1 Have you ever imagined a crazy payback scheme for one of the frustrations of daily life? Then the breathtaking, unconventional, cheerfully violent stack of dynamite called "Wild Tales" brings your dreams to the screen. It's a kind of Q. Tarantino meets O. Henry farce, with big passions, big hatreds and absurdity squirting as fast as blood. This is an episodic six-stage fantasy: One episode is fueled by matrimonial jealousy, others by class bigotry, road rage, political corruption and endless bureaucratic red tape.
4 "Girl in a Band," the new autobiography by Sonic Youth bassist and '80s/'90s alterna-rock icon Kim Gordon, is a refreshingly blunt and non-sensational rock tome that proves envelope-pushing artists can be normal people, too. She opens with a chapter detailing the end of her marriage to bandmate Thurston Moore as if to get it out of the way for the best parts. Those include her random observations on the likes of Neil Young, Chuck D and Madonna, her slams on Lana Del Rey and Courtney Love and her far more personal stories about her daughter, schizophrenic brother and Kurt Cobain.
2 The 22 photos in Alec Soth's "Songbook" at the Weinstein Gallery in south Minneapolis come from trips on New England back roads, California freeways and places in between. His oversized portraits show that the Minneapolis photographer has found a typically American cocktail of blithe innocence, plucky self-confidence, hard work, latent violence and reckless antics. www.weinstein-gallery.com
3 And now it is March, and days are longer and lighter, and birds are thinking about doing what birds do. A good time, perhaps, to read Nancy Plain's short and lovely biography of John James Audubon, "This Strange Wilderness." Her large-format book is simple enough for children, but researched and written well enough to keep adults enthralled. It's illustrated with dozens of color reproductions of Audubon's fierce, gawky, long-necked, sometimes cross-eyed wonderful wild birds.
5 Taylor Mac's absurd comedic drama "Hir" at Mixed Blood Theatre is a lacerating "American Family"-style sitcom and a potent domestic drama that ends with devastating poignancy. "Hir" tells the story of two siblings, a young man who returns from serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan to discover that his sister has become his brother. This muscular if repetitive production is about broadening our ideas and conception of gender. mixedblood.com.