It may be more elusive than a cure for cancer: how to make romance last. That’s the underlying theme of Before Midnight, the third film in Richard Linklater’s trilogy, which follows Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy), who met on a train (Before Sunrise) and reconnected in Paris nine years later (Before Sunset). Dubbed a “must-see” by critics, this walky-talky charmer catches up with the couple nearly a decade later as a couple dealing with children and compromise. “Linklater, Delpy and Hawke, all wizards of simplicity and naturalness," wrote The Atlantic Wire, “have made something that's sublimely honest and direct.”
Mel Brooks: Make a Noise, American Masters, PBS, May 20
Many scientists believe that laughter prolongs life, so who better to salute than Mel Brooks, who’s been boosting our longevity for 64 years? (In 1949 his friend Sid Caesar hired him to write jokes for the TV series The Admiral Broadway Revue for $50 a week.) This American Masters profile pays tribute to the remarkable career of Brooks, one of the last great Borscht Belt comics, who, at 86 proves he still knows his way around a punch line: “I think the American Masters that they did is 73 percent really good.” (beat) “The rest is in the crapper, but I hope they cut that out.”
Wrote a Song for Everyone, John Fogerty
Fourteen Creedence Clearwater Revival reboots feature the band's frontman and an all-star cast of collaborators: "Fortunate Son" is delivered with the swagger of the Foo Fighters, "Who’ll Stop the Rain" gets the rasp of Bob Seger and "Born on the Bayou" packs the huff of Kid Rock. Country music queen Miranda Lambert admits she was nervous in the title track duet with Fogerty, who she calls “rock royalty,” but she was thrilled with the result. “It’s timeless,” she gushed. “I loved it and my dad loved it, a generation apart.”
A Thousand Pardons, Jonathan Dee
If learning to learn from our mistakes is one of the benefits of maturity, then at this stage of our lives, most of us have mastered Lesson One: the art of apology. Jonathan Dee’s latest novel follows soon-to-be exes Ben and Helen. He's just blown up their marriage in a messy scandal. She’s a crisis manager who believes a public apology can erase any sin. Anyone who has ever struggled with asking for — or granting — forgiveness will relate to this insightful exploration of the rocky road to redemption.
WORTH THE TRIP
Michael Jackson ONE, Cirque du Soleil, in previews at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, May 23
Five decades have passed since a 5-year-old first captivated America with his infectious smile and precocious talent. Now, this Cirque du Soleil show pays tribute to the King of Pop four years after his death. With flying thrones, dancers on zip lines, choreography based on Michael Jackson’s iconic moves and a classics-packed soundtrack played through headrest speakers in every seat, the spectacle takes M.J. fans on an immersive journey through the music and spirit of one of the greatest pop stars in history.
Pamela Miller is a freelance writer who lives in Los Angeles.