(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.)
"How to Talk to Girls at Parties": The title of this comedy disguises a big part of what it is, especially since it comes from director John Cameron Mitchell, who gave the world the cult classic "Hedwig and the Angry Inch.'' Some of the youthful characters happen to be aliens -- visitors to England in the late 1970s, when the Silver Jubilee of the queen is on the minds of many of the countrymen, exceptions being the group of carousing fellows from the city's punk scene. One of those young men (played by Alex Sharp) takes an interest -- and vice versa -- in a particular visitor to England and to Earth (Elle Fanning, who manages to convey an otherworldly allure). Together, they see the sights, though the locations they choose aren't exactly the most colorful. Also notable in the cast: a very atypical Nicole Kidman as a performer in an underground music den. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Shock and Awe": Anyone who reads Rob Reiner's social-media posts is aware that he's not shy about political matters, and the actor-filmmaker channels some of that passion into his drama of reporters probing whether Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration made that claim in the aftermath of 9/11, basing the military invasion of Iraq on it. Director Reiner gives himself a prominent acting role in the movie, in which he works with a cast of notables including James Marsden, Woody Harrelson, Jessica Biel, Tommy Lee Jones, Milla Jovovich and Richard Schiff ("The Good Doctor''). *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Blacklist: Season Five": A literal bag of bones figures into this round of the NBC drama series in a big way. Liz (Megan Boone) is convinced that it holds the secret to a personal loss she suffers, while Red (James Spader) wants the bag and its contents for his own purposes. Other Task Force operatives find their lives imperiled as the season proceeds. Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff, Amir Arison and Mozhan Marno also star. DVD extras: ``making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by production personnel; outtakes; deleted scenes. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Seal Team One: Season One": David Boreanaz didn't wait long at all for his next television job after his long run on "Bones,'' since he jumped right back into series work with this CBS drama about the elite military unit that the title suggests. Virtually all of the members have personal dilemmas -- including Boreanaz's Jason, whose standing with his estranged wife (Michaela McManus) is complicated. "Mad Men'' alum Jessica Pare plays the team's CIA overseer, with Max Thieriot, Neil Brown Jr., A.J. Buckley and Toni Trucks also in the regular cast. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Sid Caesar: The Works": One of the legends of television comedy gets very special treatment in this new set, compiling highlights of his work that encompass the sketch-oriented "Your Show of Shows,'' one of the most wildly popular series of the early 1950s. In fact, included here is "Ten From Your Show of Shows,'' a film that gathered classic segments of the program that also featured Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner and (before he became a "Days of Our Lives'' staple) actor-singer Bill Hayes. A reunion special also is among the elements of this collection, as is a related Paley Center conversation showcasing Reiner, Mel Brooks (who wrote for Caesar, as did Neil Simon and Woody Allen) and Billy Crystal. *** (Not rated: AS)
"Deadpool 2" (Aug. 21): Ryan Reynolds returns as the very offbeat -- and very profane -- superhero, with a "Super Duper Cut'' of the sequel adding 15 minutes of new material. (R and unrated versions: AS, P, V)
"Gotham: The Complete Fourth Season": (Aug. 21): Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) makes major strides toward becoming Batman in this round of the Fox drama series. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Walking Dead: The Complete Eighth Season": (Aug. 21): Rick (Andrew Lincoln) leads an alliance in a major offensive against Negan's (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) followers. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Book Club" (Aug. 28): Four friends (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen) delve into racier reading that ends up inspiring their lives. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Woman Walks Ahead": (Aug. 28): A widowed artist (Jessica Chastain) meets with opposition when she travels to late 19th-century North Dakota to do a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull. (R: P, V)
"NCIS: The Fifteenth Season" (Aug. 21): An arrival (Maria Bello) and a departure (Pauley Perrette) mark this year of the globally popular CBS adventure-drama. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Adrift" (Sept. 4): Their new romance takes two young people (Shailene Woodley, Sam Claflin) on a quest to return a boat -- which turns into a fight to survive. (PG-13: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"All the President's Men" (1976): Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman) report the story of the Watergate break-in. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"My Stepmoher is An Alien" (1988): Alyson Hannigan plays the young woman who learns the new woman (Kim Basinger) in her father's (Dan Aykroyd) life is ... well, check the title. ***
"Smashing Time" (1967): Two young women (Lynn Redgrave, Rita Tushingham) seek their respective fortunes in the swinging London of the mid-1960s. *** (Not rated: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending July 29, 2018, Courtesy of comScore)
2 "Ready Player"
3 "A Quiet Place"
4 "I Feel Pretty"
5 "Super Troopers"
7 "Blumhouse's Truth or Dare"
8 "Tomb Raider"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence