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Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Isaka Sawadogo stars in “Diego Star.”

FiGa Films

Isaka Sawadogo stars in “Diego Star.”

New releases

½ Design Is One: Lella & Massimo Vignelli Known for their spare, sleek work, the Vignellis, a married couple, are among the most important and influential designers of the past half century. They’ve done work for everyone from American Airlines and Bloomingdale’s to the National Park Service and New York subway system. Kathy Brew and Robert Guerra’s documentary is lively and informative, though it does tend to fawn. (86 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Diego Star (91 minutes, unrated) (Peter Keough) This impressive debut follows the fortunes of an Ivory Coast crewman on the vessel of the title who finds himself stranded in a Canadian port when the ship breaks down. There he fights loneliness and the system with mixed results. The minimal style and nuanced performances turn this simple scenario into a moving drama and compelling plea for justice. (Peter Keough) (91 min., unrated)

Previously released

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12 Years a Slave It isn’t the story of an American tragedy. It’s the story of the American tragedy — this country’s original sin. The true saga of Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free-born black man kidnapped from New York state in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana, the movie’s to slavery what “Schindler’s List” was to the Holocaust: a mass-appeal reckoning. Directed by Steve McQueen (“Shame”). (133 min., R) (Ty Burr)

All Is Lost Two hours of Robert Redford on a boat in the Indian Ocean, and the boat’s sinking — what sounds like a recipe for boredom is, in the hands of its star and writer-director J.C. Chandor, a nearly perfect thing: An economic, elegant Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook that ever so subtly backs into Zen. (106 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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 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, the Vietnam War, Watergate, and more. The cast is stacked with stars, 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)

½ Captain Phillips An extraordinarily gripping movie based on events that took place on the container ship Maersk Alabama in April 2009. Director Paul Greengrass creates an aura of urgency so powerful that we temporarily forget what we know and hold our breaths for two-plus hours of tightening suspense. Tom Hanks and the magnetic Barkhad Abdi star. In English and Somali, with subtitles. (134 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Carrie What a disappointment. Director Kimberley Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) and star Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass,” “Let Me In”) fail to bring any new energy, resonances, or point to their remake of the classic 1976 Brian De Palma shriekfest. It’s a dispiriting retread that could have been directed by any proficient Hollywood hack. With Julianne Moore. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2 Misfit inventor Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and friends are dropped into a “Jurassic Park” setting when his food-raining invention begins churning out “foodimals.” Nicely designed, but shades of the exotica in “The Croods.” And “The Lorax.” And the Candyland riff in “Wreck-It Ralph.” And just as with the “Jurassic” franchise, characters are sent back to danger isle without any genuinely compelling reason. (95 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

The Counselor Ridley Scott’s drug-trade drama has a nerve-jangling vibe and Cormac McCarthy script. Michael Fassbender plays the eponymous protagonist, who buys into a drug-dealing operation despite a parade of red flags — notably Cameron Diaz, who’s got a sports car sex scene that’s beyond anything you’d ever guess. With Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Brad Pitt. (117 min., R) (Tom Russo)

Don Jon This might be the first commercial American movie to tackle the subject of online porn, and the fact that it’s a sprightly, if pointed, romantic comedy shouldn’t put you off. Making his writing-
directing debut, star Joseph Gordon-Levitt goes heavy on the “Jersey Shore” clichés, but he’s on to something here. With Scarlett Johansson and Julianne Moore. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Enough Said A lovely, melancholy comedy of mid-life errors and eros that, among other things, showcases the late James Gandolfini in a performance of immense tenderness and charm. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, appealingly vulnerable, plays a single mom who doesn’t trust her good luck, and writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Friends With Money”) delivers her most confident character comedy to date. (93 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Escape Plan In their latest team-up, Sylvester Stallone plays a security consultant who infiltrates prisons, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is the fast friend he makes after being left to rot in a secret super-penitentiary. For the first half-hour, you start to think maybe it’s possible to recapture those ’80s popcorn-movie thrills. Trouble is, it’s all Sly’s show – Ahnold hasn’t even come into the picture yet. (116 min., R) (Tom Russo)

½ Gravity The prodigiously gifted director Alfonso Cuarón (“Children of Men”) maroons Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in outer space. The movie’s an astonishingly detailed, visually painstaking state-of-the-art production that advances what the cinema can show us — even as the human story at its center feels a little thin after a while. (90 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Great White Shark Following teams of researchers around the globe, this 3-D
IMAX nature short attempts to balance consciousness-raising with spectacle. We learn plenty about the great white’s ways and moves. But the amped-up danger, overdramatic soundtrack, and exploitative great white eye-candy footage exploit the very fears the movie is trying to dispel. (40 min., unrated) (Ethan Gilsdorf)

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa The “Jackass” folks add a semblance of a road movie narrative to their usual routine of gross-out gags performed before unwitting bystanders caught on a hidden camera. More important, they add terrific child actor Jackson Nicoll as the title octogenarian’s grandson. Nicoll’s combination of innocence,
puerility, and canny timing
injects a soulfulness that elevates the asinine practical jokes into genuine comedy. (92 minutes, R) (Peter Keough)

Muscle Shoals The documentary takes its name from the small northern Alabama town with not one but two legendary recording studios. The focus is on music producer Rick Hall and the legendary crew of backup musicians known as the Swampers. The film can be annoyingly slick and overproduced. Oh well. The music and the musicians are what matter, and they’re often magnificent. (PG, 111 min.) (Mark Feeney)

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, and Carlos Alazraqui, who as a Mexican plane in the race steals the show. (PG, 92 min.) (Mark Feeney)

Prisoners At 146 minutes, it often groans under its own self-importance, but Denis Villeneuve's kidnapping thriller — about the disappearance of two little girls — is as gripping as it is grueling. Hugh Jackman plays the most volatile of the four parents and Jake Gyllenhaal is the smart, increasingly stressed detective on the case. With
Viola Davis, Terrence Howard, and Maria Bello. (146 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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