The Five Spot: 'Spectacular Now' and more

  • Updated: August 17, 2013 - 2:00 PM
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Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller in “The Spectacular Now.”

Photo: Wilford Harewood,

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1 Sutter Keely, an easygoing high school senior, is a slightly sad jester with a growing drinking habit. Aimee Finicky is a good-hearted A student who gets no recognition from her peers. One morning on her paper route, she retrieves the passed-out Sutter from a stranger’s lawn. As their flirtation turns into a relationship, “The Spectacular Now” becomes a race-against-time thriller: Can she save his life before he ruins hers? The film, which stars Miles Teller (“Footloose”) and Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”), has a depth of feeling, emotional subtlety and intelligence that transforms your notions about high school romances. It is as poignant as a first kiss and as painful as a first hangover.

2 We always thought Lisa Kudrow was the funniest “Friend.” Even if you don’t, you have to tip your hat to her ability to keep the shticky premise of Showtime’s “Web Therapy” hilarious well into its third season. As self-deluded, status-seeking therapist Fiona, who conducts all her sessions online, she passive-aggressively spars with boldface names including Megan Mullally and Steve Carell. The bonus outtake crack-ups that run with the credit roll haven’t gotten old, either.

3 “Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution” went to print before James Gandolfini’s death, but author Brett Martin eerily foretells the actor’s fate with a prologue that explores how his frequent disappearances from the “Sopranos” set raised concern among his castmates that he was headed down a dark road. There’s a lot of angst and anger in this collection of keen observations about how men on both sides of the cameras have explored rage like never before on TV. It’s a quick read — and a perfect companion for the final, frightfully good episodes of “Breaking Bad.”

4 We don’t condone video bootlegging of concerts, of course, but some of the best listening we’ve enjoyed over the past two weeks has been footage actually re-posted off the official HD webcast feeds from the Outside Lands and Lollapalooza festivals. Depressed that the Cure hasn’t played here in over a decade? Their entire lipstick-smeared Lolla set can be seen via a simple Google search. Curious what Nine Inch Nails will be like at Xcel Energy Center next month? Their Outside Lands and Lolla sets are both out there. Not everything from these fests is viewable (forget Paul McCartney). But they should be. It makes you want you see them in person.

5 After one album in her native Minnesota and now two years in New York City, Nancy Harms has blossomed into a bona fide jazz vocal contender with the new disc “Dreams in Apartments.” Working with co-producer Arne Fogel, she co-writes four songs, including the up-tempo “Weight of the World,” which sounds like jazzy Fiona Apple, and “Something Real,” which features soulful vocals over Brazilian rhythms. Mostly, though, Harms sparkles on ballads, including the dreamy standard “Midnight Sun” and her own stunningly gorgeous “And It’s Beautiful.” Hers is a special talent.







  • related content

  • Lisa Kudrow in “Web Therapy.”

  • Robert Smith of the Cure performed Aug. 4 at Lollapalooza in Chicago.

  • “Difficult Men:  Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Wire’ to ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad’,” by Brett Martin

  • Nancy Harms

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