Movie stars: capsule reviews

Diane Keaton stars in “Darling Companion,” Lawrence Kasdan’s first film in nine years.
Wilson Webb/Sony Pictures Classics
Diane Keaton stars in “Darling Companion,” Lawrence Kasdan’s first film in nine years.

New releases

½ Battleship If you’re going to make a movie based on a board game, you’ve got to fill two hours with something. So why not go the “Transformers” route? Taylor Kitsch (“John Carter”) plays a ne’er-do-well who joins the Navy just in time to fight an alien armada that lands off Hawaii. If only there were more genuine rah-rah fun, instead of seen-it-all-before mayhem. (131 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

½ Bernie Jack Black dials back the boorishness to play Bernie Tiede, a real-life Texas funeral director and community pillar who in 1996 shot his aged companion (Shirley Mac­Laine) in the back. Richard Linklater directs it as a loopy black comedy with generous input from local “witnesses” — the movie’s bouncy, amusing, and wholly lacking in a point. With Matthew McConaughey. (104 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

The Color Wheel Alex Ross Perry’s comedy is a road trip between a graduate student and his estranged younger sister, played by Perry and his co-writer, Carlen Altman, that culminates with them lying together in momentary defiance of platonic fraternity. The incest isn’t funny. It’s serious — and sensual, and the one moment the filmmaking and ideas and verbal jabbing achieve something bold. (88 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)


½ Crooked Arrows What “Cool Runnings” did for bobsledding and “Mighty Ducks” for youth hockey, “Crooked Arrows” should do for lacrosse. A half-Native American former lacrosse star (Brandon Routh) returns to the reservation to help expand a casino. To get tribal approval, he agrees to coach the reservation’s struggling high school lacrosse team. Much of it was filmed around Boston. The action sequences don’t disappoint, and the story transcends the uplifting sports-underdog formula. (100 min., PG-13) (Loren King)

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½ Darling Companion A movie for women who love their dogs too much. The first film in nine years from director Lawrence Kasdan (“The Big Chill”) is an overwritten and underplotted vanity project, but Diane Keaton is a joy as a well-to-do surgeon’s wife whose frustrations boil over when her beloved mutt goes missing. With Kevin Kline, Dianne Wiest, and Richard Jenkins. (103 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Dictator The despot here is a tall, fit, flamboyantly bearded North African goofball (Sacha Baron Cohen) who winds up working in a Brooklyn food co-op. That’s the best idea in the movie, which lacks the cultural tension in “Borat” and “Bruno,” satires that Cohen and director Larry Charles previously made together. This one is lazy, a satire that can’t bring itself to properly satirize anything. (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

God Bless America Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest directing effort blasts everything from fear-mongering by TV political pundits to the nincompoopery of “American Idol” fans. Joel Murray (“Mad Men”) is a terminally ill man who decides to grab a gun and take a whole bunch of obnoxious people with him. Tara Lynne Barr is his junior-misanthrope sidekick. There’s some wickedly funny vigilante-fantasy misbehavior, but also a lot of self-indulgent ranting. (104 min., R) (Tom Russo)

The Hunter Willem Dafoe gets a welcome lead role as a mysterious big-game hunter hired to locate the last Tasmanian tiger. The movie, a sort of romantic hit man eco-drama, becomes increasingly unglued as it goes along, but the locations are stunning and the star holds the frame on the strength of his weathered cheekbones alone. With Frances O’Connor and Sam Neill. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)


Mansome Morgan Spurlock’s new documentary is so late in noticing a shift in American male grooming that for a documentary on the subject to work Spurlock would either have to pitch it to our grandparents or trace a cultural shift and unpack it. This seems like the outcome of a director seeing his first Details magazine and sensing apocalypse. (82 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ Once Upon a Time in Anatolia A police procedural set in the Turkish hinterlands, featuring a caravan searching for a recently buried body. The movie, directed by the nearly great Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is full of long, scrupulously composed scenes that unfold in a loose approximation of real time, with wry comedy, frivolous chitchat, and loaded anecdotes. The murder remains elusive, but the filmmaking is exquisite. In Turkish, with subtitles. (157 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

½ The Story of Film: An Odyssey This 2011 eight-part documentary made for British television takes in 14 decades, six continents (sorry, Antarctica), and one art form. Like that art form, it’s wildly ambitious, often extremely good, occasionally maddening, and always stimulating. Writer-director Mark Cousins’s unifying conception is cinematic innovation — or as he pronounces it in his marvelous Ulster accent (he narrates, too) “en-iv-ay-shun.” (916 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Surviving Progress Inspired by Ronald Wright’s book “A Short History of Progress,” this Canadian documentary is a slick jeremiad, expertly made and intellectually muddled. Deforestation, Wall Street greed, and Third World debt are bad (fair enough) and byproducts of progress (hmm). Weighing in are Jane Goodall, Margaret Atwood, and Stephen Hawking’s voice. “The Ice Age hunter is still in us,” Wright warns. Coming from Liam Neeson that would be a boast. (86 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

What to Expect When You’re Expecting It’s all in the delivery. The movie turns the best-selling pregnancy guide of the title into one of those glib all-star comedy-dramas with multiple story lines and predictable dilemmas, but the writing is sharp and the performances bright, and there are laughs to be had for those who’ve been there. (110 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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