People Picks


No. 1

The Leftovers

In a creepy new series, the world stops making sense for survivors of a mysterious disaster


The Rapture is here. Or, to put it as a CNN headline, 2 percent of the world’s population is missing – bubbles who floated away or perhaps just popped. Leftovers, co-created by Lost‘s Damon Lindelof and based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, is set in a New York town three years after this baffling calamity. Life goes on, but it’s weird. The chief of police (Justin Theroux) may be losing his marbles, dogs run wild, and members of a white-robed sect, pledged to silence, keep showing up like morbid trick-or-treaters and freaking everyone out. (Liv Tyler is especially good as an unsettled woman who joins.) The show is a sinister nightmare, and it holds you like one. (HBO, June 29, 10 p.m.)

No. 2

Begin Again

Keira Knightley sings her heart out in a story of music and love


Keira Knightley‘s floral slenderness, which Hollywood tends to shrink-wrap in corsets and top with tall hats and hair, turns out to be charming in a modern Manhattan as workaday as the one in Louie. She’s Gretta, a British singer-songwriter in a down cycle after her ex (Adam Levine) becomes a pop star. Knightley herself sings here—Gretta records an album—in a voice that is frail, angry and just melodic enough: a good indie-princess voice. If she chose to sing like Miley Cyrus, we’d be in trouble. (R)

No. 3



Two openly gay British acting legends are cast as bickering old lovers in a sitcom – we live in rich times. Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi take the formulaic jokes and treat them as regal camp. It’s as if a couple of cats were handed a ball of yarn and somehow created a Chanel suit. (PBS, June 29, check local listings.)

No. 4



In an age of BuzzFeed viral cuteness – you looked at the pup, didn’t you? =the Onion has created a parody of the time-killing online phenomenon. Typical item: pug photos to make Iraq’s stressed-out leader feel better. (

No. 5


An impressive phirst album


This six-piece Wisconsin band has been seducing festival crowds with its breezy blend of folk and neo-soul. They do even better with their intimate and meticulously produced self-titled debut record, spotlighting Monica Martin’s sultry vocals. “Everything I do, I do in slow motion,” she sings on “Slow Motion”—Phox’s rise to fame should be anything but.

No. 6

They Came Together

When Amy met Paul …


This romantic-comedy send-up cheerfully demolishes the genre, cliché by cliché, as if it were a giant Lego valentine. The floor is left littered with small, shiny jokes. As lovers who meet way too cute – they work in candy – Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd are funny playing characters who are supposed to be funny but aren’t. That makes their performances funnier still. (R)

No. 7



Earth is frozen, and revolt is brewing on the high-speed luxury train that serves as a home-on-wheels for the last humans. This cryptic and fascinating meditation on class distinctions and man’s extinction turns explosive when a grimy rebel (Chris Evans) clashes with the aggressively proper lady in charge (Tilda Swinton). (R)

No. 8

Robin Thicke: Paula

The singer who made waves with ‘Blurred Lines’ offers a very public – and sexy – apology to Paula Patton


Robin Thicke wants you to know he is sorry. He is really, really sorry. Since splitting from wife Paula Patton in February, the velvet-voiced singer has been very public about his desire to reunite with the actress. First was the single “Get Her Back.” Now comes the full-length apology, Paula. The first half of this 15-track album serves as a diverse mea culpa, ranging from the Latin-influenced “Fantasy” to the soulful “Lock the Door.” But Thicke isn’t tucking his tail entirely between his legs. For every few love ballads (“Still Madly Crazy”) there’s an ode to singledom (“Whatever I Want”). The result is an ultimately sexy album, perfect for making up, making out or even both.

No. 9

The Best New Books

Sue Miller serves up another smart, timely page-turner, and Pride and Prejudice gets a YouTube-age makeover

Nicole C. Kear

Now I See You


You might not expect a story about going blind to be hilariously inspiring, but Kear’s book is a showstopper. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 19, she keeps it secret—traveling, joining circus school, marrying. But as her world dims, she’s forced to face the truth, freeing her to see her life – and all its possibilities – in a brave new light.

Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet


Can’t get enough of the award-winning Web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries? Then you’ll devour the Pride and Prejudice-esque heroine’s further misadventures – especially those involving the stuck-up William Darcy – in this companion volume. Jane Austen would, like, totally approve.


Sue Miller

The Arsonist


Longtime African aid worker Frankie arrives at her family’s house in New Hampshire, no longer sure of her goals or where she belongs. Meanwhile an arsonist is sending a message to the community’s summer residents. As houses burn and tensions rise, Frankie and the local newspaper’s editor, an outsider with insider ambitions, begin a cautious romance. Miller (The Good Mother) delivers an evocative, blazingly smart read for languid summer nights.



Elizabeth Gilbert The Signature of All Things

New in paperback: Gilbert’s captivating novel about a lusty 19th-century female botanist.


Jennifer Steinhauer Treat Yourself

Make all your childhood favorites (Yodels! Creamsicles!) from scratch. Picnic-basket envy guaranteed.


Michael Koryta Those Who Wish Me Dead

Stay alert listening to Koryta’s heart-pounder about a teen on the run after witnessing a murder.

No. 10

Strange Hill High


Executive-produced by Josh Weinstein (The Simpsons), this British series is visually inventive (puppets with a touch of animation) and hopping-smart with energy and humor. It’s set at a school where students can’t turn the corridor without bumping into something inexplicable. A chink in a lavatory wall reveals an Arthurian knight, an Arthurian toilet – and Excalibur, in the form of a cleaning product. (Streaming on Netflix)

No. 11


An American abroad is thrust into a game of thrones


If you decide to flee your Gaddafi-esque father and his oppressive Middle Eastern state for America, no one blames you: Who chooses their relatives? If, on the other hand, you willingly bring your wife and kids back home for a wedding, don’t whine if the Mother Country acts more like a stage mother, grabbing your collar and pushing you toward the seat of power. This provocative and timely series, from Homeland’s Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff, teases us with the suspicion that our nice American, a pediatrician (Adam Rayner), is another Walter White. Could go bad. (FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.)

No. 12

La Bare

At this famous club in Dallas, the muscle men strip and let the good times rip


Having played a stripper in the hit Magic Mike, Joe Manganiello directs a film about the real thing, where the guys onstage do their darnedest (which is not inconsiderable) to make the ladies whoop. La Bare is really about the dancers’ camaraderie – it’s not much more risqué than Jersey Boys – and pride. Randy “Master Blaster” Ricks, who’s been there since the 1970s, boasts of entertaining five generations from one family. At the same show. (R)

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