2011 has been among the biggest turnaround years in my conscious life so far. Last new year was the first one outside home for me. Although I might have sounded largely apathetic to my surroundings and focusing more on the end of year charts and all that in my blog last year, in reality, I was dejected, alone and maybe(definitely) depressed. That describes most of the internet addicted teens today, but in my case it was an entirely different set of reasons.
My frequency of blogging has reduced this year. I take it as a good sign; it only means I’m having a good life that makes me independent of the societies in the cyberworld. That said, I couldn’t help have trollfaces rising in my reverie often. 😛
Like I’ve been doing for years now, here comes the End Of Year Chart section 🙂
I’d start with movies. I’ve watched more Hindi movies this year than before. It’s great to see great films coming up from the Indian film industry everyday. Each picking up a new direction, telling new stories, bringing new emotions…the best being:
I would indeed call it a revolution in Indian Cinema. This is a movie that will be referenced to for years. With a nonsensical story backed by an eclectic plethora of local Delhi expletives, this movie gives an entire new look to humour in movies. Sure, toilet humour has been a thing in the west for years, but it’s not everyday bold movies such as this one release. Also, the cheesy 70s references and absurd but epic sequences such as fireworks exploding out of a sitar are something that shall keep one laughing.
2.Zindagi na Milegi Dobara:
A very casual take on lives of three people, not very different from the production house’s earlier venture Dil Chahta Hai in some ways. The story describes a reunion of friends over a road-trip during which they eventually get over their fears, learn to see bigger things in life and, importantly, live. Every character was well moulded and the entire movie had a subtle approach. The title literally translates to ‘you don’t get to live life twice’ which is what the movie drove through, at the end. Personally, I found it pretty inspiring and saw the need to live life to fullest and enjoy every tiny bit of beauty.
A one-of-a-kind movie. Not everyday you get to see a drug film with little or no commercial appeal. Shaitan was a refreshing change from most crime films in India. With a perfect mix of cold disturbance of Aranofsky and dark humour of Danny Boyle and Guy Ritchie, the movie has an entirely new texture that took people by surprise. Being more than just an addiction based thriller, the movie was about the evil in people. Besides, the original soundtrack of the movie was among the best Indian albums this year. Khoya Khoya Chand as background music was almost as cold and amazing at the same time as Singin’ in the Rain in A Clockwork Orange. In all, the movie was an ingenious piece of art that actually grew on me over time.
Funny that almost all the movies in english that I watched this year were older ones. The only ones I had watched were Pirates of The Carribean 4 and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. The latter was quite good. I was surprised at the flawless translation of all the comical elements from the book into a movie. I must say, Spielberg at his best once again. 🙂
Among the older movies, my favourites were Requiem for a Dream(2000), Singin’ In the Rain(1952) and Dead Poets Society(1989.)
I’m yet to watch some of the really good movies of the year, both Indian and English, such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, X-Men First Class, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, The Dirty Picture, Shor in the City and Don-2.
I’ve watched two foreign (non-english) films this year and both were awesome in their own way.
One of them is Amelie, the cute beautiful coming of age story of a lonely girl set in france. The other is the original swedish movie rendition of the Stieg Larsson novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo(of which David Fincher recently made an American version,) which is a dark, disturbing story with a raging conflagration of religion, cyber-crime, sex and journalism set in Sweden.
Musically, 2011 had been a great year for me from the beginning. Over this year, I’ve listened to 36 albums, including new and old ones. Like always, my charts have albums that may have released any time. Not in 2011.
The best being:
10.From the Yellow Door EP – Noise Noir
9.The Year of Hibernation – Youth Lagoon
8.Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay
7.Take Care, Take Care, Take Care – Explosions in the Sky
6.The Inner Mounting Flame – Mahavishnu Orchestra
The Inner Mounting Flame is among the earliest albums in from the american Jazz/Rock fusion scene. Apparently, the band front man had visited India and attained ‘enlightenment’ after which he named his band so. With energetic drumlines at odd time signatures layered with intricate bass and organ solos and guitar riffs, the album as a whole is an intense piece of art that keeps you up and going with the little funk that you need. The dark violin accompaniments, often played with piano sequences create a perfect acoustic and ambient atmosphere at the same time. In all, Inner Mounting Flame is a very apt title with all the energy in music and opened me to an entire new genre.
5.Real Life – Magazine
This is definitely one of the most iconic post punk albums after Closer and Script of the Bridge. Unlike the rhythm experiments of Joy Division or atmospherics of The Chameleons, Magazine gives melody driven tracks with mild maturity and evolution from conventional punk rock. John McGeoch’s eccentric yet melodic guitar hooks propel the entire track with the usual part baritone vocals. There’s little or no experimentation on the rhythm sections of the songs, unlike most post punk bands that I’ve listened to. But the guitar work is probably just as great as that of Bernard Sumner. I had come across Magazine when I read about McGoech, who happens to be the inspiration for Jonny Greenwood 😀
4.Pygmalion – Slowdive
Slowdive is a popular shoegaze band from the early 90s who were largely inspired by the music direction started off by My Bloody Valentine. After their first two albums, Just For A Day, and Souvlaki, this album was a huge shock. To be honest, I was less surprised on listening to Kid A after the old guitar driven Radiohead. Pygmalion is easily among the greatest musical experiments that I’ve come across which beautifully illustrate the fact that one doesn’t need great skills to make good music. Of course, Helstead and Goswell are highly skilled and talented people, but most tracks on Pygmalion, when musically interpreted, are surprisingly simple and complete at the same time. Besides, the depth achieved with such minimalist instrumentation and atmospherics is great. Like many say, I doubt a follow up can ever be made to this album.
3.Xx – The Xx
Xx is the debut album of the English indie band of the same name, and I must say, for a debut album, this is pretty bold. The level of clear instrumentation and risky music is clear. Not many bands have achieved this. Not even the greats like Arcade Fire or Radiohead. The music is an icy beautiful mixture of digital beats with intertwined guitar and bass solos and catchy duets that give each song the dynamics it needs. The album also has a lot of synthesizer usage mainly for harmony and atmospherics.
2.Strange Mercy – St.Vincent
After listening to Actor two years ago, I was sure Annie Clark would come up with more interesting work branching out of pop music. Strange Mercy has precisely that. Besides the different style of singing with pitch bends at ends, she has also tried a lot many things on guitar (at times abusing it) giving a very rough resonating sound to the entire album which moves in and out of choir like rhythms. She has kept on to the pleasant verses/loud choruses structure which once again has worked in its favour.
1.The King of Limbs – Radiohead
Most of you would say that was obvious that Radiohead would top my list. To be honest, though I had written a particularly elaborate review praising their latest album, I found myself not really liking tKoL over months. But one evening, I found this. And when i watched it, I knew I had found God. Once again.
Talking about novels, I’ve read two of them. One is Death Instinct, which is a sequel to the popular Jed Rubenfeld novel The Interpretation of Murder. Another is the Stieg Larsson bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I’m currently reading it’s sequel The Girl Who Played with Fire.
Yeah, so with that done, I’m close to ending this blog post. There’s not much left to talk about what happened last year. Ah, yes. It’s last year already. It’s 3.30am. So yeah, it’s good to see an entire year ahead of me with flower beds and landmines waiting to treat me as they’d love to.