2020 ADDENDUM: THE LISTS

Okay, a two-week holiday in far-off Perth has been achieved, complete with hoovering up Lego and graphic novels, meeting my new granddaughter, hoovering up books, Christmas, seeing our adult kids, hoovering up as many kebabs as my body could stand, hoovering up as many piece of pop culture shite as I could get my hands on, playing with my grandkids, and generally just slobbing about like Dave Lister if Red Dwarf was Australian and remotely worth watching any more.

All of which means, I’m in a much better place than when I last posted. To whit, let’s talk about the TV, films, books, and graphic novels I couldn’t bring myself to list when I posted my end of year review!

THE FILMS!

Movie watching habits were all over the place this year, as befits an isolated country town with a theatre-cum-cinema that shows a limited selection of movies once, weeks after they hit the major cities, that basically sealed up and showed nothing for months due to COVID. What resulted was a combination of comfort films, introducing Lord 15 to some old favourites, and a very few newbies.

Highlight of the year was probably Tenet, an intelligent and impeccably-crafted science fictional thriller that continued Christopher Nolan’s obsession with chronology and points of view, with a performance of stunning menace by Kenneth Branagh . I’m at a loss to fathom the criticism this film has attracted– as far as I can tell, it boils down to “If I can’t understand it, it must be the film that’s slightly dim…”. JoJo Rabbit was another superb entry, with similar criticisms: I guess that’s what happens when you let the herd take over the role of critique. Spies in Disguise and Bill and Ted Face The Music were both pleasant surprises, movies I went into with zero expectations that managed enough smiles to make the effort worthwhile.

Low points were probably the bloated mess that was Star Wars: The Rise of Sywalker, a self-important, dithering blancmange of content-free fanwank that should have been smothered at birth; Mission Impossible: Fallout, a giant bag of stupid so stupid even the teenage students I showed it were MST-ing it within half an hour; and Yellowbeard, a movie I hadn’t watched since I was a teenager and which proved that my memory is better than I thought it was, because it actually was as bad as I remembered. The Chris Chibnall Award for Somehow Fucking Up a Near-Impossible to Fuck Up Beloved Franchise goes to the single worst thing I saw all year– Shin Godzilla, a movie that asks you to believe that the reason you you sat down to watch two hours of a giant monster stepping on things was to see a never-ending series of people having meetings in interchangeable boardrooms. You made a Godzilla movie boring, fellas. I didn’t think you could do that without booking computing time at CERN. Here’s your award. Now fuck off.

Anyway, here’s the full list, for your edification:

  1. Orgazmo
  2. The Running Man
  3. Gremlins
  4. War Games
  5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
  6. Gotham by Gaslight
  7. JoJo Rabbit
  8. Red
  9. Brave
  10. Red 2
  11. Batman: Hush
  12. Reign of the Supermen
  13. Zodiac
  14. American Psycho
  15. Seven Psychopaths
  16. Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey
  17. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
  18. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  19. Police Academy
  20. Weekend at Bernie’s
  21. Memento
  22. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  23. Stan and Ollie
  24. Deadpool
  25. Deadpool 2
  26. Mission Impossible: Fallout
  27. Vampire Hunter D
  28. Shin Godzilla
  29. Fletch
  30. LA Confidential
  31. Fight Club
  32. Yellowbeard
  33. Spies in Disguise
  34. Coco
  35. Loose Change 9/11: An American Coup
  36. Tenet
  37. Bill and Ted Face the Music
  38. Terminator 2
  39. Speed

TELEVISION!

A pandemic, forced working from home, coping with our son’s death… there were a lot of reasons to spend our time lying on our bed, flaked out in front of the TV, and we took advantage of them. Apart from Luscious’ addiction to a bunch of ham-radio level Youtubers doing their makeup while they talk about crime, or religion, or whatever they can do five minutes of Google research about, we did manage to get in a few quality shows. True Crime threw some incredible efforts our way– we were treated to the lunacy of Don’t F*ck with Cats on the Internet, a classic nerds-track-loony-using-the-power-of-social-interwebbernetz journey of nutiness; The Confession Killer; treatises on Ted Bundy, Aaron Hernandez, and the Mafia, and of course the show that came to define 2020, the needs-to-be-watched-to-be-believed genius that is The Tiger King. The Mandalorian proved that Star Wars can be done well, as long you don’t do, well, Star Wars. Umbrella Academy, Upstart Crow, and Simon Anstell gave us laughs when we needed them. And after four seasons of the best TV I’ve seen in several years, The Good Place gave us that ending, just to prove that perfect shows can be perfect until the final moment.

At the other end of the spectrum, The Witcher proved that you can do a fantasy show really well and it will still be laughable shit. And Good Omens managed to take almost everything that was Terry Pratchett about the original book and give us… whatever you get when Neil Gaiman tries to be Terry Pratchett. But, honestly, these were mild disappointments rather than the car crashes you like to complain about– if nothing was exactly GoT Season whatever the last one was, than perhaps that was just because whatever was going on outside the house was so much worse.

Anyhoo, here’s the full list of what we flaked in front of all year:

  1. Don’t F*ck With Cats on the Internet
  2. Strong
  3. Tell Me Who I Am
  4. Bikram
  5. Gotham S1-3
  6. Simon Amstell: Set Free
  7. The Mandalorian S1
  8. The Witcher S1
  9. Cheer
  10. Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez
  11. Taxi S1-5
  12. The Good Place S4
  13. The Confession Killer
  14. Ted Bundy: Falling For a Killer
  15. To Catch a Killer S1-2
  16. Fred Dinenage Murder Casebook S1-2
  17. True Nordic Crimes
  18. The Tiger King
  19. The Last Dance
  20. Australia: a Time Traveller’s Guide
  21. The Twilight Zone S1-3
  22. Umbrella Academy S1-2
  23. Last Chance U S5
  24. Cowboy Bebop
  25. 8 out of 10 Cats random episodes
  26. Upstart Crow S1-3
  27. The Man in the High Castle a bit of S1
  28. Dr Who: Genesis of the Daleks
  29. The Perfect Crime
  30. Carmel: Who Killed Maria Mata?
  31. City of Fear: New York vs the Mafia
  32. Good Omens

BOOKY WOOKS!

It took me a long time to get reading this year. After Blake’s death, I simply didn’t have the energy or concentration to devote to an extended text, and then, of course, COVID hit and whatever energy I did have was expended trying to teach both in the classroom and from home. Eventually, I headed for the comfort shelves, where the genius of Joseph Heller and Terry Pratchett helped me rediscover some measure of equilibrium. Of previously unread works, biographies loomed large. Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’ Hollywood, by Karina Longworth, was jaw-droppingly fascinating, as was Walter Yetnikoff’s autobiography, Howling at the Moon, for wildly different reasons. Phillip Roope and Kevin Meagher’s Shark Arm represented the best of true crime, taking an odd and obscure criminal moment in time and unravelling every thread until a rivetting and revealing story was laid out in front of the reader. Best of all were two books detailing the relationship between the Vatican and the evil regimes who they helped empower: The Ratline, by Philippe Sands was a real-life thriller tracking the escape and mysterious death of a Nazi war criminal in the days of the crumbling Reich, and David I Kertzer’s The Pope and Mussolini is a forensic examination of the petty evil that Il Duce and Pius XI fostered, competed with, and eventually, were surpassed by.

Biggest disappointments were, sad to day, an Alice Cooper autobiography that devolved into golf equipment hucksterism and pulpit thumping, and My Appetite for Destruction by Steven Adler, a drug-addled Guns & Roses sorta-autobiography that was little more than delusion and self-aggrandisement.

The full list:

  1. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life, by Eric Idle
  2. The Legion of Regrettable Supervillains, by Jon Morris
  3. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, by Cary Elwes with Joe Layden
  4. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster, by TJ English
  5. Shark Arm, by Phillip Roope and Kevin Meagher
  6. Eavesdropping on Evil, by Wayne Howell
  7. Shot in the Heart, by Mikal Gilmore
  8. Guns, Cash, and Rock n Roll: The Managers, by Steve Overbury
  9. Picture This, by Joseph Heller
  10. The Taxi Book, by Jeff Sorensen
  11. Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’ Hollywood, by Karina Longworth
  12. Kiss Hollywood Goodbye, by Anita Loos
  13. Howling at The Moon: Confessions of a Music Mogul in an Age of Excess, by Walter Yetnikoff
  14. Alice Cooper, Golf Monster: A Rock’n’Roller’s Life and 12 Steps to Becoming a Golf Addict, by Alice Cooper
  15. I Hate Myself and Want to Die, by Tom Robinson
  16. The Simple Art or Not Giving a F**k, by Mark Mason
  17. The Ratline, by Philippe Sands
  18. Jingo, by Terry Pratchett
  19. Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett
  20. Feet of Clay, by Terry Pratchett
  21. Men at Arms, by Terry Pratchett
  22. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
  23. Night Watch, by Terry Pratchett
  24. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
  25. Moving Pictures, by Terry Pratchett
  26. My Appetite for Destruction, by Steven Adler
  27. Interesting Times, by Terry Pratchett
  28. The Fifth Elephant, by Terry Pratchett
  29. Thud, by Terry Pratchett
  30. Snuff, by Terry Pratchett
  31. The Truth, by Terry Pratchett
  32. Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
  33. The Pope and Mussolini, by David I. Kertzer
  34. SS-GB, by Len Deighton

GRAPHIC NOVELS!

I started the year trying to keep up with my mini-review schedule, and slowly, and surely, like everything else, my graphic novel reading fell by the wayside. Never mind: I’ve picked up a fat bunch of new volumes during my Perth holiday, and we’ll strap on the feedbag and get back to work again this year. In the meantime, I picked a few gems to cover in 2020, from Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, to my continuing odyssey to collect all things Suicide Squad, to the ongoing brilliance of Monstress.

Low points were Darth Maul, a by-the-numbers caper that could have been staged anywhere with anybody –In a series that gave us the brilliant Darth Vader series, this was a genuine disappointment; a Barry Sonnenfeld attempt to take the two coolest things in the world– dinosaurs and aliens– and make them both unbelievably tedious; and Troll Bridge, a self-indulgent Neil Gaiman thing that served only to remind that he’s really given us nothing worth reading in this genre in a very long time.

Here be the list:

  1. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol 1: BFF
  2. Barry Sonnenfeld’s Dinosaurs Vs Aliens Vol 1
  3. Suicide Squad Vol 2: The Nightshade Odyssey
  4. Suicide Squad Vol 6: The Phoenix Gambit
  5. Huntress/Power Girl: World’s Finest Vol 4: First Contact
  6. Here Comes Daredevil Vol 6
  7. Deadly Class Vol 1: Reagan Youth
  8. Monstress Vol 4: The Chosen
  9. Darth Maul
  10. Doctor Strange: Damnation
  11. Doctor Strange: The Flight of Bones
  12. Doctor Strange: The Last days of Magic
  13. Green Lanterns Vol 1: Rage Planet
  14. Teen Titans Vol 6: Titans Around the World
  15. Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Avengers
  16. Knight and Squire
  17. Animal Man Vol 2: Animal vs Man
  18. Justice League of America: Power and Glory
  19. Green Lantern Vol 4: Dark Days
  20. Terror Titans
  21. Oracle: The Cure
  22. Vic and Blood: The Chronicles of a Boy and His Dog
  23. Heralds
  24. I Vampire, Vol 2: Rise of the Vampires
  25. Legion
  26. Rivers of London: Night Witch
  27. Marvel: The End
  28. Thor, Goddess of Thunder Vol 1
  29. Black Widow Vol 2: The Tightly Tangled Web
  30. Troll Bridge
  31. Gotham Central Vol 4: Corrigan

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