DVD previews: 'Stoker'
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A troubled teen (Mia Wasikowska) feels attracted to her mysterious uncle (Matthew Goode) in "Stoker."
Coming June 18
"Stoker" (R, 92 minutes, 20th Century Fox): With Park Chan-wook's first English language film, the Korean director of the 2003 cult hit "Oldboy" makes the transition to Hollywood without losing any of his visual verve. This violent psychological thriller looks fantastic, even when an attack with garden shears spurts blood onto a cluster of Queen Anne's Lace flowers. But "Stoker" is so in love with fetishizing creepiness that it forgets to be creepy. The images may be haunting, but the events aren't. After the death of Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney) in an apparent car accident, his brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), moves in with Richard's widow, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), and their 18-year-old daughter, India (Mia Wasikowska). It's blindingly obvious that there's something wrong with Charlie. He leers at his hosts like the sociopath he is, and he comes on to both of them sexually. Terrible, terrible things start happening, but none of them is very frightening because the perpetrators are so darn affected. "Stoker" plays out like a Kabuki "Macbeth": gallons of style slathered on a story you already know by heart. Contains violence, obscenity, nudity and sexuality. Extras (on Blu-ray only): "A Filmmakers Journey" featurette; deleted scenes; behind-the-scenes featurettes on "Mysterious Characters," set design and creating the Music; "Red Carpet Premiere: Emily Wells' performance of 'Becomes the Color,'" with free song download.
"Quartet" (PG-13, 97 minutes, The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay): This movie, set in a cozily appointed retirement home for aging musicians called Beecham House, features delectable British veterans Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins and professional force-of-nature Maggie Smith. A passel of real-life musical stars populate the home's colorful cast of supporting players. The sensitively attuned writer Ronald Harwood ("The Pianist," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly") started with Italy's Casa di Riposo per Musicisti, chronicled in the 1984 documentary "Tosca's Kiss," turned that concept into a stage play, then adapted his own script for the screen. "Quartet" could easily have been condescendingly dotty, soupily maudlin or simply misplayed in every manner. Instead, everyone and every theme harmonizes sweetly throughout the film. This subtle, sure-footed delight is made all the more enjoyable by the fact that it was directed by a 75-year-old first-timer named Dustin Hoffman. Judging from this debut, the kid's got a future. Contains brief strong language and suggestive humor. Extras: commentary with Hoffman and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
"Jack the Giant Slayer" (PG-13, 117 minutes, Warner): Much like the imaginary floating land called Gantua, situated halfway between heaven and Earth, and populated by a race of CGI giants, this fairy tale-inspired film is stuck between two extremes: Too scary for very young children, yet too silly for most older fans of director Bryan Singer. Loosely based on the English folk tale about a boy who discovers a magic beanstalk that leads to the realm of an evil giant, the film includes scenes of pitched battle that resemble "Lord of the Rings" outtakes, as well as the kind of belching-and-flatulence humor popular with kids. Couple that with man-eating giants, and the question seems obvious: Who exactly is this movie for? There are a couple of nifty, if less than jaw-dropping, special effects. But the whole thing never feels entirely real. Why, for example, are all the giants dudes? Where are all the lady giants, or the giant babies? It may seem crazy to apply logic to a fairy tale. But isn't that why kids love them in the first place, because they could be, just possibly, true? Contains bloodless but intense fantasy violence and brief crude language. Extras: deleted scenes, gag reel. Also, on Blu-ray: "Become a Giant Slayer" interactive experience. Also available in 3-D.
"21 and Over" (R, 93 minutes, 20th Century Fox): This film is basically "The Hangover" but younger; the first-time directing duo of Scott Moore and Jon Lucas penned both scripts. Here, the cause for partying is the 21st birthday of Jeff Chang (Justin Chon). His best friends from childhood surprise him at college with a plan for debauchery. The only kink is that Jeff has — no, not a wedding — a med school interview the following morning and doesn't want to incur the wrath of his domineering father by showing up with the shakes. Fast-talking party boy Miller (Miles Teller), however, won't take no for an answer. And while the far more reasonable Casey (Skylar Astin) senses danger, he goes along for the ride. Somewhere between that first beer and Jeff's 7 a.m. appointment with Dad, countless outlandish misadventures unfold. Amid the quarters and keg stands, the movie tackles a deeper message about finding one's true self and the sometimes unfortunate reality of lifelong friendships. The result is a jampacked agenda with so much going on that little is done well. Contains crude language, nudity, sexual situations, drugs, drinking and some squirm-inducing bodily harm. Extras: gag reel, "Levels of Intoxication" and "Tower of Power" featurettes.
Also: "Movie 43," "The Last Exorcism Part II ," "Summoned," "Justin Bieber: Always Believing," "Safety Last!" (1923, The Criterion Collection), "Prank," "American Idiots," "The Brass Teapot," "The Ghost Army" (documentary, PBS), "Heroin King of Baltimore: The Rise and Fall of Melvin Williams," "Gibsonburg," "The Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse" (animated), "Understanding Art: Hidden Lives of Masterpieces" (Acorn Media) and "TCM Greatest Classic Films: Legends" (Gene Kelly, John Wayne, Paul Newman, Romantic Affairs; each set includes four-classic films, Warner).
Television series: "Body of Proof: The Complete Final Season," "Wilfred: Season 2," "Springhill, Series 1" (1996-1997, four-disc set, U.S. debut of British series, Acorn Media), "NOVA: Meteor Strike" (PBS), "Rectify" (Sundance Channel), "Web Therapy: The Complete Second Season" (Showtime), "Call the Midwife: Season Two" (BBC) and "The Wild West" (2006, miniseries).
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