This is my second night back after returning from Canada. I was there to attend my brother's wedding, and I'm thinking about giving that topic a post of its own.
Here's a list of the best stuff that I've encountered this year. All in no particular order.
Batman Begins - Best comic book movie ever. That's all there is to say about it. And unlike X-Men or Spiderman or even the original Batman movie, this movie escapes its adolescent comic book trappings to be a truly good story. It's the first comic book movie that truly deserves to be on a year-end-best-of list.
The Devil's Rejects - I saw the trailer for this movie, and was immediately interested. I later discovered it was the sequel to the gorefest House of 1000 Corpses, which I decided to rent. 1000 Corpses was terrible, an utter waste of time. That dampened my anticipation for Devil's Rejects somewhat, but still decided to see it once it hit theatres. I'm glad I did, because The Devil's Rejects was definately one of the best movies of 2005. It uses the same crazy killer family from the first movie, but actually fleshes them out and makes them characters. The movie's greatness comes largely from its ability to screw up the audiences sympathies - just who are we supposed to identify with: the Firefly family, or the increasingly brutal sheriff hunting them down?
Serenity - Shiny! Fox might have stabbed Firefly in the back, but you can't keep a good story down. Whedon went to the mat to get this one produced, and the few who saw it are glad he did. The best dialogue and most original take on the English language since A Clockwork Orange.
Revenge of the Sith - Yeah, a Star Wars prequel is on my year end list. Who'da'thunk it?
King Kong - After Jamie's notice that The Life Aquatic was actually released in 2004, I had to add a different movie. King Kong makes the grade, as it has grown in my memory. I've skimmed the IMDB message board for Kong, and it is full of retarded fools. They seem to have seriously misunderstood this most joyous and innocent of movies; they complain about how the battle between Kong and the 3 T-Rexes was "unrealistic." The tone of the movie seems to escape them, and that baffles me. A fine follow up to LotR, all considered.
(Both the music and books section will be about things I encountered for the first time in 2005, not necassarily things produced in 2005.)
You Forgot It In People by Broken Social Scene - Anthems For A Seventeen Year-Old Girl is going to be a timeless tune. Meloncholy and original, the whole album is perfect for spending 13 hours staring out the window of a 747.
I'm Wide Awake Its Morning by Bright Eyes - It's kinda pretentious and maybe a bit insincere. That being said, there isn't a single mistep on the album. It all fits together. This is one of the few bits of music that proves country music doesn't have to be creatively bankrupt.
Wise and Otherwise by Harry Manx - Technically, I heard the song Only Then Will Your House Be Blessed several years ago. It wasn't until this past spring that I heard the rest of the album, however. And what an album it is - blues punctuated by a sitar. If the songs Coat of Mail or Don't Forget To Miss Me don't make you choke up just a little, you must be a zombie.
If I Should Fall From Grace With God by The Pogues - like Spirit of the West and Great Big Sea, but with more alcohol.
This music section could go longer, but I'm still jetlagged and want to go to bed. Honourable mentions would include Tom Waits, Snow Patrol, Spirit of the West, Bruce Cockburn and The Levellers.
The Gunslinger by Stephen King - "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." So begins the 7 book series that took King more than 25 years to write, and will take me about a year to read. I just finished book 3, and am hooked. Just what awaits Roland & I at the Dark Tower? If you spoil if for me, I will hunt you down and kill you.
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown - Just kidding! What a crap book. The movie might be ok, though.
Hmm... remembering what fiction books I read this year is a tough task, seeing as I don't have any of them with me. Maybe I'll complete this another time.
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond -How did the west come to dominate the world? Jared says the answer is rooted in geographical concerns. It was a fascinating read, if only to gain a panoramic view of human history; a subject so vast it can't be reduced to any single narrative.
An Essay on Man by Ernst Cassirer - Another one of those books that has burrowed its way into my consciousness so much that I can't distinguish between my own thoughts and those that come from this book.
Erotism: Death and Sensuality by Georges Bataille - Bataille, in this and other writings, showed me how fruitful, useful and empirical philosophy really can be.
The Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich - The indirect cause of this post. Tillich's discussion of the nature of faith has become central to my own views and my new interest in theology.
Love, Power, and Justice by Paul Tillich - The Dynamics of Faith changed the way I think about faith, and this book changed the way I think about ethics. I have come to disagree with a substantial portion of what Tillich says here, but I still like Tillich's overall project.
And that's all, folks. Happy New Year!