“THE AMERICAN,” starring George Clooney and Paolo Bonacelli. Thoughtful, leisurely paced crime drama may have puzzled more than a few audience members expecting more traditional action fare — considering that the protagonist is a hitman — but Clooney and director Anton Corbijn (“Control”) imbue the goings-on with steadily building tension, refusing to sacrifice artistry for cheap thrills. Reminiscent of such classy/cool ’70s thrillers as “The Conversation” and “The Parallax View,” “The American” is some of Clooney’s strongest work to date. Rated R. Running time: 1:45. Suggested retail price: DVD $29.98; Blu-ray $39.98. 

“RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE,” starring Milla Jovovich and Wentworth Miller. Fourth entry in the surprisingly enduring action-horror series based on the popular video-game franchise proves a perfect venue for 3D technology, given that the film is nothing more than a series of stunning yet ultimately meaningless visual set pieces. Brainless, in-your-face fun, with Jovovich continuing to make the mass slaughter of undead attackers look as sexy as possible under the circumstances. Rated R. Running time: 1:37.

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.95; Blu-ray $39.95. 

“TWELVE,” starring Chace Crawford and Emma Roberts. Aptly compared to “Less then Zero,” this slick drama from director Joel Schumacher (“The Lost Boys”) focuses on the sordid behavior of restless young Manhattanites, in particular White Mike (Crawford, “Gossip Girl”), who foregoes college in favor of a lucrative career as a drug dealer. Rated R. Running time: 1:33.

Suggested retail price: DVD $22.98; Blu-ray $29.99. 


“LEGACY,” starring Idris Elba and Easmonn Walker. Mentally taxing but brilliantly acted drama gives the great Elba (unforgettable as Stringer Bell in “The Wire”) an all-too-rare starring role as Malcolm Gray, a victim of brutal torture at the hands of a Ukranian arms dealer as a result of a botched black ops mission. His return to society and attempts to seek justice comprise the brunt of the film, and Elba pulls out all the stops in his performance. Difficult to watch at times, but worth seeing for Elba alone. Rated R. Running time: 1:35.

Suggested retail price: $19.97. 

“LEGENDARY,” starring John Cena and Devon Graye. Simplistic but entirely likable family drama finds 98-pound weakling Cal (Graye, “Dexter”) electing to join his high school wrestling team in an attempt to improve his relationship with his big brother (Cena, “The Marine”), a former wrestling champ turned unemployed alcoholic. Classing up the proceeding considerably is Patricia Clarkson as the boys’ widowed mother. None too subtle, “Legendary” definitely has a made-for-TV feel about it, but the cast sells it (even the normally stoic Cena makes an impression), and it’s hard to go wrong with the tried-and-true underdog formula. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:47.

Suggested retail price: $24.95.


“DERAILED,” starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston. Overlooked, down-and-dirty thriller is well worth getting reacquainted with for a rare and surprisingly effective femme fatale performance from normally cutesy Aniston and a gleefully unhinged Vincent Cassel (“Eastern Promises”) as a calculating thug out to blackmail her cheating husband, Owen. Not a film that typically gets a lot of attention, “Derailed” has far more going on than your average modern thriller, and its nasty attitude and twisty plot have a Hitchcockian bent to them. Rated R for strong disturbing violence, language and some sexuality. Running time: 1:48.

Suggested retail price: $19.97. 

“SURF NAZIS MUST DIE,” starring Gail Neely and Robert Harden. Even the crystal-clear quality of Blu-Ray can only do so much when it comes to the bargain-basement production values of your average Troma production, but 1987’s “Surf Nazis” has always had a certain je ne sais quoi, and chances are you’ll find yourself rooting for “Mama Washington” (Neely) as she tirelessly hunts down the neo-Nazi surf punks who killed her grandson. Silly and gratuitous, but per usual there’s an undeniable low-rent charm all the same. Rated R for violence, gore, sexual content and crude humor. Running time: 1:23.

Suggested retail price: $19.95. 


“ARCHER: SEASON 1,” Animated with the voices of H. Jon Benjamin and Aisha Tyler. This hilariously mean-spirited animated spy offering from FX is a clear product of the “Adult Swim” brand of hip, often obscure humor. But it’s best experienced as a showcase for the singular talents of one H. Jon Benjamin, just now becoming a leading name in comedy after years of excellent voiceover work in such animated comedies as “Dr. Katz” (in which he unforgettably played the doctor’s none-too-ambitious son, Ben) and “Home Movies” (in which his Coach McGuirk stole virtually every scene he appeared in).

Here, he holds court center stage as the titular superspy, whose enthusiasm for international intrigue pales greatly in comparison to his penchant for irritating and coming onto his co-workers at the office. Extremely quotable and profoundly profane, “Archer” is a sure bet for fans of such shows as “The Venture Brothers” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” and an ideal vehicle for Benjamin to bring the funny.

Not rated, contains language, crude humor, cartoon violence and sexual content. Running time: 5:08.

Suggested retail price: $29.98. 

“UNITED STATES OF TARA: THE SECOND SEASON,” starring Toni Collette and John Corbett. The formidable skills of Collette and the biting dialogue of creator/writer Diablo Cody (“Juno”) make for an ideal combo in this inventive Showtime series, which finds Tara mostly managing to keep her multiple personalities in check thanks to a new medication. But with two moody teenagers on the loose and a high-maintenance sister moving in with them, the odd relapse is all but inevitable.

Cody’s self-aware prose is, as always, an acquired taste, but her obvious affection for her characters tempers the potential quirk overload, and Collette runs with the chance to portray an entire cast in the course of a single performance. Not rated, contains language, sexual content and thematic material. Running time: 6:00.

Suggested retail price: $49.99. 

— Courtesy of Videoport


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