New this week on video
Mark Wahlberg is in likable-tough-guy mode in his role as a world-weary smuggler who longs to go legit but gets pulled back in for one last job in “Contraband.”
Updated: April 26, 2012 11:52AM
NEW THIS WEEK
★ ★ 1/2
Rated: R for violence, pervasive language and brief drug use.
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale
No surprises here, but no disappointments either for not-too-choosy fans of hardcore action and/or Wahlberg in likable-tough-guy mode. This reasonably satisfying remake of a 2008 Icelandic hit features Wahlberg, looking surprisingly weary at times, as a gone-straight super-smuggler forced to do One Last Big Job to protect his family from tattoo-crazy drug lord Ribisi.
★ ★ ★
Stars: Alec Guinness, Ian Richardson, Ian Bannen
Right after “Star Wars,” Guinness scored another major success with this 1979 British mini-series dramatizing John le Carré’s mega-smash spy novel, with a portrayal of aging, world-weary MI6 spy George Smiley that seemed definitive — though Gary Oldman gave him significant competition last year. Guinness is basically the whole show in this otherwise fairly drab and confusing adaptation, but it’s a show well worth seeing. Extras in this Blu-ray debut include a 2002 interview with le Carre, a le Carre biography and production notes.
THE ABC SPECIALS
★ ★ ★ ★
Stars: Ernie Kovacs, Joe Mikolas, Maggi Brown
This single-disc collection assembles the ABC specials that Kovacs created during the 1961 TV season, including the show he had completed shortly before the car accident that took his life. All are included in Shout! Factory’s excellent 2011 “Ernie Kovacs Collection,” but this release serves as an excellent primer for anyone unfamiliar with the work of this pioneering comic genius.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE - GHOST PROTOCOL
★ ★ ★ 1/2
Rated: PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence
Stars: Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton
The fourth installment in the Cruise-driven “Mission: Impossible” series is the most solidly entertaining of the lot, thanks to the energy and inventiveness and (above all) the humor of super-talented animation director Brad Bird (“The Iron Giant,” “The Incredibles”) in his live-action debut. The plot’s nothing special — another mad Russian who’s stolen a batch of nuclear launch codes — but Bird keeps “Ghost Protocol” hurtling along.
Diane Lane, Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini star in this HBO production dramatizing the behind-the-scenes drama associated with the 1973 PBS documentary series “An American Family” — in which the seemingly perfect Loud family self-destructed on TV. Extras include commentaries and a “making-of” featurette.
CRIME AFTER CRIME
This award-winning documentary explores the life of Debbie Peaglar, a woman sentenced to life in prison in connection with the murder of a man who brutally abused her. Extras include extended scenes and special introductions by Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O’Donnell.
A young boy fascinated with the story of the Manson family discovers similarly strange goings-on in the Pennsylvania countryside. Cloris Leachman stars in the indie horror. No MPAA rating.
LET THE BULLETS FLY
In 1920s China, a bandit chief (Wen Jiang) attempts to take over a town by posing as the new mayor, but runs afoul of the local tough guy (Yun-fat Chow). Wen also wrote and directed the Hong Kong crime thriller. No MPAA rating.
An African-American teenager (Adepero Oduye) in Brooklyn attempts to come to terms with her lesbian sexuality and her controlling mother’s (Kim Wayans) disapproval. Writer-director Dee Rees makes her feature debut with the drama. Rated R for sexual content and language.
THE RED HOUSE
A disabled farmer (Edward G. Robinson) cautions his adopted daughter to stay far away from the sinister red house on their property. Delmer Daves (“The Petrified Forest”) directed the fully-restored 1947 noir. Extras include the original trailer and a before-and-after restoration demo.
Director Andrew Davis (“The Fugitive”) made his debut with this 1977 musical drama about a white kid on Chicago’s South Side who puts together a super-funky R&B band. Extras include interviews with Quincy Jones, Susanna Hoffs and Chuck D, and an alternate ending.
Blu-ray debuts include stories “About a Boy,” with Hugh Grant playing big brother to a needy kid, about a girl with Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless” featuring dumb-like-a-fox blonde Alicia Silverstone, and about time with the long-overdue 1959 Doris Day-Rock Hudson romcom “Pillow Talk.”