The Culture Arts

Top Picks: Ryuichi Sakamoto’s 'Async,' the Pod Wrangler app, and more

'Loving Vincent' required more than 100 artists to hand-paint frames of film, a masseuse/healer and a billionaire encounter one another unexpectedly in the film 'Beatriz at Dinner,' and more top picks.

  • Staff

Visual music

Japanese pianist/composer Ryuichi Sakamoto’s music cannot be categorized. To his fans, that is the essence of the man and artist: always questioning, ever evolving. Following a long illness, he has released Async, his first solo album in eight years. It is contemplative, imaginative, and extremely visual – not surprising for the composer of many film scores. The album’s 14 intriguing tracks combine Sakamoto’s deft keyboard touch with natural and man-made sounds – footsteps, wind, hushed conversation – and the result is beautiful and mesmerizing.

Easy listening app

Searching for a simple way to listen to your podcasts? The Pod Wrangler app keeps it easy – just subscribe to your favorite programs and listen. The podcasts are even removed after you’re finished. You can also choose to check out a single episode from a podcast if you’re still deciding whether to commit fully. The Pod Wrangler app is free for iOS.

John Nordell/TCSM/File

Easy-to-track math

The Soulver app could be a good fit for you if you need to do some math on your phone and are looking to keep all your work in front of you at the same time. You can add text alongside the numbers, too, to help you make sense of your calculations. The app is $1.99 for iOS.

Courtesy of MPRM Communications

Hand-painted film

Loving Vincent required more than 100 artists to hand-paint frames of film. The film, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray Jan. 16, follows Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), the son of a postmaster, who has been given the job of delivering the final letter written by Vincent van Gogh to his brother Theo. Armand soon attempts to figure out the circumstances behind the artist’s death. It’s rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violence, sexual material, and smoking.

Dinner clash

A masseuse/healer (Salma Hayek) and a billionaire (John Lithgow) encounter one another unexpectedly after they are invited to the same social event in the film Beatriz at Dinner, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray. Monitor film critic Peter Rainer praises Lithgow’s performance, writing, “Lithgow is so good at playing CEO oiliness that you have to smile. He’s the man you love to hate.” The film is rated R for language and a scene of violence.

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