QUARTET (2012, Anchor Bay, PG-13, $30) -- For his directorial debut, Dustin Hoffman delivers a lively but superficial film about the importance of second chances. Set at a retirement home called Beecham House, the action centers on a trio of former opera singers (Pauline Collins, Billy Connolly, Tom Courtenay) who must convince their cranky old partner (Maggie Smith) to join them for a gala benefit concert. It's a decent premise that would have benefited from more depth and a few less musical interludes. It's so featherweight, in fact, that it makes "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" seem like Shakespeare. Extras: featurettes and Hoffman commentary.
JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (2013, Warner, PG-13, $29) -- As he proved with the "X-Men" movies, director -- and Jersey boy -- Bryan Singer is a master at blending special effects with good, old-fashioned story-telling. He stumbles a bit with this fairy-tale adaptation thanks to a wobbly tone and a supporting character (played by Stanley Tucci) who takes the film off course. That said, "Jack" is jammed with cool moments, most of which involve a trio of feisty humans (Nicholas Hoult, Ewan McGregor, Eleanor Tomlinson) defending themselves to the death against bloodthirsty giants. Extras: featurette.
STOKER (2013, Fox, R, $23) -- A sense of slowly creeping dread attaches itself to nearly every frame of this bizarre coming-of-age saga from South Korean master Park Chan-wook ("Oldboy.") Mia Wasikowska is mesmerizing as India Stoker, an 18-year-old whose grief over her father's (Dermot Mulroney) sudden death is relieved by the surprise appearance of her charming uncle (Matthew Goode.) "Stoker" is full of shocks so the less you know about this mind- teaser the better. See if for the performances (including Nicole Kidman's turn as India's mother) and for the twists that will blow you clean away. Extras: deleted scenes and featurettes.
WEB THERAPY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON (2013, E1, unrated, $20) - - Dispensing with the one client-per-episode format of the first season, this addictive series now delves deeper into the life and times of the hilariously self-involved Internet therapist Fiona Wallace (Lisa Kudrow). Some of the best bits involve the guest stars, including Rosie O'Donnell as Fiona's acerbic editor and Meryl Streep as a blond, over-sexed counselor offering to "cure" Fiona's gay hubby (Victor Garber.) You've never seen Streep like this before and, boy, is she killer funny. Extras: deleted scenes and director's cut of the Streep shows.
KNIFE FIGHT (2013, IFC, R, $25) -- In this drama about the power of spin to win elections, a savvy political fixer (Rob Lowe), his newbie assistant (Jamie Chung) and a seedy investigator (Richard Schiff) juggle work on behalf of three clients, including a philandering Kentucky governor (Eric McCormack), a blackmailed California senator (David Harbour) and an idealistic doctor-turned- gubernatorial candidate (Carrie-Anne Moss). The film is well-acted and fast-paced. But there's nothing here that hasn't been done as well -- if not better -- on TV's "Scandal" and "The West Wing." Extras: none.
THE LAST EXORCIST: PART II (2013, Sony, PG-13, $30) -- In contrast to the original "found footage" horror flick, the sequel is a more traditionally shot but still effective chiller that picks up where the first film let off. Nell (Ashley Bell) is now living in a halfway house in New Orleans, seemingly free of the demon who once made her life a living hell. But, as you might imagine, Nell is not in the clear just yet. Cue an attack by suicidal birds and the appearance of secret voices masquerading as radio static. The otherworldly Bell keeps "The Last Exorcist" interesting even when the action takes the inevitable turn toward the conventional. Extras: commentaries and featurettes.
THE MONK (2013, New Video, unrated, $28) -- Based on Matthew Lewis' gothic novel, the latest from France's Dominik Moll ("With A Friend Like Harry") is a compulsively watchable thriller about the rise and fall of a 17th century monk named Ambrosio (Vincent Cassel). Pride and a lack of compassion lead to Ambrosio's ruin but thanks to Cassel's hypnotic portrayal, the flawed preacher remains a strangely sympathetic figure. Gorgeously photographed in both shadows and sunlight, "The Monk" tackles big themes with haunting grace. Extras: featurette.
LET MY PEOPLE GO (2012, Zeitgeist, unrated, $28) -- With this French-language bauble, director Mikael Buch seems to be aiming for the bouncy farces that Pedro Almodovar delivered early in his career. Buch not only employs Almodovar heroine Carmen Maura in a supporting role but he uses a color scheme straight out of Pedro's playbook. Unfortunately, this slim saga of a gay man (Nicolas Maury) forced to move back home with his dysfunctional parents after breaking up with his Nordic husband (Jarkko Niemi) is more grating than whimsical. After a novel beginning, "Let My People Go" goes nowhere. Extras: commentary track and featurette.
AMERICAN MARY (2012, XLrater, R, $15) -- Canadian sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska follow up their cult favorite "Dead Hooker in a Trunk" with an even more outrageous horror entry. This time around, cash- starved med student Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) finds herself drawn into the seedy world of underground surgery and body modification. If that wasn't grisly enough, Mary opts to exact revenge on a professor who's done her wrong. "American Mary" occasionally plays like "Nip/Tuck" directed by Eli Roth but the extraordinary Isabelle pulls it all together with a strangely rich, resonant performance. Extras: featurette and commentaries by the Soska sisters.
AT LONG LAST LOVE: DIRECTOR'S DEFINITIVE EDITION (1975, Fox, G, $25) -- The Peter Bogdanovich-directed, Cole-Porter-saturated musical flop has been recut for its Blu-ray debut and while it's not "the top" it sure is "de-lovely." Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, Burt Reynolds and Duilio Del Prete star as a bunch of swells who switch partners in between swilling Champagne and dancing 'til dawn. While a stronger plot would have given the songfest a much-needed momentum, there's plenty to enjoy, including a genuinely funny turn by Kahn and a handful of intimate production numbers (which are not lip-synced but sung live as in 2012's "Les Miserables.") Extras: none.
SAFETY LAST! (1923, Criterion, unrated, $30) -- A true acrobat, silent clown Harold Lloyd can make thrusting his hands into his pants pockets look graceful but in this 1923 stunner he does a lot more, including climbing the side of a skyscraper in a long sequence that's both funny and suspenseful. Lloyd is playing a country bumpkin who moves to the big city where he winds a wage slave at a big department store. Lloyd is a master at grounding the laughs in characters you care about. "Safety Last!" is first-rate. Extras: newly restored Lloyd shorts, commentaries, intros and a feature- length doc.
ENTER THE DRAGON: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION (1973, Warner, R, $50) -- Forty years after its release, Bruce Lee's first and only U.S. production remains an adrenaline-charged thrill ride. Lee plays a British spy sent to a mysterious island owned by crime lord Han (Shih Kien) in order to both participate in a martial arts tournament and to collect intelligence about Han's illegal operations. The plot allows Lee to flatten opponents by day and expose a human slavery ring by night. With fine support by John Saxon and Jim Kelly, as well as a funky score by Lalo Schifrin, "Enter the Dragon" is a groovy audience-pleaser. Extras: featurettes, commentaries, cards and patch.
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1977, Shout Factory, R, $27) -- Strangely similar though not nearly as compelling as David Fincher's "Zodiac," this true-crime thriller looks at a series of brutal murders in Texarkana back in the late 1940s. B-movie director Charles B. Pierce ("The Legend of Boggy Creek") does an outstanding job re-creating the slayings and eliciting an authentic performance from Ben Johnson as a tough Texas Ranger. Too bad Pierce subverts the suspense with too many ill-advised attempts at humor. Extras: commentaries and "The Evictors" also directed by Pierce.
LILO & STITCH: 2 MOVIE COLLECTION (2013, Disney, G, $30) -- Now that Disney has released most of its classics in high-def, they're getting around to issuing a number of lesser-known titles in Blu- ray and DVD packages, including the lushly animated "Atlantis: The Lost Empire" and "The Emperor's New Groove." The best of the recent bunch is "Lilo & Stitch," a 2002 'toon about a girl (Daveigh Chase) and her alien (David Ogden Stiers). Adding to the fun: a soundtrack packed with Elvis Presley songs. Extras: the straight-to-DVD follow- up "Lilo & Stitch 2."
-- Amy Longsdorf
Tuesday -- "The Call," "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," "No."
July 2 -- "Tai Chi Hero."
July 9 -- "Dead Man Down," "The Host," "Spring Breakers," "Temptations."
July 23 -- "Ginger & Rosa," "New World."
Aug. 6 -- "A Boy and His Dog."
Aug. 13 -- "Emperor."
-- Jaclyn Antonacci
A service of YellowBrix, Inc.
Most Popular Stories
- Study: Recessions Can Postpone Motherhood Forever
- Hispanics Carry Big Clout: Census
- Washington's 'The Equalizer' Debuts With $35 Million
- Hispanic Entrepreneurs Short-changed in Texas
- Effort to Oust Assad Put on Hold
- Qantas Puts World's Largest Plane on Longest Route
- Los Angeles Set to Host Small Business Summit
- White House Intruder Got Farther Than Reported
- Chicago Flight Delays: Questions Answered
- Jeb Bush: GOP Senate Would 'Fix a Few Things'