Autos and a trio of stories collide at a Mexican traffic intersection in this seething, unsettling, Oscar-nominated debut from director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. A Latino-Tarantino mix of crime, mayhem, passion, and lost souls, which exposes the lives of its complex characters in lurid imagery that lingers like an epic nightmare.
Steven Soderbergh’s sedate science-fiction effort is a metaphysical mystery, pitting man’s own dreams and desires against a higher alien intellect. Part ghostly thriller, part love story, the film is based on Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 novel, which Andrei Tarkovsky rendered on screen much more effectively in 1972.
|East is East
Ayub Khan-Din’s culture-clash comedy follows a Pakistani man living in England and trying to impose the old country’s ways on his seven kids – who consider themselves more English than Pakistani. The often harsh working-class drama is softened by humor that ranges from witty dialogue to oafish antics.
An FBI agent investigating a series of murders is contacted by a man who claims the killer is his brother. The man spins a grisly yarn of a childhood in which his father (commanded by visions of an angel) forced the siblings help him destroy “demons” in human form. Not brilliant, but quite creepy in parts, with some strong performances.
|Scuba – Hidden Treasures
As Scuba, Philly-based DJ King Britt is a master of breakbeat and remixes, combining sounds from deep house to ambient/chill. In the style of bands like Groove Armada, this album is less about heavy dance-floor beats and more about nodding your head in a good mood.
|The Timeout Drawer – A Difficult Future
Adjectives like “textured” and “intricate” seem inadequate to describe these nine carefully structured songs. Horn-like, buzzing moog and shimmering foreground guitar guide you through corridors of pop refrains, moody sedation, ambient jazz sessions, and catchy anthem rock. A soundtrack to everyday life’s mundanities and miracles.
|Verve Presents The Best of Christmas Jazz
An excellent highlight of holiday performances by legends of jazz. From John Coltrane’s rendition of “Greensleeves” and Bill Evans’ “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” to Dinah Washington’s searing vocals on “Silent Night”, Verve’s elite make this one collection that should not be overlooked by fans of either jazz or Christmas music.
|Elliot Smith – Elliot Smith
The second solo album by the recently (and prematurely) deceased Elliot Smith is, like much of his work, stunning. In his burnt-out basement, with little else but acoustic guitar, this remarkable musician made stirring vignettes about alcoholism, an unhappy childhood, dependency, and just generally screwing up. Listen and feel the loss.