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Movies

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Philip Seymour Hoffman (left) and Joaquin Phoenix costar in “The Master.”

Weinstein Company

Philip Seymour Hoffman (left) and Joaquin Phoenix costar in “The Master.”

New releases

10 Years A high-school reunion dramedy that’s overwhelmingly dull, like watching eight OK TV shows at the same time. The large cast includes Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Max Minghella, Brian Geraghty, Justin Long, Aubrey Plaza, and Anthony Mackie. Most of them seem too old to be standing around here with almost nothing to do. (100 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ The Ambassador A sociopolitical prankumentary in which the prank blows up in the filmmaker’s face. Danish journalist Mads Brügger passes himself off as a businessman who wants to buy a diplomatic title so he can trade in illegal African diamonds, but things don’t go well for him or the movie. In Danish, French, and English, with subtitles. (93 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

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Chicken With Plums Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s follow-up to their striking animated feature “Persepolis” (2007) is a bit of a letdown. Based on Satrapi’s graphic novel, it’s mostly live action. There are multiple imaginative flourishes, but overall the film’s surprisingly static. At heart it’s a fairly traditional story — a kind of fairy tale for adults — about thwarted love in mid-century Iran. In French, with subtitles. (85 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)

China Heavyweight The latest from Chinese-Canadian director Yung Chang (“Up the Yangtze”) has more in common with Sylvester Stallone’s “Rocky” than it does with Frederick Wiseman’s “Boxing Gym.” Where Wiseman excelled in respecting the broad rhythms and pure storytelling of the ring, Chang’s new documentary focuses on the dramatic stories of three boxers and weaves them into a compelling, beautifully photographed narrative that rivals anything Hollywood could script. In Mandarin and Sichuanese, with subtitles. (89 min., unrated) (Janice Page)

½ Detropia Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s loose yet assured documentary looks at Detroit as urban dystopia. Despite a somewhat upbeat finish (artists are buying lofts downtown), the only things alleviating the grimness are the film’s calm tone and the personable presence of its two chief talking heads, the president of a UAW local and the owner of a small restaurant and lounge. (86 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Dredd 3D Taking their cues from Christopher Nolan’s Batman, the filmmakers drop comic book supercop Judge Dredd (Karl Urban, “Star Trek”) into a fictional concrete sprawl that’s relentlessly grounded, visually and dramatically. It drains the material of the punk-subversive craziness that’s always been unique about it, and leaves Urban twisting despite a tightly coiled performance. Still, the mesmerizingly grisly 3-D offers some of the cleverest slo-mo since “The Matrix.” (98 min., R) (Tom Russo)

½ End of Watch The writer-director David Ayer has written what’s basically a buddy comedy/cop drama with Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as LAPD partners. There are 6 million cop shows on television right now. On none of them will you hear two men speak to each other with as much natural affinity as these two. Why Ayer felt the need to distract from that with gimmicky hand-held camerawork is a mystery. (109 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ For Ellen Another existential road movie about a disaffected rock musician, this one played by the recessive character actor Paul Dano. He’s not terribly convincing and director So Yong Kim (“Treeless Mountain”) lets her story drift, but the scenes with 6-year-old Shaylena Mandigo, as the rocker’s daughter, are worth the price of admission. (93 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ Knuckleball! This documentary on the curious baseball pitch and the curious men who throw it hits the sweet spot. Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg focus on Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox and R.A. Dickey of the Mets, but the movie connects those players with the eccentric fraternity of knuckleballers who have preceded them and finds poetry in their motion. (93 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Liberal Arts Newly single, 35-year-old Jesse (Josh Radnor, who also wrote and directed) returns to his Midwestern college campus for the retirement party of a beloved professor (Richard Jenkins). Filled with nostalgia, Jesse begins a cautious flirtation with Zibby (Elizabeth Olsen, intelligent and radiant), a sophomore theater major. It’s a bit talky, but the film is smarter, if more sentimental, than the typical college comedy about frat house hijinks and hooking up. (97 min., unrated) (Loren King)

The Master Another ambitious, powerfully acted achievement from Paul Thomas Anderson. In 1950 or so, a simple drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in with the leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of a new spiritual movement and becomes its unwitting but eventually willing test subject. The movie is said to be loosely about Scientology, but it’s more generally concerned with the masks of performance and limits of faith in the absence of evidence. With Amy Adams. (137 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Step Up to the Plate Paul Lacoste’s fine but unfortunately titled documentary patiently watches Michel Bras as he attempts to retire from the chic family restaurant that he’s placing in the hands of his son Sébastian. The movie’s patient in the way of “El Bulli: Cooking in Progress” or “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” That’s where culinary nonfiction is right now — sleepy, observant. And, for the most part, that’s OK. In French with subtitles. (88 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

½ Trouble With the Curve A congenial but distressingly formulaic drama about an aging baseball scout (Clint Eastwood) and his last season on the road. Eastwood lets his longtime producer Robert Lorenz take a crack at directing, which is nice. So’s the movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s very good. With Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake. (111 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ What Time Is Left Dakin Henderson, who’s in his early 20s, directed, wrote, and narrates this debut feature-length documentary. His grandmothers are in their 80s and live in the same retirement home in Hanover, N.H. One is vigorous and sharp. The other is in a nearly vegetative state. With that contrast as point of departure, Henderson ponders aging and mortality. The film is agreeable and clear-eyed, if not especially insightful. (65 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Theodor Herzl is pictured at a 1903 speech in the documentary “It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl.”

Theodor Herzl is pictured at a 1903 speech in the documentary “It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl.”

Previously released

2016: Obama’s America Well, fair’s fair. George W. Bush got Michael Moore and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Now Barack Obama gets Dinesh D’Souza and “2016: Obama’s America.” Both films are wildly partisan attack documentaries made by wildly partisan and generally annoying polemicists. The difference is that Moore is a talented filmmaker. Based on D’Souza’s 2010 bestseller, “The Roots of Obama’s Rage.” (89 min., PG) (Mark Feeney)

½ Arbitrage Nicholas Jarecki’s debut feature casts Richard Gere as a sleek Wall Street tycoon having a very bad week. The movie’s smooth, professional, well-acted, and never adds up to much, perhaps because it lacks the righteous anger the rest of us feel toward such men. With Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling, and Tim Roth. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Bachelorette Kirsten Dunst’s temper in movies isn’t terribly long. For most of this oversexed, obscene, drugged out comedy, she’s made it even shorter. The part is nothing new — she plays a woman who’s shocked that a friend is getting married before she is — but her rawness is both real and astounding. Written and directed with energy and wit by Leslye Headland, and staffed with nasty caricature by Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher. (87 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ Beloved Writer-director Christophe Honoré’s love affair with the French New Wave gets stretched to the breaking point in this semi-musical meditation on love and pain. Chiara Mastroianni is beginning to resemble the magnificent ruin her father, Marcello, was; her mother, the legendary Catherine Deneuve, plays her mother. In French, with subtitles. (139 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ The Cold Light of Day A limply formulaic action-thriller that wastes a decent cast and lovely Spanish locations. Henry Cavill — soon to be seen as Superman, in “Man of Steel” — is a neophyte on the run from spies after his CIA agent dad (Bruce Willis) is sidelined. Co­starring Sigourney Weaver, who snarls enjoyably as she pays her bills. (93 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Finding Nemo First released in 2003, now in 3-D. Not quite top-drawer Pixar, but still leagues ahead of other family fare. On Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, an overanxious single-dad clownfish (voiced by Albert Brooks) loses his son (Alexander Gould) to a dentist-office fish tank and must travel 1,500 miles to bring him home. The supporting cast constitutes an embarrassment of riches, and many sequences have a weirdly mesmerizing underwater beauty. (100 min., G) (Ty Burr)

For a Good Time, Call… Two women in their late 20s, played by Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller, start a phone sex company. It’s like one of those bromances. This version is simultaneously as emotionally sincere and more archly self-conscious. It achieves both parity and parody. It’s a bra-mance. (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

The Imposter A 13-year-old disappeared in San Antonio in 1994. Forty months later, he turned up in Spain and was reunited with his family. Or was that someone else? The documentary is preeningly slick, and rife with reenactments. Yet the story is remarkable. (99 min., R) (Mark Feeney)

½ The Inbetweeners Movie So much for British cultural superiority: Crude, moronic teen sex comedies aren’t an American monopoly. Four repulsive losers celebrate their graduation from high school by going on holiday in Crete. As if Greece didn’t have enough problems. Based on a British sitcom, an American version of which is on MTV. (97 min., R) (Mark Feeney)

½ It Is No Dream: The Life of Theodor Herzl This documentary about the founder of Zionism is sober, detailed, and handsomely mounted. It takes for granted that Herzl’s legacy is an unmixed blessing, a view not all would agree with. Ben Kingsley narrates; Christoph Waltz is the voice of Herzl. (96 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Little White Lies A group of bourgeois Parisians repair to a beach house where their various hypocrisies acquire a nasty sunburn. The cast (Marion Cotillard, François Cluzet, Jean Dujardin) is easy on the eyes, but writer-director Guillame Canet can’t decide whether to judge or embrace his characters. In French, with subtitles. (154 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ Samsara Much of Ron Fricke’s wordless documentary is stupendously beautiful. Even more of it is stupendously dull. The film shows national parks, cathedrals, monasteries, waterfalls, African tribes, assembly lines, military parades, even dancelike calisthenics in a Philippine prison courtyard (that bit’s pretty cool, actually). It’s like an issue of National Geographic gone mad. (102 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)

Sleepwalk With Me The talented comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia directed, co-wrote, and stars in this droopy dramatization of some of his stage material about how he found his voice and lost a relationship that feels doomed the minute you see that Lauren Ambrose is his costar. She’s alive. Offstage, he’s a patch of moss. Birbiglia needs a movie that wakes up him and his material and sets them loose. (80 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

The Words Bradley Cooper faces another ethical challenge. This time he’s a writer who didn’t write his blockbuster novel. That story is a story within a story, which also contains a third tale. It’s confusing. Worse than that, it’s dull. Written and directed by Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal and costarring Zoe Saldana, Dennis Quaid, and Jeremy Irons. (96 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

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