The nostalgia for “Hocus Pocus” has always been a bit of a mystery to me.
There is nothing new about kids loving mediocre films and carrying that soft spot into adulthood, but I was in the right demographic when “Hocus Pocus” came out in the summer of 1993 (age 9, approaching third grade) and remember it being just OK.
I have mostly frowny faces for “Smile,” a bluntly unsettling and blandly grim new horror flick that wrings as much mileage as it can out of a twisted grin.
“Bordeaux Concert,” Keith Jarrett (ECM Records)
When Keith Jarrett gently strikes the final note on the opening piece of “Bordeaux Concert,” 15 seconds pass before concertgoers begin to applaud, taking time to savor what they just heard.
“Treasure State” by C.J. Box (Minotaur)
Former police officer turned Montana private detective Cassie Dewell has two bizarre mysteries on her hands.
First off, a wealthy matron who’d been bilked by a conman needs her help — not to find the conman but locate the private eye she originally hired to solve the case.
“Fall Guy” by Archer Mayor (Minotaur)
A Mercedes sedan, stolen a few days earlier in New Hampshire, is found abandoned in Vermont. It is crammed with stolen goods from a two-state crime spree.
“Live: Return of the Storyteller,” Todd Snider (Aimless Records/Thirty Tigers)
On Todd Snider’s new solo live album, some of his best riffs involve no notes.
The stoner troubadour and cosmic comic shares tales of the road, from tripping on a beach in California to a miscommunication meltdown in Montana.
Sidney Poitier was not expected to live. He was born two months premature to uneducated tomato farmers in the Caribbean. His father planned to use a shoe box as a makeshift coffin.
Poitier's rise from that humble origin to become an Oscar-winning box office draw and civil rights figure who remade Hollywood seems almost scripted, almost too good to be true, but such was Poitier, a life well-lived.
“MORE Different Voices,” Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues (Dawnserly Records)
For more than half a century, Corky Siegel has brought new colors to the blues. “MORE Different Voices” is the latest endeavor by the composer/arranger to bridge musical genres and cultural divides, making the world slightly smaller and kinder.
“Lucy by the Sea," by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
Returning to characters of previous novels, Elizabeth Strout folds them into COVID-19’s twist of fate in “Lucy by the Sea.” Lucy’s world is on the verge of collapse, a pandemic wreaking havoc on a country on the brink of a civil war.
“Less Is Lost,” by Andrew Sean Greer (Little, Brown)
Andrew Sean Greer's “Less Is Lost” is the highly anticipated follow up to his 2018 Pulitzer Prize winning novel “Less,” a satire about an American abroad who travels the globe from Mexico to Germany to Japan to avoid going to an ex-boyfriend's wedding.
“The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II,” by Buzz Bissinger (Harper)
U.S. Marines training for the invasion of the Japanese island of Okinawa didn't know they would face the bloodiest fighting in the Pacific theater of World War II.
“From Saturday Night to Sunday Night: My Forty Years of Laughter, Tears and Touchdowns in TV,” by Dick Ebersol (Simon & Schuster)
Anyone who’s followed the TV industry since broadcasts went color will know the name Dick Ebersol.
Viola Davis should have been leading armies this whole time.
In “ The Woman King,” the always regal Oscar-winner is a mass of muscle, battle wounds and world weariness as General Nanisca, the head of the Agojie, an all-female unit of warriors who protected the West African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century.
“Animals,” Pink Floyd (Sony Music)
Nothing is easy when it comes to Pink Floyd and its legacy, which explains why the 2018 remix of the band's 1977 release “Animals” is just now seeing the light of day.
A murder occurs right as “See How They Run” begins and for a very good reason: It's a whodunit film about a real murder backstage at a whodunit play where all the murders are fake.
“The Enigma of Room 622” by Joel Dicker (HarperVia)
In Joel Dicker’s fat new thriller, a famous novelist named Joel, vacationing in room No. 623 of the Hotel de Verbier in the Swiss Alps, is intrigued that the luxury resort has no room No.
“I Walk Between the Raindrops” by T.C. Boyle (Ecco)
An alcoholic author gets a strange visit that dredges up old memories. A couple becomes trapped on a cruise ship at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like a Rolling Stone: A Memoir” (Little, Brown)
Jann S. Wenner takes us on a long, strange trip with his accessible and entertaining rock ‘n’ roll memoir.
As the founder, co-editor and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, Wenner had an unusual back stage pass to the rock ‘n’ roll revolution as he chronicled how the Baby Boomer generation reshaped postwar America.
“Lessons,” by Ian McEwan (Alfred A. Knopf)
“Roland occasionally reflected on the events and accidents, personal and global, minuscule and momentous that had formed and determined his existence.” That one sentence in Ian McEwan’s new novel, “Lessons,” nicely sums up the book.
After a string of live-action remakes, from "Beauty and the Beast" to “The Lion King," the Walt Disney Co. has finally gotten around to “ Pinocchio.” Along the way, there have been some nice performances, enormous heaps of CGI and, lest anyone forget, one very blue Will Smith.
“Barbarian” starts at night with a heavy downpour and a thunderclap. So far, so good, for what seems to be a classic horror movie. Hold onto your ponchos.
“The Marriage Portrait,” by Maggie O’Farrell (Knopf)
Stories of high-born girls confined to castles, forced to marry young, and pressured to have sons or die trying are the stuff of dark fantasy these days on HBO.
“The Unfolding,” by A.M. Homes (Viking)
If you ever wondered who was behind the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, pick up a copy of A.M. Homes’ new novel, “The Unfolding.” The book, Homes’ 13th and her first novel in a decade, imagines what might have happened if a powerful cabal of wealthy, white, Republican men, horrified by the thought of a Black man in the White House, conspired to undo the 2008 election of Barack Obama and restore America to their nostalgic view of the way things used to be.
“Like, Comment, Subscribe,” Mark Bergen (Viking)
YouTube has become such a part of daily life and popular culture in its 17-year history that it's easy to forget how simple of a concept the site began with.
Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown give fully committed performances in “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul,” so why does the film lack faith in itself?
“Diary of a Misfit,” by Casey Parks (Alfred A. Knopf)
Growing up gay in rural Louisiana, Casey Parks always felt like a misfit. When she came out as a lesbian in college to her Southern evangelical family, it did not go well.
“The Darkness of Others,” by Cate Holahan (Grand Central Publishing)
The pandemic has lasted long enough for pandemic-era novels to come out — Louise Erdrich and Jodi Picoult are among those who have written them.
Marcus King, “Young Blood” (American Records/Republic)
Fiery fretboard master Marcus King is out with his new album “Young Blood,” with his guitar skills on full display — but diverging some from his blues-heavy themes of the past.
There is a montage in “ Me Time,” the new Kevin Hart and Mark Wahlberg Netflix comedy, where Hart’s character Sonny gets a day to himself for the first time in a long time.
"Breaking,” Abi Damaris Corbin’s lean and heartfelt first feature, is a lackluster bank-robbery thriller with noble intentions enlivened by an impassioned performance by John Boyega and an elegiac final appearance by the late Michael K.
There is not a cynical molecule in the makeup of George Miller’s “ Three Thousand Years of Longing, ” a patient and occasionally dazzling fantasy about love, myth, hope, companionship and perhaps, most of all, about storytelling. Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton, wrapped in plush white bathrobes, will reiterate the storytelling point over and over again during a vulnerable, sprawling conversation in a stately Istanbul hotel suite that’s nice enough to make one consider a career in academia.
“Perish” by LaToya Watkins (Tiny Reparations Books)
When a family’s matriarch is on her deathbed, they all gather back to Jerusalem, Texas, the hometown where their unresolved trauma began crashing through the generations.
“Fox Creek” by William Kent Krueger (Atria)
Retired sheriff and part time private detective Cork O’Connor is working the grill in his Aurora, Minnesota, restaurant when a stranger wanders in looking for help finding his wife, Delores, who has run off to have an affair with a Native American named Henry Meloux.
Sharks, grizzlies, giant snakes and rampaging apes have traditionally been the go-to choices for animal-kingdom antagonists in survival thrillers. Lions not so much. Maybe the king of the jungle has always been too regal, too majestic — too heroic — to be lowered to the status of mere summer-movie marauder.
What gets you, deep in the gut, are the smiles. The broad, awkward, sometimes silly smiles of people on an unremarkable day in an unremarkable town in 1938 Poland, fascinated by this new thing called a movie camera and oblivious to the fact that one day, this amateur travel movie will become a devastating historical artifact.
“Vol. II,” Watkins Family Hour (Family Hour Records)
Tom Petty’s pianist plays “Tennessee Waltz,” an Ernest Tubb classic rides a Bo Diddley beat, and a deep cut by the ’60s band the Zombies becomes a Disney-style lullaby.
“Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls,” by Kathleen Hale (Grove Press)
The seemingly senseless stabbing of a young girl by two of her school friends in the Waukesha, Wisconsin, woods in 2014 made international headlines when it became known that the two perpetrators were under the sway of Slenderman, a fictional Internet demon that they had become convinced was real.
“Long Gone,” by Joanna Schaffhausen (Minotaur)
Four veteran Chicago police detectives are known as The Fantastic Four for their long history of spectacular gang busts, so when one of them, Leo Hammond, is shot dead in his bed with his own gun, it’s a big case.
“Kiki Man Ray,” by Mark Braude (W.W. Norton)
You may have seen the famous picture of her nude back marked with the sound holes of a violin, which recently sold for $12.4 million, the highest price ever paid for a photograph at auction.
Bella Poarch, “Dolls” (Warner Records)
In theory this should work. With her massive TikTok following, Bella Poarch clearly needed to strike while the iron is hot and release a studio EP. “Dolls” is that album.
This year marks the centennial anniversary of F. W. Murnau's “Nosferatu,” a long time for us humans but only a blip for vampires.
The movie “Mack & Rita” — which adds grandma chic to two things no one needs on screen like lazy filmmaking and a tired old concept — can be distilled into one word: cringe.
Virtually no one associated with this film should be congratulated in any way, having ruptured any bridges between Hollywood and senior citizens or for the shocking misuse of Diane Keaton's considerable skills.
NEW YORK (AP) — There's a moment in Post Malone’s new concert film when its star confesses to how surreal his life has become: “Sometimes I feel like I’m not a real person.”
Fans will get no clarity on that astounding statement after watching Amazon's “Post Malone: Runaway,” a limp, uninspiring 60 minutes of flash with no substance.
“Do No Harm” by Robert Pobi (Minotaur)
Lucas Page retired from the FBI more than a decade ago after losing an eye, an arm, and a leg in an explosion. But Lucas is a man of unique talents, so once again — in “Do No Harm,” the third book in Robert Pobi’s series — the bureau needs his help.
“Mika in Real Life” by Emiko Jean (William Morrow)
Mika Suzuki is a directionless, 35-year-old Japanese woman with a big secret: She gave her daughter up for adoption at 19.
Emiko Jean’s latest novel, “Mika in Real Life,” takes place as Mika takes on a major transformation, starting with reconnecting with her daughter, Penny.
“Diary of a Void,” by Emi Yagi (Viking)
Shibata-san, the only woman in her office group, is tired of cleaning up after the men. One day, when her section head asks her why dirty coffee cups are still lying around hours after a meeting, she improvises an astonishing lie.
“Heat 2: A Novel” by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner (William Morrow)
Hollywood screenwriter and director Michael Mann and veteran thriller writer Meg Gardiner have achieved a rarity with their novel “Heat 2”: a screen-to-page sequel that stands tall on its own.
Calvin Harris' last star-studded funk album in 2017 sported several hits but left listeners wanting more. Now, the DJ from the UK has delivered a second volume, titled “Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 2," featuring even more tracks and big names, but bigger doesn’t always mean better.
A boisterous extended clan gathers for a family holiday, launching the requisite arguments, hurt feelings, grudges, inside jokes, laughter, love, reconciliation and lots of eating, plus maybe a car chase.
“Cover to Cover,” The Brother Brothers (Compass Records)
Identical twins Adam and David Moss are easy to tell apart on their charming new album of cover tunes.
That’s usually David singing the high part, his gentle harmonies with Adam doing a distinctive dance that can only result from plenty of practice and shared genes.