This weekend's highlight on the art-house circuit is "Dallas Buyers Club," a formulaic "inspired by true events" drama that's enlivened by its lead performances. Matthew McConaughey stars as Texas oil-rig electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof, whose hard-living days come to a sudden stop in 1986 when he's diagnosed as HIV positive. Woodroof starts using experimental anti-AIDS drugs, and then launches a business selling such drugs to other AIDS patients — most of them gay, forcing the womanizing Woodroof to confront his homophobia. McConaughey's performance is fiery and energetic, and he's well matched by Jared Leto as a no-nonsense transsexual who becomes Woodroof's entry point to Dallas' gay community.
Lastly, there's another movie adaptation of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations," Jeremy Irvine ("War Horse") as Pip, the orphaned blacksmith's apprentice who is groomed to become a gentleman. The cast is led by a trio of "Harry Potter" alums: Robbie Coltrane as the double-dealing lawyer Jaggers, Ralph Fiennes as the mysterious convict Magwitch, and Helena Bonham Carter as the crazed Miss Havisham. Director Mike Newell crams in a lot of story, but the results are on the bland side.