“The Duchess” (PG-13): The toast of 18th-century London, the aristocratic Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley, at right) turns heads with her outrageous fashions, her political activism — and a loveless marriage to a dour duke (Ralph Fiennes), which prompts her to turn to a rising politician (Dominic Cooper of “Mamma Mia!”). Any similarities to the duchess’s descendant, Princess Diana, are hardly coincidental in this handsome period drama.
“Eagle Eye” (PG-13), meanwhile, returns Shia LaBeouf to imitation-Hitchcock territory; if “Disturbia” was a “Rear Window” update, this is “North by Northwest,” with two strangers (LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan) running for their lives — and trying to figure out why they’ve been targeted as the country’s most wanted fugitives. Billy Bob Thornton and Rosario Dawson co-star.
For supernatural laughs, “Ghost Town” (PG-13) focuses on an anti-social dentist (“The Office’s” Ricky Gervais) who unexpectedly dies — and even more unexpectedly returns from the dead seven minutes later. Greg Kinnear co-stars as a fellow specter who hopes his new pal can break up the impending marriage of his widow (Téa Leoni).
Rounding out the recent-release lineup: “Baghead” (R), an indie horror spoof about four showbiz bottom-dwellers who decide to make an indie horror movie of their own.
Turning to titles that never made it to local theaters, “Savage Grace” (not rated) casts Julianne Moore as a social climber who marries a British plastics heir (Stephen Dillane), launching a fact-based tale of money, madness and murder. David Strathairn, Melissa Leo and Giancarlo Esposito, meanwhile, headline the time-trippy “Racing Daylight” (not rated).
Topping today’s foreign-language file: the award-winning “Delbaran” (not rated), about a 14-year-old Afghan boy living in a desert outpost near the border between Afghanistan and Iran. Another award-winner, Mexico’s “Breakfast Chronicle” (not rated), serves up a saucy tale of a seriously twisted family.
For the family, the straight-to-video “Beethoven’s Big Break” (PG) finds the title St. Bernard shaking up the big screen — and the life of a hapless animal wrangler (Jonathan Silverman). And for those who’ve been waiting, the animated series “Siegfried and Roy: Masters of the Impossible” (not rated) finally hits DVD, recounting their adventures in the world of Sarmoti, where they battle to restore the missing magic to their mythical realm.
And speaking of former Strip headliners, the TV-movie “Céline” (PG) chronicles the life of singer Céline Dion (Christine Ghawi), with Enrico Colantoni as Dion’s husband and manager, Rene Angelil. And in the TV-movie “Wilderness Love” (not rated), kids scheme to reunite their divorced parents (Valerie Bertinelli, Jeffrey Nordling).
Various Artists, “Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack”: The movie takes you to a different world, and so does its soundtrack.
Set in India, Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” is one of the most acclaimed films of the year, and its score is just as exotic and heart-pounding as its setting.
Composed by A.R. Rahman, it’s upfront and urgent, and was recently nominated for a Golden Globe.
The soundtrack also includes cuts from fireball rhymer M.I.A., who brings the heat like a house fire.
Also in stores: Brutha, “Brutha”; Savage, “Savage Island”; and Stephanie Smith, “Not Afraid.”
“Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President, 1861-1865” by George S. McGovern: Former U.S. senator and presidential nominee George S. McGovern offers insight into how Abraham Lincoln sometimes went astray in regards to restrictions on civil liberties and also how the 16th president turned the Civil War into a moral crusade in “Abraham Lincoln: The 16th President.”
Also hitting shelves: “Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street” by Michael Davis; “The Strip” by E. Duke Vincent; “Far from You” by Lisa Schroeder; and “Need” by Carrie Jones.