Monitor picks

Five things we think you'll really like, from culture made affordable to a day with 'Miss Pettigrew' to a collection of films by Billy Wilder.

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The big Chill out

Alison Goldfrapp has spent three albums vamping as a dance-floor vixen. So Goldfrapp's reinvention on Seventh Tree is wholly surprising. The band's electro disco has been replaced by pastoral acoustic guitars and strings that swoop like swallows in springtime. The softer style – think Air meets The Cocteau Twins – is celestial stuff.

From Thucydides, with love

The tag line for the recently launched Lapham's Quarterly is "the journal that enlists the counsel of the dead." Don't worry: this isn't a horror film. Instead, this thick periodical, helmed by – and named for – Lewis Lapham, culls writings from the history books, and age-old source material. In the new issue, "States of War," the former editor of Harper's gets the help of Homer and Woodrow Wilson, who lend perspective to our own modern conflicts.

Live It Up for a day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, now in theaters, initially plays like a prewar farce. The titular character, a demure governess (Frances McDormand), arrives for employment at a London apartment where golddigger Delyssia LaFosse (Amy Adams) is trying to shuttle one of her three boyfriends out the door before the next one arrives. The story about the folly of fortunes is a sparkling showcase for two of our finest actresses.

Culture made affordable advertises "Great nights out for about the price of a movie." This clearinghouse for surplus tickets is trying to make live performances accessible to younger – and more frugal – audiences in cities including New York and San Diego.

Something Wilder

The Billy Wilder Film Collection ($39.98 MGM) includes four of the director's greats: the Marilyn Monroe vehicle "Some Like It Hot"; Dean Martin romancing Kim Novak in "Kiss Me, Stupid"; everyone's favorite grumps, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in "The Fortune Cookie"; and Jack with Shirley MacLaine in Best Picture winner "The Apartment."

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