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Recommendations for 4/1

Each Thursday (or Friday, since some weeks we seem to be running behind on everything),’s staff of whackos will wrack our brains to give you interesting and new things to do over the weekend. Books, movies, whatever. We’ll throw them out, you do with them what you will.

Incidentally, we’ve provided links where we can for you to buy the stuff or find out more if you’re interested, courtesy of those Amazon types.

Hey, come on, we can’t be totally selfless in this, can we?

Book of the Week:The Great Mortality by John Kelly. Hey, all right! Nothing like reading about a massive pandemic to really spice up your weekend, right? Well, okay, it’s not exactly light reading–but it’s definitely worth checking out, as the author gives you a well-done look at the event that handed Europe its collective ass during the medieval period. Covering everything from a straight relation of the story to alternate theories as to what happened (that don’t include the bubonic plague–wild), it’s all here in this HarperCollins release. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Audiobook of the Week: Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin, performed by Deborah Hazlett. Nothing like a little league game to potentially bring out the worst in people. Like when you find out the guy who’s befriended you and your son is really a player in a whacked out military conspiracy involving a general, a horde of assassins and the Presidency. In this unabridged performance, you get a convoluted but satisfying trip into paranoid thriller fun, courtesy of Harper Audio. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Comic Book of the Week: Oddly Normal #1 by Otis Frampton. The girl’s name is Oddly Normal. And that’s because her mother is an emigrant from Fignation, who found a normal (very much so) husband in our world. However, Oddly has a bit of a rough time at school, not just because she’s a ten-year-old misfit, but because she’s a ten-year-old misfit with pointed ears and green hair. And now…did she actually just wish her parents away? Uh-oh. A nifty little all-ages fantasy title from our buddies at Viper Comics.

Graphic Novel of the Week: IWGP, Vol. 1 by Ira Ishida & Sena Aritou. A young man who’s a gang member has given himself a mission. A girl he fell in love with winds up dead a month later, and to make matters worse he heard her die over the phone–and couldn’t do a damn thing to help her. Now he’s using his gang resources to go after the SOB responsible. But does he have the right suspect? This release from Digital Manga is a nice mature-readers-only drama for your weekend reading pleasure. (Buy it from Amazon.)

TV DVD of the Week: Wonderfalls: The Complete Series. This series is something that we’re seeing a lot of these days: a critically loved show that gets canned because audiences don’t react to it (or don’t have time to–this one went four episodes) and it winds up on DVD in a “complete series” set and that’s it. In a tourist shop at Niagra Falls, a young woman is told how to help other people by inanimate objects. No, really, it works. You get all thirteen episodes from Fox, commentary on six of those by Caroline Dhavernas, Katie Finneran, Todd Holland and Bryan Fuller, a docu on the show, an effects featurette, and an Andy Partridge music video–rock! (Buy it from Amazon.)

DVD of the Week: Ray. Jamie Foxx sure as hell earned his Best Actor statue. And the film was probably the best biopic we’ve seen in a while. And the good news is that Universal has given us a kickass DVD to go along with it: there’s director Taylor Hackford’s audio commentary (thorough and very informative–guy has been working on this for twelve-plus years, after all), plus footage of Foxx meeting Ray Charles, an extended version of the film (one that actually adds to the experience–what a concept), extended musical performances and two featurettes. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Foreign Film of the Week: The House is Black. Facets Video gives you a fascinating docu that’s short, so you can’t lose either way. It’s about life in a leper colony–and while that sounds like exactly the type of uplifting fare you were looking for this weekend, give it a shot. It’s directed by Forough Farrokhzad, a poet from Iran. For bonus bits, you get exclusive essays in the enclosed booklet, two extra short films by Mohsen Makhmalbaf (“The School That Was Blown Away” and “Images From the Qajar Dynasty”), bios for both Farrokhzad and Makhmalbaf, and an interview with Pooran Farrokhzad, the director’s sister. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Anime DVD of the Week: Astro Boy: The Complete Series. Astro Boy the character was born in 2003…don’t you just love it when the future catches up with your ass? Sony used that opportunity to remake the anime series. Here you’ve got fifty episodes spread over five discs, with twenty-nine of those episodes having never seen this shores before. There’s also a making-of featurette that covers this kid who’s a robot boy, but unlike, let’s say, Pinocchio, he can kick your ass six ways from Sunday. And he has rocket boots. That’s the worst part…it’s past 2003 and no rocket boots. Le sigh. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Adverse Video of the Week:The I Inside. If there’s anything Hollywood knows how to do, it’s imitate. Seeing as how everything we saw on this namechecked Memento, that wasn’t good. And the fact that it took almost a year to finally hit on television here in the States…also a warning sign. While the twistiness is there, it just doesn’t deliver in the end. Is it today? Is it the future? Is it the past? Does anyone give a damn? This is nice if you want a little puzzle for your weekend viewing, but make sure you just want a little one. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Family DVD of the Week: The Wind in the Willows: The Complete First Season. If you enjoyed A&E Home Video’s previous release of the original TV movie, then you’ll be pleased to note that there are five seasons of the resulting series just waiting to hit DVD. Well, four…since the first one is here. Here you get thirteen episodes of some really sweetly detailed stop motion animation goodness that is quite true to the original works by Kenneth Grahame. This set comes with two discs, plus a bonus episode from the second series along with character descriptions. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Docu DVD of the Week: A Question of God. So is there a cosmic Big Enchilada upstairs running the show? Or not? This PBS release is based on a course taught at Harvard by Dr. Armond Nicholi (who wrote a book on the subject as well). In it, the figures of Freud and C. S. Lewis go head to head in a simulated debate about who’s minding the store on a spiritual level. This is done vis dramatized bits and also roundtable discussions led by Nicholi himself. A PDF discussion guide is provided if you really want to delve. (Buy it from Amazon.)

Music CD of the Week: Sin City Soundtrack. This movie is so kickass it’s ridiculous. And to even add to its kickfactor is this soundtrack. Rodriguez–who would play every part in the movie if he could get away with it, it seems…he does everything else–provides music, along with Graeme Revell (whose stuff on this sounds better than he has in years) and John Debney. And it’s the best gritty soundtrack I’ve heard since the last Lynch/Badalamenti collaboration. Give it box office love, you weasels. Don’t make me come over there. (Buy it from Amazon.)


  • Funny, I hardy noticed the soundtrack simply because every sensory feature in the film just kind of blended into a big “POW!” I may have to give it a listen.


  • I heard it more the second time I saw the film. First time around I was too busy sitting slackjawed to pay attention to much of anything musically but the sax growl when the logo appeared.