January used to be a time when new releases would wane a bit, giving people's pocketbooks a break for month. Then someone in the marketing department realized that gift cards were a popular Christmas gift for estranged family members, and suddenly January became the time when we all get bombarded with new releases like it's the pre-holiday season. There are plenty of great things coming out this week, ranging from the adorable to the incredibly sad, so even if you're bipolar you'll still have something to smile and frown about.
5. You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon Short stories aren't particularly popular these days, but considering the fact that people have shorter attention spans than ever before, you'd think it'd be the opposite. Regardless, Siobhan Fallon's first book is a doozy of a collection of stories about the wives left behind by husbands at war. It's certainly not going to be an uplifting read for anyone, but if you're looking for some Tim O'Brien-style shorts told from the point of view of those who stayed behind, this one's for you.
4. Yesterday's Tomorrows (Rian Hughes) Taking a peak at Rian Hughes' art would lead most people to think he was drawing in the '40s and '50s. Yesterday's Tomorrows takes that very idea and runs with it. Hughes style is very much rooted in the past, as is the entire concept of this book, but he does it flawlessly and without even a hint of irony. The book is a collection of several short, illustrated stories, from a few different authors, including a memorable adaptation of Raymond Chandler's "Goldfish." If that wasn't enough, there are plenty of added strips, sketchbook pages and more throughout the book.
3. Animal Kingdom (DVD, Blu-Ray) While we're all bored to death of formulaic American crime dramas, the rest of the world has been kicking out awesome movies in the genre for the last decade. Australia hopes to add its name to the list of notables with Animal Kingdom, which, as the name kind of reveals, is about a criminal family in Melbourne whose cutthroat ambitions destroy the lives of everyone around them. Well scripted and better paced than its American counterparts, this one makes The Departed look like a children's flick by the end.
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2. Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal There's no secret the majority of the population views video games and those who play them as immature people who aren't living in the real world. McGonigal argues it's not always the case and games can be used for good, especially when one considers how hard most gamers work inside their own virtual worlds. She comes to the table ready to set the record straight with plenty of real world examples for integrating games into everyday life to increase productivity, social and political awareness and more. Plus, it's got the best title for a book we've seen in a while.
1. Little Big Planet 2 (PS3) If you ever need to prove all video games aren't filled with bulked up jocks shooting each other in the face, Little Big Planet 2 is the perfect example of how creative and ingenious the medium has become. It crosses the boundary between age groups to boot, and the fact you can make, share and release levels of your own design means its more than just a way to waste time -- it's a creative tool. Seriously, if you own a PS3, buy this.