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John’s Pick: Paranoia Agent


John staff picks photoParanoia Agent
was the late anime master Satoshi Kon’s sole foray into television; this enigmatic, visually arresting and borderline Lynchian series follows a disparate group of Tokyo residents whose lives are impacted by a string of mysterious assaults.

By MPPL on December 21, 2010 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Field Music (Measure)

John staff picks photoWith their third album, Field Music (Measure), UK indie-rock outfit Field Music have definitively mutated beyond their conspicuous XTC influences, taking apart their compelling guitar-pop melodies and reassembling them into a magnetically complex double-disc, kaleidoscopic epic.

By MPPL on October 18, 2010 Categories: Music, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Phase IV


John staff picks photoPhase IV
was the celebrated graphic designer Saul Bass’ lone film as a director, a cerebral and visually assured science fiction exercise depicting an ordinary ant colony unnervingly transformed into a genuinely alien intelligence.

By MPPL on August 9, 2010 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Make Way for Tomorrow

John staff picks photoConfirmed cynic Orson Welles reportedly said of Make Way for Tomorrow, “It could make a stone cry”—and this bittersweet, sharply observed, utterly heartbreaking 1937 picture will almost certainly move you as well.

By MPPL on May 31, 2010 Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Asterios Polyp


John staff picks photoDavid Mazzucchelli‘s outstanding graphic novel Asterios Polyp isn’t notable just for its satisfying story – about an arrogant architect who learns to see the world in a new way – but for the way that story is told:  elegant visual devices abound in this thematically rich work.

By MPPL on March 22, 2010 Categories: Books, Picks by John, Staff Picks

Juliet, Naked

Juliet, Naked book coverJohn of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby:

Juliet, Naked, Nick Hornby’s latest novel, is a return to the elements that made his debut novel High Fidelity a hit: music, romance and arrested development.  It tells the tale of a reclusive singer-songwriter who hasn’t recorded in years, the unexpected release of an acoustic version of his most popular album, and a trans-Atlantic correspondence with the increasingly disgruntled girlfriend of his biggest fan…which leads to something more.  As always, Hornby’s witty characterization runs side-by-side with his sharp observations of how the way we consume popular culture shapes our lives.

By MPPL on January 4, 2010 Categories: Books, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: A Matter of Life and Death

John staff picks photoFeatured in the Films of Michael Powell collection, A Matter of Life and Death stars David Niven as an aviator placed on trial for his life in Heaven after accidentally surviving a parachute-less jump. Graceful storytelling and visual sumptuousness are on display in this charming 1946 film.

By MPPL on Categories: Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John M.’s Pick: Sacred Songs

John staff picks photoWhat happens when blue-eyed soul collides with progressive rock?  The result is Sacred Songs, Daryl Hall’s underappreciated avant-pop collaboration with ex-King Crimson leader Robert Fripp, in which Hall’s catchy pop hooks are punctuated by Fripp’s fascinating sonic experiments.

By MPPL on October 19, 2009 Categories: Music, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Retrospective, Rarities & Instrumentals

John staff picks photoThe career-highlights disc Retrospective, Rarities & Instrumentals is the perfect introduction to the High Llamas‘ complex melodies and beautiful pop production, channeling post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys by way of Stereolab.

By MPPL on August 10, 2009 Categories: Music, Picks by John, Staff Picks

John’s Pick: Spaced

John staff picks photo Before director Edgar Wright and writer-star Simon Pegg turned to the film world with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, they perfected a combination of frantic pop-cultural allusions, whiplash editing and surprisingly sweet characterization with Spaced: The Complete Series, a Britcom about disaffected twentysomethings sharing a London flat.

By MPPL on May 25, 2009 Categories: Humor, Movies and TV, Picks by John, Staff Picks