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Editor's Choice

Editor’s Choice

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Martin McDonagh’s THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is one of the great movies of our times. The movie is full of pain and brutality (which makes those small moments of human decency even more effective) and great performances by Frances McDormand (unbelievably, her work here tops her Oscar-winning performance in 1996’s FARGO), Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and many others. I was squarely in the LADY BIRD camp for awards season, but this one sent me packing.

Rachel Joyce’s THE MUSIC SHOP—set for the most part in 1988 at a record store in a largely abandoned part of town—features quirky characters galore, all of whom benefit from the shop owner’s keen instincts about music therapy. Part romance novel, part pro-vinyl manifesto, it’s required reading for anyone whose life has been changed forever by music and/or love.

David Wain’s A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE, now streaming on Netflix, is based on Josh Karp’s superb biography of NATIONAL LAMPOON co-founder Doug Kenney. Hilarious and heartbreaking, with one particularly inspired breakup scene done Foto Funnies-style. Just in time for the 40th anniversary of ANIMAL HOUSE—the film Mr. Kenney co-wrote and appeared in as Stork—this is a must-watch for anyone who lived through that irreverent, cocaine-fueled era.

The audiobook of Nick Nolte’s memoir, REBEL: MY LIFE OUTSIDE THE LINES is not, I’m happy to report, narrated by the author. The excellent actor does read the prologue—with more gravel than even the faithful could be expected to endure—before turning over the remaining seven hours and change to Christian Baskous, who sounds more like the younger Mr. Nolte than the real thing. The behind-the-scenes anecdotes are great—who would have thought a piece of dead-serious filmmaking like Terrence Malick’s THE THIN RED LINE could have inspired some hysterical on-set pranks by Mr. Nolte’s co-stars Woody Harrelson and Sean Penn?

Jonathan Kellerman’s NIGHT MOVES is a strong effort in the author’s police psychologist Alex Delaware series. A compelling and gruesome homicide in a sorta well-to-do neighborhood gets the story rolling, and it never lets up. Out Feb. 13.

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