NEW ON THE SHELF

“VERONICA MARS,” Kristen Bell, Ryan Hansen. Historically significant for being entirely crowd-funded via Kickstarter, “Mars” makes its way to the screen with surreal humor and crackling tension fully intact, with our plucky would-be investigator (Bell) waylaying a prestigious law firm job to return home to help an ex-boyfriend (Jason Dohring) beat a murder rap. Fans can rest assured that their donations were money well spent, and newcomers will find the film relatively easy to follow without necessitating a speed run through the entire series beforehand (though such a venture is well worth one’s time). Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:48. Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $29.98.

“THE ART OF THE STEAL,” Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon. We don’t see nearly enough of Kurt Russell these days, so any movie featuring him is most likely going to count as a win in our book. Thankfully, while guilty of a minor misstep here and there, “Steal” largely delivers, offering an alternately breezy and gritty caper wherein a none too trustworthy band of career criminals (which also includes Dillon, Jay Baruchel and Jason Jones) embarks on a patchy mission to make off with the Gutenberg bible. A sadly perfunctory release ensured that few audiences got the chance to enjoy it, but “Steal” is worth a look for fans of heist flicks and Russell’s particular brand of genial cockiness. Rated R. Running time: 1:30. Suggested retail price: $24.98; $29.99.

NEW TO DVD

“CHINA BEACH: THE COMPLETE SEASON THREE,” Dana Delaney, Michael Boatman. The Vietnam War was all the rage in the world of entertainment back in the ’80s, and while many movies and shows simply glorified the violence and turned a horrific period of time into a rah-rah action movie, this brief but critically acclaimed and well-remembered series not only turned out compelling drama, but respected the veterans and the life-shattering experiences they endured. Thoughtful, well-acted and never afraid to confront taboo issues, “China Beach” is well worth becoming reacquainted with. Not rated. Running time: 18:07. Suggested retail price: $29.98. 

“LEWIS BLACK: OLD YELLER.” There is little left for comedian Lewis Black to rant about at this point, but his witty misanthropy and appalled incredulity always make for an entertaining evening, and luckily for his appreciative fan base, the older he gets, the angrier he gets. Fans of the late George Carlin would do well to give Black’s somewhat similar brand of crude perceptiveness a spin. Not rated. Running time: 1:21.

Suggested retail price: $14.99. 

NEW TO BLU-RAY

“THE BIRDS,” Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor. What continues to make Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 horror classic such a terrifying experience is the fact that it never bothers to answer two fairly glaring questions: Where are all these birds coming from, and why are they attacking everyone? Once the birds show up, there’s not a lot of time to think about it, and the scene where they converge on a child’s birthday party has to be seen to be believed. Assuming you’re OK with never leaving your house again, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience and a nastily impressive achievement from the unparalleled master of such things. Special features include a deleted scene and the original ending. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:00. Suggested retail price: $19.99. 

“SORCERER.” Director William Friedkin’s (“The French Connection,” “The Exorcist”) relentlessly tense redo of “The Wages Of Fear” will have you glued to the screen for its entire two hours. Four desperate characters (Roy Scheider, Bruno Cremer, Francisco Rabal, Amidou) from four corners of the globe flee their separate personal horrors and each end up hiding in the same Central American frontier oil town. Does their situation get any better once they join forces? Of course not, thanks to an oil well blowout and some nitroglycerin! Do not miss this picture. Rated R. Running time 2:01 Suggested Retail Price: $29.99 

VIDEOPORT PICKS

“BURN,” documentary. In a city given up for dead, a greatly decreased number of firefighters contend with a greatly increased number of fires in this thrillingly immediate, enormously compelling and ultimately inspiring doc, spending a year with Engine Company No. 50, a tight-knit group with the unfortunate circumstance of being located in Detroit, where fires are rampant and both money and willing helpers are scarce. Condensing a year into an hour and a half is a daunting task regardless of subject, but with characters and situations as unrelenting as those filmmakers Brenna Sanchez and Tom Putnam focus on in this impressive feature, the task is positively Herculean. At the end of the day, this is fail-safe subject matter for a great documentary, never shying away from the tragedy but also reminding one that with the right people on board, there’s no such thing as a lost cause. Not rated. Running time: 1:26. Suggested retail price: $24.99; Blu-ray $29.99. 

“STILL MINE,” James Cromwell, Genevieve Bujold. Good old American know-how – not to mention stubbornness – is effectively championed in this easy-to-root-for drama, which gives Cromwell one of his best roles in years as Craig Morrison, a New Brunswick native and longtime farmer accustomed to doing things his way or no way. When governmental red tape threatens to prevent him from building the perfect home in which he and his ailing wife (Bujold, “Dead Ringers”) can live out their golden years, the fight is on, and writer-director Michael McGowan (“Score: A Hockey Musical”) strikes the perfect tone between touching and rousing. A satisfying tale every bit as effective and old-fashioned as its protagonist. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:43. Suggested retail price: $22.98; Blu-ray $29.99.

– Courtesy of Videoport