An Early Summer Chill
Director Debra Granik sure knows how to diversify the season usually reserved for barbecues and light cinematic fare somehow involving Judd Apatow. Granik’s Sundance-winning, gritty indie drama, Winter’s Bone, won’t leave you with a summery, happy-go-lucky feeling, but it is a good antidote to all of the brainless fluff in theaters. The Gothic noir-style film follows a family on the verge of homelessness; 17-year-old Ree Dolly (played by an amazingly adept young actress named Jennifer Lawrence, who is already on critics’ lips as an award candidate) must take things into her own hands, as her barely there mother and meth-cooking father cannot do it themselves. It is always thrilling to see a teenage girl so self-possessed in the face of hardship; as Marshall Fine writes, “There isn't an ounce of self-pity in this character, only a determination that seems unquenchable, even as she meets one frustration after another,” and New York magazine’s David Edelstein argues that “as a modern heroine, Ree Dolly has no peer, and Winter’s Bone is the year’s most stirring film.” You’ll be glad you ditched the comedies for a day.
A Bartender’s Best Friend
When the Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author Bernard DeVoto first published The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto in 1948, it was considered the first book to have ever taken the humble martini or noble Manhattan truly seriously, right down to analyzing the philosophy of why we drink. Now, Tin House has republished the volume with a new introduction by Daniel Handler, in a successful attempt to reposition the text in a modern context. But here’s all you need to know: In terms of the cult of happy hour, this may be the best tome ever written, and if you like to shake and stir at all, it is an essential volume to keep on your bar cart. As author Wallace Stegner wrote, “ The Hour is not simply a piece of humorous cultural patriotism either. It is a manual of witchcraft, a book of spells and observances.”
Many Bloody Returns
While most of the nation’s tweens are twiddling their thumbs waiting for the next Twilight installment, those of us with cable are opening our homes on Sunday to a more sophisticated set of vampires, those located in Bon Temps, Louisiana, in the world of HBO’s True Blood. Mortal Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), and all the others are back for a third season of Alan Ball’s devilishly good drama, in which vampires must campaign for their constitutional right to equality in the swamps, all while acting out some of the steamiest scenes not on Cinemax. Nothing like fangs to spice up life on the bayou.