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Media Mix

A Quick Take on New Releases for Sunday, July 15, 2007


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

By Irini Spanidou

Knopf

$23

Set in New York's seedy SoHo in the early 1970s, the book presents a haunting three-month snapshot of Beatrice, a bedraggled 20-something who is teetering recklessly on the edge of ruin after the breakup of her marriage.

"Beatrice wished she could close her eyes and have it all go away — close her eyes and never open them again. But she had to chop the celery."

— Beatrice, a true artist of self-deception, pushes stubbornly forward

Spanidou's spare yet penetrating prose drips with fierce sexuality, unshakable loneliness and gnawing despair.

For those who crave closure, Beatrice's fate is left maddeningly open-ended.

— Reviewed by Alexis Burling

A
Book
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The Water's Lovely

By Ruth Rendell

Crown

$25.95

The prolific British crime writer pens a subdued novel about a fragile family threatened by a tragic, hidden event in its past.

"You're letting this get out of hand, she told herself, you're going over the top ... there's no rule that someone who kills once is bound to kill again, is there?"

— Tormented sibling Ismay Sealand considers sharing the family secret

Funny tangential characters (a boozy gadfly, a bumbling wannabe gold digger) keep things somewhat lively.

The action is excruciatingly slow, the dialogue oddly stilted and the main players neither believable nor particularly likable.

— Sara Cardace

C-
CD
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It's Whateva

Federation

Reprise/WEA

$13.98

These veteran California rappers spit with such reckless abandon, they make Busta Rhymes sound like Mr. Rogers.

"Somebody hold me back / I'm an animal . . . / Get out my face / Don't make me show my teeth, I'm a beast"

— "Black Roses"

The group twists Al B. Sure's "Nite and Day," Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" and the "Transformers" theme into some of the rowdiest hip-hop you've ever heard.

The glut of hulking beats and hyperactive rhymes might end up exhausting your eardrums.

— Chris Richards

B+
CD
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Calling the World

Rooney

Geffen

$9.98

Brother of Jason Schwartzman, cousin of Sofia Coppola: Singer-songwriter Robert Schwartzman does the family brand proud on his band's sophomore disc.

"You set me up with your girlfriends / But none of them worked out for me / I'm starting to realize lately / I should have been after you"

— "I Should've Been After You"

Borrowing from Queen and Cheap Trick, Schwartzman injects a heavy dose of smarts into his band's lightweight pop formula.

Despite the first-rate hooks, the band still evokes a second-rate Weezer.

— C.R.

B-
Comic
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Exit Wounds

By Rutu Modan

Drawn & Quarterly

$19.95

After learning that his father may have been a victim of a bombing, Tel Aviv cabdriver Koby Franco begrudgingly helps his dad's lover find out whether the elder Franco has died.

"I thought I would never want to see him again as long as I lived. But now I realized that I was always sure we would meet again sometime in the distant future."

— Koby grapples with the fact that his father may be gone

Modan's spare, affecting lines and charged dialogue add up to a tragicomic take on family and identity.

After entangling readers in this knotty drama, Modan still leaves frustratingly big questions unanswered.

— Evan Narcisse

A-
DVD
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Factory Girl

Not Rated

Weinstein Co.

$28.95

Poor little rich girl Edie Sedgwick (Sienna Miller) becomes the darling of Andy Warhol's (Guy Pearce) Factory scene, takes drugs and falls hard for Bob Dy . . . er . . . "The Musician" (Hayden Christensen).

"What did Andy see in me? Well, it was as if I was reflecting the self he so desperately wanted to be. . . . The irony, of course, was that he was intoxicated with the very world I was escaping from."

— Edie spells it out for her therapist and the audience

The film feels like an expensive after-school special about the perils of fame, but Miller and Pearce are fascinating to watch.

Christensen is hilariously awful, and the new cut — featuring an additional 10 minutes of footage — is only marginally better than the theatrical release.

— Greg Zinman

C
DVD
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Premonition

Rated PG-13

Sony

$28.95

Linda (Sandra Bullock) learns that her husband (Julian McMahon) perished in a car accident, then wakes up the next day to find him alive. Is she insane or traveling back in time?

"How do you feel during the times that he's dead?"

— Creepy shrink Dr. Roth (Peter Stormare) asks Linda a disquieting question

Even though the film never bothers to explain how Linda shuttles back and forth along the space-time continuum, you can still enjoy watching Bullock pull a couple of major-league freakouts.

The film insists on adding a heavy dollop of family values to its mild horror, and the disc includes an alternative ending just as lame as the theatrical one.

— G.Z.

D
game
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Ratatouille

Multiple platforms

Rated Everyone

THQ

$19.99-$49.99

In a facsimile of the movie plot, you play Remy, the gourmand rat who dreams of becoming a chef in a world that is distinctly anti-rodent.

The game adds new enemies, including leering dogs and a snotty rat-hating kid.

In a fun nod to the film, parts of the game have Remy sitting on the head of his human friend, Linguini, and pulling his hair to direct him like a puppet.

The game is appropriately designed for a child's ease of use; more advanced players won't find anything to challenge them here.

— Christopher Healy

B-

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



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