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HOME MOVIES

By Karen Martin

This article was published May 23, 2014 at 2:12 a.m.

The Monuments Men, directed by George Clooney

(PG-13, 118 minutes)

The Monuments Men, based on the nonfiction book of the same name by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter, should be an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Instead it's a bland and self-important story of men and women who worked to recover and return thousands of cultural treasures stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

It focuses, none too clearly, on the museum directors, curators and art historians of the monuments, fine arts and archives unit formed in 1943, an unlikely group of heroes whose job is to rescue artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves for return to their rightful owners. Time is of the essence (although the film's consistency of tone isn't), as Hitler decrees that if he dies and the war is lost, nearly five million pieces of stolen art are to be destroyed.

With Clooney, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville, Cate Blanchett.

The Blu-ray Combo Pack includes interviews with Clooney (in what is widely considered to be one of his least successful directing efforts) and cast members on the making of the film, along with a cast discussion on the heroic actual men and women portrayed on screen.

Three Days to Kill (PG-13, 100 minutes) Playing against his usual athletic-sportsman type, Kevin Costner is cast here as an international spy who attempts to give up his dangerous career to build a better relationship with his estranged wife and daughter. But, as usual in most comic action thrillers, he's got just one more mission to complete, which happens to coincide with the need to look after his teenage kid for the first time in 10 years while his wife is away. It's silly, sloppy and frantic, but thanks to Costner's charm, entertaining. With Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen; directed by McG.

In Secret (R, 109 minutes) Emile Zola's morally ambiguous novel Therese Raquin is the basis for this wickedly tragic period melodrama of love, adultery and revenge set in the seamier sections of 1860s Paris. That's where sexually repressed Therese (Elizabeth Olsen) is trapped in a loveless marriage to her cousin, sickly Camille (Tom Felton), by her domineering aunt Madame Raquin (Jessica Lange). Therese's misery is somewhat alleviated when she meets her husband's intriguing childhood friend Laurent (Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis).

Grand Piano (R, 90 minutes) In this sly, suspenseful fantasy thriller, talented pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood), whose stage fright keeps him from performing for years, finally appears in concert in Chicago. His temporarily placated fear is in danger of reappearing when he finds an unsigned message on his score informing him that playing one wrong note will mean his death. With John Cusack, Tamsin Egerton, Alex Winter; directed by Eugenio Mira.

Pompeii (PG-13, 98 minutes) Here's a trashy, melodramatic and historically questionable story of Milo (Kit Harington), a slave gladiator in a race against time to save his love Cassia (Emily Browning), daughter of a wealthy merchant who has been unwillingly betrothed to a corrupt Roman senator (Kiefer Sutherland), from the violent volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

With Carrie-Anne Moss, Jared Harris; directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. The Blu-ray includes deleted and alternate scenes and making-of featurettes on stunts, production design, costume design, cast and characters and special effects.

Lawless (R, 116 minutes) The Blu-ray release of this straightforward 2012 crime drama, set during Prohibition in the 1930s in the distinctive mountains of Franklin County, Va., is sharpened by a memorably subtle performance by Tom Hardy as the leader of the bootlegging Bondurant brothers who are being threatened by authorities -- specifically Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) of Chicago -- who want a cut of the profits. With Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Shia LaBeouf; directed by John Hillcoat with a script written by Nick Cave. Based on a true story.

About Last Night (R, 100 minutes) David Mamet's 1974 play Sexual Perversity in Chicago is adapted (quite a bit) for the big screen to become About Last Night, a sexy, amusing and energetic romantic comedy that pursues two very different couples who meet, head to the bedroom, and eventually arrive in the decidedly unromantic real world. With Kevin Hart, Joy Bryant, Paula Patton, Regina Hall, Michael Ealy; directed by Steve Pink. It's a remake of the 1986 film by Edward Zwick.

Blu-ray bonus materials include relationship advice from the cast and filmmakers, a poll of the cast on who says "I love you" first and the impact on relationship dynamics, "Word on the Street," which asks strangers for their best (and funniest) love advice, and "An Un-Romantic Comedy" which explores the making of the film and differences from the original 1986 film.

MovieStyle on 05/23/2014

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