“COUNTRY STRONG,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw. Heartfelt if somewhat by-the-numbers melodrama concerns award-winning country superstar Kelly Canter (Paltrow, who proves to have pipes more than up to the task), her overbearing manager/husband James (McGraw, who somehow doesn’t get the chance to sing despite being the only bona fide country star in the film), and the two up-and-coming performers they decide to take under their wing: Beau (Garrett Hedlund, “TRON: Legacy”) and Chiles (Leighton Meester, “Gossip Girl”). Complicating matters are an inevitable love triangle and Kelly’s well-publicized drinking problem, just the type of depressing situations you’re likely to encounter in the average country song. So in essence, “Country Strong” is like an old Reba tune come to life. As such, the film entertains, but will likely appeal to country fans above all. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:57.

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.95; Blu-ray $34.95.

“HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1,” starring Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. Unbelievably, we’re almost at the end of the series, and not a moment too soon, since Harry and the gang are showing their age in more ways than one. Although made and acted well as always, the problem with “Part One” is that it’s all buildup by design, so while it’s effective at whetting one’s appetite for the end-all, be-all showdown between Harry and Voldemort that awaits in the next and final installment, it’s also unavoidably frustrating and anticlimactic — and difficult to enjoy out of context, unlike some of the earlier sequels. Despite these quibbles, “Part One” succeeds at its intended tasks, and we can only hope the same can be said (and then some) for the upcoming conclusion. Special features include a sneak peek at “Part 2.” Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:26.

Suggested retail price: DVD $28.98; Blu-ray $35.99.


“HIGHWATER,” starring Kelly Slater and Andy Irons. From the people who brought you “Step Into Liquid” and “Dust to Glory,” this gorgeously shot doc focuses on the heralded Triple Crown event in Oahu, where every winter the monolithic waves tempt the sport’s best and brightest into braving the breakers for a shot at surfing’s most coveted prize. Some jaw-dropping footage here, and particularly so in Blu-ray. Running time: 1:35.

Suggested retail price: DVD $27.97; Blu-ray $29.97.

“H.R. PUFNSTUF: THE COMPLETE SERIES,” starring Jack Wild and Billie Hayes. Relive your misspent Saturday mornings with this exhaustive collection of episodes of the hallucinatory kiddie fave from the infamous Sid and Marty Krofft, wherein young Jimmy (Wild of “Oliver!”) and his magical flute are kidnapped by the evil Witchiepoo and whisked away to Living Island, where pretty much everything is alive. Fortunately, the town’s mayor (a talking dragon, natch) comes to his rescue, and it all just gets even more awesome from there. Special features include a never-before-seen episode of “Horror Hotel,” an ill-fated Krofft production that has never seen the light of day until now. Not rated, but may frighten very young children. Running time: 6:14.

Suggested retail price: $24.99.


“THE INCREDIBLES” and “CARS,” animated with the voices of Craig T. Nelson and Owen Wilson. Two of Pixar’s biggest hits find their way to Blu-ray this week, both in special editions positively loaded with extra features, including roundtable discussions with the filmmakers, storyboards, interactive games, deleted scenes and much more. “The Incredibles” is rated PG, and “Cars” is rated G. Running time: 1:55/1:57.

Suggested retail price: $45.99/$39.99.

“LE CERCLE ROUGE,” starring Alain Delon and Gian Maria Volonte. Criminal exploits never looked cooler than they did in this 1970 French thriller from master director Jean-Pierre Melville (“Bob Le Flambeur”), which follows level-headed thief Corey (Delon) as he teams up with prison escapee Vogel (Volonte) and disgraced cop Jansen (Yves Montand) for a jewel heist, a job that unfolds an unforgettable 20-minute scene with absolutely no dialogue. An influential crime thriller that has yet to be matched. Not rated, contains language and violence. Running time: 2:20.

Suggested retail price: $39.95.


“MARWENCOL,” documentary. Having barely survived a brutal beating outside a New York bar, artist Mark Hogancamp emerged from the hospital remembering very little of what had transpired in his life up to that point, and only intermittently resembled his former self to family and friends. Adrift in his confusion, he took to working through his problems via an intriguing hobby: constructing an expansive WWII-era Belgian town in his backyard called “Marwencol,” crafting a history for the town complex enough to rival that of any real community. First-time director Jeff Malmberg skillfully takes us into this fascinatingly insular world, revealing an alternately likable and troubling man who is just as much of a mystery to himself as he is to us. It almost comes as a disappointment when the art world takes an interest in his project, as that means we and Hogancamp inevitably have to leave the imaginary world behind. Highly recommended. Not rated, contains language and thematic material. Running time: 1:23.

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $34.95.

“SUMMER IN GENOA,” starring Colin Firth and Catherine Keener. Arguably one of the most believable depictions of grief in cinema, with ever-unpredictable director Michael Winterbottom (“9 Songs,” “The Killer Inside Me”) dialing his usual propensity for shock way down and delivering a beautiful look at a family slowly trying to put itself back together after the untimely loss of its wife and mother (Hope Davis). Cared for by well-meaning but stunned Joe (Oscar-winner Firth, turning in his usual stellar work), the newly orphaned children deal with their loss in their own troubling but necessary ways: teenager Kelly (Willa Holland, “Legion”) by lashing out, and the younger Mary (Perla Haney-Jardine, “Dark Water”) by indulging in an apparent fantasy in which Mom’s ghost interacts with her. Unlike the usual Hollywood fare, there are no showy speeches or overly cathartic realizations; just real people dealing with real loss. Rated R for language, some sexuality and drug use. Running time: 1:34.

Suggested retail price: $24.98.

– Courtesy of Videoport


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