“LAWLESS,” starring Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf. A brutally effective Depression-era drama from director John Hillcoat and writer Nick Cave, who previously teamed so memorably for 2005’s “The Proposition.” Down-and-dirty saga of the Forrest brothers (Hardy, LaBeouf and Jason Clarke), deep South bootleggers who run afoul of the law in the form of Special Agent Charlie Rakes, a Chicago fed who isn’t above property destruction and outright torture in the course of getting his man, played with sublimely evil oiliness by Guy Pearce in the performance of his career. Unflinching in its desperation and violence, “Lawless” may prove too much to take for unprepared viewers, but they’d be missing out on one of the most entertaining releases of the year. Rated R. Running time: 1:56

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

“MEN IN BLACK 3,” starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. It’s depressing to realize that it’s been a full decade since the second film in this sci-fi/comedy franchise was released, but the years haven’t dulled the comic timing of the ever-sharp leads. Supporting players end up walking away with the picture this time, however, with Josh Brolin pulling off an uncanny and hilarious impersonation of Jones as Agent K’s younger self, encountered by Smith in a purposefully convoluted time travel plot, and “Flight of the Conchords” favorite Jemaine Clement is a scream as a truly disgusting alien villain. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:46

Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $40.99

“PARANORMAN,” animated with the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Anna Kendrick. Imaginative, amusing and even genuinely disturbing at times, this anything-goes family film features young Norman (Smit-McPhee, “The Road”), an outcast with an occasionally useful ability to talk to the dead. Tasked with protecting his hometown from a witch’s curse, Norman teams up with dim older brother Mitch (Casey Affleck), humiliated sister Courtney (Kendrick), bullied pal Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) and school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to attempt to rescue his unsuspecting neighborhood. Likely to induce nightmares in the very young, “Paranorman” is an ideal sleepover choice for kids not quite ready to venture into Freddy Kruger territory. Rated PG. Running time: 1:33

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

“STEP UP REVOLUTION,” starring Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman. The best advice one can offer concerning the “Step Up” films is to ignore the ridiculous semblance of a plot and enjoy the dancing, which is plentiful and impressive. Boogaloo Shrimp would be proud. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:39

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

“SPARKLE,” starring Jordin Sparks and Carmen Ejogo. Loose remake of the 1976 cult hit makes for a decent star vehicle for the likable and talented Sparks, playing an aspiring songwriter who forms a girl group with her sisters — against the wishes of their overprotective mother, fiercely played by Whitney Houston in her final screen performance before her death. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:56

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

“THE APPARITION,” starring Ashley Greene and Sebastian Stan. A young couple find their new home beset upon by the ghost of a man one of them resurrected during an experiment back in college — which is the type of information one should really share with their partner before going in on a house, if you ask us. Some spooky stuff surrounding a slightly silly plot. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:22

Suggested retail price: $28.98; Blu-ray $29.98


“HOT IN CLEVELAND: SEASON THREE,” starring Valerie Bertinelli and Betty White. Proudly retro TV Land hit brings back the glory days of the ’70s and ’80s sitcoms, with comedy vets Bertinelli, Emmy nominee White, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick slinging the one-liners and double entendres with sass and aplomb. Not rated; contains mild language and crude humor. Running time: 8:48

Suggested retail price: $29.98


“LUCK: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Dennis Farina. Before we wholeheartedly recommend this excellent scripted and perfectly cast horse-racing drama from HBO, we have to warn you not to get too attached, for there will be no season two. The tragic, accidental death of some of the many horses involved in bringing this series to life forced production to come to an unexpected, and reportedly final, halt.

But what creator David Mirch (“Deadwood”) has left us with is a sophisticated slow burn of a drama, with Hoffman channeling his inner mobster as Ace Bernstein, a former kingpin orchestrating a complex revenge plot revolving around the local racetrack and getting assistance from his loyal chauffeur (Farina). Rounding out the letter-perfect cast are Nick Nolte as a horse owner and Richard Kind as a pathetic agent. A brilliant beginning that will unfortunately not be receiving a proper ending. Not rated; contains language and violence. Running time: 9:00

Suggested retail price: $59.99; Blu-ray $79.98

“RITES OF SPRING,” starring Katherine Randolph and Anessa Ramsey. Ambitious and atmospheric, this debut feature from writer-director Padraig Reynolds attempts to combine the effectively simple scares from ’80s horror with the goriest aspects of more recent fright flicks, with some ’70s grindhouse thrown in for good measure. That is to say, there’s more going on here than your average low-budget horror movie, and while there is some spotty acting and unavoidably cliched elements, this tale of a kidnapping gone horribly awry in a creepy farming town throws so much at the viewer that it’s impossible not to get wrapped up in it all. It’ll be interesting to see what Reynolds comes up with the next time around with a little more backing. Not rated; contains language, sexual content and violence. Running time: 1:21

Suggested retail price: $24.98

– Courtesy of Videoport