“Frozen River” (R): Melissa Leo’s Oscar-nominated performance powers this slice of painfully real life, about the unlikely alliance between two desperate women — a single mother (Leo) and a Mohawk Indian (Misty Upham) smuggling illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Canadian border. Writer-director Courtney Hunt also earned a well-deserved original screenplay Oscar nomination for her stirring debut.
Another Academy Award nominee, “Milk’s” Josh Brolin, takes on a different political role in “W.” (PG-13), Oliver Stone’s ramble through the unlikely life of George W. Bush (Brolin), from Yale to the White House. James Cromwell, Richard Dreyfuss and Jeffrey Wright co-star.
Richard Gere and Diane Lane (who previously teamed in “Unfaithful” and “The Cotton Club”) reunite for “Nights in Rodanthe” (PG-13), an adaptation of “Notebook” author Nicholas Sparks’ romance.
Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac make another killer couple in “Soul Men” (R), playing estranged soul music legends who reunite for an Apollo Theater tribute to a fallen bandmate.
In director Spike Lee’s World War II epic “Miracle at St. Anna” (R), four members of the Army’s all-black 92nd “Buffalo Soldier” Division (Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller), trapped behind enemy lines, must fight their way back to neutral territory. And in “Blindness” (R), Julianne Moore plays the only sighted person in a town struck by an epidemic of sudden sightlessness. Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Danny Glover and Gabriel Garcia Bernal co-star.
Las Vegas’ 2007 CineVegas film festival hosted a work-in-progress screening of actor Bruce Campbell’s goofy horror comedy “My Name Is Bruce” (R), in which the cult star is abducted by a fan hoping he’ll help battle an ancient Chinese demon menacing a small town.
Leading titles that never played Las Vegas at all: “The Lodger” (R), the latest version of an oft-filmed chiller about an L.A. detective (Alfred Molina) on the trail of a Jack the Ripper copycat, featuring “The Mentalist’s” Simon Baker, Shane West, Hope Davis and Donal Logue. Robert Redford’s daughter Amy follows in her dad’s directing footsteps with “The Guitar” (R), about a terminally ill woman (Saffron Burrows) who spends the last two months of her life making up for lost time. And in the eerie “Dorothy Mills” (R), a psychologist (“Valkyrie’s” Carice Van Houten) investigates a teenager from an isolated Irish town who may be channeling the dead.
Topping today’s foreign-language lineup: “The Romance of Astrea and Celadon” (not rated), a mythical tale of star-crossed lovers that French New Wave master Eric Rohmer has said may be his final film.
There’s also a bumper crop of kid-friendly DVDs (all unrated), from “Backyardigans: Robin Hood the Clean” to “Veggie Tales: Abe & the Amazing Promise,” along with “Curious George: Robot Monkey and More Great Gadgets,” “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Mystery of the Easter Chipmunk,” “Dora the Explorer: The Egg Hunt,” “Thomas & Friends: Railway Friends,” “Faerie Tale Theatre: Tales from the Brothers Grimm” and “Shaun the Sheep: Back in the Ba-a-ath.”
An avalanche of vintage titles also awaits movie buffs. “Eastwood: American Icon Collection” (R) gathers four of Clint the Squint’s late ’60s and early ’70s hits: the Don Siegel-directed “Coogan’s Bluff” and “The Beguiled,” plus the Eastwood-directed “Play Misty for Me” and “The Eiger Sanction.”
Some all-time greats, meanwhile, make up the latest round of “Essential Art House” releases (all unrated), including Federico Fellini’s Oscar-winning “La Strada” (1954), the 1959 Brazilian Oscar-winner “Black Orpheus,” François Truffaut’s 1959 debut “The 400 Blows,” Akira Kurosawa’s heartfelt 1952 “Ikuru” and the Oscar-winning 1938 version of George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.”
Tuning in to TV transfers, future “West Wing” president plays a different chief executive in “Kennedy: The Complete Series” (not rated), a 1983 miniseries that also features John Shea, E.G. Marshall, Geraldine Fitzgerald and Blair Brown.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the “Sam Elliott Western Collection” (not rated) spotlights the flinty star in “The Desperate Trail,” “You Know My Name” (in which he plays legendary lawman and pioneer filmmaker Bill Tilghman) and “Rough Riders,” with Elliott as Capt. Bucky O’Neill riding alongside Tom Berenger’s Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War.
From Britain, “Dennis Potter: Three to Remember” (not rated) gathers a trio of 1980 teleplays from the award-winning writer of “Pennies From Heaven” and “The Singing Detective,” featuring such all-stars as Peggy Ashcroft, Tom Conti and Donald Pleasence.
Series collections hitting DVD today include “Tales from the Darkside: The First Season” (not rated), “Melrose Place: The Fifth Season, Vol. 1” (not rated), “Simon & Simon: Season Two” (G) and “Route 66: Season 3, Vol. 1” (not rated).
Lily Allen, “It’s Not Me, It’s You”: She’s got a sweet voice, but her words sting like whiskey in an open wound.
“It’s Not Me, It’s You” — the title of Brit singer Lily Allen’s sophomore disc pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?
A fuller sounding record, that’s both more cohesive and cutting than Allen’s debut, “It’s Not Me” sees Allen growing up without growing soft.
Also in stores: Dan Auerbach, “Keep It Hid”; Warren G, “The G-Files”; India.Arie, “Testimony: Vol. 2, Love & Politics”; The Lonely Island, “Incredibad”; Van Morrison, “Astral Weeks Live at the Hollywood Bowl”; and Bobby Valentino, “The Rebirth.”
“Fool” by Christopher Moore: Best-selling author Christopher Moore reimagines Shakespeare’s “King Lear” in his new novel “Fool,” which the publisher describes as an “insanely funny tale of a moronic monarch and his deceitful daughters — a rousing story of plots, subplots, counterplots, betrayals, war, revenge, bared bosoms, unbridled lust … and a ghost (there’s always a bloody ghost), as seen through the eyes of a man wearing a codpiece and bells on his head.”
Writer Dan Simmons also taps the history of a literary master for his latest, “Drood.”
Simmons, author of “The Terror,” bases this thriller in the historical details of Charles Dickens’ life and is narrated by Dickens’ friend, writer Wilkie Collins. An 1865 train wreck changes Dickens’ life forever after he comes in contact with the mysterious Drood. Dickens and Collins search for Drood, making nightly excursions into the worst parts of London. Collins, who doubts the existence of Drood, begins to question the motives of his friend, who has developed a strange obsession with the macabre.
Also hitting shelves: "Obama" by David Elliot Cohen; “Lethal Legacy (Alexandra Cooper Series No. 11)” by Linda Fairstein; “The Renegades” by T. Jefferson Parker; “The Silent Man” by Alex Berenson; “The Women” by T.C. Boyle; “In Love With Jerzy Kosinski” by Agate Nesaule; “The Demigod Files” by Rick Riordan; “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett; “Shadowed Summer” by Saundra Mitchell; “The Anatomy of Wings” by Karen Foxlee; “Shannon” by Frank Delaney; and “Spade & Archer: The Prequel to the Maltese Falcon” by Joe Gores.