(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.)
"Sharp Objects": After many years of concentrating on feature-film work, Amy Adams retuned to television as a troubled reporter back in her Missouri hometown to probe the murders of two young girls in this limited-series HBO version of the novel by Gillian Flynn ("Gone Girl''). While she typically plays Type A characters, Adams is very effectively rough-around-the-edges here. Also prominent in the cast are Patricia Clarkson as the estranged mother of Adams' Camille Preaker, Eliza Scanlen as Camille's half-sister Amma, and Chris Messina -- who portrayed Adams' husband in "Julie & Julia'' -- as a detective Camille becomes involved with. The melodrama was directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who did Emmy-winning work for HBO on "Big Little Lies.'' DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Searching": Always noteworthy as a supporting player, John Cho ("Star Trek,'' the television version of "The Exorcist'') takes the lead in a compelling way in this drama about a man determined to locate his missing daughter (played as a teenager by Michelle Le) with a big assist from high tech. His search takes him through every form of modern communication, including her emails and social-media accounts -- as well as traffic cameras and streaming videos -- to try to figure out her situation and her whereabouts. "Will & Grace's'' Debra Messing also is featured as a detective on the case. DVD extras: three "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by writer-director Aneesh Chaganty and writer-producer Sev Ohanian. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Batman: The Animated Series": Cartoon adventures of the Caped Crusader get a freshly remastered presentation in this new Blu-ray set that encompasses the entire television show, as well as the full-length features ``Batman: Mask of the Phantasm'' and "Mr. Freeze: SubZero.'' The set -- naturally boasting Batman's exploits against colorful villains as he tries to protect Gotham City -- also is packed with "making-of'' documentaries and audio commentaries by cast and crew members about the making of the series, which features the voices of Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy, Adrienne Barbeau and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. among others. *** (Not rated: V)
"Picnic at Hanging Rock": Also told in an acclaimed mid-1970s movie, this mystery-drama -- based on Joan Lindsay's novel about a turn-of-the-century outing for the staff and students of an Australian all-girls' school -- gets extended treatment in this limited-series adaptation. Natalie Dormer ("Game of Thrones'') stars as the facility's founder and headmistress, who's apparently as baffled as anyone when three pupils and their governess disappear during the picnic. The ensuing investigation uncovers secrets a plenty, threatening to leave various lives in shambles. The cast also includes Lily Sullivan, Harrison Gilbertson, "SMILF's'' Samara Weaving (niece of fellow actor Hugo Weaving) and Yael Stone ("Orange Is the New Black''). *** (Not rated: AS, V)
Also Releasing this Week:
"Last American Horror Show": With a cast of veterans of other movies in the terror category, this film is constructed from three separate stories that draw upon familiar tropes of the genre. "Night of the Sea Monkey'' involves monsters running amok, "Lamb Feed'' is a tale of sacrificial lambs -- figuratively speaking -- and "Homewrecked'' focuses on an intense series of home invasions. Stars include Lynn Lowry (of the original version of "The Crazies''), Arch Hall Jr. ("The Sadist'') and Robert Allen Mukes ("House of 1000 Corpses''). ** (Not rated: AS, P, GV)
"At First Light": A young woman, played by Stefanie Scott ("Insidious: Chapter 3''), becomes drastically affected by the strange lights that hover over her town in this sci-fi tale. Soon afterward, she begins to exhibit supernatural abilities that alarm others ... and that make her the target of officials who fear what she might be capable of. She seeks help from a friend (Theodore Pellerin) in evading those who are determined to capture her. Kate Burton, Kristin Booth and a young actor who has been dealing with similar themes elsewhere lately -- Percy Hynes White, of the Fox series "The Gifted'' -- also appear. *** (Not rated: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"The Handmaid's Tale: Season Two" (Dec. 4): A pregnant Offred (Elisabeth Moss) continues her fight to ensure a better world for her forthcoming child. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
"The Happytime Murders" (Dec. 4): A puppet sleuth and his human ex-partner (Melissa McCarthy) investigate the killings of the stars of a popular TV show. (R: AS, P, V)
"Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (Dec. 4): Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), his team and a CIA agent (Henry Cavill) pursue enemies who possess stolen plutonium. (PG-13: P, V)
"Operation Finale" (Dec. 4): After the capture of war criminal Adolf Eichmann (Ben Kingsley), a Mossad agent (Oscar Isaac) finds getting him to trial a complicated mission. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Equalizer 2" (Dec. 11): Boston-based CIA veteran Robert McCall (Denzel Washington) becomes determined to avenge a friend's murder. (R: AS, P, V) "Peppermint" (Dec. 11): Jennifer Garner stars as a woman seeking revenge for the deaths of her husband and daughter. (R: AS, P, V)
"The House with a Clock in Its Walls" (Dec. 18): The title clock could end the world unless an orphan and his uncle (Owen Vaccaro, Jack Black) find it in time; Cate Blanchett also stars. (PG: AS, P)
"The Predator" (Dec. 18): An update of the premise finds a youngster accidentally luring alien enemies back to Earth; cast members include Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown. (R: AS, P, GV)
"A Simple Favor" (Dec. 18): A single mom (Anna Kendrick) is thrilled to make a dazzling new friend (Blake Lively), then is puzzled by her sudden disappearance. (R: AS, N, P, V)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Batman" (1966): Batman and Robin face all of their main adversaries at once in this feature-film spinoff of the television series. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Simone" (2002): Al Pacino gives one of his best performances of late as a movie producer who replaces a wayward star (Rachel Roberts) with a digital image of her. ***
"Sunshine Cleaning" (2008): Amy Adams and Emily Blunt make a great team as sisters who start a cleaning business specializing in crime scenes. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending November 11, 2018, Courtesy of comScore, Inc)
1) "The Spy Who Dumped Me"
2) "Incredibles 2"
3) "Ant-Man and the Wasp"
5) "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation"
7) "Slender Man"
8) "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"
9) "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again"
10) "Sicario: Day of the Soldado"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence