“Jack the Giant Slayer”

“Quartet” (PG-13) — At Beechum House, retired musicians spend their golden years singing with old colleagues and new friends. Maggie Smith plays Jean Horton, an accomplished opera singer whose ego alienated her former partners and ended her marriage. Now she’s moving to Beechum House, where all of those people she pushed away are her best hope for a happy retirement.

This is Dustin Hoffman’s first time directing, and he gets the balance just right. The movie manages to hit the emotional high notes without being too sappy. The seasoned actors do not disappoint. Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay, Michael Gambon and Pauline Collins make up a sound supporting cast. Perhaps old English actors getting snippy about classical music isn’t your thing, but you can still get a kick out of “Quartet.”

“Jack the Giant Slayer” (PG-13) — Here comes another fairy-tale “reimagined” with fancy computer graphics and more fighting. A willful and independent princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) is launched into the sky by a magic beanstalk, trapped in the clutches of angry giants who live above the clouds. The rescue effort is lead by a peasant-boy named Jack (Nicholas Hoult), a knight (Ewan McGregor) and a sniveling noble (Stanley Tucci).

While it’s a few hundred feet higher than “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” this new version of “Jack and the Beanstalk” might leave you bored mid-climb. The visuals are spectacular — you’ll be closer than you ever wanted to be to the pores on a giant’s nose. There are a few good laughs. This one feels like a high-budget, mid-effort attempt to cash in on a trend.

“Stoker” (R) — India (Mia Wasikowska) is a outcast teen with an emotional mother (Nicole Kidman). After India’s father dies in a car accident, “Uncle Charlie” (Matthew Goode) comes to live with them. Charlie is a handsome, charming guy who is very clearly some kind of creepy dude underneath. India is drawn to his just-barely-visible creepiness, and a weird dynamic surfaces between the teenage girl and her “uncle.” The twists and turns are pretty predictable, but the atmosphere and style make this movie worth checking out.

“The Brass Teapot” (R) — Alice and John (Juno Temple and Michael Angarano) are a young married couple with lots of love and no money. After John loses his low-paying job, they happen to find an ornate teapot that belches out money whenever somebody nearby feels pain. At first it’s just a bit of fun, then it becomes the answer to their problems, then new problems arise. For a dark comedy, it’s not quite funny enough or dark enough. As the cute couple descends into greed, you’ll feel more annoyed than connected.

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“Drop Dead Diva: The Complete Fourth Season”
“Workaholics: Season Three”
“Wilfred: Season Two”
“Good Luck Charlie: Enjoy the Ride”
“Doomsday Preppers: Season 2”

© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.