The Week in Film: Grumpy Vesuvius edition


In Theaters

(Sony Pictures) 

Do gladiators and forbidden love stand a chance against a volcano ready to blow its top?  Find out in Pompeii, directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, he of multiple Resident Evil movie fame.  Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) stars as a Spartacus stand-in with an eye for wealthy Cassia (Emily Browning, Sucker Punch), just trying to live his life before everything goes kablooey.  Kiefer Sutherland, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko from Lost) also star in this 3D effects-driven extravaganza.

In Secret
(Roadside Attractions)

Set in 1860s Paris, In Secret tells the story of Thérèse Raquin (Elizabeth Olsen) and her loveless marriage to her sickly cousin Camille (Draco Malf…err…Tom Felton), a match arranged by her aunt (Jessica Lange, putting her American Horror Story villainy to more good use).  When she falls for Camille’s painter friend Laurent (Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis), the new lovers follow their passions to dangerous ends.  Based on the novel Thérèse Raquin by Émile Zola and the subsequent play by Neal Bell, this picturesque film also stars Matt Lucas (Bridesmaids), Shirley Henderson (Bridget Jones’s Diary), and Mackenzie Crook (Pirates of the Caribbean).

3 Days to Kill
(Relativity Media)

Part of the ongoing Kevin Costner renaissance, 3 Days to Kill casts the former Crash Davis as a spy with plans of retiring and spending time with his oft-neglected wife (Connie Nielsen, Gladiator) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit).  In a plot twist being attempted for the first time in the history of cinema, he’s offered one final job by his FBI contact (Amber Heard, Machete Kills), which somehow goes awry, leaving him to take care of business with his daughter in tow.  This PG-13 thriller is directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels) with a screenplay co-written by Luc Besson (The Fifth ElementTaken).  On the film’s IMDb boards, someone asked “Was Liam Neeson too busy?,” something I also wondered until I remembered that Mr. Action’s annual guns-and-shouting flick, Non-Stop, is headed our way next week.

Fleeing the Scene

August: Osage County did its job of reminding families that they’re much more normal than they thought, Labor Day taught folks that baking pies can be…weird, and Vampire Academy served as an enlightening look into Montana’s little-known supernatural education industry.  Job well done.


A bunch of big titles are out next Tuesday, but this week offers no new release of which to speak.  We do, however, have Criterion Blu-ray/DVDs of Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent on the way, which is plenty to get excited about.

On Netflix Instant

If you haven’t binge-watched House of Cards: Season 2, be sure to carve out 10 hours and get that taken care of.  Elsewhere there’s  Somewhere, Sofia Coppola’s last good movie; Brian De Palma’s Passion, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace; Violet & Daisy, featuring one of James Gandolfini’s final roles, plus Saoirse Ronin and Alexis Bledel as teenage assassins; Ingenious, starring a pre-Hurt Locker Jeremy Renner as the buddy of Dallas Roberts’ struggling inventor; and Force of Execution, starring Steven Seagal, Ving Rhames, and Danny Trejo in the kind of low-budget, direct-to-DVD crime/action film that’s pretty much why Netflix Instant was created.