a missing detective. It's got an adorable hero from an iconic media brand who is voiced by a proven box office master at snark. But, somehow, "Pok mon Detective Pikachu" never really gets arresting. A neutered Reynolds tries hard but can't make this live action-meets-animated movie gel. It's plodding and listless and really not funny or smart enough. Turns out, you can't copy "Deadpool" tricks for the PG set. With Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 5/10). 1 hour, 44 minutes. BM


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Almost slavishly sealed within the hermetic bubble of the rock biopic, "Rocketman" will, justifiably, draw plenty of comparisons to its opening act: last year's Freddie Mercury tale "Bohemian Rhapsody." They're both about larger-than-life figures, each gay icons, with a preternatural talent for hooks and spectacle. The two movies even share a villain in music manager John Reid (Aiden Gillen in "Bohemian Rhapsody," Richard Madden here). And Elton, like Freddie, churned out unassailable, everlasting earworms sung round the world. Favoring melody over meaning, the uplifting music of both comes big-screen ready. Their songs were movies, in Technicolor. "Rocketman" deviates in its rating (R), its less hesitant depiction of its star's homosexuality and, most dramatically, in casting John's life across a fantastical musical tapestry. It's also quite definitely a better movie — although one still stuffed to the gills with cliches and heavily dependent on the sheer toe-tap-ability of its star's extensive back catalog and its lead performer. Here, that's Taron Egerton, who doesn't especially look like John or sound like John, but he gives a star-making performance built on charisma and will. Egerton gives it his all, and if there's one quality that's most essential in an Elton John movie, it's spiritedness. Like its flamboyant subject, it's a movie outfitted to the nines in dazzle and verve, even if it's gotten all dressed up with nowhere to go but the most conventional places. With Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 6/1). 2 hours, 1 minute. BC / BM / NAM / TC / TM


This documentary follows a couple through their successes and failures as they work to develop a sustainable farm on 200 acres outside of Los Angeles. 1 hour, 32 minutes. IC

THE RAFT (no rating)

In 1973, five men and six women drifted across the Atlantic on a raft as part of a scientific experiment studying the sociology of violence, aggression and sexual attraction in human behavior. Although the project became known in the press as `The Sex Raft,' nobody expected what ultimately took place on that three-month journey. Through extraordinary archive material and a reunion of the surviving members of the expedition on a full-scale replica of the raft, this documentary tells the hidden story behind what has been described as "one of the strangest group experiments of all time." 1 hour, 37 minutes. LC


Max the terrier must cope with some major life changes when his owner gets married and has a baby. When the family takes a trip to the countryside, nervous Max has numerous run-ins with canine-intolerant cows, hostile foxes and a scary turkey. Luckily for Max, he soon catches a break when he meets Rooster, a gruff farm dog who tries to cure the lovable pooch of his neuroses. With Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Hannibal Buress, Dana Carvey, Harrison Ford, Tiffany Haddish, Garth Jennings, Ellie Kemper, Nick Kroll, Bobby Moynihan, Jenny Slate, Eric Stonestreet, Pete Holmes. 1 hour, 26 minutes. BC / BM / CT / NAM / TC / TM


A shy but ambitious film student (Honor Swinton Byrne) begins to find her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship that comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. 1 hour, 59 minutes. TC / TM


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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