“THE BUTLER,” Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey. Sprawling, fact-based overview of the evolution of civil rights over the years as witnessed, albeit in the background, by one Cecil Gaines (Whitaker), a White House butler who served under eight administrations, waiting on Presidents Eisenhower (Robin Williams), Kennedy (James Marsden) and Reagan (Alan Rickman), just to name a few. The job required long hours and as such kept him from fully connecting with his wife and children, in particular Louis (David Oyelowo, “The Paperboy”), whose ties to the Black Panther organization contrast heavily with his father’s controlled approach to life. As directed by the talented (“Precious”) but notoriously unsubtle (“The Paperboy”) Lee Daniels, “The Butler” proves an ideal showcase for the filmmaker’s persuasions. His unquestionable passion for the subject is abundantly clear throughout and the once-in-a-lifetime cast goes a long way in translating said passion to the screen. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:12. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99.

“CARRIE,” Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore. There’s no clear way to improve on Brian De Palma’s enduring 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel, wherein a bullied high school girl (Moretz, “Kick-Ass”) takes spectacularly violent revenge on her tormentors via telekinetic powers, making director Kimberly Peirce’s (“Boys Don’t Cry”) update more of a reminder of a good story than anything else, or possibly a glossier, less-dated version for these kids today with their smartphones (employed here to humiliate Carrie on a wider scale) and whatnot. It’s a skillful retread, but no match for the original. Rated R. Running time: 1:40. Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99.

“ENOUGH SAID,” Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, James Gandolfini. Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (“Veep”) is not widely known as a film actress, preferring to relegate her considerable talents to the small screen, but writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give”) has fashioned an ideal vehicle for her in “Enough Said.” The acclaimed comedienne shares surprising chemistry with the late Gandolfini, a lumberingly charming divorcee who becomes an unlikely love interest, an initially promising pairing forced to weather some doubt when Louis-Dreyfuss learns he’s the ex of one of her massage clients (Catherine Keener), who has little or nothing good to say about him. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:33. Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $39.99.

“RIDDICK,” Vin Diesel, Bokeem Woodbine. A third go-round for everybody’s favorite surly Furyan, Diesel and writer-director David Twohy once again team up for two hours of growly one-liners and interstellar donnybrooks, this time abandoning Riddick (Diesel) on a remote desert planet and pitting him against a host of predators and bounty hunters. Returning to the high-concept/low-budget roots of 2000’s “Pitch Black” (where we first met our scowling hero), “Riddick” represents a return to form of sorts, no more intelligent than the norm but scrappy, effectively crowd-pleasing entertainment all the same. Rated R. Running time: 1:59. Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $34.99.

“YOU’RE NEXT,” Sharni Vinson, A.J. Bowen. Nobody’s out to reinvent the wheel with “You’re Next,” on paper a relatively commonplace slasher with a home invasion theme and killers that wear creepy animal masks, but there’s enough energy and humor on display to more than make up for a perceived lack of originality. Vinson (“Step Up 3”) gives a star-making performance as an ultra-capable femme fatale giving the attacker far, far more than bargained for. The skillful and appropriately nasty horror flick does its genre proud. Special features include a commentary from director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett. Rated R. Running time: 1:34. Suggested retail price: $19.99; Blu-ray $24.99.



“FRUITVALE STATION,” Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz. Fact-based though creatively embellished, “Fruitvale Station” is a noble and largely successful attempt to present the final hours of Oscar Grant (Jordan, “The Wire”), a troubled young man making a concentrated effort to own up to his past actions and turn his life around, only to be shot dead by a police officer on Jan. 1, 2009. More of a character study than an authentic re-creation of events, “Fruitvale Station” proves enormously affecting thanks to the efforts of Jordan, who’s never less than captivating as the well-meaning but doomed Grant. Rated R. Running time: 1:25. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99.

“THE SPECTACULAR NOW,” Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley. From the writers who brought you “(500) Days of Summer,” one of the most popular and beloved romantic comedies of the past decade, comes “The Spectacular Now,” an equally knowing and utterly charming fable that pairs popular, possibly alcoholic jokester Teller (“21 and Over”) with withdrawn but intelligent outcast Woodley (“The Descendants”), an unexpected relationship that brings out unforeseen aspects of the high schoolers’ personalities. Rated R. Running time: 1:35. Special features include a commentary from director James Ponsoldt. Suggested retail price: $19.99; Blu-ray $24.99.


“BUFFALO ’66,” Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci. You don’t generally hear the term “likable” bandied about whenever controversial actor/filmmaker Vincent Gallo (“The Brown Bunny”) is discussed, but this bleakly funny 1998 cross between a crime drama and a romantic comedy is exactly that. It follows temperamental, luckless ex-con Billy (Gallo) as he kidnaps a young dancing student (Ricci) for the purposes of presenting her to his seemingly insane parents (Ben Gazzara and Anjelica Huston) as his girlfriend, a heinous and thoroughly ill-advised crime that somehow blossoms into a tender relationship. A surreal, one-of-a-kind comedy with a truly wonderful ending. Rated R. Running time: 1:50. Suggested retail price: $14.99.


“SHORT TERM 12,” Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr. One of 2013’s most acclaimed (and possibly least seen) films, this out-of-nowhere stunner from writer-director Destin Cretton (“I am Not a Hipster”) takes what could have been maudlin, unwatchably sappy material and comes up with one of the most truly heartfelt and touching dramas in years, detailing the day-to-day events at the titular facility, a foster care facility for emotionally disturbed teens. Supervisor Grace (an Oscar-worthy Larson, of “The Spectacular Now”) carries the brunt of the film as she not only connects with her troubled charges but deals with her own personal demons, alongside fellow employee and not-so-secret boyfriend Mason (Gallagher, “The Newsroom”) and newbie employee Nate (Rami Malek, “Night at the Museum”). Difficulties and breakthroughs abound with the teens in question, but Cretton and cast maintain an almost shocking aura of believability throughout, never succumbing to cliche or pat answers. In the end, it’s a truly impressive work from a novice filmmaker who is already producing better work than the majority of his more experienced colleagues. Let’s hope we see more of it. Rated R. Running time: 1:36. Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $34.99.

“20 FEET FROM STARDOM,” documentary. One of the many great things about documentaries is their tendency to shine light on a fascinating and all too often unfairly neglected demographic. In “20 Feet,” director Morgan Neville (“The Cool School”) at long last gives the lowly but essential backup singer their proper due, introducing us to such staggering vocal talents as Darlene Love (The Crystals), Merry Clayton (Ray Charles) and Grammy winner Lisa Fischer. Through concert footage, interviews with musicians and the ladies themselves, and finally listening to them currently belting it out without missing a beat, Neville has structured a lovely cinematic valentine to these hard-working but rarely spotlighted singers, one that will undoubtedly send viewers to their local music stores in search of many of these forgotten classics. Rated PG-13. Running time: 1:31. Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.99

– Courtesy of Videoport

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