Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Album, Book and Film of the Year - 2014

So many films this year, many released on the cusp of 2013/2014 - Philomena, The Railwayman, Twelve Years a Slave. All good, very good and exceptional in the latter case but for me, seeing so many great movies with so many fine performances, the film that does all the right things, presses all the right buttons is 'Blue Is the Warmest Colour' and for these reasons.

It is first and foremost a love story, a genre I like. The story is sensitively handled as we witness a young girl, Adele, a teenager, as she has her first sexual encounter with a boy she quite likes. The experience is not a good one, it leaves her unsatisfied and seeking something more. Having already seen, albeit at a distance, Emma, a girl with hair dyed blue, she fantasises about her and then, eventually, the pair meet up.
There are moments of humour, moments of tragedy and moments of sizzling passion. The sex scenes are brief, steamy yet intelligently put together so maintain an integrity that stops short of pornographic. The sex scenes avoid the five minute obligatory male masturbatory  periods. But it is the acting of Ad√®le Exarchopoulos whose quite literally awesome ability that captures, steals even, the film. She is able to take her character from a teenage girl through lustful liaisons to adult teacher whilst investing some incredible levels of emotion. I don't think I have ever been so moved by when watching the farewell scene. It was a breath-taking, heart-breaking moment, one that plays over in my head again and again.
The film was released in the UK in November 2013. I didn't get to see it until the DVD release last spring. Truly a great film.

Others that also captured my imagination were...

'Inside Llewyn Davies' - 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' - 'Boxtrolls' - 'Paddington.' Still haven't seen Mr. Turner which bugs me but....soon, hopefully.
As for books, well....I have had a tussle between Will Self's excellent 'Shark' and Richard Flanagan's equally brilliant 'Narrow Road to the Deep North.'  If pushed, and, of course, the whole idea is to name but one novel, one book, that takes my fancy, then I shall go with this one...

and for no other reason than its depth and range of imagination which is remarkable. Such humanity, warts and all, under the closest of scrutiny's, examined yet not judged, revealed.
I have been lucky this year to have heard some of the best of music. From Polar Bear to Tune-Yards, from the incredible trilogy of Rued Langgaard's work as performed by Nightingale String Quartet to the equally amazing Tim Garland. Anyone of these could tale pole position but I shall go for St. Vincent as this, in an age of either backward looking Rock, fuzzy wuzzy sentimental folk, here is something that smacks of now. Not in any shape or form with shades of arrogance, just simple wit, intelligence and smart experimentation. It is pure Pop in the manner of Bowie, Bush or Talking Heads at their best. No mean feat. Special mention should also be made of Balkh. They are forever making new music both challenging and quixotic. Also Alt-J, Swans, Owen Pallet and Dum Dum Girls. 

As for the small box, seldom seen these days so maybe I shouldn't comment, Doctor Who has of course been fantastic, the Christmas Special, following last year's horrendous escapade, was claustrophobically captivating, tense, horrific and terrifying at times but more than that, and something worth celebrating, was a comedy the like of which I thought had long gone. 'Detectorists' is pure comic magic, much like author Magnus Mills dry as matchwood work and all the funnier for it. Also 'The Fall' starring Gillian Anderson whose performance has been the equal of fellow actress and the fellow female police detective, Helen Mirren. A supremely competent and realistic police drama. Also 'Last Tango in Halifax' and, one the verge of the New Year, Steve Pemberton's excellent take on 'Mapp and Lucia.'

Now for 2015....bless you all and hoping each of you has a very Happy and Prosperous New Year. Forgive yourself the foolish things you have done and those who have neither the courage or wisdom to forgive you. x














Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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