Last updated: September 06. 2013 3:00PM - 201 Views

'Lee Daniels' The Butler' is generating plenty of buzz for star Forest Whitaker as well as Oscar speculation for Oprah Winfrey.
'Lee Daniels' The Butler' is generating plenty of buzz for star Forest Whitaker as well as Oscar speculation for Oprah Winfrey.
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BLUE JASMINE — Cate Blanchett storms her way through the title role of Woody Allen’s pastiche-y melodrama, about a fallen socialite seeking refuge in her sister’s San Francisco flat. Lifted in chunks from “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and offering wincing blue-collar-type caricatures, the film is nonetheless a wonder. 98 mins. PG-13 for adult themes. ♦ ♦ ♦

CLOSED CIRCUIT — This is finely acted but unnecessarily complicated thanks to a quirky criminal justice system in England. So, in addition to the wigs and formal robes in brief courtroom scenes, we get a barrister plus a Special Advocate representing an accused terrorist and some arcane rules about secret evidence. The possibility of danger and double-crossers lurks around every corner, and John Crowley frames his subjects so we feel as though we are secretly observing them or we can sense their alarm when events prove too coincidental. The stakes are high and so is the body count. 96 mins. R for language and brief violence. ♦ ♦ 1/2

THE CONJURING — Because this was 1971, and the world, much less Rhode Island’s Perron family, had not seen “The Exorcist” and the generations of ultra-realistic horror movies and “Ghost Hunters” TV shows that followed, they didn’t heed the dog’s warnings. This is like a prequel to 40 years of demonic-possession thrillers. 112 mins. R for disturbing violence and terror. ♦ ♦ 1/2

DESPICABLE ME 2 — Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal. 98 mins. PG for rude humor and mild action. ♦ ♦ 1/2

ELYSIUM — A space station in the sky is an enormous wheel, on the rim of which wealthy residents, having left the polluted Earth, inhabit pristine homes and are eternally healthy. Meanwhile, Los Angeles in 2154 is grimy, gritty and poor, with minimal medical care. Children look to the sky, dreaming of Elysium. Neill Blomkamp is making obvious statements about immigration and universal health care. 109 minutes. R for bloody violence and language throughout. ♦ ♦ ♦

THE GETAWAY — Ethan Hawke plays a veteran auto racer named Brent Magna. And that’s really all you need to know. This high-speed, high-impact car-chase caper is creatively running on fumes and four flat tires. 90 mins. PG-13 for intense action, violence and mayhem, some rude gestures and language. Zero stars

THIS IS THE END — The world won’t end with just a bang or a whimper but also a truckload of sophomoric humor and Hollywood in-jokes. At least that’s the way Seth Rogen and a bunch of his movie-star buddies see it in this riff on the apocalypse that’s closer in spirit to Harold & Kumar than Genesis and Revelation. 107 mins. R for crude and sexual content, brief graphic nudity, strong language, drug use, violence. ♦ ♦ ♦

GROWN-UPS 2 — After having the time of his life three summers ago, Lenny (Adam Sandler), decides to move his family back to his hometown and have them grow up with his gang of childhood friends and their children. But sometimes crazy follows you. 102 mins. PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, language and male rear nudity. ♦ ♦

JOBS — A solidly informative and entertaining “Brief History of Apple,” as seen through the eyes of its co-founding genius. We experience 30 years of Steve Jobs’ mercurial life and times, with plenty of tastes — but only tastes — of triumph plus a few dashes of comeuppance. 122 mins. PG-13 for some drug content and brief strong language. ♦ ♦ 1/2

KICK ASS 2 — Three years later, this covers much of the same ground as “Kick Ass,” with a lot of cute worn off or aged out of. Hit Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) is no longer a pre-teen, and Kick Ass himself (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) strains to look like a high-school senior. The sequel is notable for some amusing bits, a few cool scenes and its staggering body count. 95 mins. R for strong violence, pervasive language, crude/sexual content and brief nudity. ♦ ♦

LEE DANIELS’ THE BUTLER — “You hear nothing. You see nothing. You only serve.” Such are the instructions Cecil Gaines receives as he embarks on his daunting new job at the Eisenhower White House. But of course Gaines, played by Forest Whitaker in a moving, grounded performance, hears and sees everything. And that means that over more than three decades on the job, he has a Forrest Gump-like view not only of the White House under seven presidents but of the long arc of the civil-rights struggle in 20th-century America. 132 mins. PG-13 for violence and disturbing images, language, sexual material, thematic elements and smoking. ♦ ♦ ♦ 1/2

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS — CITY OF BONES — The story is so convoluted it’s likely only a fan of the original Cassandra Clare novels can fully comprehend it. It centers on Clary (Lily Collins), a young woman who believes her biggest problem is listening to a friend’s bad poetry. That changes when demons invade her home, trash the place and kidnap her mother all in an effort to recover a magic cup. 130 mins. PG-13 for action. ♦ ♦ 1/2

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US — Fans will love this because the lads are predictably cute, funny and charming, and there’s not a drama queen in the bunch. And that’s part of the problem. The Justin Bieber movie had the YouTube phenom’s voice breaking down before a big show. The Katy Perry film had her marriage breaking down in the heat of the tour. Director Morgan Spurlock has no conflict whatsoever to drive a plot for this tour souvenir. We’re left to be entertained by bubblegum music, bubbly personalities and happy camaraderie. 92 mins. PG for mild language. ♦ ♦

PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS — To restore their dying safe haven, the son of Poseidon and his friends embark on a quest to the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece while trying to stop an ancient evil from rising. 106 mins. PG for fantasy action violence, scary images and mild language. ♦ ♦ 1/2

PLANES — In the worst of the animated blockbusters to come our way this summer, a crop duster named Dusty longs to be more “than just what I was built for.” He longs to get into the round-the-world race and win fame and glory. 90 mins. PG for some mild action and rude humor. ♦ 1/2

SMURFS 2 — Turns out those diminutive, blue-skinned forest-dwellers have been just fine since their 2011 big-screen outing, but there’s trouble brewing in their new adventure-comedy. 105 mins. PG for some rude humor and action.

TWO GUNS — Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg team up in this jokey-bloody action comedy that could use more jokes and less blood. 109 mins. R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. ♦ ♦

WE’RE THE MILLERS — In this raunchy, hilarious and ultimately sweet-natured riff on the road-trip comedy, low-level pot dealer David is robbed, and forced by his friend and boss to head south of the border and return an RV full of weed. To blend in and avoid suspicion, David recruits a fake family to ride along, and all manner of off-color hijinks occur. 110 mins. R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, brief graphic nudity. ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

WORLD’S END — In the latest work of brilliant inanity from Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg takes this whole reluctant-savior-of-humanity thing to a new plane. Twenty years after high school, Pegg’s scruffy, unshaven, never-gonna-grow-up, substance-abusing Gary can’t hold down a job. His idea of a relationship is a quick tryst in the loo of a pub. This is a guy who’s gonna save us — or at least, parts of suburban England — from an alien invasion? Lord help us. 109 mins. R for pervasive language including sexual references. ♦ ♦ ♦

YOU’RE NEXT — The first 10 minutes of this horror will feel familiar to fans of the genre. Moments after a couple have sex in an isolated location, they’re brutally murdered. Don’t give up on the movie. Through the smart writing of Simon Barrett, the film slowly changes into a horror thriller that will have you questioning who is evil and who is good. 96 mins. R for gore, violence, language, nudity. ♦ ♦ ♦

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