Jan 022017
 

I spent a lot of this month catching up on a few 2016 releases I had missed, and making sure I caught all the essential theatrical releases in December. The result was surprising: only a few of these viewings left an impression on me. I remember last year seeing The Revenant, The Big Short, Carol and Spotlight in December. This year Jackie, Your Name and The Edge of Seventeen stood out, but I still have a number of the Oscar candidates to see – Moonlight, Manchester By the Sea, Hidden Figures, Silence, Lion and Fences. At this point last year I had seen all eventual Best Picture nominees save for Room. 

The absolute highlight of this month’s viewing was the tremendous Westworld. I was hooked after one episode, and for me this is a demonstration of the rarely-met potentials of TV. Layers upon layers of interconnected story arcs and thought-provoking ideas that utilise the 10+ hours. The intrigue is never relinquished here – the twists are shocking – and the writing, acting and production values are all exceptional.

2017 goals = unknown. With a baby on the way, I have no idea what kind of time I can dedicate to movies, TV, books and games. I expect I’ll still probably see in the vicinity of 200 films throughout the year, but very few will be at the cinema. Most will likely be on VOD catch-up. I have set a reading goal at 20 novels for 2017. This year I hit 40, so I think this is realistic.

After the jump is a listing of everything I watched in December. I needed 36 films to hit 365 films for the year. I wasn’t trying for this number, it just happened. I didn’t make it anyway, ending with 27.

Oh, and if you missed my 25 Favourite Films of 2016, be sure to check it out.

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Dec 022016
 

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I watched a total of 32 films in November, about what I expected. Most of these were focused on eliminating a number from my end-of-year watchlist. I worked out that if I watch 35 films in December – which is probably a tad out of reach – I will have hit 365 films again. Perhaps for the last time. I haven’t been trying to achieve this goal, it has just happened.

Outside of films, not much has been going on. Reading has dropped off (though I still have two more books to finish to complete my goal of 40 for 2016) and TV will be focused on completing some series. I have one more ep of Black Mirror S3 left, 5 eps of Halt & Catch Fire S3. I’d also like to work through O.J: Made in America and Westworld throughout December. A tall order.

I will be looking to drop my Favourite Albums of 2016 in a couple of weeks, and my Best of 2016 Film list (in a similar layout as last year’s list) at the end of December. The 29th or 30th.

Thoughts on most of what I watched in December (there were a few I didn’t discuss) after the jump:

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Nov 032016
 

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This month I decided to focus a lot more on films, in an attempt to check off a bunch on on my still-lengthy watchlist before year’s end. I did a pretty good job of that, but I have about 40 films left to tackle in November and December. A busy month in October – family visits, various life admin and a short break out of town – resulted in only five cinema visits. It was interesting that the two most disappointing viewing experiences this month were at the cinema. It is a problem when you start to dread what sort of public audience you get, and rough crowds are one reason we have waited for the home release a lot more this year.

I watched a total of 30 films. And about 20 eps of TV (well down on last month).

Sam and I have been spending a lot more time playing games – card games and board games (not console) – and this has been a lot of fun. If you’re looking to start a collection of games, these are some I can recommend: Love Letter, The Rivals of Catan, Jaipur, Flux and Tides of Time. In October I read Dave Eggers’ new book ‘Heroes of the Frontier’ and William Goldman’s ‘The Princess Bride’, both of which I enjoyed. I’m also deep into both Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’ and Neal Stephenson’s ‘Seveneves’, both of which are incredible so far.

November – in addition to continuing to deplete my watchlist (Sully, The Infiltrator, The BFG amongst them), we’re looking forward to American Honey, Arrival, Nocturnal Animals and I, Daniel Blake. Thoughts on some of my October viewing after the jump.

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Oct 032016
 

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I watched a total of 24 films in September, which was well down on previous months, but I made up for that with TV viewing. I watched 45 episodes of TV. I found viewing in small-bites more relaxing this month, often finding myself unable to commit to a film. But, in finding shows I liked, there was motivation to binge. September was also a bit of a dead month – both theatrically and on home entertainment. Missing Sully was unfortunate, but there wasn’t too much else I was sorry to miss, and most of the home entertainment releases I had already seen. October offers some exciting releases in The Neon Demon, Elle and Hell or High Water and hopefully the chances to see Arrival and American Honey. 

I spent the first three weeks of September working through the epic 2013 Man Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries, which is right up there with A Little Life as the book of the year for me.

On the music front, it was also a weak month. I did enjoy Angel Olsen’s My Woman and Young Thug’s Jeffery, but I struggled to get into Frank Ocean’s highly-anticipated Blonde.

TV was the hero of September. I seemed to enjoy watching other people struggling with life – most specifically in regards to relationships, parenthood and professions. Joe Swanberg’s Easy featured brilliant writing, Catastrophe followed up its hilarious first season with some very unexpected dark turns in its second, while Love was pure addiction. I haven’t yet discovered the pinnacle of Bojack Horseman, but I look forward to working through seasons two & three during October.

Brief thoughts on some of my viewing in September after the jump:

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Sep 042016
 

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August was quite a tough month so I busied myself with work and found comfort in films. I ended up watching 33, another hefty amount, from a whole assortment of different periods and genres. Dark Horizons’ Garth Franklin set me a viewing challenge before the end of the year – ten ’80s/’90s classics shamefully on my blindspot list. Amongst the ones I have checked off so far: Wargames, Big Trouble in Little China and They Live. 

I also caught up on quite a few films I missed in cinemas (The Meddler, Maggie’s Plan, Miles Ahead and Mia Madre included). Incredibly, this month includes not a single episode of TV.

My favourite books this month were Poirot & Me, David Suchet’s fascinating autobiography about portraying Agatha Christie’s iconic Belgian detective on TV for a quarter of a century, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, soon to be adapted into a TV series. If you haven’t watched the trailer things are looking promising.

Thoughts on some of the films I watched in August after the jump.

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Aug 092016
 

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July was the month that I decided to take a step back from cinema. It’s not that I love movies any less, it’s just that after 4+ years of regularly attending screenings/festivals and writing about movies, I really need a break. I am still watching films, but only those films I really want to (no obligation viewings for me), but I am not really writing at the moment. I have to admit it’s kind of freeing, particularly considering how sub-par this blockbuster season has been. I suspect Spring and the increase of indies at the cinema might just get my writing juices flowing again. My round-up of my July viewing is after the jump.

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Aug 012016
 

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You may have seen an announcement that Sam and I made a few weeks back. We are significantly trimming back the content on An Online Universe, as a result of various influences that are limiting our time, and affecting our inspiration to write.

I have simply not had the time or the energy to review the films I am seeing, or write much about anything. I did, however, watch quite a lot of movies. Almost entirely home viewing – a mix of DTV titles, 2016 catch-up, and a few recommended ’80s and ’90s classics. I ended up watching 31 films, and 11 episodes of TV (including the entire season of Stranger Things).

I spent many hours gaming this month – completing Witcher 3: Wild Hut and starting and finishing Uncharted 4, two of the greatest games I have ever experienced. I read Dan Brown’s Inferno – average, what you’d expect from Brown but conceptually thinner and less inspired than his earlier best-sellers – Presumed Innocent – an exceptional psychological whodunit that was adapted into a 1990 film starring Harrison Ford – and three Agatha Christie novels: Three Act Tragedy, Nemesis and Curtain. My next challenge is American Gods, in preparation of the upcoming TV series.

Album of the year update: things are getting quite crowded at the top. 2016 is becoming perhaps my favourite year for music since 2010. In order of discovery, here are my current top 10 albums of the year so far:

Malibu – Anderson .Paak

D-J-Kicks – Moodymann

The Life of Pablo – Kanye West

Singing Saw – Kevin Morby

Paradise – White Lung

A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead

The Colour in Anything – James Blake

The Glowing Man – Swans

2 – Mudcrutch

Love and Hate – Michael Kiwanuka

After the jump, check out my thoughts on all of my fresh viewing for the month.  Continue reading »

Jun 302016
 

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June, as usual is all about the Sydney Film Festival. A binge of films for two weeks, followed by a period of very few. I watched a total of 34 films at the Sydney Film Festival. I wrote about them all, to various lengths, in four diary entries. You can read about them all here, as well as full-length reviews, and a festival awards round-up written by Sam and myself. These are not listed below – ended watching 44 films in June + 20 episodes of TV.

I also played a good chunk of Witcher 3.  I am so close to the end, after almost a year of intermittent playing. Certainly one of the greatest games I have ever played. I am also very close to finishing A Little Life. A tremendous, life-changing novel that deserves all of the praise and dialogue it has provoked. Perhaps my album of the year (not a surprise for anyone who knows my music tastes) is The Glowing Man by Swans. While it still clocks in at close to two hours it is a much more subdued and penetrable effort than their previous two works. It still evokes the feeling of swimming in a deep, dark ocean, but here Swans offer some flashes of light. I also very much enjoyed Puberty 2 by Mitzki, Bottomless Pit by Death Grips, and Freetown Sound by Blood Orange.

Read beyond for a recap of everything I watched outside of the Sydney Film Festival.

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