The “Twilight” phenomenon passed us by, but we’re totally hooked on the next YA (young adult) sensation, “The Hunger Games” series. The trilogy, by Suzanne Collins, imagines a post-apocalyptic world called Panem. In the first book, we learn that the ruins of the United States have been divided into 12 Districts whose resources are used to support the wealthy, all-powerful Capitol. And for the Capitol’s entertainment, an annual real-life “Survivor”-style event called “The Hunger Games” requires each District to send two of its children into an arena to fight til death. It’s a horrifying premise, and the situations are brutal and violent. But it’s also an addictive and thought-provoking read, thanks to the strong-willed and resourceful narrator, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the games. Read the series, then look for a movie version of the series next year starring Jennifer Lawrence of “Winter’s Bone.”
“Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip” was a bit of a hiccup in Aaron Sorkin’s otherwise brilliant career, the single-season NBC dramedy about a “Saturday Night Live”-style TV show aired after “The West Wing” and before “The Social Network” hit the big screen. But the show lives on in the strangest of ways: on Twitter. Somebody has registered Twitter accounts under the names of all the major characters (@MattAlbie60, @DannyTripp60), and are constantly tweeting back and forth in character. Last week, the Twitter accounts did a “flashback” episode of sorts where the writers were working on a 1999 episode with Sarah Michelle Gellar as host, and even interacted with Marc McGrath for real on Twitter, since Sugar Ray was the supposed musical guest for that show. It’s a clever way to keep the show going, and so far has avoided the culture war preachiness that sapped the original show of some of its juice.
Drinking and cooking are a questionable combination at best, but Hannah Harto’s multi-part Internet series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” makes one thing clear: the humor potential is delicious. Slurring into the camera as she guzzles straight from a bottle of wine, Harto does a Justin Beiber impression, attempts to make grilled cheese without cheese and declares frozen peas in Easy Mac “a fun secret recipe.”
Favorite episodes include No. 4, when she is baffled by an instruction in a recipe to “cream together” the butter and sugar, while assembling her cookies in front of an orange KitchenAid mixer. “Now is the worst part, the part where we cook and don’t just get drunk,” she says. “I’m bored of baking.” Time for another glass. Visit hartoandco.com/my-drunk-kitchen.
Eclectic Japanese trio Boris have never lacked for ambition. Over the course of their 15-year career, the shape-shifting crew has flirted with psych, noise-rock, drone, thrash metal and ambient. All of these forms and more are present on “Heavy Rocks” and “Attention Please,” a pair of albums the group recently released on the same day. “Heavy Rocks” doubles as an audition for the next coming of “Guitar Hero,” piling on psychedelic blues (“Riot Sugar”) and finger-cramping riffage (“Jackson Head”). Meanwhile, the comparatively restrained “Attention Please” finds female guitarist Wata leading the crew through a series of dreamy, shimmering college-rock cuts.
This isn’t a new obsession. People, especially men, have obsessed about Catherine Deneuve for decades, ever since she was the mysterious heroine of films like “Belle Du Jour” and Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion” back in the 1960s. But at 67, she shows she’s still got it in the French farce “Potiche,” which packed the Orpheum Theatre at the Wisconsin Film Festival and is now at Sundance Cinemas. Deneuve is actually very funny as Suzanne, the deluded and pampered trophy wife of a wealthy factory owner — our first glimpse of her is writing poetry in the woods in a tracksuit. But as she takes over the company and seeks political power as well, we learn she’s just as savvy (and experienced) as all the men around her. If you like it, rent “A Christmas Tale,” a French drama where she plays a family matriarch who is hilariously unsentimental about her selfish grown children.