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New on DVD

'Martha Marcy May Marlene,' 'J. Edgar,' 'Puss in Boots' and 'Tower Heist'

February 19, 2012|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Martha Marcy May Marlene

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Writer-director Sean Durkin's terrifying feature debut stars Elizabeth Olsen as an unstable young woman who flees a cult led by a coolly persuasive sociopath (played by a guitar-slinging John Hawkes) and seeks refuge with her uptight upper-middle-class sister (Sarah Paulson) in a swank lakeside vacation home. At night Martha hears knocking sounds on the roof, which may just be sounds of nature or may be warning signals from her old "family" coming to reclaim her. Or — even scarier — both the knocking and Martha's memories may be delusions. Durkin flows freely between flashbacks and the present, building tension as he explores the dilemma of a protagonist who seems to belong nowhere. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes, a Hawkes music video and an early Durkin short.

J. Edgar

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98/$35.99

Director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black bring a healthy measure of sophistication to this time-jumping biopic of the pioneering and controversial FBI director. But while Leonardo DiCaprio gives a game performance as Hoover, the demands of the character's accent and old-age makeup mean that there's a cartoon at the center of a movie meant to serious. That blunder aside, "J. Edgar" is a thoughtful study of how the pathologically private Hoover snooped into the lives of others, partly in the name of national security and partly to avenge the slights against his crime-busting methods when he was an ambitious young agent. The DVD and Blu-ray cover more of Hoover's life via a featurette.

Puss in Boots

Dreamworks, $29.99/$34.98; Blu-ray, $39.99/$54.99

The "Shrek" franchise has its first feature-length spinoff in this clever animated adventure that's more like a light-comic swashbuckler than a smirking fairy-tale spoof. Antonio Banderas returns as the voice of the sword-wielding kitty, who tells the story of his wayward youth and his quest to swipe magic beans from Jack and Jill. Imaginatively weird, with thrilling action sequences and a funny voice performance by Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty, "Puss in Boots" actually might appeal more to adults than to kids — not because it's over children's heads but because it's so appealingly old-fashioned. The DVD and Blu-ray come with deleted scenes, featurettes and a bonus short.

Tower Heist

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

This star-studded action-comedy isn't as slick as "Ocean's Eleven," and its sociopolitical message is pretty shallow, but it's the kind of breezy blockbuster entertainment that doesn't come around often enough. Ben Stiller plays a hotel manager who recruits a professional thief played by Eddie Murphy to help him get revenge on a billionaire con man played by Alan Alda. There are plot holes aplenty and the big twists arrive too abruptly, but stellar performances — including hilarious deadpan turns by Matthew Broderick and Casey Affleck — and a handful of memorably funny lines make this a surefire video rental and undoubtedly a basic-cable staple someday soon. The DVD and Blu-ray add a commentary track, a gag reel, deleted scenes and alternate endings.

And…

London Boulevard

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

The Mighty Macs

Sony, $26.99

The Son of No One

Starz/Anchor Bay, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

The Way

Arc, $26.99; Blu-ray, $32.99

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