TOP PICK – The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Warner)
Brad Pitt stars as the legendary outlaw in this meditative movie (now out on DVD), which posits that the bankrobber was actually one of America's first victims of celebrity culture. Casey Affleck (Ben's brother) plays the stalker. It's a fascinating exploration of heroes, arrogance, and the myth that quickly swells around media magnets.
CD – The Best of Guru's Jazzmatazz (Virgin/EMI)
Guru was the rapping half of Gang Starr. He was also the brains behind the Jazzmatazz project, which combined hip-hop and jazz. While the music is a bit more swing-minded than the stuff Guru did with his full-time group, Jazzmatazz's three albums remain firmly rooted in hip-hop. This 18-track compilation gathers finger-snappin' collaborations with Erykah Badu, the Roots, and Lonnie Liston Smith.
BOOK – Boink: College Sex by the People Having It (Grand Central)
Most colleges have newspaper staffs. Some even have their own literary journals. Boston University has its own sex magazine, Boink. This book—compiled by the editors at the mag—includes tons of real-life stories, confessions, and advice by students. Not so surprisingly, many of the tales involve booze. And if you don't feel like reading about sex, there are plenty of naked people here to show you how it's done.
BOOK – Ken Jennings' Trivia Almanac: 8,888 Questions in 365 Days (Villard)
Jennings is the nerdy know-it-all who racked up a record-breaking run on Jeopardy! a few years back. This info-stuffed bathroom read features daily doses of trivia. For example, this week's Valentine's Day entry includes minutiae about Smurfs, Christina Aguilera, and the band Heart. By the end of 2008, you'll know which talk-show host Drew Barrymore flashed her boobies to and what C-list celeb starred in the Killers' "Mr. Brightside" video.
DVD – Kurt Cobain: About a Son (Shout! Factory)
There have been a lot of movies about the late Nirvana frontman over the past decade. This one benefits from its cool soundtrack (featuring tunes by David Bowie and R.E.M., as well as an original score by Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard) and insight by pals. The previously unheard Cobain interview segments—originally conducted for the Nirvana bio, Come As You Are—add poignancy.
COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE – Kottonmouth Kings: Greatest Highs (Capitol/EMI)
These pot-lovin' rap-rock clowns are sorta like a poor man's Beastie Boys...but without the brains or talent. This two-CD set gathers more than three dozen tracks from the Kings' 12-year career (yeah, we're surprised they've lasted that long, too). Songs like "Where's the Weed At," "Bong Tokin' Alcoholics," and "So High" pretty much show the extent of their interests.
Get the Arts & Culture Newsletter
Find out about arts and culture events in Minneapolis & St. Paul and offers you won't hear about anywhere else.