Top Picks: Sylvain Chomet's film 'The Illusionist,' Brian Setzer's new album, a book and TV show about Area 51, and more
A poignant animated film from Sylvain Chomet, an album with infectious tunes from Brian Setzer, a show and book about a location with rumored alien sightings, and more recommendations.
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Sylvain Chomet's animated feature The Illusionist is a breathtakingly beautiful achievement and comes out on DVD May 10. Based on a script by French auteur Jacques Tati and set in 1959, it's the story of an aging, small-time magician who is reduced to playing third-rate shows in far-flung towns. In Scotland, he meets a waifish chambermaid whom he later adopts, and her wide-eyed admiration for him as the dazzling magician he wishes he could be unfolds a poignant tale.
No more guessing
As vacation season looms, a handy iPhone app could save the day if you need a quick translation. Word Lens ($9.99) from Quest Visual works using your phone's camera. Point it at a sign or menu item and a translation appears instantly. Known as augmented reality, the app needs a steady hand and only does Spanish and English translations right now.
Behind a brutal regime
Burma Soldier is the harrowing, real-life tale of a Burmese child-soldier who has a political awakening about the repressive nature of the military regime that governs his country. Recounted in the first person, it is a virtual history of modern Burma (Myanmar) and an eye-opener about what actually goes on in one of the world's most secretive and closed societies. Airs on HBO2 on May 18 at 8 p.m.
Rockabilly joie de vivre
Brian Setzer's latest album, Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL!, takes the singer/songwriter and guitar legend in new directions as he tackles bluegrass and jazz standards along with his own compositions. Just the music here, no words, but these infectious tunes are hard to resist.
What the government hid
Suspected government coverups of alien visits have been the stuff of conspiracy theorists for years. Now, in an embargoed show and book that were not available for review before the book's publication, actual participants in the notorious Area 51 speak out about their experiences. Look for National Geographic Channel's Area 51 Declassified, which will première May 22. The book "Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base" will be released May 17.
It's not as if there is a legion of jazz fans out there clamoring for more bluegrass, or country music fans asking, "Can you make it jazzier?" But somewhere along the line, longtime jazz guitarist Bill Frisell decided the two disparate strains could happily cohabit. His new CD, Sign of Life, proves his point – beautifully. Recorded with the 858 Quartet, it sounds like the soundtrack to a yet-to-be-made movie, set somewhere in the rolling hills outside Nashville.