REVIEWS

“Bad Times at the El Royale” (mystery thriller, R, 141 minutes, reviewed by Tim Miller, Cape Cod Times). Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth star in Drew Goddard’s thriller about seven strangers and a stash of cash at a strange hotel on the California-Nevada border. Riveting, thoroughly entertaining, and even profound in its way. ***½

“Colette” (biographical drama, R, 111 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Keira Knightley plays the French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, whose husband Willy (Dominic West) took credit for her novels early in her career. Although the story takes place around the turn of the century well over 100 years ago, the idea of a woman stepping out of a man’s shadow to take her rightful place in the world still seems a timely reflection of gender relations. Humans are slow learners. ***

"Crazy Rich Asians" (romantic comedy, PG-13, 120 minutes, reviewed by Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times). When the scion of a rich Singapore family (Henry Golding) brings his American love (Constance Wu) to his homeland, his mother (Michelle Yeoh) is not impressed. Bursting with energy and romance and sight gags and soapy melodrama, "Crazy Rich Asians" is pure escapist fun that gives us characters to root for. ***½

“Fahrenheit 11/9”: (documentary, R, 125 minutes, reviewed by Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service). This latest work by Michael Moore, focusing on President Trump and the way the mainstream media, Democrats and the GOP function (or don’t function) around him, is an emotional and intellectual roller coaster. Moore swings for the fences, as usual, but done in Moore’s traditionalist maximalist style, the result is overblown and overstuffed with editorial indulgences. ** ½

“First Man” (historical drama, PG-13, 141 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Director Damien Chazelle (“La La Land”) takes on astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) and NASA’s mission to the moon in an ambitious film that combines the intimately personal (Armstrong’s loss of a child) with the spectacular (the moon landing). Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s wife. ***

“Free Solo”: (documentary, PG-13, 97 minutes, reviewed by Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times). Both intimate and expansive, this documentary about climber Alex Honnold is beautifully calculated to literally take your breath away. In this surprisingly personal film, Honnold shocks the “free-soloing” world by climbing Yosemite’s imposing 3,200-foot El Capitan, with no ropes, no harnesses, just bare hands and dazzling determination and skill. (No star rating available.)

“Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween”: (horror comedy, PG, 90 minutes, reviewed by Walsh). This sequel is a serious disappointment following the unexpected hit of the first “Goosebumps” film. With new kids and very little screen time for Jack Black (star of the original), the story of a ventriloquist dummy brought to life that then animates a variety of creatures is a kid-friendly monster mash, but no graveyard smash. **

“Halloween” (horror thriller, R, 106 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Not a remake but a follow-up to the original, trend-setting 1978 John Carpenter movie. This one brings back Jamie Lee Curtis, channeling Frances McDormand from “Three Billboards” as she plays the now tough, grumpy survivor of masked killer Michael Myers’ original rampage. It tries to mix humor with horror and is only occasionally successful at either. **

“The Hate U Give” (drama, PG-13, 133 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Amandla Stenberg triumphs as Starr, a black teen who’s torn between personas: one for her crime-plagued ‘hood, the other for her private high school where she’s surrounded by privileged white kids. Overlong and at times preachy, this drama addresses the #BlackLivesMatter movement with intelligence and heart. It’s a must. ****

“The House with a Clock in Its Walls”: (fantasy, PG, 104 minutes, reviewed by Walsh). This adaptation of John Bellairs’ 1973 young-adult fantasy novel about a boy who moves in with his magical uncle tries to take the young-warlock turf vacated by Harry Potter, but the film just can’t quite keep time as a proper fantasy adventure. Despite a fantastic cast, wonderfully detailed production and costume design, and an oddball family story of black sheep finding each

“Night School”: (comedy, PG-13, 111 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Kevin Hart plays a salesman forced by circumstances to attend night school to get his GED and Tiffany Haddish is his teacher in this lowbrow, but funny comedy. Rob Riggle shines as a wild-eyed knucklehead also taking the class. ***

“The Old Man & the Gun”: (crime comedy, PG-13, 93 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Robert Redford plays an elderly bank robber and Casey Affleck plays the cop who’s after him in this lighthearted, entertaining vehicle for its 82-year-old star. Also starring Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover and Tom Waits, who steals every scene he’s in. ***

“A Simple Favor”: (comedy thriller, R, 117 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively make an entertaining team as vastly different moms who befriend each other, only to have one disappear, in this witty, darkly comic mystery from director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”). ***½

"The Sisters Brothers": (western action, R, 121 minutes, reviewed by Roeper ). For most of this Old West fable, the offbeat adventures of psycho Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix), his brother and fellow hit man Eli (John C. Reilly) and their detective associate Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) carry the day. But then the wheels fall off with an epilogue that rings false and manipulative. **1/2

“Smallfoot”: (animated, PG, 96 minutes, reviewed by Walsh). The story hinges on a clever reversal of perspective, centering on a tribe of Yetis in the Himalayas who fear the dreaded unknown creature – humans – known to them as Smallfoot. When one Yeti has a chance encounter with a human pilot who crash lands on the mountain, no one believes him and he sets out to find evidence of smallfoots. While the movie is formulaic and predictable, the animated designs are gorgeous and themes challenging. ** 1/2

“A Star Is Born”: (musical romantic drama, R, 135 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Or, a movie star is born, as Lady Gaga triumphs in her first major film role. Bradley Cooper, making an assured directorial debut, plays a hard-drinking, pill-popping veteran rocker who falls for an unknown singer-songwriter (Gaga) and nudges her into the spotlight. Familiar story (this is the fourth version), but the music (performed by both stars) and performances make this one stand on its own. ***½

“Tea With the Dames”: (documentary, 84 minutes, reviewed by Turan). British acting royalty and longtime friends Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith swap gossip and stories in this brisk and entertaining film that also includes clips of early performances. Lives well-lived can’t be compressed into a brief documentary, but “Tea With the Dames” is hard to resist nevertheless. (No star rating available.)

“Venom” (sci-fi action, PG-13, 112 minutes, reviewed by Miller). Tom Hardy plays a controversial journalist whose body is taken over by an alien in this funny, irreverent superhero (or, anti-superhero) flick. ***

ALSO SHOWING

Cape Cinema: 35 Hope Lane, Dennis: "Old Man & the Gun," Friday through Thursday.

Chatham Orpheum Theater: 637 Main St.: "First Man," "Tea with the Dames," Friday through Thursday.

Martha's Vineyard Film Center: 79 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven: "Tea with the Dames," 4 p.m. Friday and Thursday, 5:15 p.m. Saturday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday; "Colette," 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Thursday, 4 p.m. Sunday and Wednesday; MET Opera Live: "Samson Et Dalila," 12:55 p.m. Saturday; "Funny Girl," special event, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. 

Water's Edge Cinema: 237 Commercial St., Provincetown: "A Star is Born," 4 and 7 p.m. daily, 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; "The Hate U give," 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. daily, 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday;  

Orleans Surf Film Festival: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Hog Island Beer Co., 28 West. Road, Orleans. Includes pop-up museum of Cape surf memorabilia with extensive display of boards and raffle raffle items to benefit scholarships for local high school seniors. $5-$25. orleanssurffilmfest.com/.

"RBG": 7 p.m. Friday, Wellfleet Library, 55 W. Main St. FREE!

“The Devil We Know: The Chemistry of Coverup”: 4 p.m. Saturday, Zion Union Heritage Museum, 276 North St., Hyannis. Sponsor: GreenCape. Includes discussion. 508-494-0276. FREE!

Best of the Woods Hole Film Festival: "Keepers of the Light": 7 p.m. Sunday, Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Falmouth Road. Post-screening Q&A with filmmakers. $14. 508-428-0669.

"In My Country": 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Cape Cod Community College, Lecture Hall A, 2240 Iyannough Road, West Barnstable. English with closed captions. Part of Foreign Film Series. Information/film schedule: 508-362-2132, ext. 4453. FREE!

"White Wolves: Living with an Arctic Legend": 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Eastham Library, 190 Samoset Road. FREE!

“The Disappearance of the PX-15”: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, 869 Main St., Brewster. Curiosity Stream’s documentary film. Free with admission. 508-896-3867, ext. 133.