A witty chameleon
In the animated western Rango, Johnny Depp has one of his best roles as a chameleon cut loose in the Mojave Desert who turns into the gunslinging savior of a parched town. Crazily funny and rambunctious, the movie draws on an entire library of westerns, most obviously "High Noon" and the Clint Eastwood-Sergio Leone spaghetti epics, but it also draws on "Chinatown" and many other movies featuring reptilian bad guys. These borrowings are all done with high wit. Out on DVD July 15.
Fans of the mercurial British actor Rufus Sewell will get a treat this summer with Zen, a new three-part series on PBS's "Masterpiece Mystery!" series. He plays Aurelio Zen, an Italian detective sleuthing his way through a corrupt Italian cityscape – with just the right twinkle in his eye. "Zen" launches July 17 and runs for three weeks.
If you've ever dreamed of being in a band, Dawes is just the kind of outfit you'd want to be a part of – an unpretentious California quartet with skill, great songs, CinemaScope harmonies, and a wide-open sound. Their sophomore album, Nothing is Wrong, builds on their stunning debut with improved musicianship and palpable confidence, gleaned from nearly nonstop touring. No wonder Robbie Robertson tapped them to be his backup group. He knows a great band when he hears one.
Songs of love
Summer is a good time for romance – and what could be better than a new collection of romantic arias? Sony Classics releases the debut album from the Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze. Romantic Arias features songs by Gounod, Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini.
Rigoletto returns home
Verdi's Rigoletto comes to PBS's "Great Performances" on July 15 at 9:30 p.m. But this is no predictable stage performance. Placido Domingo leads the cast in the tale of love and seduction from its original setting in Mantua, Italy, featuring the actual locations around the city as noted in the libretto.
Drawing out the creative self
Have you ever heard yourself saying, "I wish I could draw"? Well, have we got a book for you! Cat Bennett's The Confident Creative (Findhorn Press) will help you jump-start your dormant self-expression, big-time. Bennett encourages us to remember how, as children, we drew with confidence and abandon. Through fun and engaging exercises, as well as many inspiring illustrated examples, she loosens up our self-imposed reins to free the artist within. Oscar Wilde said it best: "Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken!"