Celebrate: We officially kicked off the holiday season this week with the first night of Hanukkah on December 1st and the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. If you’re in New York City this December, make sure to head to the Rock to not only see the tree but all of the beautiful windows of Sax’s Fifth Avenue, Tiffany’s and Bergdorf Goodman, not to mention pop-up shops from Swarovski Crystal and Real Simple Magazine.
I Love You Phillip Morris – The improbable but true story of a charismatic conman’s journey from small-town businessman to flamboyant white-collar criminal, who repeatedly finds himself in trouble with the law and on the lam, brilliantly escaping from the Texas prison system on four separate occasions – all in the name of love.
Black Swan – A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company. A film by visionary director Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan is a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect.
Bhutto – A documentary that chronicles the story of the first woman in history to lead a Muslim nation: Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto was born into a wealthy landowning family that became Pakistan’s dominant political dynasty. Often referred to as the “Kennedys of Pakistan,” the Bhuttos share a painful history of triumph and tragedy, played out on an international stage. Educated at Harvard and Oxford, and with an eye on a foreign service career, Benazir’s life changed forever when her father, Pakistan’s first democratically elected president, chose Benazir to carry his political mantle over the family’s eldest son. In the late 70′s, when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was overthrown and executed by his handpicked Army Chief, Benazir swore to avenge her father and restore democracy – or to die trying. Benazir Bhutto may have broken the Islamic glass ceiling, but she was wed in a traditional arranged marriage to then-Karachi playboy Asif Ali Zardari. Her two terms in power saw acts of courage and controversy as she eradicated polio and stood up for women, while fighting the male-dominated political elite, and a nervous military leadership, while battling accusations of corruption and scandal. In 2007, with the South Asian country rolling in turmoil and under the thumb of yet another military dictator, Benazir was called back onto the world stage as Pakistan’s best hope for democracy. With her assassination she transcended politics, but left a legacy of simmering controversy and undeniable courage that will be debated for years.
Contemporary Art in Eastern Europe by Black Dog Books – From Russia to Poland and Romania, and from the Czech Republic to Yugoslavia and East Germany, Contemporary Art in Eastern Europe is an ambitious attempt to chart the changing realities of the eastern half of the continent, as seen through the eyes of artists, critics, photographers and curators. The book features essays from respected writers in the field and profiles the most influential artists producing work in and from the region today, including Marina Abramoviç, Christo, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Zofia Kulik, Komar and Melamid, IRWIN, Natalia Lach-Lachowicz, Alexander Brodsky, Ewa Partum, NSK, Group OHO, Stano Filko, Laibach, KwieKulik, Post Ars, Weekend Art, Zbigniew Libera, Marjetica Potrç, and Mladen Stilinovic.
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket – Latkes are potato pancakes served at Hanukah. Lemony Snicket is an alleged children’s author. For the first time in literary history, these two elements are combined in one book. People who are interested in either or both of these things will find this book so enjoyable it will feel as if Hanukah is being celebrated for several years, rather than eight nights. People who are interested in neither of these things will get what they deserve.