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Recent movie reviews

Pierce Brosnan stars in “The November Man.”

Aleksandar Letic/Relativity Media

Pierce Brosnan stars in “The November Man.”

New releases

½ Exhibition Joanna Hogg brings a unique, challenging style of filmmaking to this elusive allegory about a middle-aged artist couple who have decided to move from the London house where they live and work and which has become almost indistinguishable from their lives. A haunting look at contemporary anomie and the inadequacy of art to cope with it. (104 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

The November Man A newly belligerent Russia may prove a boon to a secret agent genre in need of new (or old) villains and themes, but this adaptation of an ’80s spy novel quickly succumbs to cartoonish violence. Pierce Brosnan remains classy as a CIA assassin brought out of retirement when the killing turns personal. (98 min., R) (Peter Keough)

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½ Abuse of Weakness Catherine Breillat has transformed her worst experiences into one of her best films. A director like Breillat herself suffers a stroke and succumbs to the wiles of a con man. Aided by Isabelle Huppert’s terrific performance, Breillat re-creates the mental state of someone unmoored from good sense but still with the insight of an artist. In French, with subtitles. (104 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

Begin Again A struggling songwriter (Keira Knightley) joins with a burned-out record producer (Mark Ruffalo) to record an album on the streets and rooftops of New York. What felt authentic and fresh in John Carney’s 2006 indie hit “Once” has curdled into calculation in his follow-up. Pleasantly predictable if you’re in the mood; unbearable if not. (104 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Closed Curtain Somehow Jafar Panahi has made two features since he was sentenced in 2010 to six years imprisonment and a 20-year ban from filmmaking for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” Like his previous film, this is an allegory about the filmmaker’s loss, and the world’s loss because of it. In Farsi, with subtitles. (106 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

½ The Expendables 3 Sylvester Stallone teams with a cast more sprawling than ever as his mercenary crew goes up against an arms dealer and onetime compadre played by Mel Gibson. Even Harrison Ford gets in on the act. It’s an overstuffed strategy that, go figure, not only works but even cures a thing or two that ailed the previous movies. With Antonio Banderas, Wesley Snipes, and Kelsey Grammer. (126 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)

½ Frank Michael Fassbender plays a mysterious rock guru with a giant papier mache head: Think Syd Barrett or Brian Wilson as a parade float. An entertaining curio with flashes of inspiration, the movie walks a line between cute comedy and a darker drama the filmmakers aren’t quite up to. With Domhnall Gleeson and a hilariously gloomy Maggie Gyllenhaal (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For In Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s latest neo-noir anthology, the fan-favorite Miller yarn of the title is the one that gets long-form treatment, and it has cinematic juice. Josh Brolin plays hardcase Dwight McCarthy, whose moral compass may have cracks but still points the right way. The other stories range from pretty good to not good at all. With Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. (102 min., R) (Tom Russo)

The Giver A late-to-the-fair film version of Lois Lowry’s 1993 novel, the first in the Young Adult Dystopia genre later colonized by “The Hunger Games” et al. Market-driven retrofitting almost but doesn’t quite kill what makes the story special: Its hero’s inner journey to understand the truth about his world and act on it. With Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, and Meryl Streep. (94 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

The Hundred-Foot Journey The great actors Om Puri and Helen Mirren should have been the entrée in this profiterole about an Indian family setting up a restaurant across the street from a stuffy haute cuisine establishment. Instead, the side dishes are featured most, making for a bland, overlong, and unsatisfying meal. In French, Hindi, and English, with subtitles. (122 min., PG) (Peter Keough)

½ If I Stay The limbo between life and death plays more like comedy than tragedy in this hackneyed adaptation of Gayle Forman’s popular YA novel. A car crash puts a cello prodigy into a coma. In an out-of-body state she wonders if she should resume her life. Most viewers would probably advise against it. (103 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

½ Land Ho! A marvelous lo-fi fable about two duffers (Paul Eenhoorn and the irrepressible Earl Lynn Nelson) who travel from Kentucky to Iceland. Why? Because life’s short and getting shorter. A hot spring of a movie: It fizzes a lot, and you come out feeling better than you went in. Written and directed by Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens. (95 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Manuscripts Don’t Burn This film would be remarkable if only because it got made — by Mohammad Rasoulof, who has been sentenced to six years in prison and a 20-year ban from filmmaking for protests made against the Iranian regime. But it also triumphs as one of cinema’s great glimpses into the nature of tyranny and oppression. In Persian, with subtitles. (125 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

Siddharth A parent’s worst nightmare unfolds as the 12-year-old son of an impoverished Delhi street vendor vanishes and the father must search the subcontinent to find him. Though the poverty might be prettified, the story is devoid of sentimentality, and it builds both in suspense and pathos. In Hindi, with subtitles. (97 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

Violette Martin Provost brought to life the obscure visionary artist Séraphine de Senlis in his film “Seraphine,” but does not succeed as well with the writer Violette Leduc. In part that is because writing is essentially uncinematic, and Leduc’s autobiographical works would be more rewarding to read than to watch being put down on paper. In French, with subtitles. (138 min., PG) (Peter Keough)

When the Game Stands Tall Jim Caviezel plays a revered high school football coach in the true story of Northern California’s De La Salle Spartans, a team that set a national record with 151 straight wins. The filmmakers mainly want to examine the rough circumstances and fallout of “The Streak,” which makes for a structurally glitchy inspirational exercise with all the drama of a Patriots preseason matchup. (115 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

For movie coverage, go to www.bostonglobe.com/movies.
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