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Movie stars: capsule reviews

Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins in ‘‘John Carter.’’

WALT DISNEY PICTURES

Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins in ‘‘John Carter.’’

New releases

★★Being Flynn Filmmaker Paul Weitz relocates Nick Flynn’s 2004 memoir from Boston to New York, but that isn’t the reason the film feels directionless. Paul Dano is wanly reactive as Nick, a struggling writer working at a homeless shelter and confronting his father there. As the latter, Robert De Niro gives a real performance in a movie that isn’t equipped to deal with it. (102 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★★A Drummer’s Dream Apparently, playing percussion requires great smiles as well as great muscles and coordination. John Walker’s 2010 documentary about an Ontario summer camp for young drummers is as joyful as it is percussive. Among those wielding sticks and brushes are Nasyr Abdul Al-Khabyr, Mike Mangini, Horacio “El Negro’’ Hernandez, Dennis Chambers, and Kenwood Dennard. Wielding just hands are conga players Giovanni Hidalgo and Raul Rekow. (85 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

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★★★The Forgiveness of Blood Joshua Marston is the rare American filmmaker who’s interested in what happens elsewhere on the planet. His second film is about a modern Albanian teenage boy (the watchful Tristan Halilaj) coming to terms with the medieval laws governing his family’s blood feud. It’s a coolly furious movie. In Albanian, with subtitles. (109 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

★★Friends With Kids Jennifer Westfeldt wrote, directed, and stars in this comedy about two New Yorkers who have a baby together but claim not to want to date or marry. You already know the outcome. But it doesn’t matter. Jon Hamm (Westfeldt’s real-life partner) burns the whole movie down, playing a bitterly drunk dad and father. With Adam Scott, and not enough Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig. (113 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

★★★John Carter Edgar Rice Burroughs’s 1912 epic pulp novel “A Princess of Mars’’ comes to the screen after influencing a century of rocket rodeos. Against the odds, it rises to the level of its best imitations; your 10-year-old will go gaga. Taylor Kitsch plays the Earthling hero; Andrew Stanton (“WALL-E’’) directs from a script by, among others, writer Michael Chabon. (132 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

★★Salmon Fishing in the Yemen For anyone who wishes the movies could be more like 1985 or 1958, there’s Lasse Hallström, the director of “Chocolat.’’ Here he gives us dour Ewan McGregor and punchy Emily Blunt supervising the transfer of fish to Yemen for the amusement of a sheik. Rather wanly, the movie is about the big vat of “I think you’re swell’’ they fall into. It couldn’t be more harmless or more dull. (107 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

★★Silent House A horror movie in which Elizabeth Olsen does a lot of hiding under tables and shivering in corners. Something is chasing her from room to room - teasingly, so it stretches to an hour and a half. What/who is after her is more traumatic than it appears, but in a deadeningly cerebral way. This is the first horror movie to feel like an assignment for a women’s studies class. (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

We Need to Talk About Kevin This conceptually obnoxious art film stars Tilda Swinton (of course) as a suburban mom whose son (Ezra Miller) has gone on a killing spree. What might have been a daring black comedy about parental resentment is drowned out by director Lynne Ramsay’s hipster pretensions and general contempt for humanity. (112 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

★★★Act of Valor In this peculiarly entertaining exercise in barebones, Hollywood-style action heroism, the anonymous active-duty Navy SEALs who’ve been cast as themselves have one facial expression and one tone of voice. But if you compare “Act of Valor’’ to the convoluted “Safe House,’’ this movie is a roller coaster; that one’s a parked car. Directed by Mike “Mouse’’ McCoy and Scott Waugh. (106 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

★★Gone Amanda Seyfried is a former abduction victim who’s convinced that her sister has just been snatched by the same predator. Seyfried has a knack for underplaying unstable characters in a way that lets their nuttiness creep right up on you. Still, this is a generic thriller with a climactic confrontation that feels like an afterthought. (95 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

★ ½Good Deeds When Tyler Perry acts in one of his movies, when he’s not Madea or her brother Joe or anybody else with a gassy stomach or gassy mouth, he’s a different person. Actually, he’s not a person at all. He’s a corpse. Here, the corpse plays a businessman who develops something strange and sexless with a homeless, single-mother janitor (Thandie Newton). What is Perry trying to tell us? (111 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

★★★ In Darkness The true story of a group of Polish Jews who lived for 14 months, until the end of the WWII, in the sewers beneath the city of Lvov. It’s an astonishing tale, but Agnieszka Holland’s film (recently nominated for a foreign language Oscar) boxes it up a little too slickly. In Yiddish, Polish, and German, with subtitles. (145 min., R) (Ty Burr)

★★★Kill List A scuzzy little cross between a crime movie and a horror freak-out that gets under your skin and stays there. Two slovenly British hit men (Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley) take a job that leads to domestic strife and apocalyptic doom. Co-writer/director Ben Wheatley has made a Nicolas Roeg movie on the cheap, but it’s not for the squeamish. (95 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

★★★ The Lorax This animated film’s deviations from Dr. Seuss’s 1971 book don’t stray terribly far from its spirit. A boy hears the tale of a cursed industrialist who implores him to plant the world’s final tree. It’s for a girl, but it’s still heroic. Despite some schmaltz and pandering, this is still a nifty feat whose activism comes mostly from its excellent musical numbers. With the voices of Zach Efron and Taylor Swift. (94 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

★★ Project X A Pasadena blowout turns into a horny, druggy apocalyptic scene culminating in riot police, news choppers, and a gentleman with a flamethrower. The mayhem echoes footage of the Arab Spring and the 1990s upheaval in South Los Angeles. Here, you see similar destruction and anarchy used to bestow eternal popularity upon one boy (Thomas Mann) and think, “What a waste.’’ (88 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

★★ ½Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie Unlikable protagonists Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim skip town to make back a billion dollars they owe to a movie mogul. Their stupid plan: resurrecting a dead mall. Filled with uncredited A-list performances (Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Zach Galifianakis), this gross-out comedy is either a bold, thinly veiled critique of our current economic mess, or simply a celebration of bad taste. Either way, it can be shockingly and terribly hilarious. (94 min., R) (Ethan Gilsdorf)

★★★Tyrannosaur The gifted actor Peter Mullan plays a Yorkshire rageaholic whose fires are finally burning down in actor Paddy Considine’s feature writing and directing debut. As good as the actor is, he’s outshone by Olivia Colman as a meekly devout shopkeeper who befriends the hero. Warning to the squeamish: The film’s unremitting bleakness extends to children and animals. (92 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

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