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Woody Allen's latest film is a Can't Miss

Woody Allen's latest, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona," has a stellar cast. Plus: Plenty of Olympics to watch;  fifth season of "The Wire" hits DVD.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Movies

Image: Vicky Cristina Barcelona
In this image released by The Weinstein Co., Rebecca Hall, left, and Scarlett Johansson star in Woody Allen's \"Vicky Cristina Barcelona.\" (AP Photo/The Weinstein Co., Victor Bello) ** NO SALES **Victor Bello / The Weinstein Co.

Nobody does sex and love better than Woody Allen. I’m not talking about his personal life, because quite frankly it’s none of my business, and besides, he’s 72 and it’s not really something I want to think about. His films, however, are a different story. “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” features Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, a Spanish backdrop, lots of jokes and a light atmosphere of sexy fun. If you’re looking for a more detailed story synopsis, I’m afraid there isn’t one. But that’s the beauty of it. Woody doesn’t use too many plot twists, just lots of body twists. (The Weinstein Company, opens Friday)

Television

Image: Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps of the USA takes part in a training session at the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Bird's Nest, in preparation for the upcoming Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing on August 6, 2008. The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will open on August 2008. AFP PHOTO / DDP / MICHAEL KAPPELER (Photo credit should read MICHAEL KAPPELER/AFP/Getty Images)Michael Kappeler / AFP

The Chinese government may be oppressive, but it won’t keep me from watching my Olympics. I’m like the iconic guy standing defiantly in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square, only in my case it’s more like reclining slovenly in front of the flat screen in my living room. For the next two weeks or so, the pageantry and splendor of the Games will be splashed across millions of televisions in the U.S. and around the world. Interspersed will be stories about security, features about smog, more stories about security, and some reports about censorship. But the Games themselves will not be ruined by humorless, power-hungry drones. After all, we’ve survived the world’s media before, and we can do it again. (NBC and affiliates, check local listings)

Music

Image: Mandi Perkins, \"Alice In No Man's Land\"
RCA Victor

Major labels aren’t signing artists nearly as often as they used to. The business model has changed radically, and companies are a lot more selective when it comes to backing careers. But Sony recently welcomed power pop songbird Mandi Perkins into its family, and judging by her debut CD, “Alice In No Man’s Land,” it was a savvy move indeed. Perkins might remind some of an Alanis Morissette-Avril Lavigne hybrid, yet her distinctive songwriting talents and impressive range of stylistic touches set her apart. Some of the most notable tracks include the radio friendly “Why Pretend” and “So I Wait” as well as the poignant title anthem. For a major label, this is a major move indeed. (Sony)

DVD

Image: \"The Wire: The Complete Fifth Season\"
HBO

I’ve been beating the drums for “The Wire” ever since it first aired, and now it’s gone. It lasted five glorious seasons, although you’d probably be hard-pressed to find five people among your circle of friends who are aficionados of the gritty Baltimore crime series. This is my last-gasp attempt to recruit new devotees, because the complete fifth (and final) season DVD set of “The Wire” hits stores this week. It includes audio commentaries and a featurette, but mostly it contains some of the finest writing, acting and directing to ever grace a small screen. Yes, I gush, but when you see some of the rubbish that passes for good television these days and then you get a load of “The Wire,” you’ll understand why. (HBO Video)

Books

Image: Sally Jenkins, \"The Real All Americans\"
Broadway

When most sports fans think of Native Americans in football, the reaction usually boils down to one name: Jim Thorpe. But best-selling author Sally Jenkins offers up a different name entirely: Carlisle, as in the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. That institution put together a football program made up of Native Americans, one which, in a relatively short time, was beating Ivy League schools on the gridiron. Jenkins expertly chronicles the Carlisle football phenomenon in “The Real All Americans,” in paperback this week. The Native American culture is difficult to detect in today’s streamlined and cash-powered NFL, but “The Real All Americans” will remind folks that it was present at the very beginning, and its impact still resonates today. (Broadway)