In Books:
The Emperor’s New Drugs

What if antidepressants were not just too easily available and overly prescribed by doctors—as has been argued in many venues for years now, though to no discernible effect—but didn’t even work? That’s the takeaway premise of psychology professor Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., in his new book, The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth

You can read the full piece on Kirsch’s admittedly dry but fascinating book at Re:Print.

In Theaters:
The Art of the Steal


Everybody likes a good art heist, in theory, thanks to our cinematically-warped image of art thieves as gentlemanly criminals. But Don Argott’s documentary The Art of the Steal is the rare heist film where we root for the art owners, not the cunning thieves. The bad guys here are a powerful cabal of politicians, media entities, greedheads, and massive public charity organizations, while the good guys are a scrappy bunch of art scholars. What are they fighting over? Control of a collection believed to be the greatest repository of Post-Impressionist and early Modern art, and is rumored to be worth at least $25 billion…

The Art of the Steal
is in limited release now. Read the full review at filmcritic.com.

In Theaters:
Shutter Island

For all Martin Scorsese’s delighted use of pulp tropes in the gangster films that made him a household name, those films were always a breed apart, energized more by his personal vision and the electricity being tossed off by his leading men than his impressive internal library of cinematic memories. Even with their cinema-drunk panache, Goodfellas and Mean Streets were ultimately beholden to few other filmmakers. What it came down to was that Scorsese had never knocked out a real genre picture, something that people could go see with some friends on a weekend night for a good scare. So it was that Scorsese took Dennis Lehane’s B-flick-inspired novel Shutter Island and made a real monster of a film…

Shutter Island opens wide today, after being delayed several months by Paramount (which decided to put its Oscar campaign money behind The Lovely Bones). Read the full review at Short Ends & Leader.

In Theaters:
October Country


Troubled families are all over the modern documentary scene. There is a particular affection for those filmmakers who can rustle up skeletons from the closet to then present to the world via a scrim of home-movie footage and mordant narration. The small unit of relations on the other end of Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s lens in October Country aren’t that kind of family. Many of their problems are simply there, writ large on the surface and discussed in detail for all who will listen, or pay to see…

October Country is in limited release now and should be available on DVD soon. Read the full review at filmcritic.com.

In Books:
Makers

Makers launches readers into a near-future that reads not as science fiction but more like wire service news reports from just a few years or months down the road. It does this even while utilizing very little in the way of a story, a fact that nearly proves to be the book’s undoing more than a few times. Like some of the best science fiction, it doesn’t require much suspension of disbelief, and in fact often simply requires reading just beyond the horizon of the latest reports on Florida and California neighborhoods emptied by defaulted mortgages, or dispatches from African mines where the precious materials for all the western world’s increasingly disposable electronics are harvested. Cory Doctorow writes on the cusp of now…

Cory Doctorow’s Makers came out a few months ago. Read the full review at PopMatters.

In Theaters:
Red Riding Trilogy


Nobody who watches the whole of the epic but troublesome murder saga Red Riding Trilogy is going be entertaining thoughts of relocating to Yorkshire in Northern England. In fact, one wonders whether the town council may be considering a defamation lawsuit against the filmmakers, if they hadn’t already thought about lodging one against David Peace, who wrote the cult quartet of novels the film triptych is based on. Certainly, other regions have been made to look worse on film — Africa, for instance. But the Red Riding films evince a particular distaste for the region, as though its creators had a kind of personal animus toward it. The happiest moments in these darker-than-dark films come in fact when its characters are contemplating leaving “the north.” Of course, they rarely seem able to do so, alive or mentally intact…

Red Riding Trilogy opens Friday as a (roughly) six-hour roadshow edition in limited release, check it out. Read the full review at filmcritic.com.

In Books:
Game Change

An unpleasant sensation comes across you while reading Game Change, journalist John Heilemann and Mark Halperin’s breathless account of the seemingly endless 2008 election. It isn’t so much the mind-numbing cavalcade of staged events and all the back-room wheeler-dealing. The creepy-crawly feeling you get after reading about yet another s war room session where image and sell points are focus-grouped and retriangulated six ways to Sunday has more to do with this simple, plaintive question: These were the options for who we were going to choose as leader of the free world? To paraphrase Lewis Black, if this is evolution, then by 2016 we’re going to be voting for plants…

Game Change is for sale pretty much everywhere. You can read the full review at PopMatters.