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Underrated/Overrated

April 01, 2012|By Chris Barton, Los Angeles Times

UNDERRATED

Galactic: Longtime purveyors of raucous, New Orleans-bred jazz-funk whose members have made frequent cameos on HBO's "Treme," the group has gone to another place with the recently released album "Carnivale Electricos." A taut but rowdy mix of middle-of-the-night Mardi Gras sounds and flourishes of Brazilian samba, the album is probably the closest approximation to a genre-blind Crescent City party available on CD, beads and hangover not included.

'Martha Marcy May Marlene' (2011): Acclaimed but unfairly forgotten, this film by writer-director Sean Durkin will hopefully gain a new life on DVD. As unsettled as it is unsettling, the film parachutes you into the life of a young girl as she escapes a chillingly charismatic cult leader portrayed by John Hawkes. The movie's time-skipping structure feels as uncertain as Elizabeth Olsen's traumatized title character, with an ominous finish that avoids easy conclusions.

OVERRATED

The YA-ification of the movies: A few thoughts now that "Harry Potter" and "The Hunger Games" have earned several dump trucks full of money. First, does it point to an infantilization of pop culture that literature targeting teens and tweens keeps hitting with adults (at the expense, presumably, of adult-ready books)? And second, writers and publishers should get used to the idea that evocative blends of fantasy and solid storytelling aren't just for kids anymore.

Madonna's relevance: The grand dame of dance-pop has an unparalleled track record of reinvention and a steady dedication to the cutting edge of music and fashion. Now, with her dated new album, "MDNA," it's time to accept that the 53-year-old singer rests alongside the Rolling Stones as the sort of act that releases albums well below the level of its prime as serviceable fodder for massive tours that inspire joy, dancing and the spending of serious cash.

chris.barton@latimes.com

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