Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)

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Films

  1. Boyhood, dir. Richard Linklater – Filming over 12 years could have turned out gimmicky, but Boyhood was a moving and beautiful story of family and growing up. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so emotional while watching a film.
  2. Calvary, dir. John Michael McDonagh – The preview for this Irish film made it out to be a dark comedy, but despite actors such as Dylan Moran, Chris O’Dowd, and even star Brendan Gleeson (in maybe his best ever work), it’s a heartwrenchingly dark film with moments of humour.
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel, dir. Wes Anderson – I’ve loved every film I’ve seen of Anderson’s, but for some reason hadn’t watched one since The Life Aquatic. This was a good place to start back, with his typical aesthetic and great performances.
  4. Gone Girl, dir. David Fincher – I read the book in one frantic weekend before seeing the film, and the twists and turns and madness of it all still shocked me. Though not as much as it shocked the person sitting behind us who couldn’t stop saying “What the fuck” at the end.
  5. Obvious Child, dir. Gillian Robespierre – A sweet, funny little film about a stand-up comedian who gets pregnant and has an abortion. The characters feel like your friends.

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Music

  1. The Antlers, Familiars – This album is one of those where the sound just fills the room when you listen to it. There are so many layers combining beautifully with strange, sad lyrics.
  2. Alt-J, This is All Yours – Speaking of strange, among other oddities Alt-J’s second album samples Miley Cyrus, and somehow it really works. They also put on one of the top 3 live shows I saw this year (and in fairness, the top 2 are my favourite bands, The National and Arctic Monkeys).
  3. St. Vincent, St. Vincent – I’m declaring this the year of the excellent self-titled album. And St. Vincent’s is the best of them, with an album that is both strange and wonderful.
  4. Hozier, Hozier – You’ve probably been hearing “Take Me to Church” all the time for the past 6 months, unless you’re in Ireland in which case you’ve been hearing it all year. And it hasn’t gotten old yet.
  5. Taylor Swift, 1989 – Part of me can’t believe that Taylor Swift of all people is bumping my forever girl Shakira off my Best Of list, but most of me thinks that “Blank Space” is such a jam I don’t even care.

Continue reading “Media and Misc of the Year (aka the obligatory Best of 2014 review post)”

March Microreviews

January microreviews
February microreviews

March Books


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La Roja by Jimmy Burns (2013): I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while, but I found it lacking in actual stories about La Roja, instead focusing on the rivalry between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao’s Basque-only policy, and other similar topics. Still interesting, and certainly related to the Spanish NT, but not exactly what I was looking for.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (2000): Anthony Bourdain’s television programmes are both my favourite food shows and my favourite travel shows, but I’d never read any of his books. Just like No Reservations, Kitchen Confidential is witty, irreverent, and made me want to jump on a plane, land somewhere exotic, and eat.

Everyday Revolutions by Marina Sitrin (2012): Latin American politics, grassroots movements, and copious references to Naomi Klein made me predisposed to enjoy this book. I found it somewhat verbose and sometimes meandering, but overall it’s an interesting look at contemporary activism in Argentina.

March Films

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Her (2013): Despite being about a Siri-like AI, Her was meant to be very emotionally profound, but I felt like it was missing something. The cinematography was gorgeous and the acting, particularly from Joaquin Phoenix, was excellent, but I don’t find myself thinking about it’s deeper meaning, just enjoying the scenery.

Life of Pi (2012): Another gorgeous film, but this one has stuck with me much more than Her. Like a surreal version of Planet Earth, the film is sweeping and awe-inspiring in its cinematography, but at its base is a tight focus on the relationship between Pi and Richard Parker, and the way they relate to each other in order to survive.

March Television

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Orange is the New Black, series 1 (2013): I don’t think I could be less interested in lead character Piper, but apart from her I love every single (female) person on this show, particularly hairdresser Sophia and pregnant inmate Daya. The show is funny and sad and I’m eagerly awaiting series 2.

House of Cards, series 2 (2014): Series 2 of House of Cards continues on with even more death, lies, and political intrigue. There were several times when I actually gasped out loud in shock, and Frank Underwood is the most fun character to love to hate since Walter White.

True Detective, series 1 (2014): Speaking of Breaking Bad, someone told me this show is “even better.” I can assure you that this isn’t true. However, the acting and intensity is near that level, and the final scene of episode 4 (if you’ve seen it you know exactly the one I’m talking about), is one of the most impressive technical works I’ve seen on television since… maybe The Wire.

March Music

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Found Songs, Ólafur Arnalds (2009): If I lived in Iceland I would probably feel artistically inspired all the time, so I guess I’m not surprised there’s so much great Icelandic music in addition to Sigur Rós. Arnalds wrote Found Songs in seven days, one day for each song, and it’s a soft, peaceful album.

St. Vincent, St. Vincent (2014): St. Vincent is constantly reinventing herself and her sound, and this album sounds like David Bowie meets jazz meets aliens with gorgeous melodies and thoughtful lyrics. It’s weird and a little pretentious but it’s also a lot of fun.

Loco de Amor, Juanes & Shakira, Shakira (2014): See my reviews HERE.