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10.30.09

The Yes List – The Once Duo, Once Again

Each week, The Daily Beast scours the cultural landscape to choose three top picks. This week, the sweet sounds of The Swell Season, an exclusive John Grisham short story, and a truly terrifying movie for Halloween.

The Once Duo, Once Again

Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who perform together as The Swell Season, became indie sweethearts when their little movie musical-that-could, Once, was 2007’s sleeper hit. The pair even won the 2008 Oscar for Best Song. Irglová and Hansard were charmingly ecstatic at the ceremony, and then tugged at even more hearts when the news broke that the two were dating off-stage as well. The idea that a 20-year-old unknown Czech singer-songwriter and a 38-year-old Irish rock star (Hansard sings with The Frames, who are huge in Ireland) could make an accomplished film, a successful first album, and share a life together was all too delicious. But the romance did not last—the couple split last year, leaving fans wondering if The Swell Season was also done. Fortunately, Hansard and Irglová continued recording throughout their breakup, and have now come back with a sophomore release, Strict Joy. The record is as good as anticipated despite the minefield subject matter; Pitchfork’s Joshua Klein notes that “The tracks don't sound forced or awkward as they follow well-trod lyrical roads littered with wounded ‘yous’ and ‘I’s, they sound honest, and an honest love song as always is hard to resist.” Still, the duo insists that Strict Joy is more than just a breakup record—Hansard told Entertainment Weekly: “Of course there are aspects of that in it. But clearly we don’t have too much of a problem with each other, because we’re sitting here doing this. The crux of the whole thing is, we make good music together. I’ve always impressed her with a guitar in my hand. I just wasn’t as good in bed. No, I’m kidding.”

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John Grisham’s Short-Story Debut

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John Grisham has been one of book publishing’s titans since 1988, when A Time to Kill first landed on bookshelves. Since then, his many legal thrillers ( The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, etc.) have sold more than 200 million copies and been adapted into nine feature films. And after veering into nonfiction ( An Innocent Man), a fictional memoir ( A Painted House), and a book about Italian football ( Playing for Pizza), Grisham tackles the short story with Ford County, a collection of never-before-published tales centered around Ford County, Mississippi. The Daily Beast has an exclusive excerpt from the book, a story of a family’s visit to death row. Read “Fetching Raymond” here.

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A Terrifying Movie—Just in Time for Halloween

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Though there are a host of creepy movies in theaters to satisfy Halloween blood lust ( Paranormal Activity, Saw VI), sometimes it’s best to be scared at home (with the doors locked and all the lights on, of course). For this activity, we recommend Netflixing or picking up a DVD of Orphan, the controversial horror film starring Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard that opened in July. The story concerns a troubled girl, who after being adopted, proceeds to enact evil and murderous plots within her new family. The demon child, played by a quite convincing Isabelle Fuhrman, is frankly terrifying—nothing is scarier than a youth possessed. It isn’t highbrow fare, but as The Stranger’s Paul Constant notes, “The plot explodes as soon as you apply any miniscule amount of common sense to it, but the cinematography, direction, and performances are more than just unbad; they're really quite good.” Read more about the controversy surrounding Orphan (and the boycott from adoption advocates), on The Daily Beast here.