Movie stars: Short reviews of recent movies

Tony Leung as Ip Man in “The Grandmaster.”
Weinstein Company
Tony Leung as Ip Man in “The Grandmaster.”

New releases

Austenland A rich comic notion — a lovelorn “Pride and Prejudice” fanatic (Keri Russell) visits a Jane Austen theme park — gets a depressingly cartoonish treatment from first-time director Jerusha Hess. Any spoof has to be at least as smart as the thing it’s spoofing, but this one’s twice as dumb. With Jennifer Coolidge, so cringe-inducing you laugh in shame. (97 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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)

Getaway Ethan Hawke plays a washed-up race car driver who discovers his wife has been kidnapped, then gets a call from a mystery strings-puller ordering him to steal a Ford Shelby and get moving. Selena Gomez is the car’s peeved owner, who ends up along for the ride. It’s hard to remember another action entry that expends so much energy on frenetic blacktop choreography with so little to show for it. (90 min., PG-13) (Tom Russo)


The Grandmaster Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s evocative biopic of legendary kung fu master Ip Man makes up for what it lacks in the conventional narrative with its poetic imagery and emotional depth. A treat for martial arts fans and for those enamored of Wong’s lush imagery, existentially damaged characters, and abiding mood of ennui and sorrow. In Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese, with subtitles. (108 min., PG-13) (Peter Keough)

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I Declare War Adolescents playing a souped-up game of Capture the Flag slip in and out of imaginary and real conflict as their personal foibles and preoccupations get the better of them. But the characters don’t come across as real kids, and the premise sags into contrivance and clichés. (94 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

½ The Lifeguard Kristen Bell plays a woman who panics as the big 3-0 approaches, moves back to her hometown, and winds up in an affair with a 16-year-old boy (David Lambert, who’s 20 and looks it). In writer-director Liz W. Garcia’s hands, it’s a drama both ickily exploitive and emotionally lugubrious. (98 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ One Direction: This Is Us The big-screen concert documentary seems likely to please this boy-band’s fans but doesn’t bother trying to win over anyone else. The members come off as charming, likable goof-offs, but there’s little differentiating them beyond their hairstyles. (92 min., PG) (Marc Hirsh)

½ Short Term 12 A quietly overwhelming drama set in a residential facility for troubled teenagers, Destin Cretton’s film emphasizes low-key moments of humanity. Brie Larson stars as a staffer with issues of her own; Cretton has padded her backstory out from his superior 2008 short version, but this is still a tough, lovely film. (96 min., R) (Ty Burr)


Thérèse In Bordeaux in the 1920s the discontented wife of a wealthy bourgeois commits an act that might not be in her best interests in Claude Miller’s beautifully shot but listless and unfocused adaptation of François Mauriac’s novel. Audrey Tautou, miscast in the lead, gives an affectless performance punctuated by cigarettes. In French, with subtitles. (110 min., unrated) (Peter Keough)

Previously released

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 shaky 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)

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. (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, 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 Brooklyn loft. This portrait of the artists is all the more inspiring because of its harsh honesty. (82 min., R) (Peter Keough)


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 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. With Octavia Spencer and Melonie Diaz. (85 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Jobs The first of 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 man’s 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)

Paranoia A plug-and-play Hollywood thriller, the kind where a handsome young lead (Liam Hemsworth) and aging stars in juicy character roles (Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman) chase after a high-tech MacGuffin. As processed cheese goes, the movie’s edible and forgettable; not surprisingly, the old pros offer the most reliable entertainment value. With Amber Heard and Richard Dreyfuss. (115 min., PG-13) (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)

An archive of reviews is at