Arts and culture

Midway through T. Kingfisher's fleet fairy tale The Seventh Bride, 15-year-old protagonist Rhea is shocked to learn how terrible her betrothed really is. She seeks solace with another woman, who sympathizes, but doesn't stop mixing dough. "You're making biscuits," Rhea wails. "Yes," the other woman says, "I am. We could both sit down at the table and cry together. But in a few hours ... there will still be no one we can tell, and the only thing that will be different is that we will be hungry. And there will be no biscuits."

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UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 76th Hunger Games.


Pixar's The Good Dinosaur imagines what would happen if our Mesozoic-era ancestors, instead of being wiped out by an asteroid, survived to star in John Ford Westerns. An opening scene shows the fatal rock whizzing by Earth harmlessly; "millions of years later," Apatosauruses own family farms while Tyrannosauruses herd bison on the frontier. In their shadow, humans must have evolved from the Carnivora clade alongside dogs and wolves, judging by how they bark and scamper in the wild unless a dino can domesticate them.

Rocker docs lie thick on the ground these days, most of them landlocked in a tired arc of childhood stress, rapid rise to stardom filled with drugs and debauchery followed by decline and, for those who survive, extravagant rue-ing the day. And given the short, sharp life of Janis Joplin, any account of her has to spend time in that terrain. But though Janis: Little Girl Blue — Amy J. Berg's loving, exhaustively researched documentary about the whiskey-voiced blues interpreter — gives Joplin's dark side its due, the film rarely succumbs to mawkish wallowing.

Remember Rocky? That cornpone boxing movie from 40 years ago starring (and written by) that oiled-up, headband-wearing buffoon who talks funny? The one that stole Best Picture away from Network, All the President's Men, Taxi Driver, and Hal Ashby's rather more obscure Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory?