New to DVD: 'The Cabin in the Woods,' 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,' 'Hysteria' and 'Katy Perry: Part of Me'
Share with others:
Besides TV credits including "Lost" and "Alias," Drew Goddard gave us the alien invasion film "Cloverfield," while Josh Whedon graduated from small-screen cult hero ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Firefly") to maestro of this summer's opening blockbuster salvo, "The Avengers."
"The Cabin in the Woods" was written and filmed with the dynamic sci-fi/fantasy duo's macabre sensibilities and joy of filmmaking at full throttle.
With writing partners Mr. Whedon (producer) and Mr. Goddard (director) running the show, the movie references the "Evil Dead" cabin, George Romero's zombies at the door and other icons of the genre without threatening its original voice, which leans more on comedy and creepiness than torture and terror.
Oscar nominee Richard Jenkins ("The Visitor") and Emmy winner Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing") lead a team at a guarded high-tech facility that is monitoring five teens heading for a vacation at a cabin. But to what purpose are they tuning in to these seemingly average teens, and why are they taking bets? Could we have stumbled into "The Hunger Games" by accident?
A hint is that the teens fall into archetypes: hunky jock Curt (Chris Hemsworth) and his sex-kitten girlfriend Jules (Anna Hutchison), nerdy stoner Marty (Fran Kranz), Curt's smart handsome friend Holden (Jesse Williams of "Grey's Anatomy") and sweet brokenhearted Dana (Kristen Connolly).
When a cellar door pops open on its own, they take the dare and descend, finding a decades-old trove of secrets about the torture deaths of the Buckner family at the hands of the zealot father. Do they head for the hills? Not under the watchful eyes of ... who are those guys, anyway?
If you're not a fan of the shock-and-gore genre, some scenes will be difficult to stomach -- one can only imagine the portion of the budget that went to fake blood. Yet the charm and commitment of the cast, nicely timed infusions of humor and the absolute need to resolve the overarching mystery will see you through to the end.
The DVD and Blu-ray offer a "making of" featurette, plus extras that focus on the make-up, effects and animatronics and more, and director/producer commentary. The Blu-ray includes an exclusive bonus view mode.
This gentle comedy from director John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") finds seven British pensioners heading to India for promised elegant accommodations.
Instead, they find dusty rooms with furniture draped in sheets, birds flying around inside, missing doors and spotty water, electrical and phone service.
One of the Brits, Graham (Tom Wilkinson), lived in India as a young man but hasn't been back in 40 years. He abruptly retires as a High Court judge and ends up among a ragtag band of strangers -- some married, some widowed or divorced, some ill-tempered and prejudiced, some terrified, some relishing a fluttering of freedom.
Chief among them are Evelyn (Judi Dench), a widow who had to sell her flat to pay her husband's hidden debts; Muriel (Maggie Smith), a hip replacement patient who can get the surgery immediately in India or wait six months at home; Douglas and Jean (Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton), a married couple who lent their nest egg to their daughter; Madge (Celia Imrie), a divorcee who's tired of playing grandma the baby sitter; and Norman (Ronald Pickup), a self-styled romeo.
Before the end comes, one revelation will be shared, characters will either embrace or continue to rigidly fear their surroundings, and their ranks will be depleted in ways expected and unexpected.
Seven Brits may be one or two too many, since every character demands some screen time. The movie's saving grace is its rich talent, the acting equivalent of saffron, cardamom or edible gold leaf.
DVD extras include behind-the-scenes and "Casting Legends" featurettes, while the Blu-ray adds the "Real" Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and "Trekking to India: Life is Never the Same."
"Hysteria" was inspired by the 1883 patent of the first electric vibrator by physician Joseph Mortimer Granville, here played by Hugh Dancy. Intended for muscular relief, it soon was used to treat the catch-all female ailment "hysteria."
Husband-and-wife writers Stephen and Jonah Lisa Dyer fictionalize Granville's life, giving him romantic attractions to his physician-boss's two very different daughters, a comic case of carpal tunnel and a choice between comforting the afflicted or afflicting the comfortable -- with intimate massages that produce paroxysms. In today's parlance, orgasms.
It's a time of Victorian prudishness when Dr. Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), a specialist in women's medicine, presides over a thriving practice treating hysteria. He calls it "the plague of our time," affecting half of the women in London. He treats it by relieving tensions in the womb with manual manipulation. He needs, literally, another pair of hands and hires Granville.
The younger physician starts to court the elder doc's demure daughter, Emily (Felicity Jones), even as he is drawn to her vexing, volatile older sister, Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal). She runs an East End settlement house where she tries to help poor women and ailing children and stave off debt collectors.
"Hysteria," directed by Tanya Wexler, is a comedy about more than just the invention of the device that Samantha would talk openly about on "Sex and the City" a century later. It's about a society on the brink of change, the treatment and mistreatment of women and the poor, and doctor-patient situations ripe for laughter.
The concert film from directors Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz captures the pop superstar during her emotional swing on the California Dreams Tour, when her marriage to comedian Russell Brand was crumbling. Along with candy-coated concert footage of her many No. 1 hits, you get a no-holds-barred look at the behind-the-scenes drama and interviews with her family and friends.
The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes live performances of "Waking Up in Vegas" and "Last Friday Night," a featurette on the tour, and the deleted segments "Grandma: Thinking of You" and "The Grammys You'll Never Take Away From Me."
ALSO THIS WEEK:
• "Get a Life: The Complete Series": Chris Elliott plays a 30-year-old who makes a living delivering newspapers and lives in an apartment above his parents' (Elinor Donahue, Bob Elliott) garage.
• "Steve Martin: Television Stuff": A wild and crazy collection of Steve Martin's various TV appearances.
• "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures": The four films are available on one Blu-ray set.
• "Supernatural: The Complete Seventh Season": The two brothers continue to fight demons.
• "Suburgatory: The Complete First Season": Jeremy Sisto stars in this father-daughter comedy.
• "Thomas & Friends: Blue Mountain Mystery The Movie": Thomas helps his Narrow Gauge engine friends.
• "Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva La Fiesta!": George Lopez is a voice in this dog tale.
• "Modern Family: The Complete Third Season": ABC comedy about a very funny family.
• "Rawhide: The Complete Fifth Season": Clint Eastwood stars in the western TV series.
• "The Magic of Belle Isle": Morgan Freeman plays a man who loses his passion for writing.
• "The Mentalist: The Complete Fourth Season": Simon Baker stars.
• "Body of Proof: The Complete Second Season": Dana Delany crime drama.
• "Hawaii Five-O: The Second Season": CBS crime drama starring Alex O'Loughlin.
• "Army Wives: Season Six, Part One": Kim Delaney stars.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers
First Published September 20, 2012 12:00 am