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Movies: August 16/23, 2013

Capsule reviews of ”2 Guns,” ”Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” and more

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2 Guns R, 1 HR., 40 Mins.
Thanks to their combustible, hair-trigger chemistry, Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg elevate a macho B-movie buddy-cop premise into a twisty surprise treat. B+Chris Nashawaty

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints R, 1 HR., 45 Mins.
One of those inertly “visual” and high-toned indie films that’s really a series of ersatz-Malick mannerisms. It’s set in Texas in the ’70s, where Bob (Casey Affleck), an outlaw, is sent to prison and then escapes, while his wife (Rooney Mara) and young daughter wait — and wait — to be reunited with him. The director, David Lowery, seems to have contrived the entire story just so he could shoot his actors against gorgeously desolate sunset fields. (Also available on VOD) C-Owen Gleiberman

Blackfish PG-13, 1 HR., 23 Mins.
An eye-opening exposé about orcas in captivity. A- Chris Nashawaty

Blue Jasmine PG-13, 1 HR., 38 Mins.
Woody Allen’s powerful and enthralling new film is about a woman (Cate Blanchett) on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A Owen Gleiberman

The Canyons NOT RATED, 1 HR., 39 Mins.
Lindsay Lohan reminds you why she’s still a star in this stylishly scandalous thriller soap opera from director Paul Schrader. (Also available on VOD) B+ Owen Gleiberman

The Conjuring R, 1 HR., 51 Mins.
A masterfully rigged haunted-house chiller. A-Chris Nashawaty

Fruitvale Station R, 1 HR., 25 Mins.
Michael B. Jordan is mesmerizing as Oscar Grant III, the young black man who was killed by a Bay Area transit cop. A Owen Gleiberman

Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp NOT RATED, 1 HR., 29 Mins.
Iceberg Slim created an up-from-underground literary revolution with the 1969 publication of Pimp: The Story of My Life. This richly crafted documentary taps deep into the luridly fascinating subject. Slim (né Robert Beck) captured the human horror of street life but also acknowledged that pimping was, for him, a kind of addiction. The movie fuses testimonials from Slim into a complex confessional portrait. (Also available on VOD) A- Owen Gleiberman

I Give It a Year R, 1 HR., 37 Mins.
Two comely Brits (Rose Byrne and Rafe Spall) fight temptation (in the forms of Simon Baker and Anna Faris) to hit the 12-month mark in their marriage. Despite their cute quirks and good looks, the newlyweds just don’t click — and the same could be said of their movie, which pads a few genuinely funny gags with too many rom-com clichés. (Also available on VOD) B-Adam Markovitz

In a World R, 1 HR., 33 Mins.
In her directorial debut, Lake Bell (No Strings Attached) stars as a Hollywood vocal coach who vies with her booming-baritoned father (Fred Melamed) and an arrogant industry It Boy (Ken Marino) to become the next alpha dog in movie-trailer voice-overs. Bell’s performance and the small-fish-in-a-very-small-pond satire resonate, but there’s only a two-minute preview’s worth of laughs in this likable but forgettable comedy. B Stephan Lee

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters PG, 1 HR., 46 Mins.
In the second chapter of this Harry Potter riff (replace teen wizards with teen demigods and you get the idea), Percy (Logan Lerman) has to find the mythical golden fleece to keep the evil Titan Kronos at bay. There are plenty of artfully designed CG monsters to make kids go yikes! (a flame-spitting bull), aww! (a cuddly water-horse), and ick! (the innards of a sea beast). But the formulaic story won’t get more than a meh from anyone. B-Adam Markovitz

Prince Avalanche R, 1 HR., 34 Mins.
After detouring into raucous studio comedies (Pineapple Express), writer-director David Gordon Green returns to his impressionistic arthouse roots with a slight character study about two bickering road workers (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch) painting traffic lines on a remote Texas highway devastated by a recent brush fire. The cinematography is hauntingly poetic, but the story is surprisingly undercooked. Green’s road doesn’t really lead anywhere. (Also available on VOD and iTunes) B-Chris Nashawaty

The Smurfs 2PG, 1 HR., 41 Mins.
Noisy and abrasive kiddie entertainment. C Owen Gleiberman

The Spectacular Now R, 1 HR., 34 Min.
Sutter (Miles Teller) seems to have it all, but he’s a teenage alcoholic. A rare soulful and authentic teen movie. A-Owen Gleiberman

The To Do List R, 1 HR., 44 Mins.
A prim valedictorian (Aubrey Plaza) makes a to-do list of graphic sexual activities. B+Owen Gleiberman

The Wolverine PG-13, 2 HRS., 16 Mins.
A step up from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but the film’s existential heaviosity saps it of fun. B-Chris Nashawaty