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Underrated / Overrated

July 12, 2009

UNDERRATED

Early R.E.M. reissues: Ordinarily we're suspicious of the baldfaced cash grab that usually constitutes the record industry's repackaging of classic albums into "deluxe editions," but the remastered "Murmur" and "Reckoning" have us changing our tune. The best two albums from the band that helped define alternative rock's early days have never sounded better, whether it's "Radio Free Europe" or "Little America."

Tate Donovan: We finally started watching the first season of FX's much-lauded "Damages" recently, and though it's still too early to tell if we're on board with the hype, we were delighted to get reacquainted with one of Hollywood's top utility players. Granted, this might be nostalgia talking after too much "SpaceCamp" and "Memphis Belle" during college, but Donovan's Everyman presence is always welcome.

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OVERRATED

Compact discs: Industry watchers have sounded the death knell of the CD era for years, and now we're joining the crowd in the bell tower. After the Beatles remasters are released this year, it's a matter of time before the other, digital-based shoe drops and people sell off their collections at Amoeba. We're not sure where that leaves all those lovely music stores, but, hey, there's always vinyl, right?

This year's summer movie crop: We loved "Up" and "Star Trek," and "Transformers" and "Ice Age" seem to be printing money at the box office, but so far this year's films are leaving us just as happy curling up at home with Netflix. Will Tarantino's spelling-challenged "Inglourious Basterds" break us out of the doldrums? There had better be some good reviews -- Season 2 of "Mad Men" comes out this week.

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