Tis the season to get reminiscy. I’m not the kind of guy that believes in compartmentalising my lists. Here is a quick rundown of the stuff that has moved/influenced/changed my view/intrigued/fascinated me in oughtsix. In no particular order then:
The Macbook 13 plus Airport means blogging on the sofa!
I can’t go on about this enough. I became very aware of the virtues of mobile computing in 2006, to the point where I wrote most of my upcoming novel (see below) on the train between Reading and Paddington. I’m chuffed to bits with my new machine, and it’s freed me up to be creative whenever, wherever. This will become very important to me in 2007.
The Queen – I got a credit!
From one of the country’s finest directors, a fantastic piece of docudrama. Cinematic in scale and ambition (yaaboosux to anyone that says it was a souped up piece of telly drama), and with an amazing central performance from Helen Mirren. If Granada have any sense, they’ll include the hair and makeup tests in the DVD extras. For me, the fun of the transfer was in seeing the way Helen would drop in and out of character between takes. There was a little look she’d give the camera just before the film rolled out. I always dug that moment. It got to be an in-joke. And incidentally, even in Queeny getup, even at her most dowdy – I still would.
Minor sidebar for a major talent – Affonso Beato was the D.O.P. on the film, and he did extraordinary work. Never less than charming, organised, creative, a joy to work with.
Just sayin’ is all.
Stay watching till the end. I’m the rushes colourist.
Children of Men
The SF movie of the year, no argument mooted. Sharply written, beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted, the most extraordinary use of digital effects I’ve ever seen, clever, funny, sad… gaaah. Look, if you’ve not seen it yet, get it on DVD. It’s a treat. Trust me.
The Reading Festival
We did all three days this year, and it was huge fun, if inordinately knackering. Highlights would include The Secret Machines, The Kaiser Chiefs, The Streets (GO LOW!), The Fall-ah, the multiple plays of Jarvis Cocker’s Running the World that led to the whole field singing along, and the highlight at least for me, an overwhelming, joyful set from Pearl Jam. I whooped the whole way through. It was the first time they’d played festivals since the tragic deaths of nine people at Roskilde in 2002, which led to an understandable nervousness at the beginning. “Let’s all take care of each other,” Eddie Vedder said at the beginning. So we did. And we looked after them too. And that was what made it work.
and while we’re on the subject…
Clare’s band of the year, and if I wasn’t such a sad ole rocker, mine too. Famously described as The Pogues having a fight with The Clash in a bar in Tirana, they’re much, much more fun than that. Their show in the Radio 1 stage at Reading took the roof off. An utter joy. Start wearing purple.
Because I am such a sad ole rocker, my new band of the year is Wolfmother. Seriously old school, big hair Marshall stack unapologetic riffography that had me bouncing in a field like a loon. Bonus: they have riffs even I can play, and my guitar playing is seriously fucknuckled.
Marc Bolan shags a wolf in a tutu in Studio 54, New York 1975. The girl behind the camera filming this obscene act is Alison Goldfrapp. She is wearing knee-high leather boots and a German air force cap. Wendy Carlos is down to do the soundtrack, but the operations have done some nasty things to her hormonal balance, and things are going a bit … angry. S/He’s jabbing at the Moog with a screwdriver.
For some reason, the title track of the album this came out of has been used to advertise mobile phones. Ladies, gentlemen and others, screw the Scissor Sisters, this is disco in the 21st century.
The internet can have extraordinarily powerful and positive influences on people, none more so than on my gorgeous wife, TLC. Because of the friends she has found online, and the acceptance and openness of the community she is now a part of, I’m sending a shout out to everyone on the forums at davecullen.com. You know who you are. You know her as… well, been asked not to say. But there’s a clue in here somewhere.
Satan’s School For Girls is my big project for 06/07. It’s currently sitting at the 53,000 word mark, and the end is finally in sight. An extraordinary experience, and hopefully people will dig the end product. Thanks to the word nominators – look out for mongoloid and zygysy. They’re in there somewhere.
However, the big thing for me was the appearance in the SFX Pulp Idol book in August. I’ll be reprinting the story “Wolves At The Door” soon for people who didn’t get the mag to have a look, but this remains at the time of writing my proudest moment – my first published piece of writing.
The Sick Puppies. Fiends, friends, collaborators. It’s been an interesting year for the Sick Pups. Specific triumphs include sitting in the Odeon West End at Frightfest with them watching Snatching Time and getting a round of applause for my credit. The collapse of funding for Roleslay was a bit of a pisser, but we bounce back. Steve, Clive, I wouldn’t make movies without you.
Lambchop at Reading Concert Hall.
Atmospheric, warm, beautiful. On a rainy autumn night, with projections flickering against the globes in the rafters, Kurt Wagner and co. pulled off something magical. I regret not shaking his hand in the atrium afterwards when I had the chance but hey, it keeps the mystique up.
Hawk and a Handsaw at Reading South Street.
An amazing band. We saw them as part of a new folk night at South Street, an evening that swung from tinkly electronica to Fence Collective strummage. Hawk and a Hacksaw are the drummer Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost, from Alberquerque. For the most part they play Eastern European waltzes and polkas, and feature a home-made contraption of drums, tambourines and assorted whackables that Jeremy plays with sticks strapped to his head and knees.
At one point, the power goes out. We all think it’s part of the show, as Jeremy plays a chilling version of the folksinger Derroll Adams’ “Portland Town.” It is a tale of a person’s life from beginning to end, with all the triumph and tragedy that comes between. He plays, unamplified, in the dark, just him and the mournful cries of his accordion. It is utterly mesmerising. An extraordinary moment from an extraordinary show.
Thank You For Smoking – vanished like a … puff of smoke. What the heck happened? This acerbic comedy snuck up on the cinema screens of Britain, gave them a goose, then vanished. We should have paid attention. As an indictment of the spin industry it was a solid piece of cinema, but Aaron Eckhart’s central performance lifted it to a new level. Shits have never been so likable.
TVSF – the best bunch of programmes in years. I’ve never been so spoilt for choice. Doctor Who of course rocked, although I’m still missing Rose like a knife in the chest. (Wasn’t Billie great in Ruby In The Smoke?) Season three has me frothing.
Lost remains infuriatingly unmissable.
The mighty BSG deserves it’s Peabody award more with every episode.
I’ve loved the under-rated Eureka, and although it’s not here yet, trust me, people, 2007 belongs to Heroes.
The guilty pleasure of the year has to be Torchwood. – almost as much for the agonised wailings on Behind the Sofa the following day as anything. The quality control is up and down like… welll…
Things that should be on the list but aren’t cos I ain’t seen/heard them yet –
Tom Wait’s Orphans (bought, not heard yet. I do believe I’m teasing myself.)
A Scanner Darkly