January, 2015…

It occurred to me when I was compiling my Best Of list for 2014 that I’d forgotten everything good I’d seen and read from January to June.  Turns out I have major short and medium term memory loss.  So! My only new year’s resolutions for 2015 are as follows:

  1. eat more fish
  2. drink less like a fish
  3. read and watch more (good) stuff
  4. and write it down shortly after it happens

Worthwhile stuff so far:

Birdman – had a row with my mate Dave about this.  He said it was empty and vacuous and went nowhere.  Even if that were true, (which I don’t think it is) it does so with such originality and energy and style, and did I mention?  I LOVE ED NORTON. Always have and I guess I always will.

Kick-Ass (I know I’m very late to the party on this one, but thank heavens for Amazon Prime free trial month!  Making day two of no booze endurable.)

Babylon – Channel 4.  I always find out about good stuff 2 minutes before it’s about to come offline, so have had to speedwatch this, but it’s bloody brilliant.

Transparent – on Amazon Prime, with the brilliant Amy Landecker.  Most excellent use of Leonard Cohen song in episode 9.

Whiplash – Oh my goodness, I loved this film.  If you’d pitched it to me (boy wants to be best drummer evah, comes up against brutal / sadistic band leader) I might have thought: meh, not for me.  But oh my: so for me, and for you!  A super simple story, extraordinary acting, awesome music: utterly mesmeric.

I also saw Bull at The Young Vic – a short, brutal play, starring the lovely Neil Stuke – also about bullying (this time set in an office, though actually staged in a boxing ring at the theatre.)  Really quite painful watching bullying so close up – it makes you feel complicit, and dirty, and not in a good way.  Go see it, and then be much nicer to the person at work you really don’t like.

Wolf Hall – I’m reserving judgement.  Rylance is as ever fantastic, and Claire Foy is mesmerisingly unpleasant – but Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies are two of the greatest English language books of the 21st Century, and I wouldn’t say they’re translating in all their glory (but then again, so much of the brilliance of that book is, I’d wager, untranslatable onto screen.)

(Incidentally, anyone who puts Junot Diaz above Hilary Mantel or Marilynne Robinson in a list such as this


is clearly doing it to be controversial and doesn’t mind being utterly wrong.)

Night Will Fall – a Channel 4 documentary about a documentary about The Holocaust.  Without a doubt the most horrific, grotesque footage you will ever see.  Unbearable to watch but essential viewing if you have any interest at all in history, or what people are capable of.

Nebraska – I’d relegated this Alexander Payne film to low priority as I thought the Clooney / Hawaii film he directed was over-hyped – but this is just such a gem.  Funny, heartbreaking, beautifully observed and beautiful to look at. Bruce Dern’s performance is magnificent.


A mixed bunch this month: finally got round to The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, and the new Marian Keyes The Woman Who Stole My Life. And How Fiction Works by James Wood, Levels of Life by Julian Barnes, A Lovely Way To Burn by Louise Welsh, and just starting A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale – so far so very good.