Film clips / Nov. 23-29



A slavishly conventional rock biopic about Queen's Freddie Mercury that at every turn opts for the stereotypical despite a subject who devoted himself to the unconventional. It's a remarkably bland movie about a deliciously vibrant performer. Yet while "Bohemian Rhapsody" is so hollowly, even comically formulaic, it's filled, often fantastically, by Rami Malek's sinuous, fully inhabited performance as the Queen frontman. It's as if he didn't get the note about the half-hearted filmmaking going on around him, or if he did, he's hell-bent on ignoring it. Malek, the "Mr. Robot" actor, throws himself into every strutting second of screen time as Mercury. He lacks both Mercury's voice (it was overdubbed for singing and performance scenes) and Mercury's teeth (Malek was outfitted with fake ones). But Malek's performance, especially on stage, is so full-bodied that he transcends both his own differences with Mercury and the tepid surrounding melodrama. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 11/2). 2 hours, 14 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


"Boy Erased" tells the story of Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a Baptist pastor in a small American town, who is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe) at age 19. Jared is faced with an ultimatum: attend a conversion therapy program - or be permanently exiled and shunned by his family, friends, and faith. Boy Erased is the true story of one young man's struggle to find himself while being forced to question every aspect of his identity. With Joel Edgerton, Cherry Jones. 1 hour, 54 minutes. TC / TM


Melissa McCarthy stars in the adaptation of the memoir "Can You Ever Forgive Me?," the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer (and friend to cats) Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) who made her living in the 1970s and '80s profiling the likes of Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estee Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Lee is no longer able to get published because she has fallen out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception, abetted by her loyal friend Jack (Richard E. Grant). "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" has justly won praise as one of McCarthy's best and most dramatic performances. She plays a gloriously embittered, hard-drinking curmudgeon incapable of holding her tongue — a distinctly New York creature if ever there was one. And her fear of slipping away is painfully real. As the even-more-down-on-his-luck Hock, Grant is a paragon of debauched decadence, tragic and magnificent at once. His regal bearing crackles with a sly wickedness. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 11/10). 1 hour, 47 minutes. TC


The weight of legacy hangs heavily over "Creed II." Not just for most of the characters, who must come to grips with their own family histories. But also for the filmmakers, tasked with making a sequel to a successful spin-off of a beloved franchise. It would put any film on the ropes. Not this one. "Creed II " pulls off a rather amazing feat by adding to the luster of its predecessor and propelling the narrative into a bright future while also reaching back to honor its past, resurrecting unfinished business from "Rocky IV" and adding a dash of "Rocky III." Pound per pound, the sequel might even be better than its predecessor.The sequel pits Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) against man-mountain Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago, who killed Adonis Creed's father, Apollo Creed, in the ring in "Rocky IV." That stirs up trauma for Rocky, who feels responsible for the elder Creed's demise. Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) went on to avenge the death by beating the elder Drago but we also now learn what that disgrace meant for the Dragos. this spin-off franchise is clearly in very good hands — ones that are heavily wrapped, protected by a glove and aiming for your gut. Wuith Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, Max Kellerman, Dolf Lungren. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 11/21). 2 hours, 8 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


When the Whos decide to make Christmas bigger and brighter, the disgruntled Grinch realizes there is one way to gain peace and quiet. With help from Max, the green grump hatches a scheme to pose as Santa Claus, steal Christmas and silence the Whos' holiday cheer once and for all. Liberties are taken. Some are just padding, some quite mistaken. It's suggested that our old friend the Grinch is an orphan, as though that excuses inflicting misfortune. There's a new sidekick, a plump reindeer named Fred, and the remaking of Cindy's mom as unwed. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on the part, with an American accent — to give him less heart? Credit goes to the film's visual effects folk, who made fur alive and gave texture to smoke. But retreading this story with a Cumberbatch, should send Hollywood bigwigs into the booby hatch. Before you buy tickets and plan a nice dinner, ask who exactly in Whoville thought this was a winner? With the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Pharell Williams, Angela Lansbury. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 11/9). 1 hour, 45 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / TM


The second of five all new adventures in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings. Like the magical trunk lugged by "magizoologist" Newt Scalamander, this film is a mixed bag of wonders. Often dazzling, occasionally wondrous and always atmospheric, it is also a bit of a mess. Even magic bags can be overweight. With Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Carmen Ejogo, Jude Law. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 11/17). 2 hours, 14 minutes. BC / BM / CT / NAM / TC / TM

FARMER OF THE YEAR (not rated)

When Hap Anderson (Barry Corbin), a widowed 83-year-old Minnesota farmer who thinks he's still quite the ladies' man, sells his family farm, he finds himself adrift and staring a short future in the face. Driven by the possibility of showing up with an old flame and impressing his old army buddies, he sets out to attend his 65th WWII reunion in California with his directionless and unreasonably self-confident granddaughter, Ashley. Each with their own issues and agendas, they head west in a dilapidated Winnebago. Encountering oddball tourist attractions and eccentric characters, they find themselves in seemingly impossible situations with only each other for support. 1 hour, 43 minutes. LC


Peter Ferrelly directs Viggo Mortensen and Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali in this comic road-trip adventure based on a true friendship that transcended race, class and the 1962 Mason-Dixon line. Based on a true story. With Linda Cardellini. 2 hours, 10 minutes. TM


When Pete and Ellie decide to start a family, they stumble into the world of foster care adoption. They hope to take in one small child, but when they meet three siblings, including a rebellious 15-year-old girl, they find themselves speeding from zero to three kids overnight. Now, Pete and Ellie must try to learn the ropes of instant parenthood in the hope of becoming a family. With Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne. 2 hours. BM / NAM


Video game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz must risk it all by traveling to the World Wide Web in search of a replacement part to save Vanellope's video game, "Sugar Rush." In way over their heads, Ralph and Vanellope rely on the citizens of the internet -- the netizens -- to help navigate their way. With the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman. 1 hour, 54 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / TC

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Robin of Loxley (Taron Egerton) a war-hardened Crusader and his Moorish commander (Jamie Foxx) mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown. 1 hour, 56 minutes. BM


A young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Co. When she vaults to the role of lead dancer, the woman she replaces breaks down and accuses the company's female directors of witchcraft. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist and a member of the troupe uncover dark and sinister secrets as they probe the depths of the studio's hidden underground chambers. 2 hours, 32 minutes. IC


Lisbeth Salander's third big-screen incarnation in nine years has morphed the avenging Stockholm hacker into a blander action hero, complete with a Batman-and-Robin-like band of white across her eyes. Following the spikier Swedish trilogy, with Noomi Rapace, and David Fincher's menacing and murky "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," with Rooney Mara, we can almost palpably feel Lisbeth (Claire Foy this time) being lured out of the shadows and toward a more mainstream movie realm. In this latest chapter, Lisbeth strives, like a Scandinavian 007, to keep a world-threatening atomic weapons program dubbed "Firefall" out of the wrong hands. (Are there any right ones?)

"The Girl in the Spider's Web," directed by Uruguayan-born Fede Alvarez ("Don't Breathe," 2013's "Evil Dead" reboot), smooths away some of the rough edges of a saga predicated on them, resulting in a competent but indistinguishable thriller. Lisbeth, a volatile cyberpunk vigilante propelled by her own demons of abuse, remains a great character in search of a decent plot. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 11/8). 1 hour, 45 minutes. NAM


Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann's original 1816 tale, "The Nutcracker and the Mouse King," screenwriter Ashleigh Powell has spun a tale of a spunky and brainy 14-year-old Clara. One morose Christmas, she gets a present from her late mother that sends her on a quest to the Land of Snowflakes, the Land of Flowers, the Land of Sweets and the Land of Hokum — sorry, that last one is the ominous Fourth Realm, which is overrun by rodents and fog and demented Cirque du Soleil performers. Clara must unite all these divisive parallel worlds in time to return to her sad family and celebrate, well, being together. It's safe to say the whole film would fall apart if not for a brilliant performance from Mackenzie Foy ("The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn") as Clara. Foy is absolutely luminous, both a tomboy and a princess. The rest of the cast is uneven, to put it politely. Visually marvelous, inconsistently acted and rather incoherent in that fantasy genre way. There's not even that much dancing. Little kids might end up too scared and adults may need several shots of insulin. (Kennedy, The Associated Press — 11/1). 1 hour, 39 minutes. BM


A police shootout leaves four thieves dead during an explosive armed robbery attempt in Chicago. Their widows -- Veronica, Linda, Alice and Belle -- have nothing in common except a debt left behind by their spouses' criminal activities. Hoping to forge a future on their own terms, Veronica joins forces with the other three women to pull off a heist that her husband was planning. Director Steve McQuen builds tension masterfully throughout. The ensemble is a blast but it is Viola Davis and her unforgettable searing intensity who owns "Widows" from start to finish. With Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Cynthia Erivo, Elizabeth Debicki, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Brian Tyree Henry, Kaluuya. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 11/17). 2 hours, 9 minutes. BM / IC / 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 (80 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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