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Movies

MOVIE STARS

Movie capsules: Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Rebecca Hall as Claudia Simmons-Howe in John Crowley’s “Closed Circuit.”

Jay Maidment/Focus Features

Rebecca Hall as Claudia Simmons-Howe in John Crowley’s “Closed Circuit.”

New releases

Closed Circuit London has a reputation as a city where surveillance technology is especially pervasive. So you hear this political thriller’s title, and you instantly start to imagine the creepy possibilities — none of which are explored by this familiar bureaucratic conspiracy exercise. Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall are lawyers and ex-lovers pulled into an unsurprising mystery as they defend a Muslim immigrant accused in a marketplace bombing. (96 min., R) (Tom Russo)

Previously released

½ Ain’t Them Bodies Saints Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play a Depression-era outlaw couple; Ben Foster is the deputy who loves Mara. Writer-director David Lowery has made an often staggeringly beautiful emulation of the ’70s work of Robert Altman and Terence Malick, specifically the former’s “Thieves Like Us” (1974) and the latter’s “Days of Heaven” (1978). But the characters are too ordinary to care for deeply and the story doesn’t add up to much. (105 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

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½ The Attack A Palestinian-Israeli physician’s attempt to comprehend a suicide bombing becomes more urgent when the terrorist turns out to be his wife, a tragedy that forces him to reconsider his status in his adopted homeland. Though at times implausible, Ziad Doueiri’s treatment of this provocative premise confronts the mysteries of motivation and the dilemmas of divided loyalty. In Arabic and Hebrew, with subtitles. (102 min., R) (Peter Keough)

½ The Butler The story of an African-American White House butler (Forest Whitaker) who was a fly on the wall of the civil rights struggle, Vietnam, Watergate, and more. The cast is stacked, but director Lee Daniels wants us to look hard at a man who thought the only way forward was to be invisible. (126 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Cutie and the Boxer A marriage between two artists doesn’t always lead to domestic tranquillity, as is demonstrated in Zachary Heinzerling’s impressionistic documentary about Ushio and Noriko Shinohara. Despite hard times, the Japanese-born couple has stayed together for 40 years, still pursuing their art and squabbling in their garret-like Brooklyn loft. This portrait of the artists is all the more inspiring because of its harsh honesty. (82 min., R) (Peter Keough)

In a World . . . Lake Bell proves yet again that women are as funny, if not more so, than their uptight male counterparts. She directs and writes this hilarious comedy, and also stars as a voice coach who hopes to break into the macho bastion of movie trailer voice-overs, despite her biggest obstacle, her father, a voice-over legend. The result is narratively bumpy, but exhilarating and hilarious. (93 min., R) (Peter Keough)

Jobs The first two biopics of the late founder of Apple (another written by Aaron Sorkin is in development) features a compelling performance by Ashton Kutcher in the title role but otherwise reduces the life to a series of inspirations, tirades, and motivational speeches set in corporate boardrooms. It seems like an extended Apple ad, with a few gossipy asides, but less entertaining. (127 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

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½ The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones In an attempt to become the next big teenage fantasy franchise (think “Harry Potter,” “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games”), this adaptation of the first in Cassandra Clare’s series of books steals from all of them. A teenage girl glimpses an underworld of supernatural good and evil that soon descends into the realm of self-parody. (120 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

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 Ocean. The 3-D imagery is particularly effective in giving a sense of just how teeming this “Penguin City” is. (40 min., unrated) (Tom Russo)

Prince Avalanche This lyrical little oddity returns filmmaker David Gordon Green to form. A remake of the 2011 Icelandic film “Either Way,” it transfers the action to the barren Texas wilderness, destroyed by wildfires in 1988. Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) are spending the summer painting bright yellow traffic lines on empty roads. Not much happens besides arguing and joking in this “Waiting for Godot”-like character study, but the performances and ghostly, melancholic atmosphere make it a satisfying twist on the male buddy film. (94 min., R) (Loren King)

Spark: A Burning Man Story Located in the desert of Nevada, the annual Burning Man festival is a Disneyland for Occupy Movement believers. But this documentary only gives us a one-sided picture through the eyes of the bohemian San Francisco founders. Their growing pains are discussed at length, but what is missing is accounts from festival-goers. (90 min., unrated) (Steve Morse)

½ The Spectacular Now A disarmingly tender teen romance that bears comparison with the best of its genre, both old (“Say Anything. . . ”) and new (“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”). Miles Teller plays a beloved cut-up with a drinking problem; Shailene Woodley is the quiet nobody he unexpectedly falls for. (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Turbo Ryan Reynolds voices a garden-trolling 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 adventure-in-the-grass ’toons. But “Turbo” makes an entertaining go of it by borrowing liberally from the “Fast & Furious” franchise and “Rocky.” (96 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

½ The World’s End The third and weakest in the “Shaun of the Dead”/“Hot Fuzz” series from director-writer Edgar Wright, writer-star Simon Pegg, and costar Nick Frost, this juggles an epic pub crawl, male middle-age crises, and an attack of alien cyborgs. It’s more frantic than funny, but it’s still funny enough — just. (109 min., R) (Ty Burr)

You’re Next In this taut, twisted, and gratifying exercise in the home invasion scenario, Adam Wingard plays with stereotypes and subverts them. A dysfunctional family gathers for an anniversary, and unknown assailants put them out of their misery. But all is not as it seems, and Wingard reverses expectations in what proves to be a perverse parable of family values. (94 min., R) (Peter Keough)

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

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