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Cinefiles: The Big Picture, Knuckleball!, The Devil's in the Details 

click to enlarge The Big Picture DVD cover

The Big Picture (NR)

MPI Pictures

America gave up a long time ago trying to craft Hitchcockian thrillers, instead happily just focusing on the titillation of sex and violence, forgetting about the mystery of the hows and the whys altogether. But the French have taken up the mantle, as seen in recent films like Tell No One, Hidden and The Big Picture, the latest effort from director Eric Lartigau. Parisian lawyer and family man Paul (Romain Duris) is a walking fraud, holding up appearances for the sake of his family and career, but, inside, secretly longing to be a cool, easy-going dude like his photojournalist neighbor Greg. When Greg is found murdered, Paul is implicated and the movie becomes a twisting character study as Paul goes on the lam to start a new life, one that's not his own. Even though Paul thinks that he's free, he learns that no one ever truly is, turning The Big Picture into quite the gripping, paranoid thriller. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Knuckleball! DVD cover

Knuckleball! (NR)

MPI Home Video

Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg's new documentary is like a close cousin of their other recent doc, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. Both concern subjects that have been derided by critics as loopy, freakish relics that, against all odds, persevere. Like Rivers, the knuckleball — a seldom-employed pitching technique that can strike out the best batter when executed correctly, or, when not, could be hit out of the park by a waterboy — is perennially on the verge of extinction. The film follows the only two players using the grip during the 2011 baseball season: the Red Sox's Tim Wakefield and the Mets' R.A. Dickey. The pair's reverence for the pitch's mysteries is infectious. At times, Knuckleball!'s tone recalls the artisanal philosophy of 2011's Jiro Dreams of Sushi. Though the film plays best for baseball diehards, the directors' careful consideration of the game's mental aspect adds a level of universal interest. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge The Devil's in the Details DVD cover

The Devil's in the Details (R)

Image Entertainment

Ray Liotta continues his stellar run as the king of straight-to-DVD action-thrillers with the diabolically entertaining The Devil's in the Details. And while he doesn't play a grizzled, crooked cop in this one, he goes one better (and more unbelievable) and guests as grizzled veteran Navy SEAL Bruce Michaels. (What an action movie name!) Michaels must help fellow veteran Thomas (Joel Mathews), fresh from a brutal tour of duty, get out of a mess with a Mexican drug cartel that will torture and murder his family if he doesn't help mule a fortune in drugs across the border. Before you can say "Thank you for your service," they team up and take on the home-front war with explosive results. Director Waymon Boone does a good job of masking the film's low budget with clever action sequences and an engaging story of revenge; it's a fun action flick that delivers the goods. — Louis Fowler

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