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A Most Violent Year leads new movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week
The documentary "Pelican Dreams" has been released on DVD this week. - photo by Chris Hicks
An excellent character-driven crime thriller leads new movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week.

A Most Violent Year (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2014, R for language and violence, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, outtakes). Directed by J.C. Chandor (All Is Lost), this film is a real showcase for stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Set in New York in 1981, which is, statistically speaking, the year the city recorded more violence than ever before, the story focuses on a family-run heating-oil business.

Isaac plays the honest owner who is in the middle of an important business deal and under investigation for alleged price fixing. Meanwhile, his trucks are being hijacked by rivals, and as the acts escalate his drivers are injured. Urged by the union to arm his employees, he refuses, fearing even more violence. But one of his previously injured drivers packs a gun without Isaacs knowledge, leading to a freeway shootout in broad daylight, which brings unwanted attention to his situation.

Isaac is first-rate, and Chastain is gripping as his Lady Macbeth, a woman with her own agenda who is influenced by her mob-connected family. Albert Brooks is also fine as their lawyer, and David Oyelowo (Selma) delivers as the assistant district attorney investigating them.

Pelican Dreams (Cinedigm/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, G, mini-movies, featurettes). Likable, engaging documentary that follows a California brown pelican from Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to a rehab center. But the film is also about our relationship with wild creatures and whether human interaction with them is a help or hindrance to their survival.

Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn (eOne/DVD/On Demand, 2015, PG-13). Low-budget umpteenth adaptation of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has its weaknesses but is generally an enjoyable family film, opening with Mark Twain (Val Kilmer) telling the story of Tom and Huck witnessing a murder, vowing to keep it a secret, then finding their consciences pricked when the wrong man is accused.

Yellowbird (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, PG, featurettes). French animated comedy aimed at preschoolers about the eccentric title character (Seth Green) inadvertently learning the migration routes for a flock of blue birds to avoid airline traffic while flying to Africa. Other dubbed-in-English voices belong to Danny Glover, Dakota Fanning, Jim Rash, Yvette Nicole Brown, Richard Kind and Elliott Gould.

The Voices (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, R for violence and language, deleted/extended scenes, featurettes, art gallery). Very dark, lurid and grisly satire about schizophrenia, with Ryan Reynolds as a hapless factory worker whose dog and cat speak to him as the sort of angel/devil on the shoulders. Soon he is murdering female co-workers and keeping their heads in the fridge, where he has conversations with them. Co-stars include Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver.

Home Sweet Hell (Sony/Blu-ray/DVD/Digial/On Demand, 2015; R for violence, language, sex, drugs; deleted scenes, featurettes, outtakes). Another dark domestic comedy about an ineffectual husband, father and businessman (Patrick Wilson) who has a fling with a new employee (Jordana Brewster). But when she blackmails him he confesses to his shrewish wife (Katherine Heigl), so they decide to kill the girl and keep up appearances. Jim Belushi co-stars.

Killers (Well Go/Blu-ray/DVD, not rated, in Indonesian and Japanese with English subtitles). This very violent Indonesian-Japanese co-production is about a Japanese serial killer who uploads his murders to the Internet, inspiring a journalist in Jakarta to start killing as well, though he justifies it as vigilante justice.