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★ ★ Skyfall The James Bond movie franchise turns 50 this year and continues with Daniel Craig in the title role. But to hear everybody in this tedious new movie debate whether, after 23 movies, James is now too long in the tooth for glamorous spycraft, you would think the star of this movie is Methuselah. With Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, and, as the hilariously blond villain, Javier Bardem. (145 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)
★ ★ The Bay When you’re a veteran director who’s never made a fake documentary or a work of true science fiction or an ecological screed, I imagine, there’s still a way to make a single movie of all three, a movie that scares, informs, and entertains, a movie that makes you bite your knuckles while robo-dialing your senator. This misconceived Barry Levinson thriller, about a flesh-eating virus, isn’t it. (85 min., R) (Wesley Morris)
★ ★ Chasing Mavericks A fond tribute to the perseverance of the actual surfer Jay Moriarty, who, at 16, scaled a 50-foot-wave off the coast of Santa Cruz, Calif. In order to arrive at the great surfing you have to put up with a family movie of aggravating blandness. You have to really believe in messianic innocence and by-the-numbers screenwriting. With Gerard Butler and Elisabeth Shue. Directed by Michael Apted and Curtis Hanson. (109 min., PG) (Wesley Morris)
★ ★ ½ Cloud Atlas A dazzling cinematic folly from writer-directors Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer that tries to explain human interconnectedness through six narrative strands spread over centuries. It’s profound on the surface — and absurdly watchable — but banal beneath. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and others play multiple characters in sometimes convincing makeup. (172 min., R) (Ty Burr)
★ ★ ½ The Details Tobey Maguire is a Seattle obstetrician married to Elizabeth Banks. Laura Linney plays their loony neighbor. What seems like a comedy of yuppie desperation quickly becomes something . . . odder. “The Details” is its own flavor. That flavor may not be all that palatable, but uniqueness is rare and deserving of attention. (102 min., R) (Mark Feeney)
★ ★ ★ Flight A so-so movie with Denzel Washington as a commercial-airline pilot in hot water after he crash-lands a plane while drunk, high, hung over, and horny. The movie doesn’t do much that you couldn’t anticipate just by seeing the trailer. But you know what’s still worth $15 plus the cost of a baby sitter, popcorn, and parking? Two hours with Washington at the height of his everything. Directed by Robert Zemeckis. (138 min., R) (Wesley Morris)
★ ★ ½ High Ground A documentary about 11 veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars trying to heal their scars, visible and invisible, by scaling a 20,000-foot peak in the Himalayas. A less than inspiring film about extremely inspiring individuals, it’s worth seeing for what it shows rather than how it shows it. (91 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)
★ ★ ★ Holy Motors An automotive picaresque with Denis Lavant as a gentleman who emerges from his limousine a different person every time. The movie’s sprung from the mind and popped from every orifice of Leos Carax and ought to be seen to be believed, on the largest screen you can find, and probably sober, too, since it becomes its own narcotic. (117 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)
★ ★ ★ The House I Live In Eugene Jarecki (“Why We Fight”) tackles the US-led War on Drugs with a mixture of fuzzy personal theorizing, historical acumen, and devastating reportorial impact. Looking out at an unstoppable prison economy that has crippled an entire underclass, the movie dares us to ask what it is (and who it is) we’re so scared of. (108 min., unrated) (Ty Burr)
★ ★ ½ A Late Quartet A smartly cast, discreetly contrived melodrama about classical musicians, with retiring cellist Christopher Walken upsetting the delicate balance of his string quartet. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, and Mark Ivanir are the other players; the music’s sublime but the situations feel pat. Fans of the actors (and of Beethoven) should check it out, though. (105 min., R) (Ty Burr)
★ ★ ★ ½ The Loneliest Planet An engaged couple (Hani Furstenberg and Gael Garcia Bernal) take a vacation in the Georgian Caucasus, where a small, dangerous incident provokes a response that changes the rest of the trip. The increasingly brilliant American writer and director Julia Loktev wonders what happens when a stupid glitch or a selfish gesture upends your belief — be it romantic or religious. How do you go on? (113 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)Continued...