Virtual clips / July 24-30

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Here's what's streaming on virtual screening programs offered by non-profit, year-round, independent cinemas in the Berkshires and environs. Where films have been reviewed, the capsules include the name of film critic and the day the full review was posted on berkshireeagle.com. All reviews are by Associated Press critics.

AI WEIWEI: YOURS TRULY

This revolutionary feature documentary expands on the unprecedented exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz, organized in 2014 by the film's director Cheryl Haines. Following Ai Weiwei's detention by Chinese authorities and while still under house arrest in Beijing, the outspoken artist and activist remotely transformed Alcatraz, a former island penitentiary and current national park, into a remarkable expression of socially engaged art. The multipart work culminated in an expansive display of larger than life-size Lego portraits of prisoners of conscience from around the world, seen by over 900,000 visitors. Throughout the film, we discover how personal these issues are for Ai Weiwei and the extent to which he wove his family's experiences into the exhibition. The final artwork at Alcatraz, Yours Truly, consisted of postcards beautifully illustrated with the national birds and flowers of the prisoners' countries. Visitors were invited to write messages of hope to the imprisoned activists featured in the Lego portraits. By the time the exhibition ended, over 90,000 postcards had been sent. Then something even more astonishing happened: prisoners and their families began writing back. 1 hour, 18 minutes. VC

ALICE

Alice is a perfect wife and mother who lives happily with her husband and child until the day she discovers her husband is living a double life that has ruined her financially and left her a single mother. Alice fights back and dives into a world beyond anything she has ever known. With Emilie Piponnier, Martin Swabey, Chlo Boreham. In French, with English subtitles. 1 hour, 45 minutes. TC

A REGULAR WOMAN

Based on the tragic "honor killing" of Hatun Aynur Surucu in Berlin in 2005, this film portrays the short life of a free spirited young woman living with an ultra-conservative Turkish Muslim family in Berlin. Aynur escapes the abusive family and struggles to attain independence, only to be shot to death by her youngest brother shortly before she is set to move away. With Almila Bagriacik, Aram Arami. In Geman, with English subtitles. 1 hour, 37 minutes. TC

BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POICKETS

Patrons and staff enjoy their last night in a Las Vegas bar that's shutting down. With Shay Walker, Michael Martin, Peter Elwell. 1 hour, 38 minutes. IO

BOTERO

Filmmaker Don Millar examines the life and works of Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero. 1 hour, 24 minutes. TC

CRESCENDO

A world-famous conductor (played by "Toni Erdmann`s" Peter Simonischek) accepts a job to create an Israeli-Palestinian youth orchestra to perform at a peace conference. The two factions continue to spar both on- and offstage, while the conductor presses the young people to put aside their hatred at least for the three weeks leading up to the climactic concert. In English, and German. 1 hour, 52 minutes. TC

DEERSKIN

A man's obsession with owning the designer deerskin jacket of his dreams leads him to turn his back on his humdrum life in the suburbs, blow his life savings, and even turn him to crime. TC

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DIANA KENNEDY - NOTHING FANCY

Filmmaker Elizabeth Carroll examines the vibrant and unconventional life of Diana Kennedy, widely regarded as the world's leading expert on Mexican cuisine. 1 hour, 21 minutes. TC

ELLA FITZGERALD: JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS

Tracing the story of Ella Fitzgerald's life, this documentary explores how her music became a soundtrack for a tumultuous century. From a 1934 talent contest at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem, the film follows Ella's extraordinary journey across 5 decades as she reflects the passions and troubles of the times in her music and her life. 1 hour, 30 minutes. VC

FLANNERY

Winner of the first-ever Library of Congress / Lavine / Ken Burns Prize for Film, this is an intimate exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O'Connor, whose distinctive Southern Gothic style influenced a generation of artists and activists. With her family home at Andalusia (the Georgia farm where she grew up and later wrote her best known work) as a backdrop, a picture of the woman behind her sharply aware, starkly redemptive style comes into focus. Including conversations with those who knew her and those inspired by her (Mary Karr, Tommy Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, Hilton Als and more), "Flannery" employs never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered personal letters and her own published words (read by Mary Steenburgen) alongside original animations and music to examine the life and legacy of an American literary icon. 1 hour, 37 minutes. VC

GUEST OF HONOUR

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Jim (David Thewlis) and his daughter Veronica (Laysla De Oliveira), a high school music teacher, attempt to unravel their complicated histories and intertwined secrets in the latest film from Academy Award nominee Atom Egoyan ("The Sweet Hereafter"), which weaves through time exploring perception and penance, memory and forgiveness. With Rossif Sutherland, Luke Wilson, Arsinee Khanjian. 2 hours. VC

HELMUT NEWTON: THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

One of the great masters of photography, Helmut Newton made a name for himself exploring the female form, and his cult status continues long after his tragic death in a Los Angeles car crash in 2004. Newton worked around the globe, from Singapore to Australia to Paris to Los Angeles, but Weimar Germany was the visual hallmark of his work. Newton's unique and striking way of depicting women has always posed the question: did he empower his subjects or treat them as sexual objects? Through candid interviews with Grace Jones, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini, Anna Wintour, Claudia Schiffer, Marianne Faithfull, Hanna Schygulla, Nadja Auermann, and Newton's wife June (a.k.a. photographer Alice Springs), this documentary captures his legacy and seeks to answer questions about the themes at the core of his life's work - creating provocative and subversive images of women. The film also features Newton's own home movies, archival footage (including a pointed exchange with Susan Sontag) and, of course, scores of iconic Newton photographs. The result: a wildly entertaining portrait of a controversial genius. In English, French, German. 1 hour, 29 minutes. VC

JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE (PG)

Using interviews and rare archival footage, this documentary chronicles Lewis' 60-plus years of social activism and legislative action on civil rights, voting rights, gun control, health-care reform and immigration. Using present-day interviews with Lewis, now 79 years old, filmmaker Dawn Porter explores his childhood experiences, his inspiring family and his fateful meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1957. In addition to her interviews with Lewis and his family, Porter's film also includes interviews with political leaders, Congressional colleagues, and other people who figure prominently in his life. 1 hour, 36 minutes. IO / VC / VSR

LUCKY GRANDMA

In the heart of New York's Chinatown, an ornery, chain-smoking, newly widowed 80-year-old Grandma (Tsai Chin) is eager to live life as an independent woman, despite the worry of her family. When a local fortune teller (Wai Ching Ho) predicts a most auspicious day in her future, Grandma decides to head to the casino and goes all in, only to land herself on the wrong side of luck... suddenly attracting the attention of some local gangsters. Desperate to protect herself, Grandma employs the services of a bodyguard from a rival gang (Corey Ha) and soon finds herself right in the middle of a Chinatown gang war. 1 hour, 27 minutes. IO / TC

SOMETIMES, ALWAYS, NEVER (PG-13)

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Alan is a stylish tailor with moves as sharp as his suits. He has spent years searching tirelessly for his missing son Michael who stormed out over a game of Scrabble. With a body to identify and his family torn apart, Alan must repair the relationship with his youngest son Peter and solve the mystery of an online player who he thinks could be Michael, so he can finally move on and reunite his family. With Bill Nighy, Louis Healy, Sam Riley, Alice Lowe, Jenny Agutter. 1 hour, 31 minutes. TC

THE AUDITION

Anna Bronsky is a violin teacher at the Conservatoire. Against the advice of her colleagues, she insists the admission of a pupil in whom she sees a great talent. Heavily involved in preparing Alexander for the end-of-year exam, she begins to neglect her young son Jonas, who is also a violinist and ice hockey fan and separates further and further from both her son him and her husband. At the approach of audition, Anna begins to push Alexander more and more until on the day of an important audition, an accident occurs with a heavy consequence. With Nina Hoss, Simon Abkarian, Jens Albinus. 1 hour, 30 minutes. VC

THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF

Desperate for answers about the theft of her two paintings, a Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova, seeks out and befriends the career criminal, Karl-Bertil Nordland, who stole them. After inviting her thief to sit for a portrait, the two form an improbable relationship and an inextricable bond. Little about how things unfold is predictable. Through twists and turns, "The Painter and the Thief" depicts not just the two-way transactional relationship between artist and subject, but the shared pain and mutual rehabilitation that can inspire and surround art making. (Coyle — 5/22). In Norwegian, with English subtitles 1 hour, 56 minutes. TC

THE TOBACCONIST

Seventeen-year-old Franz journeys to Vienna to apprentice at a tobacco shop. There he meets Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz), a regular customer, and over time the two very different men form a singular friendship. When Franz falls desperately in love with the music-hall dancer Anezka, he seeks advice from the renowned psychoanalyst, who admits that the female sex is as big a mystery to him as it is to Franz. As political and social conditions in Austria dramatically worsen with the Nazis' arrival in Vienna, Franz, Freud, and Anezka are swept into the maelstrom of events. Each has a big decision to make: to stay or to flee? With Simon Morze, Bruno Ganz, Emma Drogunova, Johannes Krisch. 1 hour, 57 minutes. TC / VC

WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS

The Magistrate of an isolated frontier settlement on the border of an unnamed empire looks forward to an easy retirement until the arrival of Colonel Joll, whose task it is to report on the activities of the `barbarians' and on the security situation on the border. Joll conducts a series of ruthless interrogations, which leads the Magistrate to question his loyalty to the empire. With Johnny Depp, Mark Rylance, Robert Pattinson, Greta Scaatchi, Gana Bayarsaikhan. 1 hour, 54 minutes. VC

Legend

The sites through which the movies listed in Virtual Clips can be accessed are:

IO: Images Online (Images Cinema, Williamstown — imagescinema.org)

TC: Triplex Cinema (Great Barringtonthetriplex.com)

VC: Virtual Cinema (The Moviehouse, Millerton, N.Y. — themoviehouse.net)

VSR: Virtual Screening Room (Crandell Theatre, Chatham. N.Y. — crandelltheatre.org)


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