In this week’s new releases, the not-so-cheery "August: Osage County"  features strong performances from its stars and supporting cast, while “The Past” walks away with four stars.

Barbara Weston (Julia Roberts), left, returns home to face her overbearing mother, Violet (Meryl Streep), and put-upon younger sister, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), in “August: Osage County,” a film adaptation of Tracy Letts’s award-winning play. (CLAIRE FOLGER)

1/2 “August: Osage County” (R) “Despite some moments of caustic humor, highlighted in the film’s misleading trailer, ‘August: Osage County’ is in no way a comedy. Neither is it simply interested in wallowing in Violet’s unrelenting ugliness.” – Michael O’Sullivan

The Past” (PG-13) “Many thematic ingredients come together in Farhadi’s rich stew of a story: jealousy, resentment, betrayal, forgiveness, healing. The filmmaker stirs them with the touch of a master, into a dish that stimulates and nourishes.” – Michael O’Sullivan

1/2 “Lone Survivor” (R) “... ‘Lone Survivor’ is a loud and grinding affair, seemingly as intent on wearing down its audience as the Taliban is on the film’s heroes, At ties, the violence is so unrelenting and fiere that it’s hard to believe that there’s anyone left to fire.” –Michael O’Sullivan

1/2 “The Suspect” (Unrated) “After all the punishment it delivers,  ‘The Suspect’ goes soft at the end, with not one but two fairy-tale endings. The first, if not both, of them will likely appeal more to Korean audiences than American ones.” – Mark Jenkins

1/2 “Chander Pahar” (Unrated) “Director Kamaleswar Mukherjee shot the film primarily in South Africa, and the vistas and animals are breathtaking. In some ways the movie feels like an excuse to go to Africa and film wildlife.” – Stephanie Merry

1/2 star “The Legend of Hercules” (PG-13) "Aside from bad dialogue and worse special effects, one of the most frustrating features of ‘Legend’ is its shortage of lingering shots. Quick cutting is an epidemic in modern movies, but in this case, when scenes end — usually with some one-liner — there’s no time to process the words before we’re thrust into some new action. The movie is the cinematic equivalent of a run-on sentence that never pauses for a breather." – Stephanie Merry