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MOVIE STARS

July 16, 2009
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New release
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Installment six merely gets us one movie closer to the series’ big finale. Harry learns more about Voldemort, the terrorist who killed his parents, and Jim Broadbent arrives as a professor who used to teach Voldemort. Harry and his friends’ hormones suggest the series works better as a collection of teen movies. (153 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

Previously released

Blood: The Last Vampire It’s no fun not enjoying this story about a half-human, half-vampire samurai. The movie comes from “a producer’’ of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’’ and “Hero.’’ So if you’re thinking, “Man, that’s familiar’’ as you watch actors do impossible backbends and leaps, you’ll know why. (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Brüno Sacha Baron Cohen’s flamboyant Austrian nincompoop comes to America seeking fame. He throws his barely concealed crotch at the camera and tries to film a sex video with an annoyed Ron Paul. Cohen is looking to exploit the hate that exists in people, but he doesn’t quite find it, and the movie just sputters. (82 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Cheri Michelle Pfeiffer plays a Belle Epoque courtesan emotionally entangled with a young Parisian (Rupert Friend). What at first seems a waxwork parody of Merchant Ivory-style filmmaking becomes a surprisingly sharp meditation on beauty and age, both in 19th-century France and the modern film industry. (92 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Departures A young man (Masahiro Motoki) apprentices as a ritual preparer of dead bodies. It’s easy to see why this won the foreign language Oscar over better, tougher movies. It’s the kind of sentimental drama that pats its audience on the back for confronting social taboos. In Japanese, with subtitles (131 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Dillinger Is Dead Not a gangster movie but an unearthed rarity: a dryly rapturous 1969 drama of modern alienation directed by the excellent, underrated Italian filmmaker Marco Ferreri. Michel Piccoli plays a bourgeois industrialist whose life comes surreally apart one night at home. In Italian, with subtitles. (90 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Food, Inc. Rob Kenner’s documentary is about the extent to which industrial food production has replaced farming in America. Like certain forms of explanatory journalism, the movie intends to assert and shame: part activism, part teacher lecture. (94 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

The Girl From Monaco A brilliant French defense lawyer on a high-profile trial in Monaco forms an uneasy bond with his bodyguard - but will a woman come between them? This movie doesn’t know whether it wants to be a sprightly sex comedy or an enigmatic little thriller. Unfortunately, it’s neither very funny nor thrilling. (95 min., R) (Joel Brown)

Herb & Dorothy Megumi Sasaki’s documentary presents New York art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel as inseparable buddies who cultivated a passion for art, as creators and collectors. They began in the 1960s, and they’re still at it. Sasaki is mostly interested in how adorable they are, which is enough. (89 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

The Hurt Locker This war film focuses on the work of an Army bomb squad and one particularly gifted soldier (Jeremy Renner), who seems to have no fear of roadside bombs. We see and feel how when James disarms a bomb, it’s almost no different from watching a conductor seduce an orchestra or a chef produce a meal. (88 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

I Love You, Beth Cooper Writer Larry Doyle (“The Simpsons’’) adapts his novel about a high school geek (Paul Rust) enduring one long night with his cheerleader dream girl (Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes’’). Chris Columbus directs, and what could have been a nice John Hughes revamp ends up just another teen stu-com. (101 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs The third installment in the series offers up a stale and sketchy premise: a lost world that plays out far beneath the frozen tundra, where tropical jungles somehow thrive, Jurassic beasts roar, and the most menacing creatures are total softies once you get to know them. In 3-D. (94 min., PG) (Janice Page)

In a Dream Jeremiah Zagar’s tender chronicle of his father’s creative delusions and tumultuous family relationships is an engrossing portrait of the quixotic artist whose mosaics cover 50,000 square feet of wall in South Philadelphia. Stunning visuals and camerawork help make the film a work of art. (85 min., unrated) (Laura Bennett)

The Lost Son of Havana From 1973 to 1976, Luis “El Tiante’’ Tiant was the heart of the Red Sox, almost willing the team to a world championship in 1975. But there’s another side of Tiant, told in this documentary that follows him on his 2007 trip to his native Cuba, his first in more than 45 years. (102 min., unrated) (Geoff Edgers)

A Man Among Giants Documentary on the 2006 Pawtucket mayoral campaign of a 4-foot-7-inch Republican former pro wrestler, Doug “Tiny The Terrible’’ Tunstall, against longtime Mayor James Doyle, a Democrat. Trailed by filmmaker Rod Webber, his campaign founders daily. (94 min., unrated) (Joel Brown)

Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight Wendy Keys’s documentary about the graphic designer responsible for “I NY,’’ and other instantly recognizable logos and images, is a lovefest and goes on too long. But Glaser’s so articulate, and his designs so charming, the excess is understandable. (73 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Moon Will there ever be more of Sam Rockwell in one movie than there is here? He plays an astronaut on a space station who discovers he’s not alone - his companions are clones of him. Written and directed by Duncan Jones, the movie’s initially welcome modesty becomes a limitation. (88 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

My Sister’s Keeper A shapeless, hankie-wringing reworking of the Jodi Picoult bestseller about a terminally ill teen and her frayed family. Cameron Diaz is OK as the mom, but Sofia Vassilieva anchors the film as the cancer victim, rebellious, serene, and life-size. With Abigail Breslin and Alec Baldwin. (109 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

The Proposal Casting in romantic comedy is like eating: Just because you like sardines and cheese doesn’t mean you like them together. Sardines and cheese together is gross. So is Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. She’s his boss, and they fake an engagement to keep her from being deported. (107 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

Public Enemies A disappointment from director Michael Mann, who tells the story of Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger without bothering to explain why. The fault’s not Johnny Depp’s - at this point, the actor is the definition of star power - but misguided camerawork and the lack of a story line. (143 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Throw Down Your Heart Documentary trails American banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck through African countries on a quest to trace the instrument’s roots. Director Sascha Paladino, Fleck’s half brother, creates a vivid film, but it is so long and repetitive that the hypnosis of the music wears out by the end. (97 min., unrated) (Laura Bennett)

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Giant robots smash each other to rivets, the pyramids are reduced to rubble, fighter jets scream across the sky, and Megan Fox’s measurements are draped across the screen for maximum effect. Michael Bay directs; Shia LaBeouf stars. (150 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Whatever Works Minor Woody Allen, based on a 30-year-old script about a Manhattan sourpuss (Larry David, channeling the director) and the Southern-fried youngster (Evan Rachel Wood) he marries. As Wood’s mama, Patricia Clarkson is a regally smutty joy, but the film’s thin and divorced from any reality. (92 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Women of Faith Rebecca M. Alvin’s documentary attempts to tell a history of New England nuns. It settles on listening to various nuns discuss their relationship to God, the Catholic Church, and their sexuality. As useful and enlightening as some of the film is, it feels like a work in progress. (60 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

Year One Jack Black and Michael Cera are dopey cavemen who travel through ancient civilizations. The film’s like a Hope-Crosby road movie written by potty-obsessed 12-year-old boys. Hank Azaria and Christopher Mintz-Plasse get some laughs as the biblical Abraham and Isaac. (97 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

An archive of movie reviews may be found at www.boston.com/movies.

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