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Media Mix

A Quick Take on New Releases for Sunday, September 23, 2007


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

By Nicholas Sparks

Grand Central

$24.99

The prolific Southern author returns with a treacly tale about the lifelong love that develops between a dashing veterinarian and the reluctant girl next door in a North Carolina town.

"The whole day struck him as a tantalizing dance, in which each of them had taken turns leading, one pushing, the other pulling, and vice versa. He wondered if a dance like that could go on forever."

— Travis Parker reflects on a joyous first date with his neighbor

Isn't it nice to believe in a world in which love happens in an instant, easy revelations are plentiful and good intentions are rewarded by convenient miracles?

Sparks lays it on so thick that drifting through his story feels like being trapped in a truly awful made-for-TV drama.

— Reviewed by Sara Cardace

D
Book
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Fire in the Blood

By Irčne Némirovsky

Knopf

$22

In this novel, written decades ago but never published, aging recluse Silvio returns home to his French hamlet and reflects on his turbulent youth with mixed emotions.

"But when I was twenty, how I burned! How is this fire lit in us? It devours everything and then, in a few years, a few months, a few hours even, it burns itself out."

— Silvio, in memory's clutches

Silvio's musings on the inevitable slide from vernal righteousness into timeworn resignation will resonate with a modern audience.

Looking forward to another book from the Ukrainian-born Jewish author? Not possible. She died at Auschwitz in 1942.

— Alexis Burling

A
CD
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In Our Nature

José González

Mute

$14.98

Ah, so this is what coffeehouse open-mike nights in heaven sound like. This sensitive Swede makes acoustic folk music sound incredibly vital.

"Love, love is a verb / Love is a doing word"

— González offers a sublime version of Massive Attack's "Teardrop"

Thanks to the artist's effortless vocal delivery and nimble guitar work, the album's earnestness never feels sappy.

Fans of left turns, turn around. This sophomore disc isn't much of a departure from González's debut.

— Chris Richards

A-
CD
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Places

Georgie James

Saddle Creek

$12.98

The much-buzzed-about local indie-pop duo — John Davis (of the disbanded Q and Not U) and Laura Burhenn — releases its first album, a shimmering, deliciously melodic creation.

"The sun is gone / looks like a perfect day / to put our soldiers in an early grave / We can line them up and lay them on a lawn / with all their Purple Hearts and badges of courage on"

— "Cake Parade"

While the band cribs heavily from the best of rock's past (the Kinks, the Beatles, Blondie, the Jam), its clever, catchy songs manage to sound thoroughly of the moment.

The flaws are few on this impressive debut, but the mood and tempo shift so subtly from track to track that you could be forgiven for not being able to tell a number of the songs apart.

— Joe Heim

A-
DVD
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Black Book

Rated R

Sony

$29.95

Director Paul Verhoeven spins a rollicking World War II tale of a Dutch Jewish singer (Carice van Houten) struggling to survive the end of Nazi rule.

"You have a choice: You play dumb and I'll turn you over to Franken. Or you tell me everything."

— Charming Gestapo chief Muentze (Sebastian Koch)
finds a spy (van Houten) in his bed

Van Houten is sexy and steely by equal measure. In the extras, it's interesting to hear Verhoeven discuss his return to both his native Holland and serious filmmaking.

Some of the director's lurid tendencies are on full display. The heroine suffers many indignities, such as being covered in gallons of excrement.

— Greg Zinman

A-
DVD
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Knocked Up: Unrated (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Not rated

Universal

$30.98

When schlubby stoner Ben (Seth Rogen) gets beautiful television reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl) pregnant after a drunken one-night stand, the mismatched couple tries to do the right thing.

"I won't say it, but it rhymes with 'shmashmortion.' "

— Ben's roommate Jonah (Jonah Hill) tries to discuss his options

The rapport between Rogen and his exceedingly unmotivated crew is relaxed and hilarious, and the package comes loaded with extended scenes and jovial commentary.

The hard of heart might not buy the idea that Rogen's loser could end up with a babe like Heigl, while those who are easily offended will be put off by the endless stream of raunchy humor.

— G.Z.

A-
Game
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Heavenly Sword

PlayStation 3

Rated Teen

Sony

$59.99

When a marauding king invades her homeland, young Nariko takes up a divine sword — which drains the life of anyone who wields it — to wreak vengeance on the evil warlord.

Andy Serkis, best known for such digital performances as King Kong in the 2005 remake and as Gollum in the "Lord of the Rings" films, directs the game's remarkable levels of virtual expression.

Sword's amazingly fluid combat engine lets players create sequences of elaborate killer kung-fu choreography, not unlike scenes from the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."

This game should be rented, not bought outright, because it's extremely short, and playing it mostly amounts to mashing buttons with very little finesse or strategy.

— Evan Narcisse

B-

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



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