New to DVD and On Demand Releases for April 23 - 29

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23 April 2017
By Jay Bobbin Zap2it
(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)

Releasing this Week:
La La Land"La La Land'': Though it now has a place in history as the movie that won this year's Oscar for best picture -- and then didn't, with that award actually meant to be given to "Moonlight'' -- this highly-engaging tribute to screen musicals did take six of the honors, including best actress for Emma Stone and best director for Damien Chazelle. Stone and Ryan Gosling play an aspiring actress and a would-be jazz musician whose new romance hits its share of bumps as it plays out against contemporary Los Angeles backdrops. J.K. Simmons (who won an Oscar for Chazelle's "Whiplash''), Rosemarie DeWitt and music's John Legend -- an executive producer of the fim as well -- also are featured, and Justin Hurwitz's music score and Linus Sandgren's cinematography were among the other elements of the picture given Academy Awards. DVD extras: 11 "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Chazelle and Hurwitz. **** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Underworld: Blood Wars"Underworld: Blood Wars'': Fourteen years after she debuted in the series, Kate Beckinsale proves herself quite game and agile once more in this fifth chapter of the horror franchise, as her character Selene finds herself caught between enemy Lycans and vampires of her own kind who have betrayed her. When the wolves form a fierce new army, she trains untested vampires to become a force of their own ... while she maintains concerns about the daughter she gave up for the child's own good. "Game of Thrones'' veterans Charles Dance and Tobias Menzies also appear, but you don't have an ``Underworld'' movie if you don't have Beckinsale, and she remains in impressive form here. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries. *** (R: AS, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Catfight"Catfight": A reunion proves less than delightful for two college friends who have grown apart -- to put it mildly -- in writer-director Onur Tukel's dark comedy. Anne Heche and "Grey's Anatomy'' alum Sandra Oh play the women in question, and when they meet again at a birthday party, the rivalry between them is stoked ... and continues long afterward. The two stars are in fine, necessarily energetic form, and the strong cast also includes Alicia Silverstone, Ivana Milicevic ("Banshee'') and Dylan Baker. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
The Affair: Season Three"The Girl with All the Gifts": Adapted for the screen by Mike Carey from his novel, this British horror-drama finds many citizens of the near future infected by a disease that turns them into carnivores unable to think independently. Partially immune are a group of children who become the objects of experiments by a scientist -- played with sinister relish by Glenn Close -- and one of the youngsters (Sennia Nanua) is befriended by a teacher (Gemma Arterton) who eventually goes on the run with her. Paddy Considine also appears. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

Also Releasing this Week:

The Bye Bye Man"The Bye Bye Man": A now-rare screen appearance by Faye Dunaway is among the highlights of director Stacy Title's thriller based on the Robert Damon Schneck story "The Bridge to Body Island.'' The tale has echoes of "Candyman'' as several college students are warned not to say the name of the force -- the Bye Bye Man -- that supposedly forced another teen to massacre his family, then prompted a reporter who knew of that incident to commit a mass killing himself. Carrie Anne-Moss ("The Matrix'') and Leigh Whannell ("Saw') also are featured, though the central roles go to Douglas Smith (''Miss Sloane"), Lucien Laviscount (''Scream Queens") and Cressida Bonas. *** (PG-13: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
The Affair: Season Three"The Affair: Season Three": The most recent round of the Showtime drama adds even more perspectives to the story as it unfolds three years after Season 2, with Noah and Alison (Dominic West, Ruth Wilson) broken up -- and Noah with another love interest, a fellow teacher played by Irene Jacob, though his past continues to haunt him. Brendan Fraser also joins the cast as a prison guard who ultimately plays a big role in the fate of one of the major characters. Flashbacks are used frequently during this season to catch viewers up on what has happened, also with Helen and Cole (Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson), and the writers and executive producers clearly enjoy playing around with the timeline and the back-and-forth emotions here. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)

Upcoming Releases:
"The Comedian" (May 2): Robert De Niro stars in director Taylor Hackford's comedy-drama as a veteran comic struggling to stay relevant. (R: AS, P)
"A Dog's Purpose" (May 2): A canine's multiple reincarnations lets him affect several owners; Britt Robertson and Dennis Quaid star. (PG: AS)
"Gold" (May 2): Matthew McConaughey stars in the fact-inspired story of a modern gold prospector who seeks his claim to riches in Indonesia; Bryce Dallas Howard also stars. (R: AS, N, P)
"Saturday Night Fever" (May 2): The John Travolta-starring musical drama's 40th anniversary is marked with a "Director's Cut'' on Blu-ray. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
 "Fifty Shades Darker" (May 9): Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) has conditions for meeting Christian Grey's (Jamie Dornan) desire to get back into her life. (R and unrated versions: AS, N, P)
"XXX: Return of Xander Cage" (May 16): The superspy (Vin Diesel) sees action again when enemies try to use military satellites for sinister purposes; Samuel L. Jackson also returns. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Space Between Us" (May 16): A teenager (Asa Butterfield) who was born on Mars comes to Earth to rendezvous with an ally (Britt Robertson). (PG-13: AS, P)

Oldies But Goodies:
"Bonnie and Clyde" (1967): Faye Dunaway's screen stardom really started here, as she and Warren Beatty play the infamous gangsters. **** (Also on Blu-ray) "Crazy, Stupid, Love.'' (2011): Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling first shared the screen in this comedy, also starring Steve Carell and Julianne Moore. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"The World According to Garp" (1982): Glenn Close made her movie debut in the adaptation of John Irving's novel, playing the title character's (Robin Williams) mother. *** (Also on Blu-ray)

TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending April 9, 2017, Courtesy of

1)  "Passengers
2)  "Moana"
3)  "Patriot's Day"
4)  "Office Christmas Party"
5)  "Trolls"
6)  "Marvel's Doctor Strange"
7)  "Fences"
8)  "The Accountant"
9)  "Nocturnal Animals"
10)  "Hacksaw Ridge"

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violenc

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