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Movie stars: A look at what’s in theaters

New releases

45 Minutes from Broadway The irrepressible Henry Jaglom returns with this play within a movie that is supposed to be a celebration of the art of acting but is in fact an exercise in overacting. The bogus Chekhovian scenario involves a family of histrionic thespians thrown into even more chaos by the return home of an estranged daughter and her “normal” fiance. (106 min., R) (Peter Keough)

Dirty Wars Ostensibly an expose of the activities of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan and elsewhere, this documentary feels a lot more like a valentine. The recipient is investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, who narrates and cowrote the film. The camera gazes at him writing notes, inserting push pins, putting Post-its on photographs, taping together printouts. He could be auditioning for a Staples ad. (86 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

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½ The East A watchably confused eco-thriller that’s never sure who its heroes are. Brit Marling (who co-wrote with director Zal Batmanglij) plays an operative who infiltrates a band of idealistic monkey-wrenchers led by Alexander Skarsgård and Ellen Page. Are they freedom fighters or confused kids? The film’s ambiguities seem only partly intentional. (116 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Man of Steel Director Zack Snyder (“300”) has made a superhero blockbuster that carries the weight of its fraught times, but where’s the pop joy? As Superman, Henry Cavill is very good without quite convincing us he’s a star. With Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, and crazy-eyed Michael Shannon as General Zod. (143 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty In his first feature Terence Nance directs the camera at himself and his perhaps over-analyzed love for an elusive beauty. Though at times self-conscious and talky, and maybe trying a bit too hard to be inventive, his film nonetheless demonstrates a facility with styles and structure, creating a collage that can be breathtaking and heartbreaking in its insights into loss and longing. (84 minutes, unrated) (Peter Keough)

½ Pandora’s Promise Nuclear power is the most practical way to generate large amounts of electricity. Does that also make it the most environmentally friendly? Such well-known activists as Stewart Brand, Mark Lynas, and Michael Shellenberger have come to that grudging conclusion. Writer-director Robert Stone’s documentary is intelligent, if rather gratuitously slick. It lets them make their argument, and persuasively so. (87 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Post Tenebras Lux Despite or because of the film’s extreme scenes of sex and violence, Mexican director Carlos Reygadas has created another genuinely religious work with this chronologically cockeyed, nightmarish, and transgressive meditation on the lives of an upper-class family and their lumpen counterparts. Set at a country estate, it combines stunning beauty and wrenching ugliness to achieve a kind of transcendence. In Spanish, French, and English, with subtitles. (115 minutes, unrated) (Peter Keough

½ Shadow Dancer The talented Andrea Riseborough (”Oblivion”) plays a Belfast woman forced by MI5 to spy on her brothers’ IRA cell during the peace talks of the 1990s; a dour Clive Owen plays her agency handler. Well-acted and intelligently directed, the movie keeps its emotions so tightly in check that it risks seeming inconsequential. (101 min., R) (Ty Burr)

This Is the End A cheerfully crass meta-comedy in which the Apocalypse comes to Hollywood and takes most of the A-list with it. Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and others play comic versions of themselves. The opening scenes are inspired, but then the world ends and the movie still has an hour and a half to go. (106 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

After Earth Will Smith’s version of Take Your Son to Work Day. He and Jaden Smith play a futuristic father and son who crash-land on an Earth mankind long ago fled; the son has to cross 100 kilometers of wilderness to save them both. It’s passable entertainment for older kids, but Smith Jr. isn’t yet ready for prime time. (100 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Before Midnight The third installment in director Richard Linklater’s saga of Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) is richer, riskier, and more bleakly perceptive about what it takes for love to endure (or not) over the long haul. Like Michael Apted’s “Up” documentaries, this series offers a touching and humbling time-lapse study of human nature. (108 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Fast & Furious 6 In another all-hands-on-deck installment, retired racer-robbers Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and crew get a call for help from frenemy Dwayne Johnson, who’s tangling with new bad guy Luke Evans. There’s a significant incentive: Diesel’s lovergirl, fourth-episode casualty Michelle Rodriguez, is back among the living and hanging with Evans. The cast shows an easy chemistry and the star-crossed love story also works, in its steroidally melodramatic way. (130 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

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)

The Internship Vince Vaughn and Own Wilson play two unemployed appliance salesmen who fast-talk their way into a summer internship program at Google. The movie’s obvious, predictable, dopey, sentimental — and entertaining enough until you realize you’re watching one long commercial for an Internet company. (119 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Star Trek Into Darkness The new film just has to convince us that 2009’s “Star Trek” wasn’t a fluke. That it does so — expertly, exhilaratingly — is a mark of director J.J. Abrams’s uncanny ease with modern Hollywood formulas. (132 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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