NEW ON THE SHELF
“KILLING THEM SOFTLY,” starring Brad Pitt and Ray Liotta. Viewers expecting the slam-bang shoot-’em-up seemingly promised by its trailer may be disappointed by the tonally bizarre, fiercely political craziness that is “Killing Them Softly,” the latest collaboration between Brad Pitt and director Andrew Dominik. Not so far removed from the crime movies of the Coen brothers (e.g. “Blood Simple” or “Miller’s Crossing”), “Killing” is entertainingly bloody food for thought for viewers prepared in advance for its eccentricities. Rated R. Running time: 1:37
Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99
“LINCOLN,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. It’s the movie about Abraham Lincoln that Steven Spielberg directed, for which Day-Lewis won yet another Best Actor Oscar as due reward for his unsurprisingly stunning portrayal of our 16th president. What more do you need to know? See it! Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:30
Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99
“PARENTAL GUIDANCE,” starring Billy Crystal and Bette Midler. This pleasant, family-friendly throwback to the once-plentiful PG-rated comedies of the ’80s pairs old pros Crystal and Midler as a married couple eager to connect with their somewhat estranged grandchildren. Unfortunately, they find their old-school child-rearing methods clashing considerably with that of the kids’ high-strung parents (Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott). Viewers who fondly recall such films as “Parenthood” and “Mr. Mom” just might settle into “Parental Guidance” like an old pair of slippers. Rated PG. Running time: 1:45
Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99
“THE BORGIAS: THE SECOND SEASON,” starring Jeremy Irons and Francois Arnaud. This Renaissance-era soap should scratch the itch left behind by “The Tudors” or even “Downton Abbey,” with an expansive cast bringing a lavishly outfitted and morally imperfect clan to life. The top-notch cast and cliffhanger-intensive scripting ensures that viewers will be tuning in religiously to find out what self-serving misdeeds its charismatic antiheroes will be committing next. Not rated. Running time: 8:37
Suggested retail price: $54.99; Blu-ray $65.99
NEW TO BLU-RAY
“BEAUTIFUL GIRLS,” starring Timothy Hutton and Natalie Portman. We’re not sure why it’s taken this long for this thoroughly enjoyable 1996 ensemble comedy to arrive on Blu-ray, but at least it’s finally here. Granted, this engaging tale of a pianist (Hutton, in one of his best post-”Ordinary People” roles) reuniting with his small-town friends and striking up a delightful if precarious friendship with a much younger neighbor (Portman, utterly charming in an early role) really doesn’t require high definition to showcase its shaggy dog charms. Rated R. Running time: 1:52
Suggested retail price: $14.99
“FROM BEYOND,” starring Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. Even today, director Stuart Gordon’s graphic, fluid-filled 1986 H.P. Lovecraft adaptation retains the power to shock, disgust and thoroughly entertain, somehow managing to top Gordon’s notoriously revolting (yet frequently hilarious) debut, 1985′s “Re-Animator.” Blu-ray only enhances the gallons of gore, so fright flick aficionados should take note. Special features include commentaries and interviews with cast and crew. Rated R. Running time: 1:26
Suggested retail price: $29.93
“THE COMEDY,” starring Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. The pitfalls of the aging, pampered hipster are brought to fore warts and all in this brilliantly obnoxious character study from writer-director Rick Alverson (“New Jerusalem”). And who better to anchor these sour festivities than Heidecker, half of Adult Swim’s popular but divisive “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show”?
Heidecker portrays Swanson, a privileged thirtysomething trust fund lay-about who, while waiting for his ailing father to die and thus transfer his inheritance, spends his days either floating around in the yacht he calls home or getting drunk with his friends and badgering those unfortunate enough to encounter him with flagrantly offensive comments and jokes.
A sobering commentary on our ironic, above-it-all culture, “The Comedy” somehow manages to both celebrate, condemn and even sympathize with its repellent protagonist and the seemingly ambivalent mindset to which he and his peers subscribe. Rated R. Running time: 1:34
Suggested retail price: $26.95
“VEEP: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON,” starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Anna Chlumsky. From the brilliant comedic mind of Armando Iannucci (“The Thick of It,” “In the Loop”) comes HBO’s latest hit. The indispensable Louis-Dreyfus gets an ideal outlet for her comic gifts as Vice President Selina Meyer, whose rarely called upon services are often sabotaged by her own raging ego and/or lack of preparation, not to mention the actions of her well-meaning but hapless staff.
Emmy-nominated and renewed for a second season, “Veep” may have been somewhat overshadowed by the equally excellent “Girls,” but now that the hubbub is starting to die down, we think it’s high time for HBO’s underdogs to get more time in the spotlight. Not rated; contains language and crude humor. Running time: 4:28
Suggested retail price: $39.98; Blu-ray $49.99
– Courtesy of Videoport