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DVDs In Brief: April 4, 2012 


DVD round-up

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Despite being nominated for the Best Picture Oscar—no great achievement now that the honor has been expanded to as many as 10 titles—Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (Universal) was greeted with derisive snorts from many who dismissed its earnest, old-fashioned grandeur as simply corny. But there’s deep emotional resonance in its story of a horse’s wayward journey through the battlefields of World War I, where his essential innocence stands out starkly against the horrors of war. Spielberg has made his John Ford movie… 

Cameron Crowe’s attempt at a family-friendly comedy, We Bought A Zoo (Fox) brings out the worst of both worlds it tries to merge. It’s sentimental in ways that Crowe detractors have always considered his films to be and as dull as any kiddie movie out there. Its heart is in the right place, but for the first time, even Crowe’s biggest fans will have a hard time not feeling a bit manipulated…

Constance Marks’ documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (New Video) isn’t just for fans of the titular squeaky-voiced red Sesame Street Muppet. In fact, it’s likely to convert Elmo-haters in droves. Marks follows the life history of Elmo creator Kevin Clash creatively, via terrific behind-the-scenes footage and lively visual re-creations, suggesting that the fame and success that came with Elmo couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, or one more devoted to Jim Henson’s legacy. It’s a peek into Sesame Street’s world that winningly suggests it’s as big-hearted a place on the inside as it seems on the outside…

One of the most stirring dramas of last year, Tyrannosaur (Strand) features stunningly raw performances from stars Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman. Though much in the mold of British miserablist dramas that have come before, its humanity keeps it from ever descending into formula and cliché…

Fans of twisty plots will love The Double Hour (Goldwyn), an Italian thriller that begins with a hotel maid witnessing a suicide and continues with her and a new boyfriend being stormed by marked burglars. How are these events related? Director Giuseppe Capotondi asks the audience to count the many ways, but after 95 minutes of ingenious twists and turns, there’s a creeping suspicion that ingenious twists and turns are all his film has to offer.