Wow, the first post for quite a while coupled with my first e-zine for some time too – it must be a leap year (although I’m a bit late for that too). Anyway here goes…
Unreliable Narrator is the latest e-zine project directly replacing my previous attempt An Fleghes Hager-Na Yu Canjeons. Why? Well you can read all about it within the pages of the zine which you can download from here or from Bill Burn’s excellent eFanzines.com.
The first issue also contains some stuff about Moore & Bolland’s The Killing Joke and letters of comment for the last An Fleghes zine.
Being the third and last in the series of end of year reviews. This contains a random catch all bucket of stuff!
2011 seemed a bit of a mixed year for TV. While I enjoyed immensely Dr Who, Mad Men and The Walking Dead, the TV programme of the year has to be HBO’s adaptation of A Game Of Thrones. It’s always fun to watch people hack heads of with enormous swords, or be outsmarted by fast-talking dwarves, what I really enjoyed about this was just how well the production team had thought about how to adapt 800 pages of detailed plot and a cast of hundreds into 10 single episodes without losing anything important along the way. Other notables included the great Fresh Meat which recovered from a weak opening episode to become one of my favourite comedies of the year. Misfits misfired in Season 3 – half of it was excellent, the other half rather dull. It was however was still leagues ahead of stinker of the year Torchwood, which I gave up early on – five episodes were more than enough to endure.
Much of my favourite listening in 2011 was rather retro such as my almost daily re-assessment of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Airplane Over The Sea in the spring. Of contemporary releases King Creosote and Jon Hopkins Diamond Mine was undoubtedly the best album of the year, being a perfectly produced slice of Fence Collective nu-folk. KC’s brother, the Lone Pigeon, had a sizeable chunk of his back catalogue re-released in what was surely the collection of the year – the 7 disc Time Capsule. I’m still getting to grips with such a large body of work to this day, months after its release.
I’m just going to say one name and leave it at that – BrewDog.
More or less given up on comics, although still enjoying Garth Ennis and Darick Anderson’s The Boys. Nice to see Swamp Thing back in the mainstream of the DC Universe, and loving All-Star Western.
Filed under Comics, Music, TV
Continuing on to the second in a three part brief review of the best of 2011 – this time looking at three of the best films of the year.
True Grit – Coen Brothers
I’m a sucker for westerns, especially ones that are a cut above the average, and the Coen’s True Grit is one of the best. Less a remake of the John Wayne classic, more a reinterpretation of the original source book, True Grit was the Oscar winner that should have been, if it hadn’t come up against the rather more televisual The King’s Speech. The Academy always has a soft spot for posh English films, and n doing so has overlooked a true North American masterpiece – their loss.
This atmospheric adventure tells the story of a determined young girl seeking revenge for her father’s murder, and boast one of the year’s best scripts of 2011 and some of the most sumptuous cinematography ever captured by god-like talent of Roger Deakins. Seeing it almost a year ago now, I knew back then that this was already my film of the year.
The Troll Hunter – André Øvredal
Much less cerebral, but just as much fun was the Norwegian monster movie The Troll Hunter. It is as the name suggests a film about a man who hunts trolls, and is told through the now over-used found documentary footage format, trail-blazed by films such as Cannibal Hol0caust and The Blair Witch Project. The subject matter is ridiculous, but the tense plotting, good special effects and the fact that the actors deliver all their lines with such deadpan brilliance means that suspension of disbelief is easy. With Norway’s rugged scenery almost playing an extra starring role in this film, The Troll Hunter made me want to pack my desk job up and go out hunting mythical beasts.
The Skin I Live In – Pedro Almodovar
The Skin I Live In contains the winning combination of Pedro Almodovar and Antonio Banderas came back together for the first time since 1990’s Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! As a long time Almodovar fan this dark psychological horror was always destined to be a contender for my films of the year. With Banderas playing a revenge-hungry plastic surgeon, Almodovar’s cold clinical direction suited the story excellently. An astonishing piece of work.
Just like everyone else who is strapped for content at this time of year, I’m going to dive in and do one of those traditional end-of-year cultural review roundup things. It being me, and somewhat behind the times, these are more reflective of what I read, watched, listened too in 2011, if you want a more contemporary look back at the last year I would probably go elsewhere. First up books:
Seasons They Change – Jeanette Leach
I read this back last January and even then I knew it’d be a strong contender for my book of the year, which it is. The subtitle “The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk” sums up perfectly what this weighty tome is about, giving an extensively researched history of strange folk music from its roots in the counter-culture through to its fairly recent wider exposure due to acts like Circulus, Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart. The well-known and obscure rub shoulders, and acts from both sides of the Atlantic are given equal coverage. It is clear only half a chapter in that Jeanette Leach definitely knows her stuff as her writing voice is authoritative, or I should say authoritative but never dull. I found Seasons They Change to be a real page-turner, better than a lot of fiction I have read recently. On top of the sheer pleasure about reading about the origins of New Weird Americana or Comus, this book has been responsible for more hours of buying music than any other I have ever read – I cannot praise it enough.
A Game Of Thrones – George RR Martin
It would be remiss of me not to mention this book in my annual round-up, after all I spent pretty much all of the summer reading Martin’s Song Of Fire And Ice. There is enough written elsewhere on the internet and beyond about this one – so I’m just going to say buy it and read it, before moving onto…
The Pioneers – Jack Schaefer
Better known as the author of Shane on which the classic Western film is based, Jack Schaefer’s The Pioneers delighted me when I decided to take a small holiday half-way through reading weighty George RR Martin fantasy novels. This is a collection of western short stories told with a slightly magic realist feel. Each of the stories included in this collection are perfect examples of western tales, but subvert the genre enough that I do believe that anyone who doesn’t like cowboy stories would enjoy this volume too. Intelligently written filled with down-to-earth wit, you can pick up this book second-hand for a couple of quid online – a real bargain.
This week I have spent too much of my time doing the following:
- Listening to Bruce Horsby’s Psychedelic Accordian
- Drinking ridiculously strong Scottish beers
- Procrastinating about Eastercon’s Fan Programme
- Reading far too much Savage Henry and Those Annoying Post Brothers
- Playing Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
- Used the word “Mexican” too many times
- Read two fanzines
- Failing to keep up with various e-groups
- Not going running
- Occupying the sofa
I need to get out more…