31 Dec 2016

'Best Films of 2016'

The inverted commas are because this isn't going to be that at all.
When I had a blog before, like a lot of people I would present my own lists of the year's best films and music though I don't think I ever got round to doing a books lists as well. I hope I never pretended to be demonstrating any kind of definitive judgement. For one thing, who except for a professional critic can claim to have seen/listened to/read enough of a year's output to be qualified to cite the 'best'?
This year in particular has been thin for me as regards new films or records. I've only been out to see a handful of films, and I only bought two or three records. As for books, oddly enough there are encouraging signs of a revival of my reading, but not of new books - I find it really hard to get interested in the marketing of the publishing world, even more than in the music industry.

However, I'm not impervious to pop culture around the movie industry. I regret this, because it's an aspect of the way that Hollywood production and distribution has marginalised almost all of the more interesting examples of film making. It's not that critics don't try and talk up the better non-Hollywood films, but even if you listen to them, you'll still find it hard to go and see one. So, here are a few remarks about films I have seen, or at least, the ones I can actually remember.

I saw Room last January, in fact it was really a 2015 film. I was, as they say, blown away. I thought it was an astonishing piece of film making and it's still affecting to think back on it now. I reckoned that I wouldn't see a better film all year, and indeed I didn't. I've already commented on Jason Bourne, and that was a good example of my feelings about 'franchise' films this year. I hate that word, but it does underline the nature of that kind of cinema as product. I had similar reactions to the latest Star Trek film, and the new Star Wars effort which outdid the others in unashamedly retreading the same plot of previous films. What else? Oh I dunno, but it hardly matters. Let's be honest, I could have made more effort to see better films. My biggest miss was Arrival, which from the sound of it I'd have loved, being an actual proper science fiction film. But December has too much else going on, for me.

The half dozen records I bought were decently good; worth mentioning were Scandinavian Music Group's Baabel and a collection from Vibravoid who I saw down in Exeter. I think I should also give a shout out to estimable bluesy rock and rollers the Sugar Shakers. Being related to one of the band is neither here nor there - I can say that their disc One Lump or Two? is the only new record of mine this year which has had an unprompted "Hey this is good Mark" comment from someone. But my music experiences this year really amount to a handful of live concerts - the most memorable being the David Bowie Tribute concert I attended in Helsinki - and my listening, which mostly takes place in my car. And more than anything else I listened to Jenni Vartiainen - any of her three albums - and SMG, especially Manner and Baabel.

I've already posted about the book which made most impact on me this year, The Citadel of the Autarch. I'm currently reading another long effort, very different in genre, but unfortunately shelved during this hectic end of December. I'll write about it in due course, because it's turned out to be much more involving than I expected, and it's made me very cross at times...
That's it, and quite enough considering I was claiming not to have done much culturally. But I've a lot to look forward to in 2017, in films and music and books, so let's hope that post is much more productive and interesting :)

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