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Movie Stars

Ryan Gosling in “Gangster Squad.”

Jamie Trueblood/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP

Ryan Gosling in “Gangster Squad.”

New releases

½ Fairhaven This locally shot indie’s slender story line features Medford-bred writer-director Tom O’Brien as an aspiring writer still somehow kicking around his small town, trying to sort out his self-actualization issues. He falls somewhere between one schlubby, divorced friend (Rich Sommer) and another (Chris Messina) who’s back in town for his estranged father’s funeral. O’Brien and his castmates have some too-loose dialogue, but a Tom Brady riff is idiosyncratically entertaining, and there’s some promising drama. (81 min., unrated) (Tom Russo)

Gangster Squad Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling head a secret crew of cops intent on bringing down crime boss Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn). This is almost like every popular movie about crooks and cops made in the last four decades, but it’s never enough like its own movie. Director Ruben Fleischer gives it some flash and bang, but it inadequately substitutes for what you could be watching instead. (113 min., R ) (Wesley Morris)

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Indelible Lalita Part medical journal, part spiritual journey, “Indelible Lalita” is about how one woman, the unforgettable India-born Lalita Bharvani, copes with various health obstacles including vitiligo, the skin condition (made famous by Michael Jackson) that causes loss of pigment. Boston-based filmmaker Julie Mallozzi avoids clichéd admiration or sentiment; the film aims instead to be an honest portrait of one woman’s journey. (71 min., unrated) (Loren King)

Previously released

½ Anna Karenina Joe Wright’s adaptation of the Tolstoy classic staggers under the weight of a dazzling, hermetically sealed visual style that fails to connect with our emotions; the entire movie seems to take place in a snow globe. The cast, led by Keira Knightley, is good, although Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Vronsky may be too much the boy-toy. With Jude Law. (130 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Barbara An exiled East Berlin physician (Nina Hoss) has just arrived in a provincial hamlet on the Baltic Sea, where she quietly plots her escape to West Berlin while seeing patients and avoiding the advances of a brawny doctor (Ronald Zehrfeld), who’s been conscripted by the Stasi to pass along intelligence on her. The movie’s quiet power comes from its air of meticulously maintained suspicion. In German, with subtitles. (105 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away 3D This moderately enjoyable film makes good use of 3-D technology but lacks the awe-inspiring visual and aural aplomb of Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil’s live shows. The story, told without dialogue, concerns a gamine who follows a handsome aerialist into another universe where the audience is treated to a compilation of acts from Cirque’s Las Vegas shows, including “O,” “Kà,” “Mystere,” “Zumanity,” and “The Beatles’ Love.” (91 min., PG) (Loren King)

½ Django Unchained In Quentin Tarantino’s clear-eyed and completely out of its mind exploitation western, Jamie Foxx plays a freed slave in 1853 on the way to rescue his wife (Kerry Washington) from a Mississippi plantation. Tarantino has never been more himself than he is here: grisly kitsch rigged for shock in a way that refuses to cheapen the atrocity of its subject. With Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and an audacious Samuel L. Jackson. (165 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

½ The Guilt Trip Barbra Streisand as a noodgy mom and Seth Rogen as a stressed-out son in a tiny car driving across America. It’s silly, predictable, and surprisingly sweet — the sort of thing you can and probably should take your own mother to. The stars are believable as parent and child, but who’s the father, Fozzie Bear? (95 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Title notwithstanding, almost exactly as expected. More Middle-earth — the first third of Tolkien’s prequel story to “The Lord of the Rings” — Peter Jackson’s film has lots of sound and fury and not enough narrative momentum. Ian McKellan’s Gandalf and (joy) Andy Serkis’s Gollum return. The 48 fps digital version in theaters looks like high-end video. With Martin Freeman. In 3-D. (169 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Hyde Park on Hudson A work of historical embroidery about Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s possible affair with his sixth cousin, Margaret Suckley, this paints the 32d president as both a creepy sexual predator and a heck of a guy. It’s as tone deaf as movies get. Bill Murray is actually quite good as FDR, but Laura Linney gives a defeated performance in an impossible role. (94 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Jack Reacher The former supersoldier of Lee Child’s novels is now Tom Cruise, and his mission in this maiden outing involves clearing the name of a man accused of killing five people. The deaths are terrible, but the stakes are so low. Cruise works hard, as usual. But he’s so desperate to save us from atrocity and mediocrity that he’s forgotten to save himself. (131 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ Les Misérables What’s great about the first half of Tom Hooper’s gigantic film of the musical is the balance it strikes between the misérable and the miz. After 2½ hours, the movie becomes a bowl of trail mix — you’re picking out the nuts you don’t like and hoping the next bite doesn’t contain any craisins. With Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, who are wonderful, and Russell Crowe, who’s not and it breaks your heart (and hurts your ears). (157 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Life of Pi Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s best-selling novel is a marvel of contradictions: a movie about the magnificence of nature that’s largely computer-made, a two-character epic, a 3-D extravaganza that takes place inside a 20-foot lifeboat. The movie shouldn’t work at all, but it does. Keep kids under 10 at home, though. With Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan. (127 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

½ Lincoln In the weeks following his reelection, Abraham Lincoln (a remarkable 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 lots of it), and there are scene-stealing turns from Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and James Spader. (149 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Not Fade Away Beware filmmakers who have been carrying dream projects in their heads for decades. This is “Sopranos” creator David Chase’s fictionalized memoir of growing up a rock-loving teenager in suburban New Jersey, and it’s both achingly affectionate and a terrible mess. John Magaro plays the lead, James Gandolfini is his defeated dad. The soundtrack, naturally, is aces. (112 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Parental Guidance You really can make a bad family movie less terrible. The people responsible for this bland exercise in sentimentality and rambunctiousness have done an honorable enough job, chiefly through casting. Bette Midler and Billy Crystal baby-sit for Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott, and their limits to humiliation are kind of a relief. It’s: “It’ll do anything for this movie, but I won’t do that.” (96 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

½ Promised Land Two movies in one: An earnest anti-fracking drama written by costars Matt Damon and John Krasinski, and a nuanced portrait of small-town America by director Gus Van Sant. The first tries not to be preachy but doesn’t quite succeed, the second is buoyed by the sympathetic performances. With Frances McDormand and Rosemarie DeWitt. (110 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Rise of the Guardians Happily, this 3-D animated dream-teaming of “Guardians of Childhood” Santa (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) doesn’t just coast on familiar lore. Jack Frost (Chris Pine) is placed at the center of the adventure, joining them against boogeyman Pitch (Jude Law) in an adaptation of kid-lit author William Joyce’s books. Distinctive, but could push its crossover gimmick more aggressively. (97 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Rust and Bone From Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”), a twisted yet surprisingly ordinary love story about a kickboxing single dad (Matthias Schoenaerts) and a killer whale trainer (Marion Cotillard) whose legs get bitten off. Cotillard’s fearsome intensity and the glowing Antibes vibe make it worth seeing. In French, with subtitles. (120 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ The Sessions It sounds like a bad joke: A man in an iron lung hires a sex surrogate to help him lose his virginity. But the achievement of this simple, intensely moving drama (based on a true story) is the clarity with which it portrays a good soul in an inert body. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt give rich, unshowy performances as the leads; William H. Macy plays the hero’s priest. (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Silver Linings Playbook Bradley Cooper finally gets a role that gives his oily charm some vulnerability. He plays a mental patient living in Philadelphia 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. With a never-haler Robert De Niro as Cooper’s gambler dad. (122 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Skyfall The James Bond movie franchise turns 50 and continues with Daniel Craig in the title role. But to hear everybody in this tedious new movie debate whether, after 23 movies, James is now too long in the tooth for glamorous spycraft, you would think the star of this movie is Methuselah. With Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, and, as the hilariously blond villain, Javier Bardem. (145 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

½ This Is 40 A “sort-of sequel” to 2007’s “Knocked Up” that focuses on that film’s supporting characters, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), as they grapple with a stalled marriage. Judd Apatow has made a contradiction in terms — a personal Hollywood comedy — that has good coarse laughs without ever coming to a point. (134 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Wreck-It Ralph A video arcade villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) has an existential crisis and busts out into other games in an attempt to become a hero. Bright, fast, reasonably funny, and depressingly formulaic, it’s more fodder to keep your kids tethered to their home entertainment centers. Cranky old critic says: Send them out to play instead. (93 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

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

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