Dallas Buyers Club (R, 117 minutes, Universal): As Texas electrician Ron Woodroof, Matthew McConaughey delivers an award-winning performance, characterized not just by an astonishing physical transformation but by a wellspring of deep compassion and fearlessness. Director Jean-Marc Vall, working with a lean, lively script by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, neatly avoids excess, letting Woodroofs terrific yarn stand on its own and getting out of the way of his extraordinary actors, who channel the story without condescension or manipulative cheats. Contains pervasive profanity, some strong sexual content, nudity and drug use. Extras include a look inside the film and deleted scenes.
About Time (R, 123 minutes, Universal): Writer-director Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually) throws a series of spanners into the works digressions and feints that turn About Time into something altogether deeper and more moving than a conventional rom-com. Perhaps more accurately, he has made a fam-com, a meditation on fatherhood, connection, sacrifice and simple, enduring love that sneaks up on the audience and blooms, like a slow-burning catch in the throat. Contains obscenity and some sexual content. Extras include commentary with Curtis and cast members Domhnall Gleeson, Bill Nighy, Vanessa Kirby, Lydia Wilson and Tom Hollander; deleted scenes, with set-ups by Curtis; blooper reel; Ellie Goulding How Long Will I Love You? music video.
Free Birds (PG, 91 minutes, Fox): Finally, theres a movie that vegetarian parents can enjoy with their impressionable offspring. The animated adventure Free Birds follows a couple of modern-day turkeys who travel back in time to the first Thanksgiving and try to alter history, thus saving their brethren for generations to come. Free Birds has the colorful palette, zippy action and silly story to keep kids giggling, but also delivers a few worthwhile winks to parents. Contains action and rude humor.
Escape Plan (R, 116 minute, Lionsgate): Its nice to know that, as they enter their golden years, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger can still carry an action flick, albeit a flimsy one like Escape Plan. Still, there is modest pleasure to be had watching the Italian Stallion, at 67, and the 66-year-old Austrian Oak, as Schwarzenegger was known in his bodybuilding days, delivering justice to those who would disrupt their retirement. They may have to stop and rest a bit longer than they used to these days allowing the movie to sag in the middle but seeing them together is like a visit to Grandpas house for Thanksgiving: musty-smelling and overly familiar, but satisfying. Contains violence and obscenity. Extras include commentary with director Mikael Hafstrom and co-writer Miles Chapman and making-of featurette.
Also: The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete, Romeo and Juliet (starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth), A Case of You, Jules and Jim and Burton and Taylor (BBC starring Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West).