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Posts Tagged ‘year in review

The only resolution for 2011 that I managed to keep (and how) was to catalogue every film I watched throughout the year. I watch a lot of films. Some pretentious and in foreign speak, some pointless and centred around bodily fluids. And a couple of them were pretty good. I think I probably expected some kind of grand epiphany. More likely, it was a symptom of a nervous breakdown. Nonetheless, it was the one area of my life I had any control over.

In 2011, I watched 159 films, which is around 13 a month or 3 a week. This says that I either watch too many or not enough films, depending on your point of view. My most cineaste month was January, implying that my enthusiasm for the project crumbled fairly earlier on. My least filmy month was November, implying that I was incredibly socially popular that month, and also that my laptop broke so I was unable to watch any dvds.

My most watched film was Bridesmaids, which I saw 3 times, which I suppose kind of follows, given that it’s a phenomenon, what with women turning out to be funny and also being able to wear dresses in magazines and all that. It is a very good film, so I’m okay with how it turned out. My least watched film is all the films that didn’t make my list, because I didn’t watch them.

I can’t say I disliked any film this year. I tend to be fairly open minded, and if I suspect I won’t like a film, I won’t watch it, as I’m a big fan of autonomy. There are plenty I wouldn’t watch again, but that’s more to do with how I will at some point die and would rather spend my remaining days watching new films and rewatching films I like a lot. I think that’s reasonable.

Amongst my favourite films of the year (new, not re-watches) were True Grit (2010), Bridesmaids, Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Martha Marcy May Marlene, but my favourite was Submarine. Submarine I saw twice, after starting to read the novel and losing interest very early on, but the combination of Richard Ayoade and some of my favourite actors got me extremely interested. On the first watch, I was disappointed. Something about it left me cold, a bit upset, really. Not that I was expecting banana skins, but it was so melancholy. But it stuck with me. After a few months, and the dampening of my own mood, I felt a weird, intense yearning to see it again. Then, I saw its wry humour, the admirably self-involved protagonist, the delicate sketching of relationship dynamics, self-destruction, wrapped up in a visually beautiful and creative shell.

I can’t resign the exercise without saying one last thing: this was really difficult. It took some of the pleasure out of the film-watching experience. I found myself assessing the quality of each film before I watched it, knowing that at some point I wanted to put the final list online. Could I live with myself knowing that my friends and respected peers knowing I spent an evening watching The Devil Wears Prada? So I switched over halfway through. (Perhaps what was more harrowing was the realisation of my own snobbery.) Of course there’s plenty of crap that did make it onto the list. But this kind of regimented examination sucked the joy from one of the most valuable elements of the process – the freedom. Cinema is meant, at its heart, to take you away. They tell fantastical stories, introduce characters that intrigue us, show us a familiar world in a new way. It’s hard to take a voyage through the medium with the albatross of self-image around your neck. This year, I will be watching whatever I damn well please whenever I want.

Below the cut is the complete list of every film I watched in 2011:
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I never make new year’s resolutions, because I never keep new year’s resolutions. I am an extremely fickle person, and lose interest in things very quickly. However, in a state of what could generously be called “flux”, I decided to give it another try for the arsehole of a year that was 2011. Apparently we get to judge our worth as human beings according to how successfully we follow arbitrary rules we set for ourselves. This is the list I made:

1. Write a list of every film you watch
2. Moisturise your neck
3. Don’t fall in love
4. Write every day
5. No snacking
6. Don’t fall in love
7. Be smart
8. Read

I snacked. I can’t hide it from you. Sometimes I wasn’t hungry but felt like eating, so I had some bread with nutella, or an ice lolly, or whatever leftover sweets lying around my little monk’s room. I’m human, okay? I’m weak. Sometimes three meals a day isn’t enough. Sometimes I’m sleepy at work so I need a muffin from Cafe Nero. Do I wish things were different? Of course I do! But they’re not and that’s that. I snacked.

I also didn’t write every day. I barely wrote at all, in fact. There were a few deadlines, a few requests to write something for a specific day or date or performance. I was stymied by a broken laptop and an overwhelming sense of hubris. But I started some things. I didn’t finish them, I didn’t come close. But with writing, it’s probably okay so long as you try.

By fall in love (the resolution so nice I broke it twice), I meant of course those early days of watery-eyed obsession, where you think something might be happening in your life, when you’ve spent too long alone. It is a time when you are at your most stupid. You drift out of conversations because you can’t help but wish you were talking to them instead, or about them. You get angry when you receive a text and it’s not from them. Your life becomes a countdown to the next time you see them. It is a terrible way to live. The joy of an actual relationship is that this point passes very quickly. I broke this resolution, mostly on people who didn’t deserve it. But I’m learning.

I read less than I should have, but more than I could have. I read at lunchtime. It is a nice habit. I need to read more on trains and buses, and in bed at night. I am currently trying to read The Corrections, in an attempt to finish it before I fly back to London. I’m on page 277 of 653. Wish me luck.

I was not smart, but also sometimes I was smart.

I didn’t get as far as moisturising my neck, but I have started moisturising under my chin and jaw. It’s a start.

As for my list of films…this was a resounding success, which I will elaborate on in a seperate post…

I am quite sleepy, but between illsnesses and 7 hours of travel and being back to work and generally ennui (that ol’ thing), I suddenly had a revelation about my 2010 retrospective. Not to diminish “Four Lions”, as it is extremely wonderful, but the film that has been bouncing around my headspace since I saw it (apart from when I was compiling my dorky list) was Greek director Giorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth.

Three children have been raised behind the walls of their family home, away from the influence of the outside world. Their father insists they remain there until they lose their dog tooth, a sign that they have reached maturity. He warns them that if they attempt to leave before then, they face the mercy of bloodthirsty cats that killed their brother. He and their mother educate them, teaching them that the tiny yellow flowers that blossom in their gardens are called “zombies”, and that the planes that circle overhead are the size of a child’s toy. When their father introduces a workmate to deal with the sexual urges of their son, she smuggles in VHS tapes of popular films, poisoning their minds with their first experiences of western culture – including Flashdance:

It is strange, shocking, dark, humorous and magnificent, a sordid world fully realised in all its stifling weird misery. I cursed myself when I watched it. It was such a brilliant idea – why didn’t I think of it first? But I doubt I could craft something so twisted, authentic and complete. So instead I make blog posts about it. Super.

Despite a title that sounds like a suicide note, I have decided to celebrate the end of this annus horribilis with my traditional listus awesomeous. You’re so incredibly welcome.

Song of the Year – “Bad Boyfriend” – Talulah Does The Hula

Song from another year that I only heard this year – so many, but “What” by Judy Street is untouchable.

Film of the Year – I finally saw “A Serious Man” in early 2010 (oh God it’s so good) but if that can’t count, “Four Lions”, though I’m not sure I can bear to watch it again.

Book of the Year – “Birds of America” – Lorrie Moore

Career Choice of the Year – Finally getting a full-time job after eight months. Take that, economic climate!

Emotion of the Year – Ennui. The thing with a negative outlook is you’re never disappointed. Hooray!

Successful Costume of the Year – Countless era-specific nights out with costumes crafted from clothes I own anyway. 1920s, 1960s, 1980s – I got it covered. (“it” being my body, conveniently.)

Unsuccessful Costume of the Year – My unicorn costume. Why couldn’t you let me be great, world?

Achievement of the Year – Various stories published, public readings, zine fairs, events run and art exhibitions. Keep on truckin’.

Anti-Achievement of the Year – Every other facet of my life.

Dog of the Year - The tiny bouncy spaniel in Hyde Park who disturbed a flock of about 200 roosting geese, causing them to remove themselves at great speed into the lake, and honk for some time with annoyance. It was amazing.

Dream of the Year – The one about the Church of St Nazi’s and its sister chapel, St Failure’s.

Revelation of the Year part 1 – When the worst thing happens, eventually everything becomes okay again.

Revelation of the Year part 2 – THIS.

Happy 2011 everyone. May 2010 never come back to ruin us.

Is this still ongoing? Yes it is. If I’m honest all this exercise has done is put extra pressure on me for my 2010 edition. I can’t even remember half the films I saw in 2010. All I know is I’m very glad that 2010 is over, and that’s the attitude I expect will permeate my memories. 2009 was somewhat cheerier. Massively moreso. Voila:

Song of the Year – “Bad Things Coming, We Are Safe” by Emmy the Great.

Film of the Year – Should be “In The Loop”, probably is “Fantastic Mr Fox”.

Book of the Year – “What A Carve Up!” by Jonathan Coe.

Dissertation of the Year – “A History of Knots” by me. Coming soon to a recycling depot near you.

Emotion of the Year – For 2009, there was a gaping hole where my heart should be.

Hobby of the Year – Filling in newspaper brainteaser sections epically incorrectly then leaving them on the train for other people to find.

Hobby I Want To Have of the Year but Never Have the Nerve For – Photobombing.

Catchphrase of the Year That Never Really Caught On Because Not Enough People Saw In The Loop – Difficult difficult lemon difficult.

Achievement of the Year – Well, I suppose this should be the MA, but finally getting my hair cut surely warrents a mention.

Anti-Achievement of the Year – Trying to get a job with an MA in Creative bloody Writing, of all things. Why didn’t I do dentistry when I had the chance?!

Ringtone of the Year – Cat Party.

Dogs of the Year – These Ones!

Continuing my trawl through past glories, we reach 2008, a year full of stuff and things that I sadly can not recall. Thankfully I have my list to fill in the many, many, significant blanks in what was surely a red letter year.

Song of the year – “Young Love” by Mystery Jets and Laura Marling

Eurovision Song of the year – “Divine” by Sebastian Tellier

Film(s) of the year – “There Will Be Blood” and “Son of Rambow”. No similarities between the two except for their extreme awesomeness.

Classic film of the year – “My Favourite Year” (not available on DVD, why must the heavens mock me so?!)

Book of the year – “Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Conner

Newspaper headline of the year – “Newry Sex Offender Living In Wheelie Bin” from The Newry Reporter, 13th February 2008. No, really. Yes. Really.

Celebrity sighting of the year – Bill Bailey at Latitude, on a warm Saturday afternoon, in black shirt, black trousers, black sunglasses, full length black leather coat, and black cowboy hat, flanked by an adoring Ross Noble and Robin Ince, trailed by a small but increasing group of fans like the rats to Bailey’s Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Emotion of the year – the apathetic cynicism that prevailed throughout the final few weeks at work and for the entirity of my MA so far.

Surprise of the year – discovering that “dearth” means the exact opposite of what I thought it meant. Lack of, not plenty of.

Witty/biting comment of the year – From the imdb trivia page for “The Red Shoes” – “When people complained to Hein Heckroth about the grim ending, he pointed out to them that in Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale, the ballerina had her feet hacked off by a woodsman to stop her dancing.”

Onstage banter of the year – Sebastian Tellier at Latitude, with such hits as “This is a song about…my bee-sexualllitee”

Greatest success – Buying a ukulele for £15.

Greatest regret – My inability to play music.

Oh. Apparently I did a Masters. Well, that explains the wonderful career in writing that has followed.

I love lists. I have a near deranged obsession with the bastards. Just last night I watched a five year old programme counting down the best (“best”) celebrity meltdowns. Oh, I watched the hell out of that bastard. I gave up on keeping a diary long ago but have been making a yearly list of important things for a few years. Over the next few days I’m going to post my past collections in anticipation of my new list for 2010. Hooray!

Today – 2007.

Song of the year – “Galaxy of the Lost” by Lightspeed Champion.

Film of the year – “The Darjeeling Ltd”.

Book of the year – The one I haven’t written yet. Or ever.

Dog-spotting city of the year – almost Berlin, but pipped to the post at the last minute by Paris. (The bichon frise by the Sacre Coeur! So small its owner stood on it! It emitted a noise not unlike a squeaky dog-toy!)

Emotion of the year – the mixture of sympathy, empathy and heart-melting gooiness arising from seeing a puppy with a bandaged paw or Same Difference.

Witty/biting comment of the year – the one I make about “Atonement” in the ‘Favourite Books’ section*.

Greatest success – Probably some shoes.

Greatest regret – My inability to maintain my fringe.

* something along the lines of “the first two-thirds of Atonement before it all goes to shit” which it completely does by the way. Damn you, McEwan!