See, Hear, Read: the essential DVDs, albums and books of the summer

See, Hear, Read: the essential DVDs, albums and books of the summer

Even the most vacation-phobic, 80-hour-work-week keener is programmed to let things slide a little when the humidex shoots up. Whether your summer plans involve waiting on the tarmac at Pearson, sitting in traffic on the 400, standing shoulder to shoulder on the island ferry or just conducting a private work-to-rule campaign in your cubicle, picking the right time waster is crucial. Here, some excellent ways to stay entertained during the sticky season.

For Leafs fans in need of a little ice time, this violent yet endearing hockey comedy about an underachieving scrapper who beats the odds is just the thing to keep hope alive (until it’s inevitably dashed again in the fall).
I Predict a Graceful Expulsion,
by Cold Specks

U.K. music critics have been buzzing about this 24-year-old Etobicoke native for months. Her spare, doom-laden songs are as bracing as vintage whisky, and delivered with the poise and voice of a soul singer twice her age.
Bring Up the Bodies,
by Hilary Mantel

Somehow a historical saga about the life of Henry VIII’s stodgy adviser has become the hottest trilogy since The Hunger Games. In the beach-worthy follow-up to Wolf Hall, we follow Mantel’s brutish antihero through the witch hunt that cost Anne Boleyn her head.

Dark Shadows: Collector’s Edition
Forget Tim Burton’s big-screen remake and go for the original. This cultish, low-budget 1960s soap opera has drama, romance and a 200-year-old vampire. For days when you just can’t face the sun.
Celebration Rock,
by Japandroids

Vancouver’s refreshingly unbluesy guitar-and-drums duo create noisy sing-along punk music that’s tailor-made for quitting jobs and burning bridges, yet sunny and melodic enough for road trips with kids.
The Prisoner of Heaven,
by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Bricks-and-mortar bookstores are starting to seem semi-fantastical, so it makes sense to set a Gothic thriller in and around an old Barcelona book shop. The Prisoner is a tale of devilish intrigue amid ancient tomes—though it works just fine on an e-reader.

Beauty and the Beast 3D
Disney’s take on the classic tale of a beautiful girl and her cursed paramour gets a totally unnecessary yet incredibly cool 3D upgrade. The film still holds up—both as an enchanting fable and as a babysitter while school’s out.
Clockwork Angels,
by Rush

South Park’s favourite prog-rock trio don’t reinvent any wheels on their latest album, but why should they? Those big riffs and tricky time signatures have earned them the enduring devotion of millions of air-drumming fanatics.
Swimming Studies,
by Leanne Shapton

Having made art books out of banal subjects like ex-boyfriends, auction catalogues and Canadian trees, Toronto-born designer Shapton turns her formidable powers of quirk on herself for a memoir about her lifelong relationship with beaches and pools.

The Artist
The French director Michel Hazanavicius’s aggressively charming, Oscar-winning homage to Hollywood’s silent era is the kind of film that brings a little class to the average movie night.  As elegant and stylish as a pencil moustache.
The Idler Wheel,
by Fiona Apple

Apple is the ’90s alt singer most likely to capitalize on the post-Adele mania for music by women scorned. On her first album since 2005, she uses her shiver-inducing voice for sultry torch songs and ferocious take-downs of past lovers.
People Park,
by Pasha Malla

In a city where Jane Jacobs is a candidate for sainthood, it takes guts to satirize overly earnest urbanism. Malla’s ambitious first novel is a dystopian tale in which an island metropolis overdoses on civic pride and very nearly destroys itself in the process.

Revenge: Season One
Emily VanCamp stars as a young woman in the Hamptons seeking biblical vengeance on the socialites who destroyed her family. It’s addictive, overblown and deliciously soapy. Watch it with friends you trust.
We Were Born to Glory, by Royal Wood
As crisp as a freshly pressed suit, the new album by Toronto’s Royal Wood aims for AM pop timelessness. Even on the string-assisted piano weepers, Wood exudes an earnest optimism that stays just this side of corny.
Until the Night,
by Giles Blunt

Here’s a nice, summery plot hook: the frozen body of a senator’s wife is found inside an abandoned hotel in the woods. Blunt brings the chills in this, the sixth novel in his bestselling series featuring Northern Ontario detectives John Cardinal and Lise Delorme.

(Images: By Maoya Bassiouni, Norman Wong, Getty Images, Keystone Press and courtesy of ABC Television, Alliance Films, Disney Home Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, and Arts and Crafts)