Top Picks: 'SNL' set change, the podcast 'Imaginary Worlds,' and more

Thomas Perry's thriller 'The Old Man' has verve and verisimilitude, the movie 'Complete Unknown' looks at how much identity matters, and more top picks.

Verve and verisimilitude

A botched military intelligence mission powers The Old Man, a thriller from Thomas Perry. The old man of the book’s title, known as Dan Chase and other false names, has been on the run ever since a failed mission in Libya. That mission included his decision to reclaim $20 million given to a Libyan middleman to arm a rebellion after the Libyan pocketed the money for himself. Now, the aging Libyan is collaborating with the US government, an alliance that leads to the long-vanished American military intelligence officer being targeted for assassination. Perry steers this cat-and-mouse adventure across the United States and, eventually, back to Libya, with verve, including just enough verisimilitude to keep intact the willing suspension of disbelief.

Suspenseful set change

NBC’s Saturday Night Live has been around for so long that viewers may forget the inherent challenges of its live format. A new video released by the show demonstrates how hard its crew works to make sure the show runs effortlessly, with a clip showing crew members making a set change before the host’s monologue. (You may find yourself biting your nails as it gets down to the wire.) Check it out at http://bit.ly/snlset.

Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
Harry Potter

Exploring space

The podcast Imaginary Worlds delves into science fiction and fantasy, from exploring how “Star Wars” rebels destroying the Death Star would affect that world economically to looking at whether reading “Harry Potter” books makes people more understanding of others. Find Eric Molinsky’s show at http://www.imaginaryworldspodcast.org.

Well-observed film

The film Fatima is the story of Fatima (Soria Zeroual), an Algerian cleaning lady and single mother living in France. Kenza Noah Aïche and Zita Hanrot costar as Fatima’s daughters, a disobedient teenager and a medical student. The movie, which Monitor film critic Peter Rainer calls “well-observed and unassuming,” is available on DVD and Blu-ray.  

Identity issues

What identity is and how much it matters is explored in the movie Complete Unknown, in which an ex-girlfriend (Rachel Weisz) of married Tom (Michael Shannon) appears at a party, pretending to be a different person. The movie is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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