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Top Picks: The man behind Elmo, 'I'm Dickens...He's Fenster,' and more

Husband and wife duo Amadou & Mariam release a new album, a film quiz mixes movies with numbers, the video game 'Journey' explores human interaction, and more top picks.

April 6, 2012

Journey, the video game

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The man behind the furry face

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Director Constance Marks's documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, about Kevin Clash who brings the beloved red "Sesame Street" character to life, is a sprightly look at one of the best puppet coordinators around. Clash is genial and unassuming, and even sad material in this movie, such as when Clash, as his felt counterpart, serenades a young girl in a hospital, has a restorative lilt. Out on DVD April 3.

A fresh take on Beethoven

The Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Christian Thielemann devoted an entire concert series to Beethoven's nine symphonies between 2008 and 2010. Now Sony has released the cycle in a six-disc box set with extras, including a DVD on the making of the recordings.

Two strangers meet online...

Journey is the video game equivalent of an art-house film. This charming little game packs more meaning and reflection into its 90 minutes than most video games manage across 6- to 20-hour stories. Players wake in the ruins of a lost civilization. There's only one ostensible goal: a cleft mountain looming on the horizon. Along the way, Journey leads players through themes of exploration, spirituality, and rebirth. Voyagers do not travel alone. The online game pairs up players anonymously, letting them decide whether to team up or ignore each other. Available through PlayStation 3's online store.

The numbers in film

The film quiz gets a fresh twist in this new video by animator Evan Seitz, who took 13 movies that had a numeral in their title and assembled sound clips and images for each, going in order from 1 to 13. That's your only clue. Get ready to replay the video because it moves fast. Google 123films to find it.

TV comedy gets a second wind

For those interested in the formative days of the TV sitcom, the 1962 series I'm Dickens ... He's Fenster, Vol. 1, starring John Astin and Marty Ingels, was a one-season hit and is now on DVD for the first time. The 16 episodes give a good look at the bare-bones comic writing that turned the show into a critical, though not ratings, success.

Joy-filled fusion

Though Malian husband and wife duo Amadou & Mariam are blind, their new album Folila feels like music rendered in vivid Technicolor. On "Dougou Badia," pop star Santigold oscillates her voice around Mariam's wails for an exuberant rave-up. New York-based TV on the Radio bring welcome swagger to the rootsy "Wily Kataso." And Niger's Abdallah Oumbadougou trades guitar lines with Amadou on the African blues-pop of "Bagnale." From start to finish, "Folila" can barely contain the joy.

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