Dec 31, 2011

Best electronica albums of 2011: number 1

Brummie music thinkbod Andrew Dubber recently railed against the habit of hacks writing off 2011 as the ‘year of boring music’. He argued that it said more about the paucity of stimulation in the journalists’ lives rather than a lack of good quality music.
“I suspect that it is not our musicians that have let us down, but our champions of music.

"So if your job is to report upon popular music and you are unable to find ten incredible things in the past year to share with those of us who still read what you have to say, then that makes you a failure.”
“John Peel-ism should be the norm,” he added.

Let me extend that thought. If you’ve ever liked a YouTube music video then left a comment declaring old music to be way better than the mulch that is spooned down our gullets today, then you might as well piss all over John Peel’s grave, suck up the urine from the soil, wait for it to digest, then take a second slash whilst banging on about how the first piss was a nicer shade of yellow.

My difficulty was not finding ten incredible things, but narrowing it down to an arbitrary number that inevitably led me to exclude something quite important....

[This is part four. Click here for part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part three.]

Some also rans

...James Blake’s album James Blake (Atlas). The most important underground electronic music artist of the past year is not in my top ten, despite me doing everything I could into tricking you into thinking he was Album Of The Year at the end of my previous post. Sorry 'bout that.

Last December, I indicated the excitement that preceded his debut album. When it finally came it, I felt it was playing to a quite different audience. An intricate album full of beautiful bass that even caught the attention of Beyonce – but there were ten other incredible things I wanted to share more than Blake's LP.

Other also-rans include new kids on the block, Cant. I found their album Dreams Come True (Warp) too band-y. I believe the monumentally entertaining Ceephax Acid Crew had an Unstoppable Phax Machine (030303), but I didn't get the memo, whilst there was no space in the top ten for the industrial glory of Byetone’s Symeta (Raster Notion) nor for Brian Eno’s poet-poking Drums Between The Bells (Warp).

Which only leaves one thing: a young Glasgow musician who’s brandishing something long, transparent and deadly. It’s a glass sword. That was a reference to a glass sword. Not his penis.

1 - Rustie - Glass Swords

The arpeggiated mayhem of Zig-Zag was the first moment beat-nuts took notice of Rustie. With that track and the 2009 highlight Bad Science EP, he very much sounded like a kid earning his dues in the Lucky Me collective’s electronic workshop.

Meanwhile, his mentors Hudson Mohawke and Mike Slott lead the way for the Glaswegians with, respectively, the Butter and Lucky 9Teen albums. Rustie, perhaps, sounded like the talented apprentice playing with the Nintendo in the corner, biding his time until...

Glass Swords (Warp). It takes three minutes for the first insane slap bass to cut through the ambience to make way for an orgy of portamento mayhem and retro computer game wizardry.

It brings to mind the retro synth mischief of Lorn, whose 2010 debut sounded like a naughty Knight Rider breaking into the Blade Runner film set. Rustie’s debut takes that philosophy much further. If Lorn was Kansas in black and white, Glass Swords is so far over the rainbow, it has hypercoloured the sun itself.

This is the sound of a young pretender dicking about with his software, which would be really annoying at a party, but committed to record it is a joy. He pumps up the Hudson Mohawke beat aesthetic until it bursts.

All Night is a soul jam at the most disgusting sex party ever to be held in your bass bins. Hover Traps is simply the catchiest tune of 2011, Globes sounds like drums crashing against the dawn of time, while After Light throbs with so much minor chord desire between the cut-up voices and blistering bass, you’ll be writing love letters to Glass Swords well into your pensionable years.

Every synth crunch on Glass Swords is a Glasgow kiss that requires, if you so please, your full bleeping attention. And it is all underpinned with a crystal-clear balance of melody and emotion. It feels to good to have Rustie battering my ear drums. You know how you can get fish to nibble your corn-encrusted feet in pretentious shopping centres? In this case, your feet are your ears and instead of fish there are nice things like pies and ice pops and bacon Frazzles.

Which reminds me, I’m hungry. Rustie's Glass Swords is my Album Of The Year 2011 because it matters and I'll be humming it in a year's time. Do have a listen below. Thank you for reading my blog in 2011. It has been an extraordinary year in many ways, and none of it would be possible if lovely people like you didn’t dip your eyes in my word sludge every now and then. Let’s do the same in 2012, only more ridiculous, more unrestrained and with more bacon Frazzles. Did I tell you I was hungry?

[This is part four. Click here for part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part three.]

Best electronica albums of 2011: numbers 4 to 2

We are approaching the Album Of The Year much in the same way an astronaut with an upside-down map is heading for the sun. By the time you finish reading this blog post, you should be in a position to try and guess the winner of this year’s top accolade.

Meanwhile, let’s check out the nearly gang in our penultimate collection of also-rans. Once that's done, we'll crank up the Top Of The Bleeps theme music with numbers 4 to 2.

[This is part three. Click here for part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part four.]

Some also-rans

I’m very sad to exclude Björk, especially after her triumphant performance of the Attenborough-tastic Biophilia (One Little Indian). She had a Tesla coil for crap’s sake. However, although she is on top of her game right now, it’s not really electronica of the Fat Roland On Electronica variety.

At the very bottom of their game is Paris’s own Justice, whose new album Audio, Video, Disco (Ed Banger) was such a mess, I wasn’t sure if Spinal Tap were having a seizure: at first amusing then just painful and sad. Imagine The Who teaming up with David Guetta. No, it wouldn’t be fantastic, you’re wrong. In 2011, Justice made me cross.

Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek’s Africa HiTech project was a joy to the ears: 93 Million Miles (Warp) was bristling with bass and bad attitude – but not a top ten spot. Also not in the top ten is Biosphere, whose nuclear-themed concept album N-Plants (Touch) was gorgeous and just okay at the same time, while SBTRKT’s SBTRKT (Young Turks) was filed along with Nero in the grey bin next to my desk marked ‘pop’.

4 - Modeselektor - Monkeytown

In 1998, Thom Yorke threw a rabbit into the headlights and set the standard for guest vocalists on Unkle’s debut Psyence Fiction. It’s remarkable then that he should return all these years later and equal that achievement on Modeselektor’s third album Monkeytown (Monkeytown). It’s not the first time they have worked together, of course, but the tracks Shipwreck and This are hypnotic and beguiling.

Beyond the Yorkie bombs are other highlights: the hotstepping German Clap, the digital urgency of the loping Grillwalker, the emotive melody on the PVT-collaboration Green Light and the absurd hip hop of Pretentious Friends (“the pâté was fabulous!”).

We’re so spoilt with this Berlin duo’s dexterity, confidence and (whisper it) pop sensibilities, it almost seems a shame that the claustrophobic Shipwreck b-side Dull Hull isn’t on show too.

Unstoppable, bass-driven, ear-hugging digitalism: this is the rise of the town of the monkeys. Come on my ‘selektor.

3 - Plaid - Scintilli

Plaid are a duo that arose from godfathers of bleepery The Black Dog and became the techno musician’s techno musician, much in the same way that Stewart Lee is the comedian’s comedian and your great granddad is the racist’s racist.

Until now, Spokes was their best post-1990s album: it had amazing tunes but, unlike actual spokes, didn’t quite hang together as a whole. Scintilli (Warp) is the scintillating icing on the, um, spoke cake.

Opening with jingling guitars, which brings to mind 2001’s Eyen, we’re quickly smothered with choral sorrow and their trademark awkward chord progressions. Eye Robot brings in the fuzzy techno, Thank leads us into the cheery eeriness seen on many a Plaid album and by the fourth track, the anthemnic Dr Who work-out of Unbank, we’re ready for a tea break. The rest of the album careers from sunny dance numbers (African Woods) to sheer strangeness (Talk To Us), but it’s all perfectly Plaid.

This band has spent five years dabbling in other media, most notably for their audio-visual project Greedy Baby, but they have been in danger of seeing their traditional fans drift off. In that respect, Plaid have checked themselves and produced their best album for at least ten years.

2 - Martyn - Ghost People

The Brainfeeder label was the success story of 2010, with important releases from Lorn, Teebs and The Gaslamp Killer, and a crucial partnership with Ninja Tune. They were responsible for the return of Mr Ozio this year and they were even a headline feature in the Guardian a month or two ago.

All along, however, I felt that without a Brainfeeder-labelled album from their godlike founder Flying Lotus (he releases on Warp), they’d never quite crack it. They just needed something... something extra. I don’t know. Something indefinable. A ghost, maybe.

Ghost People (Brainfeeder) is a spectre to behold and should be the album that propels Brainfeeder into the premier league. I’m mixing metaphors again. Martyn has produced an aural dystopia in which shards of rave and techno have darkness cast upon them until they glisten molten musical antimatter.

Popgun could just be bouncy Joy Orbison dubstep with the occasional vocal grunt, but the atmospherics lift the sound into something greater than its parts. The driving Bauplan is so beautifully melodic, you either want to go for a run or a cry. And the choppy We Are You In The Future sounds like the theme music for every techno track ever recorded. Everyone is trying this sound, but Martyn does it best.

I wrestled over the decision whether to make Martyn’s Ghost People my album of the year or not. But no. There is another. A debut album so great, so absorbing, with such unique production, it ought to have every kid with a smidgen of soul mimicking his sound. Stay tuned, dear reader, for my Album Of The Year 2011.

[This is part three. Click here for part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part four.]

Dec 30, 2011

Best electronica albums of 2011: numbers 7 to 5

Welcome back to my countdown of the best electronic music albums of 2011. Have a look at my previous post, why don’t you.

Before we fondle the edges of the top five, let’s have a look at some more people that coulda been a contender but they weren't because I wiped them on the doormat on the way in.

[This is part two. Click here for part one. Click here for part three. Click here for part four.]

Some also-rans

It’s always a tightrope wobble producing this annual series of blog posts, because I don’t want my top ten to be too guitary. Metronomy fell just about on the wrong side of the divide so they are not included in my final list, but that doesn’t stop The English Riviera (Because) being one of the best albums for ages.

Katy B, darling of what I call the Radio 1 dubstep scene, did wonders for Magnetic Man. However, On A Mission (Rinse) didn’t convert me and she misses out on the top ten. Again. At this rate Skream will be round my place brandishing a pointed microphone stand. Again.

Balam Acab’s liquid loveliness on Wander / Wonder (Tri Angle) missed out on a place in the final list, which is a shame for such a brittle marvel. Thundercat’s The Golden Age Of Apocalypse (Brainfeeder) was too jazz funk for my tastes while Shigeto’s Full Circle Remixes and Gold Panda’s Companion (Ghostly International) walk away from this blog with nothing more than this brief mention right here in this sentence just here.

7 - The Field - Looping State Of Mind

Like an agoraphobic moo-cow, I have been ignoring The Field. In 2007, his album From Here We Go Sublime scooped critical praise but it skittered past me because I was probably too busy listening to The Klaxons. And so to 2011, when I finally not only listened to The Field, but I whacked them straight into my top ten with their Looping State Of Mind (Kompakt).

The album opens with the soft siren call of Is This Power, which is all very nice, then they hit you with the monumental It’s Up There, a chugging 4:4 builder not a million miles from Rez-era Underworld. Arpeggiated Love too has a special kind of 10-minute stuck-needle aesthetic.

It’s probably the easiest listen in this whole top ten, but there’s something about the slow evolution of each song, the recurring sounds and the minimalism that helped this album find a particularly warm spot in my listening hole.

6 - Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie XX - We’re New Here

Dubstep is a term batted about more than Max Mosley’s bum in a dungeon, and I’m not sure it means anything anymore in a world in which Benga, Burial and Skrillex all lay claim to the term. Post-dubstep is easier. If it’s someone electronic trying to sound like The xx, then it’s post-dubstep. We’re New Here (XL) is post-dubstep. Apparently.

Jamie XX’s stroke of genius was only choosing to use the vocals when remixing Gil Scott-Heron’s 2010 album I’m New Here. He loaded his remixes with future party goodness and created an album that stands on its own. An instant classic and an essential for your record collection, Mr XX’s incredible attention to detail will keep you glued to the speakers. We’re New Here has bouncy bass (NY Is Killing Me), house music (I’ll Take Care Of U), utter beat mayhem (The Crutch) , all underpinning lashings of that smoky, smoky voice.

A true pioneer bringing another true pioneer to a new audience. Gil Scott-Heron, lost to us all in 2011, lives on in the dub.

5 - Surgeon - Breaking The Frame

Taking a million years out doesn’t tend to encourage a quality comeback (see James Cameron’s Avatar or the Stone Roses’s Second Coming), but by the sounds of the furious techno on offer on Breaking The Frame (Dynamic Tension), Surgeon has been percolating quite nicely.

He is in an utterly uncompromising mood, but as the static anger of Radiance gives in to the harps from hell on Presence, there is beauty here too. An evil beauty.

The loops are tight although they still give the impression of an army of machines with steam valves and dangerous malfunctions, the hisses and the gasps stretching out loosely over waspish choirs and malevolent melodics. In some ways, it’s a throw-back to the faceless, tuneless Tresor techno of the 1990s: you know, when dance music was good. And most importantly, more than any artist of 2011, Surgeon stands out as someone unwilling to bend, someone out to please only himself; a man and his machines and, as a result, a bunch of slobbering (and terrified) techno fans.

[This is part two. Click here for part one. Click here for part three. Click here for part four.]

Dec 29, 2011

Best electronica albums of 2011: numbers 10 to 8

Welcome to my annual review of the best electronica albums.

I must start dear reader, with an apology. I got it wrong last year: Luke Abbott's Holkham Drones (Border Community) languished at number three on 2010’s list, but repeated plays makes me think it should have taken the top spot. Oh well. Mount Kimbie ain’t giving their crown back.

So no pressure then. This year’s best electronica list is, if I may say so, utter brillsocks. Every album featured I love to bits, have slept with several times and have moved into a bungalow with. Before we lap up the goodness, let’s see some of the tracks I spat out. After that, we’ll crack on with the top ten.

[This is part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part three. Click here for part four.]

Some also-rans

Walls were darlings of the ambient community in 2010, so they went and ditched the driftiness and took up dance beats instead. Their album Coracle (Kompakt) was closer to techno and therefore closer to my heart, but it wasn’t enough to make the list.

Bibio scored highly in my best electronica review two years ago but 2011’s Mind Bokeh (Warp) seemed confused: their sub-Orson rock song Take Off Your Shirt was, well, like Orson. Meanwhile, Tycho's Dive (Ghostly International) was lovely, Zomby’s Dedication (4AD) didn’t quite do it for me, while I got Dave Monolith’s Welcome (Rephlex) for Christmas and haven’t had time to absorb it yet.

10 - Falty DL - You Stand Uncertain

You Stand Uncertain (Planet Mu) is such a complete world and yet, by all rights, it ought to be a disconnected mess of rave, house, r’n’b and techno samples.

Take Lucky Luciano. It starts with some slow-motion rave riffery, hypes it up with some breakbeat samba and “oooh yeah” vocal samples, throws in some frenetic funky drummer-ness and suddenly we’re in a watery world of 808 State techno followed by some drill’n’bass-lite. The fact that this one track holds together is a miracle, never mind the album as a whole.

I’m less keen when it gets too far down the garage path and I could do without the female vocal tracks: they feel too much like a bid for radio play. You Stand Uncertain works better in the abstract as repeated melodies work their way into your brain and hang around for the rest of the record, or when a new opposing theme drifts into the music as if uninvited and the whole records hangs beautifully in the delicate, titular uncertainty.

9 - Machinedrum - Room(s)

If Travis Stewart was an actual machine, he’d be a bit rusty around the wingnuts because he’s been in service now for ten years as Machinedrum, Sepalcure, Tstewart and Syndrone.

A brief flirtation with Glasgow’s Lucky Me record label oiled his creativity as he left behind his glitchy past in favour of more upfront electro. Room(s) (Planet Mu) is the full-flexing realisation of that change: swirling vocals and complex breakbeats abound.

In fact, that’s pretty much the motif of Room(s). Busy rave rhythms agitate echoing soul vocals, such as the “for real” refrain of Now U Know Tha Deal 4 Real, the auto tuned U Don’t Survive or the people wailing at the choppy synths in The Statue. A highlight is the additively repetitive She Died There. And with a lot of the tracks coming in at the four or five minute mark, Mr Drum knows how to structure things so that nothing outstays its welcome. Pitchfork wrote off this album as “devoid of its creators voice” – they couldn’t be more wrong.

8 - Kuedo - Severant

Three Planet Mu albums in a row: crikes.

I never thought a Carly Simon sample would end up in my annual album reviews, but it’s happened thanks to the fifth track on Kuedo’s debut album which sees the famous “la de dah de dah” refrain from the ‘80s songstress go to battle with a helicopter or at the very least, a synthesiser that dearly wants to be a helicopter. Next up, Burial doing Coming Around Again on a hovercraft?

Kuedo is a new name around these parts, but most will recognise him as remixer and producer Jamie Vex’d out of, um Vex’d. There is not much comparison, however. While Vex’d The Duo snarled and growled like some crazed darkstep killing monster, and Jamie Vex’d The Soloist sounded like Ninja Tune down a k-hole, the new Kuedo project has a different flavour.  Severant (Planet Mu) sounds like a Vangelis remix album. It is a landscape of yearning 1980s chord sequences (Truth Flood), cinematic analogue ambience (Salt Lake Cuts) and delicate melancholia (Visioning Shared Tomorrows). This album will pluck your heart strings until they shimmer.

[This is part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part three. Click here for part four.]

Dec 28, 2011

Best movies of 2011: numbers 5 to 1

My review of films in 2011 trudges on like a troll through a Norwegian forest. See if you can guess which one of these top five films contains trolls and Norwegian forests. That's right. Tyrannosaur. Peter Mullan's furious about those damn trolls and those damn trees.

[This is part three. Click here for part one. Click here for part two. See also 2010 and 2009.]

5 - Tyrannosaur

The terrifying driving instructor from Happy-Go-Lucky pushes Peep Show’s Sophie into the arms of My Name Is Joe, but not in a way you'd expect. A stunning directorial debut from Paddy Considine that slowly smudges your sympathies from black and white into grey. The violence is often more malevolent than just physical force so this is not a film for the faint-hearted. But hey, it's about a Christian working in a charity shop, so it's all light and fluffy, yeah?

4 - Source Code

Groundhog Day condensed to eight minutes. The extremely false set-up of Source Code makes Flight Of The Navigator look like Newsnight, but the time restriction lights a narrative touch-paper that produces a thrilling science fiction blockbuster that stimulates the intelligence and lies somewhere between Quantum Leap, Unstoppable and, um, 50 First Dates.

3 - Troll Hunter

“Troll!” Welcome to Cloverfjord where the Scandinavian troll legend is realised in its full CGI horror. Otto Jesperson’s deadpan poacher is as concerned with red tape as he is with the creatures he is hunting. A pseudo-documentary with black comedy teeth, this is a delight from start to finish and unlike anything else at the cinema this year. The bridge thing? Best film moment of 2011. Read more at Screen 150.

2 - Submarine

2011 was a brilliant year for British directorial debuts, but it’s Richard Ayoade (IT Crowd, Nathan Barley, Mighty Boosh, Darkplace) that takes the honours with a debut brought to us by him, Warp Films and Ben Stiller.

A geeky paranoid boy tries to solve his parents’ relationship problems whilst trying to hook up with the girl he both loves and fears. The girl in question is Yasmin Paige who withers more than Jeremy Paxman in a heatwave. A quotable script, a massive funny bone, great music and pitch-perfect visual motifs that return you to your own paranoid childhood (a fairground, a Polaroid camera, a kaleidoscope). The comedy of the year.

1 - Senna

A documentary is my film of the year.

So why should this share such a prestigious honour (hey, stop laughing) with Another Year (2010) and Where The Wild Things Are (2009)? Although I like formula one, Senna was before my time and so the film held no emotional pull for me as I walked into the flicks: in fact, I'm always apprehensive of sport in movies. What I experienced though was movie-making of the highest grade.

The film follows the racing star in the ten years leading up to his death, eschewing normal racing footage for intimate high-speed close-ups and behind-the-scenes tension. We see Senna the god but then Senna the battler as he falls foul of the authorities. As the film approaches its Titanic moment, the doom is played out with a cold steadiness that will either have you on the edge of your seat or cowering behind it. Because it’s not just Senna and Ratzenberger that were victims during that fateful weekend...

Senna tells a narrative and lets the racing take second place, and that's why it is such a triumph. It brings to mind not other sporting movies, but rockumentary Dig! which funnelled acres of doco footage into an equally compelling tale. Director Asif Kapadia clearly picked only certain elements of Senna's controversial life during his edit (there were 15,000 hours of footage), but he hasn't gone all Iron Lady on us. Instead, he has compellingly told a story that resonates through time. At 18,000rpm.

[This is part three. Click here for part one. Click here for part two. See also 2010 and 2009.]

Best movies of 2011: numbers 10 to 6

So far, my top movies of 2011 have included a bear man selling teeth, also some fannies and bums, and a collection of amazing mullets. Time to start the top ten, in which you will find aliens, wallpaper and dinosaurs.

[This is part two. Click here for part one. Click here for part three. See also 2010 and 2009.]

10 - Attack The Block

Hoodies take on aliens in a funny and, yes, believable debut from the one who isn’t Adam from Adam & Joe. The yoots rob and prowl and ought to be the real villains, but once the terrifying shadowy claws start ripping them to shreds, our loyalties remain firmly in the four walls of the London tower blocks. A pleasure to see an 'urban' film where the protagonists are, beneath the hoodies, quite normal.

9 - Black Swan

Natalie Portman goes mental, or does she, and is she really Natalie Portman? Black Swan is full of directorial tricks designed to confuse the viewer and I hated it on first watch. But the feathery beast kept pecking away at me until it pulled me under. And now I think it’s the best ballet-masturbation combination of 2011.

8 - The King’s Speech

Colin Firth, on a roll from A Single Man and, er, St Trinians 2, takes the stutter rap as he walks into a delightful culture clash with straight-talking Geoffrey Rush. The Rush family wallpaper was worth the cinema ticket alone. All Firth needs to do now is to go back in time and do the same for Geoffrey in Shine. Oscar or no Oscar, this is the drama of the year: think Frost / Nixon with bluer blood.

7 - We Need To Talk About Kevin

The impossibly thin Tilda Swinton descends to motherhood hell as her impossibly thin offspring Ezra Miller turns from Damien into a high school killer. It's difficult to build tension when the foreshadows of the bloody climax loom larger than Miller's massive scowl, but this tale of painful alienation and archery sparks from the screen thanks in no small part to its photo-perfect arthouse cinematography.
6 - The Tree Of Life

The entire universe is created, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn think about stuff, the entire universe dies. Not one for your Twilight audience, Terence Mallick’s ambitious epic is more like a tone poem than a narrative - although there is a story in there somewhere. Absolutely beautiful, from dinosaurs to a depressed dad to dwarf stars. Just don't expect a Stephanie Meyer novelisation any time soon.

[This is part two. Click here for part one. Click here for part three. See also 2010 and 2009.]

Best movies of 2011: numbers 15 to 11

Welcome to my favourite films of 2011. First, let's start with some disclaimers so I'm not beaten to death by movie geeks brandishing cola straws.

[This is part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part three. See also 2010 and 2009.]

I missed numerous 2011 films: this top 15 has more holes than the plot of Transformers. So Drive is safely parked away, while The Artist maintains a respectful silence. Neither is there Tintin, Harry Potter nor bloody Mars Needs Moms. And no shouty Nicholas Cage.

There were some films I did see that didn’t make it into the list. The Adjustment Bureau, about men in hats walking through walls, was entertaining if not original, while Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ticked all the boxes but failed to be greater than the sum of its parts. Kill List was my hands-down film of the year until the ending reduced it to a laughable failure. And Paul simply wasn’t good enough to be included.

Tron Legacy would have been in my top ten last year, but I saw it after I’d written my write-up and now it’s too late to join this year’s list. Yes, it was trash, but it was rezzed-up techno trash and I Daft-Punking loved it. Also, I finally saw Catfish (otherwise known as the other Facebook film) and was mightily entertained if a little paranoid about ever logging on again.

15 - Super 8

Part Stand By Me, part Close Encounters, this is JJ Abrams’ love letter to Stephen Spielberg. Which is a bit like The Hulk taking up needlecraft. The ‘berg served as producer for this wide-eyed adventure story, which is probably why the movie manages to soften the stupendously moronic storyline with a dash of nostalgia and more than a little warmth.

14 - The Inbetweeners Movie

Popular television comedy writ large for the big screen? If that idea of that doesn’t fill you with dread, then you’ve never seen The Simpsons Movie. As it is, the film delivers the requisite quota of fannies and bums and silly dancing despite the woeful near-absence of Greg Davies. Any film that gets Kylie to say "clunge" at an awards ceremony gets my vote.

13 - True Grit

For any other film makers, Bear Man (“I have taken his teeth: I will entertain an offer for the rest of him”) would be their best character ever. But these are the Coens and they play oddball better than anyone. True Grit is a solid remake shot with a slow and steady hand and is only slightly spoilt by an action-led last act that seems a bit unCoeny.

12 - Arthur Christmas

Yes, really. A red-nosed Christmas classic co-written by Peter ‘Alan Partridge’ Baynham and with all the adult nuances of Nick Park’s more famous inventor and dog. A glittering cast helps: Laurie, McAvoy, Jensen, Broadbent, Palin, Staunton and Nighy (“right down the Rodney hole!”). It really didn't need the 3D, so leave those stupid specs at home.

11 - The Fighter

Christian Bale does crazy and Mark Wahlberg does Rocky in a film that ought to be a knock-off of an old idea, but is brought to life with two compelling central performances and a gaggle of Christopher Guest-style ensemble characters clad in amazing mullets. Empire Of The Sun and the Funky Bunch seem like such a long time ago.

[This is part one. Click here for part two. Click here for part three. See also 2010 and 2009.]

Dec 6, 2011

I am not typing

I am not blogging at the moment. Instead, I am preparing new material for the book-of-my-blog which I promised you a couple of months ago.

10,000 is the word target I'm aiming for this week, which I should pass tomorrow. This does mean I have now spent three whole days indoors thinking and typing, thinking and typing. In the words of Sir Fredrick of Mecury, I'm going slightly mad. I've only spoken to the newsagent and the man who came to service my boiler.

That's NOT a euphemism.

Here are some of the words that now sit proudly in this week's first draft. I'm quite happy with it so far:
Belch, bucket, cloys, cocked, consolation, daaaah, dismembered, drizzle, entropy, fedora, fundamentalist, gaslamp, heroin, monochrome, neanderthal, nipple, oscillators, panda, psychogeography, putrescent, sable, sextet, slaughter, snog, swagger, tympanic, unicycling, vestibule, wolves.