Film clips / Oct. 5-11



A sexy, sophisticated, cynical mother (Blake Lively) who downs her vodka martinis in one gulp asks a newfound friend, also a grade-school kid mother (Anna Kendrick), to pick up her kid from school — the titular favor — and never returns to pick her up. As things spin out of control, "A Simple Favor" teeters between camp and seriousness while the melodrama — incest, adultery, murder, twins! — gets nutty. For the big tonal swings to work, the characters need to be more plausibly grounded. Lively and Kendrick's early scenes ping-pong nicely with odd-couple chemistry, but "A Simple Favor" loses the thread, and never shakes the feeling of a rushed Gillian Flynn knockoff. With Henry Golding. 1 hour, 56 minutes. BM / NAM


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 only gets the film 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 / NAM / TC / TM


A reimagining of the life and times of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw Music movement. With Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat. 2 hours, 8 minutes. IC


Native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend's wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick's family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. With Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Constance Wu, Ken Jeong, Harry Shum Jr, Chris Pang, Sonoya Mizuno, Jing Lusi, Awkwafina. 2 hours, 11 minutes. NAM


"Fahrenheit 11/9" — its title a sly reference to both the day after the election and filmmaker Michael Moore's hugely successful "Fahrenheit 9/11" — is about a lot more than Donald J. Trump. In fact, little time is devoted to Trump's performance or policies; presumably, filmmaker Michael Moore knows he's preaching to the choir. What he seeks to examine are the root conditions — social, cultural, political — that got us here. Or, to use Moore's own words, minus one we can't print: "How the f--- did this happen?" He spends two full hours trying to answer that question. Is it effective? That depends on whether you accept the implicit argument that you can't truly illustrate our messy, chaotic, disjointed times without, well, a messy, chaotic, disjointed movie. He sort of has a point. And whether Moore's frenetic but absorbing work here — the cinematic equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting, where you throw everything and some of it sticks — pleases or frustrates you, one thing is clear. Moore's at his best when hitting a subject dear to his heart. That's why "Fahrenheit 11/9" is best when Moore turns his camera on his hometown of Flint, Mich., and its devastating water crisis. (Noveck, The Associated Press — 9/26). 2 hours, 5 minutes. TC


On Halloween night, a masked serial killer turns a horror theme park into his own personal playground. BM


Now the top-selling female artist in the world, Yayoi Kusama overcame countless odds to bring her radical artistic vision to the world stage. For decades, her work pushed boundaries that often alienated her from her peers and those in power in the art world. Kusama was an underdog with everything stacked against her — the trauma of growing up in Japan during World War II, life in a dysfunctional family that discouraged her creative ambitions, sexism and racism in the art establishment, mental illness in a culture where that was a particular shame, and eventually growing old and continuing to pursue and be devoted to her art full time; creating artwork that spans the disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation art, performance art, poetry, and novels. 1 hour, 20 minutes. LC


This new psychological thriller takes a different look at the infamous story of Lizzie Borden and reveals many layers of the strange and fragile woman, who stood accused of the infamous 1892 axe murder of her family in Fall River, Mass. With Chloe Sevigny, Kristen Stewart, Jamey Sheridan, Fiona Shaw, Kim Dickens, Denis O'Hare. 1 hour, 45 minutes. TM


Working with the Gilda Radner estate, filmmaker Lisa D'Apolito unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and videotapes documenting her childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggles with cancer. This never-before-seen-or-heard footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary, allowing Gilda to tell her own story. 2 hours, 39 minutes. TM


A successful salesman's life takes an unexpected turn when he accidentally blows up his place of employment. Forced to attend night school to get his GED, he soon finds himself dealing with a group of misfit students, his former high school nemesis and a feisty teacher who doesn't think he's too bright. "Night School" is at its best in its classroom setting thanks to a freewheeling ensemble. Yet the teacher-student teaming up of Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart goes down as a missed opportunity. Though she makes Carrie easily the film's most human character, Haddish isn't given enough room to let loose; "Night School" is really Hart's film. And, like countless studio comedies of the past few years, "Night School" is a straightforward concept that relies too much on the charisma of its performers to carry a weak script. It didn't do its homework. 1 hour, 51 minutes. BM


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. BC / BM / NAM

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What happens when four legends of British stage and screen get together? 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. TM


Ten-year-old Lewis goes to live with his oddball uncle in a creaky old house that contains a mysterious ticktock noise. He soon learns that Uncle Jonathan and his feisty neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, are powerful practitioners of the magic arts. When Lewis accidentally awakens the dead, the town's sleepy facade suddenly springs to life -- revealing a secret and dangerous world of witches, warlocks and deadly curses. Adapted from the 1973 Jiohn Bellairs young adult thriller, the film somehow manages its own witchcraft in finding the perfect un-sweet spot — it's too scary for little kids, not scary enough for older ones, not funny or clever enough for their parents, and too redundant for everyone else. Poof! Watch the audience disappear. With Jack Black, Owen Vaccaro, Cate Blanchett. (Kennedy, The Associated Press). 1 hour, 39 minutes. BC / BM / NAM


When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order's unholy secret as they confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. Entering the gothic world of this thriller, built so sturdily on horror movie cliches, is to slide into a darkly fantastical realm that's practically cozy it's so familiar. With Taissa Farmiga. 1 hour, 36 minutes. BM / NAM


The universe's most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and an evolutionary biologist can prevent the end of the human race. 1 hour, 48 minutes. BM


Joan and Joe remain complements after nearly 40 years of marriage. Where Joe is casual, Joan is elegant. Where Joe is vain, Joan is self-effacing. And where Joe enjoys his very public role as the great American novelist, Joan pours her considerable intellect, grace, charm and diplomacy into the private role of a great man's wife. As Joe is about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his acclaimed and prolific body of work, Joan starts to think about the shared compromises, secrets and betrayals. With Glenn Close, Jonathan Pryce. 1 hour, 35 minutes. CT / TC / TM


Journalist Eddie Brock is trying to take down Carlton Drake, the notorious and brilliant founder of the Life Foundation. While investigating one of Drake's experiments, Eddie's body merges with the alien Venom -- leaving him with superhuman strength and power. Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating. With Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed. 2 hours, 20 minutes. BC / BM / NAM / 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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