Swiftpicks 10 things not to miss from A & E Editor Tim Swift


Joaquin Phoenix: in 'Two Lovers':


Shaggy and sedate, Joaquin Phoenix made such a splash recently on the Late Show with David Letterman, it would be easy to overlook why he was there. He was supposed to be hawking Two Lovers, which isn't the hot mess that Phoenix's bizarre appearance insinuated. He delivers a complex, solid performance, playing an unbalanced but likable photographer juggling two very different women. And yes, he's clean shaven. In theaters Friday.



Mos Def:

Actor, poet and political activist, the renaissance man of hip-hop can be unpredictable and headstrong, but he's never boring. In recent years, his innovative musical career has taken a back seat to acting and advocacy, but that should change soon. He's on the road performing, and his fourth album, The Ecstatic, is set to land in June. Show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rams Head Live.

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'American Idol':

It took long enough, but our favorite karaoke spectacular is finally hitting its stride. The new, brutal semifinal rounds, where more singers are cut than advance, have ratcheted up the tension. That's bad for the Idol wannabes, but good for viewers. Look for Maryland's lone Idol contender, Ju'Not Joyner of Bowie, as he competes next week. Airs 8 p.m. Wednesday and 8 p.m. Thursday on WBFF-Channel 45.




Mixing dance, music and theater, the Kennedy Center in Washington launches the country's largest-ever celebration of Arab culture, Arabesque, this week. Iraqi musicians, Syrian Whirling Dervishes and Tunisian actors, among others, will showcase the vibrant cultures of an Arab world that is often lost amid grim news reports. The festival starts tomorrow and runs through March 15 at the Kennedy Center.

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'Grand Theft Auto IV::

The Lost and Damned':

Last year's best-selling and critically acclaimed video game just got bigger. While The Lost and Damned isn't a sequel, Rockstar Games has created more than cosmetic add-ons to its underworld epic. The game puts a player in the role of a gangland biker and allows for about 20 hours of additional raunchy game play. Available on XBox 360's XBox Live service.



'What Just Happened':

The perfect counterprogramming to all the glad handling of tonight's Oscars, this biting Hollywood satire boasts a great cast and a quick wit without feeling insiderish. Baltimore's Barry Levinson directs Robert De Niro (below) as a hapless producer struggling to keep his two films afloat. Despite the glitzy Hollywood setting, it's a very convincing everyman story. In stores Tuesday.


'Roll On': by JJ Cale:

An influencer of rock gods like Eric Clapton and Neil Young, JJ Cale stays far from the spotlight. And that's just the way the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter likes it. His first solo album in nearly five years, Roll On, is a lot like Cale himself: understated and genuine. It can be a bit too rambling at times, but the album includes some standouts, like the twangy Strange Days. In stores Tuesday.



'Morandi: Master:

of the Modern Still Life':

On the surface, it's just stuff on a table. But Italian artist Giorgio Morandi proves that the simplest setups can be sophisticated. The Phillips Collection in Washington is displaying his intriguing paintings through May 24.

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American Craft Show:

More than 700 artists from across the U.S. and Canada will descend on Baltimore this week, bringing with them a boatload of handmade jewelry, clothing and furniture. Artisans specializing in pottery and stained glass will show how they're done. The largest of its kind in the U.S., the show starts Friday and runs through March 1 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

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'A Lie of the Mind':

Dysfunctional family dramas are dime a dozen. But Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind, which centers on a young wife's recovery after a savage beating, may be as bleak and unflinching as it gets. The powerful Howard County production benefits from strong performances, particularly from star Gina Alvarado. Ends March 1 at Rep Stage in Columbia.


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