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movie stars

Movie capsules: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Oz Zehavi (left) and Ohad Knoller star in “Yossi,” directed by Eytan Fox.

Strand Releasing

Oz Zehavi (left) and Ohad Knoller star in “Yossi,” directed by Eytan Fox.

New releases

The ABCs of Death For this wildly uneven project, 26 directors from 15 countries were assigned a letter of the alphabet to inspire a tale of death. Hence, “D is for Dogfight,” “F is for Fart,” and “W is for WTF!” Exploring death via miscarriage, obesity, torture, sex, and gallows humor, some are inventive and funny, others incomprehensible and disgusting. Few are for the faint of stomach. (129 min., unrated) (Ethan Gilsdorf)

Dead Man Down Colin Farrell and Noomi Rapace are two urban loners whose parallel revenge plots intertwine. A bruised, loopy, violent crime thriller that has its melodramatic charms before the story gets stupid, it’s the first Hollywood film by Niels Arden Oplev (the Swedish version of “Girl With a Dragon Tattoo”). Costarring Terrence Howard and, surreally, Isabelle Huppert. (118 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey This overcoming-adversity documentary from director Ramona S. Diaz follows the story of Arnel Pineda, who stepped into the very large shoes of Steve Perry as lead singer of Journey. It’s an inspiring, if slightly by-the-numbers, rags-to-riches story. Who wouldn’t root for Pineda (other than maybe Perry)? (113 min., unrated) (Geoff Edgers)

Emperor Japan has surrendered. General Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) tasks a deputy, General Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox), to investigate whether Emperor Hirohito should be charged with war crimes. Doesn’t sound very promising, does it? Watching Jones be Jones – he sure isn’t MacArthur — is, as always, a kick. But, boy, even seen in flashbacks, courting a Japanese woman (Eriko Hatsune), what a hopeless stick Fox is. (104 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)

Greedy Lying Bastards A lesson in the consequences of unkept promises — those of the politicians and CEOs intent on ignoring the disastrous effects of climate change, and also those made by the film itself. This documentary molts from exploration of the impact of climate change to “Roger & Me”-style faceoff with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. The film’s zippy graphics are a treat, but its zippy arguments are slipshod. (90 min., PG-13) (Saul Austerlitz)

Habibi Two Palestinian students (newcomer Maisa Abd Elhadi, who is terrific) and Qays (Kais Nashif of “Paradise Now”) are torn apart, Romeo and Juliet-style, in Susan Youssef’s accomplished but erratic debut feature. Shot in the occupied Palestinian Territories, the film has a gritty, low-budget realism as it depicts day-to-day life of young people seeking personal freedom under the threat of violence and age-old cultural and generational obstacles. (78 min., unrated) (Loren King)

Little Fugitive This 1953 feature about a 7-year-old boy on his own at Coney Island has a secure place in film history. Arguably the start of American independent film, it strongly influenced the French New Wave. It’s a bit disappointing in and of itself: sentimental, more inert than not. That said, the time capsule it provides of Brooklyn life in the ’50s is pretty wonderful. (80 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

½ Lore In May of 1945, a 14-year-old girl (newcomer Saskia Rosendahl) leads her younger siblings across a conquered Germany toward a tortured acceptance of her country’s and family’s guilt. The second film by the gifted Australian director Cate Shortland occupies a stark dramatic minefield between historical reality and psychosexual myth. Overstylized, yes, but overpowering too. In German, with subtitles. (109 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Night Across the Street The final work by the great Chilean surrealist Raul Ruiz joins the handfuls of films about death made by directors who knew they were dying. It’s an elegantly illogical memory play that flits from topic to topic: childhood, pulp fiction, Beethoven. In Spanish, with subtitles. (110 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

½ No A sly true-life drama about the 1988 vote that threw out Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, focusing on an ad-man (Gael Garcia Bernal) who sold democracy like it was Coca-Cola. The movie has a cool intelligence that ripples up the years to where we live. A 2013 best foreign language Oscar nominee. In Spanish, with subtitles. (118 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Oz the Great and Powerful This unofficial prequel has 3-D, the latest computer effects, and Sam Raimi behind the camera. But, alas, a lightweight James Franco is in front of the camera as a feckless young magician whisked to Oz. There are glorious moments, but the film never finds its groove. With Rachel Weisz (great), Michelle Williams (good), and Mila Kunis (sorry, no). (130 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

Yossi Director Eytan Fox revisits Yossi (Ohad Knoller) in this sensitive sequel to Fox’s 2002 film “Yossi and Jagger,” a love story about two Israeli soldiers. Older and pudgier, Yossi is still wrapped in protective grief over the Lebanon battlefield death of his lover at the end of the first film. When he meets a handsome and openly gay soldier, Yossi struggles to shed his shell. In Hebrew, with subtitles. (84 min., unrated) (Loren King)

Previously released

Amour A simple yet devastatingly profound story of an elderly French couple (Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) during the long, squalid months of the wife’s decline. Writer-director Michael Haneke (“Caché”) observes his subject with an unadorned style that takes on aspects of the holy. The movie avoids melodrama; instead, it’s just extraordinarily intimate. In French, with subtitles. (127 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Escape From Planet Earth This 3-D animated feature casts Rob Corddry as extraterrestrial tech nerd Gary Supernova, a safety-minded worrier who mans the mission control board for the spacefaring exploits of his hotshot brother, Buzz Light- um, Scorch (Brendan Fraser). When Scorch is captured on our world, Gary has to head out into the field to save him. Colorful as the aliens-among-us comedy is to look at, Corddry is handed a role that’s beige as can be. (89 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

The Gatekeepers In Dror Moreh’s stunning documentary — one of this year’s Oscar nominees in the category — a handful of grizzled old men talk openly about their experiences running Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. It plays a little like “Zero Dark Thirty” as directed by Errol Morris. In Hebrew, with subtitles. (95 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Identity Thief All the good will Melissa McCarthy earned from “Bridesmaids” is undone in an obnoxious comedy made worse by obnoxious sentimentality. She’s a credit-card-fraud artist, Jason Bateman is her uptight victim, and the two hit the road together. Unfunny, vulgar, predictable, it’s the generic equivalent of a Judd Apatow movie. (108 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Jack the Giant Slayer In director Bryan Singer’s clever 3-D version of the folk tale, Nicholas Hoult (“Warm Bodies”) is earnest, leather-hoodied Jack, who heads up the beanstalk with Ewan McGregor’s knight to rescue a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) imperiled by power-hungry Stanley Tucci — and giants, of course. Less is more might have improved the motion-capture creatures, but their initial reveal is fairly stunning stuff, and the stratospheric beanstalk is a show-stealing effects element. (114 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

½ John Dies at the EndA loopy slacker horror farce that wants to play with your head — and time, and space, and paranoid conspiracy theories — so badly that it doesn’t care about making sense. Which doesn’t stop it from being a pretty good bad time, preferably when seen after midnight. Directed by Don Coscarelli from David Wong’s cult novel. (99 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ A Place at the Table Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush’s documentary about hunger and related issues in America is earnest and worthy and scattered. It’s also surprisingly slick (among the activists interviewed is Jeff Bridges). The visuals are bright, the graphics cutesy, the folk score tinkly. It’s by T-Bone Burnett and The Civil Wars. (84 min., PG) (Mark Feeney)

½ Safe Haven Nicholas Sparks’s latest passably ambles along in generic-melodrama mode before finally insulting audience intelligence one time too many. Julianne Hough (“Rock of Ages”) plays a domestic-violence fugitive trying to start over in a sleepy coastal town, where she catches the eye of widowed dad Josh Duhamel. Some three-hankie stuff, but a backstory kisses dramatic adequacy goodbye, and the movie heaps on a final flourish that’s stunningly ludicrous. (115 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

Warm Bodies A zombie date flick that has its “Twilight” and makes fun of it too, thanks to a cheeky screenplay and tart direction by Jonathan Levine (“50/50”). Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer play a zombie lad and a living girl who fall for each other after the apocalypse. It’s silly, often funny, and surprisingly sweet. (97 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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