Film clips / May 10-16

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AMAZING GRACE

After many dangers, toils and snares, the long-lost Aretha Franklin concert film "Amazing Grace" has finally seen the light, and good Lord is it good. Filmed over two sessions in January 1972 at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles, it captures Franklin at the absolute apex of her power. The colossal accompanying double LP, which didn't suffer the same fate as the footage, is already justly revered and remains the best-selling gospel record of all time. But to see it is to believe. This is gospel ecstasy. Franklin says virtually nothing throughout, appearing preternaturally calm in between songs. Is that simply out of respect for the setting? Was she somehow not at ease during the film's making, at least when the music wasn't playing? Or is it more like what John Updike said about Ted Williams not doffing his cap to fans after a home run? Just as gods do not answer letters, queens don't curtsy. (Coyle, The Associated Press— 4/19). 1 hour, 27 minutes. TC

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (PG-13)

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. BC / BM / CT / NAM / TC / TM

BREAKTHROUGH (PG)

In January 2015, 14-year-old John Smith fell through the frozen surface of a lake in St. Charles, Mo., and remained submerged for 15 minutes. He had no pulse when emergency workers pulled him from the freezing water, or for nearly 45 minutes after. It was reportedly only after audible prayers by his mother, Joyce, that his heart finally started up again. And over the next several days, as his community vigorously prayed for him, the young man made a full, seemingly impossible recovery. Roxann Dawson's faith-based film, "Breakthrough," tells the story of John's miraculous ordeal with an unassuming simplicity, focusing on the harrowing details of the case without an overreliance on proselytization. Though faith is ever-present — particularly through the devotion of Joyce (Chrissy Metz) and the town's struggling young pastor (Topher Grace), who remain with John (Marcel Ruiz) every step of the way — the film also wisely dedicates plenty of screen time to the emergency workers and doctors struggling to bring the boy back to life. Here, religion is not in contention with medicine, but seems to work in tandem with it. You don't have to believe in divine intervention to be moved by this story. (Ebiri, New York Times — 4/19). 1 hour, 56 minutes. BM / NAM

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. NAM

DUMBO (PG)

The original "Dumbo" was released in the summer of 1941 while Germany was spreading across Europe and war was breaking out in the Pacific. Crafted as a simpler Disney fable after the more extravagant "Fantasia" disappointed at the box office, "Dumbo" — only 64 minutes in length — took flight just as far more chilling creations were taking to the air. Almost eight decades later, "Dumbo" is alight again in Tim Burton's somber and sincere live-action remake of the animated classic. Burton has refashioned "Dumbo" as a sepia-toned show-business parable tailored to more animal rights-sensitive times. He steers "Dumbo," from a script by Ehren Kruger, toward a grand corporate satire as the big-city conglomerate tries to co-opt the genuine wonder of Dumbo and Medici's traveling band. Greed and exploitation close in on them as the big-tent gets bigger. But it is wondrous when Dumbo takes flight. Burton's camera feels genuinely mesmerized at his elephant's magic act. The filmmaker's recent films have been well outside his best work; it was his woeful "Alice in Wonderful" that kick-started much of the Disney live-action remakes. But when Dumbo soars, it's clear that Burton is a believer, still, in the ability of a beautiful oddity to transcend. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 3/29). 2 hours, 10 minutes. NAM

HAIL SATAN? (R)

When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. This documentary offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world. 1 hour 35 minutes. IC

ILL FATE

This documentary explores the role and image of women in Iranian cinema from the introduction of the moving images around 1900 through the Iranian Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic government in 1979. Fascinating research and insight illuminate dozens of clips from rare and classic titles. 1 hour 28 minutes. LC

LONG SHOT (R)

Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen make a sparkling comedic duo in the unconventional romantic comedy "Long Shot," about a sleek politician and a schlubby journalist that is more than its superficial premise. Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is a gifted and free-spirited journalist with an affinity for trouble. Charlotte Field (Theron) is one of the most influential women in the world. Smart, sophisticated, and accomplished, she's a powerhouse diplomat with a talent for — well, mostly everything. The two have nothing in common, except that she was his babysitter and childhood crush. When Fred unexpectedly reconnects with Charlotte, he charms her with his self-deprecating humor and his memories of her youthful idealism. As she prepares to make a run for the Presidency, Charlotte impulsively hires Fred as her speechwriter, much to the dismay of her trusted advisors. The film from director Jonathan Levine, which does its fair share of over-the-top gross-out humor and jarringly violent physical gags that in real life would have left Rogen's character hospitalized or dead, is, even in spite of those overdone R-rated tropes, full of surprising heart, wit and insight about relationships, compromise and (gasp) even politics. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 4/5). 2 hours, 5 minutes. BC / BM

MISSING LINK (PG)

The charismatic Sir Lionel Frost considers himself to be the world's foremost investigator of myths and monsters. Trouble is, none of his small-minded, high-society peers seems to recognize this. Hoping to finally gain acceptance from these fellow adventurers, Sir Lionel travels to the Pacific Northwest to prove the existence of a legendary creature known as the missing link. Zach Galafianakis, Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, Steohen Fry, Emma Thompson, Timothy Olyphant. 1 hour, 35 minutes. NAM

POKEMAN DETECTIVE PIKACHU (PG)

Fans everywhere can now experience Pikachu on the big screen as never before, as Detective Pikachu, a Pok mon like no other. The film also showcases a wide array of beloved Pok mon characters, each with its own unique abilities and personality. The story begins when ace private eye Harry Goodman goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry's former Pok mon partner, Detective Pikachu: a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery. Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pok mon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokemon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokemon universe. Ryan Reynolds, Justice Smith, Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Bill Nighy. 1 hour, 45 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / TM

POMS (PG-13)

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An uplifting comedy about a woman (played by Diane Keaton) who moves into a retirement community and starts a cheerleading squad with her fellow residents, including Pam Grier and Jacki Weaver. Alisha Boe, Phyllis Somerville, Charlie Tahan, Bruce McGill, Rhea Perlman and Celia Weston also star. 1 hour, 31 minutes. BM / NAM / TM

RED JOAN (R)

Joan Stanley is a widow living out a quiet retirement in the suburbs when, shockingly, the British Secret Service places her under arrest. The charge: providing classified scientific information - including details on the building of the atomic bomb - to the Soviet government for decades. As the interrogation gets underway, Joan relives the dramatic events that shaped her life and her beliefs. With Judi Dench, Sophie Cookson, Tom Hughes (Victoria), Ben Miles, Stephen Campbell Moore. 1 hour, 50 minutes. IC / TC

THE HUSTLE (PG-13)

Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson star as female scam artists, one low rent and the other high class, who team up to take down the dirty rotten men who have wronged them. 1 hour, 34 minutes. BM

THE INTRUDER (PG-13)

Scott and Annie Russell couldn't be happier after buying their dream home from a mysterious and lonely widower named Charlie in Napa Valley, Calif. Their newfound paradise soon turns into a living nightmare when Charlie — still strangely attached to the house — begins to show up and interfere in their daily lives. With Meagan Good, Dennis Quaid, Michael Ealy. 1 hour, 42 minutes. BM

TOLKIEN (PG-13)

This bio-drama about J.R.R. Tolkien explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school. This takes him into the outbreak of World War I, which threatens to tear the fellowship apart. All of these experiences would inspire Tolkien to write his famous Middle-Earth novels. With Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Colm Meaney, Anthony Boyle, Patrick Gibson, Tom Glynn-Carney. 1 hour, 52 minutes. BC / BM / TC / TM

UGLYDOLLS (PG)

In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weirdness is celebrated, strangeness is special and beauty is embraced as more than meets the eye. After traveling to the other side of a mountain, Moxy and her UglyDoll friends discover Perfection — a town where more conventional dolls receive training before entering the real world to find the love of a child. Soon, the UglyDolls learn what it means to be different — ultimately realizing that they don't have to be perfect to be amazing. 1 hour, 24 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 (86 Main St., North Adams)

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

TM: The Moviehouse (48 Main St., Millerton


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