2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Extreme Crosswording) — #8 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 9

trump8

Catch-up!

#16s of 2016 + Tweets, Footballers & Exotic Bet Types (Part 1)
#15s of 2016 + Journalism (Part 2)
#14s of 2016 + Gigs (Part 3)
#13s of 2016 + Food (Part 4)
#12s of 2016 + Words (Part 5)
#11s of 2016 + Memes & Emoji (Part 6)
#10s of 2016 + People (Part 7)
#9s of 2016 + Football Moments & Trivia (Part 8)

Adeus 2016 (almost)…

Because of the great response to my crowdsourcing call for the Best Football Moments of 2016, I really used my whole arse in writing, curating and linking yesterday’s bumper instalment of the 2016 Year in Review. Thank you to the 15 people who read it! Well, at least, the 15 people who opened the webpage and gave me a precious hit, of which two of them were me on different devices! It’s Christmas Eve and I am supine on my red Ikea sofabed listening to Radiohead’s nine albums in order. You are going to have to forgive me if I end up phoning this one in — I’m not sure how much of my arse I can be bothered putting into it — whatever the result, the remainder of this document must show!

As we move into the second half of the four flagship Top 16s of 2016, namely Films, TV, Albums and Books, I am going to include a minor discourse on some of the titles that didn’t quite make it into the medal places. As an FYI, on New Year’s Eve, which I spend at home eating Chinese takeaway and watching the traditional BBL encounter between the Adelaide Strikers and the Sydney Sixers, there will be a full list of all the Films, TV, Albums, Books &c, including but not limited to the Top 16. There will also be the Top 100 Songs of 2016 in full. You could almost stop reading this now and just drop back in on 31 December. Oh, who am I kidding, nobody will ever read this sentence.

I have been so caught up writing this leptosomatic tract that I have barely promoted the #P100. Short for hashtag Patrick one hundred, the #P100 is my countdown of the Top 100 Songs of 2016, and it is starting Boxing Day at as an yet unfixed time but sometime around the middle of the day on my Twitter and continuing through with daily tranches till New Year’s Eve, when I will be sloppily trading chopsticks soggy with peanut sauce and licking the san choy bow mix from my fingers to reveal the Top 10. You don’t need to do anything more than visit my Twitter page and throw me a follow!

(Films Prologue)

I saw 64 new films at the pictures in 2016, plus 9 rereleases/old films, plus Edge Of Seventeen (which I am counting towards 2017 for idiosyncratic reasons). That’s 74 films at the pictures in toto. My goal for 2017 is to hit 100! On my TV via Foxtel, a streaming machine or my piracy box, other films I saw for the first time, regardless of release, were Back To The Future and Back To The Future Part II, Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out, Love & Mercy and Creed. I don’t watch many films on TV as I find the experience suboptimal and I tend to get bored and restless, even if the film is sufficiently satisfying.

Although my film-watching numbers must place me in the absolute top percentile of buffs in Australia, at least in terms of going to the pictures and exchanging cash money for a seat (middle middle please), I am not completely injudicious in selecting what to see. Over time, I have become very good at working out whether I will like a film before I go in to see it. Furthermore, I so thoroughly enjoy the peace and quiet of the auditorium, not to mention the darkness and the complete lack of any expectation on me to do or say anything, that like masturbating and eating pizza, even if the film is bad the experience will still be pretty good.

That said, I did see some poor films in 2016, the worst of which was Suicide Squad. Imagine an ADHD first year film student was specifically asked to make a 120-minute music video conducive to causing epileptic seizures and then given $175 million to make it happen. I spent the second half of this film desperately needing to go to the toilet and when I finally relented and went — one of only two bathroom visits mid-movie in 2016 — I did so when the big twist reveal apparently occurred so still have no idea why any of the characters were doing anything, save for the Joker spiking their meth with even more meth.

Arrival, Eva No Duerme, Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates, The Accountant, Star Trek: Beyond, Jason Bourne: these were next poorest but all of them had redeeming features. Mostly I thought a lot films that were merely good were terribly overrated, like Hunt For The Wilderpeople, The Danish Girl and Spotlight. Of the big box office hits, I avoided Captain America: Civil War, X-Men whatever, Finding Dory, Zootopia, Secret Life Of Pets and Moana. I thought Batman vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice was underrated.

There’s been commentary around throughout the year that this has been an especially bad year in popular cinema. I demur. It’s been an okay year. It hasn’t been rollicking with an unstoppable wave of hits but also hasn’t been deleterious to our health. Make sure you wash down your blockbusters with foreign language and festival fare and an arthouse digestif and you won’t be chary for the experience going forward.

Thanks to the friends and family who enjoyed cinema with me in 2016!

#8 in Films…

filmweiner_1280x720

There is a scene towards the end of Weiner when documentarian Josh Kriegman looks up from his camera and asks scandal-plagued ex-congressman and flailing New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, “Why are you letting us film this?”. That’s the rich benthic depth of absurdity explored in Kriegman and comaker Elyse Steinberg’s magnificent Weiner.

Over the course of 96 hilarious if at times uncomfortably awkward minutes, the viewer is taken inside the whacky Weiner campaign headquarters, where the one-time rising star of the Democratic Party is attempting to rebuild his political career after a pic of his bulge slid into the DMs of a women who was not his wife. His wife just happens to be Huma Abedin, known widely as Hillary Clinton’s closest confidant and most trusted advisor.

Anthony Weiner has an infectious campaigning style, drawing people to his rallies with his impassioned speeches that recall the classical themes of left wing politics. When he marches in New York’s Pride Parade, you can tell he genuinely means it. When he talks to voters on the street, he listens to their concerns. When he says he’s going to do something, like stand up for victimised African Americans, you tend to believe he’s going to try his darnedest once in office. Never do you suspect he’s some puppet of big business or special interests. And yet despite all these insanely rare and admirable qualities, his hand never wavers from hovering just above the self-destruct button.

What Weiner did was nowhere near as bad as what, say, Bill Clinton or Donald Trump has done, and yet he has paid a much bigger price. That the viewer can empathise and even root for someone we should simply dismiss as a loser is a credit to Kriegman and Steinberg’s artful pastiche of his public and private personas.

(TV prologue)

Other TV that piqued my interest in 2016 included countless 30-minute wry slices of life that I was never quite sure when to laugh during. Easy, Love, Casual and You’re The Worst all captured varying amounts of attention, and all had moments of mirth to make me laugh and asperity to make me cry. Broad City, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Brooklyn Nine-Nine all get bonus marks for actually trying to be funny, and succeeding most of the time.

It seems with a lot of these comedies-in-theory that the funniest thing about them is the premise, meaning the first episodes are generally very good from a chuckle-generating and originality perspective. Once that premise has been nutted out and explored to its (usually) superficially shallow reach, the series starts churning through the motions and you realise you haven’t been interested in these characters that no longer make you laugh in a long, long time.

When it comes to mindless but watchable programming, Family Guy still steals 23 minutes of my week 22 weeks of the year. Scream got the job done yet again. Survivor: Kaôh Rōng was a perfectly watchable if instantly forgettable addition to the canon.

I feel like I deserve a medal for getting through Mr Robot’s second season. I genuinely like the show but I find the dreamlike milieu it exists in, which always seems to have blurred, frayed edges, really offputting. It is also needlessly complicated and there far too many scenes comprised of two people having a conversation that goes nowhere. I stopped watching Westworld after the Jeffrey Wright revelation.

As for Australian programming, Gruen, Insiders and Offsiders were my three faves. I haven’t seen a lot of scripted Australian comedy series, nor have I seen all of Please Like Me, but what I have seen of Please Like Me makes it the best Australian scripted TV comedy series ever made.

I haven’t included Sherlock in my Top 16 or in my longer list (full ranking available NYE) because no new episodes were dropped this year, but I watched all the erstwhile eps and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a great updation! I now understand Benedict Cumberbatch’s appeal, and since I lost weight and he gained some, I can see a very close resemblance between me as me and him as Sherlock, both appearance and personality wise. Very much looking forward to the new series, starting 1 January 2017 on your piracy box!

#8 in TV…

siliconvalley07

TV is so everywhere these days that I can barely remember what I liked about programs from the first half of the year. All I know is that I would race home Mondays to watch Silicon Valley. The Pied Piper team endured a series of management changes, almost made a box, hosted a Hawaiian themed party on Alcatraz and just about saved their own company through a series of serendipitous side projects. The highlight was Gavin Belson continually using live animals in board meetings to make points. I remember laughing a lot while watching Silicon Valley, especially at the breakout character antics of Dinesh and Gilfoyle, who between them share the best bantz on TV, premium or otherwise.

Extreme Crosswording

A common refrain heard in person and seen on the internet is that someone can’t or doesn’t do cryptic crosswords because they have a block in the head or their brain isn’t wired for them or they are too logical for them or some other similar nonsense. To be good at cryptic crosswords you first need to understand how the clues work, and for that I recommend you do the same thing I did and read the Wikipedia page explaining the definition and wordplay conventions. Secondly, you need to think of doing cryptic crosswords the same way you think of learning to play the oboe. The more you practice, the better you’ll get. If you want to improve, make sure you get the answers to the clues you missed to find out where you went wrong. I still do this 12 years after first graduating from novice to pretty good.

Here are my fave crosswords of 2016:

This one is signed by the cruciverbalist…

This one had an undeclared reverse anagram theme…

26A is what I like to call my…

When overseas I ask my Beloved Followers on Twitter to take a pic of the FriDAy crossword and send it over the tubes for me because I just love doing them so much. Much gratitude to the below noted BF for his excellence…

One for the Good Will Hunting fans or Apple fanboys, of which I am both…

And my #1 fave crossword of 2016: when I met cruciverbalist David Astle at the Sydney’s Writers Festival I asked him about his use of the crossword to make a political point and he said that he feels he has a responsibility to use his position as a published entity to convey his thoughts on important subjects. I agree with the great man, who turned out to be a pleasant, assured, funny and engaging public speaker…

(Albums prologue)

One album not in my Top 16 that I have been enjoying more and more of late is A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead. I am currently up to Track 2 on The King Of Limbs in my Christmas Eve RH discography playback.

It hasn’t been a great year for the indie rock slash alt pop scene that I like best. Car Seat Headrest, Violent Soho, Sticky Fingers, Cub Sport, Ball Park Music, Whitney, DMAs: they all did okay and released listenable albums but none made you think they were here to save rock’n’roll.

In the punk sphere, there are a lot bands churning out catchy riffs like PUP, Modern Baseball and Beach Slang but their lyrics are regrettably devoid of the wit that glorified the genre in and around the 90s. Even past masters Blink-182 seem afflicted with by a wordplay paucity. Bored To Death you say: have you been listening back to your new material?

I was very disappointed by new releases from The Panics, Big Scary, DD Dumbo and Bastille: none terrible but just not up to the standard expected from past LPs and lead-out SPs.

Gun to my head: Hopelessness by Anohni was my #17 of the year. Glorious Heights by Montaigne not far behind.

#8 in Albums…

wildflower_avalanches_cover_art

(Australia #1, US #27, UK #10)

Definitely worth the wait, plunderphonics prodigals Avalanches’ sophomore effort brings together rap, hip-hop, soul, rock and dance, and lots more genre-hopping besides, to transport the listener of a crazy journey through the seasons. One thing that stands out re Wildflower’s eclecticism is how differing fans’ fave tracks are. Whenever it pops up on a Best Of list there is a very broad deviation of standout selections. I love Stepkids, featuring the vocal talents of Jonathan Donahue of Mercury Rev fame.

There is a last days of summer vibe than runs through Wildflower, making it the perfect synechdoche for 2016’s collective failure to address the imminent doom of climate change, political upheaval, fierce nativism and xenophobic populism.

I listened to Wildflower while running along the beach at Brunswick Heads in the days before Splendour and it was a lovely experience.

(Books prologue)

Because this section is actually about reading experiences, I have gamed the system to almost include every book I read in 2016. One that isn’t being included is Slash’s autobiography, which includes an amusing interlude that sees David Bowie call Slash on the phone and deliver a mumbo-jumbo-laden monologue explaining why the axman should get off heroin.

#8 in Books…

Cafes serving crunchy peanut butter should automatically receive a royal warrant…

A post shared by Patrick Avenell (@patrickavenell) on

A few years ago I read Portnoy’s Complaint and thoroughly enjoyed it and in late August, early September I went through a mini Philip Roth phase involving the digestion of Indignation, The Humbling and American Pastoral (pictured above, top left). Indignation was outstanding: a truly great short novel about how the devastation wrought by choices made with prideful hearts instead of pragmatic minds. The Humbling had some interesting things to say about the male psyche but came across as tonedeaf in light of current-wave feminism’s teachings. The phase shuddered to a halt with American Pastoral, a much longer work that tells the story of a family rent apart when the only daughter commits an act of domestic terrorism and then goes into hiding. Broadly considered a modern American classic, I thought it far too long and I’m still not entirely sure what its central point was. My plan was to finish American Pastoral before heading to Europe, making way for my planned Infinite Jest reread, but I fell around 100 pages short and had to bring two books with me on the trip, which was a major headache considering I have a lifelong goal of never checking luggage again so space is always at a premium.

I kinda phoned it in toward the end.

Tomorrow! It’s Christmas! #7s in Films, Albums, TV and Books!

9 thoughts on “2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Extreme Crosswording) — #8 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 9

  1. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Football Moments & Trivia) — #9 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 8 | completepatrick

  2. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Patrick’s Christmas Message) — #7 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 10 | completepatrick

  3. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Sport and #P100) — #6 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 11 | completepatrick

  4. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Patrick’s Best Tweets & #P100 continues) — #5 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 10 | completepatrick

  5. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Patrick’s Best Tweets & #P100 continues) — #5 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 12 | completepatrick

  6. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (In Memoriam & #P100 continues) — #4 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 13 | completepatrick

  7. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ News, Food Trends, Advertising & #P100 continues) — #3 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 14 | completepatrick

  8. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Patrick’s Best Days & #P100 continues) — #2 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 15 | completepatrick

  9. Pingback: 2016 Year in Review — The 16 of Trumps (+ Top 100 Songs of 2016, Hottest 100 votes and prediction & Riffs on the Year) — #1 in Films, TV, Albums, Books: Part 16 | completepatrick

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