Overrated/Underrated: The Shins' 'Heartworms' buries its strengths while 'Hotel Beau Séjour' is worth checking out


‘Hotel Beau Séjour’ on Netflix: This worthy new addition to a crowded streaming field of moody European crime thrillers adds a twist by placing the victim at the center of the investigation. Set in a dreary (though surprisingly motocross-obsessed) corner of Belgium, it hinges on a young girl, Kato (Lynn Van Royen), waking up and seeing her own dead body before coming to the grim realization that she was killed — but five people in town can still see her. With a melancholy tone that recalls the French quasi-zombie series “The Returned,” “Hotel Beau Séjour” is worth a look while waiting for “Twin Peaks” to return.

Miles Okazaki’s ‘Trickster’: Part of a knotty school of jazz composition informed by the work of saxophonist (and 2014 MacArthur grant winner) Steve Coleman, this guitarist’s latest album carries a similarly tangled, off-kilter approach to melody but remains locked to a steady groove. Backed by a rhythm section capable of carving out unconventional paths and patterns with a steadily propulsive drive, Okazaki teams with the similarly inventive pianist Craig Taborn to navigate some unsteady waters, but with each twist, the album’s odd-angled ventures offer a new reflection of the music’s roots in jazz, funk and blues. Tricky stuff.


‘Paterson’ (2016): Given Jim Jarmusch’s track record, this film’s quiet celebration of the artistic life through the windshield of working class New Jersey, combined with the oddball charisma of Adam Driver as a bus driver-poet named Paterson, should have been an instant classic. Yet for all the patiently drawn details and occasionally transfixing moments in Driver’s verses (written by poet Ron Padgett), the movie sags under some underwritten details — particularly Paterson’s wife, who barely exists apart from her unwavering support and eccentricities — and a reliance on elevating the mundane that, after awhile, starts feeling pretty mundane.

The Shins’ ‘Heartworms’: One of the last acts standing from the scattered remains of early-’00s indie rock, James Mercer’s delivery system for expertly crafted pop songs kept changing lives well after his song “New Slang” was the most memorable part of Zach Braff’s overwrought “Garden State.” But for all of Mercer’s undeniable songwriting chops, this latest effort feels somehow overcooked. Acting as producer as well as creating most of the music, Mercer frames his familiar high-register vocals in layers of synthesizers and glossy electronics until his music’s greatest strength — the infectious, hyper-catchy melodies — struggles to shine through.

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