“Anna is both terrible and wonderful and that’s why I love her and that’s why women over the decades have loved her,” director Joe Wright has said of the anti-heroine at the center of his latest period picture. The notorious adulteress (played here by Keira Knightley) no doubt has compelled readers and audiences for well over a century, but what makes Wright’s adaptation utterly unique is something critics are calling his brilliant gamble: He set much of the action in a crumbling old theater.
Girl on Fire, Alicia Keys
Inspired by motherhood — Alicia Keys had her son, Egypt, two years ago — the title track Girl on Fire is the working mom’s gift to women everywhere striving to have it all. The celebratory mood of the R&B star’s latest record will resonate for anyone who’s conquered the vulnerability, insecurity and bouts of fear that come with multitasking and overachieving. Come for the empowering anthems, stay for the ballads.
The Layover: Paris, Anthony Bourdain
Travel Channel, Nov. 26, 9 p.m.
If this is as close as any of us will ever get to being in Paris with Anthony Bourdain, so be it. The new season of The Layover has the suave celebri-chef and his taste buds globetrotting to Chicago, Dublin, Philly, Sao Paolo, Taipei, Toronto and, this coming Monday, to the food snobbery capital of the world. Bourdain says No Reservation fans will appreciate the accessibility of this show: “It’s faster, more democratic and more caffeinated than No Rez. But just as obnoxious.”
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, Andrew Solomon
Author Andrew Solomon interviewed 300 families for Far From the Tree, a fascinating exploration of parenthood, tolerance and love. He spoke to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances by their children: families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, children who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. It’s the perfect holiday-season read; put things in perspective before you gripe about annoying in-laws. “Life is enriched by difficulty,” Solomon writes. “Love is made more acute when it requires exertion.”
WORTH THE TRIP
Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo exhibition, opens Nov. 22, Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City
Frida Kahlo’s bold aesthetic has long inspired such iconic designers as Alexander McQueen and rock stars, like Gwen Stefani. Now that the Surrealist painter’s vibrant blouses, ribbons and shawls are on display at the Frida Kahlo Museum, thanks to Vogue Mexico, we can all indulge in admiring her style. If you were the kind of little girl who could pass hours playing dress-up with grandma’s glamorous wardrobe, this exhibition will kick the dust off those lovely, musty memories.
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.