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The Big Ten

What to watch, read and listen to this month.

big10

STATE OF THE UNION • Bluegrass polymath Alison Krauss was doing pretty well before her 2007 smash album of duets with Robert Plant. She’s won 26 Grammys, making her the most decorated woman in the award’s history, and, well, everyone loves her. Her latest—backed by her band, Union Station—will make you like her a little more. SPRING 2011

ALCHEMY • DeVotchKa’s 100 Lovers is a sprawling, cinematic release from the only Colorado-based band we know of that combines the industrial-grade brooding of The Cure with mariachi, polka, burlesque and the arid Spaghetti Western fi lm scores of Ennio Morricone, and then turns it all into something beautiful and, miraculously, cohesive. FEBRUARY 12

THE ART OF WAR • There’s nothing that inspires artists more than terror and disillusionment—and there was plenty of that during World War I. For “The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection,” the Guggenheim has gathered more than 100 examples of Great War–era art, including works by Marcel Duchamp, Piet Mondrian and Pablo Picasso. FEBRUARY 4

FRIEND OF A FRIEND • Sundance Audience Award winner Happythankyoumoreplease features an ensemble cast that includes Zoe Kazan, Malin Akerman and Josh Radnor as a tight-knit clique of twentysomething New Yorkers. When one befriends a child on the subway, they’re all forced to come to grips with growing up. Prepare for soulful revelations. FEBRUARY 18

THEY’VE GOT WHAT YOU NEED Duran Duran may have been “Hungry Like the Wolf” in the ’80s, but no one expected the Brit pack to have the drive to last three decades. Thankfully for fans, the “prettiest boys in rock” are still going strong. Their latest release, All You Need Is Now, is packed full of the same catchy lyrics, frothy melodies and synth rock that made them famous. OUT NOW

PIG OUT • T.C. Boyle’s latest, When the Killing’s Done, is a taut thriller about a biologist who tries to save endangered animals on California’s Channel Islands by eradicating invasive species like pigs and rats. Two animal lovers would rather she not. As is wont to happen, things escalate. FEBRUARY 22

LEAVE IT TO BIEBER • It can be tough to get a ticket to a Justin Bieber concert, so if you want to see the pop star up close and personal, the 3-D documentary Justin Bieber: Never Say Never might be your best chance. During the movie, shot in part during a Madison Square Garden performance, the Biebs appears so real you’d think you could reach out and tousle his hair. FEBRUARY 11

DEEP BLUE SEA • After the release of Avatar, James Cameron said that going forward he would only work in 3-D. Sure enough, his latest, Sanctum, an underwater thriller about a cave- diving expedition gone awry, pops off the screen in surprising and sometimes scary ways, just like Avatar did (though none of the characters are blue). FEBRUARY 4

THE WINNING SEASON • Somehow the shortest month of the year got the two biggest entertainment events: the Oscars and the Grammys. The former will be hosted by James Franco and Anne Hathaway, who may also pick up a few statuettes. The latter will attempt to gauge, once and for all, the greatness of Lady Gaga. FEBRUARY 27, 13, RESPECTIVELY

NO SUBWAY FOR OLD MEN • The Sunset Limited begins in the shabby apartment of a black preacher (Samuel L. Jackson) who has just saved a white atheist (Tommy Lee Jones) from jumping onto the subway tracks. Written by Cormac McCarthy and directed by Jones, Sunset is a smart existential meditation on faith and redemption. FEBRUARY 17

Story Telling

In her new book, joyce carol oates takes a look at the darker matters of the heart.

By Layla Schlack

JOYCE CAROL OATES has a book published more often than the average person cleans her closet. Each of over 50 highly acclaimed novels, 20 short story collections and eight plays invites readers to lose themselves in an ominous and twisted world. Her latest, Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense, a collection of short stories, is no exception. “I’ve been writing about love, obsession and jealousy from a feminist perspective for years,” Oates says.

She points to one of the stories, “Strip Poker,” as a prime example. In it, a 13-year- old girl finds herself playing cards with a group of predatory men whom she must outwit. “I wanted to show a young girl who is able to triumph over the boys and draw upon some inner reserve,” Oates says. “I thought that was an important message.”

Although she likes the message in that one best, she admits her favorite story in the book is “Vena Cava.” “It’s kind of dark. It’s about a soldier in the Iraq war who comes home to his family and is abusive to them, which is something that’s happening a lot. I just really like the scene in that one,” she says.

And what of all those other tomes with her name on them? No matter what she writes, Oates is asked about her prolifi cacy. She chuckles softly at the question and says, “Well, most writers write a lot. I work with people at Princeton who are writing all the time—articles, essays, short stories, novels— but people just don’t interview them.”

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