“The Reader” (R): Kate Winslet won her at-long-last Oscar for this adaptation of Bernhard Schlink’s semiautobiographical best-seller about a passionate affair between a student (David Kross) and an older tram conductor (Winslet) in post-World War II Germany — a liaison that reverberates through both lives. (Ralph Fiennes plays the all-grown-up student.) Director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter David Hare, both of whom earned Oscar nominations, provide an ideal showcase for Winslet’s uncanny ability to get under the skin of her contradictory character.
For comic-book contrast, there’s “The Spirit” (PG-13), in which a rookie cop (Gabriel Macht), gunned down on the mean streets of Central City, returns as the title crimefighter. Samuel L. Jackson, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson and Jaime King co-star in an adaptation of Will Eisner’s comic book series from graphic novelist-turned-director Frank Miller (“Sin City”).
From there, it’s on to titles that never played local theaters.
Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn, Bill Irwin and Blair Brown top the classy cast of “Dark Matter” (R), a fact-based drama about a Chinese student (Liu Ye) at a U.S. university who turns violent when school politics dash his Nobel Prize chances.
Another recent Oscar nominee, Frank Langella, headlines “The Caller” (PG-13), a thriller about an energy company executive who hires a retired cop (Elliott Gould) to help him expose his employer’s corrupt practices. And in the Hollywood satire “Trust Me” (not rated), a small-town hustler and a janitor with a gift for impressions set out to con Tinseltown. Craig Ferguson, Shelley Long and Cory Pendergrast lead the cast.
On the foreign-language front, a Moulin Rouge dancer (Romain Duris) diagnosed with a serious heart condition tries to take stock of his life — and reconcile with his sister (Juliette Binoche) in “Paris” (R). And a South American smuggler plots to profit from an impending papal visit in the award-winning Uruguayan comedy “The Pope’s Toilet” (not rated).
Topping today’s TV-transfer list: The British miniseries “Lost in Austen” (not rated), in which a modern reader (Jemima Rooper), yearning for the romance and elegance of novelist Jane Austen’s world, finds herself switching places with “Pride and Prejudice” heroine Elizabeth Bennet. (And for those who can’t get enough “Pride and Prejudice,” the 1996 A&E miniseries version — with Colin Firth as the marvelous Mr. Darcy — arrives today on Blu-Ray Disc.)
Other British miniseries hitting DVD range from “House of Saddam” (not rated) to “She Fell Among Thieves” (not rated), the 1978 thriller that launched PBS’ “Mystery!” Malcolm McDowell and Eileen Atkins star in a twisty ’20s-set tale.
Also making the jump from TV to DVD (all unrated): “Malcolm & Eddie: Season One,” “Knots Landing: The Complete Second Season,” “Wings: Final Season,” Canada’s “Intelligence: Season 2” and Britain’s “Skins, Vol. 2,” featuring Dev Patel, who co-starred in a recent big-screen trifle titled “Slumdog Millionaire.”
Metric, “Fantasies”: She doesn’t take her own advice, and her band is all the better for it.
“Stay away from the hooks,” Metric singer Emily Haines advises on the group’s latest disc, a, yes, hook-filled exercise in indie electro pop.
Haines’ tensile voice somersaults between childlike vulnerability, defiance and jubilation over slow-building guitars and a throbbing electronic undercurrent.
From arms-in-the-air ravers (“Stadium Love”) to keyboard-dizzy pop (“Gimme Sympathy”), these fantasies have truly come to life.
Also in stores: The Datsuns, “Headstunts”; Day26, “Forever in a Day”; Death Cab for Cutie, “The Open Door (EP)”; John Doe and The Sadies, “Country Club”; Fastball, “Little White Lies”; The Handsome Family, “Honey Moon”; The Juan MacLean, “The Future Will Come”; Medeski Martin & Wood, “Radiolarians II”; and Silversun Pickups, “Swoon.”
“Look Again” by Lisa Scottoline: Best-selling author of “Lady Killer” Lisa Scottoline returns with a new thriller this week titled “Look Again.”
Philadelphia journalist Ellen Gleeson risks her life and that of her adoptive son after receiving a flier in the mail about a missing child. The boy in the photo looks identical to her son, and as she investigates, she makes gruesome discoveries and begins to realize her worst fear may come true.
Another thriller expected in stores is Ted Dekker’s “BoneMan’s Daughters,” which centers around a serial killer who considers himself the perfect father, abducting young women and killing them by breaking their bones when they disappoint him.
When BoneMan kidnaps the daughter of intelligence officer Ryan Evans, it becomes a battle of the fathers and only one will survive.
Also hitting shelves: “The Geometry of Sisters” by Luanne Rice; “10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea” by Suzy Welch; “Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries, and Shakes” by Bobby Flay; “Flat Belly Diet! Pocket Guide” by Liz Vaccariello; “Hungry Girl: 200 under 200: 200 Recipes under 200 Calories” by Lisa Lillien; “Just When I Thought I’d Dropped My Last Egg: Life and Other Calamities” by Kathie Lee Gifford; “A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages” by Kristin Chenoweth; “Mommywood” by Tori Spelling; “This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” by David Foster Wallace; “Thirteenth Child” by Patricia C. Wrede; “My Life as a Man” by Frederic Lindsay; “The Trail of the Wild Rose (English Garden Mystery, Book 4)” by Anthony Eglin; “Plea of Insanity” by Jilliane Hoffman; “Fire Raiser” by Melanie Rawn; “Night Navigation” by Ginnah Howard; “A False Dawn” by Tom Lowe; “A Forthcoming Wizard” by Jody Lynn Nye; “Liars Anonymous” by Louise Ure; “Prayers for Sale” by Sandra Dallas; and “Living Witness (Gregor Demarkian, Book 24)” by Jane Haddam.