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Summer schooling

No need to sweat, there are plenty of new DVD releases that will keep you cool during the season’s hottest days.


Sure, summer's all about flip-flops and festival-going, and wearing sunglasses that potentially make you look like a douche-bag. But it's also a season jam-packed with downtime---and thus, potential movie-watching time. There's an undeniable pleasure in skipping the beach every once and a while, and chilling out with some quality entertainment and Häagen-Dazs. (Deny it! I dare you!)

And if summer blockbusters and crowds tend to bum you out: worry not, my like-minded friend. We can easily take advantage of this unjustly underrated movie-watching season from the comfort of our couches. There's a whole pile of nifty ways to have summer fun with the new releases hitting DVD emporiums in the next few months.

Rock out with your doc out:

Yes, it's lame that Errol Morris's newest documentary, Standard Operating Procedure, hasn't hit Halifax (here's hoping it still does). But don't write off the summer yet, documentary buffs. Instead, pick up Chinese doc Please Vote for Me (August 19), which depicts the exercise of democracy in a country that's notoriously undemocratic. Three third-graders cry, stress out, schmooze and strategize as they compete for the coveted position of class monitor. The summer also has a ton of other non-fiction treats in store: Camp Out (August 5) follows teenagers at a retreat for gay Christian youth; acclaimed doc The Rape of Europa (August 26) tells the story of the Nazis' pillaging of Europe's reserves of art; and A Walk into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory (July 1) probes the mysterious 1966 disappearance of filmmaker Williams, a frequenter of Andy Warhol's notorious Factory (and reportedly also Warhol's lover). Scandalous!

Visit with the gang from Acme Loo:

Steven Spielberg gets all kinds of credit for all kinds of things, but it's rare to hear him get praise for one of his neatest accomplishments---executive-producing fondly remembered '90s cartoons like Looney Tunes spin-off Tiny Toon Adventures and superhero comedy Freakazoid. Go ahead and send some his way by picking up Freakazoid: The Complete First Seasonand Tiny Toon Adventures: Season 1, Vol. 1 when they hit stores July 29. (Then, sit back and laugh knowingly at all those pop-culture references and showbiz in-jokes that you didn't get when you were six.) Other noteworthy TV shows hitting DVD in time for a summer marathon: the first season of Golden Globe-winning 1960s advertising drama Mad Men (July 1); season three of pot-in-suburbia comedy Weeds (in stores since Tuesday); and the final season of my latest addiction, The Wire (August 12).

Show your Canadian pride:

For years, Claude Jutra's Mon Oncle Antoine, arguably one of the all-time best Canadian-made movies, has been treated rather shabbily---DVD copies of the film have shoddy-looking covers and are hard to get your hands on, and the film's available only on VHS in many otherwise-respectable libraries. Luckily, the benevolent folks at Criterion have taken steps to rectify this travesty; they're re-releasing the film in a two-disc set this July 8, which means Jutra's mature examination of small-town dynamics, Quebec's class divide and regret is finally getting the sassy restoration it deserves. French coming-of-age flicks not your cup of tea? Show your Canadian pride in other ways on July 8: Bruce McDonald's The Tracey Fragments and Dance Me Outside both hit DVD then, too.

The aforementioned releases are just a few of the cooler-sounding offerings in a summer full of them. Direct-to-DVD movie Batman: Gotham Knight (July 8), which is set between Christopher's Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and comprised of six standalone chapters, each written by a different comic-writing big name and helmed by a Japanese anime director, sounds pretty rocking, too. Other promising releases: Daily Show correspondent and super-cute Brit John Oliver's stand-up special John Oliver: Terrifying Times (August 19); Romanian abortion drama (and 2007 Cannes Palme d'Or winner) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (June 17), Robot Chicken Star Wars (July 22)---it's Star Wars, toy-style!---and The Onion Movie (released by the fine folks at satire factory The Onionlast Tuesday).

Oh, and some super-sweet news for the one guy besides me who cares: The first season of Caroline and the City totally comes out August 12. Buy me five!

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