It’s that time of year again, right? The obligatory lists are due. I admit I kind of like lists. I’ve already visited several sites, including a lot of music lists which I do every year to get some fresh sounds. I’m already enjoying some of those. My book and film lists I keep all year round, so nothing new really. I read 65 books this year (not including the current Iliad Marathon), and watched a total of 164 films mostly DVD’s – I did actually go to the movies sometimes, about once a month, and attended two film festivals (44 films).
Clean up day at the old blog: I’ll be getting the books and film pages ready for the new year and moving what’s there now to the sidebar. Isn’t this interesting?
So, instead of a straight 10 best or something, I’ll just mention a few that deserve special mention because they are still memorable.
Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 is a masterful piece of fiction. With the theory that has been in the news lately – that earth originally had two moons, well what can you say about that? If you’ve read the novel or have heard something about it, you’ll know what I mean. Back to the future, what an odd turn of events.
Maybe half of the books I read this year were newly published, and several were those that were filling in the gaps (a never ending battle) in my reading. The other book that really stands out which I had never read (although I’ve read most everything else of his) was Richard Flanagan’s Death of a River Guide. I found this book especially brilliant in its execution and its scope. Reminded me very much of the great J. M. Coetzee.
At the film festivals, there were a few standouts that still come back to me. At the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival I was very much looking forward to Xiaolu Guo’s latest film and it did not disappoint me. For cinematic commentary about the state of the world we live in there is no better film maker working today. Too bad most people will never get a chance to see and really think about her art. UFO in Her Eyes.
From the same film festival I watched this really beautiful, haunting film from Turkey: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. This clip really does capture the mood and flavor of the film.
At this year’s Tribeca Film Festival there were really no films that stood out above the rest, although there were several good films. I loved the look of Artificial Paradises (Paraísos Artificiales) and the feel of Stuck Between Stations, a film I fell in love with when I saw it but had sort of forgotten about until looking back here.
At the theaters Hugo was a kick – a love poem to film. I loved it, but not sure what the audience is for it. Because of its subject matter, I’m sure there will be some Oscar nods. Both The Tree of Life and Biutiful were great films. Honestly though, my personality gravitates to the grittier Biutiful and a little less so to the ethereal Tree of Life. Toss-up here for best film of the year.
106 films on DVD (or streaming on-Line) is a lot no? How to sort through them? With that many films, although I do have them ‘in order’, that’s misleading. As I placed a newly watched film in the queue, I confess I couldn’t necessarily remember the film I was placing next to. I have to figure out how to do a better job this year. My DVD of the year goes all the way back to a 1977’s Cassavetes film Opening Night, with Cassavetes playing opposite a young and crackingly attractive Gena Rowlands. Loved it. Incendies gave the viewer a lot, a visceral horror of a war movie and a family mystery. Great film as well,. Finally inspired by the reading of Helen DeWitt’s The Last Samurai, I viewed Seven Samurai for maybe the fourth time. Still as good as ever and watched it from a different perspective this time, always a good thing. Cassavetes 1977 film and Kurosawa’s 1954 film. See what I mean?
So that’s My List – or what passes for a list.
Hope everyone has a very Happy New Year. Stay safe. And wishes for some great books and films to entertain and make you think in the coming year. Chazz.