Over these past few weeks I’ve been having a think about the website and how best to use my blog as in its old style as a blog it hasn’t worked in the way that it was originally intended so watch this space to see what it turns in to.
As the dust settles on the new year, it is time to look back of the year past and do a run down of a few highlights of the year. It’s been a great year I think with lots of great films and records as well as a few other cultural highlights. As opposed to top 10 lists etc, I’m just going for film, album of the year and then an honourable mention, except in music where I have two honourable mentions, you’ll see why.
First up is Documentary of the Year.
This year there was one film that stood out, one of those films that comes around every few years and has a profound impact and even though there have been some great other documentaries released this year this one that stands above them.
It is: The Act of Killing
directed by Joshua Oppenheimer.
I totally agree with Herzog as quoted on the poster: ‘I have not seen a film as powerful, surreal, and frightening in at least a decade.’
Coming out of the cinema after watching it I was reeling, my mind was spinning with thoughts so much so that when I got home I promptly sat at my desk and filled 10 pages of note book with writing and scribbles. Talking to other friends the film had affected them as well one saying ‘It was one of the hardest films he’d ever watched but brilliant also.’
The film draws on a huge range of styles blending interviews with re-enactments and even a music number which brings in a very strange sense of the surreal. But Oppenheimer’s handing of the subject is fantastic, with skill and delicacy as mass genocide is not a light topic for any filmmaker. But the way Oppenheimer does is brilliant letting the perpetrators of the crimes tell it from their point of view as a result of that we get an amazing yet horrifying insight with at times the silence in the interviews being far more powerful then the dialogue.
But it is a film that really causes you to stop and look deep in to a void and consider.
The Honourable mention in Documentary:has to go to
directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel.
The film is about fishing of the New England Coast, but if your expecting a new Deadliest Catch then this certainly isn’t. But neither is it the latest BBC natural history unit documentary.
Filmed using a number of Go-Pros (I do wonder how many where lost during filming) the film takes a very different look at the fishing industry. Not with glossy visual sequences but with almost painfully long takes and slightly stomach turning camera angles. It looks at the raw-ness of the fishing trade.
The cameras are placed about the boat and on the fishermen and are then just left to run, however when watching the film and seeing how it has been crafted together in the edit, it doesn’t feel like disjointed footage linked together. It has been shaped to flow in almost a narrative less form. The sound track adds to the sense of immersion in being out on a boat miles from land and at times in darkness. The film builds this sense all around you leaving you in the cinema feeling slightly battered by it all. And not a little queasy.
Album of the Year
Choosing album of the year was a hard choice, with many good records being released this year, like Arcade Fire’s Reflkotor and Sigur Rós’ Kveikur both great albums that both miss top spots this year.
The Album of the Year for me is: The National – ‘Trouble Will Find Me’.
As an album that is simply track after track of great songs with a particularly good second half which is pleasing in an album as there are many that just fade towards the end. It’s an album that has often been my go to this year when I’ve not been sure what to listen to and it always comes out trumps. It’s the first National Album I’ve encountered and following now own some of their earlier work as well. ‘I need my girl’ is such a great track and often gets turned up when it spins round on the disk.
For album of the year I have two honourable mentions, first up is
Jon Hopkins – ‘Immunity’.
The album is actually the only album I owned from this year’s Mercury short list. And as a album it deserves that nomination.
The thing that lifts it to an honourable mention is the structure and flow of the album, it sounds whole as if it is one long track played as opposed to a group of tracks that are put together for an album. However it doesn’t drag in places wanting you to skip forward to later sections it has a brilliant flow to it all, creating a great listen.
The second honourable mention is one that has just snuck in at the last minute.
London Grammar with their great debut, If you Wait.
The reason it just snuck in at the last was it was a Christmas present I received this year so only had a few days of listening to it, however so far it has been a great listen. Blending influences of the likes of Massive Attack, indie and even Jazz influences. Add to this Hannah Reid with her vocals almost bringing a bit of Kate Bush to the mix, which leads to a really enjoyable blend. Thus it creeps into the honourable mentions for my albums of the year.