"Lincoln" (PG-13, 149 minutes, DreamWorks/Disney): A peculiar, powerful alchemy takes hold in Steven Spielberg's masterful portrait of the 16th U.S. president. Through that strange mix of realism, artifice, intimacy and scope that cinema uniquely possesses, viewers find themselves transported to 19th century Washington, D.C., where Abraham Lincoln in an Oscar-winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis has just been re-elected to a second term. But instead of a grand tableau vivant that lays out the great man and his great deeds, Spielberg brings the leader and viewers down to ground level. Contains an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language. DVD extras: behind-the-scenes featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: "A Historic Tapestry: Richmond, Virginia," about the choice of this landmark area as a shooting site.
"Killing Them Softly" (R, 97 minutes, the Weinstein Co./Anchor Bay): This alternately bitterly funny and labored gangland parable possesses a modicum of swagger and style. Though anchored by a terrific lead performance from Brad Pitt, it perpetuates some of the crime genre's more tedious clichés, from slow-motion savagery to facile cynicism. Contains violence, sexual references, pervasive profanity and some drug use. Extras: making-of featurette, deleted scenes.
"Parental Guidance" (PG, 105 minutes, Fox): With a script that relies heavily on gags about vomiting, urinating and defecating, this generation-gap comedy about grandparents taking care of bratty grand- children seems like it's not just made for children, but written by one. The film is badly overacted, syrupy, phony looking, implausibly scripted, formulaic and about 15 minutes too long. When yuppie parents go out of town for a few days, they decide to leave their brood of three spoiled crumb-snatchers with the grandparents (Billy Crystal and Bette Midler). Extras: commentary with Crystal and director Andy Fickman, deleted scenes. Also, on Blu-ray: gag reel and "In Character With" featurette.
Also: "The Collection," "Stand Off," "Adventures in Zambezia," "White Elephant" (Argentina), "House Arrest," "Monsieur Verdoux" (1947, the Criterion Collection), "A Man Escaped" (1956, The Criterion Collection), "Easy Money" (2010, Sweden), "Bangkok Revenge" (France/ Thailand), "Shakespeare Un-covered" (PBS), "Either Way" (Iceland) and "Frontline: Inside Obama's Presidency."