'In Order of Disappearance' (2014): While we wait for the next season of "Fargo" coming this spring, this recent arrival on Netflix offers a rewarding mix of snowbound violence and deadpan humor that will feel familiar to fans of the Coen Brothers. Starring Stellan Skarsgård as a quiet snowplow driver out to avenge his son's death with a war against a health-conscious crime boss (played with an unhinged glee by Pål Sverre Hagen), this Norwegian import's dry dialogue and sweeping views of frozen desolation offer a funhouse reflection of the Scandinavian DNA that ran through the Coens' Midwestern crime drama with engrossing results.
Brian Eno's 'Reflection': With the arrival of a new year that at best feels a bit fraught and out of control on multiple fronts, Brian Eno has delivered what could only be described as an aural comfort with his latest in a long, innovative history of ambient releases. A soft-edged, slowly evolving single track of electronic chimes and gentle drones that stretch and sustain toward infinite distances — literally, in this case, as Eno has also released a companion app for the album that goes on forever — "Reflection" is the sort ot "discreet music" that invites its namesake, the sort of thing that we could use a lot more of regardless of what the future might hold.
The Flaming Lips: Remember when this band delivered a one-two punch of albums that explored humanity and mortality with "The Soft Bulletin" and "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots"? That was back around the turn of the century, and since then Wayne Coyne and Co. have regressed into colorful but increasingly exhausting efforts to top their past on releases that were always heavy with adventurous misspellings, gimmicky packaging and glittery collaborations but far shorter on memorable songs. Full of references to colorful unicorns and fairy hunts, the synthesizer-heavy new album, "Oczy Mlody," continues a trend for a band that just doesn't burn nearly as bright.
Season 4 of 'Sherlock': In a parallel universe, this co-production of PBS and the BBC quietly spanned a few seasons of stylish homages to Arthur Conan Doyle with a rapid-fire dialogue, a quirkily sharp lead and self-aware humor. Unfortunately, the show's profile rose with its star Benedict Cumberbatch, and the series simply went to the well one too many times, culminating with a just-completed fourth season that felt more obligatory than essential. Full of near-death cliffhangers that grew to ring hollow and a beyond-the-grave cameo from Andrew Scott's wonderfully mad Moriarty, the latest "Sherlock" seemed strangely out of ideas — an unforgivable sin around Baker Street.
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