Black Life by Dorothea Lasky [Wave]
+ Black Life is Lasky’s second collection of poetry through Wave Books (there are other collection on other presses as well, that are equally as fantastic), following her 2007 book AWE. Black Life is more confessional, feels a little more personal, than her previous work. Lasky inhabits the small moments and the fine details. In poems like “Mike, I Had an Affair” there is such honesty that it is almost hard to read, it feels like you’re looking in on a private life through the window. I felt ashamed of myself for being plastered to this, seemingly, personal moment. The beautiful thing about Lasky, in all her work, but particularly here, is her ability to create that same sense of earnestness, the sense that she is telling you a secret over dinner, in something as confessional as “Mike…” or in a poem that is a little more tongue in cheek like “Have You Ever Read a Book Called AWE?” In the latter poem she manages to not allow the poem to become too self-referential and circular, it’s not a fluff piece at all. Every poem counts in Black Life, and that would be an achievement in itself if the poems weren’t so damn fantastic.
Autechre – Oversteps [Warp]
+ Autechre is known, to a large percentage of the listening populace, as that un-listenable ambient group who could sometimes be described as beats-based but you couldn’t bob your head to it for more than a few bars. (Oh, ok, everything is very clear now.) While there is some truth to that assessment – full disclosure: I like all of their releases – Autechre puts out, this week, what may be their most accessible effort yet. Though, please note: “accessible” here does not mean there are big hooks or catchy lyrics (as per usual there are pretty much no lyrics to speak of), it simply means that it’s less off-the-wall and face-melty. The album is dark and haunting at times with wafts of Tim Hecker’s darker work (“Treale,” “r ess”), and at other times it makes brief forays into dubbiness (“Os veix3″). It’s a great record, and what I feel no apprehension in saying is their best record yet.
Check out this old, but still interesting, interview with the somewhat reclusive Autechre at Pitchfork.
Other Notable Releases: Dillinger Escape Plan – Option Paralysis [Party Smasher Inc/Season of Mist], Goldfrapp – Head First [Mute], Jónsi – Go [XL], Serena-Maneesh – S-M 2: Abyss in B Minor [4AD], She & Him – Volume Two [Merge]
Red Cliff International Version – Part I & Part II (John Woo) [Magnolia]
+ John Woo’s return to China was simultaneously heralded and basically un-noted. Red Cliff is Woo’s first film shot in mainland China in over 20 years (in the meantime he was gracing us with such classics as Mission Impossible II, Broken Arrow, and Paycheck). Red Cliff sucked up a solid handful of nominations, and a few wins, at both the Asian Film Awards and the Hong Kong Film Awards this year. But beyond it’s recognition abroad Red Cliff was the first film that Woo has done in a long time that wasn’t strictly an action – a genre he helped redefine in the 80s. Red Cliff is a historical epic and it is everything an epic should be: long, sweeping, full of bravado with the guts to back it up, protracted scenes of heightened intensity (a little dramatic, but so is the film). The DVD release is notable because the version released in China was separated into two films, both clocking in at just over 3 hours. The theatrical version in the US was barely 2 1/2 hours and combined both parts into a single film. Maybe it was for the best, but this week you’ll get the chance to see the two part international version. Which is at least an intriguing prospect for this writer, as the US theatrical version was breathtaking.
Watch the trailer.
Other Notable DVD Releases: Bigger Than Life [Criterion], The Box (Richard Kelly), Brothers (Jim Sheridan), Bulletproof Salesman (Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker) [First Run Features], Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson), Heinrich Himmler: Anatomy of a Mass Murderer (Michael Kloft) [First Run Features], The Informant! (Steven Soderbergh), Mad Men: Season 3, The Men Who Stare at Goats (Grant Heslov), The Night of Broken Glass (Michael Kloft) [First Run Features]
Notable Theatrical Releases: Chloe (Atom Egoyan) [Sony], The Eclipse (Conor McPherson) [Magnolia], Hot Tub Time Machine (Steve Pink) [MGM], Lbs. (Matthew Bonifacio), Waking Sleeping Beauty (Don Hahn)
The Song Is You by Arthur Philllips [Random House]
+ Originally released in 2009, Arthur Phillip’s The Song is You hits paperback this week. The much heralded novel (New York Times Notable, among other awards), which has oddly and awesomely been compared to The Red Shoes, follows Julian, a talented commercial director, and Cait, a singer who is on the rise, in a story of rising to fame, love, and the process of creating. It’s formality and oddities are enough to suck in the passive of reader into what has repeatedly been called one of the best books of 2009.
You can read an excerpt from Chapter 1 at Arthur Phillip’s website.
Other Notable Releases: Call it What You Want by Keith Lee Morris [Tin House], One More Story: Thirteen Stories in Time Honored Mode by Ingo Schulze [Knopf], Last Looks, Last Books: Stevens, Plath, Lowell, Bishop, Merrill (The A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts) by Helen Vendler [Princeton University Press]
Notable Graphic Novel Releases: Bronx Kill HC (Peter Milligan) [Vertigo], Immortal Weapons (Jason Aaron) [Marvel], The Unknown Soldier Vol II: Easy Kill (Joshua Dysart) [Vertigo]
Notable Single Issue Releases: Batman: Streets of Gotham #10 [DC], Millar & Mcniven’s Nemesis #1 [Marvel], Scalped #36 [Vertigo], Tank Girl: Royal Escape #1 [IDW], Victorian Undead #5 (of 6) [Wildstorm], X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler #1 [Marvel]