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Movie Stars

Movie Stars

Robert Redford fights the elements on a boat in the Indian Ocean in “All Is Lost.’’

Richard Foreman/Roadside Attractions

Robert Redford fights the elements on a boat in the Indian Ocean in “All Is Lost.’’

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 min., 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., unrated) (Tom Russo)

Previously released

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. (100 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Enough Said A lovely 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 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)

The Fifth Estate A slick, Hollywoodized retelling of the WikiLeaks scandal, with Benedict Cumberbatch mesmerizing as a Julian Assange by way of Dr. Evil, and Daniel Brühl (“Rush”) as his more reasonable associate Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Well-made and watchable, it’s itself the response of an entrenched information system toward something it barely comprehends. (128 min., R) (Ty Burr)

½ Gravity The prodigiously gifted director Alfonso Cuarón 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 thin after a while. Some screenings are in 3-D IMAX; they’re worth it. (90 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Machete Kills Director Robert Rodriguez keeps the “Grindhouse” dream alive. Craggy-faced Danny Trejo returns as hyperviolently vengeful tough guy Machete. He’s enlisted to take down an unhinged Mexican revolutionary (Demian Bichir) by an f-bombing US president (Charlie Sheen). It’s not the sort of obsessive stylistic throwback we might expect, but more a conceptual throwback, to days when low-budget mavericks gleefully deemed any crazy idea worth tossing into a movie. (107 min., R) (Tom Russo)

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. (111 min., PG) (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 stressed detective on the case. (146 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Romeo and Juliet Apparently aimed at a youth audience weaned on “Gossip Girl,” this snoozer cuts most of Shakespeare’s speeches, invents stupid new dialogue, and features young actors who are clueless and older pros who overact. It’s a movie that only a 13-year-old girl with an English paper due could love. And she’d still get a D. (118 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

½ Wadjda The first woman to direct a feature film in Saudi Arabia, Haifaa Al Mansour has created an unforgettable character, played by Waad Mohammed. A funny, indomitable 10-year-old, she breaks many of her society’s rules, especially in her determination to buy a bicycle. More than a critique of prejudice and iniquity, the film celebrates the independent spirit. In Arabic, with subtitles. (97 min., PG) (Peter Keough)

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