short circuits

New and noteworthy experiences among DVDs, video games, gadgets and the Web.


Something to sing about

You don't have to be a fan of Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard and sundry other Texans and twangers to love "Crazy Heart." But it sure can't hurt. All those musicians are invoked by Jeff Bridges in the lovely, bittersweet romantic drama, in which he channels country music's most storied outlaws, rule-benders and heartbreakers. Bridges plays Bad Blake, a grizzled singer/songwriter performing on the Southwestern bowling alley circuit. Watching Bad on his way down makes for a pitiful sight. But thanks to a compassionate, self-aware performance by Bridges and the restrained filmmaking of first-time writer/director Scott Cooper, the film never wallows in self-pity or romanticized excess. The DVD and Blu-ray (Fox, $30-$40) include deleted scenes and music featurettes.


Also out Tuesday: "Battleship Potemkin" (Blu-ray), "Deadly Impact," "The Drawn Together Movie: The Movie!" "Falcon Crest" (Season 1), "The Lovely Bones," "Merlin" (Season 1), "Minority Report" (Blu-ray), "Peacock," "Perry Mason" (Season 5, Vol. 1), "Summer Hours," "Vivre Sa Vie," "The Young Victoria." Out Thursday: "Avatar."


Wield a sword on Wii

Four years ago when the Wii was released, "Red Steel" was supposed to usher in a whole new wave of interactive gaming, but it never lived up to the hype. Undaunted, Ubisoft went back and worked out some of the kinks. "Red Steel 2" ($50 for Wii; rated Teen) is far superior to the original. The game has jettisoned the failed attempt to exactly mimic your movements when in swordplay. Instead, you make specific movements that make your character do certain actions. This gives the game more structure without entirely killing the fluidity you'd want when wielding a samurai sword. The game is one of the most visually striking on the Wii, but the audio and story are not on par, which makes the package feel incomplete.



Greetings from Google

Old-school letter writing meets new-world tech trends with MapEnvelope (www. Give your friends a travel treat by sending a handwritten note, at the same time telling them exactly where you were with an envelope made from a Google Map. Just type in your address location and hit "print." Out pops a small envelope with a Google map and message inside. Create your envelopes from interesting locales -- perhaps next to a body of water -- or use a website such as Google Sightseeing ( to help find fun destinations from around the world that are worthy of printing. Don't forget your scissors and tape to construct the envelope. It would be nice if the website had a postage calculator so users would know how much it costs to mail the note.