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Movie Stars

Movie stars

New releases

½ 2012 Sundance Shorts If collections of film shorts are like party mixes, this program has a few too many questionable wasabi peas. The longest — “Fishing Without Nets,” about Somali pirates, and “The Return,” a heart wrencher from Kosovo — are the best; the rest are interesting without being engaging. (95 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Amour A simple yet devastatingly profound story of an elderly French couple (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) during the long, squalid months of the wife’s decline. Writer-director Michael Haneke (“Caché”) observes his subject with an unadorned style that takes on aspects of the holy. The movie avoids melodrama; instead, it’s just extraordinarily intimate. In French, with subtitles. (127 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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Broken City A cluttered, formulaic urban thriller, with Mark Wahlberg miscast as a conflicted detective caught in an election week conspiracy. The best thing — i.e., the most enjoyably bad — is Russell Crowe as a greasy, macho New York City mayor. He’s Michael Bloomberg’s evil twin. (109 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Last Stand Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wrinkles serve him well in playing a veteran lawman working a border enclave. Things get dicey when slithery Peter Stormare hits town with bridge-building gear, and an escaped Mexican cartel boss comes rocketing south. Director Kim Jee-woon seems to take an approach that’s less “let’s see what sticks” than “who cares what sticks,” with results that can be funny but oddly arrhythmic. (107 min., R) (Tom Russo)

Mama Director Andy Muschietti’s thriller wonders what if abandoned kids were watched over by an angry ghost. Jessica Chastain does nuanced work as the rock chick put in charge of young sisters found after going missing in the mountains for five years. The frustration is how much the movie leans on made-ya-jump scares and contrived plot devices when its quieter chills are so potent. (106 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

Previously released

½ Django Unchained In Quentin Tarantino’s clear-eyed and completely out of its mind exploitation western, Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave on the way to rescue his wife from a Mississippi plantation. Tarantino has never been more himself: grisly kitsch rigged for shock in a way that refuses to cheapen the atrocity of its subject. (165 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ Lincoln In the weeks following his reelection, Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) fights to get the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery passed. A terrifically entertaining film that, against all odds, makes politics exciting again. Steven Spielberg is in top form, Tony Kushner’s script is full of crackling talk, and there are scene-stealing turns from Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and James Spader. (149 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper finally gets a role that gives his oily charm vulnerability. He plays a mental patient living with his parents, hung up on his estranged wife and spending time with an equally unstable woman (Jennifer Lawrence). The movie whizzes and stings. Its director is David O. Russell, who’s become Hollywood’s most instinctive maker of ensemble dramatic comedies. (122 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Zero Dark Thirty Kathryn Bigelow’s brilliantly crafted ground-level procedural unfolds from the early days of the war in Afghanistan to the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound. Jessica Chastain plays a CIA agent obsessed with the search; the early torture scenes make viewers confront their own response. (157 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Find an archive of reviews at www.boston.com/movies.
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