For no other reason than to have something to blog at the end of the year, I kept a list of films I’ve seen and books I’ve read from Jan 1st 2008 until the end of the year.
Films (at the cinema, in seen order)
- I Am Legend
- Sie, Jie (Lust, Caution)
- No Country for Old Men
- Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
- Sweeney Todd
- The Savages
- There Will Be Blood
- Be Kind Rewind
- My Blueberry Nights
- 10,000 BC
- El Orfanato
- Funny Games U.S.
- In Bruges
- Iron Man
- Smart People
- Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
- Gone Baby Gone
- The Incredible Hulk
- Kung Fu Panda
- The Dark Knight
- Hellboy II: The Golden Army
- The Strangers
- Pineapple Express
- How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
- Burn After Reading
- Easy Virtue
- What Just Happened?
- The Fall
- The Day The Earth Stood Still
- The Reader
Fortunately, there were many I really enjoyed. Juno, Wall-E, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood, Funny Games U.S (or the original – it really is an identical shot for shot remake), El Orfanato, In Bruges, Easy Virtue and The Reader (on general release in 2009) are all ones I’d especially recommend, though.
Least favourites (or just plain terrible films):
10,000 BC (just awful on every level), The Day The Earth Stood Still, Be Kind Rewind (good concept, bad screenplay), Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead (incredibly boring).
The Day The Earth Stood Still deserves special mention. I was willing to give this film a chance if it stood up as a film in it’s own right, rather than as a remake, since they couldn’t really make an accurate one set in today’s world. Such an utter disappointment.
This film is remarkably not ruined by Keanu Reeves. He actually suits his role. The film is ruined by an incredibly bad screenplay that makes half-hearted references to the amazing original, includes terrible dialog and unbelievable situations which lead all the main characters to constantly and whimsically change their allegiances so as to suit the ridiculous “human beings are wonderful” love-fest and unnecessary patriotism. Oh, and the CGI sucks too.
Books (fiction and non, plus some graphic novels – in finished order):
- The Unteleported Man / The Mind Monsters – Philip K. Dick / Howard L. Cory
- Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4 – Bryan O’Mally
- The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
- Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon
- The Penultimate Truth – Philip K Dick
- Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
- A Handful of Darkness – Philip K Dick*
- Dr Bloodmoney – Philip K Dick
- Love and Limerence – Dorothy Tennov
- Ubik - Philip K Dick*
- Dark Stars – ed. Robert Silverberg
- Bonjour Tristesse – Francoise Sagan**
- Lost at Sea – Bryan O’Mally
- Through a Glass, Clearly – Isaac Asimov*
- The Gryb (and other stories) – E. A. van Vogt
- Fear and Trembling – Søren Kierkegaard
- The Game Players of Titan – Philip K Dick**
- On The Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche
- Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons***
- The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck****
I’ve certainly been on a short-stories kick this year, having read 5 collections. I really like the medium, actually, and it’s a shame that the form seems to be dying. I only tend to come across good short stories, especially of the sci-fi variety, in now out-of-print editions in musty second-hand bookshops. The Blackwells and Foyles seem to push and stock mostly the latest full-length pop novels and not a whole lot else. Shame.
The other clear trend is my continuing appreciation for Philip K Dick. The man was prolific, but I find almost all of his books interesting to read. I really do recommend him if you’re interested in concepts of alternative realities, trust and philosophy of the mind.
I wanted to read as much as I saw, but, as pointed out to me, a film is just a couple hours out of the day, but a book is a lot more. Maybe next year I’ll do better (or watch less).