THE WEIGHT OF THE NATION
John Hoffman & Judith Salerno
This book of the HBO series poses the questions as to why two thirds of us fail to measure up when it comes to a heathy weight and BMI. In conjunction with the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, it illustrates how we got to this unhealthy place, and how we can overcome the historic influences and forces that drive us to eat too much, move too little, and store mounds of fat. Losing weight takes a lot of mental application and hard work and is a lifestyle and lifetime commitment but as thousands have proved to date, TWOTN gives us the perfect target points.
In her latest bestseller, Amy Sohn, the writer who identifies the urban condition so well, delivers a candid and unsentimental look into the state of matrimony. In Motherland she introduces us to five mothers and fathers – all living in appealing locations, Cape Cod, Park Slope and Greenwich Village – who find themselves adrift and lost in their lives, and questioning their beliefs about the social values, family and themselves. Equal parts moving and entertaining, she gives us her fresh insightful take on relationships, modern marriage, and present-day parenting.
When your internet signal – email, browser search request, blog – leaves your living room, WHERE DOES IT GO? Almost everything about our day-to-day lives can be found on the internet. But what is it physically? And where is it really? We don’t realize that every website, every email, every instant message or chatroom posting, travels through real cables and real computers in real buildings. Our mental map of the net is as blank as the map that Columbus had on his first Atlantic voyage. The nuts and bolts of the internet, unexplored territory for most, explained at last!
Like it or not, the US has a thriving drug culture and at the top of that particular pyramid is the mother of them all, opium. Its derivatives, morphine and heroin, have corrupted, destroyed, and killed individuals, complete families, even whole nations, yet has the power to inspire great art and medical breakthroughs. The trigger for the rise of global criminal networks and motivation for major conflicts it has also revolutionized attitudes towards well-being. Dr. Dormandy gives us the entire history from the first trip by stone age man, to the present-day opium trade in Afghanistan, with authority, wit and verve.
A SECRET KEY
Tatiana De Rosnay
A surprise weekend by the sea, nostalgia for childhood summers, something unexpected and deeply distubing, a shocking family secret surrounded by taboo, all set against a European backdrop haunted by the past where memory appears and disappears and healing seems just out of reach. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, Tatiana De Rosnay involves us in a bittersweet yet redeeming story of sympathetic characters in painfully real situations. A moden family suddenly vulnerable by re-awakened memories that under not so different circumstances could be our own.
WORDS LIKE LOADED PISTOLS:
RHETORIC FROM ARISTOTLE TO OBAMA
Talk is cheap, but it is what separates us from the rest of the animals. And rhetoric – the delivery we are most familiar with – is all around us. The author traces the art of persuasion from Ancient Greece, and Elizabethan England to the Springfields of both Abraham Lincoln and Homer Simpson. Not just the preserve of professionals – making or breaking presidential candidates for instance, but used by everybody who ever makes or gets into, an argument. This informed and well written book shows rhetoric is nothing to be afraid of and more importantly, is a useful tool once mastered.
With Centipede Hz, Animal Collective has made the conscience decision to return to their roots. This means a departure from the studio heavy, sample-friendly sound that made 2008’s Merriweather Post Pavilion such a success. Although regressive, this proves to be a worthwhile exploration for the Baltimore-based foursome, who may be the only band to make music that’s both catchy and skin-crawling. Centipede Hz is their weirdest, their most experimental, and their best.
Havoc and Bright Lights
Alanis Morissette, the icon of 90’s female aggression, has turned it down a few notches for her new album, Havoc and Bright Lights. The singer, now in her 40s, has learned to harness her rage, expressing it cleanly in pulsating guitar riffs rather than, well, letting it spill everywhere. Still, the album is clearly tended to, with a handful of well-crafted tunes that make up in musicianship what may have been lost in 20-something angst. We’d still prefer the gut-wrenching anthems of her youth, but Ms. Morissette’s maturing sound is certainly worthwhile.
Born To Sing: No Plan B
Van Morrison is back with his 35th studio album, and he’s certainly not resting on any laurels. While other singers of his ilk might dole out compilation albums, Born to Sing consists of entirely new material – from jazzy breeze, to folk, to meditative Celtic soul. And while Morrison’s music has always been undefinable, his message here is clear: Morrison’s unflinching view of our current world, from the recent economic meltdown to his musings on global mysticism. Whether you buy it all is up to you. Morrison’s still got it.
MUMFORD & SONS
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. That’s the mindset behind Mumford & Son’s sophomore attempt, Babel, fresh of the heels of their Grammy-nominated debut, Sigh No More. Prior to its release, the British folk rock band insisted that Babel wouldn’t be much of a departure from their earlier work, and that turns out to be not such a bad thing. The album encompasses everything we already love: the ethereal harmonies, the rousing acoustics, the lyrical honesty. Sure, we don’t need more of the same, but in this case it’s all right to be greedy.
Who would have thought the band behind “snot-core” would still be relevant in 2012? With almost 20 years of work and a Broadway musical under their belts, the band is dishing out their latest project of epic proportions. iUno!, the first of a trio of albums to be released between September and January, undoubtedly delivers the goods, with enough power pop anthems to keep your speakers blaring. The album drives hard from start to finish with a manic surge of energy that reminds us just why Green Day has been around for so long: they’re damned good at it.
Grizzly Bear, the much-talked-about indie rock band, is one again shattering expectations with their new album. Shields, which drops a full 3 years after their smash hit, Veckatimest, is both a welcome departure for the Brooklyn-based band as well as an obvious next step in their musical progression. The same atmospheric, seal-tight quality we find on their previous albums is here as well, but the now familiar ambient sounds have been replaced with an inescapable lo-fi, vintage rock aesthetic.
“WON’T BACK DOWN”
Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in this gripping new drama, Won’t Back Down, which probes the inner workings and subsequent failures of an inner city school system. Gyllenhaal plays a working class, single mother infuriated by a school’s inability to assist her daughter’s learning difficulties. With the help of one of its teachers (Davis), the two campaign against a powerful bureaucracy to make education accessible to all. Inspired by the Parent Trigger laws which allow parents to petition for administrative overhaul in a school system, this film lays bear some of the sobering emotional truths at the center of this hot button topic.
Paul Dano stars as Joby Taylor, a struggling musician who drives all night to meet with lawyers and his ex-wife in an attempt to secure shared custody of his daughter, Ellen. Joined by actors Jena Malone and Jon Heder, this compelling character study of an absentee father was a feature at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it garnered much deserved praise for its writer-director, So Yong Kim. Kim, whose previous films (both screened at Sundance) dealt with girls, once again draws from personal experience; this time tapping into her own past and recollections of her often distant father. With a stellar performance by Dano, For Ellen certainly gets the all indie cred it deserves.
Based on true events surrounding the 1979 Iranian hostage crises, Argo chronicles the remarkable story of 6 Americans who managed to evade capture in the seized U.S. embassy and find refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. Ben Affleck plays a CIA specialist who needs to quickly brainstorm a plan to get the six safely out of the country before they are found out and killled. Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, Victor Garber, and John Goodman round out the cast to establish a formidable ensemble for this pulse-racing, non-fiction thriller. At the helm of the film is Mr. Affleck himself, clocking in double duty as actor and director.
“END OF WATCH”
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as LA police officers in this gripping drama written and directed by David Ayer. Shown entirely through footage from handheld HD cameras and surveillance footage, End of Watch chronicles the troubled lives of the residents in south central LA and the officers who patrol its streets. Ayer [2001’s Training Day] has never been one to shy away from grit and End of Watch certainly follows the same pattern; its bleak depiction of life on the streets mirrors the turbulent friendship the officers. Anna Kendrick and America Ferrera join the cast of this dark crime drama.
It’s more than just a dairy product. This off-beat comedy stars Jennifer Garner as Iowa-native Laura Pickler, the ambitious wife of a retired butter sculpting champion (Ty Burrell) who’s hellbent on winning the title for herself. As the competition heats up, Laura has no qualms in taking down her strongest competition, even if it happens to be a young, orphaned girl. Butter marks the writing debut of Jason Micallef whose quirky script acts as a breath of fresh air to a cast of a seasoned actors (Hugh Jackman and Olivia Wilde.) Whether you’ve switched to margarin or embrace an unpasteurized, dairy heavy lifestyle, Butter’s a film that shouldn’t be missed.
Phillip Seymour Hoffman stars as Lancaster Dodd, the magnetic intellectual who launches a new religion in America following World War II. As the movement, know as “The Cause,” begins to gain steam, Dodd taps a young drifter (Joaquin Phoenix) as his right hand man, but soon finds his most loyal follower uncertain of his faith. Recently, the film has been sparking outrage amongst Scientologists who find its subject matter as well as Hoffman’s uncanny resemblance to L Ron Hubbard a not so subtle take on the religion. And while filmmakers have denied the allusion, one thing no one is denying is The Master’s Oscar power. This film is certain to attract buzz come awards season.
Oscar and Tony nominee Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone, Jack Goes Boating, The Office) will be joining Friends alum David Schwimmer in Detroit. Directed by Anne Kaufman, Detroit will kick off the 2012-13 season at Playwrights Horizons. The play follows a suburban couple who welcome their new neighbors over for a fun day in the backyard and what they get is a situation that spins out of control, examining everything about each other and relationships in suburbia.Ryan received Best Actress Tony nominations for her roles in Uncle Vanya and A Streetcar Named Desire. Detroit is scheduled to run through October 7. www.playwrightshorizons.org
Having mastered the Apatow comedy, actor Paul Rudd (Knocked Up, I Love You, Man) is set for a return to Broadway to star in Grace opposite Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire, Revolutionary Road), and seven-time Emmy Award-winner Ed Asner (The Mary Tyler Moore Show). This dark comedy takes place in Florida and follows the lives of four individuals whose lives collide. Mix a young couple that heads south to open a chain of gospel-themed motels with an agitated rocket scientist (Shannon) and exterminator (Asner), and enter chaos. Previews begin at the Cort Theatre on September 13. www.graceonbroadway.com
With a new lease on life and fresh apartment digs to go with it, Katie Holmes isn’t just moving to the city to take up space… she’s taking on theater work as well. Holmes is starring in Dead Accounts, a five-character comedy that centers around Jack, whose unexpected return throws his family into a frenzy. His sister Lorna (Holmes) needs answers and wants to figure out Jack’s motives. Dead Accounts centers on corporate greed, small town values, and whether or not your family is who they say they are and welcoming with open arms. Holmes made her Broadway debut in All My Sons in 2008, and is known for her role in Pieces of April. www.deadaccountsonbroadway.com
Running on Empty
Like Billy Joel said, “There’s a place in the world for the angry young man“ and no one delivers pent-up rage better than Grammy-winning comedian Lewis Black, who serves up some of the best angst you’ll ever see on stage. Just in time for that election thingy coming up in a few months, Black’s comedy tour, Running on Empty, takes a beeline for Manhattan to the Richard Rodgers Theatre, where he will deliver witty commentary on all things politics and the November election. Black is known for his TV appearances on Comedy Central’s Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The show is set to run October 9 through 14. www.lewisblack.com
BROOKLYN ACADEMY OF MUSIC
Einstein on the Beach • September 2012
Dubbed “life-changing” by The New York Times during its 1976 debut, Philip Glass’s seminal opera, Einstein on the Beach, returns for a limited engagement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music this September. Driven by Glass’s incredible score, Einstein heads off the 30th Anniversary of BAM’s Next Wave Festival and sends audiences on a hypnotic, mesmerizing trip through a series of stream of consciousness musical poetry. With the expert direction of Robert Wilson and alluring choreography by Lucinda Childs, Einstein promises to be just as entrancing as it was nearly 40 years ago. www.bam.org/einstein