Hot Tips and Top Picks: DVDs, Blu-rays and digital debuts for the week of May 21

New Releases:

Side Effects” (Universal), medical drama-turned-psychol​ogical thriller with Jude Law and Rooney Mara, is ostensibly the last feature film from Steven Soderbergh, and it’s a pretty sharp piece of filmmaking. Kind of like an updated Joe Esterhaus thriller from the nineties, only smarter and without any ice picks in sight. Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand. Videodrone’s review is here.

Beautiful Creatures” (Warner), the latest teen romance with a supernatural setting, stars Alice Englert as the new girl in town with magical powers and Alden Ehrenreich as the local boy entwined with her fate. Apparently it wasn’t popular to spawn a franchise. Blu-ray, DVD, and On Demand.

On the more traditionally action-oriented front, there is “The Last Stand” (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and at Redbox), the Arnold Schwarzenegger come-back film, and “Parker” (Sony, Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and at Redbox), with Jason Statham as the brutal anti-hero of the Richard Stark’s crime novels. Skewing older is “Stand Up Guys” (Lionsgate, Blu-ray, DVD, and at Redbox), the geriatric gangster buddy film with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.

The ABCs of Death” (Magnet, Blu-ray and DVD) is an indie anthology horror film with 26 short pieces, “The Rolling Stones: Crossfire Hurricane” (Eagle Rock) looks back on the first two decades of the legendary band, and the Israeli drama “Yossi” (Strand, DVD) toplines the foreign list this week.

Citizen Hearst” (HBO, DVD) and “Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters” (Zeitgeist, DVD) lead off the features in the monthly “True Stories” roundup. More releases here.

Most releases are also available as digital download and VOD via iTunes, Amazon, and other web retailers and video services.

Browse the complete New Release Rack here

TV on Disc:

True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season” (HBO) is the final season of HBO’s gothic pulp vampire melodrama supervised by Alan Ball, and he goes for broke with the most extreme season yet: more blood, more conspiracies, more transformations, and way more internal wars within and between the species. A little too much for many fans, but it’s still addictive supernatural soap opera for many others. Oh, Sookie! 12 episodes on Blu-ray and DVD, plus commentary tracks, featurettes, and other supplements. Videodrone’s review is here.

Teen Wolf: Season 2” (Fox), MTV’s entry in the supernatural teenager series, is turning out to be one of the best of the genre and a much more interesting and engaging series than “True Blood,” as far as I’m concerned. 12 episodes on two discs on DVD. Reviewed on Videodrone here.

Perception: The Complete First Season” (ABC) is TNT’s latest attempt at the high-concept detective show with a damaged genius in the lead, this one with Eric McCormack as a schizophrenic neuroscience professor who can’t separate his hallucinations from real life. 10 episodes on two discs, DVD. Videodrone’s review is here.

Plus: “Saving Hope: The Complete First Season” (eOne), which is also the only season of this cancelled medical show-turned-supernat​ural drama, and “The Aquabats Super Show: Season One” (Shout! Factory), a kid’s show with “the world’s first musical crime-fighting super group.” Both DVD.

Flip through the TV on Disc Channel Guide here

Cool and Classic:

The Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics” (Warner) and “The Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Contemporary” (Warner) present nine films on Blu-ray, from 1931 to 2006, and a bonus documentary on DVD, across two box sets. You can enter to win a copy of both volumes in a giveaway from MSN and Warner Home Entertainment. Videodrone’s review is here.

Two of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films debut on Blu-ray: “My Neighbor Totoro” (Disney) from 1988, a gentle film of magic and imagination in a time of childhood anxiety and Miyazaki’s first genuine masterpiece, and his 2004 fantasy adventure “Howl’s Moving Castle” (Disney). Both in Blu-ray+DVD combo packs with Japanese and English soundtracks. Reviewed on Videodrone here.

National Lampoon’s Vacation: 30th Anniversary Edition” (Warner) is a new Blu-ray release of the family road movie comedy with a new documentary.

Cult films from Italy: “Cold Eyes of Fear” (Redemption) and “The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine” (Redemption), two exploitation horrors of the seventies, are restored for Blu-ray and DVD, and the spaghetti western “Grand Duel” (Blue Underground) with Lee Van Cleef arrives in DVD with the four-disc collection “Spaghetti Westerns Unchained” (Blue Underground).

Also new: the disc debuts of horror films “The Burning” (Shout! Factory) and “The Town that Dreaded Sundown” (Shout! Factory) on Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack special editions and the Blu-ray debut of the 1990 “Captain America” (Shout Factory) in its correct aspect ratio.

All the Cool and Classic here

Streams and Channels:

The Netflix original revival of “Arrested Development” debuts on Sunday, May 26 with 15 episodes. Meanwhile, here’s what currently new and available on Netflix Instant.

The Dictator” (2012) is a Sacha Baron Cohen comedy without the mock-documentary stuntwork of “Borat.” Which means the gleefully outrageous bad taste and wild exaggerations are pushed to even more cartoonish extremes.

Defiance” (2008) is a real-life World War II drama with Daniel Craig. Not new but getting a lot of renewed interest is “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” (1982), still the best of the big screen “Star Trek” movies.

And here are a couple of recommended titles that aren’t on disc yet: “Longmire: Season 1,” the A&E original series starring Robert Taylor, Katee Sackhoff, and Lou Diamond Phillips, and the shadowy British psychological drama “The October Man” (1947).

Browse more Instant offerings here

New On Demand:

Side Effects,” Steven Soderbergh’s medical drama-turned-psychol​ogical thriller with Jude Law and Rooney Mara, and “Beautiful Creatures,” the first film in a new supernatural teen romance franchise, are now available.

Also new is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s come-back action film “The Last Stand” and “Parker” with Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez.

Arriving before theatrical release are two comedies: “Free Samples” with Jess Weixler and Jesse Eisenberg and “Kid-Thing” with Sydney Aguirre and Nathan Zellner.

Available from Redbox this week:

Arriving day and date with video stores is “The Last Stand” (Lionsgate Blu-ray and DVD), Arnold Schwarzenegger’s come-back action film, “Parker” (Sony, Blu-ray and DVD) with Jason Statham, and “Stand Up Guys” (Lionsgate, Blu-ray and DVD) with Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin.

Also arriving in Redbox kiosks this week is “Gangster Squad” (Warner, Blu-ray and DVD), with Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling as cops in 1940s Los Angeles, and “Promised Land” (Universal, Blu-ray and DVD), a drama about fracking in Midwest farmlands written by and starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski.

For a calendar of upcoming releases, click here

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