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Movie stars: capsule reviews

Sophie Quinton stars as a Marilyn Monroe-like celebrity in “Nobody Else But You.”

Jean-Claude Lother/First Run Features

Sophie Quinton stars as a Marilyn Monroe-like celebrity in “Nobody Else But You.”

New releases

Bel Ami “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson stars in a period piece about the rise of a rake in 1880s Paris. The actor’s too young and callow for the role and the movie doesn’t capture the sting of the Guy de Maupassant novel, but it’s a watchable melodrama with good performances by Uma Thurman, Christina Ricci, and Kristin Scott Thomas. (102 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Beyond the Black Rainbow In his debut feature, writer-director Panos Cosmatos shows a knack for mood and tone. It’s 1983, and the setting is a futuristic institution that seems to be medical, but feels penal. The movie has a doomy, dreamy, druggy, draggy feel that’s impressively sustained — until it becomes oppressive, then pointless, then laughable. (109 min., R) (Mark Feeney)

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Hysteria A comedy-drama about the invention of the vibrator in 1880s London. Somewhere in here is an illuminating farce about a repressed society wracked by urges it doesn’t dare name. So why does director Tanya Wexler insist on stamping it out with moralizing? Stick with playwright Sara Ruhl’s “In the Next Room.” Starring Hugh Dancy and Maggie Gyllenhaal. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted There’s some bona fide big-top wonder in this team-up between ragtag European circus critters (notably Bryan Cranston and Martin Short) and our Central Park Zoo expat heroes (Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, and Jada Pinkett Smith). Cascading, colorful 3-D performance sequences are sufficiently dazzling that you may forgive an act wasted on convoluted setup, and those relentless circus-afro ads. (93 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Nobody Else But You What if Marilyn Monroe had never made it out of the sticks? That oddly inspired notion is explored in a playful French meta-mystery that’s occasionally too proud of its own cleverness. Jean-Paul Rouve plays a thriller writer investigating the death of a small-town sex goddess (Sophie Quinton). In French, with subtitles. (103 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding Catherine Keener (who should know better) is an uptight Manhattan lawyer and Jane Fonda her hippie-dippy Woodstock mother in this limp culture-clash comedy with a heart of patchouli. Shallowly written and unevenly directed (by Bruce Beresford), it’s crystals and smugness all the way. With Elizabeth Olsen and Chace Crawford (96 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Prometheus Like opening a gift box from Tiffany’s to find a mug from the dollar store. Ridley Scott’s return to the “Alien” franchise is impeccably produced but increasingly scattered. It’s officially a prequel but it feels like a remake: We’ve been here before, with lesser technology but more purpose. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, and Charlize Theron, all quite good. (119 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ We Still Live Here Can a people without words truly be a people? That unanswerable question no longer applies to the Wampanoag, thanks to one of its members, Jessie Littledoe Baird. Anne Makepeace’s modest documentary focuses on Baird’s immodest achievement. She single-handedly resuscitated the tribe’s spoken language, which for many decades had survived only in written form. (56 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Maïwenn, co-writer and director of “Polisse,” also stars.

IFC Films via AP

Maïwenn, co-writer and director of “Polisse,” also stars.

Previously released

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 Bully Lee Hirsch’s documentary applies a gloss of lyricism to the ugliness of adolescent torment. It has three or four moments of real alarm and, in the school bus, one nightmarish motif. But Hirsch struggles to shape it (three editors are credited). The movie doesn’t need research or great filmmaking or narrative focus, per se. It needs only the shaming power of its relentlessness and a young audience open to feeling that shame. (94 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Dark Shadows Tim Burton has got his groove back. This big-screen revamp of the much-loved (if ridiculous) late-’60s Gothic soap opera is both sendup and homage, and it recaptures the show’s doomy vibe with blissful comic precision. Johnny Depp is great fun as Barnabas Collins, an 18th-century vampire having trouble adjusting to the polyester 1970s. With Michelle Pfeiffer and Eva Green. (113 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)

First Position Another kiddie-competition documentary, but more gripping than usual because the competitors — six young ballet dancers vying for awards and contracts in the 2010 Youth America Grand Prix — are so driven and so talented. First-time director Bess Kargman skips lightly over the harsher aspects, but her subjects are compelling and the dancing is phenomenal. (90 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ The Five-Year Engagement A pleasant but predictable and overlong romantic comedy about a couple (Jason Segel and Emily Blunt) whose relationship suffers when he follows her from San Francisco to Michigan for her career. One of the softer offerings from the Judd Apatow production factory, it gets its laughs while having virtually no dramatic tension. With Alison Brie. (124 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story If Colonel Yonatan “Yoni” Netanyahu has faded from public consciousness outside Israel since he died in the famous Entebbe hostage rescue mission he led in 1976, this documentary should rectify that. His brother, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others recount Netanyahu’s childhood in Israel, his years at Harvard, and his military leadership. But his own words, in letters and poems, are the most memorable. (87 min., unrated) (Loren King)

The Hunger Games The millions who devoured Suzanne Collins’s futuristic thriller will be satisfied, on balance, by the compromises Hollywood has made while keeping the story true to itself. The millions more who haven’t read the books will be entertained while wondering what the fuss was all about. It’s not a movie on fire, and it should have been. With Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. (142 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

The Intouchables France’s second biggest film hit tells the story of a ritzy white quadriplegic (Francois Cluzet) who hires a bald, Senegalese-born thug (Omar Sy) to take care of him. All the white people do in this movie is flatter and spoil and humor the caretaker. He spouts his crass, egotistical crap, and all anyone does is laugh. America has a racial guilt problem. France’s might be more insidious. In French, with subtitles. (113 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ Jiro Dreams of Sushi This documentary about Jiro Ono, the 85-year-old Tokyo sushi chef generally acknowledged as the finest on the planet, touches on both the mysteries of gastronomic art and the human flaws that can come from the daily striving for perfection. It’s a foodie’s delight, best seen on a full stomach. In Japanese, with subtitles. (81 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

The Kid With a Bike A young boy (Thomas Doret) is abandoned by his father. It sounds tragic in outline, and Belgium’s Dardenne brothers film it in their usual minimalist style, but this Cannes prizewinner is, remarkably, about hope -- about the connections people forge when the ones they’ve been given desert them. With Cécile de France. In French, with English subtitles. (87 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Marvel’s The Avengers If you like Joss Whedon’s superhero extravaganza (really, there’s almost nothing to dislike; it’s as close as a movie can come to the fantastical reality of a good comic book), stick around for the closing credits. As fun as it is to watch as the actors playing superheroes, the real stars are the hundreds of men and women who’ve closed the gap between what’s doable in comic books and the movies based on them. This is state-of-the-state stuff. With Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Samuel L. Jackson. (148 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Moonrise Kingdom When two 12-year-olds (Kara Heyward, Jared Gilman) plot a secret getaway to a remote part of their fictitious New England island, the adults in their lives come looking for them. Wes Anderson directed and co-wrote the movie with Roman Coppola, and it feels utterly real, vividly dreamt, and totally remembered. Anderson’s dollhouse aesthetic acquires a long-overdue soul. With Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Tilda Swinton. (94 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Polisse There are movies that grab you by the throat and knee you in the groin. And there are movies that grab your throat, knee your groin, drive you to the hospital, help you fill out the police report, and ask you out to dinner, where you both laugh and cry over everything. This is that latter movie, an electrifying epic emotional thriller about an endangered child-protection unit in the Paris police department and the tight, tense bond among the detectives. Directed and co-written by Maïwenn, who costars. In French, with English subtitles. (127 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

½ Snow White and the Huntsman Entertainingly schizophrenic, this re-engineering of the classic fairy tale feels like it was made from pieces of every fantasy-action movie ever made. It barely holds together but there are daft pleasures, from Charlize Theron’s rampant overacting as the evil queen to Kristen Stewart’s surprising underplaying as Snow. Directed by Rupert Sanders. (116 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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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