Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Listomania! My Favourite Films of 2016

So if 2014 was all about the eyes and 2015 was all about the ears, then 2016 was The Year of The Divertissement.

Escapism: the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.

It’s been a trying twelve months. And not because of our shared shit spectacle of the BowiePrinceBrexitTrump variety. It’s been a trying twelve months for other, more personal reasons. It hasn’t been terrible, but it has been tough and I’m bone-tired - and so my cinema-going needs were different this year. I didn’t particularly desire cinema that made me think - I craved cinema that made me feel something (and let's just take it as read that the two aren't mutually exclusive). I wanted the prima materia of the movies - that ineffable Good Stuff that provokes an emotional response -  and the darkened auditoria didn’t let me down...

..."I like the beats and the shouting". The USS Franklin takes out a swarm of attack ships by harnessing the devastating destructive power of “classical music” - the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage - in Star Trek Beyond. "Good choice"...

...Overweight high-school outcast Robbie “The Rock” Wierdicht busts some serious moves in the shower to En Vogue’s My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It) in Central Intelligence - a cuddly warm grin of a movie that provides refreshing evidence that mainstream, big-budget Hollywood comedies can still be kind-hearted, body-positive and genuinely funny without coating themselves in a filthy patina of casual racism, sexism, homophobia or hackneyed "bro" antics…

...Chris Hemsworth. Melissa McCarthy. Kevin’s job interview in Ghostbusters. Michael Hat...

...I had something in my eye watching Creed, I thrilled at The Purge Election Year and Don’t Breathe, I took inordinate pleasure at Abbott & Costello references in three of the year’s finest movies (Arrival, Paterson and The Nice Guys), I sought out and embraced the joy of the movies…

So. Here we go. In no particular order, my twelve favourite films of 2016:

Creed (Ryan Coogler)

Some Creed stats:
Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes dance numbers: 1
Times I almost burst into tears: 2
Uncontrollable excitement: 2
Uncontrollable grinning: lost count
Some of these estimates might be a bit low (apart from that Harold Melvin one - that's pretty accurate)

Elle (Paul Verhoeven)

Green Room (Jeremy Saulnier)

High-Rise (Ben Wheatley)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi)

Paterson (Jim Jarmusch)

Only Luddites Left Alive. “There’s always another day, right?”

Room (Lenny Abrahamson)

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

The Big Short (Adam McKay)

The Nice Guys (Shane Black)

A film so simpatico with my predilections and obsessions that it felt like Shane Black made it just for me. Ryan Gosling absolutely nails his Lou Costello riff, and I'm a sucker for a Jim Rockford Easter egg. Outstanding - My favourite film of the year. (Later on in the year, John Michael McDonagh’s disappointing War On Everyone landed. Whilst The Nice Guys is a rye-soaked Rockford Files riff, War On Everyone is an over-stylised, faux-nihilistic, not-as-funny-or-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is Streets Of San Francisco.)

The Wailing (Goksung) (Hong-jin Na)

Train to Busan (Busanhaeng) (Sang-ho Yeon)

Bubbling under my Top Twelve, the now-customary Close But No Cigar:

10 Cloverfield Lane (Dan Trachtenberg)
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve)
Central Intelligence (Rawson Marshall Thurber)
Chicken (Joe A. Stephenson)
Hail, Caesar! (Joel and Ethan Coen)
Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight)
Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven)
The Club (El Club) (Pablo Larraín)
The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra)
Tickled (David Farrier and Dylan Reeve)
Your Name (Kimi no na wa.) (Makoto Shinkai)
Zootopia (Zootropolis) (Byron Howard and Rich Moore)

Sunday, September 18, 2016


A brief, rare despatch from The Year I Miss Stuff, washing up on the shores of this blog, ready to uncork. Hello.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” 
-- Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

This is one of the former. Although I think I detect the gradual shift towards the latter. Maybe it’s the change of season. The leaves have started to fall from the trees, and at the same time the tumblers slowly fall into place with an imperceptible click.

I am here, after a fashion. Just not quite as “here” as I’d like to be just yet.

It's Samuel Johnson's 307th birthday today. And so I depart again with his words:

“…one enquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to be informed; and that thus to pursue perfection, was, like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chase the sun, which, when they had reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still beheld at the same distance from them.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

United in Diversity

It feels like we've had months of vitriol, lies, acrimony, hatespeech, distortions and frequent examples of Reductio ad Hitlerum. It's exhausting.

So I'll be the soul of wit and declare my intentions for tomorrow's EU Referendum vote, fervently hoping that there are enough like-minded souls out there to join me.

The time has come for the Haters to suck it. I'm So IN.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

On the QT

There are a lot of reasons why this blog has gone dark in recent months, none of which I'm inclined to go into now. But with the passing of Garry Shandling last week, here's an apposite quotation from the man himself:

"The world is too noisy and distracted to probably ultimately survive. Everyone needs to shut the fuck up. The answers are in the silence. Monks set themselves on fire to protest and to make this point. Just consider it."

I'll be back. No flipping!