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DVDs In Brief: October 26, 2011


DVD round-up

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Disney released a new Winnie The Pooh (Buena Vista) to theaters this summer without much fanfare, but parents of small children could not ask for a more pleasing entertainment—the tone is gentle and true to the spirit of the A.A. Milne books and the previous Disney adaptation, the denizens of The Hundred Acre Wood are sweet and funny, and the whole thing wraps up in a little over an hour, perfect for short attention spans. And as a bonus, the animated short “The Ballad Of Nessie” is utterly charming… 

Summer superhero fatigue may have set in just a little bit by late July, when Captain America: The First Avenger (Paramount) hit screens; that might explain why it pulled in less money than early May’s companion movie Thor, another lead-up to The Avengers, even though Captain America is the better movie. Lively, self-aware, and funny, yet grimly exciting, Captain America unashamedly hits every audience button it can in an attempt to spark emotion and enjoyment. It’s formulaic, but so smart about the formula that it supersedes it…

The prankish, cinephilic, genre-mashing spirit of producer Edgar Wright pervades Attack The Block (Sony), a crowd-pleasing science fiction comedy about a group of street kids called upon to staunch an alien invasion. According to director Joe Cornish, a sequel and an American remake are both being considered—as is a television adaptation—but you can’t go wrong starting with the spunky little sleeper that started it all. 

Jenna Fischer delivers a fine, nuanced performance as an overwhelmed dental hygienist who discovers her demanding husband (Chris O’Donnell) was having an affair at the time of his death in A Little Help (Image). But while this character study proves a good showcase for Fischer, the film overreaches with a muddled subplot involving Fischer’s embarrassed son pretending O’Donnell was a firefighter who perished in 9/11…

An Anglophile might assume that an imported BBC procedural series starring The Wire’s Idris Elba would be a classy—even stuffy—affair, but in the case of Luther, an Anglophile would be wrong. The four-episode Luther: Season Two (BBC Warner) keeps the pulp silliness of the first season and loses most of its dignity, to reasonably satisfying effect. The serial-killer subplots are amusingly zany—one involves a LARP-er who rolls the dice to determine whom he’s going to kill and with what, and that’s only the half of it—but Elba’s intense performance gives this addictive series a badly needed anchor…