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Movies

Movie capsules: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

From left: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, Melvin Van Peebles, and David Alan Grier in Tina Gordon Chism’s “Peeples.”

Nicole Rivelli/Lionsgate

From left: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, Melvin Van Peebles, and David Alan Grier in Tina Gordon Chism’s “Peeples.”

New releases

Aftershock Eli Roth of “Hostel” fame takes some of his own medicine as he stars in, as well as co-writes, this cross between “torture porn” and a disaster movie set in an earthquake-ravaged Chile. Though the gore comes more in cups than buckets, and sometimes is more clever than bloodcurdling, the restraint does not diminish the film’s predictability or heavy-handed, cynical sense of sin and retribution. (90 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ The Great Gatsby At its best — which, sadly, isn’t often enough — Baz Luhrmann’s version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is a scandal. It’s also, in event and emotion (if not period fidelity), the most faithful movie version of the book to date. The two are not unconnected. Leonardo DiCaprio gives us the full Gatsby and he’s magnificent, but overlength, over-romanticism, and a badly misused Tobey Maguire as Nick bring it low. In 3-D. (143 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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½ Peeples Though derivative of “Meet the Parents” and reliant on the usual clichés and platitudes, Tina Gordon Chism’s debut offers enough laughs, standout performances (from Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, and scene-stealing supporting actors), and unexpected wackiness to make it the best bet among current comedies. It may at times lapse into dubious taste — what comedy these days doesn’t? — but its spunk and soft touch with racial and cultural issues prevail. (95 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

½ The Reluctant Fundamentalist Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding”) adapts Mohsin Hamid’s acclaimed novel about a young Pakistani (Riz Ahmed, the best thing in the film) who attains the American dream on the eve of 9/11. A quiet character study on the page has been given a high-stakes political-thriller frame, and not for the best. With Kate Hudson, Liev Schreiber, and Kiefer Sutherland. (130 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Something in the Air A fond but clear-eyed memory play from Olivier Assayas (“Demonlover,” “Summer Hours”), this is deceptively calm for a movie about the death of the ’60s. The director shows the gradual deflating of the revolution into empty gesture using a minimum of melodrama, a fluid camera style, and a terrific period soundtrack. In French, with subtitles. (116 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Source Family The ’70s saw its share of spiritual gurus, and Jim Baker both epitomized and transcended the stereotype. He turned a successful health food restaurant into the base for a commune of white-robed young and beautiful adherents, preaching a piecemeal philosophy while leading a life of license and luxury. Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille rise above the preconceptions in their bracing documentary, portraying a flawed but formidable embodiment of an American archetype. (98 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

Previously released

The Angels’ Share Socially conscious British auteur Ken Loach divides his time between familiar hardscrabble territory and a breezier narrative landscape in a hybrid charming enough to satisfy even the trenchant-commentary crowd. Reforming hooligan Paul Brannigan leads a group of Glasgow have-nots who make an unlikely bid for “have” status by plotting a distillery heist. (101 min., unrated) (Tom Russo)

½ The Company You Keep An improvement over director-star Robert Redford’s recent movies: A dramatic thriller about aging ’60s radicals that goes relatively easy on the moral lectures and gets back to storytelling. The pleasurably deep cast includes Shia LaBeouf (as a callow reporter), Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, and Richard Jenkins. (125 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Disconnect Think of it as “Crash”.com — a multi-character drama warning audiences of the perils and alienations of the modern wired world. It’s provocative and solidly made, but director/co-writer Henry Alex Rubin (”Murderball”) opts for melodrama over drama and lets the message overwhelm the characters. The large cast includes Jason Bateman, Paula Patton, and Alexander Skarsgard. (115 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Evil Dead The thinking behind remaking Sam Raimi’s cult horror fave is to see what all those funky, low-budget chills play like when they’re reworked with a sleek, contemporary look and tone. The problem is that new director Fede Alvarez’s take, while proficient, can drain that old, kooky distinctiveness. You’ve got to get through an overlong stretch of demonic possessions played straight for a finale that’s more freewheelingly, twistedly grisly. (91 min., R) (Tom Russo)

Hava Nagila (The Movie) This short but lively documentary examines the “kitschy and profound” song’s cultural and historical origins. Director Roberta Grossman and writer Sophie Sartain approach their subject in a style that also balances the kitschy and the profound as they trace the historical roots of the music to the shtetls of the Ukraine, then to Palestine, and finally to the US, where it was popularized by entertainers such as Harry Belafonte and Connie Francis. Through one song, the documentary offers an enlightening study of cultural assimilation. (73 min., unrated) (Loren King)

In the House Voyeurism class is in session throughout this latest film from French provocateur Francois Ozon. Fabrice Luchini plays a high school writing instructor whose tedium is broken only by essays from a new student (Ernst Umhauer), an enigmatic kid fixated on an unremarkable classmate and his parents. The film’s willful lack of a payoff is almost as strange as one of those essays. In French, with subtitles. (105 min., R) (Tom Russo)

½ Iron Man 3 The weakest in the series, it suffers from confused plotting, flat-footed exposition, and more noisy nonsense than even a comic-book movie should have to put up with. Yet whenever Robert Downey Jr. cuts through the claptrap, it’s still the most subversive Marvel franchise. With Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, and Ben Kingsley. In 3-D. (130 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Kon-Tiki This Oscar-nominated Norwegian drama (in English) re-creates Thor Heyerdahl’s famous 1947 crossing of the Pacific — 4,300 miles in 101 days — on a balsa-wood raft. It’s rousing and epic and undercut by compromises onscreen and off. Twelve-year-old kids of all ages will love the shark attack, even if it never happened. (101 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Mud Matthew McConaughey gratifyingly continues to explore his wayward mid-career path in this haunting but over-ambitious and overlong drama from talented writer-director Jeff Nichols. The star plays a mysterious fugitive who changes the lives of two young boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland, both excellent) in rural Arkansas. Sam Shepard and Reese Witherspoon costar. (130 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

No Place on Earth In this documentary Janet Tobias tries to tell two stories, one about an American spelunker who finds mysterious artifacts in a vast cave while investigating his family background in Ukraine, the other about those who left those items behind, Jews who survived the Nazi occupation by hiding underground. She fails to explore the connections between the two narratives, and so does justice to neither. (82 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

½ Oblivion It’s 2077, and Earth’s in tough shape. Tom Cruise patrols the devastation, fighting off Scavs, short for Scavengers, led by Morgan Freeman. Andrea Riseborough is his communications officer/lover. When Olga Kurylenko’s NASA ship crash lands, things get complicated. Like its star, the movie is cold, efficient, increasingly overblown, and not a little inexplicable. (126 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)

Pain & Gain Three dimwitted Miami bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie) believe kidnapping, extortion, and murder will help them live the American dream. A tone-deaf, intensely unpleasant true-crime comedy that plays like “Fargo” for idiots, the movie’s final proof that Michael Bay is a director of great mechanical skill and no discernible talent. (120 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Renoir A leisurely-paced drama about the final years of painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Michel Bouquet), bewitched by his last great model (Christa Theret) as his son, the future filmmaker Jean Renoir (Vincent Rottiers), returns from WWI. Dramatically trite but, as shot by cinematographer Mark Ping Bing Lee, visually rapturous. In French, with subtitles (111 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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

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