“INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS,” Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan. A week in the life of a struggling and understandably temperamental folk singer (well played by Isaac of “Drive”) during the early ’60s heyday of the genre, “Davis” is a Coen brothers effort through and through, a stylish and idiosyncratic recreation of the Greenwich Village folk scene. As might be expected, music is a big draw here, and much like “O Brother Where Art Thou” before it, the soundtrack does not disappoint, but it’s the larger-than-life performances that make or break a Coen production, and memorable turns from Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and Coen mainstay John Goodman ensure another winner for the critical and audience favorites. Rated R. Running time: 1:44. Suggested retail price: $30.99; Blu-ray $35.99.

“THE BOOK THIEF,” Sophie Nelisse, Emily Watson. Based on the bestselling novel by Markus Zusak, “Thief” by all accounts appears to be a relatively commonplace tearjerker, but it’s safe to say most tearjerkers aren’t narrated by Death. This distinguishing touch sets director Michael Petroni’s (“Downton Abbey”) adaptation apart, adding depth to the already affecting tale of young Liesel (Nelisse,), whose upbringing amongst Nazi youth groups coincides with a verboten love of literature instilled in her by her foster father (Geoffrey Rush), leading her to find solace in secret libraries and developing a talent for writing. A love story in more ways than one and an unfailingly compelling story. Rated PG-13. Running time: 2:11. Suggested retail price: $29.98; Blu-ray $39.99.

“HOMEFRONT,” Jason Statham, Winona Ryder. Entertaining throwback hearkens back to the glory days of Van Damme and Seagal, dropping the requisite stoic tough guy with a deadly past in a rural setting, where hopes of lying low are soon dashed by untoward locals (here represented by Kate Bosworth and James Franco, both reveling in the B-movie scumminess). People who recall such films as “Nowhere to Run” or “Fire Down Below” will find “Homefront” awfully familiar, but Statham’s brand of gruff cool goes down easier than that of his ’80s counterparts, and the result is a perfectly enjoyable if entirely derivative slugfest. Rated R. Running time: 1:41. Suggested retail price: $29.99; Blu-ray $34.98.

“OUT OF THE FURNACE,” Christian Bale, Casey Affleck. Aggressively downbeat and almost punishingly well-acted, the second feature from director Scott Cooper (“Crazy Heart”) depicts tough times indeed for its put-upon protagonists, steelworker Bale and Iraq vet Affleck, brothers swiftly in over their heads when Affleck falls in with a mob-run streetfighting circuit, overseen by Harlan (a terrifying Woody Harrelson), not one to extend credit without expecting far more in return. The undercurrent of violence and the pent-up rage on display may be a lot to take for some viewers, but Cooper and cast have delivered some extremely effective noir with “Furnace,” a skillful picture that deserves a wider audience that it has garnered to date. Rated R. Running time: 1:56. Suggested retail price: $22.98; Blu-ray $29.99. 



“BARBIE: THE PEARL PRINCESS,” animated, with the voices of Kelly Sheridan, Katie Crown. It appears that everybody’s favorite plastic footlong fashion model is now a mermaid with the ability to control and bestow magical power upon pearls. This ability comes in handy when her aunt leaves for a royal party without bringing along her invitation, necessitating an urgent, occasionally perilous journey for the plucky mermodel. Strictly for those who would think to include Barbie dolls on their various Christmas and birthday wish lists, and said parties will likely have few complaints. Not rated. Running time: 1:14. Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $26.98. 

“ENEMIES CLOSER,” Jean-Claude Van Damme, Orlando Jones. Self-aware, genuinely funny vehicles such as “J.C.V.D.” and the more recent “Welcome to the Jungle” have rekindled an interest in formerly bankable action hero Van Damme, and he brings this new nutso energy to this agreeable B-movie from director Peter Hyams, who he previously worked with in the 1994 cult fave “Timecop.” While not quite up to par with their former collaboration, “Enemies” is a fun slant on the old “enemies forced to work together” trope, with park ranger Tom Everett Scott (“That Thing You Do!”) and parolee Jones (“Evolution”) putting aside their differences when Van Damme’s unhinged drug trafficker shows up looking for a buried heroin shipment. Worth seeing for Van Damme’s dedicatedly crazed performance alone, but Hyams keeps the story moving along nicely and viewers looking to kill a lazy Sunday afternoon could do much worse. Rated R. Running time: 1:24. Suggested retail price: $19.98; Blu-ray $24.98. 

“ROGUE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON,” Thandie Newton, Sarah Jeffrey. Addictive thriller series concerning undercover detective Grace (the lovely and talented Newton of “Crash”) and her efforts to uncover the answers behind her son’s mysterious demise, an untimely event she suspects she may have unwittingly helped to bring about. Not rated. Running time: 8:20. Suggested retail price: $34.98. 


“EL DORADO,” John Wayne, Robert Mitchum. Two of the screen’s manliest presences (and that’s not even counting a supporting role for James Caan) command the screen in this grandly entertaining 1967 western from the great Howard Hawks, which pairs gunman-for-hire Wayne with drunken sheriff Mitchum in an effort to join forces against a local gang of nasties (led by evil land baron Ed Asner) bent on stealing a water supply from less nefarious local ranchers. One to watch with Dad, for certain, but really a good old-fashioned barn-burner for anyone who enjoys watching the bad guys get theirs. Special features include commentaries from filmmaker/fan Peter Bogdanovich, film historian Richard Schickel, Asner and author Todd McCarthy. Not rated. Running time: 2:06. Suggested retail price: $19.99. 

“SAMSON & DELILAH,” Hedy Lamarr, Victor Mature. The biblical table of a strong man and his strange relationship with his woman and his hair is given the epic, no-expense-spared Cecil B. DeMille treatment in this 1949 feature, and the results are, as is to be expected with DeMille, a wonder to behold. Performances are directed to the cheap seats, in keeping with the style and genre, but Lamarr and Mature share great chemistry, and the sets and eventual destruction of same remain impressive today, especially in this remastered edition. Not rated. Running time: 2:13. Suggested retail price: $22.99.



“THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN,” Veerie Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh. Wrenching Belgian import from director Felix Van Groeningen (“The Misfortunates”) presents a relationship founded on music, American bluegrass in particular. Not a type of music one expects to encounter in Belgium, but judging from the talent on display here, they clearly have a knack for it, as the scenes depicting the bluegrass band to which Elise (Baetens, “Loft”) and Didier (Heldenbergh of “Moscow, Belgium,” who also wrote the original play upon which the film is based) belong crackle with energy and longing, and it’s not difficult to believe that a lasting love could be forged through such performances. The music becomes all the more vital once it’s revealed that the couple’s young daughter is battling cancer, a circumstance that puts unthinkable strain on every aspect of their once-ebullient life. “Breakdown” attempts to take on several significant matters at once, any one of which would be more than enough to sustain a film, and as such the plot feels overstuffed at a mere hour and 10 minutes, but Van Groeningen is clearly a talent to watch, capturing more than a few beautiful moments as he details this remarkable relationship. Not rated. Running time: 1:10. Suggested retail price: $26.95.

“IN FEAR,” Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert. A low budget and minimal resources work strongly in British director Jeremy Lovering’s (“Sherlock”) favor with “In Fear,” which accompanies young couple Tom (De Caestecker, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) and Lucy (“Beautiful Creatures”) on their none-too-successful attempt to locate the countryside hotel they’ve booked in order to attend a music festival. A pitch-black evening, unhelping signage, and winding, desolate roads plague their quest, but more troubling is the sense that they’re being stalked by a diabolical, unseen tormentor throughout. By only revealing the script to his talented cast little by little as the filming progressed, Lovering ensured believably confused and terrified reactions, effectively placing the actors directly in the very situation they were performing. Things get tense real quick, and it’s a lot of fun watching all the grisly pieces fall into place. Rated R. Running time: 1:25. Suggested retail price: $24.98; Blu-ray $29.99.

– Courtesy of Videoport

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