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Friday movie roundup: Armstrong, under the microscope

First Published      Last Updated Dec 06 2013 09:48 am

It's a light week at the movies, but the two new films arriving this weekend are worthwhile.

The documentary "The Armstrong Lie" offers a modern corollary to the famous dictum that one should never pick a fight with someone who buys his ink by the barrel: One should never lie to a guy who pumps out investigative documentaries. Cyclist Lance Armstrong lied about his use of performance-enhancing drugs to filmmaker Alex Gibney, who was making a positive film about Armstrong's 2009 comeback — so when Armstrong's lies finally blew up on him, Gibney came back to the subject with a hard-hitting expose of the cyclist's doping and cover-up. The resulting film is both great journalism and a thoughtful commentary about our need for heroes.

The crime thriller "Out of the Furnace" is a bare-bones and gritty tale of an ex-convict (Christian Bale) who seeks rough justice when his brother (Casey Affleck) disappears after contact with a backwoods meth dealer (Woody Harrelson). The story is predictable and downbeat, but Bale's lead performance is electrifying.