Check out our five faves of the moment, from "Premium Rush" to Jean-Claude Van Damme.
1 The skeleton of "Premium Rush" is as old as the movies: a chase. It's how the skeleton is fleshed out that makes the movie such loopy, crazed, dangerous fun. Writer/director David Koepp mixes sharp dialogue, a hip tone and top-flight actors to create a nail-biting, seat-squirming thriller about a bike messenger in New York City. It's an escapist blast.
2 There's so much to love at the 2012 Minnesota State Fair's Fine Arts show -- great paintings, terrific prints and even some conceptual items. In "Not Getting Better," John Ilg of Woodbury displays syringes filled with dollar bills to suggest that financial "shots in the arm" have failed to cure the ailing economy. St. Paul artist Pamela Valfer's "Roadkill Quilt" is the piece you can't stop talking about. Stretched like a painting, it's a 5-foot square of recycled mink pelts complete with twitchy tails, beady eyes and jaws fiercely clamped into the flanks of the next-mink-in-line. The sadly hilarious pre-PETA critters must have 1,000 martini-sloshed stories to tell.
3 Have you worn out your Phoenix, Vampire Weekend and other dancey pop/rock albums and need a fresh replacement? Try the infectious debut by Divine Fits, a New Wavey but muscular new group led by Spoon frontman Britt Daniel and Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner. "A Thing Called Divine Fits" boasts all the sharp, snarling hooks of Spoon but with more drama and electronic/synth flavor. For a side project, it sure sounds like a real band. There's also a shout-out to Minneapolis in one of the record's best cuts, "Would That Not Be Nice."
4 Ah, a middle-aged guy seeks wisdom from an aging and lovable curmudgeon. Sounds like "Tuesdays With Morrie," doesn't it? But Wisconsin writer Michael Perry is neither as sentimental nor as treacly as Mitch Albom, and Perry's new book, "Visiting Tom: A Man, A Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace," is funny and tender, first-person reportage about rural life and modern change. Perry will be at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater at 6:30 p.m. Monday and at the Bookcase of Wayzata at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
5 Except for a few fancy helicopter kicks, Jean-Claude Van Damme did very little to leave a lasting impression during his reign as a 1980s action star. Yet of all the aging tough guys who show up in "The Expendables 2," -- and there are many -- it's Van Damme who leaves his mark two decades later. For this gratuitous sequel, Sylvester Stallone coaxed Arnold Schwarzenegger and Chuck Norris out of retirement to launch a couple of old-school one-liners. Van Damme, however, ditches his good-guy persona for the chief villain role, delivering a pitch-perfect performance that's funny, over- the-top and completely ridiculous. More, please.