December 13, 2010

The Paris Review Holiday Gift Set
With the holidays fast approaching, the pressure is on to find the perfect gift for that literary lover in your life. Here’s a present that’s thoughtful but not boring, smart but not snarky. The Paris Review has undergone something of a comeback in recent years”€”the New York Times called it “€œa thing of sober beauty”€ and writer Maud Newton says it’s “€œelegant, edgy, and surprising, an unusual but cohesive mix of writing characterized by intelligence and precision and, frequently, humor.”€ How often does a stuffy ol”€™ magazine warrant that praise? The set includes the magazine’s winter issue with interviews with Jonathan Franzen and Louise Edrich, a year’s subscription, a Paris Review shirt (by American Apparel, of course) and holiday card signed by the editor. Très bookish!

Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, The British Museum, Great Russell St., London, Now “€“ March 6, 2011
Ancient Egypt was all the rage this year. A fascinating exhibit on King Tut is in its last days in New York’s Times Square, and in November, the British Museum opened a special exhibition honoring the Book of the Dead and the journey to the afterlife. The spells, printed on papyrus and linen, gave careful step-by-step directions on how to navigate the underworld and properly cross over to the afterlife after mummification. Other jewels, statues, and coffins”€”basically anything relating to death and eternal life”€”are also on display, making for a thoughtful examination of one of ancient Egypt’s most treasured tenets. First journey to London”€”and then journey back three thousand years.

Rabbit Hole, Opens in select theaters December 17
There are plenty of films, plays, and novels that mine the grief that bubbles up after the death of a small child. Families twisted apart, fractured marriages, rage. But few did it quite as well as Rabbit Hole, which began as a play by David Lindsay-Abaire that hit the stage six years ago. Thankfully, the playwright adapted his own script so the new film, out this week, avoids messing with a good thing. Nicole Kidman is swapped into Cynthia Nixon’s Broadway role and Aaron Eckhart takes the place of Mad Men John Slattery. John Cameron Mitchell, most well-known for his bombastic Hedwig and the Angry Inch masterfully directs this acting tour de force. And Dianne Wiest, on a bit of a comeback herself with a recurring stint on In Treatment, also stars as Kidman’s mother and look!”€”there’s Sandra Oh in her usual temptress role.

Mythbusters: The Green Hornet Special, Discovery Channel, December 15
The only superhero happening more anticipated this year than Spider-Man’s turn on Broadway is The Green Hornet, which is finally hitting theaters after years of turmoil. Seth Rogen is the unlikely hero, but he’s not debuting on screen until January 14. In the meantime, the Mythbusters team”€”still riding high from Obama’s appearance last month”€”is digging into two scenes from the film. Rogen, who also co-wrote the film, guest stars on the episode where they try to determine if a few scripted moments from the film could happen in real life. They recreate a scene in which The Green Hornet and his sidekick are buried alive in a car and bust out with rockets. In another, they crash into an elevator, which slices the car in half. Can either of these things actually happen”€”or are they the result of Hollywood magic? Rogen might be the first actor to debunk his own film.

Ryan Adams is notoriously prolific”€”and obsessive”€”about his work. He”€™ll pump out two or three albums a year without breaking a sweat. The unclassifiable singer-songwriter”€”he’s a little bit folk, a dash of rock and roll”€”is back with his band The Cardinals for a new 21-track album that hit shelves Tuesday. Don”€™t expect any references to “€œMandy”€ (Adams married actress Mandy Moore last year), these sets were recorded back in 2007 and didn”€™t make the cut for “€œEasy Tiger.”€ It’s hard to see why”€”Adams is at his best with this jangly folk-rock. And for those who like to take it slow, Norah Jones guests on the quiet track “€œTypecast.”€


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