"Hitchcock" (PG-13, 98 minutes, Fox): For all his creepy tendencies, Alfred Hitchcock is portrayed mostly sympathetically in "Hitchcock," in which Anthony Hopkins plays the corpulent British auteur with a combination of hauteur and playfulness. The insouciant tone is set right off the bat, when the camera captures a ghastly murder, only to pan to Hitchcock primly holding a teacup and intoning his familiar, "Good evening."
The crime we've just witnessed is the very episode that inspired the novel "Psycho." The story's lurid combination of sex, violence, compulsion and amorality was just the thing to recharge a career he feared was on the decline.
Sacha Gervasi has made a strangely staid and dutiful film about a movie that changed cinema forever - from the way violence could be depicted onscreen to how films would be shot and financed thereafter. Rather than take risks of its own, "Hitchcock" is content to be a safe backstage drama and an ultimately reassuring portrait of a marriage. There's something tonally off about the master of anxiety, neurosis and disquiet being depicted in a story this cozy.
"Life of Pi" (PG, 127 minutes, Fox): By design, this adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 novel takes viewers on an epic journey, but it also plunges them into a story and myriad sub-stories.
The story of Piscine Patel, also known as Pi, begins with an Edenic panorama of his youth, spent in a small zoo run by his father in the former French colony of Pondicherry, India.
When the Patels decide to move to Canada, taking the animals with them on a cargo ship, the trip is interrupted by a ruinous storm. Pi is thrown overboard, his only salvation a lifeboat he must share with the zoo's ferocious Bengal tiger, Richard Parker.
Pi's journey with Richard Parker forms the spine of "Life of Pi," which Oscar-winning director Ang Lee infuses with the graphic, stylized boldness of illustration and moments of dazzling poetry and intimacy.
Proving that digital 3-D photography need not sacrifice detail and brightness like it once did, Lee reimagines Martel's story with a vibrant, multicolored palette, the images and staging suggesting a state-of-the art cinematic fairy tale rather than a whiz-bang technical achievement.
Also released Tuesday
"This Must Be the Place"
"Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away"