As I don’t get to the cinema that often, but don’t want to be left out and feel as if I should post something on the blog this year at least, I’ve knocked up a wee list of 10 things of note from the year from my completely irrelevant perspective. I’ll steer clear of mawkish stuff about my family who are always the highlight of the year for me and stick with more personal stuff. No particular order btw.
The Chilean Miners
Charlie Brooker pretty much summed this up on his excellent (if slightly overlong) 2010 wipe the other night, but I have to admit I shed a wee tear when the first guy came up and his wee girl came over to hug him.
This was a genuinely pleasant story, during which the vagaries of the “24 hour news cycle” seemed slightly less irksome. There was still plenty of narrative fabrication and absolutely loads of reporters standing around reporting on sod all from where sod all was happening (live!) but all in all it was nice to see the news media focus on a positive event for once rather than see them default to their seemingly natural position of spouting a generally inaccurate and ceaseless account of world wide fear, death and disaster.
This astonishing film (#2 in Tom’s annual Top Ten) was so good, it made me forget that I was watching what was in large part a fairly dry tale of industrial espionage involving the highly unethical mental manipulation of an unwitting individual. The fact that you are rooting for characters who are to say the least ethically suspect provides an aside about the power of cinema and indeed perspective. This result is achieved thanks to a series of excellent performances, (particularly from Tom Hardy) and visual effects that leave you little time to ruminate on any fleeting misgivings.
It’s also of course at its heart a love story and it is the compelling, passionate tragedy of this aspect of the story that provides the beam on which the rest of the film is balanced.
A sensational, brilliantly executed film from one of the most exciting talents in Hollywood. I cannot wait for The Dark Knight Rises.
Getting an Xbox 360
Self-explanatory really – one of the main reasons I have written nothing of any great substance this year.
I tend to rely on Tom when it comes to finding out about new online thingamajigs and thankfully he managed to persuade me that Spotify was worth a try. And what a joy it is. As much as I’ve enjoyed the playlists of many friends and strangers alike, what I really love about it is you can find something to match your exact mood at any given time of the day. This has led me to discover that Saturday mornings are all about disco era Kiss for me, and how could I have possibly been expected to live without knowing that about myself?
Getting a Smartphone
What a revelation this was. As you may have guessed from the last entry, I am a bit rubbish when it comes to embracing new tech. This is partly because I’m not easy and need be wooed over a lengthy spell – it’s also probably because I’ve never really had the money for gadgets before so have consciously or otherwise characterised any new development as crap in order to assuage disappointment in not being able to join in.
Peer pressure eventually told. Genuinely bewildered by the various options, I got a Blackberry because all my mates had one. As soon as I joined them they almost all switched to the iPhone, as if my joining the Blackberry squad was in itself some kind of jump the shark moment. But to say I’m happy is an understatement. I can’t imagine how I functioned in what I now lovingly refer to as “the before times”.
The 75th Anniversary of DC Comics
The 75th Anniversary of DC Comics has been marked by some wonderful books and ephemera celebrating the home of Batman, Superman and many, many others.
My personal favourites have been the vertebrae crumblingly substantial “The Art of Modern Mythmaking” by Paul Levitz and "DC Comics: The 75th Anniversary Poster Book".
“The Art of Modern Mythmaking” is a 720 page, beautifully presented tome weighting in at 15.9 pounds and is genuinely difficult to read without superpowers of your own. It’s worth the extra effort though and is brim full of Levitz’s taut, scholarly prose and amazing artwork from down the years reproduced on high quality heavy stock paper. Some may find it a bit pricey at £76.23 (Price from Amazon 31/12/10).
"The 75th Anniversary Poster Book" is slightly less of a struggle coming as it does in softcover. Here, we are treated to page after page of full colour reproductions of classic DC covers down the decades, each page perforated in case you want to neatly pull one out for framing. It’s just a very nice, simple and effective encapsulation of what has made DC a veritable icon factory over the years and it’s a bit less of a strain on the pocket as well at a modest £12.49.
Getting Worryingly Enthusiastic About Toys
Bad enough really that I never chucked a lot of my old ones away, however this year has seen me buy among other things a Blammoid Batman (Series 2) and Mini Mate versions of Booster Gold and The Blue Beetle, the latter mainly so I could recreate this harrowing scene of senseless murder from classic DC crossover series "Infinite Crisis"…
Having More Money Than Usual
This year has pretty much been the first that I’ve been able to pay the bills and have some money left over. Not loads, but some. I mention this not to suggest I’ve achieved anything because of course I haven’t but really because it’s been the most unnerving and unsettling experience. Proper weird. Having never had any before, I genuinely don’t know what to do with any extra money. If I do spend some, I second guess the purchase to death and think of 10 other things I should have done with it instead. If I save it, I worry some disaster will hit the house or the family and it will be gobbled up in one. It’s been a long road leading me to the final conclusion that I’m a twat who should worry less. Now excuse me while I head over to Amazon…
News of the Avengers Movie
People who aren’t into comics, sci-fi or all that gubbins will have no idea what I’m talking about but the few of us who do will know what a huge waste of time comic/pop culture conventions are. If you actually go, you pay through the nose to fight with other allergy infested nerds for panel seats on the off-chance that someone might say something that hasn’t already been all over the internet. If you don’t, the Internet is fairly bulging with sites and bloggers dying to feed you every tiny mini-morsel of what can often be laughingly referred to as “news”.
But…once in a while, a convention produces a spine tingling moment, and so it was at the San Diego Comic Con when Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Downey Jr. brought on the full cast for the Avengers film followed by director Joss Whedon. A whispered half-rumour for such a long time, the fact that this film will finally be made with this cast and director is possibly the most exciting movie news I’ve ever heard.
By far and away the most impactful discovery of the year for me was Twitter. Again, I have to thank Tom for persevering with me on this – I resisted for a looooong time.
As dull as it can sometimes be and as full of bots and twots as it plainly is, Twitter is also home to a huge array of just genuinely brilliant people, communicating away right in the face of all the doomsayers who tell us the dialogue is over, that people just have nothing left to say to each other. What rot.
I started tweeting in March and so far I’ve reconnected with people I’d lost touch with, made some new and very amusing pals and have even managed to make a few quid in the process.
I should have realised really that this 140-character world would be the ideal place for a lazy but attention seeking plum such as myself.
2010’s been a mixed bag really as years tend to be. A lot of good, some bad and the hardest part to get through, the vast grey bulk that makes up the lion's share. But at least there have been a few things, people and events worth pulling back the covers for. See you hopefully a bit more often on Talking Pish in 2011.