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Leonardo DiCaprio stars as J. Edgar Hoover in the Clint Eastwood-directed drama “J. Edgar.’’ Leonardo DiCaprio stars as J. Edgar Hoover in the Clint Eastwood-directed drama “J. Edgar.’’ (Keith Bernstein/warner bros.)
November 13, 2011

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New releases

Inside Hana’s Suitcase In 2000, a battered suitcase bearing the name Hana Brady made its way from Poland’s Auschwitz Museum to Fumiko Ishioka at the Tokyo Holocaust Museum. Director Larry Weinstein uses a variety of techniques (reenactment, family photos, animation, talking heads) in his attempt to make a fresh Holocaust-themed documentary. But what makes it so powerful is the most traditional technique of all: the eloquent storytelling of Ishioka and George Brady, Hana’s brother. (90 min., unrated) (Loren King)

Into the Abyss Werner Herzog takes on the death penalty, burrowing into a notorious 2001 Texas triple-murder case. The “abyss’’ could stand for the execution room, or the crushing norm of poverty and crime in rural America, or the ethical gulf one has to cross in order to kill a man in the name of the law. (107 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Jack and Jill Adam Sandler has a dual role as an ad exec and the screechy twin sister he can’t stand. You may well feel likewise - it’s a big, flat stunt. Still, there are plenty of kicks in documentary snippets, crackerjack cameos, and other flashes of something different. Al Pacino giddily plays himself in a featured role - the movie’s other, more successful stunt. (89 min., PG) (Tom Russo)

Janie Jones In this rock ’n’ redemption drama, hard-living band frontman Alessandro Nivola is left to take charge of Abigail Breslin, the daughter he never knew he had. Nivola (“Junebug’’) is convincingly edgy, and Breslin believably rolls with adults’ bad behavior. But filmmaker David M. Rosenthal isn’t so much showcasing the actors’ complexity as dialing up whatever tone is convenient. (107 min., unrated) (Tom Russo)

J. Edgar Clint Eastwood’s Hoover biopic has a flawed historical figure played by a top-tier Hollywood star (Leonardo DiCaprio), impassioned monologues, lots of old age makeup. That it never convinces - that at times it’s quite entertainingly bad - can be blamed on an unfocused script and the project’s very bigness. Somewhere in this epic is a small love story struggling to get out. With Armie Hammer as Clyde Tolson. (137 min., R) (Ty Burr)

Le Havre Aki Kaurismäki’s immigration caper makes dramatizing politics look easy. It’s as if he heard there was breaking news at the docks - more African refugees have turned up! - in the French port of the title. The movie’s obviously not a documentary. You need great coaching for characters as archly finessed as these, and only a chambermaid could get an ending as satisfyingly tidy. In French, with subtitles. (93 min., unrated) (Wesley Morris)

Melancholia Lars von Trier, the bad boy of art-house cinema, delivers his most lifeless ode to cosmic misery yet, despite Kirsten Dunst’s valiant performance. Gorgeous visuals, disastrous weddings, and a planet about to collide with Earth: Some call it Art. I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it. With Charlotte Gainsbourg and Keifer Sutherland. (136 min., R) (Ty Burr)

The Other F Word Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’s documentary is about aging punk rockers who’ve become fathers (that’s the other “f’’ word). Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, is the most famous. Jim Lindberg, of Pennywise, figures most prominently onscreen. He’s the most engaging, too. Nevins’s treatment of the material is too zippy, but that material is often quite funny and sometimes genuinely touching. (99 min., unrated) (Mark Feeney)

Previously released

Like Crazy It comes to us on wings of hype, but reset your expectations for this Sundance-winning film about young love: It’s tiny, intimate, hand-made. Also surprisingly banal, as filmmaker Drake Doremus’s improv approach often comes up short. Felicity Jones makes her character’s self-absorption luminous; Anton Yelchin is pleasant but indistinct as her lover. (89 min., PG-13) (Ty Burr)

Oranges and Sunshine After World War II, Britain quietly sent thousands of children to Australia. Emily Watson plays the social worker who stumbled upon this policy, then went on a crusade to expose it and reunite the grown children with surviving family members. This debut feature of Jim Loach is laudably earnest and dramatically inert. (106 min., R) (Mark Feeney)

Puss in Boots The latest from DreamWorks Animation doesn’t break any new storytelling ground, but the devilish wit works for parent and child alike. If it’s not up to Pixar level, it still represents the best of what the competition has to offer. With the voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, and Zach Galifianakis. (90 min., PG) (Ty Burr)

The Skin I Live In Antonio Banderas plays a nutso plastic surgeon in Toledo, Spain, and Elena Anaya plays his most committed patient. This is the first of Pedro Almodóvar’s 18 movies that feels like walking through an Almodóvar museum. What if, at 62, he’s too peaceful for ghastliness that’s truly ghastly? What if he’s too comfortable with himself to shock anyone else? On some level, who cares? The film’s mannered, but it’s also moving. (117 min., R) (Wesley Morris)

Tower Heist Smoothly made, smart enough, and funny. Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy lead a crew to steal back money stolen from them by a crooked billionaire (Alan Alda) living in a Manhattan high-rise. The cast is big and good, but, by far, its best member is Stephen Henderson, as a let-down doorman. He gives a frivolous movie a soul it was never meant to have. (104 min., PG-13) (Wesley Morris)

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas An unnecessary, drug-addled, and very funny sequel, featuring an older but not terribly wiser Harold (John Cho) and Kumar (Kal Penn) as they grapple with Ukrainian gangsters and love struck wafflebots, briefly become Claymation versions of themselves, and negotiate adulthood. (90 min., R) (Ty Burr)

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