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    Wednesday, February 28, 2024

    Tipping Point: Our picks and pans


    Rhys Nicholson Live at the Athenaeum


    Sometimes, by just poking aimlessly around Netflix, you'll find a gem. So it was with me and this standup special by Aussie comic Rhys Nicholson. He buzzes along with espresso-level energy, delivering hilarious lines with elfin glee. He talks about everything from school reunions and wisdom teeth to a drug-and-alcohol-binge-gone-wrong with friends. He is just as funny talking about his being gay, responding to a bit of mail chastising him for his "representation" of gay people. This Netflix special could be Nicholson's breakout in America. It certainly should be.

    — Kristina Dorsey


    Moonflower Murders

    Anthony Horowitz

    This sequel to "Magpie Murders" is on one hand a deeply respectful blown kiss to the brainy and beloved old school British tradition of Agatha Christie and G.K. Chesterson crime books. But don't forget the thoroughly modern meta fiction innovations such as the novel-within-a-novel. Indeed, in order to solve a murder at the stately and pastoral hotel on the Suffix coast, returning heroine and book-editor-turned-sleuth Susan Ryeland has to re-examine a bestseller by her late author Alan Conway — one starring HIS series protagonist, Atticus Pünd. The characters and settings are rich and detailed — in both the main story and the complete, middle-section Pünd novel. Is it easy to forget details of the first half of the Ryeland investigation by the time you've finished reading the Pünd adventure and return to the original whodunnit? Yes! And are the ultimately revealed clues brain-blendingly obtuse? Yep. Still, it's great fun to engage in the stories and to separately marvel over Horowitz's ingenuity.

    — Rick Koster  


    News of the World

    You don't even need to listen to this Western. Just watch it: the arid, sweeping vistas; the painterly skies; the seemingly endless procession of animals migrating or being shepherded across a desolate landscape. I realize "News of the World" stars Ton Hanks, but the real MVP here is cinematographer Dariusz Wolski. The script, unfortunately, traffics in every cliché used in a Western. Hanks holds the center with his usual decency, charisma and quietly effective acting. He plays a Texas man who, five years after fighting in the Civil War, travels from town to town reading to residents from the newspapers he carries with him. He comes upon a girl who, after being kidnapped by the Kiowa, has been taken back. They take a dramatic journey to find her remaining relatives.

    — Kristina Dorsey

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