Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brain candy

Some of the diversions that have recently made my days:

Arcade Fire's The Suburbs

So much has been written about this album that adding my own two cents feels extraneous. Yet since its release, it's all I've listened to, all I've wanted to hear. While I marvel at the construction and layering of the songs, it's the content that seals the deal for me. Whether I approach it from an academic perspective (valiant fighter of sprawl and protector of community identity that I like to think I am) or from a personal one (child of the suburbs who grew up to get hives from strip malls and low-density subdivisions), this is a complete and utter winner for me, an instant classic. These are songs I'll be listening to for years to come. (And you've seen the brilliant interactive video for 'The Wilderness Downtown' by now, yes?)

The Town

'The Town' was a much-welcomed bridge into Serious Movie Season for me, living somewhere in between plodding drama and action flick. As a vehicle of things to come, I'm happy to have this movie chauffeur me into a more highbrow cinematic season. I'm also happy that it promises much more from Ben Affleck, whose talent as a director and a writer is no longer something to wonder about, but something to get excited about. And c'mon, this is Boston. One of my places. It's also a fantastic cast doing good things. And it's a climactic scene in that "cathedral of Boston" I know and love, Fenway Park. It's a damn good flick that came to us at just the right time.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Sometimes I feel like books wait for you until just the right moment. This one had been on my to-read list for a year before I found it in a $5 clearance bin, at which point I forgot about it for two more years. But last week, there it was in wait, with the kind of protagonist I adore (wunderkind with a head for academia and a heart full of growing pains), intellectual discourse that's only funny if you get it (and then it's hilarious), a cast of well-developed characters, a crash-course through revolutionary action and a study in dissent, and a big, fat, stay-up-all-night mystery. Go read it.

City Island

 Kate told me ages ago I'd enjoy this flick, and sure enough, the girl knows my taste. Add this movie to your Netflix queue now. Just do it. It's hilarious and awkward and poignant and all those things that can happen when the loudest scenes are family fights at the dinner table. Find out what "botero" is. See Andy Garcia in his first role I've EVER enjoyed. Marvel at the final scene on the street, which is an absolutely brilliant five minutes of comedy.

What's on your to-hear, to-read, to-see list these days?


  1. Here in Milwaukee, I am gearing up for the Milwaukee Film Festival, which starts on Thursday 9/23 and runs for 11 days. I narrowed down my must-see list to 20 films, so I don't think there will be much room for books or music -- unless you count the live Alloy Orchestra accompaniment to Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" (with 25 minutes of newly discovered footage!). Oh yes!!

    (Ahem. Sorry. Geek moment over.)

  2. The Town is high on my list of movies to see. Hope we can go soon.

  3. Okay, so I started Calamity Physics a few years ago, put it down and haven't picked it back up. I will push laziness aside and stop reading young adult fiction (damn you Hunger Games) in favor of actually using my brain.

  4. After seeing Inception opening weekend, we vowed to hold off on The Town until the crowds die down a bit - you should have seen The Angelika's parking lot on Friday night! But I can't wait!

    And I hope T is serious about Easy A... Emma Stone is so charming and smart! Definitely worth my $7 ticket price!

  5. Maggie, I am re-reading STICP right now. One thing I love about this book is the incessant referencing of other texts. Additionally, all of the chapter titles are works of literature that if boiled down to their central themes, mirror what is going on for Blue. LOVE this book.

  6. I'm trying to finish reading all of the Sookie Stackhouse novels and see how closely they compare to True Blood! Its a bit different, but I love both the books and the show!

  7. The Town and Easy A both look good. I'm really looking forward to the Black Swan which comes out in December. Ballet + Natalie Portman + fabulously twisted and talented director = sign me up.

  8. Just got Prodigal Summer and can't wait to dig in! Also looking forward to The Town.

  9. @MANvGEORGE: I love a good film festival!

    @The F-Word: Obvs.

    @Linda: Hope you like it!

    @Samma: I've had stops and starts with several books that turned out to be favorites once it was the right time for me to sink in. I hope you love it. (enter young adult fiction snicker)

    @Kate: We heart Emma Stone in our house.

    @MB: This book is perfect for a reread! I'd love to talk it out with you. :-)

    @Jen: I only read the first, but I have friend who love comparing each season to the corresponding book.

    @Wasp: YES on The Black Swan! I read a brilliant review of it - count me in.

    @Emily: Did you know that Prodigal Summer is one of my all-time favorite books? I reread it every spring/summer!

  10. Oh dear. I did not want to see The Town, then I realized Jon Hamm is in it, and now I have tickets and the rest is all a blur.

    But, seriously, nun masks and fire arms? Together? I hope the Don Draper love magically Eternal Sunshines that image out of my head.


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