As the latest wave of Obamamania sweeps the country, look forward to HBO’s Recount…or peek into the past with HBO’s John Adams. Also clear your calendar for high-def Top Gun action and get over that crippling shyness with an innovative new DVD from Japan. Whatever you do, make sure you check out this week’s new releases!

Recount, recount!

What went wrong in the 2000 Presidential election? Perhaps everything — or perhaps nothing, depending on your politics. Either way, HBO’s gripping fictional retelling of the Gore vs. Bush vote counting fiasco is coming to DVD August 19, which gives all of you non-subscribers the chance to see Kevin Spacey, Laura Dern, and Tom Wilkinson portray some of the most notorious political movers and shakers in recent history.

Blu-Ray Top Gun to finally satisfy HD fans

If you were disappointed by the extras-free HD-DVD version of Top Gun, we’ve got great news for you. The Blu-Ray release of Tom Cruise‘s career-defining flick is not only headed your way, it’s also loaded with bonus materials — feature and storyboard commentaries by Tony Scott and more, a six-part making-of documentary, and a “Vintage Gallery” of ’80s TV spots, featurettes, Cruise interviews, and, yes, music videos by the likes of Kenny Loggins, Berlin, and Loverboy. Which means you should grab your wingman, Maverick, and take the highway to the danger zone. Because you have the need. The need for speed.

Beware the Ninja Cheerleaders!

Breaking acquisition news! DMX and Kris Kristofferson. George Takei and The Real World‘s Trishelle. Willie Nelson and a young, beautiful assassin. You couldn’t make up better movie concepts than these. Peace Arch Entertainment thought so, too — they’ll be bringing Lord of the Street, Ninja Cheerleaders, and Fighting With Anger, respectively, to your Netflix account soon. Just remember: the more you rent movies like this, the more they will make. Act accordingly.

Pour one out for Manny the labrador…

In sadder news, one of two pirate-sniffing dogs donated to the Malaysian government was found dead last week. Manny, a one-year-old golden Labrador, passed away mysteriously; despite recorded doggie bounties put out on previous Malaysian pirate smashers Lucky and Flo, officials do not suspect foul play. Manny and his doggie partner, Paddy, had been donated by the MPAA to form the world’s first-ever DVD-sniffing canine unit.

Get out there and meet new people…kinda

And finally in this week’s worth of DVD news, those crafty Japanese have created a solution for you bashful home theater owners. Cure your shyness with the interactive “Miterudake” disc, in which 50 different women stare directly at you — in the hopes of helping the socially anxious become more comfortable around the opposite sex. Get it for $25 here. Have a sample staring contest below.

Click for this week’s new releases!


Tomatometer: 16%

Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) takes one of the year’s most interesting science fiction concepts — space-jumping teenagers hopping all over the world — and turned an incoherent mess into theaters last February. Now you can see that mess for yourself on DVD!

Bonus Features:

Considerable behind-the-scenes features and a commentary track with Liman, producer Lucas Foster, and co-writer Simon Kinsberg (X-Men: The Last Stand) might make up for the movie itself. A sequel was planned — that is, until Jumper failed to make back its own budget — so if you’d like to see Hayden Christensen frolic across the space continuum again, help Liman out and buy the DVD.

The Bucket List

Tomatometer: 41%

Two Oscar-winning septuagenarians hit the road for one last comic hurrah before they retire in Rob Reiner’s sentimental schmaltzfest. Before you skip to the next release, consider the fact that The Bucket List made more money in theaters than any other title this week. “Life is short — live a little!” Morgan and Jack seem to tell us. But what does the bonus menu have in store…?

Bonus Features:

A music video for John Mayer’s “Say,” and precious little else? How did they know that was the one thing we had left to do on our bucket list??

The Other Boleyn Girl

Tomatometer: 41%

Some people like their world history with a healthy dose of soap. (We also like good movies, but that’s just us.) As Anne and Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson give a valiant heave of the bosom, but this version of King Henry VIII’s love triangle with two sisters is bloodless melodrama.

Bonus Features:

As with Phillippa Gregory’s source novel, The Other Boleyn Girl is more intriguing for the real-life history of Tudor England than for its fictionalized drama. History buffs will get a kick out of features about the real life royals and Gregory’s wildly popular book, but everyone else…is probably already falling asleep.

Funny Games

Tomatometer: 49%

The first time Michael Haneke made Funny Games in Austria, critics were terrified and impressed. This time around, his tale of home invasion — shot nearly scene-by-scene in English and starring Naomi Watts and Tim Roth — proved too sadistic for the uninitiated. Is America ready for cerebral horror?

Bonus Features:

Perhaps Haneke wants the film to speak for itself. You’ll have to work through the exercise in complicit viewer sadism yourself, since there are zero features to accompany this disc.

John Adams

Tomatometer: N/A

Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney stand out in this handsome HBO miniseries about U.S. President and founding father John Adams in the early days of American independence.

Bonus Features:

The celebrated series comes in a three-disc release, just in time for Father’s Day. An hour of extras includes documentaries and pop-up trivia that deliver even more history. Shop at and pick up nifty “Join or Die” swag.

Witless Protection

Tomatometer: 00%

No. Just — no.

Bonus Features:

Zero percent, folks. Go back and get John Adams, for goodness sake.

Cult DVD Pick of the Week – Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan

Tomatometer: N/A

Indulge in the recent wave of Shaw Brothers re-releases and give this lush, action-packed female revenge pic a go. The story of a courtesan who takes her vengeance with a heart-ripping technique known as “ghost hands” (long before the “Kali Ma” cult in Temple of Doom) combines the best elements of 1970s Shaw Bros.: dazzling sets, wuxia, kung fu, lady fighters, eroticism and a touch of the perverse.

‘Til next week, happy viewing!

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