“Invictus” (PG-13): In post-apartheid South Africa, President Nelson Mandela (Oscar nominee Morgan Freeman) enlists the captain of the country’s white-dominated rugby squad (Oscar nominee Matt Damon) to help unite the divided nation as the team competes for the 1995 world championship. Clint Eastwood directs this fact-based drama.
Another fact-based drama, “Extraordinary Measures” (PG), focuses on a desperate dad (Brendan Fraser) who recruits a maverick scientist (Harrison Ford) to find a treatment for the rare genetic disorder killing his two youngest kids. “The Messenger” (R) follows a decorated Army sergeant (an Oscar-caliber Ben Foster) struggling to adjust to his new mentor (Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson) — and his new duty informing family members of their loved ones’ deaths. An all-star cavalcade takes up, breaks up and makes up in the frothy comedy “Valentine’s Day” (PG-13), featuring (among others) Jamie Foxx, Jessica Biel, Ashton Kutcher, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, Queen Latifah, Bradley Cooper and Anne Hathaway. Jackie Chan plays “The Spy Next Door” (PG), a former CIA agent forced to return to duty while baby-sitting his girlfriend’s kids. And in “Three Idiots” (not rated), postponed from an earlier release date, two Indian friends embark on a quest to find a lost buddy.
Turning to titles that never made it to local theaters, Kevin Costner headlines the thriller “The New Daughter” (PG-13), about a newly divorced father whose teenager begins acting in violently bizarre fashion. Colm Meaney stars in the family-friendly Irish heartwarmer “The Race” (not rated), while Peter Fonda plays a lawman on the trail of “American Bandits: Frank & Jesse James” (not rated). On the foreign-language front, Catherine Deneuve reunites with French master Andre Techiné for the fact-based “Girl on the Train” (not rated). And the award-winning documentary “Defamation” (not rated) takes a provocative look at contemporary anti-Semitism.
For film buffs, director Nicolas Roeg’s mesmerizing 1971 “Walkabout” (not rated), about two about two British children (Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg) rescued in the Australian outback by a young aborigine (David Gulpilil) arrives on Blu-Ray; and Sergio Leone’s 1969 epic, “Once Upon a Time in the West” (PG-13) rides again. TV transfers (all unrated) include “The Jeff Dunham Show,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent — The Fifth Year,” “Hunter: The Complete Second Season,” “21 Jump Street: Season Two,” “The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series,” “30 Days: The Complete Series” and “The Whitest Kids U’ Know: The Complete Third Season.”
Nas and Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, “Distant Relatives”: They’re soon hitting The Joint (on June 29), and to be honest, they’ve probably already hit a few joints.
It’s a great pairing: one of New York City’s sharpest MCs of all time, Nas, with reggae prime mover Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley.
By turns cutting and calming, this is a collaboration that’s not to be slept on.
And while they may be blowing plenty of smoke, we aren’t.
Also in stores: Annihilator, “Annihilator”; Band of Horses, “Infinite Arms”; Bo Bice, “3”; The Black Keys, “Brothers”; Danko Jones, “Below the Belt”; LCD Soundsystem, “This Is Happening”; Jamie Lidell, “Compass”; The Sadies, “Darker Circles”; and Solex vs. Cristina Martinez + Jon Spencer, “Amsterdam Throwdown, King Street Showdown!”
“61 Hours” by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back in the latest thriller from best-selling author Lee Child that finds the ex-military police officer in the middle of a deadly confrontation after a tour bus crashes during a snowstorm. A town near the crash site has a big methamphetamine problem and local law enforcement reach out to Jack for help. Though Bolton, S.D., is a small town, the enemies Jack faces there are deadlier than he could ever know.
For readers who haven’t gotten enough of vampires, author Christopher Farnsworth joins the pack with “Blood Oath,” the first in a series featuring Nathaniel Cade, a blood sucker sworn to protect the president of the United States.
Also hitting shelves this week: “The Angel’s Game” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon; “Bury Me in My Jersey: A Memoir of My Father, Football, and Philly” by Tom McAllister; “Deadly Kingdom: The Book of Dangerous Animals” by Gordon Grice; “My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up” by Russell Brand; “Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali; “The Rehearsal” by Eleanor Catton; “A Secret Affair” by Mary Balogh; “Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home” by Laura Ling; “A Spanish Lover” by Joanna Trollope; “Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy Series No. 5)” by Richelle Mead; “Storm Prey” by John Sandford; “Supreme Justice” by Phillip Margolin; “The Very Fairy Princess” by Julie Andrews; and “The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance” by Tony Schwartz.