youdon'tknowmeYou Don’t Know Me, But You Don’t Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, and My Misadventures with Two of Music’s Most Maligned Tribes is an odd mixture of memoir and pop culture journalism that works despite itself.  Phish followers and Juggalos seemingly have little in common, but Nathan Rabin’s two-year journey following Phish and the Insane Clown Posse (ICP) helped him explain why both groups are typically scorned or ignored in mainstream culture and how that cultural disinterest has helped strengthen the bond between the groups and their respective fans.

The former head writer at The Onion’s AV Club and the author of three previous books, Rabin is a talented writer with a really strong grasp of pop culture (he coined the phrase “manic pixie dream girl”) and this is especially evident in his chapters about ICP and the Gathering of the Juggalos.  His connection with ICP and their fans develops from professional to personal, and his analysis of the socioeconomic and social factors that lead people to ICP is fascinating.  Rabin really made me examine my own snap judgments and cultural snobbery, and it was refreshing to hear a media critic talk about how much he enjoys something.  There are times when the book goes off the rails a bit (these tend to involve lists of the songs Phish played and their respective greatness), but the overall thesis and writing are strong enough to help carry through the moments of weakness. Recommended for fans of Chuck Klosterman, Marc Maron, and Dave Eggers.

thepropertyIn Rutu Modan’s The Property, Mica and her grandmother, Regina are traveling from Israel to Warsaw, Poland. Just before World War II Regina had married and moved to Israel. Years later, as the only surviving member of her family, she was contacted and inform that she was entitled to reclaim her family’s property.  For twenty years she left the property unclaimed, but following the death of her son and Mica’s father, Reuben, she decided to make the trip.

Returning to Warsaw, Regina is overwhelmed with the guilt and shame of a long hidden family secrets. Modan beautifully illustrates how our perceptions of ourselves and our world are shaped by cultural and personal histories, and The Property successfully (and subtly) exposes the generational divide in a family and in a city.  With charming illustrations reminiscent of Hergé’s Tintin and a witty sense of humor, The Property is a graphic novel sure to win over some skeptics of the genre.  I would recommend to fans of Maus by Art Spiegelman, Unterzakhn by Leela Corman, or Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.

JANUARY 7

fast and furious 6Fast & Furious 6 – Vin Deisel, Paul Walker

Following their successful Rio heist, Dom and his crew of professional criminals have retired around the world. But their inability to return home and living forever on the lam has left their lives incomplete. Hobbs asks Dom and Brian to help him take down an organization of lethally skilled mercenary drivers. In return, their crew will receive full pardons and be allowed to return home.  Rated PG-13

despicable me 2Despicable Me 2 – Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig

Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal. An all-new comedy adventure featuring the return of former super-villain Gru, his adorable girls, the unpredictably hilarious Minions, and a host of new and outrageously funny characters. Rated PG

runner, runnerRunner, Runner – Ben Affleck, Justin Timberlake

A Princeton graduate student, Richie, believes he has been tricked online by a fellow gambler. He travels to Costa Rica to meet Ivan Block, an online gambling tycoon. When the FBI tries to pressure Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever. Rated R

thanksThanks for Sharing – Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins

An unconventional romantic comedy that follows the topsy-turvy lives and loves of three obsessive characters: an overachieving environmental consultant, a stubborn small-business owner and a wisecracking ER doctor. They meet in a support group, and set into motion a life-changing journey filled with laughter and surprises. Rated R

JANUARY 14

butlerLee Daniel’s The Butler – Forest Whitaker,  Oprah Winfrey

Inspired by a true story about Cecil Gaines, a devoted husband, father, and White House butler who served eight Presidential administrations during the turbulent politics and civil rights battles of twentieth century America. Rated PG-13

 

short termShort Term 12 – Brie Larson, Frantz Turner

Grace is a twenty-something supervisor at a foster-care facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker, and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason. But Grace’s own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throws her into unforeseen confusion, made sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility, a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection. Rated R

fruitvaleFruitvale Station – Michael B. Jordan,  Melonie Diaz

The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: Being a better son to his mother, being a better partner to his girlfriend, and being a better father to T, their beautiful four-year-old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. Rated R

enoughEnough Said – James Gandolfini, Julia Louis- Dreyfus

Divorced mom Eva may be falling for Albert, a sweet, funny, like-minded divorce. But as their relationship blossoms, Eva befriends Marianne, who’s always complaining about her ex-husband. When Eva realizes that Albert is the target of Marianne’s rants, she begins to question her own perceptions about first impressions and second chances. Rated PG-13

JANUARY 21

captianCaptain Phillips – Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi

Based on the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, which was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years. Rated PG-13

 

blueBlue Jasmine – Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin

After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal, elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister Ginger’s humble apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again. Rated PG-13.

JANUARY 28

cloudyCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Bill Hader, Anna Faris

Inventor Flint Lockwood thought he saved the world when he destroyed his machine that turned water into food causing cheeseburger rain and spaghetti tornadoes. But Flint soon learns that his invention survived and is now creating food-animals. Flint and his friends embark on a dangerously delicious mission to battle hungry tacodiles, shrimpanzees, hippotatomuses, cheespiders and other foodimals to save the world again! Rated PG

last vegasLast Vegas – Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman

Four best friends in their late-60s decide to escape retirement and throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one of them who has remained single. Rated PG-13