‘Stoker’ revives Hitchcock thriller about unseemly guest
This week we begin in the South:
Three Australian actresses play three Southern ladies and are directed by a Korean visionary in this odd, off-kilter Gothic tale loosely based on Alfred Hitchcock’s 70 year-old Shadow of a Doubt (which featured the rare screenplay by Thornton Wilder).
Nicole Kidman plays Evelyn Stoker, immediately widowed by husband Richard (Dermot Mulroney). She and her daughter, India (Mia Wasikowska), are surprised when Richard’s mysterious brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), turns up.
He smoothly ingratiates himself into the family, becoming close, and even closer, to Evelyn and doing his best to become close, and even closer, to India. But India finds her Uncle Charlie mysterious and menacing. The always-interesting Jacki Weaver plays Richard’s aunt, an officious sort who comes to warn that the avuncular Charlie may not be what he seems.
Director Park Chan-wook slowly develops this sense of danger with his odd camera angles, deliberate pacing, exact settings with specific colors, and an uncanny genius to cinematically render an unstable state of mind.
The DVD offers a 28-minute “Filmmaker’s Journey,” 10 minutes of deleted scenes, a five-part, 15-minute “behind the scenes” featurette, and 21 minutes of the red-carpet premiere. Also includes a singing performance from Emily Wells, and more.
The Rambler -- Calvin Lee Reeder wrote and directed this puzzler starring Dermot Mulroney as a recently released convict who seems not to have a name and who spends almost the entire film wearing sunglasses and a cowboy hat. What passes for a plot involves the Rambler stealing some money and then heading to Oregon to work for his brother.
Various picaresque experiences happen to him along the way, such as being beaten twice in two street fights and having several odd meetings with a mysterious woman. In addition to her, he runs into a repeating cast of oddball characters.
The film, however, eventually takes an even sharper turn into David Lynch territory, and from there, the narrative breaks down while Reeder delivers some striking images — which, while novel, don’t clear up or resolve anything. Rated R, 99 minutes.
21 & Over -- This week’s guilty pleasure comes from the minds of Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, the writers behind The Hangover series.
Here, they also direct their raucous tale about Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) who, on the night he turns 21, joins his high school friends Casey (Skylar Astin) and Miller (Miles Teller) in a prolonged night of extreme revelry. Chang has his medical school entrance exam the next morning, but that does not stop him from drinking himself into unconsciousness.
The Homeric quest to get Jeff home sends Miller and Casey into dangerous territories — a Latina sorority house, several bars, a college pep rally and various other spots. They deliver some of the off-color gags and extreme humor expected from Lucas and Scott.
Rated R, 93 minutes. The DVD offers a four-minute “making of” featurette, a three-minute segment on the film’s “Tower of Power” sequence, a brief gag reel and more.
And finally, from this week’s TV arrivals:
Web Therapy: The Complete Second Season Lisa Kudrow co-created, produced and stars as Fiona Wallice in a series about a counselor who sees her patients via webcam. And she does it three minutes at a time. Victor Garber plays her beleaguered husband, Kip, and Lily Tomlin appears as Fiona’s mother.
What could be static turns into a revolving menu of comedy with some of this season’s noted guest stars: Rashida Jones, Meryl Streep, Conan O’Brien, Minnie Driver, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and others. The season’s 12 episodes arrive on two discs.
Not rated, 325 minutes. The set also includes a six-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurette, two director’s cuts with Streep and O’Brien (each about 13 minutes or so), a music video, five deleted scenes, a 19-minute gag reel and more.
Rectify: First Season This intense Sundance Channel series starred Aden Young as Daniel Holden, condemned to death row for a murder. In the first episode, he leaves a Georgia prison after 19 years after being exonerated by DNA evidence. The trouble arises because he originally confessed to the crime and everyone in his small town still thinks he’s guilty, including the sheriff and opportunistic politicians who exploit him and his case.
Daniel’s sister, Amantha (Abigail Spencer), and mother (J. Smith-Cameron) work to integrate Daniel back into society, a process that plays out over the season’s six episodes on two discs. Supremely multi-talented writer-director-actor Ray McKinnon created the series, while also writing and directing episodes.
Rated TV-14, 272 minutes. The set includes a four-minute “On Set” featurette and 12-minute and eight-minute “behind-the-scenes” featurettes. Plus, eight minutes with the cast and a nine-minute segment titled “Inside the Episode With Ray McKinnon.”
Todd & the Book of Pure Evil: The Complete Second Season This sophomore season of 13 episodes presents the unlikely Canadian hit program about the endangered students at Crowley High (and yes, that is supposed to be Alistair Crowley).
The powers of an evil book plague the school and now only four of the youngsters, led by Todd Smith (Alex House), can defeat it before it takes over the campus, with the help of zombies. During the season, the hazily explained book also gives various abilities to unexpecting recipients. With Jason Mewes, Maggie Castle and Bill Turnbull.
Not rated, 346 minutes. The two-disc set contains three separate commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, and featurettes on the musical numbers, a look behind the scenes, the fallen students of Crowley High, the show’s special effects and a blooper reel.
Body of Proof: The Complete Third Season TV veteran Dana Delany returns for her third season as feisty Philadelphia medical examiner Megan Hunt. She feels for the dead bodies brought in to her and becomes their advocate, working each week to help track down a murderer, sometimes against the orders of her supervisor (Jeri Ryan).
In this season’s 13 episodes on two discs, Hunt goes back to work after an untimely death at the end of the last season. During this year, her daughter is kidnapped, and military veterans turn up inexplicably murdered. With Mark Valley as new detective Tommy Sullivan and Geoffrey Arend as colleague Ethan Gross.
Rated TV-14 LSV, 559 minutes. The set also includes a four-minute featurette on the cinematography with director of photography Patrick Cady. Plus: a five-minute gag reel, and a three-minute featurette with special-effects master Cory Jamieson, and another of six minutes on how the effects turn the Los Angles streets and sets into Philadelphia.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: The Call, Into the White, No, Shark and Upside Down.