Cinema 2011


Here's my annual list of things I've seen at the cinema (see also: 2009 and 2010 lists). I still haven't quite managed the one-film-per-week average, but Dr B and I have been giving our Lovefilm list a good battering, so we've seen plenty at home on our lovely new sofa.

My highlights of the year were Never Let Me Go (which could really do with a new poster), Submarine, Drive and Super 8. The three big superhero films of the summer were also pretty damn good  (and I'm now very excited about next year's Spidey/Avengers/Dark Knight line up).

I'm pretty certain Tinker/Tailor/Soldier/Spy was excellent, but I may have to revisit it to make sure as I … so ashamed … fell asleep a little bit.

The cinemas themselves brought their own particular charms. Birmingham's Electric Cinema, with its leather sofas and waiter service, was a nice way to spend Valentine's Day. The Contagion experience was somewhat heightened by watching it in a crowded Leicester Square cinema full of incessant coughing and sniffling, only to then go into a crowded tube. It was a soggy pleasure watching the triumvirate of monster movies (Gremlins, Troll Hunter and Tremors) in Somerset House – made slightly surreal by the twitter-induced mumblings in the crowd about "something kicking off in Tottenham". And of course, York's City Screen continues to be the best cinema in the country.

A couple of disappointments: The Adjustment Bureau was a huge let down, and Hobo with a Shotgun had a great title and one amazing actor, but was mostly terrible. Confessions was a good idea wasted. The Tree of Life had amazing cinematography and one incredible sequence (hat tip to Douglas Trumbull), but was mostly a big old bore. The King's Speech (was that really this year?) was great except for the year's standout abysmal performance by Timothy Spall as Churchill (more like Baron Greenback, according to Charlie Brooker).

Anyway, here's the list:

  • The King's Speech
  • Peeping Tom
  • Top Gun
  • Bringing Up Baby
  • The Fighter
  • Rope
  • Never Let Me Go (at Birmingham's lovely Electric Cinema)
  • True Grit (ditto)
  • The 400 Blows
  • The Adjustment Bureau
  • Blue Valentine
  • Frankenstein (live from the National theatre)
  • Submarine
  • Limitless (at York's awful, awful Reel Cinema)
  • Source Code
  • Thor
  • Confessions
  • Win Win
  • X-Men First Class
  • Bridesmaids
  • The Tree of Life
  • Hobo with a Shotgun
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (twice)
  • Gremlins (at Somerset House, whilst rioting occurred elsewhere)
  • Troll Hunter (ditto)
  • Tremors (ditto)
  • Super 8
  • The Inbetweeners Movie
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  • Drive (twice)
  • Crazy, Stupid, Love
  • The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
  • Contagion
  • Ghostbusters
  • Hugo
  • Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows
  • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Rendezvous with reading


Disclaimer: contains shameless Amazon Associate links. I have to keep my Hellboy fix going somehow don't I? Look I've already started doing it.

Even though my standard-issue Ikea bookshelves are bursting at the seams, I got plenty of beautiful books for Christmas. And in 2012, I'm going to read. In 2011, I barely read a thing, which is appalling behaviour.

Not only did Dr B manage to get me a sci-fi classic that I've been meaning to read for years, she  got the edition with the beautiful black and white cover. Quite how I've managed to not read Rendezvous With Rama before is beyond me, but I'm already halfway through it and it's incredible. But there's a problem: Sanda Zahirovic's design is just one in a series of other classic space operas, and being an obsessive completist (or "man"), I'm not going to be able to sleep until I get the entire set now.

Other printly wonders that fell from my stocking: John W Campbell's Who Goes There? (the novella that The Thing is based on), the 2012 TimeOut New York guide (honeymoon, here we come), 101 Things I Learned in Film School (from the same series as the excellent 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School), the 2011 D&AD Annual (which is … grumble alert … significantly cheaper than the almost identical edition available to D&AD members. How does that work?), and JG Ballard's Complete Short Stories, volume two.

I can only assume I was on the "nice" list.

Hammer & Code


After abandoning it for a while (because it was down ALL THE TIME), I've recently got back into the habit of using procrastinatr tumblr to gather together all the nice black and white images that catch my eye. It's a scrapbook. There's very little rhyme or reason to it beyond that – I do a lot of one-colour print design, so perhaps it appeals to how my brain works. For no particular reason, it's called Hammer & Code. It sounds and looks good though, doesn't it? Just rolls off the tongue. Hammer & Code.

The above image – a little taster of what's beyond the link – seems particularly appropriate for the season, given that it's a behind-the-scenes shot from my favourite festive film (aww heck, it's my favourite film, period), The Apartment. If you haven't seen it, see it. If you have seen it, you already know.

Nicholas was

From Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors:

… older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter. He wanted to die.

The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns did not speak his language, but conversed in their own, twittering tongue, conducted incomprehensible rituals, when they were not actually working in the factories.

Once every year they forced him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night. During the journey he would stand near every child in the world, leave one of the dwarves' invisible gifts by its bedside. The children slept, frozen into time.

He envied Prometheus and Loki, Sisyphus and Judas. His punishment was harsher.




Well that's that spoilt then.