I started running a list a couple days ago in my notebook, thinking I would try to do some kind of top ten or something for the year. But it's neither ten nor much coherent. But nonetheless, I will note some of my more awesome experiences of the year. MOST HIGHEST QUANTITY OF BEING ROCKED LIVE
: Pelican, at the Primavera Sound Festival
in Barcelona. While Bloc Party and Bad Religion (both in Auckland) were close runners up, there was nothing like the experience of wandering in on a band that you had never heard, hearing them at the height of their powers, and being completely immersed in the glory of everything you've ever liked about music. Everyone complains about their drummer, and on record I can hear the problem, but either he had a night on fire that night or something went wrong on the record. MOST SCARIEST AND UNEXPECTEDLY AWESOME MOVIE SEEN THIS YEAR
: EXORCIST 3: LEGION. Forget that it went through all sorts of unfortunate revisions, it wasn't supposed to be an EXORCIST movie, etc. This is legitimately one of the most creepy movies I have ever seen, with possibly the most scary long-take ever. And I don't even like the first EXORCIST movie. MOST ASTONISHINGEST LITERARY "DISCOVERY"
: Paul Auster
. Unlike most of the rest of humanity
, I'm quite cognizant as to what those quotation marks actually imply, which is that Paul Auster is not a discovery for the rest of the world, but I only started catching up this year. His book IN THE COUNTRY OF LAST THINGS knocked me on my side, and if I could draw I'd probably try to get an animated version made (I can't imagine it live action). It's taken me six months to get up, but THE BOOK OF ILLUSIONS is the first book I've read in 2008, and its power is very different but equally sublime, and I suspect if I did nothing but read Auster books in 2008 I could have a very satisfying year, literary-wise. MOST BEST DOCUMENTARY THAT NOBODY SEEMS TO BE TALKING ABOUT DESPITE BEING IN ENGLISH AND BEING COMPLETELY AWESOME
: DEEP WATER. Look, okay, I'm over survival documentaries as much as the next guy. I'd already seen TOUCHING THE VOID, LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY, etc, and I didn't really feel strongly that I needed another one. But DEEP WATER managed to not just win me over but leave me completely in tears, at two different points, for two very different and unexpected reasons. The events in this film are so absurd and unexpected that they would never pass muster in a dramatic script; reality, once again, is more astonishing than anything we can imagine. That this film has gone completely overlooked at the end of the year (only two reasons I can think of: 1. people haven't seen it and 2. it doesn't "revolutionize the documentary form" or some nonsense like that) is an injustice; people keep claiming this to be a watershed year for cinema, but while I keep being somewhat to slightly let down by most of the (over)hyped movies of the year, DEEP WATER rises above most of them. Do yourself a favor, read nothing about this film (I suspect it works best if you don't know the story ahead of time), and check it out.
(runner-up: THE UNFORESEEN.)MOST ASTONISHINGEST PLACE WHERE I DIDN'T SPEND NEARLY ENOUGH TIME, ART MUSEUM DIVISION
: The Fondation Maeght
in St. Paul, France. To be fair, I managed to see everything in the most literal sense, but it was roughly the visual equivalent of three visits to the Sizzler buffet in fifteen minutes (in terms of processing what I was seeing, not actual quality). Everything about this place, from the work on the walls to the sculptures to the landscaping, is worth spending some close-up detail time with, but I had to return a rental car. Poor planning, my problem, but it was still well worth it.
(runner-up: my kamikaze attack on SFMOMA
in December, where I managed to inhale a copious Joseph Cornell
exhibition as well as a jaw-dropping installation by the heretofore unknown-to-me Olafur Eliasson
and a third exhibition by large-scale photographer Jeff Wall
, plus a quick survey of the work of only to realize at the last minute that I had totally overlooked much awesomeness in their general collection and rushed through, stumbling upon a genius Rothko that I'd overlooked.)MOST UNEXPECTED GENRE OF TV ON DVD THAT I FELL IN LOVE WITH
: Transgressive cop shows. I've had a longstanding bias against cop shows, because there's so many of them and the same cliches get regurgitated again and again. In 2006 I fell in love with THE WIRE, which I assume you all know is basically the best television show ever. (If not: it is.) That's not transgressive, but two of the shows I most enjoyed in 2007, THE SHIELD and DEXTER, certainly are, the latter to an extreme paralled by AMERICAN PSYCHO. Two very different cop shows, both of them well worth watching. They're not THE WIRE, but you don't stop watching movies because you haven't seen anything as good as NORTH BY NORTHWEST for a year or two, do you?MOST BIGGEST CELEBRITY CRUSH
: Amy Adams. I usually get celebrity crushes once every five years or so (the last one was Maggie Gyllenhaal, and before that Julianne Moore). Somehow, I had basically no idea who Amy Adams was (missed JUNEBUG) but in the course of a week and a half or so, saw her first appearance in the US version of THE OFFICE ("It was great to meet some of you"), said, "who's that?": Amy Adams. Then I saw the trailer for the unfortunately-titled MISS PETTIGREW LIVES FOR A DAY
, and who was that redhead who was actually making me consider seeing a period comedy of manners? Amy Adams. Then I saw the unexpectedly pretty great CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR, and spent the whole film trying to figure out who his amazing whip-smart aide was; yup, Amy Adams. Does this mean I have to see ENCHANTED now?MOST TASTIEST NEW COCKTAIL DISCOVERY
: The Manuka Mule. Squeeze three lime wedges into a tall glass. Clap your hands on a sprig of mint and add it, maybe stir a little if you want. Fill the glass with ice, add ginger beer and manuka honey vodka. Refreshing and awesome. Works well with ginger ale and regular vodka as well. MOST ASTONISHINGEST NEW ARTIST DISCOVERY, GLASSBLOWN SCULPTURE DIVISION
: If you're going to Italy for new art, Florence probably isn't high on your list. But nestled away in the otherwise-stodgy Museum of Porcelain was an exhibition of the work of Roberto Fallani
, who combined blown glass with silver sculpture to create nightmarish organic hybrids that look like production designs for a lost David Cronenberg movie.
Maybe more later. Time to have a shower, get some breakfast and enjoy a nice mudslide-filled day in Los Angeles!