#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)
#8s of 2016 + Extreme Crosswording (Part 9)
Ha det 2016 (almost)…
Merry Christmas everybody! Let’s get this done ASAP so I can enjoy my prandial extravagances to their full extent!
#7 in Films…
Remember how much you enjoyed The Social Network? Now imagine if the hero of that tale Jesse Eisenberg unilaterally won at the end and the Winklevoss twins died with barely anyone remembering their sad, lonely, pathetic, unmercantile lives? Congratulations, you have just written and produced The Founder!
Michael Keaton plays Ray Kroc, the fabled originator of the McDonald’s franchise system. After enjoying the best hamburger he’s ever tasted and marveling at the bespoke preparation system developed by the original McDonald brothers, Kroc systematically spreads the concept across the Midwest, America and the world, eventually disenfranchising those losers back in California.
What makes this tale of business acumen in the face of tedious obstructionism so winning is that it’s genuinely funny. Director John Lee Hancock doesn’t shy away from showing just how malicious the philandering Kroc was in stealing the empire but he also doesn’t let a good story get in the way of a good time. The laugh out loud moments come with regularity, not least of all because we have such an intimate relationship with the McDonald’s brand and concept that it’s like watching a biopic of a mutual friend. The scene showcasing how the smarter yet highfalutin bro Dick McDonald (Megan Mullally’s Nick Offerman) designed the original restaurant’s interior is nonpareil filmmaking.
I thought Birdman incomprensible and Spotlight just slightly above the standard of a TV movie but with The Founder Michael Keaton has truly earned his renaissance.
#7 in TV…
Tom Hiddlestone is so dreamy! I instinctively feel that he was too good for Taylor Swift, like in a class division kinda way. She deserves love but more like the love of a Martin Freeman type, not Tom Hiddlestone. You know he went to Eton and then read Classics at Cambridge?
In The Night Manager Hiddlestone plays the night manager. After a turbulent affair ends in tragedy against the backdrop of the revolutionary fervour in Cairo, the titular Jonathan Pine escapes to the Swiss alps to find solace in aloneness. Till one night his past comes sauntering into his new hotel and asks if there is room at the inn. With vengeance on his mind and burgeoning love in his heart, Pine agrees to help MI6 infiltrate a global arms dealership, putting at risk not just his reputation for discretion but also his life! Olivia Colman (the only woman Mitchell & Webb have on speed dial) plays his intelligence contact and she’s very good.
I watched the entire series of The Night Manager — eight hourish episodes — while flying Melbourne ——> Dubai in September in the middle seat of like Row 80 and it was the perfect escape for an otherwise self-flagellating piece of long haul travel.
As with all John Le Carré narratives, the locales are exquisite, the drama labyrinthine and the moral ambiguity opaque. The production values are as good as any TV drama — the budget must have been through the roof, and that’s just for all the seafood they eat, let alone the pyrotechnics that comes towards the denouement — and Hugh Laurie’s evil Richard Branson is chilling but also kinda charismatic and alluring. His dastardly gun running may be a character flaw but he still comes across as a handy man to have a beer with.
Australia’s own Elizabeth Debicki is beauty made corporeal as Jed, the young lass caught between fear and passion. You just know she’s going to win an Oscar for playing a tragic historical type like Clementine Hozier or an Allied nurse in WWII or some other basic white girl thingy.
And did I mention Tom Hiddlestone?
What’s the most important part of Christmas? Is it the Christ? Is it his mass? Is it the wrist you flex masturbating in bed before getting up, surely the best gift you can both give and receive on 25 December? The most important part of Christmas is actually the is.
Is means being and doing, existing and thriving in a world seemingly determined to evanescence all the vitality from our meagre souls. Is means rising with the sun and tackling the day, no matter the crippling anxiety, essentially meaningless job or lackadaisical spirit. Is means believing you are worthy even though you look around you and only see superiors and look in the mirror and only see inferiors. Is means ordering bread because there were hot people in the 90s and they ate bread. Is means forgetting all the irrelevant guff and just focusing on the important issues, like the goodness of your soul, the happiness in your heart, the alacrity in your brain and your faith in Steve Smith to play across his pads from outside offstump.
A recurring theme of my 16-part completely unnecessary and ultimately largely unread Year in Review has been learning to accept yourself, regardless of who wants to hang out with you or how much space you take up. That’s why the enveloping imagery has been of incoming US demagogue and nuclear codes controller president-elect Donald John Trump. The latest power base from the House of Oranje has perfectly and sans restraint channeled his id in an filtered tidal wave of oratory logorrhea and craven supplication to reach his mercurial zenith. You wouldn’t want to be him, nobody can like Big Macs that much, but you should want to replicate him. Think about the dirtiest and darkest desire from your heart’s deepest domain — surely it is anti-deplorable and proto-deliverable (I have faith in you dear reader) — and now focus your coruscant energies on achieving it.
This day last year, Trump was the punchline to a glass-ceiling-shattering joke, he was the turkey being carved up and passed out the Clinton’s Christmas table, he was the Christmas cake being sliced and diced and offered to family members politely declining because Christmas cake is revolting. Today he is the apotheosis of civilisation.
Be horrified, yes, but also be inspired. Be yourself. Be is.
#7 in Albums…
(Australia #2, US —, UK —)
I had the absolute pleasure of meeting SAFIA in the production suite at Triple J’s Sydney studios at the start of the year and I congratulated the three Canberra lads on being Hottest 100 royalty and told them I really liked their video for Counting Sheep, which was filmed at Lake George, 30 minutes outside the Australian Capital Territory. Lead singer Benjamin Joseph seemed a bit intimidated by my effusive interfacing style: I do have a habit of nonplussing new acquaintantes b/c I have never learnt the finer points of proper social decorum.
When SAFIA’s debut LP finally dropped, Counting Sheep didn’t make the cut but the 12 songs that do compose Internal conflate to create a superb alt-EDM document. Bookended by two instrumental tracks that act as heart-starting and sedative buzz bringers and mood settlers, Internal’s internals ingeniously showcase Joseph’s instantly recognisable vocals; high up towards the baroque falsetto ranges, a quivering touch festooned to the longer holds to convey an affectionate vulnerability.
Embracing Me has been around for almost two years now but still packs a lovelorn punch in your unrequited feels. Make Them Wheels Roll has a 1960s Deep South feel to it and it wouldn’t be out of place on the next soul deep Jimmy Barnes cash grab. Together, Locked Safely; Over You; and My Love Is Gone aren’t rewriting the lyrical rule book but they are catchy pop riffs that aren’t afraid to be sung along to. My one major gripe with Internal is the track title Fake It Til The Sunrise: the word is actually ’till’ and it predates ‘until’. Any variation on ’till’ with only one ‘l’ or errant apostrophes is simply wrong.
#7 in Books…
(= reading experiences (surely you’ve got the hang of this by now))
The Megahole, where I play trivia on Tuesdays, doesn’t have wholegrain mustard so I have to bring my own from home. Also doesn’t have a supply of Booker Prize winning novels so I port them myself too. The Finkler Question is the perfect book to heap praise on on Christmas Day as it tells the story of a gentile trying to get in touch with his suffering side via channeling the Jewishness of his two oldest friends and his new paramour.
Howard Jacobson has plenty to say about the place of Jewish people in modern London, how the spectre of grief grows and looms as we age and how to reconcile love with fecklessness, all while retaining an imitable sense of humour. Refreshing to the max to read such weighty topics explored thoroughly with candour, insight and brash levity.
I won that trivia, by the way.