Film and Lit 2008

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)

  1. I Am Legend
  2. Sie, Jie (Lust, Caution)
  3. No Country for Old Men
  4. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead
  5. Sweeney Todd
  6. Cloverfield
  7. The Savages
  8. Juno
  9. There Will Be Blood
  10. Be Kind Rewind
  11. My Blueberry Nights
  12. 10,000 BC
  13. El Orfanato
  14. Funny Games U.S.
  15. [Rec]
  16. In Bruges
  17. Deception
  18. Iron Man
  19. Smart People
  20. Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
  21. Gone Baby Gone
  22. The Incredible Hulk
  23. Kung Fu Panda
  24. WALL-E
  25. The Dark Knight
  26. Elegy
  27. Persepolis
  28. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
  29. The Strangers
  30. Pineapple Express
  31. Taken
  32. How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
  33. Burn After Reading
  34. Easy Virtue
  35. Choke
  36. What Just Happened?
  37. The Fall
  38. The Day The Earth Stood Still
  39. The Reader
  40. Blindness


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):

  1. The Unteleported Man / The Mind Monsters – Philip K. Dick / Howard L. Cory
  2. Scott Pilgrim Vol. 4 – Bryan O’Mally
  3. The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
  4. Star Maker – Olaf Stapledon
  5. The Penultimate Truth – Philip K Dick
  6. Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
  7. A Handful of Darkness – Philip K Dick*
  8. Dr Bloodmoney – Philip K Dick
  9. Love and Limerence – Dorothy Tennov
  10. Ubik – Philip K Dick*
  11. Dark Stars – ed. Robert Silverberg
  12. Bonjour Tristesse – Francoise Sagan**
  13. Lost at Sea – Bryan O’Mally
  14. Through a Glass, Clearly – Isaac Asimov*
  15. The Gryb (and other stories) – E. A. van Vogt
  16. Fear and Trembling – Søren Kierkegaard
  17. The Game Players of Titan – Philip K Dick**
  18. On The Genealogy of Morals – Friedrich Nietzsche
  19. Watchmen – Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons***
  20. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck****

Gracious book lends: *Michael, **Dave, ***Patrick and ****Steve

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).

Happy 2009!

10 thoughts on “Film and Lit 2008”

  1. @Tom – Yep, I did. I read them because I’ve been taking evening classes in philosophy (existentialism). Always happy to get some recommendations :)

  2. For general academic recommendations, I strongly suggest – topical book lists by subject. No existentialism on their list, unfortunately.

    Kierkegaard is brilliant – I’d recommend Either/Or, especially if you can get hold of the Princeton edition rather than the Penguin edition.

    With Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript is written with

    Genealogy of Morals is one of Nietzsche’s most scholarly works, which is why philosophers tend to like it and get their students reading it. His other work is far less organised and rational – ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ is worth reading as it’s a sort of weird parody of the style of the Bible but with Nietzsche’s übermensch ethic. Similarly, ‘The Gay Science’ is classic Nietzsche in his prime.

    Albert Camus’ ‘The Stranger’ and Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ are both sitting on my bookshelf unfinished, but meant to be very good. And In Our Time had an excellent episode on Camus broadcast last January. It’s sadly not online any more, but *someone* might still have a copy.

  3. Whoops. Forgot to finish that sentence. Concluding Unscientific Postscript is written with another of Kierkegaard’s pseudonyms, this time a detached philosopher who is trying to enquire into the basis of Christianity. As he delves further, he describes two types of religion – the religion of ‘Christendom’ and the religion of the person in their subjectivity. It’s Kierkegaard’s most philosophically dense work but I found it quite readable (but then, my standards are way off since I spend most of my time reading a mixture of academic philosophy and W3C Semantic Web specifications).

  4. @Tom – I got a copy of The Outsider (The Stranger for US readers, apparently) from PTG for Christmas, so I guess that’ll be next on the reading list for me. I have some Sartre around somewhere, but definitely not Nausea so I’ll look that up, and some Kant – although I find him a bit hard-going. Not exactly tube reading material!

  5. I strongly agree about ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ — I found it nearly insulting it was so very bad. I only stayed to the end because we eventually found some entertainment in laughing at it.

    I’d add ‘Cloverfield’ to it’s own list due to the nausea I felt after about 20 minutes of the camera swinging about wildly. It was probably a good film but I was too busy curling up in my seat and trying not to be sick.

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