out-of-the-furnaceFear not Christian Bale fans, gone are the recent American Hustle hijinks. In Out of the Furnace, he’s back on dark, brooding form as the brother trying to track down his missing sibling. His quest leads him through a blue-collar steel community rife with illegal activities and sinister characters. It’s bleak and depressing, but it does feature Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker and even the great Sam Shepard. It may not brighten your day, but with a cast like that who cares.

If you love Mark Wahlberg or the army, Lone Survivor just might be for you. If you happen to love both, it definitely will be. Based on former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s account of a mission behind enemy lines, Wahlberg takes on lead duties as part of a team sent to eliminate a notorious Taliban leader. It’s not so much an action film as it is recruitment video for the military, but some of the combat is so gritty it almost feels like you’re there. Worth checking out for that alone.

It was the perfect sporting story of victory in the face of adversity. Shame it all turned out to be a lie. In The Armstrong Lie, documentary maker Alex Gibney turns his penetrating gaze to the miracle story that really was too good to be true. Granted astonishing access by Armstrong’s camp, he puts together a compelling account of professional cycling, doping, and Armstrong’s efforts to keep his secret under wraps. Ultimately, he fails to unravel the man at the heart of this sporting fraud, but he gets as close as anyone has yet.

Even in an admittedly strong year, Rush has still been cruelly overlooked by Academy members. Ron Howard’s Formula 1 drama, out on DVD this week, is as gripping as any film over the past year. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl bring the flamboyant James Hunt and driven Niki Lauda to life. With Peter Morgan working his usual real life adaptation magic on their epic title race, and Hans Zimmer on musical duties, this is a film worth watching several times over.

That’s enough to keep you going for now. Until next week.

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