Recommended diversions


The little movie that could is this year’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” another quirky comedy that broke out of its expected art house niche and into the Cineplexes. Former exotic dancer Diablo Cody just won the Academy Award for best original screenplay, and her script is not only hip but wise.

Ellen Page is sensational as Juno, a 16-year-old facing pregnancy. Both Cody and Page sidestep all the clichés we are used to seeing in “teen comedies.” Juno is whip-smart, but gawky, vulnerable, and naive as well, and her parents are not played as the plastic, clueless idiots to which we are so well accustomed in movies with a teen-aged protagonist. I am sure Cody has more good screenplays in her, but Page is the revelation here. She is going to be a huge star. This is a movie you’ll want to buy. And dig that soundtrack. The Moldy Peaches live!

Drive-By Truckers, Brighter Than Creation’s Dark

Like REM before them, they have made it the old-fashioned way: by touring their butts off, and, more importantly, by building brick by brick a very impressive body of work, each album reaching for a little more than the album that preceded it. If this were the 1980s, their latest would be compared to the Minutemen’s “Double Nickels On The Dime,” Husker Du’s “Zen Arcade,” or Sonic Youth’s “Daydream Nation.” It’s a feast for their fans, a double album packed with songs of all shapes and sizes. Maybe it’s compensation for the departure of wunderkind Jason Isbell, but any concerns that the band might take a step back without him are quickly dispelled. Head trucker Patterson Hood has never written better songs, and partner in crime Mike Cooley contributes seven songs of his own instead of his usual two or three. This is an early contender for album of the year.

NBA Basketball

I know that most North Carolinians are partial to college basketball, but I have always had a thing for the pro game, dating all the way back to Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And while it is true that my beloved Bobcats are dreadful again — why oh why did they draft Raymond Felton instead of trading up to draft Chris Paul — the playoffs are shaping up to be something special this year. Of particular interest to longtime fans is the resurgence of two storied franchises, the Lakers and the Celtics, who may well meet in the finals this year if their regular season performance is any indication of what is to come. Kobe versus Garnett! Showtime is back!

— By Chris Cox

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