Tipping Point: Our picks and pans
Here’s how “Bullet Train” goes: fight scene, fight scene, joke-joke-joke, explosion, over-the-top violence, joke, etc., etc. That’s the problem. Bits of it are clever, but there’s no real storyline providing forward momentum. (What passes for a plot resolves in a way that inspires little more than a shrug.) But let’s now dwell on the positive. This thriller looks great; a train has never been so stylish. Brad Pitt, as a woke assassin (he’s all therapy-speak after going through sessions), is very funny and charming. He’s one of the plethora of killers onboard a bullet train in Japan, and everyone is trying to slaughter everyone else. Best of the lot are Tangerine and Lemon, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Brian Tyree Henry; the actors made me happy every time they popped up onscreen. Their banter is so sharp, they should have their own spin-off.
– Kristina Dorsey
Nothing Could Have Stopped Us Back Then Anyway
David Lee Roth
This short but moving acoustic tune was written and recorded by vocalist David Lee Roth (with guitarist John 5) in 2015 as a tribute to the golden days of Van Halen – but never released. After the death of guitarist Eddie Van Halen in 2020, Roth moved forward with an idea for a video of the song, and it more than captures the essence of the emotions involved. It’s a fond and wistful look back at the utterly unique experiences the guys in VH shared as the biggest band in the world, and the phrase that so-and-so were “giants in their day” should have been invented for the feeling you get when you watch this. Roth captures the fun of what Van Halen achieved, but it’s also melancholy and breathtaking in the realization of just how fast time spins into the past. “Nothing Could Have Stopped Us Back Then Anyway” is as fine a tribute as you could hope for – by a guy who lived it. Warning: There’s a brief bit of onstage and backstage nudity, but nothing truly offensive – particularly if you loved the band and the spirit of their work.
– Rick Koster
American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper
Author Daniel Stashower is an expert at researching and writing historical nonfiction works; it’s made him a New York Times bestselling author, after all. In his latest, he turns his fine-tuned attention to a string of grisly murders in the early 1900s in and around Cleveland. Dismembered bodies of a dozen people were discovered over several years, and none other than Eliot Ness came in and tried to solve the mystery: who was committing these homicides, which seemed to suggest someone with medical/surgical knowledge? What’s most fascinating in “American Demon” isn’t the murder aspect but how Stashower explores Ness the man, who is often remembered as the crime fighter with the Boy Scout personality who brought down Al Capone. The Ness here is complicated and fascinating. “American Demon” goes on sale Tuesday.
– Kristina Dorsey