Recent movie reviews

Christopher Abbott and Melanie Lynskey in a scene from “Hello I Must Be Going.”
Oscilloscope Laboratories via ASSOCIATED PRESS
Christopher Abbott and Melanie Lynskey in a scene from “Hello I Must Be Going.”

New releases

½ Alex Cross Poor Tyler Perry takes over for Morgan Freeman as the forensic psychologist and detective of James Patterson’s crime novels. When he’s not Madea, he’s a dud. But the film is bad on its own. Some movies make it to theaters, and you don’t know why. Nothing works. Or some of it works, but that doesn’t matter because what’s working is so deeply, painfully boring. This is that kind of movie. (102 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ All Together Two couples and their friend become housemates in a glorious French manse. The movie seeks to hug and lick, until it gathers a quiet mournfulness in the last scenes. By then you’ve been licked to death. With Geraldine Chaplin, Daniel Brühl, Pierre Richard, Guy Bedos, Claude Rich, and Jane Fonda, who speaks French so flamboyantly that France must have a word for the French she’s speaking. In French, with English subtitles. (93 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

Beauty Is Embarrassing An amiable if not especially urgent celebration of the life and work of Wayne White, a rascally artist-puppeteer whose work was featured on “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” White’s a character, for sure, but the film never makes a convincing case for him as a talent worthy of a full-length documentary. (89 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)


Hello I Must Be Going The soulful character actress Melanie Lynskey gets a welcome lead role as a sad-sack divorcee who washes up at her parents’ suburban home and becomes the local Mrs. Robinson. The movie’s small and satisfying, bleak but funny, and Blythe Danner, as the heroine’s mom, reminds you of just how good she is. Directed by Todd Louiso. (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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½ Sister Movies about wayward kids are a European specialty. This new film by Ursula Meier, about a 12-year-old grifter (Kacey Mottet Klein) at a Swiss ski resort and his useless sibling (Léa Seydoux), deepens the specialty. It’s delicately made, yet forceful in its delicacy. With a single revelation, the work of minimalist realism you assumed you were watching curves out into expertly done melodrama that you don’t realize has so moved you until it’s over. In French, with subtitles. (97 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

Somewhere Between Director Linda Goldstein Knowlton, who made this film as a gift to her adopted daughter, documents the lives of four teenagers who also came from China to live in the United States. Their stories (including one set in Newburyport) offer a small window on the lives of some 80,000 Chinese adoptees living here. If you don’t expect more than that from this narrow but lovingly assembled movie you’ll be impressed, and likely moved to tears. In English, Mandarin, and Spanish, with some subtitles. (88 min., unrated) (Janice Page)

Tai Chi Zero A hyperstylized martial arts fandango that’s inventive and amusing before it wears out its welcome. What the movie offers in novelty value (all those pop-up video titles) it lacks in the basics of story, acting, and direction. With Yuan Xiaochao, Angelababy, and Tony Leung Ka Fai. In English and Mandarin, with subtitles. (95 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ Wuthering Heights Director Andrea Arnold (“Fish Tank”) wants to rescue the primitive emotionalism of Emily Brontë’s classic novel, and the first half of this “Heights” is a thrillingly rough found object. Sadly, the second half is ponderous and silly. With Solomon Glave and James Howson as Heathcliff young and old and Shannon Beer and Kaya Scodelario as Cathy. (129 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Previously released


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 Celeste and Jesse Forever A mostly charming LA comedy-drama, co-written by star Rashida Jones with a warm, slightly blinkered insider’s eye to the city and its neighborhoods. Despite the title (and Andy Samberg’s genial performance as Jesse), it’s mostly about the furiously prim Celeste (Jones) and how she learns to accept other people’s imperfections and her own. (91 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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 The Dark Knight Rises Oh, right, this is what a superhero movie is supposed to look like. Christopher Nolan brings his Batman trilogy to a close with a majestic crash. It’s overlong and more than a little crazy but made with a pop-Wagnerian conviction and undeniable moviemaking skill. Also, Anne Hathaway is the best Catwoman since Julie Newmar. (164 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)


Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel In less than 90 minutes, this documentary walks us through sketches of the legendary fashion magazine editor’s private life and the formulation and decades-long execution of her philosophy in the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue. The energy here is a selling point. So is the reminder that clothes weren’t fashion to her. People were. (77 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

½ Downeast With a monk’s calm, David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s documentary immerses itself in Gouldsboro, Maine, as a Boston-based Italian immigrant, Antonio Bussone, attempts to turn a former sardine cannery into a lobster processing facility. He doesn’t have an easy time. The movie approaches the people of Gouldsboro and Bussone’s determination — to provide jobs, to succeed — with the same absorbing solemnity. (77 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

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)

Frankenweenie Tim Burton’s stop-motion tale of a boy named Victor Frankenstein and his beloved undead dog is simple yet immensely pleasurable — elegant, very funny, and haunted gently by the ghosts of monster movies past. Charlie Tahan, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau, Martin Short, and Winona Ryder provide voices. In black and white and 3-D. (87 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

½ Hotel Transylvania In a 3-D animated creature feature, Adam Sandler voices Dracula as a fretful father sheltering his daughter (Selena Gomez) from humans. He builds his monster resort as an elaborate means to that end, but complications ensue when they’re visited by a backpacker (Andy Samberg). Some might say there isn’t enough that’s fresh, even if every generation of trick-or-treaters deserves its monster mash. Still, there’s likable energy throughout, and smart touches add up. (90 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

How to Survive a Plague The director David France and his crew have sculpted years of old broadcast news stories and home video into a narrative of an era that is impressionistic in its scope but coherent in its feeling. This movie is alive — hot, really — with the political seething at the federal government’s failure to help combat the spread of AIDS with effective medical treatments. (115 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

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)

Looper Rian Johnson’s audacious time travel brain-twister features Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hired assassin killing victims from the future and Bruce Willis as the assassin’s older self. Overloaded with cinematic style, “Matrix”-wannabe cool, and action sequences that click into place like a Rubik’s Cube, the movie’s something to see yet ultimately less than the sum of its parts. With Emily Blunt. (118 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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)

½ Monsieur Lazhar In a Montreal middle school, an immigrant substitute (Mohamed Fellag) helps his students cope with the suicide of their former teacher. What appears to be a gentle entry in the “To Sir With Love” genre actually has its mind on larger matters and a heart full of sorrow and rage. In French, with English subtitles. (94 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ The Perks of Being a Wallflower Author Stephen Chbosky adapts and directs his young adult cult novel into a moving, if visually drab, portrait of unhappy teens finding sustenance in each other. It’s frank enough to shock the parents but also genuinely and uniquely kind to all its characters. With Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and Emma Watson making a credible move beyond Hogwarts. (103 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Queen of Versailles A documentary about David and Jackie Siegel, who were building the largest private residence in the country — 90,000 square feet of Florida overkill — until the recession came along. Director Lauren Greenfield can’t decide how she feels about Jackie, so the film’s an appalling yet oddly sympathetic look at American entitlement. (100 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

Ruby Sparks Zoe Kazan, who wrote the script, plays the title character in this Pygmalion update. A very real Ruby emerges from the pages of Paul Dano’s novel-in-progress. Kazan and Dano, a real-life couple, have real-life chemistry. When the film isn’t being cutesy-quirky or attempting deep thoughts about free will, it’s quite winning. Annette Bening and (especially) Antonio Banderas have a ball as Dano’s mother and stepfather. (104 min., R) (Mark Feeney)

½ Searching for Sugar Man An astonishing rock documentary that seems pure urban legend. Sixto Rodriguez, a folk singer from Detroit, recorded two early-’70s albums that went nowhere in the US and made him a mysterious superstar in South Africa. Malik Bendjelloul’s film follows the efforts of two fans to find out whether he’s still alive. Magical. (86 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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 The Well-Digger’s Daughter Daniel Auteuil directed, stars in, and adapted this remake of the 1940 Marcel Pagnol film. As the daughter, Patricia, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey is even lovelier than the rural Provence setting. Auteuil sure does munch on the scenery, though, and the plot is even more shameless than Auteuil’s overacting. Kad Merad is winning in the thankless role of Patricia’s oafish/affable suitor. In French, with subtitles. (109 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

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