Graphic

Media Mix

A Quick Take on New Releases for Sunday, April 22, 2007


  Title Basic Story Sample Grab What You'll Love What You Won't Grade
Book
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Body Surfing

By Anita Shreve

Little, Brown and Co.

$25.99

Two brothers compete for the heart of the emotionally adrift Sydney Sklar. The fallout rattles the entire family.

"She reviews her marital history. Nearly thrice married. Once divorced. Once widowed. Once left at the altar."

Sydney's romantic woes

Deception abounds in this engrossing page turner. The embittered family drama has unforeseen plot twists and character tiffs galore.

The "anti-honeymoon" scenes while Sydney is in Boston feel like underdeveloped filler compared with the meaty rest.

Reviewed by Alexis Burling

A-
Book
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The Motel Life

By Willy Vlautin

Harper Perennial

$13.95

The lead singer for Oregon band Richmond Fontaine delivers a debut road-trip novel that echoes the spare, bleak style of such writers as Denis Johnson and Raymond Carver.

"Maybe there was nothing anyone could say. I saw the kid in the back seat, with his bent legs and arms, all day long. I knew it would haunt me."

The protagonist fixates on a nightmarish incident in his and his brother's past

The author conveys the pain and desolate lives of his characters without a hint of melodrama.

Anyone who enjoys the story will wish that it went on longer, if only in the hope that the plot will take a happy turn.

Sara Cardace

A-
CD
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Favourite Worst Nightmare

Arctic Monkeys

Domino

$15.98

The British breakout band of 2006 returns with a bombastic sophomore album full of infectious rock anthems and odes to young life.

"You used to get it in your fishnets / Now you only get it in your housedress / Discarded all your naughty nights for niceness / Landed in a very common crisis."

"Fluorescent Adolescent"

The high-energy, bass-driven sound ensures nonstop play at hipster clubs, and the fun, jaunty vibe makes it the perfect warm-up to a night of heavy partying.

Some lines don't make sense at all ("D is for delightful / And try and keep your trousers on"?), and the sonic onslaught may be too rapid-fire and noisy for some.

S.C.

A
CD
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We're About the Business

Chuck Brown

Raw Venture

$18.98

The growling D.C. go-go legend returns with his first album of new material in years.

"We gonna bebop it in / Crock it in / Flip-flop it in / Hip-hop it in / B.J. jock it in / You can't knock it in / Just pocket in / Sock it in / When you rock it in / You got it locked in."

"Jock It In"

The best moments evoke Brown's energetic live performances, with fun-loving call-and-response choruses and rowdy, funked-up arrangements.

Many of the songs wouldn't sound out of place at Starbucks, and aside from the conspicuous guest appearances, the album fails to break any real new ground.

S.C.

B-
Comic
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Punisher War Journal, Vol. 1

By Matt Fraction and Ariel Olivetti

Marvel Comics

$19.99

When sanctioned villains are allowed to hunt superheroes, Frank Castle, the unrepentant death-dealing vigilante known as the Punisher, finds it harder to pursue his brand of justice.

"You knew exactly who and what you were bargaining with. You needed someone to do the dirty work when the time came."

The Punisher, after Captain America confronts him for killing in cold blood

Fraction pulls off the difficult feat of making Castle's psychosis seem layered, sympathetic and darkly gleeful.

Certain scenes won't make sense if readers haven't read Marvel's Civil War series, in which superheroes battle one another over whether they should have to register their powers with the government.

Evan Narcisse

B+
DVD
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Night at the Museum

Rated PG

20th Century Fox

$29.98

Ben Stiller plays Larry, a down-on-his-luck dad who takes a job as a night watchman at New York's American Museum of Natural History, where the exhibits come to life after sunset.

"I'm made of wax. What are you made of?"

Theodore Roosevelt, played by Robin Williams, gives Larry a pep talk

There's a surprising amount to love: Stiller finds a perfect comic foil in a capuchin monkey, Williams's riffing is muzzled and the behind-the-scenes extras are informative.

Poor Ricky Gervais is brutally typecast, and the endless special effects wear thin after a while.

Justin Rude

C+
DVD
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The Queen

Rated PG-13

Miramax

$29.99

Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen star as Queen Elizabeth II and a newly elected Tony Blair dealing (or not dealing) with the events immediately after the death of Princess Diana.

"Will someone please save these people from themselves!"

Tony Blair (Sheen) is frustrated by the monarchy's PR mistakes

Mirren's work deserves the accolades. Two commentary tracks, one with the creative team and another with royal historians, add helpful background information.

If you don't care about the royals, this might not be your cup of tea.

J.R.

B+
game
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Honeycomb Beat

Nintendo DS

Rated Everyone

Konami

$19.99

Strategize your way through a honeycomb-shaped grid, changing the colors of spaces until the grid is uniform.

Play in a race against time with an ever-growing grid or ponder no-time-limit puzzles.

The game takes about three seconds to learn, but some of the puzzles will tax your brain for hours.

The first few levels of puzzles are so ridiculously easy, you'll be annoyed that you have to work your way through them.

Christopher Healy

B-

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



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