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DVDs In Brief: August 25, 2010

Jennifer Lopez abandoned film for four years to do whatever it is she does these days, only to return with The Back-Up Plan (Sony), a muddled romantic comedy about a dynamic young single woman who gets artificially inseminated just before she meets the man of her dreams. The two must then figure out how to balance their blossoming relationship with the heavy-duty responsibilities of parenthood, leading the film to morph gradually from a glib romantic comedy to a leaden relationship drama…

Much of the appeal of the solid, gritty Australian noir The Square (Apparition) comes from the understated way it handles its action. It’s essentially yet another bad-decision movie, in which a construction supervisor engaged in an affair with a thug’s wife takes her advice and steals the thug’s money, with unexpected consequences leading to cascading and ever-growing problems. But first-time director Nash Edgerton keeps the action small and quiet, ramping up the tension via strong performances instead of big, broad gestures…

Writer-director Raymond De Felitta showed a talent for accessible, low-key indie character studies with the 2000 sleeper hit Two Family House, and though his latest effort, City Island (Anchor Bay) enjoyed the same success in theaters, it’s busier and less satisfying. The title refers to a tiny, water-rimmed outpost of the Bronx, which De Felitta crams with enough secrets for a week’s worth of Days Of Our Lives episodes…

In the decades since his Night Of The Living Dead set the standard for the genre, director George Romero has returned to the zombie movie regularly, always in pointed response to the political and social issues of the day. Lately, though, he’s been turning out “Dead” movies left and right, but they’re born less of urgency than force of habit. Romero hits bottom with Survival Of The Dead (Magnolia), a slick but toothless film that places the zombies in the middle of a generations-old family feud…

With a title that refers to an Arab ghetto in Tel Aviv where the action begins, the stellar Academy Award-nominated drama Ajami (Kino) threads various narrative strands in the overly familiar everything-is-connected style. But it’s a stirring portrait of a neighborhood where Jews and Palestinians have lived side-by-side for generations.