“THE CONSPIRATOR,” starring Robin Wright and James McAvoy. Thoughtful and faithfully recreated historical fiction from director Robert Redford relates the tale of Mary Surratt (Wright, “Forrest Gump”), the woman who owned the boarding home where John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln, met up with his fellow plotters before committing the infamous deed.

Accused of co-conspiracy by an eager-to-condemn Secretary of War (Kevin Kline), Surratt is fortunate enough to be assigned to defense attorney Frederick Aiken (McAvoy), an initially reluctant upstart who soon becomes her closest, and perhaps only, ally.

In keeping with the rest of his oeuvre, Redford eschews showy theatrics in favor of mannered realism and naturalistic performances, resulting in a well-realized adult drama of particular interest to history buffs. Special features include a commentary from Redford. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:02

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.95; Blu-ray $39.99

“HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL,” animated with the voices of Hayden Panettiere and Glenn Close. Long-delayed sequel to the 2005 fairy-tale send-up finds Red Riding Hood (Panettiere of “Heroes,” taking over for Anne Hathaway) teaming up with former rival the Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton, “Family Guy”) to rescue her kidnapped Granny (Close), who is being held against her will in an effort to procure her world-famous truffle recipe.

As before, snarkiness and pop-culture references inform most of the humor, so one’s tolerance for this sort of cynical funny business will dictate how much you end up enjoying this occasionally amusing but half-baked kiddie entertainment. Rated PG. Running time: 1:26

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99

“JANE EYRE,” starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbinder. Well-received update of the Charlotte Bronte gothic romance manages to squeeze most of the elements of the original novel into one two-hour film.

Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) surprisingly manages to convince as plain, assuming Jane, a historically mistreated waif employed by the mysterious Rochester (Fassbinder), an alternately intimidating and attractive man with the prerequisite “dark secret.”

Stylish and adept, director Cary Joji Fukunaga (“Sin Nombre”) puts his own stamp on an oft-adapted classic. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:00

Suggested retail price: DVD $29.98; Blu-ray $34.98

“PRIEST,” starring Paul Bettany and Cam Gigandet. Sometimes you just gotta kick back with a six-pack and watch a movie about a priest fighting a bunch of vampires. This is exactly what “Priest” promises and delivers, no more no less, with Bettany glowering his way through the rampant ridiculousness. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and disturbing images. Running time: 1:27.

Suggested retail price: DVD $30; Blu-ray $35.99

“SOMETHING BORROWED,” starring Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin. Adapted from Emily Giffin’s bestselling novel “Borrowed” recalls “My Best Friend’s Wedding” in its tale of straight-laced Rachel (Goodwin, putting in a good bid for future leading-lady roles), who falls hard for the fiance (Colin Egglesfield, “All My Children”) of her party-girl best friend (Hudson, her usual sunny self). Narrating the unavoidably awkward proceedings is Ethan (John Krasinski of “The Office”), a supposedly platonic friend with stifled yearnings of his own.

Nothing new under the sun here, but the cast sells it with aplomb, and there’s a comfort in knowing it’ll all work out in the end for these crazy kids. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:52

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



“DEXTER: THE FIFTH SEASON,” starring Michael C. Hall and Julia Stiles. America’s favorite serial killer is back for another season of gory if justice-oriented slashings. This time around, he pairs with the victim of a gang rape (Stiles, giving far and away her finest performance) to take down a gang of some of the vilest individuals imaginable.

While it’s getting a little long in the tooth, “Dexter” as always benefits greatly from an impressive roster of character actors — not the least of which is Hall himself, who has managed to find a way to make a potentially reprehensible character not only watchable, but sympathetic. Not rated; contains graphic violence, sexual content including rape and language. Running time: 10:18

Suggested retail price: DVD $54.99; Blu-ray $64.99

“QUEEN TO PLAY,” starring Sandrine Bonnaire and Kevin Kline. Stylish and sophisticated dramedy of newfound passions and mid-life triumphs set on the postcard-perfect isle of Corsica. Lovely, repressed and quietly intelligent, French chambermaid Helene (Bonnaire) discovers she has a knack for chess. This obsession leads her to seek the clandestine tutelage of a reclusive American doctor (Kline, in his first French-speaking role), a liaison that radically transforms both of their lives. Not Rated. Running time: 1:41

Suggested retail price: $29.99 


“THE BIG LEBOWSKI: LIMITED EDITION,” starring Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. Talk about a movie getting a second life on video. This genre-defying 1998 cult classic (and sly Raymond Chandler parody) from the brothers Coen wowed neither critics nor audiences upon its initial release. But since then, the deadpan adventures of The Dude (Bridges, in the role that will ultimately define his career) and his excitable bowling cronies (Goodman, Steve Buscemi and John Turturro) have garnered a far-reaching, rabid fanbase that goes so far as to attend Lebowski-themed conventions. Includes a collectible book, an interactive map, an overview of “Lebowski Fest” and a host of other delightful extras. Rated R. Running time: 1:57

Suggested retail price: $29.98

“THE KILLING,” starring Sterling Hayden and Coleen Gray. Director Stanley Kubrick’s third film but first real classic is practically a primer on how to construct an effective film noir, with the always dependable Hayden (“The Asphalt Jungle”) leading a determined if none-too-cohesive gang of crooks in an attempt to knock off a racetrack. Lending the 1956 film its grit is co-writer Jim Thompson, the novelist behind such pulp classics as “The Killer Inside Me” and “The Grifters.”

With an ingenious narrative structure that has since been copied many times over, “The Killing” is arguably one of Kubrick’s more accessible works. Special features in this Criterion release include new interviews with cast and crew. Not rated; contains violence. Running time: 1:25

Suggested retail price: $39.95 


“THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST,” starring Neil Patrick Harris and Bonnie Somerville. It’s not easy to find a ripe topic for comedic skewering these days, but this gleefully crude farce from writer-director Josh Shelov (“Green Street Hooligans”) takes aim at the ridiculously competitive world of big-city private kindergartens.

Comeback kid Harris and Somerville (“The Ugly Truth”) play the hapless parents, and such familiar faces as Amy Sedaris (“Strangers with Candy”) and Christopher Macdonald (“Happy Gilmore”) are the questionable authorities who turn the screws.

Having been inaccurately touted as a poet by Sedaris, Harris must attempt to pass off a friend’s unspeakably vulgar text messages as his own supposedly groundbreaking handiwork in one especially enjoyable if none too plausible plot twist. It’s these unabashedly silly moments and willingness to go well over the top that make “Brightest” such a nasty treat. Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content and some nudity. Running time: 1:33

Suggested retail price: $26.95

“THE WARD,” starring Amber Heard and Mamie Gummer. Set in the early ’60s, this John Carpenter (“Halloween,” “The Thing”) work follows troubled young Kristen (Heard, “Drive Angry”), who is institutionalized after burning down a farmhouse. Shortly after arriving, this being a Carpenter film, she is attacked by the vengeful ghost of a less-than-hospitable intern, a situation that gets even less pleasant once said ghost begins killing off her fellow inmates.

As always, Carpenter excels at not only delivering the shocks but in creating characters whose well being you actually care about, and Heard proves why she’s the current Hollywood go-to girl for scrappy heroines in crazy situations. It’s not quite the full return to form we’re still waiting for, but it’s still far better than the vast majority of major studio fright fare being offered today. Rated R for violence and disturbing images. Running time: 1:28.

Suggested retail price: DVD $24.99; Blu-ray $29.99. 

– Courtesy of Videoport