Film clips / March 15-21

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ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL (PG-13)

"Alita" tells the story of cyborg Alita (Rosa Salazar) who awakens without memory in a dystopic world where she's taken in by a compassionate father figure Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz). As she learns to navigate her new world, she begins to discover her latent fighting powers and develops feelings for street-smart Hugo (Keean Johnson). The film crams in so many plot lines that it risks being overstuffed but somehow stays true to its mesmerizing vision and emerges as a sci-fi success, if not a triumph. "Alita: Battle Angel," which, in the end, needs more humor and less violence, kind of staggers quietly to its end. A sequel isn't just hinted at — it's practically dangled in front of our eyes as Alita looks heavenward to the next battlefield in the sky city. Well, count us in. Salazar's Alita is part of a welcome wave of films about complex young women who know how to handle even the worst machines. Girls rule. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 2/16). 2 hours, 22 minutes. NAM

APOLLO 11

This extraordinary documentary might not tell you anything you don't already know about the moon landing. But it will make you feel it, and see it, anew. Using archival footage and audio recordings, director Todd Douglas Miller has condensed the eight-day expedition into an immersive thrill ride, from launch to return, that puts you in in the shuttle with the astronauts and in Mission Control's ear. It's the grandeur of Apollo 11 distilled down to its still jaw-dropping essence. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 3/8). 1 hour, 33 minutes. IC / TC / TM

BIRDS OF PASSAGE (NR)

During the marijuana bonanza, a violent decade that saw the origins of drug trafficking in Colombia, Rapayet and his indigenous family get involved in a war to control the business that ends up destroying their lives and their culture. With

Carmi a Mart nez, Jos Acosta, Natalia Reyes. 2 hiurs, 5 minutes. TM

CAPTAIN MARVEL (PG-13)

"Captain Marvel" follows Carol Danvers as she becomes one of the universe's most powerful heroes when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races. Set in the 1990s, this is an all-new adventure from a previously unseen period in the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I spent over two hours with Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers and I still have no idea what her personality is. Sure, there's a lot more going on in "Captain Marvel," but it's a pretty egregious failing considering that the creative bigwigs at Marvel had 10 years and 20 films to work it out. All-in-all it's fine, but nothing to get too excited about. And it could have and should have been so much better. The first female-led movie of the MCU deserves more. With Brie Larson, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, Annette Bening, Clark Gregg, Djimon Hounsou, Lee Pace, Gemma Chan, Mckenna Grace. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 3/7). 2 hours, 4 minutes. BC / BM / CT / NAM / TC / TM

CAPTIVE STATE (PG-13)

Residents of a Chicago neighborhood deal with life under extraterrestrial rule. 1 hour, 45 minutes. BM

EVERYBODY KNOWS (R)

There are few more seductive things to watch onscreen than a big, wine-soaked, multi-generational family wedding like the one that happens early in "Everybody Knows," Asghar Farhadi's new thriller set in a picturesque Spanish village. But as good as Farhadi is at portraying the infectious revelry binding a family together, he's even better at exploring what happens when those binds start to fray. And they do, pretty fast. Farhadi's chief interpreters here are Spanish cinema royalty: Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Farhadi is as adept as ever here in painting complex relationships tested by the most trying of circumstances. And while he may leave a few dimensions less than fully mined — the village's class and economic tensions, for example — he's created a hugely engrossing study of a family undergoing a terrifying crisis. (Noveck, The Associated Press — 3/4). 2 hours, 12 minutes. IC / TM

FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY (PG-13)

The solo writing-directing debut of Stephen Merchant ("The Office") is based on a true story and a colorful documentary. Saraya-Jade (Florence Pugh) and her older brother, Zak (Jack Lowden), have been bred by their WWE-obsessed parents to leg-drop and pile-drive. They each aspire to the big time while ardently participating in their family's far more regional and ragtag wrestling business. In a sport/entertainment full of skeptics, they're true believers. The twist in "Fighting With My Family" is not only that Saraya-Jade actually succeeds, winning a tryout with the WWE in Florida, but that this modest and formulaic sports movie takes on unexpected heavyweight status. "Fighting With My Family" was made with the blessing and the branding of the WWE, and it includes plenty of pro wrestler cameos, most notably The Rock, who's a producer on the film. It's a little like if Barry Bonds turned up in "The Sandlot." Yet "Fighting With My Family" isn't just about the quixotic small-town dreams of some hard-scrabble devotees, but the leap into megawatt fame, and the strain it can put on family dynamics. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 2/25). 1 hour, 48 minutes. BM / NAM

FIVE FEET APART (PG-13)

Seventeen-year-old Stella spends most of her time in the hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Her life is full of routines, boundaries and self-control — all of which get put to the test when she meets Will, an impossibly charming teen who has the same illness. There's an instant flirtation, though restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them. As their connection intensifies, so does the temptation to throw the rules out the window and embrace that attraction. With Cole Sprouse, Haley Lu Richardson. 1 hour, 56 minutes. BM

GRETA (R)

A sweet, naive young woman trying to make it on her own in New York City, Frances (Chloe Grace Moretz) doesn't think twice about returning the handbag she finds on the subway to its rightful owner. That owner is Greta (Isabelle Huppert), an eccentric French piano teacher with a love for classical music and an aching loneliness. Having recently lost her mother, Frances quickly grows closer to widowed Greta. The two become fast friends — but Greta's maternal charms begin to dissolve and grow increasingly disturbing as Frances discovers that nothing in Greta's life is what it sees in this suspense thriller from Academy Award-winning director Neil Jordan. Huppert seems to be enjoying herself fully leaning into Greta's insanity. She helps elevate the film from its self-consciously B-movie roots to be something that's actually pretty good. Moretz is solid as Frances, and it's honestly nice to see her play someone earnest for once. The film gets really insane in the third act, but it keeps moving and is swiftly resolved. It's also tremendously silly and kind of a blast. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 3/5). 1 hour, 38 minutes. BM

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD (PG)

The franchise comes to a close with an affectionate chapter that continues the adventures of the Viking boy-turned-chief Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his faithful dragon Toothless, a sleek, black kind of dragon called a Night Fury. The dragon utopia that Hiccup has built on the Island of Berk, where Vikings once feared and fought dragons, comes under threat from a dastardly dragon hunter named Grimmel the Grisly (F. Murray Abraham) whose toothy grin resembles a moonlighting vampire with violently retrograde policies on dragon coexistence. With Berk under attack, Hiccup rallies the Vikings to uproot and flee to a mythical, undiscovered realm called the Hidden World where dragons could live safely away from humankind. There are two compelling parts of "The Hidden World" that validate it. The first is the courting scene between Toothless and another white (and presumably female) Night Fury who turns up just as Grimmel does. They swoop and swoon through the sky, gliding in the glow of the Northern Lights like a dragon version of "La La Land." The second is the film's terrific coda, which leaps years forward and adds a wider, wistful and more grown-up dimension to what has always been, at its heart, a boy-and-his-dog story, just with wings. With the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson, F. Murray Abraham, Kit Harrington. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 2/23). 1 hour, 44 minutes. BC / BM / NAM

ISN'T IT ROMANTIC (PG-13)

Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a normal, messy adult. Her apartment is small and dirty. Her hair is a little frizzy. Her clothes are ill-fitting. Her co-workers at the very ordinary looking architecture firm where she works treat her like an assistant and she can't seem to see that her friend with the 90s Jim Carrey haircut, Josh (Adam Devine), is in love with her. Much like Amy Schumer's underappreciated and thematically similar "I Feel Pretty," it takes a traumatic head injury for her to wake up in rom-com land, where Manhattan smells like lavender, cupcake and wedding shops adorn her city street, her apartment is palatial and clean and looks like a magazine spread, a handsome billionaire named Blake (a wonderfully goofy Liam Hemsworth) wants to date her and everyone is very, very nice (except her best friend at work, Whitney, played by Betty Gilpin, who has turned into a rival). It's an enjoyable surface-level experience that hones in on all the generic rom-com tropes you love to hate. In fact, it just kind of redeems the formula in some ways. It's fun to join a world with unrealistically glamorous jobs and apartments and wardrobes and cities, especially when there's a good story to go along with it! And also that you can never go wrong with an upbeat song and dance scene. No guilt necessary. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 2/16). 1 hour, 28 minutes. BM

McQUEEN (no rating)

A personal look at the extraordinary life, career and artistry of fashion visionary Alexander McQueen, through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music. 1 hour, 51 minutes. LC

NEVER LOOK AWAY (R)

A sumptuous, sweeping saga about nothing less than war and art, and the powers of the latter to heal the wounds of the former. Enter Gerhard Richter, whose story the film not-so-loosely tells. (The fictional main character is named Kurt Barnert.) Richter, 87, the noted German artist, initially cooperated with director Henkel von Donnersmarck, spending many hours recounting his story, but has since angrily disavowed the film. There's no way for the public to know who's "right." The only thing to do is judge the movie for itself: a highly ambitious, compulsively watchable and also exhausting and exasperating work, not merely for its three-hours-plus length but because it has the feel of more than one film. With Paula Beer, Tom Schilling, Sebastian Koch, Saskia Rosendahl, Lars Eidinger. (Noveck, The Associated Press — 2/25). 3 hours, 8 minutes. TC

THE INVISIBLES (no rating)

Four young Jews survive the Third Reich in the middle of Berlin by living so recklessly that they become practically invisible to the Nazi regime. In German, with English subtitles. 1 hour, 50 minutes. TC

THE LEGO MOVIE: THE SECOND PART (PG)

What was once the beautiful, fantastic Legoland is now an ugly post-apocalyptic wasteland. The citizens have toughened up during this time, but only one remains unchanged, Emmet (Chris Pratt). That is until an attack on Bricksburg commences. Lego Duplo invaders from outer space have come to wreak havoc on the city, demolishing everything in their path faster than they can rebuild. The heroes try to close the doors to the city, but to no avail. The General Mayhem sneaks in and abducts their fiercest leader, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks). Taking responsibility for his actions, upbeat and determined Emmett sets out on a quest to get Lucy back. He joins forces with Rex Danger Vest, and the team heads out to the Sister System in outer space ruled by an evil alien queen. "The LEGO Movie" is a hard act to follow. Its world was so fresh and vibrant and unexpected, it's no wonder that it spawned a number of spinoffs of varying quality. But the big test was always going to be the sequel and whether or not it could recreate the magic of the first. And I'm pleased to report that "The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part " is pretty darn good, but also you can't help shake the feeling that it's just never going to live up to the exciting newness of the first. With a new director at the helm in Mike Mitchell ("Trolls," ''Sky High") you sense sometimes that the film is just going through the motions. Still, it has charm and winking fun to spare and kids will likely adore it just as much. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 2/11). 1 hour, 46 minutes. BM / NAM

TYLER PERRY'S A MADEA FAMILY FUNERAL (PG-13)


Madea and the crew travel to backwoods Georgia and unexpectedly plan a funeral, which threatens to reveal sordid family secrets. 1 hour, 48 minutes. BM

WONDER PARK (PG)

The story of a magnificent amusement park where the imagination of a wildly creative girl named June comes alive. With Brianna Denski, Jennifer Garner, Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Mila Kunis, John Oliver. 1 hour, 35 minutes. BC / BM / NAM



Legend

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 (80 Main St., North Adams)

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

TM: The Moviehouse, 48 Main St., Millert

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