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Home theater: 'Her' makes bizarre seem plausible

MoviesAbortion IssueHer (movie)Homicide
"Her" is still funny, and Jonze visualizes the near future in ways that are beautiful and imaginative
"After Tiller" seeks to take some of the stigma out of late-term abortion
"God's Pocket" stars Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles

Her

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

Available on VOD beginning May 13

Writer-director Spike Jonze's "Her" is the best kind of bait-and-switch. Pitched as a quirky comedy about a heartbroken dweeb (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his computer's advanced operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), "Her" develops into a startlingly realistic tale of romantic obsession, likely familiar to anyone who's ever had a long-distance relationship that involved painful late-night conversations about who loves whom more. "Her" is still funny, and Jonze visualizes the near future in ways that are beautiful and imaginative. He always has been good at making the bizarre seem plausible, pairing special effects with docu-style filmmaking. "Her" is no exception. The DVD and Blu-ray tack on a trio of featurettes.

After Tiller

Oscilloscope, $34.99

Part activist documentary, part character sketch, Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's film "After Tiller" spends time with the four doctors in the United States who still perform late-term abortions, even though one of their colleagues, George Tiller, was murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion protester. Rather than loading up on statistics and debate, Shane and Wilson listen to the stories of these doctors and their patients, looking to explain why someone would go through such a controversial medical procedure. "After Tiller" seeks to take some of the stigma out of late-term abortion, asking why something that's legal in a lot of states has become so marginalized and difficult. The DVD adds more interviews.

God's Pocket

Available on VOD beginning May 14

"God's Pocket" marks the feature-film directorial debut of actor John Slattery (who's previously helmed some excellent episodes of his show "Mad Men") and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final roles, playing a sullen, low-level Philadelphia criminal trying to get the money together to bury his wife's murdered son. Christina Hendricks plays the victim's mother, a melancholy bombshell who's also being courted by an alcoholic newspaper columnist (Richard Jenkins). Slattery has trouble balancing the comedy and the violence in his adaptation of Pete Dexter's novel, but he captures the feel of a low-rent neighborhood where everybody knows everybody's business, and the movie as a whole has a likably unique structure, reminiscent of half a dozen "life is crazy in the big city" news items woven loosely together.

Orange Is the New Black: The Complete First Season

Lionsgate, $39.98; Blu-ray, $39.97

While TV fans were still dealing last summer with the disappointment over the muddled new season of "Arrested Development," Netflix quietly released what's been its best original series to date: "Orange Is the New Black," a rich comedy/drama about a middle-class, middle-aged woman who's sent to prison for a crime she committed a decade ago and discovers a complicated society behind bars. Taylor Schilling gives a nuanced performance as someone who's used to being treated well because she's white and educated but who gets a rude awakening when she realizes that her skill sets are of little value in jail. Creator Jenji Kohan (adapting a real memoir by Piper Kerman) does a masterful job of bringing together dozens of characters from different walks of life, showing how any isolated group of people form their own rules and codes. The DVD and Blu-ray contain 13 episodes plus featurettes and commentary tracks.

And…

I, Frankenstein

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning May 13

Stalingrad

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning May 13

That Awkward Moment

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning May 13

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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MoviesAbortion IssueHer (movie)Homicide
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