The gaming world finally gets a long-awaited release with this week’s much-anticipated arrival of StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, but the rest of the entertainment world isn’t backing off. If epic, space-spanning PC games aren’t your thing, there’s sure to be something to catch your fancy.
Absurdistan author Gary Shteyngart writes a hero who book lovers can call their own in his Super Sad True Love Story, while director Aaron Schneider and star Robert Duvall have crafted a fascinating, flawed protagonist for the movie Get Low. If you’re feeling a bit schizophrenic, there’s always the genre-jumping sounds of Jesca Hoop, whose new album bleeds into earthy folk, perfectly orchestrated indie pop, and electronica-tinged weirdness.
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Fiction: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
The brain behind Absurdistan and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook tackles the normally grim subject of America’s possible (fictional) demise with surprising humor in this new novel. In the near-future of Super Sad True Love Story, Gary Shteyngart’s delightfully nerdy hero is the last man alive who actually treasures the written word. However, the object of Lenny Abramov’s affection — Eunice Park — majored in Images and minored in Assertiveness, which she demonstrates at Lenny’s expense.
But Super Sad True Love Story isn’t just an unlikely romance; the world is ending, and it may fall to our book-reading hero to save the day. Debt crushes the country, riots rock Central Park, and tanks have parked on city streets, but Lenny’s libravore leanings may be the world’s unlikeliest salvation.
Nonfiction: The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken
The year 1960 was very different for kitchens, but this 50th anniversary of Peg Bracken’s reluctant cook classic arrives for could-be cooks who are just as harried as their mid-century predecessors. The I Hate to Cook Book acknowledges the shortages in time for modern meal makers, and Bracken’s daughter Jo writes a foreword that establishes the book’s lasting use just as successfully as the simultaneously contemporary and vintage cover art.
With chapter titles like “Company’s Coming or Your Back’s to the Wall ” and “Last Minute Suppers or This is the Story of Your Life,” this book boasts as much humor as it does recipes. And for those who have ever seen a cake fall, laughing is as necessary a kitchen skill as dicing and braising.
Movies in Theaters: Get Low
First-time director Aaron Schneider channels William Faulkner for this darkly comic, Southern tale of death and grieving. Get Low stars the always wonderful Robert Duvall as Felix Bush, an aging hellraiser well aware of his frightening reputation and the stories that circle his isolated homestead. As Felix grows closer to death, he makes an unlikely decision: he wants to host his own funeral and turn it into a party when people will share stories about him.
A perfectly smarmy Bill Murray charms as a greedy funeral home director, while Sissy Spacek plays Felix’s former love who reappears in the small town where he lives (for now). The twist in this Depression-era dramedy is that Felix has a trick to get people to come to the funeral of a man they’ve never liked, but Get Low really succeeds on the strengths of its excellent cast.
Music: Hunting My Dress by Jesca Hoop
On her second album, the genre-bending Jesca Hoop bounces between the sounds of Bat for Lashes, Allison Krauss, and the wonderful weirdness of Tom Waits (Hoop served as his family’s nanny before getting her break). Hunting My Dress is like a musical road trip, full of world-crossing influences of folk, indie pop, Celtic, and electronica.
Equally likely to appeal to fans of Tori Amos, Joni Miitchell, and Joanna Newsom, Hoop is a perfect choice for the newly resurrected Lilith Fair roster of artists. Her voice may have its quiet and sweetly echoing moments, but there’s always a strength that’s hard to miss, particularly in tracks such as “Feast of the Heart” and “Bed Across the Sea.”
New on DVD: The Art of the Steal
Though this rightfully acclaimed indie documentary may not have all the action of studio heist film, The Art of the Steal is an engaging, exciting story that draws audiences into its tale of art and greed. What makes the theft in this film from Don Argott so fascinating is that is doesn’t happen a la The Thomas Crown Affair; instead the thieves do their dastardly deeds in full daylight and in sight of the law.
Just outside Philadelphia, Dr. Albert Barnes amassed over $25 billion worth of art by some of the world’s most renowned artists, but his death meant that his desire to keep his paintings in his own educational institution — versus in a money-making museum — might be overridden by those who want to see the collection moved into a separate, more tourist-friendly spot. Your jaw will drop at the lengths people will go to turn creativity into cash.
Video Games: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty
Gamers will be torn from their Wii and Xbox controllers this week, but it won’t be to actually go outside. Instead, they’ll move from the console to the keyboard as Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty makes its long-awaited debut on PCs and Macs. after being announced three years ago. The game transports players back to the battles between the Terran, Zorg, and Protoss species, but this sequel to StarCraft: Brood War allows gamers to take on their enemies in single- or multi-player mode on battle.net.
In addition to a variety of epic battles, the game includes map-making and scripting features that allow gamers to create the customizable experience they’ve come to expect from the top titles. Plus, if all the well-orchestrated space action isn’t enough to capture the attention of sci-fi fans (unlikely), hot Battlestar Galactica actress Tricia Helfer voices the character Sarah Kerrigan.
In addition to the newest releases, we also have the previous weeks’ movies, books, and more in our Recently Released section.