Nov. 12-- This week's new DVD releases range from a very intimate story to a huge space tale.

"The Hitman's Bodyguard"; 2.5 stars: The film features a director in Patrick Hughes who has only two so-so feature films to his credit, a writer in Tom O'Connor who has only penned one produced movie script before and a pair of actors in Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson who love to improvise.

This isn't a formula for failure, but really doesn't suggest it's a blueprint for a great success, either. What "The Hitman's Bodyguard" ends up being is a film with some very high and desperately low moments that rises above standard action film fare because of the lethal acting weapon of Reynolds and Jackson.

The nonstop bickering between bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) and the man he has to protect in seasoned assassin Darius Kincaid (Jackson) never allows for a dull moment-even with a quiet moment would be deeply appreciated. There hasn't been this kind of insane banter between two guys involved in a constant gunplay since the days of "Lethal Weapon."

"Beach Rats"; 3.5 stars: Just as Eliza Hittman did with "It Felt Like Love" in 2013, the writer/director of the dreamlike "Beach Rats" shows the kind of confidence in her work that she doesn't need neither manipulation nor distractions. Her style is to strip away anything that doesn't support the truth of her characters, whether that be unnecessary lines of dialogue or traditional lighting. There a brutality and vulgarity to this approach Hittman uses to her advantage.

Hittman's story revolves around Frankie (Harris Dickinson), a teenager from the Brooklyn area whose void of any signs of ambition. The director slowly unfolds Frankie's life while casually weaving in his attraction to Simone (Madeline Weinstein), a sexually aggressive party girl who has to battle with the attraction and rejection Frankie shows to her. Weinstein's driving sexuality and guarded innocence echoes of Susan Sarandon's performance in "Atlantic City."

The director's work isn't for those who only appreciate those who make movies by the rules. It's for those willing to share an experience and not have to be rushed to see it unfold.

"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets"; 2.5 stars: Visually, French director Luc Besson's "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" is tres magnifique. When it comes to the story, the film is what Pepe Le Pew would call a "le cinema avec grand stinker."

As has been Besson's cinematic modus operandi over the years, the director can paint film pictures that waiver between breathtaking and awe inspiring. The worlds he creates come to life with his embrace of bold textures, the brave use of color and a sense of grandeur where big is too small and huge is still not large enough.

"Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" would be a perfect coffee table book. A massive tome of drawings and pictures would provide hours of entertainment. The script, even printed on a one-page pamphlet, would be mostly blank.

"Crown Heights"; 3 stars: The film from director Matt Ruskin ("Booster") is based on the true story of Colin Warner, a native of Trinidad living near Crown Heights, who was tried and convicted in 1980 for a murder he didn't commit. It was only through the relentless efforts of his best friend to get the sentence overturned that Warner became a free man after more than two decades in prison.

Ruskin, who also wrote the script, does an excellent job taking the story from the arrest to the release. He provides great detail of how the police were so determined to solve the murder, they manipulated testimony and manufactured eyewitness accounts. The film also follows Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) as he takes any small opening to seek out the truth in regards to his childhood friend. His obsession with getting his friend released pushes him to the point where it even threatens his own marriage.


"Leap!": Eleven-year-old orphan (voiced by Elle Fanning) dreams of going to Paris and become a dancer.

"Birth of the Dragon": Film loosely based on the true story of Bruce Lee and Wong Jack Man's fight.

"The Villainess": Female assassin who leaves a trail of bodies behind her as she seeks her revenge.

"The Fall: Series 3": Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and serial killer Paul Spector (James Dornan) continue their cat-and-mouse game.

"High School Lover": Problems arise when a 17-year-old (Paulina Singer) starts seeing one of Hollywood's hottest actor (Francois Arnaud).

"Atheist America": Documentary on the only atheist television show in America.

"After Love": Divorce turns apartment into a war zone.

"South Park": Seasons 1-5 of the animated series will be released on Blu-ray for the first time.

"Mule": First attempt at being a drug mule goes very wrong. Hugo Weaving stars.

"Mystery Science Theater 3000: Vol. XXXIX": Includes the films "Girls Town" and

"The Amazing Transparent Man."

"Dark Signal": Spirit of a murdered girl contacts employees of a local radio station to warn of more deaths.

"Lemon": Man tries to get a grip on his personal and professional lives. Brett Gelman stars.

"Thumper": Stranger puts in jeopardy two people who are in the drug business.

"The Librarians: Season 3": Basic cable series about a team of librarians who tackle huge mysteries. Noah Wyle stars.


"Home Again": Reese Witherspoon stars in this tale of a single mom whose life is upended by three filmmakers. On DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 12.

"Despicable Me 3": Reformed criminal mastermind Gru learns he has a twin, Dru. To be release on DVD and Blu-ray Dec. 5.

"The Defiant Ones": Director Allen Hughes has made a film about the unlikely but unbreakable bond of trust and friendship between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Will be on DVD Nov. 28.


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