Movie Stars

Movie capsules: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Courtesy the Film Desk

New releases

Blue Jasmine A good Woody Allen movie with a very great Cate Blanchett performance at its center. She plays a New Yorker whose world of privilege falls apart, forcing her to move in with her blue-collar sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. With Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, and — most unexpectedly — Andrew Dice Clay (98 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Elysium 2154 AD: Scowly Matt Damon plays a working-class hero fighting his way from the poisoned Earth to the space-station Elysium, where the 1 percent live. Writer-director Neill Blomkamp (“District 9”) delivers an expertly-made slice of future shock that breaks no new ground whatsoever. With Jodie Foster in arguably the worst performance of her career. (109 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Europa Report A six-person crew heads for Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Among those on board are Michael Nyqvist, Sharlto Copley, and Anamaria Marinca. The plot’s straightforward — is there such a thing as an outer-space procedural? — but formally the movie is heavy on trickeration. Director Sebastián Cordero combines surveillance footage, news reports, talking-head interviews, and video for a docudrama feel. (90 min., PG-13) (Mark Feeney)


In the Fog In a Nazi-occupied region of the Soviet Union three men face moral dilemmas and each responds according to his character. However, in Sergei Loznitsa’s remorseless, dirge-like adaptation of the Vasil Bykov novel, their choices prove meaningless, as all values and vices are swallowed up in the amoral fog of war. Ponderous and powerful, this is a film more to be admired than enjoyed. (128 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

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Le Pont du Nord It’s not one of French New Wave director Jacques Rivette’s greatest works — that honor goes to 1974’s “Celine and Julie Go Boating” or 1991’s “La Belle Noiseuse” — but this artful 1981 puzzler is a useful compendium of his themes: gamesmanship, women, paranoia. Starring the mother-daughter team of Bulle and Pascale Ogier. In French, with subtitles. (126 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Lovelace Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman spin two versions of the story of the ingénue who starred in the most successful porn film of all time. In the first they capture the milieu of the ’70s porn industry. In the second they turn it into a moralistic horror story with a bogus feel-good ending. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. (92 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters In this second installment of the mythology-rooted YA series, Percy (Logan Lerman) and his pals set out for the Bermuda Triangle to find the Golden Fleece. But oh, all the gods-darned obstacles complicating their quest, including self-doubt, a cryptic prophecy, and Percy’s tagalong, Cyclops half-brother. Like the first movie, there’s some unabashed “Harry Potter” cribbing and thin emotion, but when the fantasy spectacle clicks, you’ll feel forgiving. (106 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

½ Planes The hero of this amiable animated feature from Disney is Dusty, a cropdusting plane who wants to win the Wings Around the Globe air race. After a slow start, the movie picks up air speed. Featuring the voices of Dane Cook (as Dusty), Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, and Carlos Alazraqui, who as a Mexican plane in the race steals the show. (PG, 92 min.) (Mark Feeney).


We’re the Millers Jason Sudeikis plays a pot dealer who hires a fake family to get his weed across the border: Stripper “wife” (Jennifer Aniston), geeky “son” (Will Poulter), teen runaway “daughter” (Emma Roberts). The movie’s as edge-free as its casting. Some laughs, one or two flashes of inspiration, and enough sentimentality to ensure that no one gets hurt. (109 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Previously released

2 Guns Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg are relaxed and very funny as a pair of drug dealers who, unbeknownst to each other, are both undercover cops. The film itself is busy, bullet-riddled, and more than a little mean, director Baltasar Kormákur piling on the quadruple-crosses and macho smack-downs with style but not enough sense. With Bill Paxton and Paula Patton. (109 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Act of Killing An extraordinary movie, and maybe the craziest filmmaking concept you’ll ever encounter. It’s the brainchild of director Joshua Oppenheimer, who spent eight years in Indonesia recording the stories of death-squad leaders. Instead of just interviewing them, Oppenheimer has them dramatize their thoughts and actions as cinema, employing their favorite techniques and genre tropes. The result compelled Errol Morris and Werner Herzog to sign on as executive producers. In Indonesian and English, with subtitles. (122 min., unrated) (Janice Page)

½ Blackfish It sounds like a summer blockbuster adapted from the pages of a Peter Benchley novel: A crazed serial killer whale is stalking theme park performers, trainers, and even one hapless after-hours visitor. But “Blackfish” is no trumped up horror story fueled by Hollywood brand names and special effects. In this riveting documentary directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite, all of the creatures are real, and all seem entitled to the serious chip on their shoulders. (83 min., PG-13) (Janice Page)

½ The Conjuring A trim, effective haunted-house spookshow that’s both a throwback to '70s real estate shriekers like “The Amityville Horror” and a big-studio response to the “Paranormal Activity” found-footage genre. Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play married paranormal investigators, and Lili Taylor and Ron Livingston are a couple whose dream home has a bad case of the Beelzebubs. (112 min., R) (Ty Burr)


½ Fruitvale Station An American tragedy: The final day on earth of Oscar Grant (a terrific Michael B. Jordan), shot in the back in 2009 by a San Francisco transit officer. Writer-director Ryan Coogler focuses on the smaller struggles, satisfactions, and injustices of a young man’s life. One of the most necessary films of the year. (85 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Penguins 3D Naturalist David Attenborough and the makers of this new IMAX documentary face a challenge in trying to set their film apart from “March of the Penguins,” etc. Their strategy is to let their narrative flow mostly, well, naturally, and not sculpt story lines. The birds the movie follows are just three of the visually staggering 6 million penguins packed onto a remote island in the southern Atlantic. The 3-D imagery is particularly effective in giving a sense of just how teeming this “Penguin City” is. (40 min., unrated) (Tom Russo)

The Smurfs 2 This 3-D sequel to the 2011 film brings back evil sorcerer Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and most of the rest of the human and voice-over cast. This time, the mushroom-dwelling blue creatures head to Paris to rescue Smurfette (Katy Perry) from Gargamel’s lair. The film’s mix of live action and animation is at times entertaining, but too calculatingly commercial for the likably low-grade Smurfs. (100 min., PG) (Loren King)

½ Still Mine Michael McGowan makes the personal political in this true story about an octogenarian who tries to build a new house for his dementia-afflicted spouse despite officious government interference. The director’s argument against bureaucratic myopia resonates, but at the expense of a compelling depiction of a touching love story beautifully acted by James Cromwell and Geneviève Bujold. (103 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

The To Do List A smutty, sloppy, revolutionary teen sex comedy where the girls get to play nasty and the boys stand around looking terrified. Aubrey Plaza plays a high school valedictorian who makes a neatly-printed list of every sexual activity she’s never tried and vows to cross them off before college. Writer-director Maggie Carey laughs our culture’s virgin/whore complex to pieces. (104 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Turbo Ryan Reynolds voices a snail who dreams of Indianapolis 500 glory. That’s an order only slightly taller than trying to put a fresh spin on animated racing and micro-scale action after “Cars” and a host of adventure-in-the-grass 'toons. “Turbo” makes an entertaining go of it by borrowing from the “Fast & Furious” franchise. (96 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

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