Culture Jamming

The year's best action pic tops this week's pop culture picks

TOP PICK – The Bourne Ultimatum (Universal)

Matt Damon returns as globe-trotting amnesiac Jason Bourne for a third outing in his most turbo-charged adventure. Ultimatum, now out on DVD, follows a familiar set-up: Someone's trying to kill Bourne, so he goes from city to city (Moscow, Paris, and London this time), trying to figure out who and why. But everything is super-sized. And the chase sequences rank among the all-time greats.

VIDEO GAME – Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Activision)

The classic shooter series (for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and DS) jumps 60 years into the future, transposing World War II action to a modern-day battlefield. Iraq is never named, but there's little doubt who the anonymous Middle Eastern villains represent. Laptops, state-of-the-art weapons, and futuristic vehicles assist gamers in their quest to rid the world of evil. It's a knockout, from story to design to gameplay. One of the year's best.

TV – Extras: The Extra Special Series Finale(HBO)

Ricky Gervais' terrific show ends with an 80-minute episode (airing at 9:00 p.m. Sunday) that brings movie extra Andy Millman's story full circle. George Michael and Clive Owen play themselves in funny cameos, but the real stars are Gervais' sitcom-saddled auteur and gal pal Maggie (who takes a real emotional beatdown). Like The Office, which Gervais also created and shut down after two seasons and one extra-length finale, Extras balances hilarity and poignancy.

CD – Pylon: Gyrate Plus (DFA)

Pylon hailed from the same Athens, Georgia, scene that spawned R.E.M. In fact, back when Michael Stipe and gang were on top of the college-radio heap, they continually heralded Pylon as the best band in America. Pylon's 1980 debut (finally appearing on CD) tags on its buzz-building first single and a few other rarely heard tracks. This is post-punk indie-rock at its most formative and significant stage.

DVD – Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition (Sony Pictures)

All 29 episodes of David Lynch's mindfucking TV show from the early '90s are gathered on this 10-disc set. It starts with the murder of a small-town girl; it ends with a demonic possession. Bonus items include the original pilot (with an alternate ending), deleted scenes, and tons of documentaries. After all these years, it still doesn't make much sense. But there's never been anything on television quite like it.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE – Genesis: 1983-1998 (Rhino)

We like Genesis. We like Genesis when Peter Gabriel dressed up like a flower and sang 20-minute songs about unicorns. We even like Genesis when drummer Phil Collins took over the band and steered it toward a more poppy path. But we don't like Genesis when it lost vision, ambition, and dignity. This 10-disc box (five CDs, five DVDs) includes chart-topping (but dreary) '80s-era albums like We Can't Dance. It also features Calling All Stations, which was made without Collins. That we really don't like.

 
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