Running from 1978 to 1980 on British TV, The Sandbaggers was essentially the antithesis of the James Bond movies. It replaced exotic locations and outlandish action sequences with a John le Carre-flavored down-to-earth emphasis on the political and emotional cost of espionage work, and was never less than totally absorbing.
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Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever was Yorkshire garage-pop trio The Cribs’ major-label debut. For once a shot at a wider audience made for the perfection of the sound (in this case, anthemic hooks married to witty lyrics and fluid, twitchy guitar), rather than its watering down—proving there’s life still left in the Strokes/Maximo Park school.
Paranoia 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.
With 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.
Phase 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.
David 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.
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.
Featured 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.
What 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.