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Home Theater: 'Pina,' Tyrannosaur,' 'War Horse,' 'We Bought a Zoo'

Plus, 'Tyrannosaur,' 'War Horse' and 'We Bought a Zoo.'

April 01, 2012|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Ditta Miranda Jasjfi performs "Vollmond" onstage in water in the Wim Wenders film "Pina."
Ditta Miranda Jasjfi performs "Vollmond" onstage in water… (Donata Wenders, Sundance…)


Available on VOD April 6

Prior to the death of legendary choreographer Pina Bausch in 2009, she and director Wim Wenders had been collaborating on a performance film, which Wenders then re-fashioned into "Pina," as a sort of testimonial. Working in collaboration with Bausch's troupe, Wenders breaks up lengthy dance routines with interviews about the choreographer's spiritual, aesthetic and personal influence on her employees. These interviews are understandably sappy, and they prevent the dances from developing as they would onstage; but Bausch's work is still stunning, with staging that involves the addition of obstacles such as dirt, rocks and water to the dance floor. "Pina," which was nominated for an Academy Award for documentary feature, is more for fans of avant-garde art than for the casually curious, but it's a must for dance enthusiasts.


Strand, $27.99

For his debut as a writer-director, Paddy Considine follows in the footsteps of fellow thespians-turned-filmmakers Tim Roth and Gary Oldman, making a movie so brutally depressing that it practically dares the audience to watch. "Tyrannosaur" stars Peter Mullan as an angry widower who vents his rage against everybody he meets, until he runs into an abused wife (played by Olivia Colman), who wins his sympathy. Considine slathers on too much misery, but Mullan and Colman do stunning work, accessing some of the rawest of raw emotions without ever becoming mere pathos-delivery devices. The DVD contains deleted scenes, a commentary track and the Considine short film that inspired "Tyrannosaur." Available on VOD April 3.

War Horse

Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99/$45.99

It got a little lost in the end-of-year awards-bait shuffle, but "War Horse," the epic adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel (and Nick Stafford's play), is one of director Steven Spielberg's best films: a rousing, David Lean- and John Ford-inspired World War I story about a horse that gets passed from owner to owner across a ravaged Europe. The filmmaking is old-fashioned — and more family-friendly than hard-hitting — but the cast includes a who's who of top contemporary British actors, including Peter Mullan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Marsan and Toby Kebbell, and the fable-like nature of the equine hero's odyssey gradually becomes a tear-jerker of the first order. "War Horse" deserves to become a belated hit on DVD and Blu-ray (where viewers can also find a healthy assortment of well-made behind-the-scenes featurettes). Available on VOD April 3.

We Bought a Zoo

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Matt Damon plays Benjamin Mee in Cameron Crowe's adaptation of Mee's memoir "We Bought a Zoo," a charming story about a family that overcomes grief by throwing itself into the zoo business. This is Crowe's first narrative feature film since 2005's problematic "Elizabethtown," and while the "Crowe touch" that made "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous" such classics hasn't fully returned, "We Bought a Zoo" is good-hearted and appealing, thanks largely to the yeoman Damon. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes, deleted scenes and a Crowe commentary track. Available on VOD April 3.


Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey

New Video, $29.95

Chasing Madoff

MPI, $24.98; Blu-ray, $29.98


Paramount, Blu-ray, $26.98

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