THE WILL FERRELL MOVIE YOU NEED TO SEE
Maybe you stopped watching after he faced off on an ice rink with the guy from Napoleon Dynamite. Or was it after he raced Nascar with Sacha Baron Cohen? But take another look: As an alcoholic reduced to selling off his belongings in Everything Must Go, based on a Raymond Carver story, Ferrell is simply devastating.
In theaters May 5.
THE SECRETS OF GOOGLE, FACEBOOK, AND OTHER WEB GIANTS
You may believe that the Internet is a liberating, democratizing force, but a pair of new books offer dystopian takes on the most important technology of our time. — Timothy Hodler
In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, by Steven Levy [Simon & Schuster, $26]
The Premise: How, in less than a decade, Google went from a scrappy Silicon Valley underdog to a global hegemon that controls 70 percent of the world market for search advertising.
The Orwellian Present: In 2008, Google began using the DoubleClick cookie, allowing it to follow users to almost every corner of the Internet and record nearly all the sites they visit.
The Sci-Fi Future: Google cofounder Larry Page on where his company is headed: "It will be included in people's brains. When you think about something and don't really know much about it, you will automatically get information."
The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You, by Eli Pariser [Penguin Press, $26]
The Premise: How the growing power of highly personalized search engines (hello, Google!) and social networks (hello, Facebook!) actually gives users less access to new information, not more.
The Orwellian Present: Acxiom, a company that works for Microsoft and nine of the ten major credit-card companies, knows the names, current and past addresses, bill-paying history, pharmacy records, and pet breeds of 96 percent of U.S. households.
The Sci-Fi Future: Facebook board member Peter Thiel on the prospect of an artificially intelligent computer: "Certainly, we would hope that it would be friendly to human beings. At the same time, I don't think you'd want to be known as one of the human beings that is against computers."
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF YVES SAINT LAURENT
L'Amour Fou, which follows the fashion legend's partner (in business and in life), Pierre Bergé, as he readies for the 2009 Christie's auction of the couple's art collection, reveals the scope of Laurent's life: head designer of Dior at 21, friendships with Andy Warhol and Catherine Deneuve, and a way of channeling the beauty of everything from Mondrian to Marrakech through his clothing.
In theaters May 13.
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS SOUNDS OFF. AGAIN.
The professional contrarian has picked fights with everyone from Mother Teresa to Henry Kissinger and even titled one of his books God Is Not Great. As The Quotable Hitchens: From Alcohol to Zionism (Da Capo, $17) shows, he's never lacked a strong point of view—even esophageal cancer, which he's been battling since last June, hasn't shut him up. Here's a 2008 classic that has taken on new meaning in light of his condition.