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New releases: In 'Passion,' a war of wits turns deadly

MoviesGuillermo del ToroFictionYour Sister's Sister (movie)Rachel McAdamsNoomi Rapace

Passion

Available on VOD on Thursday.

Writer-director Brian De Palma's erotic thriller is an English-language remake of Alain Corneau's "Love Crime," a film about what happens when the war of wits between a female executive and her protégée turns kinky and then deadly. But De Palma takes Corneau's film and puts his own spin on it, riffing on business ethics, cronyism, gender roles, and how modern technologies like cellphones, security cameras and the Internet are changing all of the above. Costars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace start out a little stiff in "Passion," and the film as a whole is so flat in its first third that it almost seems as if De Palma is baiting the audience. But then the man who made "Dressed to Kill" and "Body Double" shows up, throwing in split screens, over-the-top music cues and an ending that's hysterically nonsensical. All in all, this is De Palma's most playful, enjoyable movie since "Femme Fatale."

Touchy Feely

Available on VOD on Thursday.

Lynn Shelton's indie hits "Humpday" and "Your Sister's Sister" marked her as a filmmaker who's unusually willing to confront — humorously but honestly — how adult relationships are constantly complicated by questions of trust and sex. Unfortunately, they also showed that she's willing to charge headlong into a project rather than refining it. Shelton's semi-supernatural dramedy "Touchy Feely" has the same virtues and flaws of her earlier movies. "Touchy Feely's" offbeat story, about a massage therapist (played by Rosemarie DeWitt) who becomes repulsed by touch and a dentist (Josh Pais) who develops a miraculous healing power, is funny and frank about how real people react to dramatic changes, but ultimately the movie is a mess of good ideas begging for more structure. Shelton remains a talent to watch but a talent in need of more discipline.

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Black Rock

Lionsgate, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

Indie impresario Katie Aselton co-produces, co-writes, directs and stars, playing an aloof young woman who gets roped into a camping trip on a remote island with best friend Kate Bosworth and estranged pal Lake Bell. Before they can all open up to one another and heal old wounds, they're met by a trio of hunters, and quickly the movie becomes a spin on "The Most Dangerous Game." There's nothing wrong with that premise — overused as it is — provided there's a twist or two, or a little stylistic panache. But Mark Duplass' script (from Aselton's story) couldn't be more rudimentary, and Aselton, while competent, isn't exactly Brian De Palma behind the camera. "Black Rock" is well acted and contains a couple of memorable scenes, but for the most part this is a blah buddy dramedy that transforms into a blah chase thriller. Aselton and Bell's commentary track joins a pair of featurettes on the DVD and Blu-ray.

The Devil's Backbone

Criterion, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Before becoming the A-list director of big-budget projects like "Hellboy" and "Pacific Rim," Guillermo del Toro made cheaper horror films like the vampire riff "Cronos" and the shape-shifting insect creep-out "Mimic." Then in 2001 Del Toro made an astonishing aesthetic leap with the Spanish Civil War ghost story "The Devil's Backbone," about a boy (played by Fernando Tielve) who communes with the spirit of a recently deceased orphan at an orphanage run by a sweet old freedom fighter. Mysterious and subtly political — with a powerful central image of an unexploded bomb quietly ticking in the orphanage's courtyard — "The Devil's Backbone" saw Del Toro stepping away from conventional scares and aiming for a deeper dread, setting up his 2006 masterpiece "Pan's Labyrinth." Criterion's excellent DVD and Blu-ray editions of "The Devil's Backbone" add a Del Toro commentary and behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews aplenty.

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And …

Banshee: The Complete First Season

HBO, $39.98; Blu-ray, $49.99

Filly Brown

Indomina, $19.97; Blu-ray, $29.95

Available on VOD on Tuesday.

The Fog

Scream! Factory, $19.93; Blu-ray, $29.93

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99/$54.99

Available on VOD on Tuesday.

The Incredible Melting Man

Scream! Factory Blu-ray, $19.97

Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Warner Bros., $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.98

Teen Beach Movie

Walt Disney, $26.99

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MoviesGuillermo del ToroFictionYour Sister's Sister (movie)Rachel McAdamsNoomi Rapace
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