Realize: The must-see tribute to Muhammad Ali

At first glance, artist Michael Kalish's new installation, Realize, which consists of thousands of speed bags suspended from a 25-foot-high aluminum-tube frame, just looks like an odd feat of engineering. Stand in the right place, however, and the bags suddenly cohere into a portrait of a youthful Muhammad Ali—an homage that fulfills the Champ's wife's request for a monument to rival Mount Rushmore.

On view from late March to mid-April in Nokia Plaza at L.A. Live, Los Angeles, with additional locations to follow

Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts: A stand-up-comedy special with teeth

The prankster known for his YouTube roundup show, Tosh.0, moves from guys getting kicked in the nuts to such richly humorous topics as domestic abuse and roller-coaster decapitation.

Premieres March 6 on Comedy Central

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: The indie-pop band adds some arena-rock swagger

The New York act won the devotion of listeners in 2009 with a self-titled collection of twee, Belle & Sebastian-style tunes full of jangling guitars and hearts-on-their-sleeve lyrics. For Belong, their second album, they hired mega-producer Flood (U2, Smashing Pumpkins) and muscled up their sound to create a sunny, infectious brand of power pop that's made for summer.

Out March 29

The Beaver: Mel Gibson's Back—and he's not happy

The Jodie Foster-directed movie, about a severely depressed man who communicates using a hand puppet, has been the object of morbid curiosity thanks to its star's vitriolic telephone rants. Gibson will need more than an adorable woodland creature to revive his image, but scenes like the one in which he carefully blow-dries the beaver after a shower are weirdly poignant.

In theaters May 6

Conversations With Scorsese: a living legend in his own words

This exhaustive and enlightening discussion of the filmmaker's oeuvre, from Mean Streets to Goodfellas to Shutter Island, is a must-have for any cinephile who'd be interested in knowing which scene Scorsese considers his most brutal. (Hint: It involves Joe Pesci in a cornfield.)

Knopf, $30; out March 10

Murakami Versailles: A Japanese visionary transforms a French palace.

Turning the opulent, vaulted halls of the Château de Versailles into a gallery of contemporary pop art might sound like a cockamamie scheme, but it was a success when Jeff Koons showed there in 2008 and an even bigger one when Takashi Murakami took a turn last fall. The contrasting visions of luxury captured in the new book documenting the exhibit—Technicolor versus gold, manga versus Baroque—add up to a weird kind of magic.

Out March 31 from Éditions Xavier Barral ($85).

T.C. Boyle's When the Killing's Done: Highbrow lit, ripped from the headlines.

The prolific author's last two novels, Talk Talk and The Women, proved that cable-news fodder (illegal immigration, health-food fads, communal living) can inspire great work. He keeps the topical bent with his latest, which explores a confrontation between a biologist and an animal-rights activist over the eradication of invasive species on several islands off the California coast.

Out February 22 from Viking ($27).

Read More:
Artist Francisco Vezzoli's Experiments With Fame
The Complete Oral History of Party Down
The Exhibit: Jeff Koons, Versailles
Greta Gerwig's Cultural Diet
The Missing Links: Prep School, Desert Getaways, and Murakami
Vampire Weekend's Favorite Things