Swiftpicks: 10 things not to miss from A&E; editor Tim Swift




So the set-up is nothing short of a teenage boy's wildest daydream: Angelina Jolie whisks you away from your boring life with news that you're a super-rich, bad-boy killing machine. Yes, it's slightly cheesy, but luckily Wanted doesn't take itself too seriously. It avoids getting bogged down in Matrix-y mumbo jumbo and is perfectly content being an efficient and occasionally flashy action flick. In stores Tuesday.



'10 Most Fascinating People of 2008':

Barbara Walters is back this week for her annual sit-down with the year's biggest newsmakers. The hour will be heavy on celebrities: Tina Fey, Tom Cruise and Baltimore's own Michael Phelps make the list. But The View's dotty den mother does have a few crazy-train choices like radio show host Rush Limbaugh. Airs 10 p.m. Thursday on WMAR, Channel 2.


The Lighting of the Monument :

Dancers and singers from local choirs will entertain the crowd before former Orioles catcher Rick Dempsey and Mayor Sheila Dixon flip the switch on the Christmas lights at the Washington Monument. The festivities start at 5:30 p.m. Thursday (with lighting around 7:30 p.m.) at Mount Vernon Place.

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'Milk' :


: Gay rights groups in California have adopted Sean Penn's latest Oscar vehicle to promote their cause. And they couldn't have picked a better movie. The biopic about the first openly gay man elected to public office is compelling without being preachy, and it's eerily on point with gays' current struggle. Penn more than lives up to the advance hype as the slain San Francisco official. In theaters Friday.


Grammy nominations:

Hoping to give their February awards show some advance buzz, the Grammy folks are announcing this year's nominations in prime time. The requisite list reading will be spiced up with performances by Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and others. Taylor Swift (above; no relation) and LL Cool JJ host. Airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on WJZ, Channel 13.


'Framed Reality':


Maryland Art Place's latest show certainly has something for everyone. Everything from Bruce Lee to suburban isolation to 17th-century Welsh courting rituals is explored by four very different painters. The common thread is supposed to be the "highly personal response" to the work. (Yeah, I'm not buying it either). Opens Tuesday.

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'The Trumpet of the Swan':

I usually associate children's theater with puppet shows and cartoon characters on ice skates. Yet it can be classy, especially when the Kennedy Center is involved. A strong cast doesn't hurt either. Kathy Bates and veteran character actor Fred Willard star in this adaptation of E.B. White's children's novel. Opens Thursday in Washington.

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'Prince of Persia':

Originally a blocky side-scroller from the late '80s, Prince of Persia takes another step in its video game evolution this week as the series restarts from scratch. Besides the obligatory 3-D perspective, this latest game features nonlinear play similar to the Grand Theft Auto series. And its visual style should attract new fans. Out on Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 on Tuesday.


Baltimore Improv Group's:

Holiday Hazing:


Like all the group's shows, this one will be made up on the fly. So it's a good thing that everyone has a holiday horror story. Finding good material should be the least of the troupe's worries. The holiday show starts at 8 p.m. Friday at the Creative Alliance.

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Vampire Weekend:

Called "trust-fund frat rock" among other things, this New York indie band has been getting some backlash lately, but its popularity doesn't seem to have suffered. The trendy rockers will be at Washington's 9:30 Club this week for sold-out shows on Monday and Tuesday. The guys might be the "it band" right now, but there's a good reason.