1 "Amour" is a double portrait of two elderly Parisian music teachers enjoying a serene, cultivated retirement. All the action occurs over a period of a few months inside the walls of their apartment, which her illness transforms into an infirmary and a prison. Director Michael Haneke's story of love under life's most extreme test is deliberately discomfiting, one of the most moving, intelligent and thought-provoking studies of personal crisis since the era of Ingmar Bergman.
2 Patton Oswalt should guest-star on everything. His unique appeal smartens up anything he touches (see the otherwise forgettable "Young Adult" for one shining example). His latest scene-stealing achievement, on the "Justified" season premiere, as an inept town constable who threatens to "open up a Costco-sized can of whupass" on some miscreants, leaves us hoping we'll see a lot more of that character. He's also fun to follow on Twitter (@pattonoswalt).
3 The brand-new Dangerous Man Brewery in northeast Minneapolis not only has the best logo among local craft beers, but we were impressed by its IPA, Chocolate Milk Stout, Cream Ale and Belgian Golden Strong. Very approachable, yet very complex flavors. Bottoms up!
4 Imagine if D'Angelo, the long-lost soul singer, fronted the late rap-jazzman Gil Scott-Heron's band. That gives you an idea what Jose James' fourth album, "No Beginning No End," sounds like. Oh, there also are echoes of Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and Bill Withers -- if they resided in the intersection of romantic R&B and minor-key jazz. The Minneapolis-bred singer-songwriter, 35, gets help from rising jazz star Robert Glasper, well-traveled rock-jazz bassist Pino Palladino (the Who, John Mayer) and young soul sweetheart Emily King. This '70s-flavored CD could be the beginning of big things for James.
5 With a readable style that greases the skids on some of the denser material in "On Dupont Circle," author James Srodes offers an enlightening look at an action-packed political period that should leave readers with a better understanding of how then influenced now. In the early 20th century, a chummy group in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C., included Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, future Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, writers Walter Lippmann and William Bullitt, and future Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Between crusading and carousing, these folks also helped form the United Nations in 1945.