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It’s that time of again – the limbo period between Christmas and New Year’s, where the year is pretty much over but not quite and everyone stands around looking at their watches and coughing loudly to try and hint it out of the room. Eventually it trudges through the doorway with one last forlorn look over the shoulder, and disappears into the mist outside.

Let’s recap what I thought of movies, books and music in 2007. Note that this only includes what I actually saw/heard/read. I’m sure there were far better movies than Transformers, but I didn’t see them, so yeah.

FILMS

10. Superbad
Not nearly as funny as everyone thought (minus the anomaly of Anchorman, most comedy films of this decade are terrible), but still worth watching.

9. Transformers
I was never a fan of the franchise as a kid, so I went into this without the astronomical expectations everyone else seemed to have, and I was pleasantly surprised. Shia LeBeouf is a great leadman with an excellent sense of humour, and the CGI and cinematography was top notch. Even an arrogant left-winger like me had an enormous boner for American military might during most of the battle scenes, although it did get a little too much towards the end (no way we can beat the Decepticons without THE AIR FORCE!)

8. Sunshine
Once you get over the oddly anachronistic basis for the plot (throwing a bomb into the sun in order to “reboot” it, on par with The Core for bad science and not something I expect from British cinema) this is an eerie and haunting psychological thriller, despite losing its way towards the end. It also had the most chilling line of any movie I saw this year, which I now present completely out of context:
Capa: “Trey is dead. There are only four crew members.”
Icarus: “Negative. Five crew members.”
Capa: “Icarus… who is the fifth crew member?”
Icarus: “Unknown.”
Capa: “Where is the fifth crew member?”
Icarus: “In the observation room.”

7. Hot Fuzz
I was going to just upload my .gif of Simon Pegg kicking an old woman in the face, but it’s too big for imageshack, so I’ll leave it at this: pretty good, better than Shaun of the Dead, still suffers from “not funny enough” like most other comedies of this decade.

6. 28 Weeks Later.
The “Aliens” to 28 Days Later’s “Alien”, i.e. it is an awesome action movie sequel to an awesome horror movie. It did lose something in the transition from low-budget to high-budget, but outside of the dubious helicopter-slicing-up-bodies scene, it managed to avoid most of the Hollywood cliches. And the conclusion is excellent. Once you realise the full implications of the final scene (using the concepts established in the first movie), you realise just how superbly chilling it is.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Yes, I know that both Pirates sequels became bloated, swollen monstrosities with no coherent plot whatsoever, but they’re still great fun. After about the fifteenth or sixteenth doublecross, I stopped trying to keep track of the story entirely and just focused on enjoying the glorious Caribbean visuals.

4. Apocalypto
Mel Gibson may be a crazy anti-Semitic son of a bitch, but he sure does make exciting movies. The sudden, unexpected arrival of the Conquistadores at the end capped it off perfectly.

3. The Simpsons Movie.
Oh, if only this had been made ten years ago.

I rewatched it on DVD in November and realised that for the previous four months I’d been judging it as the movie I wanted it to be, not the movie it is. Which is to say, a movie that’s not all that funny. There are maybe ten or twelve really hilarious moments. Any given episode from the mid 90s contains more comedy. But on its own merits, it’s still a great movie, and the plot was truly epic.

Also, to all those people bitching that it was “basically just an extended episode”: Yeah, it was. Was exactly were you expecting?

2. Pan’s Labyrinth
Much like Donnie Darko, my love for this film relies heavily on its terrifying imagery. I’m aware that there are far greater things about this masterpiece of fantasy and reality, but personally, the Pale Man’s brief appearance was the highlight of the film.

1. No Country For Old Men
This is the last movie I saw in 2007 (on the 28th of December, to be precise), and it juuuust edged into first place ahead of Pan’s Labyrinth, the first movie I saw in 2007, creating a satisfying circular motion. Better men than me have extolled its brilliance, from Tommy Lee Jones’ casual opening narration set over a backdrop of cloud-scudded Texan landscapes, to the unusually quiet ending that resulted in everyone in my cinema exiting with their conversations in hushed tones. So I won’t try. Suffice to say that it contains the most suspenseful scenes you will ever see on the screen.

MUSIC

Fuck objectivity.

10. Nude, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
9. House of Cards, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
8. Videotape, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
7. 15 Steps, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
6. Bodysnatchers, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
5. Faust Arp, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
4. Jigsaw Falling Into Place, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
3. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
2. All I Need, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).
1. Reckoner, by Radiohead (In Rainbows).

Honourable mention: Gotye’s album Like Drawing Blood, which came out in 2006 but which I only recently heard. Download a song called “Night Drive”, it’s totally awesome.

BOOKS

10. Bloom, by Wil McCarthy
Science fiction, set in a world where Earth (and the rest of the inner solar system) has been overrun by grey goo and humanity clings to life in the asteroid belt and Jupiter’s moons. A little too realistic and depressing for my liking.

9. Skybreaker, by Kenneth Oppel
An enjoyable but unremarkable young adult swashbuckling airship lark.

8. Between Planets, by Robert Heinlein
My first Heinlein novel, which I enjoyed immensely. I know it’s always been my dream to be a dishwasher in a Chinese restaurant on Venus.

7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling
She wrapped it up pretty well I guess. Snape being a triple agent was fairly obvious from the Half-Blood Prince, though. And, like every other reader on the planet, I loathed the utterly corny postscript which begged me to invest emotionally in Harry’s cardboard cut-out children (no go).

6. The Ophiuchi Hotline, by John Varley
Another Earthless science fiction jaunt. This time, the human race has been evicted from Earth by a species of almost godlike aliens, who do so for the benefit of the three “intelligent” species on Earth: orcas, dolphins and humpback whales.

5. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars were a little overwhelming for me at times, since I like my science fiction soft, but you have to admire the unimaginably epic scale of them, and Robinson does occassionally manage some beautiful prose.

Michel’s ashes, up in a balloon over the Hellas Sea. They saved a pinch for return to Provence.

After a thousand words and two hundred years, a character’s death can be truly moving.

4. The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut
Objectively, this is probably better than any book on the list, but I didn’t find it to be particularly noteworthy. I had no idea that Vonnegut’s style was so casually satirical – akin to Pratchett, in fact – and spent most of the book regaining my bearings. At least I got that out of the way; now I can read Slaughterhouse Five knowing what to expect.

3. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip Jose Farmer
A very original concept for a book, in which the entirety of humanity, from the earliest cavemen to the point where humanity went extinct (2008, apparently, so get ready) is resurrected along the banks of one enormous river valley. Mountains on either side are impenetrable, and the river goes as deep as anyone has ever been able to swim. People who die are resurrected again somewhere else along the river. The book follows Richard Francis Burton in his travels as he attempts to discover who or what is behind the ressurection. Farmer’s writing style is as vanilla-bland as every other sci-fi writer from the mid-20th century, but the concept is intriguing and I’m excited to read the next book.

2. The Golden Globe, by John Varley
Set loosely in the same “world” as the Ophiuchi Hotline, but Varley’s prose has improved immensely over the decades (this is from ’98; the OH was written in the 70’s.) While the OH had the same dull, dry delivery that all old science fiction seems to share, the Golden Globe is a lively first-person adventure narrated by Sparky Valentine, an optimistic, wisecracking actor-slash-conman making his way from Pluto to Luna to take part in an upcoming production of King Lear. Along the way, Valentine is hunted by an unstoppable agent of a violent crime sydnicate that he crossed, culminating in a superbly executed confrontation in a hotel orbiting Uranus. Highly recommended.

1. His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman
A re-read, but I first read the series in the ninth grade, and I don’t think I quite appreciated the religious issues discussed the first time around. They’re still a completely awesome fantasy adventure, but they’re also probably the most important agnostic works of our era. Yes, even better than the rantings of Richard Dawkins, who acts as though he personally invented atheism and continues to give the rest of us a reputation for arrogance. Anyway, I’ll probably go catch the Golden Compass soon to see how much of a clusterfuck they made of it.

________________________________________

So overall, there were some damn good movies, Radiohead released a new album and I didn’t read nearly enough books. Perhaps next year I’ll take up the 50 Book Challenge. Scratch that; starting Tuesday, I’m definitely taking up the 50 Book Challenge.

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I just finished work at 10:00 PM and I’m expected to go back in at 8:00 AM tomorrow. This will involve 7 hours with a coworker of mine whom I called a bitch – and worse – while drunk on Saturday night. Should be fun. (In my defence, she truly is a terrible person.)

I’m tired and overworked and have a headache and spent two hours doing Christmas shopping today with very little to show for it.

Ehhhhhhhhh.

My re-enrolment for next year’s classes was, apparently, November 15.

Whoops!

The reason this vital date flew past without me realising is because the only way the university informs you is via OASIS, their online service, which we’re supposed to check at least every two weeks. Nobody does, of course, because the only messages we ever receive are endless dire warnings from Curtin Security, with useful gems such as “BE CAREFUL LATE AT NIGHT” or “DON’T LEAVE YOUR BAG UNATTENDED.” This means that critical, life-influencing information can be overlooked among the tsunami of unimportant shit. This particular email – the one on which my future education, career, and life depended upon – was from the 22nd of October. Evidently I hadn’t checked OASIS in quite a while. 

Good thing I did today, completely by coincidence, because the absolute final chance one has for re-enrolment is December 15 or thereabouts. It involves a late enrolment fee of $70, which is a small price to pay considering I’ve already flushed several grand down the shitter on this course.

One might argue that it’s my own fault for not fulfilling my responsibilities as a student, but it’s much easier to simply blame the campus cops for stuffing my email inbox with frivolous rubbish instead of actually doing their jobs and stopping all those rapes in the library. What the fuck are my tax dollars paying for?

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