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Still wild at heart

The Ja­pan­droids’ break­out al­bum, Cel­e­bra­tion Rock, was a sur­pris­ing thrill for the way it trans­lated eu­pho­ria into gui­tar-driven in­die rock. But a lot has changed since 2012. And Ja­pan­droids’ Near to the Wild Heart of Life (★★★) isn’t over­flow­ing with fran­tic en­ergy the way its pre­de­ces­sor was. It’s there in the fist-pump­ing No Known Drink or Drug, which ef­fort­lessly gath­ers speed to a mem­o­rable con­clu­sion in about three min­utes. And on North East South West, they of­fer both a tour bus trav­el­ogue and plenty of Cana­dian shout-outs. –Glenn Gam­boa, Newsday

Train off track

Train’s new al­bum, A Girl, A Bot­tle, A Boat (★★1⁄2), con­tin­ues the odd Ben­jamin But­ton-like tra­jec­tory of the band’s artis­tic view. Since the suc­cess of the peppy Hey Soul Sis­ter, Train seems more in­ter­ested in teen pop. It starts with the fizzy Drink Up, which sounds like a Ma­roon 5 re­jec­tion, while the first sin­gle, Play That Song, is built around a riff that sounds like Blue Moon, one of the first songs kids learn on the pi­ano. That’s a track Train needs to switch from quickly. – Glenn Gam­boa, Newsday.

Hanks goes cor­po­rate

As A Holo­gram For The King‘s (M, ★★★) IT ex­ec­u­tive try­ing to close a deal in Saudi Ara­bia, Tom Hanks dis­plays res­o­nant traces of a Willy Lo­man-like mor­tal­ity in his age­ing cor­po­rate every­man, which Ger­man film­maker Tom Tyk­wer ex­pertly bal­ances against the other­worldly con­tra­dic­tions of the desert king­dom where a tra­di­tional theoc­racy is awash in the sym­bols of fis­cal ex­cess. Per­pet­u­ally off-kil­ter, Alan is the comic pro­tag­o­nist in a labyrinthine ex­is­tence that al­ways keeps the hu­mour at an un­easy edge. The movie, an adap­ta­tion of Dave Eg­gers’ 2012 novel of the same name, cap­tures the mer­ce­nary ba­sis of cor­po­rate cul­ture and Tyk­wer’s love for the visual in­for­ma­tion con­veyed by ar­chi­tec­ture, but it nar­rows in scope quickly as ro­mance takes hold.– Craig Mathieson, Fair­fax

Singing and danc­ing Queen

Win­ner of a bonny baby com­pe­ti­tion, Ir­ish­man Rory O’Neill was al­ways some­thing of an ex­otic bird. But it wasn’t un­til he es­caped 1980s Dublin for the bright lights of Tokyo that he found his true call­ing. Re­born as drag queen Panti Bliss, O’Neill’s lip-synch­ing and stand-up com­edy be­came a hit world­wide. Both a fas­ci­nat­ing ac­count of sig­nif­i­cant cul­ture change and a ter­rific por­trait of a larger-than-life fig­ure, Conor Hor­gan’s de­light­ful doc­u­men­tary The Queen of Ire­land (R13,★★★★) is a per­fect mix of the fac­tual and the fun. – James Croot

Panti Bliss in The Queen of Ire­land.

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