NEW ON THE SHELF

“CONTRABAND,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Giovanni Ribisi. A retired smuggler (Wahlberg) is called back into action against his will when his brother-in-law attracts the ire of an unhinged drug dealer (an enjoyably hammy Ribisi) following a deal gone wrong. Think about it too hard and you’ll uncover a wide array of gaping plot holes, but viewers in the mood for a no-nonsense action thriller will find more than enough to entertain them here, and a fine supporting cast (which includes Ben Foster, Lukas Haas and Kate Beckinsale) helps matters immeasurably. Special features include deleted scenes and a commentary from director Baltasar Kormakur (“The Sea”). Rated R for violence, pervasive language and brief drug use. Running time: 1:49

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

“THE WICKER TREE,” starring Brittania Nicol and Henry Garrett. Extremely belated follow-up to “The Wicker Man” (the 1973 original, that is, not the hilariously terrible 2006 Nic Cage remake) from writer/director Robin Hardy follows devout Christian singer Beth (newcomer Nicol) bringing her decidedly less chaste beau Steve (Garrett) along on a trip to a small Scottish village, where she expects to perform for the townspeople and hopefully lead a few lost souls to Jesus in the process. As might well be expected, not all is as it seems, and very little goes according to plan, as the inhabitants begin to reveal their untoward, cultish intentions in short order. Special features include deleted scenes. Rated R for sexuality, nudity and violence. Running time: 1:36

Suggested retail price: $26.98; Blu-ray $29.99

 

NEW TO DVD

“ALBATROSS,” starring Felicity Jones and Jessica Brown Findlay. Coming-of-age restlessness and familial discontent permeates this downbeat but entertaining drama, which finds new maid Emelia (Finday) shaking up the already unsteady household of young Beth (Jones) and her thoroughly unhappy parents, struggling novelist Jonathan (Sebastian Koch) and former actress Joa (Julia Ormond). Little original is brought to the table by director Niall MacCormick (“The Song of Lunch”), but the cast sells their strife well. Not rated; contains language and sexual content. Running time: 1:30

Suggested retail price: $24.98

NEW TO BLU-RAY

“THE ORGANIZER,” starring Marcello Mastroianni and Annie Girardot. Profoundly affecting 1963 film from Italian director Mario Monicelli (“Big Deal on Madonna Street”) takes a hard (but not humorless) look at working conditions in turn-of-the-century Italy, where mistreated textile workers make an attempt to improve their lot in life by striking, with the sometimes unconventional assistance of Professor Sinigaglia (Mastroianni), who supposedly speaks from past experience. Rousing and even funny at times, “The Organizer” is an Oscar-nominated classic that has somehow taken forever to find its way to the digital age, but thankfully, the ever-dependable cinephiles at the Criterion Collection have given it their customary deluxe dusting-off. Not rated; nothing objectionable. Running time: 2:10

Suggested retail price: $29.95

VIDEOPORT PICKS

“THE INNKEEPERS,” starring Sara Paxton and Pat Healey. Mega-talented writer-director Ti West continues paying tribute to the horror classics of yesteryear with this almost unbearably tense haunted-house chiller, in which hotel clerks Paxton and Healey decide to do a little investigating into their supposedly haunted place of employment. As in “The House of the Devil”, his debut feature, West favors gradual development of both plot and characters, and horror fans accustomed to cheap scares, breakneck pace and gratuitous gore may get antsy with all the build-up. However, unease would appear to be West’s stock in trade, and the subdued creepiness propels “The Innkeepers” to a shocking humdinger of a payoff in the final reels. Rated R for some bloody images and language. Running time: 1:40

Suggested retail price: $27.98; Blu-ray $34.98

“PARIAH,” starring Adepero Oduye and Kim Wayans. Quietly heartbreaking and wonderfully portrayed, this exemplary coming-of-age drama marks the impressive directorial debut of Dee Rees, who forces nothing and coaxes thoroughly naturalistic performances from the cast — most notably the remarkable Oduye, previously known for small roles in such films as “Half Nelson.” Here, she fully embodies Alike, a straight-A high school student whose expends considerable energy hiding the fact that she is a lesbian from a family that is fully aware of the fact, yet also goes to great efforts to avoid the topic. An all too common and relatable family situation, Rees nonetheless refuses to paint in broad strokes or succumb to movie-of-the-week tropes, and Alike’s story is presented so skillfully and warmly that even the least open-minded of viewers is likely to be moved. We can’t recommend it highly enough. Rated R for sexual content and language. Running time: 1:26

Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $34.98

– Courtesy of Videoport