The always eclectic Maria Muldaur, whose previous albums have paid tribute to Shirley Temple and blues women of the '20s, takes another musical detour in this collection of songs associated with Peggy Lee. In addition to her cool, sexy, relaxed voice, Lee was arguably more talented than other vocalists from her era. As a songwriter she co-penned some of her own material, including the swinging "I'm Gonna Go Fishin'" with Duke Ellington, which features the witty double entendres that spice several other songs. Muldaur possesses a similar ability to purr ("Some Cats Know") or sizzle (an opening tour de force of "Fever" and "Black Coffee") without breaking a sweat. So this collection of 12 tracks, backed by a talented yet restrained eight-piece band, is a natural extension of her vocal strengths. The stylish, retro arrangements include vibes and big-band-styled horn charts that sound as authentic as if they were recorded in the '30s. Even though there are some finger-popping swing numbers (a zippy duet with Dan Hicks on Ted Shapiro's "Winter Weather" is especially peppy), a late-night, languid blues-jazz vibe dominates.
Filmmaker Atom Egoyan – a longtime onscreen collaborator with the gifted young actress Sarah Polley (The Sweet Hereafter) – executive-produced Polley's directorial debut, Away from Her, starring Julie Christie, Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, and Wendy Crewson. Adapted by Polley from a short story by Alice Munro, this small-scaled two-character drama concerns Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona (Christie), a long-married couple, well into their golden years, who are much in love and connected to one another on every level. "Soul mates" in the purest sense of the term, the two feel a sense of ease and tranquility in their rural home. But when Fiona's memory begins to slip away and she insists on being taken to a rest home, the decision stirs up torrents of guilt and regret in Grant's heart. The rules of the center only complicate matters, as they forbid visitation and communication with Fiona for an interminable period of time. He determines to support his wife at all costs, even if must happen at the expense of his own peace of mind.