Archive for Sunday, June 14, 2009

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The Edge

June 14, 2009

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‘Die for You’ (Books)

Smart women can do dumb things, especially when they are in love, especially when they trust their partner, especially when a life together seems so perfect.

Isabel Connelly, a best-selling novelist, is shocked out of her complicity in Lisa Unger’s gripping, if at times melodramatic fourth novel. When Isabel’s husband, Marcus Raine, doesn’t come home one evening, she gets mad — the one flaw in their marriage was an affair he had a year ago — then she gets worried. When she goes to his Manhattan office the next day, she’s attacked and ends up in the hospital. Marcus’ co-workers have been killed, their home has been ransacked, and their joint bank accounts wiped out.

Her husband wasn’t the successful video game designer that Isabel thought he was, nor was Marcus Raine his real name. As the insightful N.Y.P.D. detective Grady Crow leads the investigation, Isabel tries to find out just who was this impostor as she copes with the realization that her five-year marriage was a sham. The search will take both Isabel and Grady from Manhattan’s myriad neighborhoods to the heart of Prague.

Elvis Costello (Music)

Elvis Costello’s newest album, “Secret, Profane & Sugarcane,” jumps on the Americana bus, with mandolin, accordion and fiddle the instruments of choice.

Recorded in Nashville in three days and produced by T Bone Burnett, who helmed Costello’s country-tinged album “King of America” in 1986, and also 1989’s “Spike,” “Secret” ambles and warbles with rootsy aplomb.

It’s a 180-degree turn from last year’s “Momofuku,” Costello’s rock-based outing with band the Imposters.

This time, songs such as “I Felt the Chill,” co-written by country queen Loretta Lynn, wind through acoustic territory, with harmony wafting throughout. Costello wrote or co-wrote all but one track on the album.

“There’s a difference in the way that you kiss me/ There’s a sadness in your eyes that you can’t hide,” he sings in his wavering vibrato on “Chill,” about a fallen relationship.

Though steeped in Americana twang, four songs on the album were originally commissioned in 2005 by the Royal Danish Opera for a piece about author Hans Christian Andersen. The tunes focus on Andersen’s love for Swedish songbird Jenny Lind, and “She Was No Good” recalls Lind’s tour across the U.S. in 1850, organized by P.T. Barnum.

‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ (DVD)

Not all chick flicks are created equal.

Some, including “He’s Just Not That Into You,” arguably don’t even deserve the tag at all. Yes, “HJNTIY” centers its collection of loosely connected stories around the not-so-romantic adventures of one girl (Ginnifer Goodwin as Gigi) who overtly wants someone to love but can’t quite keep her foot out of her own mouth during some lively attempts to make it happen.

But just as the book that inspired the film wasn’t afraid to tell women that sometimes the problem is them, so too, does the movie, which manages to build Gigi into both a genuinely loveable lead and a potent object of amusing, face-palming ineptitude. “HJNTIY” is nothing if not democratic, splitting the blame between men and women alike and doing it through stories that share characters intelligently and alternate just as skillfully between authentic, cringe-worthy, sharply funny and (occasionally) inspiring and uplifting.

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