Monday, January 05, 2015

My review of 2014 (movies, TV, music, books)

I didn’t blog much in 2014, but a lot happened and I want to post some kind of review of various ‘art’ highlights. So, here goes, my ‘Review of 2014’ blog post. First up, movies:

Best movie
Easily, Guardians of the Galaxy. It was unexpectedly funny. It was action-packed. It had a cracking musical soundtrack. The film was so good it even got me into buying comics for the first time since I was about 11. I like Rocket Racoon. Cathy likes Groot. It about sums us up.

Most unexpectedly good movie
The Book of Life. This was gorgeous animation, exploring themes of love and death and conquering your fears and atoning for wrongs. Easily the best animated film I’ve seen for ages, made with sumptuous rich colours that made it lovely.

Most disappointing movie
The Boxtrolls. Not enough about the trolls and a bit too much time spent with ghastly humans. The film was called the Boxtrolls and they were barely in it.  If I wanted a film with ghastly humans I’m sure I could find a better one.

Best scene in a movie
I’m going for Jennifer Lawrence’s meltdown in American Hustle when she screamed at Christian Bale that all she wanted was for him to love her. My heart ached at that scene. It’s just fantastic.

Now we’ve wrapped movies up, how about TV?

Best TV viewing of 2014
Brooklyn Nine Nine. I laughed out loud (literally out loud) at every single episode. Even Modern Family hasn’t managed that. The Thanksgiving episode just kept on getting funnier and funnier although my absolute favourite scene was when Jake Peralta was looking for a flat and saw one that was just a toilet in the middle of a bare expanse of concrete. And that wasn’t the worst thing about the flat.

Running Brooklyn Nine Nine a close second was Elementary. Johnny Lee Miller is just captivating. There was one episode where all he did was lean against a wall, but it was a lean of menace and disappointment and ennui and pensiveness. The man exudes the character just when he is leaning. The show is a belter too and it’s great fun trying to predict which of the people who have innocuously been presented to the viewer in the first ten minutes will turn out to be the murderer.

Most disappointing TV of 2014
Dr Who. The first episode had the Doctor claim he could “speak dinosaur” and somehow appear in a locked and sealed room. He is basically magic now. The second episode contained one of the most callous scenes I’ve ever seen in any TV show. The third episode was a dire spoof of Robin Hood films. I gave up then. I did see two episodes later on, but frankly the gubbins of the relationship triangle between the Doctor, Clara and whoever her boyfriend was, just got in the way of both the story and my will to live. I didn’t bother with the Christmas episode. My love for the show has waned that far.

Ok, so that’s TV, now for some music.

Best new sounds of 2014
Ward Thomas – From Where We Stand. The idea of Country music-singing twins from Hampshire sounds like a disaster but their music is great. I heard the single ‘Push for the Stride’ on Radio 2 and had to look it up straight away when I got home. Even better they are coming to Cardiff next year, playing The Globe on my birthday and we have tickets!

Best gig
Hard to choose this as we made it to six gigs this year, including Tony Wright at the cleanest rock club I have ever been to. (A guy came round putting people’s drinks on beermats as if they were coasters!) But probably the best gig was Darius Rucker on Cathy’s birthday. We travelled to Wolverhampton to see him and he was excellent, playing several old Hootie & the Blowfish tunes as well as his solo material. He finished with a cover of Champagne Supernova that was simply epic.

Best support act
I’m going to give this to Ariana and the Rose, who supported the Hoosiers at The Globe in Cardiff back in April. It’s a tough gig being a support act, but they were great, sounding a little bit like Garbage although not as grungy.

Best album I discovered in 2014
Bad Blood by Bastille. I kept hearing Pompeii on the music channels so put the album on my Amazon wish-list. Someone got it me for my birthday and I really liked the whole album. I was surprised to find Cathy did too. I came home one day and found she had put it on while washing up. It’s great driving music too. They are songs you can belt out at the top of your lungs if you want to.

One thing left, books...

Best fiction read this year
Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland. It’s a toss up between this and Microserfs, also by Coupland, which actually made me cry at the end. But Eleanor Rigby edges it simply because it’s the only book I’ve ever read that is searingly honest about loneliness and how no one ever warns you how hard it is to live with feeling lonely. I love Douglas Coupland’s books. I have to put them down every few pages to let the ideas sink in.

Best non-fiction read this year
Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski. This is a ‘freakonomics’ style exploration of footballs looking at certain assumptions, like do managers make much of a difference and do England under-achieve at World Cups. The exploration of how poverty prevents developing nations from being genuine global competitors is fascinating.

Ok, there you go, that was my year. How was yours.

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