1 Fast-paced, action-packed and intelligent, the time-looping "Edge of Tomorrow" is the best Tom Cruise movie in years. This film is a wake-up call to makers of formulaic alien-invasion thrillers. In the near-ish future, Europe has fallen to the Mimics, speedy extraterrestrial cephalopods the size of cars. We see the human counterattack, which runs into unexpected trouble, from the perspective of one recruit experiencing the disastrous battle again and again in a time loop. That would be Cruise, in his best performance since "Jerry Maguire."
3 He might've put his foot in his mouth a time or two in recent interviews, but Jack White will still have fans eating out of his hand when they hear his new album, "Lazaretto." The former White Stripes frontman doesn't try anything too flashy or new on his second solo album, especially in rockier tunes such as the Stripes-like title track. Some of the best stuff is the twangier fare, befitting his adopted hometown, Nashville, including the violin-spiked "Temporary Ground." Out Tuesday.
2 Shailene Woodley has that special something that gives a breathtaking truthfulness to her acting. She plays a cancer patient in "The Fault in Our Stars," earning our sympathy by never asking for it. She rejects her parents' overprotective focus on her illness, insisting that they treat her as a whole person, not a collection of symptoms. She's still only a teenager, however. She's determined not to dabble in romance for fear of hurting the other person but doesn't have the experience to stop herself falling for the wrong guy, another cancer kid. This rich, sometimes sad film, based on the bestseller by John Green, leavens its poignant premise with insight and self-deprecating humor.
4 Even though it doesn't make sense to have two middle-aged adults portraying the young brother and sister in "Cat in the Hat," we sure enjoyed the Children's Theatre' s inventive 50-minute production aimed at the pre-K set. The evocative sound effects and the delightful Dean Holt in the title role, Gerald Drake as the common-sense fish and the kids playing Thing 1 and 2 create the kind of joy that always appeared on our kids' faces when we read the Dr. Seuss book to them again and again and again. childrenstheatre.org
5 What a happy chore Michael Agnew must have had, researching his new book, "A Perfect Pint's Beer Guide to the Heartland." He labored across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, sampling the wares at brewpubs and breweries, and produced a lively, detailed guide, noting not just location and hours, but seasonal beers, year-round brews, specials and the possibility of "beer to go." At each site, he also gives a detailed review of his top choice — he likes Surly Bender, for instance, which tastes of "caramel, cocoa, coffee and comforting roastiness."