(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.)
"Sing": The proceedings are musical, indeed, in a world of animals as the title of this enjoyable computer-animation tale infers. Against a soundtrack of very familiar tunes, Matthew McConaughey leads an all-star voice cast as a koala who owns a theater, but it faces closure unless the needed funds are raised through a vocal competition he stages. The finalists include a pig (voice of Reese Witherspoon), a mouse (voice of Seth MacFarlane), a porcupine (voice of Scarlett Johansson) and a gorilla (voice of Taron Egerton, "Kingsman: The Secret Service''). John C. Reilly, Nick Offerman ("Parks and Recreation''), Jennifer Hudson, Rhea Perlman and several "Saturday Night Live'' veterans -- Laraine Newman, Jay Pharoah and Leslie Jones -- also are heard. The film's writer-director, Garth Jennings, voices a senior-citizen iguana. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Live by Night": Ben Affleck turns director again with this period drama that pays heed to the Boston area where he was raised, the setting of a post-World War I story he adapted from a Dennis Lehane novel, and in which he also stars as a military veteran on the wrong side of the law -- to the obvious displeasure of his father (Brendan Gleeson), the city's deputy police superintendent. As much as he's against the establishment, there are criminal elements the felon refuses to work for or with, eventually prompting him to take his illegal activities to Florida ... where he finds that you can run, but you can't hide. The impressive cast also includes Elle Fanning, Chris Messina, Sienna Miller, Zoe Saldana, Chris Cooper and Clark Gregg ("Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.''). DVD extras: deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Miss Sloane": Jessica Chastain does a fine job playing both strong and vulnerable in director John Madden's ("Shakespeare in Love'') drama about a Washington, D.C., lobbyist whose own past could influence her approach to a controversial issue ... namely, background checks for gun owners. Political and corporate intrigue come into play big-time, with Chastain's alter ego Elizabeth Sloane at the center of various interests' agendas. The excellent supporting cast includes Sam Waterston, John Lithgow, Mark Strong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alison Pill ("The Newsroom'') and Dylan Baker. DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Master of None: The Complete First Season": Aziz Ansari's seriocomic, widely acclaimed Netflix series comes to home video, with the star and co-creator playing a New York-based actor trying to survive life's turns personally and professionally. Among his concerns are his heritage and what he owes his parents, his struggles to overcome being stereotyped, and his budding -- and easily derailed -- romance with a music publicist. The co-writer of virtually all of the episodes (along with fellow show creator Alan Yang), Ansari also directed a couple of them. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Tower": Director Keith Maitland gives the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas, Austin, very unique documentary treatment by merging animated sequences with archival footage in this film, honored by the South by Southwest festival and several critics' groups (and televised recently by PBS as an "Independent Lens'' offering). Some of the survivors of that day's events, which resulted in 16 fatalities and nearly three dozen people injured, recount their personal stories -- and their appearances were converted to the project's animation style after Maitland conducted the interviews with them. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Insecure: The Complete First Season": The widely praised HBO comedy series starring YouTube veteran Issa Rae -- which she co-created with former "Daily Show'' correspondent and "Nightly Show'' host Larry Wilmore -- casts her as a fictionalized version of herself. She and a friend (Yvonne Orji) experience what faces many modern women as they navigate their lives in Los Angeles ... doing so quite boldly, which may seem to work against them in the big picture, but lets them succeed personally as they fiercely remain the individuals they are. That boldness is indicated in part by the fact that the subtitle of each episode ends with the "`f' word.'' The show has been renewed for a second season. *** (Not rated: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" (March 28): The J.K. Rowling story casts Eddie Redmayne as a "magizoolgist'' who loses several of his fantastic beasts in mid-1920s New York. (PG-13: V)
"A Monster Calls" (March 28): A troubled youngster (Lewis MacDougall) with an ill mother finds a very unexpected ally in a tree monster. (PG-13: AS)
"20th Century Women" (March 28): Annette Bening plays a woman who recruits others to help raise her son in the late 1970s; Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning also star. (R: AS, N, P)
"Why Him?" (March 28): A conservative man (Bryan Cranston) is unsettled by his daughter's choice of boyfriend (James Franco). (R: AS, P)
"Office Christmas Party" (April 4): Workers refuse to let their branch's pending closure wreck their holiday bash; Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and T.J. Miller star. (R: AS, N, P)
"Lion" (April 11): Years after being adopted by an Australian couple, a man seeks his biological family; Oscar nominees Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman star. (PG-13: AS)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Robocop 2": Peter Weller reprises the role of the part-man, part-robot police officer in a new "Collector's Edition'' Blu-ray, with "RoboCop 3'' also available in a similar edition. ***
"Slumdog Millionaire" (2008): An Oscar winner for best picture, director Danny Boyle's drama stars Dev Patel as a would-be game-show winner. **** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Zero Dark Thirty" (2012): A CIA agent (Jessica Chastain) reconciles herself with using every means available to determine the location of Osama bin Laden. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending March 5, 2017, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Hacksaw Ridge"
2) "The Accountant"
4) "The Girl on the Train"
5) "Manchester by the Sea"
7) "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"
8) "Keeping Up with the Jones"
10) "Boo! A Madea Halloween"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence