Our five faves of the moment: Beatles exhibit, "Snowpiecer,” R.E.M. unplugged, more

  • Updated: July 5, 2014 - 2:00 PM

"Unplugged 1991-2001" by R.E.M.

1 “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Beatles” is not your typical museum exhibit, and the Mall of America is not your typical locale for a music museum. But this exhibit, which celebrates the Fab Four’s touring years in the States (1964-66), is heavy on cool paper artifacts, including handwritten set lists for the group’s first and last U.S. gigs, contracts for their U.S. shows and autographs, including one certifying a lock of John Lennon’s hair. There are also vintage souvenirs like board games and bobbleheads, album covers, a pair of Lennon granny glasses, Ringo Starr’s coat from the “Abbey Road” album cover, Paul McCartney’s jacket from Shea Stadium, photos of all four Beatles at Met Stadium and an interactive drum lesson from Ringo himself. Yeah, yeah, yeah! midwestmusicmuseum.com

2 “Snowpiercer” is a full-throttle science fiction adventure and a resonant modern myth. Like “Avatar” and “Elysium,” it’s a wretches vs. riches parable. With Korean wild man Bong Joon-ho directing a mostly English-speaking cast, this one has everything: frenetic thrills, a witty script, Tilda Swinton, “Captain America’s” Chris Evans as the lead and a runaway train rattling through a futuristic ice age.

4 You don’t have to have liked the book “Eat, Pray Love” to fall for “The Signature of All Things,” Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel about a 19th-century botanist and her adventures afield. Now out in paperback, it’s a great summer read if you prefer your beach books a bit meaty. The author, who is a Talking Volumes guest in St. Paul on Friday, proves her literary mettle with fascinating characters and prose so descriptive she conjures intrigue out of watching moss grow.

3 We didn’t need the two different versions of “Losing My Religion,” but the twofer 33-track package that is R.E.M.’s “Unplugged 1991 /2001” otherwise is well worth the indulge. This is one band that took the once-influential MTV show to heart and saw it as a license to experiment both times, resulting in a gorgeous, organ-ized “Perfect Circle” and rollicking “Disturbance at the Heron House” in 1991 and a hushed, eerie “The One I Love” in 2001. In either case, Michael Stipe didn’t have room to hide (read: mumble), so it’s a great way to learn the old lyrics, too.

5 J.K. Rowling surprised the literary world two years ago when she quietly published a mystery novel, “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. Now the second in Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike series is just out, but “The Silkworm” isn’t quite up to the standards of the first. The plot centers on a novelist who is murdered after he writes a manuscript skewering just about everyone he knows — which means the list of people who want him dead is quite long. The problem lies in the thoroughly unlikable characters, a tedious set-up and gruesome violence. The spark between Cormoran Strike and his assistant (who is engaged to someone else) continues to burn, though. We hope it fully ignites in the third book in the series.

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  • John Hurt, Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in “Snowpiercer.”

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  • Beatles bobbleheads at the Midwest Music Museum.

  • Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

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