Film clips / Nov. 9-15



Simply terrific — a big-scale cinematic delight that will have the masses singing, swooning and sobbing along with it. It's quite a feat from Bradley Cooper, who directed, co-wrote, produced and stars in the film. Cooper plays Jackson Maine, a massively popular singer-songwriter whose path intersects with an unknown and overlooked talent named Ally (a magnificent Lady Gaga) and the two become entangled as his star fades and hers rises. The first hour of "A Star Is Born" is downright electrifying — funny, exciting, sexy and wholly lived-in. But like all good things, the engine of that first hour gets the film only so far, and the second half has its shortcomings. But the actors and the filmmaking hold up "A Star Is Born" where the story cannot. Gaga is a gifted actress, natural, vulnerable and strong as she goes toe-to-toe with Cooper in what might be his best performance — the man truly disappears into Jackson Maine. And as a director, well, he is the real deal and, with this sort of introduction, definitely far from the shallow now. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 10/4). 2 hours, 15 minutes. BC / BM / CT / NAM / TM


A teenager named Nic (Timothee Chalamet), who has been dabbling in alcohol, weed, cocaine, heroin and crystal meth, has become an addict. He disappears for nights on end from his father's (Steve Carell) idyllic home in the woods outside of San Francisco which he shares with a stepmother, Karen (Maura Tierney), and his two very young step-siblings. He steals his little sister's savings ($8). He lies. He hurts everyone around him. He goes to rehab. He seems to be turning over a new leaf. And then he starts the cycle all over again. This is an honest portrait of how addiction affects families and how it's not something that can be wrapped up and packaged into a neat and tidy narrative. It's ugly and messy, with moments of grace and hope, but mostly despair. Based on a pair of memoirs, this may be depicting a family's story in the recent past, but there is hardly a more timely subject matter to explore. (Bahr, The Associated Press — 11/2). 1 hour, 52 minutes. IC / TC / TM


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 / 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). 1 hour, 47 minutes. TM


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. With the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Pharell Williams, Angela Lansbury. 1 hour, 45 minutes. Review, D2. BC / BM / NAM

FIRST MAN (PG-13)     

The story of NASA's mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. Based on the book by James R. Hansen. An intimate character study that becomes big just when it needs to. Sometimes a movie feels biggest when it goes small. And this one feels big. Director Damien Chazelle is only 33. One can only imagine how far he'll travel. With Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy. (Noveck, The Associated Press — 10/12). 2 hours, 20 minutes. IC


Alex Honnold completes the first free solo climb of famed El Capitan's 3,000-foot vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park. 1 hour, 37 minutes. TC


It's been 40 years since Laurie Strode survived a vicious attack from crazed killer Michael Myers on Halloween night. Locked up in an institution, Myers manages to escape when his bus transfer goes horribly wrong. Laurie now faces a terrifying showdown when the masked madman returns to Haddonfield, Ill. -- but this time, she's ready for him.The rituals are observed but what makes this "Halloween" such a thrill is how it deviates from its long ago predecessor.This "Halloween" lives up to its name. With Jamie Lee Curtis. (Coyle, The Associated Press — 10/22). 1 hour, 46 minutes. BM / NAM


Wild child Tanya looks to her buttoned-up, by-the-book sister Danica to help her get back on her feet. As these polar opposites collide, Tanya soon discovers that Danica's picture-perfect life and boyfriend may not be what they seem. With Tiffany Haddish, Amber Riley, Tika Sumpter. 1 hour, 50 minutes. BM


On the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers drop behind enemy lines to penetrate the walls of a fortified church and destroy a radio transmitter. As the soldiers approach their target, they soon begin to realize that there's more going on in the Nazi-occupied village than a simple military operation. Making their way to an underground lab, the outnumbered men stumble upon a sinister experiment that forces them into a vicious battle against an army of the undead. 1 hour, 48 minutes. BM / NAM



A friendly Yeti's world gets turned upside down when he discovers something that he didn't know existed -- a human. He soon faces banishment from his snowy home when the rest of the villagers refuse to believe his fantastic tale. Hoping to prove them wrong, the Yeti, Migo, embarks on an epic journey to find the mysterious creature that can put him back in good graces with his simple community. 1 hour, 36 minutes. BM / NAM

TEA WITH THE DAMES (not rated)

Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins, and Dame Joan Plowright are among the most celebrated actresses of our time, with scores of iconic performances, decades of wisdom, and innumerable Oscars, Tonys, Emmys, and BAFTAs between them. They are also longtime friends who hereby invite you to join them for a weekend in the country as they catch up with one another, reminisce, and share their candid, delightfully irreverent thoughts on everything from art to aging to love to a life lived in the spotlight. 1 hour, 36 minutes. LC


Fired from the National Security Agency, Frans Balder recruits hacker Lisbeth Salander to steal FireWall, a computer program that can access codes for nuclear weapons worldwide. The download soon draws attention from an NSA agent who traces the activity to Stockholm. Further problems arise when Russian thugs take Lisbeth's laptop and kidnap a math whiz who can make FireWall work. Now, Lisbeth and an unlikely ally must race against time to save the boy and recover the codes to avert disaster. With Claire Foy. 1 hour, 45 minutes. BM / NAM


Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds -- the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the wealthy, mostly white prep school that she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is soon shattered when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend at the hands of a police officer. Facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and decide to stand up for what's right. With Amandla Stenberg. 2 hours, 12 minutes. BM


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. BC / BM / NAM


Based on the true story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), from his audacious escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded authorities and enchanted the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who becomes captivated with Forrest's commitment to his craft, and a woman (played by a sweetly moving Sissy Spacek), who loves him in spite of his chosen profession. Were it not for Redford the film would be — well, why even ask, because Redford is the point. He chose the role, optioned the New Yorker article upon which the film is based, chose the director. It's a perfect role for his swan song. (Noveck, The Associated Press — 10/13). 1 hour, 33 minutes. TC


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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