NEW ON THE SHELF:

“Birdman,” Michael Keaton, Edward Norton. Universal acclaim (and subsequent Oscar noms) greeted this audacious dramedy directed and co-written by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It’s anchored by an award-worthy performance by Keaton, making an overdue comeback as Riggan, whose starmaking performance in a superhero flick 20 years ago was his last significant role, a circumstance he aims to change by staging a Broadway version of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” He has to deal with an egotistical star (Norton), an addict daughter (Emma Stone), and all manner of obstacles along the way. Fearless and unpredictable, “Birdman” is an original vision delivered with style and gusto. Special features include behind-the-scenes footage and a conversation with Keaton and Inarritu. Rated R. Running time: 2:00. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99

“Dumb and Dumber To,” Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels. Extremely belated sequel to the popular 1994 gagfest finds the Farrelly brothers rehashing a lot of old shtick in between some genuinely amusing funny business from the dependable leads, who clearly take great delight in reviving dimwits Lloyd (Carrey) and Harry (Daniels), again embarking on a road trip lined with crude gags and slapstick set-ups. While it’s admittedly nice to see these idiots again, viewers looking for a truly great comedy would do well to simply dust off their copy of the original. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:50. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98

“St. Vincent,” Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy. An eternally soused curmudgeon (Murray) reluctantly becomes a babysitter for the young son of his desperate neighbor (McCarthy) in order to chip away at some serious gambling debts, unexpectedly becoming quite attached to the little fellow (a charming Jaeden Lieberher, “Playing it Cool”) while introducing him to the seamier side of life at rundown bars and racetracks. Cynicism and sentimentality coexist uneasily here, but any chance to watch Murray misbehave is worth taking advantage of, and the supporting cast (which includes Naomi Watts and Chris O’Dowd) keep up nicely. Special features include a Q&A with Murray. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:42. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.99

“The Theory of Everything,” Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones. The atypical – to say the least – marriage between brilliant but ailing physicist Stephen Hawking and passionate, loyal spouse Jane is memorably explored in this wonderfully acted biopic from director James Marsh. The film largely eschews Hawking’s revolutionary rise to scholarly prominence in favor of simply spending time with the couple, who are extraordinarily brought to life by Redmayne and Jones in two of this year’s finest performances. Special features include a commentary from Marsh. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:05. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98

VIDEOPORT PICKS:

“The Homesman,” Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank. In one of your grimmer westerns, the notoriously nonsense-free Jones glorifies nary a moment of pioneer life in this consistently surprising tale of Mary Bee (Swank), a Nebraska homemaker who has not been able to secure a spouse due to her plain appearance. She takes it upon herself to transport three women – all rendered insane after a life consisting of nothing but abuse and hardship – to Iowa, where a church has offered to help them, employing local layabout George (Jones) to accompany them. As fearless in his directing as in his acting, Jones treads into extremely dark territory here, with some truly shocking developments late in the picture, but hardier viewers will be rewarded with a fully realized, warts and all western that’s oddly liberating in its unforgiving harshness. Rated R. Running time: 2:02. Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.99

“Life Itself,” documentary. One of our finest documentarians honors one of our finest film critics in “Life Itself,” the remarkable story of Roger Ebert’s rise to fame as one of the most passionate and relatable champions of good cinema in the papers, and eventually on television alongside partner (and frequent combatant) Gene Siskel. The film also details Ebert’s struggle with the cancer that eventually claimed his jaw, and with it his ability to speak. Director Steve James – whose remarkable “Hoop Dreams” was a favorite of Ebert’s – is the ideal man to bring this story to the big screen, and it’s difficult to imagine even the casual film fan not being moved by this honest and loving portrait. Rated R. Running time: 2:01. Suggested retail price: $26.98; Blu-ray $29.98

NEW TO DVD:

“Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season,” Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage. The formidable Lannisters maintain their control over the Iron Throne in HBO’s overwhelmingly popular adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s enduring series of books, but opposition arrives in the form of the Red Viper of Dorne (Pedro Pascal, “The Adjustment Bureau”), whose hatred of the Lannisters is no secret. Meanwhile, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke, “Dom Hemingway”) takes her dragons to Meeren in the hopes of recruiting assistance in reclaiming the Iron Throne. Not rated. Running time: 9:10. Suggested retail price: $59.99; Blu-ray $79.98

“The World Made Straight,” Noah Wylie, Jeremy Irvine. Based on the novel by Ron Rash, “Straight” spends some time in an Appalachian community circa 1970, where amiable aimless youth Travis (Irvine, “War Horse”) warily navigates impending adulthood in a crime-ridden town populated by such unpleasant types as local drug kingpin Carlton (musician Steve Earle, making an impression with a suitably creepy performance). Gritty melodrama with fine performances across the board. Rated R. Running time: 2:00. Suggested retail price: $19.99; Blu-ray $24.99

– Courtesy of Videoport