'30 Rock,' 'The Dictator,' Best Coast: The Week Ahead in Pop Culture


A look at the things we're most excited about watching, reading, browsing, and listening to:

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In theaters Friday:

The satirist of Borat, Bruno, and Da Ali G Show now inhabits the persona of a Middle Eastern autocrat on a tour of America in The Dictator, whose plot is loosely based on Zabibah and the King, a novel penned by ... Saddam Hussein. "[Sacha] Baron Cohen employs a comic range that ricochets between wicked political barbs and the lowest anatomical farce, to often funny and occasionally hilarious effect," writes The Hollywood Reporter.

If the weather has you in the mood for a traditionally big, dumb summer blockbuster, try Battleship, the Rihanna-starring explosionfest "based on" an iconic board game.

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On sale Tuesday:

Summer vibes, heartbreak, and bargain-budget production values characterized the pop rock of Best Coast's excellent, hilarious, and catchy 2009 debut, Crazy for You. The follow up, The Only Place keeps the beachy-bummer shtick but upgrades its sound with the help of producer Jon Brion.

Irresistible '80s synth pop meets the magical-realistic songwriting of Sweden's Malin Dahlström on Niki & the Dove's excellent debut, Instinct.

The consistently mind-blowing electronic artist Squarepusher—he of swarming drum beats, cinematic melodies, and wry, wordless humor—releases his 15th album, Ufabulum.


For sale Tuesday:

Australian novelist Peter Carey has a new novel out this week, about a woman whose lover dies suddenly. The Chemistry of Tears watches her as she channels her grief through a strange, special work project: bringing a century-old robot back to life.

This week also brings the month's second novel to focus on a modern-day arranged marriage. Two weeks ago, Nell Freudenberger's The Newlyweds told the story of a Bangladeshi woman who moves to Rochester, NY to marry a man she met on the Internet. Arranged by Catherine McKenzie—out in paperback this week—has a more chick-lit-ish take on the same subject: It's about a writer who accidentally avails herself of an arranged-marriage agency (such things exist!?) and finds herself wedded to a handsome stranger.



Season finale season presses on! This week brings finales from Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Bones (Monday), Community, 30 Rock (Thursday), and The Simpsons.

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Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn & Spencer Kornhaber

Eleanor Barkhorn and Spencer Kornhaber are senior associate editors at The Atlantic.

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