1 Meryl Streep stars in screenwriter Diablo Cody's "Ricki and the Flash" as a woman who abandoned her husband and children to chase rock stardom, and decades later re-connects with them. Kevin Kline plays Ricki's square ex-husband Pete with wonderful deadpan, and Streep's real-life daughter Mamie Gummer is ideally cast as Ricki's frenzied daughter. Cody, a onetime Minneapolitan, writes some of the best dialogue around, and knows how to make this story feel sweet rather than sardonic. So do Streep and director Jonathan Demme, a filmmaker of great empathy to American pop. "Ricki and the Flash" is rueful and entertaining, hilarious and sad, often at the same time.
2 Surly Brewing Company's in-house chef Jorge Guzman is using the innovative Brewer's Table, upstairs at the Prospect Park brewery, to prove that beer-food pairings can be revelatory. (It helps that he has the full breadth of Surly's output at his disposal.) Instead of cooking with beer, the focus is on finding ingredients that come to life against the qualities of specific Surly brews. There's a five-course option with beer pairings ($75), but the service staff is more than happy to offer pairing wisdom throughout the menu's two dozen or so dishes. This is one playful kitchen, and the spirited cooking is a joy to behold.
4 Jill Scott landing at No. 1 in Billboard this week with her new album, "Woman," was the icing on the cake for a record that already stood out as a triumph. Fifteen years since her well-remembered debut, "Who Is Jill Scott?" the Philadelphia singer is still doing plenty of soul-searching but has found a strong feminist voice and a cool, laid-back but emphatic-sounding country-soul boogie. It's a headphones kind of record born from a great head space.
3 In "The Drowning," Swedish crime novelist Camilla Läckberg gives us another sweeping small-town thriller. The mystery begins with threatening letters to a first-time novelist. Then a friend of the writer turns up missing. Like Läckberg's earlier crime novels, the truth about these and other events is buried in the characters' past. The unlikely combination of police detective Patrik Hedström and his can't-keep-from-interfering writer/wife Erica unearth the long-suppressed evils. This thick novel should delight Läckberg fans with a rich cast of characters and a surprise ending.
5 The Exchange Nightclub opened to a full house last weekend in the lower level of the historic Lumber Exchange building in downtown Minneapolis. The club, on the busy corner of 5th and Hennepin, has upscale ambitions that seem to fly in the face of a scene dominated by twenty-something party bars. Owners say they're aiming for a more affluent, better-dressed and more seasoned clubber. (Read: older.) As the area's glut of high-priced condos and apartments continues to grow, the timing seems right for the Exchange.