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Underrated/Overrated

May 15, 2011

UNDERRATED

Bill Callahan's "Apocalypse": Known to lo-fi devotees by his frequent recording alias Smog, Callahan took another step forward with his latest album released last month. A collection of churning and troubled Americana with an unfussily poetic backbone, "Apocalypse" weaves through flashes of woozy feedback, delicate piano and Callahan's trance-like guitar, leaving ample space for his deep and deadpan vocals, as darkly assured as an oncoming storm.

"Talking Funny" on HBO: Still available in reruns, this one-off chat hosted by Ricky Gervais is a seriously funny summit meeting among some of the top minds in stand-up today. Not only is it fascinating to watch Gervais, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Louis CK riff off one another, it's also an intimate exploration of the craft.

OVERRATED

Johnny Depp without a head scarf: He's long been considered one of the top actors of his generation, but when was the last time Depp delivered a memorable performance that didn't require eyeliner, face paint or another costume crutch? "Public Enemies" and "The Tourist" were underwhelming, and maybe "Finding Neverland" could qualify, but that was seven years ago. Depp has a gift for giving life to odd caricatures, but wouldn't an actual character be fun too?

Digging up 'The Godfather': In case anyone was convinced that pop culture's addiction to the familiar was confined to movies, the publishing industry is onboard with a planned release of "The Family Corleone," a prequel to the 1969 novel written by Mario Puzo. Due next summer, the book will be set in 1930s New York City.

Chris Barton

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