See, Hear, Read: March’s best movie, music and book release
Derek Cianfrance did the small and intimate thing in his acclaimed 2010 film, Blue Valentine, about a relationship going belly-up in slow motion. He returns with this epic, generation-spanning saga about fathers and sons, sin and redemption. Ryan Gosling, sporting a bleached blond ’do, plays a motorcycle stunt rider who turns to crime to support his girlfriend and their new baby. Bradley Cooper co-stars as the squeaky-clean cop on his tail. What sounds like the set-up for a conventional action thriller is instead the basis of a brooding, gorgeously shot character study.
The Place Beyond the Pines, Directed by Derek Cianfrance (March 29)
A little over a decade ago, Toronto indie-folk icon Hayden was seen as the next big thing, drawing comparisons to Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. Since then, he has mostly shunned the spotlight, releasing the occasional under-the-radar album and performing his soulful tunes in small venues for a cult following. After a fan alerted him that Wikipedia had him listed as dead, he was inspired to give his career a needed jolt and start recording again. The warm and immediate sound of his new album, which features some of his strongest hooks in ages, puts listeners directly inside his home studio.
Us Alone, by Hayden (available now)
As the IKEA monkey proved, keeping our furry cousins as pets never ends well. In this gut punch of a novel, a childless couple raises a baby chimp named Looee as their own. Looee grows up to be big, strong and violently unpredictable, and so gets sent to live in a facility that specializes in primate research. In McAdam’s previous book, Fall, which was shortlisted for the 2009 Giller Prize, he dug deep into the minds of his human characters. Here, he does monkeys, too, telling parts of the story—pretty convincingly—from the perspective of Looee and his fellow chimps. This is a book that’s going to get a lot of people talking. And crying.
A Beautiful Truth, by Colin McAdam (available now)