twas the year of the monkey and if you squinted your eyes a little.. from a certain angle, 2016’s face resembled a somewhat sadistic, hairy, unpredictable bastard did it not? but it wasn’t all bad, I mean I actually managed to get the hang of driving a 1976 Fiat with a manual gear shift on the left hand side of the the road for the first time whilst on a trip to the Balearic isle of Menorca. what an achievement! what an anecdote eh?!
all this while the earth, nay the sane universe collapsed around all around our globally connected hive minds. (booooo! ye hypocrite derek! ye bollox! you are using da same tech and social media to get your blogging done!) I know. and i’m sorry for what could be seen as my self righteous prickishness but yes, life did continue somehow despite the unfortunate, sometimes heartbreaking deaths of cultural icons, potentially seismic political fuck ups and the usual environmental issues, spiritual and moral confusion, corruption, suffering, gender and economic inequalities etc etc. we grieved in public and were led to believe that we had allowed civilization to slide to the metaphorical bottom of the ocean yet we are still here folks, aren’t we? i’m not sure, that gigantic forest mushroom i ate last summer…the after effects come and go and my reality shifts without warning.
quiet : the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking- susan cain
introverted? sensitive? it’s ok. you are gonna be fine. really. illuminating case studies.
8 steps to happiness – kelsang gyatso
spiritual? confusion reigning supreme? self-cherishing? lapsed (insert belief system here)? why not try buddhism? or don’t.
billy idol -dancing with myself
miss punk? miss the 80’s? long for naff music videos and crass, idiotic, self-aware wink-wink rock star shenanigans? this is your bag.
think pop is dead and music on the way out? think again. or don’t. i’m not bothered really.
note to self: read more books thicko!
reminds one of early depeche mode and eno, hypnotic, playful trance pop psychedelia
pop as personal manifesto; soulful, political, emotional filtered through an 80’s patch.
nick cave & the bad seeds – skeleton tree
mr cave and associates as unguarded as they have ever been. beautiful, heart-rending.
radiohead – a moon-shaped pool
radiohead being radiohead. a shade more earthbound, concrete and hummable than its more ethereal, amorphous predecessor king of limbs.
david bowie – blackstar and everything else
what is there to say? excellent send-off from a legend facing his mortality. skewed, beautiful, avant garde pop.
suede – night thoughts
a widescreen brit gloom pop package of romance, melodrama and reality.
revitalized bristol pioneers.
explosions in the sky – the wilderness stream
more beautifully constructed, slow build post rock ambience from the texans.
pj harvey – the hope six demolition project
PJ continues the journey from personal to political began on 2011’s Let England Shake with a series of immediate, impassioned snapshots of modern urban living.
brian eno – the big ship
rectify – season 4
most under-rated, under-seen tv show of the last 10 years? quite possibly. Season 4 is the series finale. seek it out on dvd or online. an intimate character drama focusing on justice, redemption and forgiveness.
westworld – Season 1 (?)
mysterious sci -fi theme park shenanigans reimagining. philosophical enquiry wrapped in tits, gore and luxurious production values. high quality trash with its brain upstairs and downstairs.
vice principals – season 1
oft hilarious and tasteless study of white male entitlement and derangement. danny mcbride and walton goggins are a delightfully despicable double act.
life on earth
animals and stuff. what’s not to like. survival of the fittest v.o.’d by the Man himself, David Attenborough with breathtaking photography. reinforced my absolute respect for all felines.
the night of
a slow burn, compelling whoandwhydunnit from Richard Price and Steve Zaillian remaking a 2009 BBc series examining the judicial system from the perspective of the defender and the accused. John Turturro leads a superb cast.
lady dynamite – series 1
comedy as therapy courtesy of quirky comedienne Maria Bamford. but in a funny, humanistic, let it all hang out, surreal way.
stranger things – series 1
remember steven spielberg and that other stephen? back in the 80’s? and goonies? and explorers? the two coreys? men in rubber monster costumes? the goonies? joy division? the clash? john carpenter? do you remember? well! do you? you will after watching this, probably. If you were born in the 70’s or 80’s. But it harnesses those influences in entertaining fashion, a sci fi horror kids film mystery stretched out to 8 hours
black mirror – season 3
charlie brookers’ twisted allegorical anthology goes to netflix. bigger budgets, longer running times, more episodes. tis more hit and miss, spinning its wheels ideas wise a tad more than in it’s previous limited 3 episode a season run on channel 4. ‘shut up and dance’ and ‘san junipero’ being the standouts for wildly different reasons.
colin quinn – new york story
hilarious monologuing by NY native and comic veteran, a one man show and love letter to the city directed by Jerry Seinfeld as Quinn, with his unique no bullshit delivery acts out the immigrant story of The Big Apple in irreverent, non-pc fashion.
pee-wee’s big holiday
works surprisingly well considering Paul Reubens is now a 64 year old man playing a manchild. retains the characters skewed sense of humour and innocent perspective without forgetting to be funny and imaginative, something of an anomaly for Netflix, whose original feature length comedy output has been uniformly lazy and appalling to put it mildly.
last week tonight with john oliver
emigre english smartarse witheringly dissects, admonishes and mocks da current events in the US and round the globe.
alan partridges scissored isle
dutch kinkmeister Paul Verhoeven and french acting royalty Isabelle Huppert come up with a twisted, hilarious, complex character study of a fierce lady.
haunting, strange, mesmerizing tale set on some remote mediterranean island in which….i don’t want to spoil it, just find it and watch it. but don’t blame me if its not to your taste. I cannot control things like this.
basically a sit down interview with Brian de Palma, one of the more disreputable of the 1970’s movie brats, this is a candid, funny and fascinating love letter to a master of cinema.
coens typically eccentric yet loving homage to old hollywood has some major laughs and wild tangents.
spike lee’s mission statement : ‘either make love not war. or make war not love. which is it gonna be?’ ladies of Chicago classical Greek comedy style on their men in order to find a solution to the cities escalating murder rate, to put their guns down or forsake nookie. in rhyme. satire, musical, low brow comedy. it’s a mess. but an exhilarating one with fire in it’s heart and groin.
hyper stylized. hyper self aware. hypnotic. boring. self-indulgent. style for the sake of it. ridiculous nonsense. second hand lynch, de palma and argento. however, impossible not to admire its form. a visual and aural stunner. you sense that perhaps director nicolas winding would have found his true niche in the style over substance decade of the 1980’s.
its a western. it’s a horror film. it’s a western. it’s a horror film. you know what? it’s both. tense, lean and strange with a terrific cast.
time out of mind
richard gere plays a homeless guy quite convincingly. wrenching, raw and unsentimental.
charlie kaufman and duke johnsons stop motion animation is like all of kaufman’s work a an angsty, hilarious and disturbing existential comic drama on being human.
merciless exercise in tension and escalating violence.
beautifully crafted and suspenseful shark attack thriller.
hell or high water
vivid, absorbing, fatalistic crime drama stolen by Jeff Bridges.
a brilliantly crafted and involving true life tale with solid performances and stunning pyrotechnics.
vivid snapshot of the Gallagher Brothers and one of Britains most iconic bands in their prime could have been longer and wider in scope but a poignant reminder of their primitive majesty and caustic attitude none the less.
frank sinatra – all or nothing at all
absorbing, exhaustive documentary on the legendary performer.
highly entertaining christmas comedy horror throwback from screenwriter/director Michael Dougherty.
Carrie Fisher – oh, princess. childhood crush you were.
author of Watership down, The Plague Dogs