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'Cold in July' starring Michael C. Hall entertains in all its genres

MoviesAction (Movie Genre)LiteratureThe Monuments Men (movie)Michael C. HallKit Harington
'Cold in July' doesn't settle on a genre but is entertaining in all of them
'Pompeii's' reliance on real stunts means it doesn't look like every other recent ancient-world-action movie
Jake Gyllenhaal gets weird in 'Enemy'

Cold in July

Available on VOD May 23.

Writer-director Jim Mickle's adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale's pulp novel is a genre picture that can't settle on a genre — which is what makes it so entertaining. "Cold In July" starts out as a suspense picture, with Michael C. Hall playing a small-town Texan named Richard who shoots and kills a home invader and then waits nervously for the burglar's ex-con father (played by Sam Shepard) to retaliate. Then the movie becomes a mystery, when the local police force resolves the case in a way that Richard finds unsatisfactory. Finally, "Cold In July" becomes a bloody action film, when Richard teams with a colorful private eye (Don Johnson) to confront the Dixie Mafia. Not every part works — nor does it all fit together in a way that has much larger meaning — but it's a gripper from start to finish, because of Mickle's lean style, and because it's impossible to know in the first five minutes where the movie will end up.

Enemy

Available on VOD Tuesday

"The Double" isn't the only movie out right now about creepy doppelgängers. Director Denis Villeneuve's "Enemy" adapts a José Saramago novel about a college professor (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) who becomes obsessed with an actor who looks just like him but is more aggressive and perverse. The men eventually start adopting some of each other's habits, as Villeneuve — who previously directed last year's stylish mystery/suspense picture "Prisoners" — plays up the surrealism and the philosophical pondering of Saramago's story. The result is a strange film that feels like a little like an exercise for Villeneuve and screenwriter Javier Gullón, though not a wholly unrewarding one.

The Monuments Men

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99

Available on VOD Tuesday.

George Clooney should have taken a cue from his pal Steven Soderbergh when co-writing and directing his WWII adventure "The Monuments Men." Rather than making a fun, "Ocean's 11"-esque caper picture — about a special military unit tasked with locating and safeguarding artwork stolen by the Nazis — Clooney and his co-producer/co-writer Grant Heslov have made a fairly straightforward historical drama, with little verve or sense of play. Clooney is likable as the lead and has a fine cast around him (including Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Bob Balaban and Cate Blanchett). While "The Monuments Men" is never unwatchable, it's never particularly compelling either. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes and featurettes.

Pompeii

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99/$45.99

Available on VOD Tuesday.

This historical epic is old-fashioned to a fault, combining the "Spartacus"/"Gladiator"-style slave-becomes-hero story (featuring "Game of Thrones'" Kit Harington as the prisoner who becomes a champion) with the lumbering disaster-picture model of movies like "Earthquake" and "Dante's Peak." But even though the movie as a whole is dully predictable, director Paul W.S. Anderson's retro approach to fight scenes and special effects — which relies more on real stunts than on computers — means that at least "Pompeii" doesn't look like every other ancient world action movie out today. There's some appealing grit here, giving the film a bit of texture. The DVD and Blu-ray explains how Anderson's achieved that look, in a commentary track and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

And …

About Last Night

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD May 20

Grand Piano

Magnolia/Magnet, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

The Great Flood

Icarus, $24.98

Like Someone In Love

Criterion, $24.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Nosferatu The Vampyre

Scream! Factory Blu-ray, $24.97

3 Days To Kill

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD May 20

Vampire Academy

Starz/Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD May 20

Whoopi Goldberg Presents Moms Mabley

HBO, $19.98

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MoviesAction (Movie Genre)LiteratureThe Monuments Men (movie)Michael C. HallKit Harington
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