The year Bush beat Gore, so to speak, many of us were saying that we’d vote for Gore but we’d prefer to hang with G.W. at a dinner party. So here’s the Oliver Stone biopic “W.,” out now on DVD and Blu-ray, claiming the good-old-boy image was an affectation honed by the ex-prez to make him seem more user-friendly. Who knew?
That and some other tidbits, along with a stirring performance by Josh Brolin in the title role, a complementary supporting go-round by James Cromwell as Bush Sr. and Richard Dreyfuss’ cloning of Dick Cheney form the essence of “W.,” a throwaway when Brolin’s not on the screen.
Stone spends most of the first half on a directionless Bush Jr. chugging bottles of booze; there are no Stone-like creative flourishes, just point-and-shoot moviemaking from an unimpressive screenplay. I expected better.
Extras: On DVD: Piece on the Bush presidency and legacy; commentary; research and annotation guide. On Blu-ray: that plus making-of short, deleted scenes.
Love and healing by the sea
Richard Gere and Diane Lane, so good together in “Unfaithful,” radiate the chemistry born from genuine liking in “Nights in Rodanthe,” a slice of melodrama that holds up well enough until a predictably gooey ending redolent of Nicholas Sparks.
Adapted from Sparks’ novel, the old-fashioned love story matches a mother (Lane) struggling with her unfaithful husband’s desire to come home and a cooly efficient surgeon’s (Gere) turmoil over fallout from a failed operation.
The two get tossed together in a seaside inn where he’s the only tenant, she’s subbing as innkeeper and cook, and a fierce storm’s brewing offshore. The romantic comfort food helps mask the fact that the film’s a bucket of cliches — with a good soundtrack. Also on Blu-ray.
Extras: Alternate scenes; cast and crew interviews; short on the theme song by Emmylou Harris.
Bruce! Bruce! Bruce!
“My Name Is Bruce” is a shaggy dog story ala “Bubba Ho-Tep,” a delightful bit of silliness about an elderly Elvis, a black JFK and a killer mummy causing havoc in a Texas nursing home. Both star Bruce Campbell, the B-movie icon launched by the “Evil Dead” series.
Campbell also wrote and directed “My Name Is Bruce,” a spoof of the Grade-B horror genre and of his own celebrity.
Terrorized by a tall demon — with glowing eyes and a penchant for beheading — sprung from the local cemetery, residents of a tiny mining town believe low-budget movie actor Bruce Campbell is exactly like the heroic character he portrays and the only one who can save them. So they kidnap the drunken, self-inflated actor, who thinks he’s taking part in a movie, and they all set off to destroy the evil spirit.
Extras: A fun bunch, even more tongue-in-cheek than the movie: the making-of short, “Heart of Dorkness,” a commentary, snippets of Campbell riffing off-set, more. Also: hidden backstage snippets (Easter eggs) accessed by clicking the “left” direction arrow on one title on each menu.
Also on DVD
“Blindness”: After an eerie epidemic leaves most of a city’s residents blind, they are rounded up and quarantined, and don’t like it; with Julianne Moore.
“Chocolate”: Pretty martial-arts whiz batters thugs who owe her sick mom money; also in Blu-ray.
“Clint Eastwood: American Icon Collection”: Includes the frightening “Play Misty for Me,” about a DJ’s psycho fan; the bizarre “The Beguiled,” with students in an all-girl academy smitten with a wounded Civil War soldier; the exciting “The Eiger Sanction,” where you have guess which mountain climber’s the assassin; and “Coogan’s Bluff,” with a laconic Arizona lawman working with the N.Y.P.D. to recapture a killer.
“Daniel’s Daughter”: Big-city magazine editor puts wedding plans on hold to return to her tiny hometown to spread her father’s ashes; romantic drama.
“Dorothy Mills”: Psychiatrist visits possessed Dublin teen accused of attempted murder.
“The Enforcer”: Chinese agent (Jet Li) goes undercover in Hong Kong to catch a criminal.
“Iowa”: Couple inherit money, get involved in meth production, become addicts; with Matt Farnsworth, Rosanna Arquette.
“Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum”: Songs and ballet.
“The Lodger”: Seasoned detective hunts Jack the Ripper-like serial killer in L.A.
“Miracle at St. Anna”: Spike Lee World War II film about four African-American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines; with Derek Luke; also on Blu-ray.
“NASCAR: The Ride of Their Lives”: Covers the sport’s first 60 years, stars, key races; Kevin Coster narrates.
“Obama: All Access – Barack Obama’s Road to the White House”: Gleaned from six “60 Minutes” segments, unaired moments, key public addresses including entire Inaugural Address.
“The Romance of Astrea and Celadon”: In an enchanted forest, a shepherd and a shepherdess are kept apart by their feuding families; by Eric Rohmer; in French.
“The Skulls Trilogy”: Secret college-society members commit murder three times.
“Soul Men”: Adversarial members (Samuel L. Jackson, Bernie Mac) of a legendary soul band travel together to a reunion tribute show; also on Blu-ray.
“The Pink Panther Collector’s Edition” on Blu-ray: The Peter Sellers original.
“Treasure Blind”: A cabbie’s bleak life turns a corner when he’s forced to care for his effusive blind grandson.
“Street Fighter – Extreme Edition”: Jean-Claude Van Damme leads elite street fighters against evil general; digitally remastered; also on Blu-ray.
TV on DVD
“Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Mystery of the Easter Chipmunk”
“The Backyardigans: Robin Hood the Clean”
“Dennis Potter: 3 to Remember” (1980 teleplays, with Lionel Jeffries, Tom Conti, Donald Pleasance)
“Friday the 13th the Series: Season Two” (20something cousins and antiques expert try to retrieve cursed items; spooky stuff
“HIT Favorites: Here Comes Spring” (Barney, Thomas et al)
“Melrose Place: The First Season, Vol. One”
“Shaun the Sheep: Back in the Ba-a-ath”
“She Stoops to Conquer” (2008 version of Oliver Goldsmith’s 17th-century manor-house farce)
“Simon & Simon: Season Two”
“Tales From the Darkside: The First Season”
“Thomas & Friends: Railway Friends”
“Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season Two”
“What Makes Sammy Run?” (digitally restored 1959 Budd Schulberg classic with Larry Blyden as a man who stops at nothing for success in Hollywood)
“Whale Wars” (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vs. whalers)
“Wild at Heart, Series 1” (British drama with widowed vet and family healing in the African wilderness)
Reach Barry Caine at firstname.lastname@example.org.