This just might be "the" week in DVD releases. "The" as in The Caller, The Spirit and The Reader, all released Tuesday.
Of the three, The Reader ($29.95, $34.99 on Blu-ray) gets my vote. It's hard to make a Nazi sympathetic — and a pedophile Nazi, well ... don't try that at home — but it can be done. The Reader (specifically screenwriter David Hare, using the book by Bernhard Schlink, and actress Kate Winslet) pulls it off.
In post-World War II Germany, a decade after his affair with an older woman, a law student encounters her again — defending herself in a war-crimes trial. The relationship between that woman and the boy — barely a teenager — seems almost natural and we come to see how she could love him. Not just for his body — although she did enjoy that — but for his mind (his reading to her serves as foreplay).
The trap, of course, is that who she is with him and what she did as a prison-camp guard are nearly impossible to reconcile. To call Winslet's performance naked and open is literally and figuratively true, and it won her an Academy Award. The Reader is rated R for scenes of sexuality and nudity.
■ The Spirit ($29.95, $34.98 for a special edition that includes a digital copy that can be downloaded to a computer or portable media player, $39.99 on Blu-ray) is based on the comic strip about a masked avenger who is not Batman, watching over a city that is not Gotham, but trying just as hard to keep the meanies at bay. Samuel L. Jackson plays the Octopus, the arch-enemy of Central City's guardian Spirit (Gabriel Macht). The Spirit is rated PG-13 for sequences of stylized violence and some sexual content and brief nudity.
■ The Caller ($24.95) stars Frank Langella as a business executive who turns whistleblower on his company and then fakes his own death, takes an assumed name and runs for his life. It's rated PG-13.