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Movie Stars

Short reviews of what’s in theaters

Jackson Nicoll and Johnny Knoxville in “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.’’

Sean Cliver/Paramount Pictures

Jackson Nicoll and Johnny Knoxville in “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.’’

New releases

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. See it on a big screen, please. (106 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

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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)

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)

½ Zaytoun Abdallah El Akal and Stephen Dorff (“Public Enemies”) make a respectable showing of their tour through challenging territory: the what-if exploration of a friend-and-mentor bond between an orphaned Palestinian youth and an Israeli POW in early ’80s Lebanon. The way that their truculent dynamic evolves into deeper understanding isn’t all that complicated, considering, but it’s certainly heartfelt. (110 min., not rated) (Tom Russo)

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