New this week on DVD and Blu-ray:
"Lincoln" - Instead of covering Abraham Lincoln's entire life or even his entire presidency, Steven Spielberg's film is narrowly focused primarily on a month following Lincoln's re-election when the President is trying to secure passage of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery in the waning days of the Civil War. Through that narrow focus, it becomes a more illuminating portrait of Lincoln than a survey of the highlights of his life might have been. And anchored by a mesmerizing, Oscar-winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis, it is a fascinating film that makes an iconic figure flesh and blood and simultaneously comments on contemporary politics.
The two-disc Blu-ray set includes two short featurettes, one on the making of the film and a second on filming in Richmond, Va. The four-disc Blu-ray includes a digital download copy and four additional featurettes - "Living with Lincoln," "In Lincoln's Footsteps," "In the Company of Character" and "Crafting the Past." (DreamWorks, $29.99 DVD, $39 Blu-ray/DVD combo, $45.99 four-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo)
"Parental Guidance" - Billy Crystal and Bette Midler star in this holiday release about grandparents helping out with the grandkids and the clash of parenting styles between the older generation and kids' parents (Marisa Tomei, Tom Everett Scott). (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray)
"Killing Them Softly" - Despite the title, there's nothing soft - or subtle - about writer-director Andrew Dominik's film. In about 90 minutes, he mixes a crime story about a hitman / fixer (Brad Pitt) brought in to clean up the mess after a robbery at an illegal card game as well as a political allegory that portrays American democracy as the feckless tool of capitalism regardless of which party is in power. The movie takes place during the waning dates of the 2008 presidential campaign and the financial market collapse, and the action unfolds to an endless stream of news reports and talking head analysis to make the parallels between the criminal world and the financial / political worlds more obvious.
This died a quick death in theaters, even with Pitt's star power, but it's the kind of movie that could develop a fervent cult following as audiences discover it. (Anchor Bay, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray)
Extras include four featurettes and the music video "Come Fly with Me" by Jewels Jaselle and Benj Heard. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $26.99 DVD, $30.99 Blu-ray)
Director / co-writer Marcus Dunstan and co-writer Patrick Melton provide a commentary track. Other extras include deleted / alternate scenes and five behind-the-scenes featurettes. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, $19.98 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray)
Extras include a commentary track with Heidecker and co-writer / director Rick Alverson. (New Video Group, $26.95 DVD)