Another year, another list of favourite things, here’s the best of 2014
Under the usual circumstances, an album as well-received by critics as FKA Twigs’ debut would have been crushed by the weight of its own hype. It is to Tahliah Barnett’s credit that LP1 comes across as cohesive and forward looking as it does. Picking up where trip hop pioneers such as Tricky and Massive Attack left off, FKA Twigs juxtaposes her soul-inflected vocals against a backdrop of synths, stuttering drum machines and a maelstrom of otherworldly soundscapes to produce the year’s most engaging record. At times, FKA Twigs’ visual style recalls the weird temperaments of Bjork’s collaborations with Michel Gondry. Other times, FKA Twigs’ strangely hypnotic jerky dance styles are in a unique space of its own, very much like the record, which utilizes trip-hop, electronic and R&B to launch something disturbingly alluring into the stratosphere.
Boyhood is ambitious, true-to-life and yet engaging at the same time. While Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making magnum opus could have been easily dismissed as a gimmicky production, it is surprisingly (or perhaps unsurprisingly) organic and full of nuances and moments that viewers can easily empathize with. An argument can be made that the characters’ motivations are perhaps shaped by the age-bestowed wisdom and experiences of its cast and crew over the course of the 12 years. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette gave the performances of their careers, informing the viewers about the unexpected trajectories that life can take, almost as if they live through it themselves. Meanwhile, Ellar Coltrane provided a consummate performance as the titular boy in question. If nothing else, the movie, at times, prompts you to reflect about the influences that make you who you are, and that can only be a good thing.
God’s Middle Finger
The title of the book alone is enough for me to list it as the book of the year. Just kidding. Pitched as a travelogue into the heart of Sierra Madre, it is hard to discern how much of the book is based on actual facts and how much of it is sensationalized gonzo journalism. That, however, does not detract from the feverish fervor that Grant imbued in his writing as he ventured into the lawless mayhem of the Sierra Madre, home to outlaws, drug lords and Tarahumara Indians. Taking equal potshots at his foolhardiness and the socio-politics that culminated in a flourishing drug-trade, the book is written with a shit-eating glee that, I imagine, will not sit well with many.
Best TV Show
Realising its initial premise of an inept spy agency is getting a bit long in the tooth, the creative team overhauled the entire concept by revealing that ISIS has been engaging in espionage activities without authority for years, thus putting the gang out of the spy business. Hence begins Archer Vice, where the gang gets into the businesses of drug trafficking, weapon trading and country music. Strange as it sounds, this is quite a renaissance for Archer, with jokes coming fast and loose. If you have never been into Archer, this might just be the season to start.
Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV is awesome. And none of the games released in 2014 impressed me in any way. That is all.