Wednesday, December 30, 2015


hello there

well, that's nearly another year done then, look you see. remarkably i've managed to conjure up things to write here throughout the last twelve months that have seen people come and read - thank you for doing so.

it is one of them traditional trap things to compose or compile a list of the best of the year. let me fall headlong into that trap. most magazines do these sort of awards on the basis of who gives them the most advertising, or the tastiest interview, gets the gong. i have no such arrangement in place, alas, so what you get here is what i saw as being the best of reading, listening and watching during 2015. mindful, of course, of the fact that i have not seen, read or heard much released within the year.

to start off with cinematic endeavours, selecting the best film of the year is very, very easy indeed. i am going to go right ahead and agree with most that Mad Max Fury Road was peerless.

as per my review in the link on the title there, i should in theory have absolutely hated this film. leaving aside the understandable need to replace Mel Gibson in the titular role, the film took apart all that was loved of the Max character and constructed a new one - the fastest, most lethal survivor of the wasteland was now slow, easy to capture and a poor shot. the loner who wants nothing more to belong yet always ends up abandoned now willingly walks away from the chance to be at peace.

and yet, damn it, it works. certainly it's a very different Max than what we are used to, but from a story telling perspective they got it spot on - Max is more of an antagonist than a protagonist, in that he finds himself in circumstances rather than creating them, and his battle through them sees him mostly as a secondary character. this is what made Mad Max 2 and to an extent Beyond Thunderdome work so well. that said, as outstanding as Tom Hardy was in taking on the titular role, applause and praise must go to Charlize Theron for the portrayal of the character who basically carried the entire film.

cinematic success beyond Mad Max Fury Road? i expected Ant Man to be rubbish, a super hero film too far. it was in fact superb. as was Avengers Age Of Ultron. both of them bode well for Space Battles Episode VII, also off of Disney, as and when i get to see it. on that note, The Good Dinosaur wasn't half bad, although why Disney marketed it for a year and a half and then released it a week before their Star Wars thing is a bit of a mystery; surely that killed the box office. finally, Child 44 was ok.

i think this was published in 2015. at the least, i read it very early on in the year, which means maybe it actually came out in late 2014. but anyway i am having it as a 2015 book.

it's not so much that The Girl On The Train is one of the best novels i have read this year as it is that it's one of the finest i have ever read. it had me at the first few chapters, where some brilliant writing expertly captures the psyche, the psychology and the general being of just what it is to be a commuter.

of course, it's far from being a novel about how a girl on a train passes the time whilst going to and from work. i am reluctant to give away spoilers, but it can safely be said that it's quite a surprising, shocking and, overall, thoroughly enjoyable story which follows.

it really is, or if you like was, one of the most finely written works that i have encountered. to my knowledge the novel has not fallen out of the top ten on sale lists all year - bravo, Ms Paula Hawkins, i trust you are sat on a huge sum of coins of money reward for this most magnificent novel. i am really, really looking forward to getting my hands on your next one, but i imagine for the moment you're just taking in the astonishing success this one has had.

yep, there is the inevitable film version of The Girl On The Train on the way. i am sure the filmable elements of the novel will make for a most excellent movie, but i do fear the psychology of the narrative will be lost. leave nothing to chance - get and enjoy the novel, then appreciate the film later for however it turns out.

the rather poor state of modern music is reflected in the fact that for the best pop record release of 2015 i am left with little or no choice but to further celebrate the most splendid Classic Quadrophenia CD. i mean, it is brilliant, but that yet another re-imagining of a record which is as old as i am was the best that a year in music could do is a concern.

or, maybe not. perhaps, at last, every great pop or rock record that can be made has been made, and from here on out we should just remake, remodel and celebrate what we have rather than regret no further seems likely to come.

as for the best in new music, i can look, or if you like, listen no further than Rod Stewart's magnificent Another Country album. the deluxe one is the one to get - not sure why the four or so songs on it were held off for a "limited edition" thing, but there you go, each of them is worth the extra money. Long Lost Suitcase by Tom Jones, look you see, is also well worth a listen. and if you're a big, big fan of unobtrusive, middle of the road soft rock music designed mostly to be the soundtrack to Volvo adverts, Chasing Yesterday by Noel Gallagher gives you that and not very much more else than that.

beyond that lot in the world of music, it was all once again sticking with what we know - The Beatles' 1 set got released again with an excellent DVD to go with it, The Stone Roses announced more chances to see them do their debut, one or two songs off of Second Coming and no new ones, rumours abound that the "original" line up of Guns N Roses will be with us in 2016 and Derek Bowie is issuing more recordings.

what will 2016 bring? a relatively new Space Battles film called Rogue One, hopefully the most recent John Grisham novel in paperback and all the music bits i mentioned above. nothing much that one would suggest as being groundbreaking planned, then, but the sheer beauty of groundbreaking stuff is that you don't get to see it coming. let's hope that's the case.

if for some reason this has been of any interest or use to you then nice one. for now, then, on the off chance that i do not bother to post once more until Friday, many thanks to you for reading throughout this year and i look forward to seeing you here during the next.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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