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The Kite Runner

The Kite Runner is charming and visually rich in its portrayal of Amir and Hassan as they grow up together in a Kabul that now exists only in our imaginations: making minor mischief, watching American movies, and – of course – flying kites.

Charlie Wilson’s War

Director Mike Nichols brings his wisdom, cool incisiveness, and keen ability to crack wise in this odd yet most potent paste-up job of a socio-political satire. We revel in the period piece funhouse of its ’80s kitsch and the gonzo jerry-rigging of politics to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan – as cleverly maneuvered by former Texan congressman Charlie Wilson (Tom Hanks) and a few conspirators.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

In 1936’s Sweeney Todd the barber was simply insane. He hacked bodies into meat pies just because he could – it was the kind of frightening ambiguity that the old Tim Burton might have relished in. It surely would’ve made a far richer character for Johnny Depp, who’s nearly asleep throughout this remake.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Before he became the next Woody Allen, Judd Apatow was a writer and producer of such un-ennobling projects as Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, a film that Walk Hard unfortunately recalls. This flick will blows no one away with its scattershot satirical take on films that cry out for fiercer retribution.

Various Artists

Do you love the Christmas season but find that the sound of sleigh bells jingling is already making your stomach churn? Whether you lay the blame on retailers who start playing holiday tunes in October or just the fact that no one’s come up with a good yuletide jingle since the 1950s, there’s finally a cure for your woesand most of it isn’t in English.

Sufjan Stevens

Punctuality be damned; since the quiet release of Sufjan Stevens’s limited-edition, 40-song ode to Christmas last year, I have been waiting with unbridled anticipation for an excuse to bust the collection out again.

Tori Amos

While stocking my arsenal of available online information in preparation for Thursday’s concert at the Arlington Theatre, I couldn’t help but think, as my subject does, in grand and relatively obscure allusion. In the case of Tori Amos and her American Doll Posse tour, art, in many new and revisited forms, reveals itself while the artist quite visibly peacocks on stage.

Positively State Street

DO THE PIGEON: So, you couldn’t make it to Pigeon John‘s Summertime Pool Party? Well, you need to check out the underground rap veteran himself when he appears at SOhO (1221 State St.) on Saturday, December 29. After making a name for himself in the mid ’90s at the Good Life Cafe-rapping alongside such venerable underground legends as Kurupt and Jurassic 5-John has amassed quite a following of fellow “street geeks” enamored of his affable, self-deprecating style and flows as snug-fit as his trademark fedora.

S.B. Symphony Heralds the New Year

This New Year’s Eve, maestro Richard Kaufman, one of the world’s finest pops conductors, will help the Santa Barbara Symphony ring in 2008 in style. He and guest soloists Matt James (tenor) and Nelson Kole (piano) will be performing a tribute to composer Leroy Anderson as well as works by Smetana, Lara, Puccini, and Sousa, among others.


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