1 “The Next Day” is not only David Bowie’s first album in 10 years but it’s his most focused and fully realized in 30 years. Eschewing trends or conceptual approaches, he sounds fresh, intense and mostly terrific as he sometimes nods to his records of the past. Squawking saxophone frames “Dirty Boys” and the spacey, jazzy “Boss of Me.” He rocks out on the intense, moody “The Stars Are Out Tonight” and the guitar-heavy “You Will Set the World on Fire.” There’s desperation in the ballad “You Feel So Lonely You Could Die” and darkness in the ominous, swirling “Love Is Lost.” Bowie is back, and we say: Bravo. Out Tuesday.
2 “Oz the Great and Powerful” is a lollapalooza of funhouse thrills and visually sumptuous filmmaking. Respectful of the classic original film but never timid, director Sam (“Spider-Man”) Raimi’s remake tosses another unsuspecting Midwesterner into a whirlwind that leads to a dazzling land of munchkins and monkeys. This time it’s a traveling-circus magician (James Franco) of minor achievements and grand self-regard. While the plot is a complicated skein of unrelated fairy-tale elements, there is plenty in this enormous production to charm adults and wow kids.
3 Both parties argue their evidence vociferously, then throw themselves on the mercy of the court (us, in the audience). Whose fault was the rift between Supreme Court justices Harry Blackmun and Warren Burger? Why did two boys who became fast friends in St. Paul turn into bitter foes at the end of their long lives? Playwright Lee Blessing provides ample arguments for each man in his superb new play “Courting Harry,” about two of Minnesota’s most famous jurists. www.historytheatre.com
4 “21 and Over” is a youth comedy that is leering, offensive, politically incorrect, at times even disgusting and, yet, not a bummer. In fact, it may be one of the more appealing movies of the season. To celebrate the 21st birthday of their workaholic pre-med pal, his wild-man friend and buttoned-down buddy arrange a safe and sane pub crawl because he has a crucial internship interview the next morning. Well, chaos ensues. This flick is a cheerful jolt of Grade-A idiocy with a nice undercurrent about friendship.
5 YouTube may be home to a lot of breakdancing videos, but little bitty British B-girl Terra is something special. The 6-year-old sports the confidence and moves of someone twice her size and three times her age in a French contest, where she easily beats her competitor, an older boy, with her handsprings and spinning headstands. Definitely worth a watch. www.startribune.com/a2108
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