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Movie Stars

Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.’’ Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander in “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.’’ (Music Box Films)
November 3, 2010

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Carlos Director Olivier Assayas turns the life of radical 1970s terrorist Carlos the Jackal into an epic saga (check that running time) about violence, vanity, and towering self-delusion. Édgar Ramírez gives a mesmerizing lead performance as a man who thinks he wants to be the next Che Guevara but really just wants his own T-shirt. In English and many other languages, with subtitles. (319 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Conviction Whose idea was it to name the movie in which Hilary Swank puts herself through law school so she can get her brother out of prison “Conviction’’? It probably sounded clever at the time — or tested well. The brother (Sam Rockwell) is convicted, and in order to free him she’s gonna need. . . But, again, the sister is Hilary Swank. She already has it. The movie works as pasteurized entertainment. It’s as good and as safe as milk. (106 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest The robotic final movie based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy is all anticlimax. For one thing, “the girl’’ — Lisbeth Salander, the moody, ultra-fit, punk-goth cyber genius — doesn’t kick anything until the final 10 minutes. As superb as Noomi Rapace has been up to this point, there’s nothing she can do to bring craft or excitement to the act of texting. In Swedish, with English subtitles. (148 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Hereafter From Clint Eastwood, a multicharacter melodrama about the afterlife that’s affecting both in spite of and because of its sizable flaws. The three-pronged narrative spirals around a reluctant psychic (Matt Damon) who can commune with the dead. Peter Morgan wrote the script; Cécile de France and Bryce Dallas Howard costar, the latter stealing every one of her scenes. (129 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Inside Job A masterpiece of investigative nonfiction moviemaking — a scathing, outrageous, depressing, comical, horrifying report on what and who brought on the current financial crisis. Charles Ferguson’s movie succeeds at upsetting you not by losing its cool, the way so many similar films do, but by slow-cooking. (109 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story Filmmakers Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (“Half Nelson,’’ “Sug ar’’) go amiably soft on us with this gentle comedy about a New York teenager (Keir Gilchrist) in a psych ward. It’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’’ Lite, often charming but just as often skirting real emotional pain. With Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts. (101 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Jackass 3D 3-D is an obvious frontier for the Jackass franchise. The closer it can bring us to human secretions, high-impact mishaps, ornery farm animals, flaccid penises, and wholesale homosocial antics the better. The astonishment is that the new movie isn’t a lousy production. The physical-comedy spectacle now looks spectacular. (94 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Kuroneko A new print of the 1968 black-and-white horror classic by the underrated writer-director Kaneto Shindô (“Onibaba’’). Perched ambitiously at the intersection of high art and low trash, it’s based on a Japanese folk tale, and there’s a witchy, atmospheric timelessness to the movie that extends well past the unadorned sets. In Japanese, with subtitles. (99 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)

Life As We Know It Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel play a mismatched pair — she’s a neatnik, he’s a cocky slob — forced to raise their friends’ orphaned toddler together. An improvement over Heigl’s last few movies, this is brisk, pleasantly acted, painless date-night fluff — the sort of thing that gives bland and predictable a good name. (115 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Nowhere Boy A stormy melodrama about the life of the adolescent John Lennon (Aaron Johnson), caught between the stern aunt who’s raising him (Kristin Scott Thomas) and the emotionally fragile mother (Anne-Marie Duff) who abandoned him. It’s a very watchable Beatles creation myth, but the movie’s understanding of rock release is undermined by a script that tends toward soap opera. (98 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Paranormal Activity 2 A sequel, a prequel, and a remake, all in one film. The plot of this follow-up to the surprise 2009 hit leads up to and eventually over-explains the eerie events of the first film. The producers being no fools, the new movie’s also a virtual carbon copy of the original. As bloodless camcorder meta-horror goes, it’s passable. (91 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Pianomania Saying that Stefan Knüpfer tunes pianos for Steinway & Sons is an understatement. He’s actually a master technician. But a large part of what makes this documentary a successful portrait of his skill is that it undersells him, too. In German, with English subtitles. (93 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

RED The latest in the recent wave of geriatric actionfests trading on the novelty of old folks getting medieval with guns, bombs, rocket launchers, you name it. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Dame Helen Mirren are the retired CIA assassins on the loose; it’s a decent joke brought down by sloppy filmmaking and slack storytelling. With Mary-Louise Parker. (111 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Secretariat Yes, it’s a movie about a horse, but it’s also a horse movie about a woman. Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) decides to enter the predominately male world of professional horse racing in 1972. Her thoroughbred wins the Triple Crown. By nearly every standard, this is a small, conventional movie, but in its smallness it’s exquisitely made. Lane dominates the movie with nothing more than poise. (115 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)

Stone De Niro acts! For the first time in a while, anyway. He plays a bottled-up parole officer caught up in sexual mind games between a convict (Edward Norton) and the convict’s slinky wife (Milla Jovovich). What looks like a pulpy film noir is actually a dead-serious meditation on faith and grace, redemption and damnation. The movie’s ambitions just barely excuse its turgidness. (105 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Welcome to the Rileys A small, odd character drama that lets James Gandolfini (“The Sopranos’’) play a grieving working stiff who tries to turn a teen stripper (Kristen Stewart) into a replacement daughter. Director Jake Scott (Ridley’s son) keeps it muted and humane; Melissa Leo as the hero’s agoraphobic wife gives the movie some welcome force but not quite enough. (110 min., R) (Ty Burr)

An archive of movie reviews can be found at www.boston.com/movies. Theaters are subject to change.

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