Three writers, three unabashed recommendations.
People come back from the dead, but not as brain-eating ghouls—they’re just normal folks who don’t necessarily even know they died. That’s the premise of a half-dozen TV shows or movies currently in the works, including the heavily advertised Resurrection, which debuts this Sunday on ABC. But the one to watch is the first season of French TV show The Returned (a.k.a. Les Revenants), which aired on Sundance in the States and just came out on DVD. It’s an artful, scary, mysterious, slow-burning drama that builds toward… something over eight episodes, offering dribs and drabs of the supernatural to bolster the more human aspects of the story. Revealing too much more would ruin the fun, but The Returned is unquestionably worth watching for anyone who might even be slightly intrigued by the premise. The same apparently can’t be said for the ABC show, which is not related to this one—though this one will get an American remake, called They Came Back (also the title of the 2004 film on which they’re both based), sometime this year or next. And none of these is Babylon Fields, a recently resurrected NBC show with a similar plot. Tl; dr? If you watch any of these non-ghoulish zombie things, make it The Returned. (And read along with Erik Adams’ episodic reviews as you do.) [Josh Modell]
The Dinosaur Jr. Book
Dinosaur Jr. formed all the way back in 1984, and the iconic indie-rock act has intermittently spent the past 30 years making amazing records, touring the world, and influencing everyone from Nirvana to Teenage Fanclub. The band’s general existence has spawned both a sweet pair of purple shoes and a whole clothing line, so it only makes sense that now there’s an actual coffee table book about the trio. The Dinosaur Jr. Book is available now from Rocket 88 in both a classic (about $70) and an expanded signature edition (a whopping $420), both of which are absolutely gorgeous. Packed with reminiscences from J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph, the purple and green tome also features all sorts of neat old photos, gig posters, and random ephemera. It’s a nice package, perfect for any fan of not only Dinosaur Jr., but also of the roots of indie rock in general. [Marah Eakin]
Her original score
The costuming in Her got all the online buzz, and Spike Jonze’s screenplay scooped up the awards, but one of the simplest, subtlest pieces in the film’s enchanting puzzle is at risk of being overshadowed. And this might be the first time I’ve used the words “simplest” or “subtlest” in relation to Arcade Fire: The typical bombast of the band’s sound is absent from its work on Her’s original score, composed by multi-instrumentalist Will Butler and frequent Arcade Fire collaborator Owen Pallett. Her plays like the flipside of Butler and company’s other 2013 effort, providing the mirror-balls-and-voodoo-dolls rager of Reflektor with the appropriate 4 a.m. comedown. The individual pieces of the score are little more than electroacoustic tone poems, their string arrangements, plinking piano, and electronic hums mirroring the intersection of humanity and technology at Her’s core. It’s just the right kind of sound for the gleaming surfaces of Jonze’s near-future L.A., but its bare-bones ambiance is also perfect for the kind of winter Chicago has been having. Frontman Win Butler is uncertain if the soundtrack will ever see official release; “There are many pieces on the soundtrack that are kind of based on actual songs that we've never really recorded,” he told an Australian radio station, in a statement that makes it sound like “Milk & Honey” and “Dimensions” could one day be fleshed out into full-on album tracks. Until then, many generous recipients of “For Your Consideration” copies of the soundtrack have uploaded the music to YouTube, like a million operating systems taking leave of their physical vessels and flying off into the digital ether. [Erik Adams]