OVERRATED:  The return of Jack Johnson
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Overrated / Underrated, Part 1: ‘Nashville,’ smooth disco and more

While best wishes go to Mumford & Sons bassist Ted Dwane as he recovers from brain surgery, the fallout from the band’s canceled tour reverberated in unsettling ways. With Mumford out of commission, their headlining slot at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo festival went to blandly carefree folk singer Jack Johnson. With a new album due in September, Johnson’s return will be big news for laid-back surfer bros and island vacation marketers, but everyone else should probably know better. (Jason Merritt / Getty Images)
Reexamining the story of the feminist art-punk activists sentenced to a Russian penal camp after a provocative 40-second performance in a Moscow cathedral, this HBO documentary serves as a reminder of not just the methods of an oppressive regime but the occasional power of music to do more than move product. Pussy Riot’s punk rock isn’t great music, but it bespeaks great courage, and the clarity with which its members speak out after the guitars stop buzzing is an inspiration. (HBO)
From just about any action-packed video game to “This Is the End” and “World War Z” (pictured), we are in the golden age of imaginations of the world come undone, and the more violently it goes the better. While a brisk, species-level fight for survival is certainly a convenient shortcut toward emotional engagement (particularly given any number of current events), it might be nice to consider the storytelling that could result if visions of a hopeful future came to us as easily as a hopeless one. (Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures)
Though released back in the Mesozoic era in typical hip-hop terms, this 1994 album from the cult Brooklyn trio of Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Craig “Doodlebug” Irving and Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira sounds timeless. Recently given a lush, vinyl-only reissue, “Blowout Comb” mixes sharp lyrics, head-bobbing beats and intricately crafted samples of Roy Ayers, Grant Green and Shuggie Otis into a record that finds the natural through-line that connects jazz with hip-hop. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
It’s unclear when Kanye West went from a top-of-the-game producer and rap star to pop cultural Public Enemy No. 1 (somewhere around interrupting Taylor Swift, perhaps?), but music fans shouldn’t dismiss his music. West is a mass of contradictions and provocations ¿ his recent relationship with Kim Kardashian included ¿ but based on early singles from his latest album, “Yeezus” (due June 18), he’s one of the few artists trying to say something while sounding good doing it. (NBC)
An emerging star on the jazz scene, drummer Kendrick Scott has performed with a wealth of top-flight players, including a longtime stint with trumpeter Terence Blanchard. Scott’s latest album with his band Oracle, “Conviction,” mines a broad set of influences in a way reminiscent of Blanchard, with songs by Sufjan Stevens and Herbie Hancock alongside taut originals, including the knotty “Cycling Through Reality.” (Scott plays the Blue Whale in Little Tokyo on June 21-22). (Rick Diamond / Getty Images)
In reference to the ‘70s soft-rock band and not the nation, this group behind ever-breezy AM staples “Muskrat Love,” “Ventura Highway” and “A Horse With No Name” has becomes a left-field influence on recent records by Band of Horses, Iron & Wine and, most egregiously, singer-songwriter Jonathan Wilson. One listen to the tranquilized mysticism of Wilson’s “Desert Raven” and you’ll remember why punk rock happened. (Associated Press)
A welcome addition to the queue of lower expectations that is the Netflix streaming library, this film co-written by “Buffy” mastermind Joss Whedon is less of a horror movie than a piercingly dark comedy about horror movies themselves. Chris Hemsworth of “Thor” may be the cast’s biggest name, but the stars are “The West Wing’s” Bradley Whitford and the fantastic Richard Jenkins, who steal every scene as the dryly effective engineers behind the curtain. (Diyah Pera / Lionsgate)
In a parallel universe, this willfully goofy film would stand alone as a surreal and resolutely French valentine to the movies. But instead, this much-lauded movie is part of a chorus of recent films that celebrate the cinema, a theme that feels blandly self-congratulatory. Of course, there’s also the matter of decoding writer-director Leos Carax’s baffling story, which is so ambiguous in revealing the adventures of a shape-shifting Denis Lavant that it’s worse than confusing ¿ it’s exhausting. (Indomina Releasing / Indomina Releasing)
Infatuated by the mystery surrounding the helmet-headed Daft Punk but looking for electronic music with a more introspective air? Consider this Scottish duo, whose lush and immersive new album, “Tomorrow’s Harvest,” comes out next week. First announced with the cryptic codes of an alien visitation, the album’s analog synths, off-center rhythms and creeping dread could score a sci-fi noir epic set in a color-saturated wasteland miles removed from Daft Punk’s disco. ()
After last week’s jaw-dropping “red wedding” episode, alleged fans of HBO’s fantasy epic threatened to cancel their subscriptions because the story took a dark turn. If you can hear these people amid all the laughter coming from those who saw this coming after reading George R.R. Martin’s books, remind them that the story is king here and that the series established its cruel disregard for its lead characters’ safety back in Season 1. That’s how this game is played. (HBO)
It may not be as readily apparent after a few brisk walks around Venice Beach, but ours was a far stranger city in the ‘70s, the kind of place where a white-robed cult led by someone called Father Yod (a.k.a. Jim Baker) could run a vegan eatery popular enough to appear in “Annie Hall.” That cult is the story in this documentary, which explores a uniquely weird time even as it considers how sex, drugs and cultish devotion lead to madness (and, apparently, very twisted music). (Drag City)
Maybe the most ECM-sounding of the German label ECM’s usual stable of atmospheric quasi-jazz albums, this recording from the duo of Thomas Strønen and Iain Ballamy builds an immersive world all its own. Joined by guests that include trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, guitarist Eivind Aarset and electronics wizard Christian Fennesz, Food’s thoughtful, evocative sound may not be summer barbecue-ready, but it satisfies. ()
Less a movie and more of an expensive wink toward a franchise’s roots punctuated by a judicious use of explosions, the latest installment of J.J. Abrams’ reboot of the venerable sci-fi series doesn’t deliver the bubbly summer thrills of the first time around. Strangely devoid of tension or surprises despite a decent villainous turn by Benedict Cumberbatch, the best thing about this movie is it will be forgotten in three months. (Zade Rosenthal / AP)
While some measure of tragedy is part of the story in just about any documentary about prostitution, this import from the Netherlands mostly transcends expectations through the strength of its relentlessly quirky leads in twin, 69-year-old veterans of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Loud, bawdy and suffused with their own measures of sadness, the twins have a vibrant spirit that remains undaunted, and a curious treat to watch. ( Submarine)
Renewed for a second season, this show featuring the talents of the consistently great Connie Britton (formerly of “Friday Night Lights”) and music producer T Bone Burnett is in the strange position where the rich and original show that music fans want this series to be overshadows the ham-fisted soapy drama it actually is. With paternity questions, shootings and blackmail, this show is just a musical “Dynasty” with better guest stars. (Chris Hollo, ABC)
Another monster movie masquerading as a documentary, this film might be enough to make you question almost every aspect of the beauty industry. Centered on an emotionally broken ex-model turned talent scout, the film follows a frightfully young 13-year-old Russian girl as she gets caught in the web of a thinly veiled human trafficking “modeling agency” that promises fame and wealth but delivers isolation, desolate living conditions and debt. ( First Run Features)
Perhaps better described as a horror film than a documentary, this film examining the collapse of Detroit (and to an extent the U.S. manufacturing industry) offers sobering slices of life amid an economic collapse. Long the butt of easy jokes, Detroit’s crumbling state becomes all the more sobering in the light of those trying to survive in its city limits, and the overwhelming feeling is one of how easily this could happen in other cities too. (Loki Films)
It’s not the repeated echoes of ‘70s dance music that people are railing against in the first critical responses to Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories,” which will be released this week. It’s the glossy, overproduced and overfamiliar side of New Age-dusted disco that the French duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem Christo and Thomas Bangalter chose to mine in this album. Just buy a used Commodores record, it’s cheaper. (AP)
Steadily rising up the comedy ladder with appearances on the cult U.K. hit “The I.T. Crowd” and 2011’s “Bridesmaids,” this Irish comic actor is something like a mix of the goofy physicality of Will Ferrell with a dryly rumpled delivery of a pre-overexposed Seth Rogen. You can catch him on TV with a run on HBO’s “Girls” as well as the lead in its new series from Christopher Guest, “Family Tree,” and look for him to keep rising elsewhere soon. (Suzanne Tenner / HBO)
It’s really a study in restraint that each major network hasn’t built its schedule around some broad, unscripted corner below the Mason-Dixon line. It’s understandable to try to replicate the runaway success of “Duck Dynasty” and even to some extent “The Walking Dead,” but the copies of a copy like the upcoming “Swamp Murders” are overlooking a broad part of the South that remains interesting and worth exploring without cartoonish cliches. (Art Streiber, A & E)
Jazz is often billed as the original American art form, but its reach is truly global. “BabEl,” from young Israeli saxophonist Gurvich, is another satisfying example of that reach. Released last month on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, “BabEl” features top-flight musicians from Cuba, Argentina, Morocco and Bulgaria, and the lush music -- particularly a take on the traditional Sephardic piece “Scalerica de Oro” -- transcends borders. ()
The arrival of gargantuan box office receipts for the many metal-suited men of “Iron Man 3" can mean only one thing: It’s blockbuster season again. Now we have an overloud “Gatsby” adaptation no one needed, another boldly going installment of “Star Trek” and any number of explosion-enhanced epics to interrupt what’s otherwise a reasonably comfortable place to sit and wait out the sun with air conditioning. Wake us when it’s Labor Day. ( AP)
Best known as the keyboard player in the improvisation-fueled groove-jazz band Medeski Martin & Wood, Medeski showcases an unexpected facet to his playing with his quiet solo debut. Recorded on a 1924 Gaveau piano that’s more akin to something from Chopin than Medeski’s typical orbit of Sun Ra and Larry Young, the record is a delicate, contemplative affair, one that reveals something new each listen. (Jimmy Katz)
It’s a statement on the general malaise big-screen comedies have been in recent years that this movie earned decent reviews for reflecting on the state of the economy. And although Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston have done good comic work before, here the jokes seem telegraphed, far too broad and reliant upon stunt character turns. A hippie-haired Justin Theroux and a bunch of alums from “The State” were promising, but not enough. (Gemma La Mana / Universal)
Starring “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss and character actor Peter Mullan (of “Session 9" and the chilling “Red Riding” trilogy), this miniseries from Oscar-winning auteur Jane Campion is the sort of quietly intense, character-rich mystery AMC’s “The Killing” so desperately wanted to be. Set in a New Zealand as awe-inspiring as the backdrops in “Lord of the Rings,” the series casts a spell that’s somewhere between the worlds of John Sayles and David Lynch. (Parisa Taghizadeh / Sundance Chann)
The Rolling Stones caused a minor earthquake among L.A. music fans last week when they announced a “secret” show at a comparatively tiny Echo Park club to promote a tour that roughly every other person in the city already knew about. This show and many others by the likes of Depeche Mode, the Foo Fighters and Prince may reward a too-random few with a story to lord over friends, but face it, it’s more about marketing than music. (Kevin Winter, Getty Images)
Sure, it might be tough to find a relatable hook in a documentary about performance artist-musician Genesis P. Orridge and his wife, who in an unconventional devotional project dubbed “Pandrogyne” elected to surgically transform into each other as a testament to their bond. But ultimately, this is at its core a love story, one that initially seems odd or disturbing but becomes affectingly sweet. (Dont Knock The Rock)
Come on, Harry. You turned up on the once-proud singing competition to remind contestants that the words of the pop songbook matter and that mimicry isn’t enough to be a singer. Now you’re in talks to join the show as a judge? Sure, your TV career’s cooled since “Will & Grace,” but once you see something’s crazy, you don’t join the asylum. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Directed by writer Sebastian Junger, this affecting HBO documentary shines a light on photographer Tim Hetherington, who worked with Junger on the Academy Award-nominated “Restrepo” and lost his life reporting on the Libyan revolution of 2011. The film notes that not only did we lose Hetherington’s remarkable eye with the camera, but his insightful eye for humanity as well. (Tim A Hetherington / Goldcrest Features)
Maybe L.A.'s greatest new tradition, Ciclavia reclaims our streets for non-motorized transport in a way that forces us to engage with our city and each other in a more intimate way. But the recent, traffic-clogged route from downtown to the ocean indicates that the event may have outgrown its original intent. We have no trouble expanding freeways for more cars, let’s widen future Ciclavia routes -- or maybe reserve some streets for bikes full time. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Few artists in recent years have earned as much critical derision than dubstep star Skrillex, but this new project from the floppy-haired DJ and fellow EDM star Boys Noize was one of the most crowded sets at the two-weekend Coachella festival. You can hear the dark echo of the electronic music forefathers of Wax Trax records in Dog Blood’s manic mix, and the contrast with Coachella’s feel-good vibes wasn’t just welcome, it was necessary. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
How did a French electronic duo with a prediliction for robot masks become pop music’s Godot? Rumors of a surprise appearance at the Coachella festival overshadowed both weekends, and new single “Get Lucky” got the most single-day spins ever on Spotify. While the song is a fizzy disco flashback (thanks to Chic’s Nile Rodgers), new album “Random Access Memories” can’t live up to this level of hype. Remember Daft Punk’s “Tron 2.0" soundtrack? (Dan Steinberg / AP)
A forum for obsessed fans to discuss the hidden meaning behind Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining,” this documentary tellingly judges no one for finding veiled references to the Holocaust and a faked moon landing within the film’s horrors. Although the ideas are interesting at best (and nuttier than Nutella at worst), the documentary finds a real truth in recognizing that the Overlook Hotel’s nightmarish quality remains unsettling and timeless. (IFC Films)
As this year’s Coachella closes, it’s indicative of its underwhelming lineup that the most talked-about surprise involved this R&B singer joining the French band Phoenix. And though that collision may have been fun, does anyone know why Kelly is also appearing at Bonnaroo and the hipster-curated Pitchfork Festival? Remember his 2008 child pornography trial? And if not, how long until Chris Brown gets his indie rock festival comeback? 2015? (Christopher Polk / Getty Images for Coachella)
Solo, instrumental guitar records are typically viewed as the stuff of pony-tailed guys who linger a bit too long inside instrument stores, but this release by the Nashville-based Tyler may be the most beautiful, evocative album you’ll hear in 2013. Rife with buoyant, summer-ready melodies and flashes of pedal steel, upright bass and horns, this album is the ideal soundtrack for your next road trip, no matter how long. (Will Holland / Merge Records)
Remember 2009? There were fewer songs more irresistible than this French band’s “Lisztomania,” with the possible exception of “1901,” which is just as catchy and, at least until the choruses hit, pretty much the same song. After Phoenix’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance last week to tease its new album, “Bankrupt!,” it’s clear these musicians do their airy, stylishly catchy pop trick pretty well ¿ but it’s all they do. How did this band get a headlining slot at Coachella? (Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times)
In the wake of the death of Margaret Thatcher, there are few more fitting tributes than this raw and occasionally harrowing snapshot of English youth in 1983. On one hand it’s a vivid and heartfelt portrait of skinheads, ‘80s culture and a country engaged in a pointless war, and on the other it’s a sobering reminder of the bigotry and fear that rise out of economic desperation and how sadly familiar it looks in any country. (Dean Rogers / IFC First Take release)
Let’s be charitable and assume the reason why there’s been no Wonder Woman movie ¿ really, just count how many Spider-, Super- and Batmen we’ve endured in the meantime ¿ is some cringingly dated costume associations to overcome. True, go-go boots, invisible jets and a “lasso of truth” don’t have the same spark as web-slinging or fancy caves, but the time has come for Hollywood to reflect that women can be super too. (DC comics)
Every comic’s mission is to amuse and, if they’re really good, to make us think. As a stand-up, Oswalt’s long done both on TV (“King of Queens,” “Justified”) and film (“Ratatouille,” “Young Adult”). But right after the horrific blasts at the Boston Marathon, Oswalt did much more in an essay that lighted up social media, reminding us of humanity’s goodness just when we needed it most. Seriously ¿ thanks, Patton. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)
The return of AMC’s stylish former crown jewel seems strangely less of a national event than other prestige shows such as “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad” and ratings juggernaut “The Walking Dead.” What’s more, even the show seems tired in its next-to-last season with every move feeling familiar and overburdened with its own perceived artistry and literary-grade importance. (Michael Yarish, AP)
These two actors, born less than a year apart, may be the Dylan McDermott-Dermot Mulroney of their time. Their names aren’t as similar, but the films -- covering baseball (“The Rookie"-"Bull Durham,” respectively), politics (“The Special Relationship"-"JFK”) and even cycling (“Breaking Away"-"American Flyers”) -- bear out a connection. Can someone write a sequel to “Wyatt Earp” and bring these stars back into alignment? ()
One of the most acclaimed -- and controversial -- movies of 2012 recently came to DVD, and maybe it’s seeing its scenes of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on the small screen, but the idea that the film somehow defends torture doesn’t, well, hold water. If anything, the film forces the viewer to confront the raw reality behind the hunt for Osama bin Laden and raises the question of whether that cost justified the results. (Jonathan Olley)
Joining José James as part of a very good year for fans of soulful jazz (or jazz-inflected soul), this L.A.-born, Brooklyn-based vocalist is a rising star. A track from his most recent album, “Be Good,” earned a Grammy nomination in the R&B category last year, and upcoming appearances at the Monterey and Playboy jazz festivals should lift his profile even further. Listen to “On My Way to Harlem” for a sample of his rich, striking sound. (Mike Nelson / EPA)
With more shows in the works, the news isn’t that the Stones are on the road again, it’s that they never stopped. Look, there’s no denying the impact and importance of Mick, Keef and the band’s music for generations to come. But as rewarding as it must be for the faithful to relive the hits in huge, pricey venues once more (this time supporting yet another best-of, “GRRR!”), is this age-indifferent effort really adding to their legacy? (Dave Allocca, AP)
A sideman with Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus and Sam Rivers, this Massachusetts-born pianist doesn’t get as much acclaim as better-known jazz titans such as Herbie Hancock or Ahmad Jamal, but he’s just as vital. Byard, who died in 1999, was a profound influence on current piano great Jason Moran, and on a new duet recording with Tommy Flanagan, “The Magic of 2: Live at Keystone Korner,” he sounds better than ever. ()
Another day, another reminder that an inspiring movement is just as addicted to nostalgia as the Woodstock era it rebelled against. This spring, the Met in New York hosts an exhibition titled “PUNK: Chaos to Couture,” and you can probably start counting down until a 35th-anniversary retrospective is printed somewhere to remind us all how much cooler things were in 1978. This living in the past needs a rebellion of its own. ()
“Brave” may have taken home the Oscar in February, but don’t overlook this surprisingly charming look at the hidden lives of video game characters. From Jack McBrayer giving pixelated life to Kenneth the page from “30 Rock” to John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman’s endearing turns at the film’s center, the movie’s a wonder of agreeably moving parts and in-jokes that transcends its subject matter’s eight-bit roots. (AP)
Maybe there’s some amount of managed expectations one should have going into superhero movies, but given the star power involved (Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender), this movie really should have been more than a simple comic franchise reboot through time travel. Fassbender offered his typical steely intensity, but otherwise the movie was seldom more than another dim, ham-handed summer blockbuster. (20th Century Fox)
An intriguing look at the performance artist’s decision to sit for face-to-face encounters with the public for the run of a 2001 retrospective of her work, this documentary offers a fascinating glimpse of a unique creative force. Watch for the moving moment between Abramovic and her former partner, and left-field cameos from illusionist-endurance artist David Blaine and James Franco. (Marina Abramovic / Music Box Films)
Remember when this marathon musical smorgasbord and meet-up was about new artists as opposed to career-relaunching concerts and high-profile branding opportunities? Like the musical equivalent of Sundance in Utah, SXSW has become a big-money shadow of its former self. But don’t worry, all you lucky insiders who caught uber-exclusive shows with Green Day, Justin Timberlake and Prince -- we’re still impressed. (John Sciulli / Getty Images for Samsung)
An Ohio-born indie songwriter who worshiped at the alter of Neil Young (with arresting results), Molina’s recordings split the difference between cracked-hearted Americana and sky-splitting guitar rock. The 39-year-old Molina died from complications of alcoholism last week, but his output as his musical alter ego Songs: Ohia and beyond still endures, particularly on the 2003 album, “Magnolia Electric Co.” He will be missed. ()
Don’t get us wrong -- we adore Fey, mourn the loss of “30 Rock” every week and are pretty sure there’s not a show on television that couldn’t be improved with her presence (The Oscars? “The Newsroom”? “The Walking Dead”?). Somehow, she just can’t find the right fit in theaters lately, however, with the underwhelming “Date Night” and the sadly formulaic “Admission.” Is it too late for a “Mean Girls” sequel? (David Lee, MCT)
Although HBO could still be considered in a bit of a slump (“Boardwalk Empire” and “Treme,” you’re not as compelling as you think), this dark comedy series from Mike White and Laura Dern is a true, eccentric pleasure. Particularly Dern, who nails the role of an unhinged, unpredictable professional trying to reassemble her life. Now if we can just make sure it returns next season.  (LACEY TERRELL, MCT)
It’s been a dark time for ‘90s rock fans, given the cancellation of the Sugar Ray/Gin Blossoms radio classics cruise and the conflicting reports that Scott Weiland has been fired from his day job fronting post-grunge favorites Stone Temple Pilots. Hard to say which is sadder: puzzling out a land-locked tour itinerary to hear Mark McGrath or that someone still finds anything interesting about Stone Temple Pilots.  (Paul Vernon, AP)
: There’s a curious — and suspicious — bit of instant time travel at work in this song, which uses a mix of reverb, fuzzy guitar and a nasal, raspy vocal hook to create a diabolically addictive, bite-sized hybrid of early ‘60s Dylan and Hamburg-era Beatles. We’re not sure what hypnotic sort of chemistry this 19-year-old (!) is employing in the U.K., but he should know that with great power comes great responsibility. (Scott Gries / Invision for MTV)
The star of the money-printing “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Black Swan” and innumerable teenage dreams caused a collective swoon across the Internet after having a relaxed, playful moment with a flummoxed junket interviewer. Sweet as this clip may be, what does it say about our standards of celebrity behavior when this kind of thing is enough to win her some kind of virtual humanitarian prize? (John Shearer, Invision / AP)
When was this beloved former frontman of the Smiths voted the vegetarian of record? First came the dust-up with Jimmy Kimmel over “Duck Dynasty,” now Moz has harsh words for Beyoncé about her handbag line. As delightfully weird as that last sentence is to consider, just imagine if he were to channel that sniping into a new album. He might write something as interesting as his ex-bandmate Johnny Marr’s “The Messenger.”  (Kevin Winter, Getty Images)
An actor who’s become the first call when a role requires a dryly sarcastic, possibly repressed and otherwise level-headed counterpoint to his surroundings, Messina has gone from being the straight-laced match for Lauren Ambrose’s Claire in “Six Feet Under” to earnest big-screen turns in “Ruby Sparks,” “Greenberg” and “Argo.” But he shines on “The Mindy Project,” where he acts as a no-nonsense romantic foil to Mindy Kaling. (Beth Dubber, FOX)
This can’t be all about Steve Jobs, can it? From a poorly received update to its software iTunes to recent plans to revolutionize the digital watch, somehow it seems as if the shine has fallen off the Apple. Either we’re amid a shortage of innovative transformations of genuine human needs (what’s next, an iStove?) or we as consumers finally have enough stylish electro-toys — just kidding, that’s not really possible.  (JOHN G. MABANGLO, EPA)
A loud and unnecessary hybrid of “The Voice” and “Top Chef,” the latest attempt to force-feed another cooking reality show on the viewing public has plenty of star wattage with its celebrity chef mentors but falters on watchable drama. With its over-the-top contestants, flashy set and awkward bickering, this is probably the sort of show Anthony Bourdain would’ve ruthlessly mocked if he weren’t one of the judges. (ABC)
Already one of the most addicting, sumptuously shot dramas on TV, this BBC series grew only stronger with this Scottish actor on board for its second season, which came out on DVD last month. A volcanic poet of profanity in “In the Loop,” Capaldi simmers with a grim sternness as the show’s news director and shines in deft, nuanced exchanges with an acidly sharp reporter played by Anna Chancellor(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
The decision by Billboard to include the total of YouTube streams into its music rankings formula is an interesting one, particularly considering how many people treat the streaming video site as a sort of on-demand radio. With Baauer’s skull-crushingly inescapable viral hit “Harlem Shake” racing to the top, the possibilities seem endless. Are we on the cusp of the first cat video-spawned pop star?  (William Braden, AP)
As plainly titled as a covers album can be, the new release from this Grammy-nominated bandleader-drummer treats the music of Queen, Imogen Heap and Ornette Coleman with an equal, dynamic grace. A percolating “Man of Constant Sorrow” and a surprise big-band reworking of Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” are rendered with enough lush invention to become something you like a lot too.  ()
Ever since this lauded writer-director took on a story by Elmore Leonard in 1997, he hasn’t so much made movies as he’s made stylized, self-aware takes on his favorite genres. We know Tarantino can offer his own twists on kung fu (“Kill Bill”), aptly titled horror (“Grindhouse”) and the western (“Django Unchained”), but remember when his movies had just as much to say with story as style? ( Miramax Films)
For years the shorts category has been filled with intriguing but tough-to-find fare. Enter “Paperman,” an odds-on favorite in the animated short category that’s available for all to see thanks to YouTube. But even if this Disney short about a man’s attempts to reach a missed connection took more effort to watch, its sweet, vintage-shaded heart gives it the feel of an instant classic and a winner no matter what happens on Sunday. (Disney)
This may prove to be the “everyone loses to ‘Searching for Sugar Man’” category, but credit the filmmakers behind this documentary, which explores the remarkable combination of effort and activism during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Not only are the individual stories inspiring and sometimes achingly tragic, the film is a reminder that while today we have the viral movement “it gets better,” not that long ago things were much worse. (Donna Binder / Sundance Selects)
Only mathematically more likely than (the unnominated) “Battleship” to win in the bloated best picture category, this movie isn’t so much bad as it’s terribly confused. A disturbing and raw look at mental illness in the first third and a goofball romantic comedy in the last, the only thing that saved this film from becoming a frustrating mess were its stars, the justly honored Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence(JOJO WHILDEN, AP)
Maybe you’re unfamiliar with this comic’s in-person performances, where he has collaborated with alt-comedy favorites David Cross and Todd Barry, but in the animated realm he’s comedy gold. Now featured as one of the lead voices in TV’s “Bob’s Burgers” and “Archer,” Benjamin’s gruff baritone can be either deadpan or boisterously delusional, and these characters wouldn’t sound nearly as funny without him.  (Jason Nocito / Comedy Central)
Can you see the clock ticking, all you Beliebers? Though it’s been years since this pop star has leapt into our hearts, he’s 18 and we’re awfully close to 9:59 on Bieber’s allotted 10 minutes of fame. His petulant response to being snubbed by the Grammys revealed how far removed from reality this pop star has ventured, and he’ll be relegated to a musical time capsule faster than you can say Miley Cyrus.  (Jeff Siner / AP)
If you watched the Grammys, all of last week’s water cooler talk might have centered on Carrie Underwood, Frank Ocean or whatever was left of Katy Perry‘s dress. But don’t let all the high-wattage star power detract from an understated breakout performance by this L.A.-based R&B visionary, whose remarkable album “Kaleidoscope Dream” mixed soul and futuristic psychedelia and deserved a much bigger part of the show.  (Christopher Polk, Getty Images for NARAS)
There’s a lot to like in Netflix‘s “House of Cards,” including a surprisingly acidic Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey as a black-hearted master manipulator. But for all the machinations, Spacey’s snide asides are doing more harm than good. With every oily observation his character gives us, any dramatic tension starts to fizzle as we’re reminded there’s no need to fret, everything is going according to plan. (Melinda Sue Gordon, AP)
FX’s much-hyped ‘80s spy series “The Americans” showed a few flaws in its early going, but one inarguable decision was to open with an intense, action film-styled sequence backed by this classic. Somewhat derided in its day for the decadent (and brilliant) choice to include the USC marching band as part of its single mix, “Tusk” and its insistent drum patter are creepy, vaguely paranoid and close to perfect. (Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)
One of this year’s most talked about films, this Oscar-nominated documentary deserves all its many accolades as the story of the obscure ‘70s singer-songwriter Rodriguez, who — wait, stop right there! There’s a remarkable story here, and maybe because it’s a documentary many people feel OK about giving away the ending, which considerably diminishes its magic. Don’t let it happen to you. (Hal Wilson, AP)
Written and directed by the team behind “Juno,” this quasi-comedy seemed to fly under most people’s radar but was more complex and affecting than it appeared. Featuring a mostly drunk and deranged Charlize Theron trying to win back her high school sweetheart, the movie never succumbs to its dark heart thanks in part to a pitch-perfect supporting turn by comic Patton Oswalt as a damaged voice of reason.  (Phillip V. Caruso / Paramount Pictures)
A gory thriller that seems hell-bent on delivering something akin to “Silence of the Lambs” mixed with the velvet-gloved subtlety of the “Saw” franchise, this Fox series sets aside such petty concerns as plausible characters and plot in pursuit of cheap shocks and what must be gallons of fake blood. Kevin Bacon deserves better than this — and the less said about the liberties being taken with Edgar Allan Poe, the better.  (Sarah Shatz / FOX)
Justly lauded for shaping the look and sound of jazz since 1939, Blue Note Records has been on a remarkable roll recently with albums by Robert Glasper, Joe Lovano and this jazz-forged soul singer, who released an acclaimed album in January. Steeped with a lush, nocturnal atmosphere that could be called “post-D’Angelo,” James’ groove-heavy sound can heat up any winter’s night. (AP)
Nothing against Maroon 5 fans, but when was it decided that Levine had more to offer beyond auto-tuned choruses and brain-invading electropop that celebrates having moves like Jagger? The ability to trade jabs with pop stars on “The Voice” and deliver an accent for a “30 Rock” cameo doesn’t constitute comic timing, as last week’s affable but clunky turn on “Saturday Night Live” proved. Don’t quit your day job, Adam.  (Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)
How did an action movie centered on Liam Neeson and a bunch of bearded Alaskan roughnecks squaring off with a pack of wolves become something so strangely elegiac and existential? Certainly there’s something agreeably primal about the central struggle, but credit a surprisingly delicate touch from Joe Carnahan that puts a creeping, oddly poetic sense of futility ahead of bloodthirsty encounters.  (Open Road Films)
Is it a reflection on a sport or a culture when a national championship game is more about the products being hawked around it than the game itself? Sure, there’s creativity to be celebrated among the elves of Madison Avenue, but if you’re not a sports fan and feel the need to stay in Sunday to keep up with the ads for Monday’s virtual water cooler talk, the game is already over on some level. (AP)
Tapped for a recent interview on Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast, this veteran actor stands alone in being able to tackle goofy comedy, heavy drama and even a comic franchise with uncommon skill. “Night Shift,” “Mr. Mom” and “Beetlejuice” remain classics, and although Tim Burton‘s “Batman” seems campy as compared with Christopher Nolan‘s deadly serious take, Keaton remains a rock — no growling voice box required.  (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
With another reunion tour on the horizon, this band becomes more difficult to appreciate the longer it endures. The group’s glossy take on country rock can indeed sound both peaceful and easy in moderation, but the relentless self-mythologizing that began with the absurd cowboy get-ups of “Desperado” and continues in a two-part documentary that premiered at Sundance leaves one wishing hell would stop freezing over.  (Chris Pizzello / Invision / AP)
: What better way to celebrate flu season than with a harrowing (yet strangely detached) look at how capably society crumbles around one inconvenient virus? A germaphobe’s nightmare filled with muted appearances by Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and a cruelly dispatched Gwyneth Paltrow, the film will make you consider where you place your hands in public spaces, whether you’re feeling under the weather or not.  (Claudette Barius / Warner Bros)
With “Jersey Shore” now just a fake-tanned memory, networks are scrambling for a new neighborhood to exploit. What will win our hearts? The circus of Venice Beach Boardwalk characters in AMC‘s “Freakshow”? Or the cartoonish family in “Southie Rules,” a show supposedly about Boston gentrification that’s just another example of how low people will go for TV fame. Seems we lose either way.  (Ron P Jaffe, AP)
The first season of Lena Dunham‘s often uncomfortable HBO series was neither as flawless nor as flawed as its hype and corresponding backlash proclaimed, but its secret weapon was Driver as Dunham’s buff and generally shirtless boyfriend. Initially coming off as dim and repugnant, Driver’s character became the most weirdly grounded and assured presence among them all as the show found its legs.  (Ali Paige Goldstein / HBO)
Earning strong reviews upon its release, this action movie showed potential but ultimately stumbled into something frustrating. The risky choice to make up Joseph Gordon-Levitt to resemble Bruce Willis caused more distraction than suspension of disbelief, and all the talk of time travel proved to be a red herring as the movie became something much more familiar and far less thought-provoking than its ambitions.  (Handout, MCT)
A left-field documentary that came to DVD only last year, this film shines a light on a bizarre yet fascinating window in the ‘70s when international stars were wooed to play soccer in the U.S. -- with the help of Henry Kissinger, in Pelé's case -- and the sport took off for a magical instant. From your kid’s league to the MLS, this is where it all began. (George Tiedmann / Courtesy of Mira)
Has the pop landscape become so barren that the return of a pop star with two albums to his name is headline news? Granted, the nearly 7-year-old “FutureSex/LoveSounds” has moments of real inspiration, but it’s not like there’s been a gaping musical void while Timberlake focused on genially goofy “SNL” spoofs and (surprisingly capable) acting work. It’s a third album, not a second coming. (FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA, AFPGetty Images)
Now on DVD, this lightly twisted romantic comedy has a syntaxically challenging title, but it’s a sure bet as new offerings grow slim at theaters. Starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and the seemingly everywhere Mark Duplass, this film uses a lush Pacific Northwest setting for a rich, intimate look at how relationships can grow more powerful the more unconventional they become.  (IFC Films)
It’s turned Comic-Con into Hollywood’s promotional playground and birthed unfortunate new words like “adorkable.” Now, as we band together to show just how quirkily nonconformist we are, let’s recognize that when plastic-framed glasses are on nearly every face and superhero and/or fantasy movies are the biggest hits, it’s not an underserved subculture anymore. Congratulations, everyone -- you fit in. (Patrick T. Fallo /, Los Angeles Times)
One of top talents in contemporary jazz guitar, Rosenwinkel sounds as virtuosic as ever on this 2012 double album. But for all his fleet-fingered acrobatics and sometimes-divisive vocal harmonies, Rosenwinkel is braced every step of the way by a band that includes keyboard phenom Aaron Parks and drummer Justin Faulkner, who boasts a taut mix of grace and drive. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)
It’s tough to knock anything on the ever-underrated PBS, but for all the cultish devotion this series inspires, you’d think it would deliver more than lush costumes and set design. Maggie Smith’s one-liners remain acidic delights, but the two bad seeds in the servants’ quarters stubbornly defy any new growth or evolution, and the drama around its central couples carries a soapy bluster this show should outclass. (Nick Briggs, AP)
This HBO series may not need more acclaim before returning this spring, but look no further than the overblown “The Hobbit” to consider the difficulty of turning sorcery and swordplay into smart, consistently surprising drama. Even setting aside the show’s occasional reliance on pay-cable sex and gore, watching it again reveals an ambition in its details that’s like nothing else on TV. (HBO)

As if the “Sex and the City” movies hadn’t done enough to tarnish the show’s legacy, the CW turns to its central character with the teen prequel “The Carrie Diaries.” Armed with ‘80s fashion and (judging by the trailer) an unreasonable amount of campy synthesizer sounds, this show should finally eliminate any discernible difference between the previously unique Bradshaw and any given “Gossip Girl.”

 (The CW)
As technology keeps shrinking our world, now we can catch many shows from beyond our borders long before relying on U.S. networks to adapt them — and possibly screw them up. With LinkTV now on KCET, there’s a chance for Denmark’s “Borgen” to continue its rise as a third season approaches and the hits keep coming from Britain with “The Hour” (pictured), “Luther” and the addictive “Downton Abbey.”  (AP)
As time goes on, this streaming service is less of a television revolution and more of a retrenchment of its existing model. Terrestrial TV gives its shows away with commercials to offset their costs, but with the “premium” benefits of Hulu Plus you can pay a subscription fee and sit through ads as if TiVo were never invented. When was the last time you saw anything on Hulu good enough to pay for twice?  ()