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The Don't-Miss List: The Rolling Stones, 'Life of Pi' and More

See it! Hear it! Read it! Do it! The best of movies, TV, music, books and beyond

By Pamela Miller | November 15, 2012
Charlie Watts, left, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood
On November 15, HBO premiers a retrospective documentary on The Rolling Stones in "The Crossfire Current."
Courtesy of HBO

TELEVISION
 
Crossfire Hurricane, Nov. 15, HBO
 
“Some sort of chemical reaction happened or something.” That's how Mick Jagger, in an interview nearly 50 years ago, explained the havoc he and his mates had just begun to unleash upon the world. This documentary about their first few tempestuous years begins backstage at Madison Square Garden, where Dick Cavett and crew tail the Stones into a dressing room reeking of fame (Truman Capote! Andy Warhol!). The rest is history, part of the soundtrack of our youth and a chronicle of the gale force that swept up the “lost boys” and spit them out as the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band.
 
MOVIES
 
Life of Pi
 
Ever since the captivating novel's release a decade ago, Hollywood has had its heart set on bringing Life of Pi to life on the big screen. But until Ang Lee latched onto the project, directors had been confounded by the prospect of shooting a teenager and a 500–pound tiger on a crumbling raft in the middle of the ocean. “I want to be the one to do the impossible,” Lee explained. “Call that ego or childish excitement.” Lee’s decision to shoot in 3D enabled him to adapt the unadaptable and create a visually luscious film that's a far cry from the flimsy 3D flicks we used to see way back when. Says Time magazine, “Magical realism was rarely so magical and never before so real.”
 
MUSIC
 
Roots of Bossa Nova, João Gilberto
 
In one of the music world’s most egregious examples of genius being mistaken for madness, João Gilberto’s father was once so disturbed by his son’s obsession with singing and guitar, he had him committed to a mental hospital. There, gazing out the window, João remarked, “Look at the wind depilating the trees.” When the psychologist replied, “But trees have no hair, João,” Gilberto responded, “And there are people who have no poetry.” He was released after a week. Comprising Gilberto's seminal first three albums, this two-disc compilation celebrates the man now revered for his ingenious blending of traditional Brazilian samba and American jazz.

BOOKS

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver
 
“Breakable things are still breakable, and durable things still endure.” At this past summer’s book expo in New York City, Barbara Kingsolver revealed her “new personal and professional motto,” which was inspired by the instructions for a tablet she’d just bought: “The tablet is made of glass. If you drop it, it will break.” Coming to grips with the fragility of life is also a theme Kingsolver explores in her latest novel, Flight Behavior. It’s the story of a restless farm wife who’s forced to re-examine all she’s ever believed when, as The New York Times writes, “her life is upended not by a tryst, but by an insect.”
 
WORTH THE TRIP

Julia Child’s Kitchen, National Museum of American History, Washington
 
Here's a fun way to psych up for the impending Thanksgiving cookathon: check out the late, great Julia Child's kitchen. The set of The French Chef is on display at The Smithsonian, stocked with hundreds of tools, appliances and furnishings arranged exactly as they were when Julia reigned over her groundbreaking TV show, mixing charm and humor into every dish. “I always give my bird a generous butter massage before I put it in the oven,” she once said. “Why? Because I think the chicken likes it — and, more important, I like to give it.”
 
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.