Tis the season to be merry, get wellied-in and watch the telly ... festivities, Blu-Rays galore, and a new obsession.
Click "READ MORE" below for the looks, sounds, vibes & flavours of my December 2014...
Babylon - Channel 4's police drama. The feature length pilot (directed by Danny Boyle) from earlier this year was good, but the extended length didn't quite suit it in my opinion. However, split into six hour long episodes, this series really finds its feet. Balancing murky behind the scenes politics with a typically British sense of down-played humour, it has quickly become one of my favourite UK drama shows, standing tall beside other favourites such as "Black Mirror" and "Utopia".
Casablanca - in my view at least, the most romantic film ever made. Every time I watch it I see something new, and am able to dive deeper into its subtext and allusions. Infinitely iconic.
Foo Fighters "Sonic Highways" - an epic eight episode documentary series that covers not only the making of the latest Foo Fighters album of the same name, but also provides in-depth examination of decades of music across eight American cities. Fascinating stuff that sheds a great deal of light upon the influences on the "Sonic Highways" album.
The Expendables 3 (Blu-Ray) - chock full o' action, but hopefully Sly's finally learnt his lesson. Forsaking your passionate fan base to (unsuccessfully) chase the PG-13 dollar isn't the right way to go. If there's a fourth movie (and I certainly hope there is), I'm hoping it'll be fully balls-to-the-wall once again.
Black Mirror "White Christmas" - it took a little while before it got going, but you soon get to see how the seemingly disparate tales weave together. As you'd expect from Charlie Brooker's superb techno-drama series, there are dark turns aplenty. Deliciously deviant.
Game of Thrones: Seasons 1 & 2 - seeing as how several of my shows have come to an end this year (such as Boardwalk Empire, and The Newsroom), I found myself with time to bring in something new to me. Sky Atlantic have been showing all four seasons over a period of twelve days, so it was the perfect time to dive in at the deep end and give it a go. Suffice it to say, I'm well and truly invested, and I've still got more than half way to go before I catch up.
The Inbetweeners 2 (Blu-Ray) - more of the same isn't a bad thing here with this sequel that's as good as the first. I'm glad I avoided the trailers and went in cold, as I distinctly remember the first movie's trailer giving away all of the best jokes.
21 & 22 Jump Street (Blu-Ray) - this is how you not only rejuvenate an established franchise of years past, but also make an action comedy movie. With so many American comedies being in the entertaining-but-visually-stunted 'Apatow style', it's nice to see one that uses the camera, and the editing, for spectacle and comedic purposes.
Sin City 2 (Blu-Ray) - not quite as good as the original, and nine years was probably too long to wait for a sequel, but it's more of what you want. With softened expectations it's a bloody, fun-filled, neo-noir romp.
Foo Fighters "Sonic Highways", "Wasting Light", "There Is Nothing Left To Lose", "One By One", "In Your Honour"
The 69 Eyes "X"
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
"Celebrityville" - as I've said in earlier posts this month, the writing process is well underway on my second book. The Christmas break has naturally got in the way, but things will resume in full force in the New Year. Prior to the festivities I got a nice chunk bashed out, so I'll be heading into 2015 with a solid foundation upon which to return to the keyboard.
"The Great and The Good" - a few polishing drafts on the short story that will accompany "Celebrityville".
Christmas - wrapping, food, drinks, presents, games, telly ... all the usual stuff. Then you start looking back over and year and, well, 2014 has been a mixed bag. In some ways it's been great - from celebratory activities like karting (on and off road), to a holiday with several friends to the South of France, to writing my first novel - and in other ways it's been duff - in particular my horrendous months-long encounter with gallstones (by the time it was surgically removed the gallbladder was close to rupture). Hopefully 2015 will continue the good of 2014 and leave out the bad!