Graphic

Media Mix

A Quick Take on New Releases for Sunday, February 25, 2007


  Title Basic Story Sample Grab What You'll Love What You Won't Grade
Book
photo sample

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears

By Dinaw Mengestu

Riverhead Books

$22.95

Ethiopian emigre Mengestu pens his debut novel an insightful glimpse into the life of D.C. deli owner and 17-year Ethiopian exile Sepha Stephanos.

"I did not come to America to find a better life. I came here running and screaming with the ghosts of an old one firmly attached to my back."

Stephanos bears the weight of his past like a second skin

Mengestu seamlessly blends historical fact and fiction to create an immigrant's journal, love story and commentary on economic and racial politics all in one.

The plot is slow to build, and some readers might find its nonlinear nature disorienting.

Reviewed by Alexis Burling

B+
CD
photo sample

Pagoda

Pagoda

Ecstatic Peace

$9.98

With the backing of Thurston Moore's label, the rock foursome led by indie actor Michael Pitt ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch") delivers its debut album.

"Swimming inside the stomach of my baby / Little fetus waiting to meet us / With your first swallow of air / Hollow lung sucking up all the world's despair"

"Fetus"

If you can overlook the pretentious lyrics and artsy vocal effects, Pitt turns out to be a surprisingly decent singer.

The music is a blatant rip-off of early Nirvana. Grunge enthusiasts would be better served by digging out their old copy of "In Utero."

Sara Cardace

D
CD
photo sample

Tones of Town

Field Music

Memphis Industries

$15.98

The Sunderland, England, indie-rock trio (Andrew Moore and brothers Peter and David Brewis) returns with its sophomore CD.

"You know the score / I wouldn't want you sleeping on the floor / 'Cause living on your own is never any fun / A house is not a home."

"A House Is Not a Home"

The band's breezy, bouncy, harmony-laden music masks the gloomier lyrics, making for an interesting contrast of style and content.

On "Working to Work," the group sounds like a bad Hall & Oates knockoff.

Joe Heim

B
CD
photo sample

We All Belong

Dr. Dog

Park the Van

$15.98

The unabashed fans of '60s and '70s crunchy, adventurous rock release their fourth full-length album.

"Well, it's night time in Alaska / I heard it's dark until the spring / Well, it's been hell back here in Philadelphia / and York ain't what it was."

"Alaska"

Though clearly influenced by rock's early experimental era (think Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Band), Dr. Dog's ridiculously catchy and occasionally very trippy songs are decidedly modern.

Good luck fitting the bulky lyrics sheet back into the CD case.

J.H.

A
Comic
photo sample

Beyond!

By Dwayne McDuffie and Scott Kolins

Marvel Comics

$19.99

A ragtag group of crime fighters and criminals gets teleported to a distant planet where an omnipotent being pits them against one another.

"Cynicism isn't maturity. Callousness isn't strength. Pretending you don't care so you don't have to try isn't 'winning.' What you do with your life matters."

Deathlok, a pacifist cyborg, chastens another stranded character

Kolins's expressive art illuminates McDuffie's sharp dialogue, which deftly uses these characters' histories to talk about situational morality, temptation and true heroism.

The reveal of the mysterious all-powerful being behind the action comes out of left field and seems more like a setup for future storylines.

Evan Narcisse

A-
DVD
photo sample

The Heart of the Game

Rated PG-13

Miramax

$29.99

This charming documentary follows several seasons of a Seattle high school girls' basketball team, focusing on its eccentric coach and a star athlete's struggles.

"Have fun."

Coach Bill Resler ends every timeout with one of the game's simplest lessons

Resler, a University of Washington tax professor, is a charismatic character whose antics alone elevate the film beyond the expected sports-doc cliches.

While the extensive extras help viewers catch up with the post-documentary lives of the stars, some nagging questions are still left unanswered.

Justin Rude

A-
DVD
photo sample

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

Rated R

New Line

$27.98

Jack Black and Kyle Gass pull from their old bag of tricks for a mock-rock epic that furthers the Tenacious D catalogue without really adding to it.

"I'll take the fried chicken. And the steak. And the chicken-fried steak."

KG (Kyle Gass) likes diner food

Fans of Tenacious D will no doubt be stoked about the large number of deleted scenes that don't really seem any worse than what they kept.

Black and Gass really have only one joke. And it wears tissue-thin over 90 minutes.

J.R.

D+
game
photo sample

Ghost Rider

PS2, PSP

Rated Teen

2K Games

$29.99

The Marvel Comics motorcycle-riding super-skeleton fights demons in an attempt to rescue the kidnapped girlfriend of his human counterpart, Johnny Blaze.

The skull-headed antihero whips around a mystical chain, smacking down identical enemies one after another after another.

The game is not connected to the movie in any real way, thus saving Nicolas Cage's career from further harm.

Never mind all those creatures from the pits of hell: The most horrifying part is the awful steering on Ghost Rider's flaming bike.

Christopher Healy

F

PHOTOS: Courtesy
Adapted from version orginally published in The Washington Post



© 2006 The Washington Post Company