Saturday, January 03, 2009

Cultural Review of the Year 2008

Not a vintage year for culture in the Sanddancer household, but as I've done it each year before, I thought I'd continue the tradition.

Live music was strictly old bands. Jesus and Mary Chain were consistently brilliant, MC5 playing with Primal Scream was legendary, but truth be told I probably enjoyed the WonderStuff the most. I ignored new music again, with the only new band making an impression was Vampire Weekend, mainly because I spent a pleasant lunchtime in a cafe with a glass of wine and a book and they were being played.

I did go to the theatre quite a lot this year, as I was determined to make better use of the free tickets offered at work and I returned to my old amateur theatre. However, I didn't actually pay to see any professional shows this year so it wasn't really that representative of my usual taste. Billy Elliot was probably the best show I saw, although Wicked was a lot of fun too.

The films I enjoyed the most this year were comedies, which again is unusual for me, but perhaps a sign that in gloomy times that is what is needed. I loved Juno and Burn After Reading made me laugh more than anything else I can remember. J K Simmons was in both films, a great underrated actor.

The final series of The Wire wasn't perhaps as good as the previous four series, but was still way better than anything else. The Daily Show with John Stuart became must-watch television, especially during the American election. The SkyPlus Box has changed my life as I can now record daytime detectives.

A new category for 2008 as I read more this year than I have in any year since I finished my degree. I discovered the books of Magnus Mills, a genius of deadpan and inventive alternative worlds, and I read all five of his full novels. I hope in 2009 he will write some more, but I hear he is working as a bus driver. Fup by Jim Dodge and Naive, Super by Erlend Loe were other short, quirky favourites, and I loved Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Light of Day by Graham Swift too.


Claire said...

Happy New Year!

I wish I'd been to see the Jesus and Mary Chain, they are still one of my all time favourites. It's definitely something I'll do more this year, go to more gigs - it's such a waste of being in London otherwise.

Hotter Than... said...

Nice review! My favourite gig was Biffy but then I guess it was the most recent so sticks in my memory the most. Crowded House would be next - consistently fab.

I've never heard of Magnus Mills. After your description, I'll have to have a look on Amazon - sounds like my kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

There doesn't seem to have been all those end of year reviews on tv and in the papers this year (maybe 2008 is a year to forget already?) so it's nice to see one...

Am so with you on the music...been hanging onto all the old stuff best gig was rage against the machine at reading festival.

Didn't do the theatre or films much or at least nothing sticks in my memory except cloverfield, which wasn't the best ever but I'm a sucker for monster movies...

TV - this year I discovered the wire so spent most if it catching up ready for the last series in July, then I moved onto the shield (which I read about on your blog) - stil on DVD series 1 but I am enjoying it. I am also madly in love with my sky+ box - how did I ever live without it or manage to watch tv shows at their scheduled times?

Books - discovered Wally Lamb and have devoured his 2 massive tomes and have just read 'eat, pray love' by Elizabeth Gilbert (which M was raving about on brain drops) and loved it!

Happy new year

SandDancer said...

Claire - You should definitely try to see JAMC the next time they play in London, which I'm sure they will again this year

Hottie - if you do get hold of any Magnus Mills books, I'd be interested to know what you think. "The Restraint of Beasts" is his first novel so that might be a good place to start but my favourite is "Three to See the King".

NM - I didn't see many reviews of the year either but lots of predictions for 2009. I would love to see Rage Against the Machine. A DJ played one of their songs at Glastonbury a few years ago and everyone went mad for it. I read Wally Lamb's "She's Come Undone" this year and really enjoyed it, but I saw it was in a list of the Top 10 Worst Books Ever Published, which I thought was harsh. I've been daunted by the length of the length of the other book.