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    Sunday, December 04, 2022

    Tipping Point: Our picks and pans


    The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

    One of the problems with film stars is that certain of them become too iconic. We’re never NOT aware we’re watching Tom Cruise or Denzel Washington. Nicholas Cage is one of those artists – to me, anyway. He’s certainly done plenty of excellent work. But there’s also a goofy and possibly self-curated eccentricity and celebrity that gets in the way of my attention when I’m watching his movies. Kudos to Cage, then, for this film in which Cage plays himself – or a version of himself – and takes a million dollar offer to attend a rich psycho’s birthday party in one of those Majorca-style places. Hilarious action ensues, and in finest Cage-y fashion, he manages paradoxically to use his self-effacing qualities to brag about how cool he is! And it works!

    – Rick Koster



    Kelly Clarkson

    One of the best features of Kelly Clarkson’s daytime talk show is her “Kellyoke” segment, where she sings a cover. Those tunes have ranged widely and wildly over three seasons. But each time, Clarkson, who is arguably one of the best singers ever, kills it. So thank you, Kelly, for releasing an EP of covers. She does Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou,” which might seem like an obvious choice for Clarkson, considering her Ronstadt-like range. But she also brings nuance, beauty and emotion to more unexpected numbers like Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees” and Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever.” My only complaint: This should be a CD, not an EP. Correction: It should be a series of CDs. Consider it, Kelly.

    – Kristina Dorsey


    Every Cloak Rolled in Blood

    James Lee Burke

    This novel is part of the expansive Holland Family series and possibly the last to feature author Aaron Holland Broussard. In it, the masterful James Lee Burke paints in rich, elegiac tones a story that is less a crime novel and more a shifting mosaic of scenes and incidents happening to the 85-year-old Broussard in the wake of the death of his daughter Fannie Mae. Villains abound, but so do Good Folk. As a literary work, “Cloak” seems to distill long-explored Burke themes of mortality and the idea that the present, past and future all exist simultaneously and are separated only by thin veils – ones that can be transposed under proper circumstances or through unknown forces. It’s Good versus Evil writ large, and at the heart of this wonderful, sad book is the reality that Burke lost his daughter Pamala in 2021. “Every Cloak Rolled in Blood” is a heartsong of loss and memory and love.

    – Rick Koster

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