NEW ON DVD AND BLU-RAY

“EXTRAORDINARY MEASURES,” starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. Moving if a bit bland, “Measures” is an all-too-rare case of a sensitive and worthwhile family drama, with Ford channeling just enough of his old wily persona to play Dr. Robert Stonehill, an often irascible fringe researcher whose recent discoveries just might save Fraser’s children, both of whom are dying of a rare disease. Pleasingly old-fashioned and well-acted throughout, with Fraser turning in one of his best performances in some time. Special features include deleted scenes. Rated PG for thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment. Running time: 1:46.

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.95; Blu-ray $34.95.

 

“INVICTUS,” starring Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon. Probably the most prolific director in Hollywood today (and arguably the oldest), Eastwood shows no sign of decline with this rousing fact-based drama in which he ideally casts his “Million Dollar Baby” co-star Freeman as South African President Nelson Mandela, who relies on his nation’s rugby team (led by Damon) to reunite a land torn apart by apartheid. Part historical biopic, part uplifting sports movie, “Invictus” is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser if there ever was one. Special features include several behind-the-scenes featurettes. Rated PG-13 for brief strong language. Running time: 2:14.

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.

 

“THE SPY NEXT DOOR,” starring Jackie Chan and Amber Valletta. The always-likable Chan elevates a hackneyed premise that may put some in mind of the inferior Vin Diesel comedy, “The Pacifier,” as Chan’s CIA agent attempts to babysit for his comely neighbor’s rambunctious kids while simultaneously fending off violent Russians after a secret file on his computer. Chan fans will be pleased to find that age hasn’t tempered his skills, with plenty of the martial arts legend’s patented stunts on display. Special features include a blooper reel. Rated PG for sequences of action violence and some mild rude humor. Running time: 1:34.

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.99.

 

“VALENTINE’S DAY,” starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Garner. “Star-studded” barely begins to describe this bloatedly entertaining affair, for which director Garry Marshall channels his inner Altman, such as it is, to deliver an entertaining if silly series of intertwining love stories, throwing Eric Dane, Anne Hathaway, Patrick Dempsey and Julia Roberts into the fray, just to name a few. It’s something of a “Love, American Style” for the new millennium. Marshall has never been anyone’s idea of a master director, but he can do fluff better than most, and “Valentine’s Day” is just about as breezy and fun as the holiday it celebrates. Rated PG-13 for some sexual material and brief partial nudity. Running time: 2:25.

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.

 

“THE NEW DAUGHTER,” starring Kevin Costner and Gattlin Griffith. Direct-to-DVD creepiness with divorcee Costner relocating his children to a quaint country home, where his daughter begins to exhibit unusual behavior that suggests otherworldly intervention. Atmospheric but ultimately pretty disappointing. Rated PG-13 for thematic material including violence, disturbing images and brief strong language. Running time: 1:48.

Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98.

 

NEW TO DVD

“THE JEFF DUNHAM SHOW.” The wildly popular ventriloquist and his collection of outspoken, foul-mouthed puppets are given what amounts to their own “Muppet Show” on Comedy Central, with Dunham’s characters appearing independently in their own skits as opposed to co-anchoring stand-up sets, with mixed but occasionally uproarious and inventive results. Special features include bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage. Not rated, contains mild language and crude humor. Running time: 2:34.

Suggested retail price: $16.99

“30 DAYS: SEASON 3.” Affable documentarian Morgan Spurlock (“Super Size Me”) continues his thought-provoking FX series in which an individual is placed in a situation or culture that is entirely opposite from their own lifestyle for the titular amount of time, with Spurlock himself taking the challenge by working in a coal mine for a month. Spurlock’s laid-back demeanor and penchant for statistics and factoids ensure an entertaining and affecting collection of episodes. Not rated, contains language. Running time: 4:00.

Suggested retail price: $29.99.

 

NEW TO BLU-RAY

“CARLITO’S WAY,” starring Al Pacino and Sean Penn. The old “ex-con trying to stay straight” bit is given a new coat of paint by Pacino and director Brian De Palma (“Femme Fatale”) in this hugely entertaining 1993 crime drama, with Penn giving one of his most dynamic (and least recognizable) performances as a drug-crazed attorney with a Larry Fine hairstyle. Wonderfully sleazy. Special features include deleted scenes and a making-of featurette. Rated R for strong violence, drug content, sexuality and language. Running time: 2:24.

Suggested retail price: $26.98.

 

“9 SONGS,” starring Kieran O’Brien and Margo Stilley. Director Michael Winterbottom (“24 Hour Party People”) attempts to integrate graphic sex scenes into a legitimate, non-pornographic film, a concept that unfortunately eclipses the wisp of a plot involving a hookup between an American drifter (Stilley, “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People”) and a British scientist (O’Brien, “Totally Frank”). Not rated, contains graphic sexual content, nudity, and language. Running time: 1:11.

Suggested retail price: $24.97.

VIDEOPORT PICKS

“THE MESSENGER,” starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. Movies about war tend to be primarily concerned with the more cinematic details, chiefly combat scenes or relationships within a platoon, so it’s telling that “The Messenger,” a sensitive and leisurely paced film about a less-publicized but just as difficult military role, was directed by a combat veteran, first-timer Oren Moverman. “The Messenger” pairs Harrelson (who garnered a much-deserved Oscar nomination for his fine performance) and Foster (equally good in a rare non-villainous role) as members of the Casualty Notification Team, whose job it is to inform families that their loved ones have died in combat. Harrelson’s by-the-book stoicism clashes with Foster’s tendency to sympathize with the bereaved, and what initially amounts to a simple difference of personalities escalates when Foster becomes involved with a war widow (Samantha Morton). Believable and human, “The Messenger” never hits a false note and is worthy of far more attention than it has received. Rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity. Running time: 1:53.

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.99; Blu-ray: $34.99.

 

“WALKABOUT,” starring Jenny Agutter and David Gulpilil. Haunting and hypnotic, director Nicholas Roeg’s (“Performance”) former cult favorite from 1971 has been lent mainstream credence thanks to the incredible transfer by the Criterion Collection. Now further enhanced by Blu-ray technology, this breathtaking tale of a pair of British schoolchildren stranded in the Australian outback is a family-appropriate adventure once considered verboten for kids due to its scenes of native frontal nudity and the hunting of animals. Today, “Walkabout” is considered an ideal introduction to another culture for young audiences, in addition to being a breathtaking tour of a beautiful land and an affecting elegy with its introduction of the Gulpilil character, a young aborigine who rescues the children but ultimately can’t fully connect to them. Not rated, contains nudity and brief violence. Running time: 1:40.

Suggested retail price: DVD $39.95; Blu-ray: $39.95

 

Courtesy of Videoport