“Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol” (PG-13) — Tom Cruise returns to his loud and lucrative franchise for a fourth installment, and it has all the intensity of a ticking time-bomb strapped under a speeding convertible careening off an exploding skyscraper full of double agents. Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his team are blamed for a mission gone wrong and have to go rogue to clear their names and stop the outbreak of another world war.

Brad Bird (“The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille”) makes his directing-real-people debut and delivers the requisite super-cool look, fast pace and gripping action. This time around more lines and screen time are given to the supporting cast (Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg), who hold up their end of the deal. The spy genre has grown weak in the post-Bourne era, but M:IGP delivers a laser-guided, rocket-propelled shot of adrenaline.

“The Last Rites of Joe May” — In the West End of Chicago, Joe May (Dennis Farina), an over-the-hill hustler, steps out of the hospital to find that everyone thought he was dead. His apartment has been rented to Jenny (Jamie Anne Allman), a single mother with a young daughter, Angelina (Meredith Droeger). While he may be dead to everyone else in his small world, Joe is offered the chance to share the apartment with Jenny. A non-romantic bond forms, and these two new people become the most important relationships in Joe’s life.

It’s up-close character drama that has the right mix of bleakness and warmth. I recognize Farina from countless supporting roles, but here he’s the centerpiece as a guy who realizes he’s in the last chapters of his life with nothing to show for it but some pride.

“Shame” — Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a wealthy bachelor in New York. He is also a sex addict — and not in a goofy “Two and a Half Men” kind of way. Despite the parade of women that march straight through his apartment, he is locked up, desperate and alone. When his sister (Carey Mulligan) asks to stay with him for a while, Brandon’s walled-off existence comes to light as his life begins to spiral. It’s racy and full of explicit things. It is not a happy sort of movie, but strong performances and an original script make it worth checking out for cinephiles.

“Garbo: The Spy” — This unique and imaginative documentary delves into the story of a Spanish spy who made the D-Day invasion possible, and thus helped win World War II for the Allies. Code-named Garbo by the Brits, this lone man tricked the Germans into believing that the Normandy invasion was a decoy. He was so good that the Nazis believed him throughout the war, winning him medals from both Axis and Allies. It’s a mind-blowing story told with style.

“Bob’s Burgers: Season 1”
“Frozen Planet: The Complete Series”
“Eight Is Enough: The Complete First Season”
“Treme: The Complete Second Season”
“Young Justice: Season One — Volumes 1, 2 & 3”

© 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.