Thursday, 30 December 2010

Year End

I always get reflective as another year draws to an end and a new one is just around the corner. Having a think back over the year I’ve decided to compile a list of favourites in the form of films, books and music.

My Favourite Films of 2010:

Remember Me – Filmed in New York, exploring fraught family relationships and love. Lead characters are excellent (not being biased with my whole Robert Pattinson fascination). The scenes where the central love story is developing are very real and believable. Me and my friend were blubbing at the hard hitting ending. You have been warned!

Let Me In – I’m very selective about the horror films I watch, seeing as I still have a lot of that over active imagination I had as a child spilling over into my adult life and when you live alone you need to consider how scared you potentially might be for nights to come...This was a very haunting remake of a Swedish book/film ‘Let the Right One in’ and an original take on the Vampire genre, seeing as this Vampire is a sweet little 11 year old girl (going on 200). Everything about this film is subtle and beautiful – the acting, the developing relationship between the two young leads, the cinematography...but at the same time it leaves such a big impact and has you in a quandary about what you should feel – sympathy or repulsion for the girl? I’ll let you decide. I still think about this film from time to time and I saw it a good few months ago – a film that lingers like that in your mind long after the credits roll is a sign of a goodie. I’ve not seen the original but I can’t imagine it being any better than this.

Inception – I like films that make your brain twist in concentration, and this one certainly did. I’m fascinated with the whole concept of Lucid Dreaming and this takes it into more complicated and awe inspiring dimensions. A great cast, particularly Leonardo DiCaprio and that girl from Juno. Elements of the film reminded me a lot of The Matrix and the action is non stop but it doesn’t overshadow the emotional human aspects of the story.

An oldie revisited:

Singles – A film from the grunge era of the 90s with a rocking soundtrack (I never realised until re-watching it for the first time since the 90s that it featured one of my all time favourite Smashing Pumpkins songs Drown, probably because I never became a massive SP fan until my late teens and I reckon I must have first seen Singles when I was about 15/16). It was great to watch such a raw film where the characters are unpolished and real and something about it reminded me of my trip to Vancouver (probably the fashions and the apartment block and the music).

My favourite Books of 2010:

This is a difficult one as I’m not good at remembering what books I’ve read I go through periods of reading a lot.

I don’t usually read a lot of non fiction but this year the two non fiction books I have read I have really enjoyed:

City of Glass by Douglas Coupland – DC is one of my favourite authors of all time so of course I had to buy this when I was visiting his ‘City of Glass’ to read an insider’s take on life in Vancouver. One of my favourite sections was when he talks about some kids stealing his car when he is out of town on a book tour and they get drunk and park it inside The Hollow Tree- the oldest tree in Vancouver (which I took a photo of when I was on the trolley bus tour at the top of Stanley Park) and his Mum phones him just to check that he himself didn’t park it here before going on his trip to Europe. Ha! He also threw some light on what the ‘creepy witch’s house’ (see my blog entry Vancouver Day...) probably actually is on Parker Street – a ‘Grow Op’ (place to grow pot).

PoPism-The Warhol Sixties by Andy Warhol and Patt Hatchett – I’ve already made reference to this book in my blog entry ‘Modern Art’ but it deserves a mention again as I found it so fascinating. Reading this is like stepping into Andy Warhol’s life in 60s New York and is a much better guide to art, music, fashion and the attitude and lifestyle of this era than any ordinary history book would provide.


The Vampire Diaries by L.J Smith – Written many years before the Twilight series you have to feel sorry for L.J Smith for getting mistaken for jumping on the vampire bandwagon just because her books have only recently been televised (from what I’ve seen of the TV series it is vey inferior to the books). I read and loved L.J Smith’s ‘The Secret Circle’ Trilogy when I was in my early teens (or pre-teens even) so why I didn’t seek out any more of her novels until a friend re-introduced me to her work (in my adult life) I don’t know! The main character, Elena, is beautiful and a bit spoilt but the winds get taken out of her sails a bit due to the loss of her parents and with the arrival of the elusive Stefan. To me Stefan is a bit of a bland vampire and it is his brother, Damon, who steps in to provide the dangerously dark mystery that you want from a leading fang man. The fact Damon then goes on to demonstrate sensitivity and some heart beneath that cold exterior had me wondering if by the end L.J herself had regretted making Stefan Elena’s ‘destiny’ in life.

The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver – Explores how one key decision can change the rest of your life. It tells the story of one character living a parallel life - in one life she has given in to temptation and gone in for a fateful kiss- in the other she has resisted. What plays out is a fascinating exploration of relationships and different types of love and a reminder of how our actions can have a major impact on not only our own lives but those around us.

Favourite Discovery:

Box Sets

TV series Box Sets are the best... thing... ever. Episode after episode of your favourite TV programme without advert interruptions or having to wait a week for the next one (or longer if they suddenly change the channel/schedule etc).
It started with series 3 of The Hills, then I moved on to the whole series of Sex and The City and now I am in the middle of season 5 of The Gilmour Girls. I am now eyeing up oldies from yesteryear such as Anne of Green Gables, My So Called Life and a friend’s collection of American Gothic...

Favourite Bands of 2010

The Silversun Pickups – Discovering their albums has renewed some of that excitement I got during my teens and early 20s when I listened to new music, a feeling that I thought I may have lost forever

Biffy Clyro – Mesmerising live performance, nothing to do with the fact the sexy lead singer had his top off the whole time, ahem.

I think that’s enough of my 2010. Roll on 2011. Happy New Year to you all!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Tis the Season

It's been a while since I've written a post on here, mainly because I turned my writing focus for a while onto a new novel I'm working on. I'm about 9,600 words into it and determined to keep going at a fast rate while the idea is still buzzing in my head.

The weather has been a hot topic of conversation, news and general griping of late. The snow is pretty when you are inside viewing from afar (and before the brown grit and slush hits the pavements) but it's been a tiring few weeks. Cold train stations, late and cancelled trains, buses which fail to turn up and puddles the size of small lakes (when a brief thaw hit) has made me yearn for Spring. Spring is really the only season I like anymore and it always seems the shortest.
I find it pointless and annoying when everyone blamed the transport minister for lack of preparation and shock, horror, the weather forecast failed to predict accurate weather (really, I think we all know this by now). The snow fell in the middle of rush hour...would everyone have stayed off the roads even if the 20 inches of snow had been predicted? I doubt it.

I've heard some nice stories of people coming together to help each other out during the particularly bad days and it makes me wonder if neighbours don't talk to each other so much nowadays because there's no need to anymore. Everything is so convenient and laid out on a plate; everybody always has somewhere they need to be- fast. It's like we've advanced ourselves into little independent bubbles.
I think the universe is shaking us up a bit to remind us that no matter how sophisticated we think we are, we are still at the mercy of the basics and shouldn't forget the little things. I was reading that if the sun has some kind of meltdown (I'm not good at remembering scientific technical terms) then it will change the magnetic field of the earth which essentially means goodbye electricity...a scary prospect.

I love this section from Douglas Coupland's Postcard Number Two: Power Failure (taken from his book Polaroids from the Dead) "...During power failures we sing songs, but the moment the electricity returns, we atomize. I am choosing to live my life in a permanent power failure. I look at the screens and glossy pages and I don't let them become memories. When I meet people, I imagine them in a world of darkness. The only lights that count are the sun, candles, the fireplace and the light inside of you, and if I seem strange to you at times, it's only because I'm switching off the power, trying to help us both, trying to see you and me as the people we really are."

Merry Christmas everyone.