Here are some of my favourite stuff from 2013:
One Breath – Anna Calvi
From a cursory glance in many of the year’s end top album lists, it would appear lightweight 80s influenced pop is making a comeback via the likes of Haim and Lorde. Such is the peril of getting old when crap you dislike from the past are becoming current critics’ favourites. In any case, my album of the year is Anna Calvi’s One Breath, which is probably one of the most underrated and unfashionable albums of 2013. While 2011’s self-titled album showed Calvi to be a reasonably interesting musician with the technical prowess to boot, One Breath put all her ambitions on display. Sounding like a torch singer straight out of a noir movie, Calvi’s music style is hard to pin down as she can go from breathy on an art rock track like Piece by Piece to operatic on Sing To Me and to downright freaky on Love Of My Love. There is a sense of identity crisis in the proceedings, but there is never a moment of boredom in the album, which is more than you can say for the new releases from Haim and Lorde this year.
This Is The End
There really isn’t much of a plot where This Is the End is concerned, but suffice it to say that self-deprecating humor doesn’t come any better than this. Taking a relatively simple premise where James Franco, Seth Rogen and company played douchebag (or perhaps just channeled inner) versions of themselves trapped on Apocalyptic Earth while all the good guys were sent to heaven. What follows is an outrageously funny 110 minute sketch comedy where no sacred cows are spared. The gang made fun of everything from the Pineapple Express to Franco’s alleged pretentiousness to Jonah Hill’s turn to the dark side. The guys (and Emma Watson) are incredibly good sports, and movies like this don’t usually get made, so enjoy this rare bit of hollywood lampooning.
Best Graphic Novel
Fatale: Death Chases Me – Ed Brubaker/Sean Philips
After an extended stint reimagining the super-villains world as organized crime, the creative team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is back to crafting intricate stories in the seedy world of noir, with the caveat that Fatale has many elements of horror and the supernatural. Josephine was an immortal who can compel men to do her biddings, despite not having any knowledge about the origins of her immortality. She was hunted by a shadowy organization that had intentions to harvest her talents. Fatale is the story of this cat and mouse chase between Josephine and the organisation. Mostly, it’s about the wrecked lives that Josephine left behind as she attempted to stay a step ahead of her pursuers. Think of it as a graphical adaptation of Let the Right One In, over multiple lifetimes.
Best TV Show
There was a strange sense of satisfaction as you witnessed Walter White’s craftily-amassed empire fall apart in this final season of AMC’s best TV series. All because Heisenberg was too blinded by pride to overlook the stupidity of leaving a crucial piece of evidence in the toilet. Despite having an ending that is considered by some to be too pat and neat, the final season is really pitch perfect, building on ever-escalating tension which does not dissipate until the very last shot. If there is a central theme to Breaking Bad, it’s that every morally ambiguous act, no matter how insignificant it may seem, will come back to bite you in the ass somewhere down the line. The show actually ingenuously explored three possible endings for Walter White. Although none of the endings went well for him, the one that concluded the show is some small victory of sorts for both Walter and the viewer.
The Last of Us
I have already discussed at lengths about how transcendentally awesome The Last of Us is in a separate post. Suffice it to say that no other games in the history of video games have plumbed the same emotional depths, juxtaposed cathartic actions against introspective moments or paint an ambivalent picture of a hero/villain as effectively as The Last of Us has.