1 Steven Soderbergh’s “Side Effects” is a masterful Hitchcockian thriller that travels through Big Pharma, Wall Street, antidepressants and murder. The film keeps viewers emotionally invested yet intellectually off-balance, suffusing even the most ostensibly straightforward scenes with a sense of free-floating anxiety. The cast is terrific, especially the mysterious Rooney Mara, hale and hearty Channing Tatum, ice-queen Catherine Zeta-Jones and calculating Jude Law.
2 We’re drooling over Borough, the new restaurant in Minneapolis’ North Loop, for three reasons: its Old Fashioned, the chef’s counter (best table in the joint) and, most important, the sirloin burger topped with mushrooms, thick-cut bacon and something they call “American cheese foam.” boroughmpls.com
3 As the nation grapples with the question of violence, Jennifer Haley’s play “Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom” takes an ostensibly serious look at the corrupting influence of video games. Using only a series of two-person scenes, the production by Theatre Pro Rata lays out a complex narrative, drawing the audience into a mysterious world that becomes increasingly creepy and gruesome, but infused with a wicked dark comedy. theatreprorata.org
4 Love for, and from, a cat, is subtle and complicated, never pure and easy as it is with a dog. It’s harder to explain, and hard for people who do not like cats to understand. Peter Trachtenberg, an English professor at the University of Pittsburgh, understands it quite well. He’s a macho guy with a hardscrabble personal and romantic history who has always had cats, and his deeply philosophical, highly readable memoir, “Another Insane Devotion,” is about the complications of love, both for cats and humans. This is a book like no other, and a very good one.
5 “Babe Lincoln and the Vajazzled Badge of Courage” is an irreverent, brassy mashup of history and hormones. The Brave New Workshop show marries two zeitgeist trends: Abraham Lincoln and women’s freedoms. Through musical skits and comedy sketches, Lauren Anderson and Katy McEwen gleefully deliver cutting comedy with a forward-looking social message. That may make the show sound heavier than it is. Its primary purpose is to evoke laughter. www.bravenewworkshop.com