“BERNIE,” starring Jack Black and Shirley Maclaine. The phrase “Oscar nominee Jack Black” may become a reality if critical consensus proves accurate for this fact-based hybrid of comedy and documentary from ever unpredictable filmmaker Richard Linklater. Black plays Bernie, a beloved smalltown funeral home director in the South whose unlikely friendship with cruel and standoffish widow Maclaine takes a turn for the tragic when the normally gentle Bernie snaps and puts four bullets into her. Enter understandably befuddled D.A. Matthew McConaughey, whose seemingly cut-and-dry case becomes less so upon discovering that the townsfolk have no interest in making Bernie pay for his crime. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:44

Suggested retail price: $28.99; Blu-ray $29.99

“THE DICTATOR,” starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Anna Faris. Audiences accustomed to the sight of Cohen accosting and embarrassing everyday American citizens under the guise of “Ali G.,” “Borat” and “Bruno” may be taken aback to find the fearless funnyman actually appearing in a mainstream comedy with a plot and actors rather than unsuspecting members of the public. While lacking in the chutzpah and palpable danger of those features, Cohen finds ample opportunity to amuse and offend in this Marx brothers-inspired farce by assuming the role of Gen. Aladeen, a less-than-benevolent dictator whose ill-fated trip to the United Nations finds him debearded and running amok in the streets of New York while a rival (a game Ben Kingsley) hires a body double to impersonate him at home. Rated R. Running time: 1:23

Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $44.99

“DISNEYNATURE: CHIMPANZEE,” documentary. Tim “Buzz Lightyear” Allen narrates this charming and beautifully photographed tale of young Oscar, an orphaned chimp “adopted” by Freddy, an alpha male who assumed parental responsibilities for the appropriately adorable and curious primate. While the proceedings involve a violent disagreement between rival chimp communities over a nearby nut field, viewers are spared the inevitable monkey violence and aftermath, resulting in family-friendly entertainment in the old “Walt Disney Presents” vein. Rated G. Running time: 1:18

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


“THE ARISTOCATS,” “POCAHONTAS” and “THE RESCUERS,” animated. Disney cleans out its vaults a bit this week, bestowing the hi-def treatment upon a few of its well-loved library classics. The hep cats of 1970s “Aristocats” hold up especially well, with its pampered Parisian felines avoiding a nefarious butler out to snatch their inheritance, and all to a wonderfully jazzy score. “Pocahontas” (1995) is a rarity — a Disney movie without talking animals — though we suppose it would be hard to work something like that into this 17th-century fact-based tale of romance between a Native American and an English soldier. Finally, 1977’s “The Rescuers” coasts breezily on the fine chemistry between veteran comics Bob Newhart and Eva Gabor as a pair of gently bickering mice out to rescue a kidnapped little girl. Both “Pocahontas” and “The Rescuers” also include sequels. All are rated G. Running time: “The Aristocrats,” 1:18; “Pocohontas,” 1:21; “The Rescuers,” 1:18

Suggested retail price: $39.99

“WEEKEND,” starring Tom Cullen and Chris New. Acclaimed drama from British writer-director Andrew Haigh (“Greek Pete”) has been hailed as one of the most believable, sensitive and affecting representations of gay relationships in some time, with Cullen and New taking what normally might have been a simple one-night stand to more profound levels. Excellent performances and compelling dialogue elevate this indie hit to must-see status, especially with the customary deluxe Criterion treatment. Special features include interviews with cast and crew and two short films. Not rated; contains language, drug use, nudity and strong sexual content. Running time: 1:37

Suggested retail price: $39.95


“ECSTASY OF ORDER: THE TETRIS MASTERS,” documentary. People who become obsessed with a very specific interest unfailingly make for intriguing documentary subjects, and “Ecstasy of Order” from director Adam Cornelius (“People Who Do Noise”) does not disappoint. In this case, the obsession in question is Tetris, one of those rare games that transcends the usual video-game demographic to appeal to all ages, from the savviest Xbox freak to the most technologically incompetent grandma. Following a colorful group of Tetris record holders as they prepare for the upcoming Classic Tetris World Championship, “Order” traces the history of this iconic game while detailing the lives and personalities of those who tend to be particularly drawn to its charms. Certain to appeal to fans of such docs as “King of Kong” and “Word Wars,” but universal and entertaining enough to be of interest to just about anyone. Not rated; contains language. Running time: 1:33

Suggested retail price: $24.95

“A SEPARATION,” starring Payman Moadi and Leila Hatami. Possibly the most critically acclaimed film of 2011 and the winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this Iranian film from writer-director Asghar Farhadi boils down to decent but flawed people faced with a series of incredibly difficult decisions, and how these decisions affect the innocent people in their care. In this case, the innocents are young Termeh (Sarina Farhadi), whose parents (Moadi and Hatami) choose to pursue a divorce, as Mom wants to leave Iran to find a better life for Termeh. But Dad needs to stay behind to care for his Alzheimer’s-afflicted father. From that despairing setup comes further tragedy, presented in ways both humane and honest. And while it’s a strenuous watch at times, the efforts of the extraordinary cast and the flawless script from Farhadi easily justify the universal acclaim. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:03

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99

– Courtesy of Videoport

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