Queen of the Hill

Lori McKenna's Faith-filled CD tops this week's pop-culture picks.

Lori McKenna Faith Hill Culture reggae Bay Area moviemakers great video games SNL Robert De Niro
Lori McKenna's fans include Faith Hill,  Tim McGraw, and various woodland creatures.
Lori McKenna's fans include Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and various woodland creatures.
TOP PICK -- Lori McKenna: Unglamorous (Warner Bros.) New England singer-songwriter Lori McKenna penned a bunch of tunes on Faith Hill's last album. Hill and her hubby, Tim McGraw, return the favor by backing McKenna on this terrific, unpretentious CD of songs about domestic bliss and the often-tumultuous path it takes to get there. Whether catching her man's straying eye in "Your Next Lover" or coming to terms with her mother's death in "Leaving This Life," McKenna makes every moment heartbreakingly real.

CD -- Culture: Two Sevens Clash (Shanachie) One of the best reggae albums ever made gets a deluxe makeover for its 30th anniversary. The Jamaican group wove old-world philosophies into its debut record -- a tuneful dissertation simmering with spiritual and political turmoil. The hugely influential album sparked countrymen like Bob Marley as well as U.K. punks (including fans the Sex Pistols). Five extended remixes and dub versions add to the still-seething mix.

TV -- Fog City Mavericks: The Filmmakers of San Francisco (Starz) What do The Godfather, Star Wars, and Finding Nemo have in common? All have roots in the Bay Area through their moviemakers. This intriguing doc (which airs at 9 p.m. on Monday) makes a strong case for the region's fertile breeding ground. Mavericks keeps the focus on heavyweights like Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas; behind-the-scenes looks at American Graffiti and Apocalypse Now provide perspective. San Francisco: It's not just for dirty hippies.

VIDEO GAME -- Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (RedOctane) This PlayStation 2 expansion to the hit game series features an '80s riff-tastic collision of pop, metal, and new wave. The Go-Go's ("We Got the Beat"), a Flock of Seagulls ("I Ran"), and Quiet Riot ("Metal Health") are among the groups that bring the noise. Players supply their own plastic-fret skills and awesome guitar faces.

DVD -- Year of the Dog (Paramount) Writer-director Mike White's (Freaks and Geeks) twisted comedy boasts expert pedigree. After Molly Shannon's dog dies, the former SNL star takes comfort in maybe-gay animal lover Peter Sarsgaard and his menagerie of abandoned pooches. By the time she tries to kill neighbor John C. Reilly with one of his beloved big-ass hunting knives, she's totally off the deep end. Plus, Laura Dern's wonderful comic turn as a psycho mom is scarier than anything she's done with David Lynch.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Inside the Actors Studio: Leading Men (Shout! Factory) James Lipton's slobbery ass-kissing on Bravo's Emmy-winning TV show comes pretty close to self-parody. On this three-DVD set, it's agonizingly obnoxious. Besides, the featured stars -- Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sean Penn, and Russell Crowe -- are brooding, mumbling thesps with little self-insight into what makes a great performance. They're all tremendous on the big screen. Sitting onstage with Lipton, they're reduced to dreary film-school lessons.

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