The Astute Recorder



Good reads, must-sees: Ken Burns' latest, Criminal Karma, Facebook envy

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The passing of summer means fall foliage, cooler weather and more time in doors. Looking for ways to stay entertained while lounging in your recliner? Or how about a couple of reasons to hit the movie theater? Here are some Astute recommendations for September:

Good Reads

Criminal Karma. By Steven M. Thomas. (Ballantine Press 2009). If you caught Thomas' debut crime-fiction novel Criminal Paradise you've probably become enamored with heist-man Robert Rivers. A follow-up to the character's chasing down a Balboa Island millionaire linked to sex trafficking, Criminal Karma sends Rivers on an entertaining chase through Venice Beach for a diamond necklace worth $250,000, a prized possession of socialite Evelyn Evermore. If this follow-up novel is anything like the first, Karma will be entertaining while arising an ironic compassion for the criminal protagonist.

Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook (A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal. By Ben Mezrich. (Doubleday 2009). Mezrich, who's bestseller Bringing Down the House was transformed into the Kevin Spacey-produced film 21, tells the debauched story of Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. Spacey, who became a tremendous fan of the author after 21, and who is behind an upcoming film based on the new book, writes an exclusive review of Billionaires on Amazon. Click on the book-cover thumbnail to read it.


The National Parks. America's Best Idea. Airs on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2009 on PBS. If you've been wondering where Ken Burns and crew have been in recent years, the upcoming 12-hour documentary will explain it all. From Acadia to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite to the Florida Everglades, The National Parks: America's Best Idea is "a story of people from every conceivable background." To view previews and engage through a dynamic Web site dedicated to the film, click here.

Julie and Julia. An homage to a food blogger paying homage to a culinary legend. In theaters since August, Julie & Julia, adapted from a book of the same name, tells the story of Julie Powell, who spent spent a year preparing 524 of Child's recipes in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, to break a stagnating period in her life, then documented her experiences as the online "Julie/Julia Project." The film also delves into the biography of the effervescent and ground-breaking Childs.

Food, Inc. Visit Web site. In this somewhat-of-a-sleeper documentary, which hit theaters in August, producer-director Robert Kenner teams up with Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto) to uncover the foibles of the corporate-run American food industry and demonstrate how biased regulations have led to the spread of harmful bacteria resulting in the spread of e coli, obesity among of children and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults. In select theaters at the time of this writing.

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