Culture Picks: what to see, hear and read this month

Culture Picks: what to see, hear and read this month

They love it. We want it. Three red-hot releases

“This doc follows Joan Rivers over the course of a year, getting underneath all that makeup to expose a real person with vulnerabilities and tragic flaws. It’s a brutally honest, emotional movie; I’d compare it to The Wrestler. She’s become such a joke yet is one of the greatest stand-up comedians ever—dirtier, more offensive and more hilarious than anyone working today. Offstage, she’s a moving shark, relentlessly trying to keep busy and stay alive.”
Staffer at Suspect Video

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, directed by Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (Dec. 14).

“Everything Kanye does is an event—he lives on hype and headlines—but he has the talent to back it up. He’s known for his great hooks, for taking obscure music off the streets and turning it into something really radio-friendly. This new album is more purely focused on rap than his last, 808s and Heartbreak, but it’s no less catchy: the single ‘Runaway’ (cover at right) has an amazing piano intro and ’90s-style backbeat running through it.”
Assistant general manager of HMV Superstore

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West (Nov. 22).

“The latest book by this year’s Canada Reads champ is an engaging, offbeat coming-of-age story about two Quebec teens, a boy and a girl, who are forced to reckon with their families’ quirkiness. The girl’s relatives have visions that predict the end of the world—and when, of course, it doesn’t happen, they go mad. Her own apocalyptic prophecy is fuzzy on the specifics, so figuring them out becomes her quest. Dickner pushes the imaginative story forward by setting it against a backdrop of world events, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to Y2K.”
Co-manager of Nicholas Hoare bookstore

Apocalypse for Beginners, by Nicolas Dickner (Dec. 7).

Illustrations: Dan Williams. Top courtesy of IFC Entertainment, middle courtesy of Universal Music, bottom courtesy of Random House.