The Ice Cream Blonde: The Whirlwind Life and Mysterious Death of Screwball Comedienne Thelma Todd Michelle Morgan Chicago Review Press 288 pp., $26.95 This thrilling Golden Age Hollywood throwback plays like a forgotten Raymond Chandler puzzler - a cold case starring actress-turned-restaurateur Todd, found dead in a garage next to her eponymous cafe. At the time (1934), her death was ruled an accident, but Morgan, an expert on screen-world scandals of yore, uncovers evidence that points to murder. A fascinating real-life (and real-death) whodunit.
The Wonders Playing now at the Ritz Bourse A family of beekepers tromp around their Tuscan farm in Alice Rohrwacher's beautifully observed film, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Cannes festival. Unhurried and rooted in the real, it's a movie about a father and his daughters, about man's relationship with nature, and the collision of the old and the new. And it's sublime. Rohrwacher, drawing on her own childhood and teenhood experiences, is a director to watch. And Monica Bellucci shows up as a reality show host, dressed like an ancient goddess. No MPAA rating