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‘Horton Hears a Who’ is a Can’t Miss film

This week, Dr. Seuss's  “Horton Hears a Who” heads into theaters to heal what ails you. Other picks of the week include “John Adams” on TV and “No Country for Old Men” on DVD.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Movies

Jim Carrey voices the role of the immortal Horton, the elephant who knows that a person's a person, no matter how small. Here, Horton protects the tiny creatures he overhears in a speck of dust.

I knew Dr. Seuss wasn’t really a doctor, but I thought perhaps he had obtained a Ph.D. in something like rhyming. Turns out he went to Oxford but didn’t quite get all his assignments done. Too bad. Instead, he turned his energies toward penning children’s books, and that worked out fairly well. Over the years cartoon adaptations have been done of his works, but the live-action version of “The Cat in the Hat” was said to cause his wife to create something called “Hollywood Hears a &%$!@#!!” So it’s back to animation, thankfully, as “Horton Hears a Who” rolls out in theaters this week. Voices include Jim Carrey, Steve Carell and Seth Rogen. This kind of film is good for what ails you, even if he wasn’t a real doc. (20th Century Fox, opens Friday)

Television

John Adams: Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney. Photo: Kent EanesHBO

Are you tired of Obama versus Hillary? Are you bored with McCain? Do politics in general just drive you batty? Then check out “John Adams.” He was the first vice president of the United States (serving from 1789 to 1797) and the second president (from 1797 to 1801). Back then, they didn’t have hordes of talking heads on cable, or else he might never have gotten past the first televised debate. Author and historian David McCullough wrote the definitive biography, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. And now HBO is giving it the miniseries treatment in the seven-part “John Adams.” Paul Giamatti puts down his “Sideways” wine bottle and picks up a three-cornered hat to play the title role, and Laura Linney co-stars as his beloved wife, Abigail. After this airs, he may just get a lot of write-in votes in November. (HBO, Sunday, 8 p.m.)

Music

Jackson Browne has been responsible for some of the most poignant songwriting of the 1970s, ‘80s and beyond. Hand the man an acoustic guitar, let him ponder life and love for a moment, and he’ll make musical magic. He creates the same kind of introspective exposing of the heart when he performs live as well. In 2005 he earned a Grammy nomination for an album of unplugged gems culled from his many tours, and now he’s back with “Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2.” Some of the better cuts on this disc include “Somebody’s Baby,” “In The Shape of a Heart” and “My Stunning Mystery Companion.” Browne also likes to chat with members of the audience. It’s a lot harder to do that in an electric concert rather than an acoustic show because of the amplifier feedback and all. (Inside Recordings)

DVD

One of the scariest guys in recent movie history is Anton Chigurh, played chillingly by Javier Bardem in the Best Picture-winning “No Country for Old Men.” You might even say he nailed it. Bardem’s character was a lot like Hannibal Lecter, only without the dubious diet. Bardem won an Oscar for his portrayal, but Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones were praiseworthy as well. It seems like the Academy Awards just ended, and now “No Country for Old Men” is available on DVD with a decent number of extras for a non-collector’s edition that include a feature on the Coen brothers, a fine making-of mini-documentary and a sheriff’s diary. That last one is a relief. If it had been a killer’s diary, we may have gotten even more insight into Chigurh than we did in the film. And that would have resulted in even more sleepless nights. (Miramax Home Entertainment)

Books

Richard Price understands the sounds and feel of the New York streets better than any mayor, any sanitation worker, any cop. In his new novel, “Lush Life,” he tells the story of an apparent random slaying of a young man who had been barhopping all night. When the police investigate, they start to believe that a friend who was with him that night, 35-year-old writer-actor and bar manager Eric Cash, is highly suspicious. Price sketches a harrowing and fascinating look at the individuals involved, from the alleged assailants to the father of the murder victim, all the while making sure that one of the central characters is the location itself. Price has an uncanny ear for the voices of the various urban dwellers, and that understanding is what makes all his work priceless. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)