In the second of my things-what-I-enjoyed-in-2011 posts, I bring you entertainment. Things I have watched, and stuff I have read...
Films of the year
The King’s Speech
It was way back in 2010 that I spent a memorable evening on a red carpet wearing Gap as I scurried past Colin Firth and his implausibly beautiful wife looking radiant (and, er, in Prada) in front of the barrage of photographers, but I’ve now seen the film of 2011 three times, with Pa Blonde lining up the DVD to watch over Christmas. Beautifully scripted, acted, lit, shot, scored, it’s more than worthy of its handful of Oscars.
Not so much a documentary as a love letter to the grand dame of newspapers, the New York Times, Page One is the perfect foil to those of us who demand our news instantly, online, in short snippets and for free. A must-see, if only for the wondrous David Carr bawling out Gawker and the Huff Po in inimitable style.
Life in a Day
It could have been utterly terrible: asking the entire world to document their lives on one specific Saturday, and upload the results to YouTube. I fear had I been relied upon for any part of the final edit, it would have had rather more Radio 4 and mundanity in it than it turned out to. As it is, the film was edited by the very clever Kevin Macdonald and is, by turns, heartbreaking, beautiful, funny and inspiring. And not an episode of the The Archers in sight.
The Lion King 3D
Here’s a terrifying fact: the Lion King was released in 1994. NINETEEN NINETY FOUR. That’s SEVENTEEN years ago. But it was, and remains, one of Disney’s finest and thus it seemed churlish to pass up the chance to see it on the big screen – in 3D, no less. TW and I sat, both with 3D specs over our normal glasses (mmm, hot) and tapped our feet through Circle of Life and – I’ll admit – shed a few tears when Musfasa died. A true classic.
Those who know me know I have a deep-seated love of children’s films (in fact, I ended up debating them in depth with a newly-met chap at a party on Saturday. Quite how we got there straight from a heated critique of second-wave feminism, Lord only knows. Oh yes, I have ALL the best party chat). So a new animated Disney affair is an exciting thing. Even if you don’t love animated films, I’d suggest looking this one out. A re-telling of the Rapunzel story, it’s utterly beautiful – the scene with the paper lanterns is particularly magical.
Books of the year
The Line of Beauty
Yes, I’m a bit behind. What of it? (I know. I really should try and keep up. I just need people to stop writing new ones and give me a chance to clear my reading-list backlog.) This is, hands down, the very best book I’ve read this year. Set in the hedonistic 80s, it’s the tale of a young, gay guy who finds himself immersed in London society, framed by the wider themes of politics, aesthetics and AIDS. If you’ve not already, which I imagine most of you have, do yourselves a favour and curl up with it over Christmas. It’s brilliant.
Half the Sky
If you’re after a book that will change the way you look at the world, this is the badger for you. Simply and powerfully, it lays out how many of the problems of the world could be solved by educating and empowering women. If you’ve an XX chromosome, or just a vague sense that somewhere, women get a rum deal, you need to read this.
I’ve read – nay, started – so many uninspiring books this year that I’m rigidly sticking to my ‘100 pages’ rule: if, by that point, I’m not thoroughly gripped, it gets put on the pile for the charity shop. Room I read over three not-very-long train journeys. It’s dark and disturbing, but excellent.
The Suicide Shop
If your sense of humour isn’t so dark that your other half turns to you with alarming regularity to tell you you’re “a bad person” when you’ve found something chucklesome, then this isn’t the book for you. However, if you are able to find amusing the notion of a family owning a shop that sells all the accoutrements for the perfect suicide, then this is the book for you. Read it now, before the film hits the screens next year.