THIS WEEK’S THEATRICAL RELEASES:
“Non-Stop”: Liam Neeson has carved a niche for himself as a 21st century action hero — an intelligent father-husband who just happens to be a spy-hitman-cop who can fight off bad guys half his age (he turned 62 last week) and make it seem believable. And the man can act. Here he reunites with director Jaume Collet-Serra (“Orphan”) for the first time since their collaboration on the hit 2011 thriller “Unknown.” During a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) receives a series of cryptic text messages demanding that he instruct the airline to transfer $150 million into an off-shore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes. Get ready for some surprising — and exciting — high altitude mystery and action — but also be prepared to suspend a little disbelief. Co-stars Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o, Michelle Dockery, Nate Parker, Scoot McNairy, Corey Stoll, Omar Metwally, Linus Roache, Jason Butler Harner, Shea Whigham, Anson Mount. Extras include a couple behind the scenes featurettes. From Universal.
Also due this week: “Tim’s Vermeer,” an absorbing documentary about Tim Jenison, a Texas based inventor who attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer (“Girl with a Pearl Earring”) manage to paint so photo-realistically — 150 years before the invention of photography? From Sony. And “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which was unavailable for review.
THIS WEEK’S HIGHLIGHTS:
There’s two prime examples of classic cinema due this week from The Criterion Collection:
“L’eclisse” (1962), the concluding chapter of Michelangelo Antonioni’s informal trilogy on contemporary malaise (following “L’avventura” and “La notte”), “L’eclisse” (The Eclipse) tells the story of a young woman (Monica Vitti) who leaves one lover (Francisco Rabal) and drifts into a relationship with another (Alain Delon). Using the architecture of Rome as a backdrop for the doomed affair, Antonioni achieves the apotheosis of his style in this return to the theme that preoccupied him the most: the difficulty of connection in an alienating modern world. New, restored high-definition digital film transfer, in a Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition … “All That Heaven Allows” (1955), a heartbreakingly beautiful indictment of 1950s American mores by Douglas Sirk that follows the blossoming love between a well-off suburban widow (Jane Wyman) and her handsome and earthy younger gardener (Rock Hudson). After their romance prompts the scorn of her selfish children and snooty country club friends, she must decide whether to pursue her own happiness or carry on a lonely, hemmed-in existence for the sake of the approval of others. With the help of ace cinematographer Russell Metty, Sirk imbued nearly every shot with a vivid and distinct emotional tenor. A profoundly felt film about class and conformity in small-town America, “All That Heaven Allows” is a pinnacle of expressionistic Hollywood melodrama. In a new 2K digital restoration in a Blu-ray/DVD Dual Format Edition.
“True Detective: The Complete First Season” (2014), starring Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey, Michelle Monaghan, Tory Kittles, Eric Price, J.D. Evermore and Madison Wolfe, is HBO’s highly watchable (and very R-rated and gory) eight-part very dark series that explores the underbelly of law, order, politics, religion and crime over the course of two decades in Louisiana (and, by proxy, America). In 2012, Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle (McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Harrelson) are brought in to revisit a homicide case they worked in 1995. As the inquiry unfolds in present day through separate interrogations, the two former detectives narrate the story of their investigation, reopening unhealed wounds, and drawing into question their supposed solving of a bizarre ritualistic murder in 1995. The timelines braid and converge in 2012 as each man is pulled back into a world they believed they’d left behind. As they look back on the case, Hart and Cohle’s personal backstories and often-strained relationship become a major focal point. Superb performances by Harrelson and McConaughey as two very unlikable cops doing their job against bizarre odds. On DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Extras include interviews with McConaughey and Harrelson, a discussion between series creator Nic Pizzolatto and composer T Bone Burnett, deleted scenes, more. From HBO.
ON THE INDIE FRONT:
“The Odd Way Home”(2013), starring Chris Marquette and Rumer Willis, is a road picture –featuring a very odd couple — with an interesting premise that ends up degenerating into a series of cliched set pieces. Maya (Willis) hits the road in Los Angeles, hoping to break a long cycle of domestic abuse and start a new life. When her car breaks down in a middle-of-nowhere town in New Mexico, she meets Duncan (Marquette), a reclusive man with autism. Their journey through the vistas of the Southwest at first offers some enjoyable moments but as the screen fills with predictable characters and scenes, it bogs down and wanders off into the desert. Like with so many indie films, director Rajeev Nirmalakhandan just doesn’t know when to say “cut.” From Breaking Glass Pictures