2016 has not begun well. I never had a pet as a child. I remember asking my parents for a hamster for my birthday and Christmas every year until, when I was about fourteen, they gave me a battery-powered chipmunk in a plastic ball which, evidently, was not designed to roll down a flight of stairs. That ended my quest for domesticated creatures until six-and-a-bit years ago, when I began dating my lovely girlfriend Aisha. She’d always had pets, so it was inevitable that someday we would too. She always wanted a dog, but that seemed like a giant leap for a non-pet-owner such as myself, so we began small with my first pets, the relatively easy to care for mini lop rabbits, mother and son Goldie and Copper. Copper was my favourite, by virtue of Goldie occasionally being somewhat aggressive and escape-happy, whereas Copper just loved hopping round the garden sniffing and tasting everything. When we got Murphy, our labradoodle puppy, last year, he took priority over the rabbits purely because of how time-consuming taking care of him was, but feeding the rabbits twice a day and letting them hop around now and then was always something I looked forward to, because I’d get to interact with Copper who, I should point out, was the softest thing in the world, and remained my favourite pet in spite of Murphy’s uncontrollable fluffiness. Sadly last Sunday Copper passed away. He was my first pet, my first to die, and the first I’ve had to bury, and I miss him a great deal. If you’d told me years ago that there’d come a time where I’d spend much of a day – literally hours – crying over a dead rabbit, I’d meet your comments with bemused derision, yet here we are. Goldie remains unphased and Murphy is now top of the adorable list, but Copper will always hold that place as my first pet.
Speaking of Murphy, he’s not been having too great a time of things either. His rampantly untameable fur became quite matted recently so we had to get him groomed. Ordinarily he looks like this:
But now, post grooming, this is what came back to us:
I can assure you that these two dogs are one and the same, but Murphy 2.0 is in dire need of growing his fur back, and soon, if he wants many tummy-tickles in the near future.
The final damper on the year so far is how little I’ve gotten done. I know we’re only a week into 2016 but already I’m behind on my goals – the one’s I’ve not even outlined to you yet – because since New Year’s Day I haven’t watched a single film nor written a single post. Nothing. I’ve recorded and edited a podcast, yes, and contributed to a couple of year-end-lists, but that’s it. My own monumental review of the year gone by and look ahead at the year to come are both half-done and saved in draft, and are likely to remain that way for at least another week, as tomorrow I’m off to China and Hong Kong on business. I may have an internet connection and the ability to write stuff on my travels, but alas don’t bank on it.
I have watched some TV this past week, catching up on bits recorded over the Christmas period. London Spy, starring Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent, is decent if a little slow, spending possibly too much time on character development over keeping the viewer engaged, but what I can definitely recommend it And Then There Were None. Based on an Agatha Christie novel I read a couple of years ago, this has a stellar cast including Sam Neill, Burn Gorman, Noah Taylor, Charles Dance, Toby Stephens, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Douglas Booth and starring relative newcomer Maeve Dermody, this sees ten strangers brought together to a secluded island by a mysterious host, and find things quickly going awry as they begin to die one by one. Despite knowing the source material quite well, which this adaptation sticks to very closely, this was still enthralling, and it was most enjoyable watching my partner try to work out what was going on. It’s a three-part mini-series totalling 3 hours in total, and if you get the chance to catch it I’d highly encourage you. Oh, and the Sherlock special, The Abominable Bride, was bloody brilliant.
So, as I’ve got no films to tell you about this week, instead let’s talk about my goal for 2016. The last-ditch attempt to complete my 2015 goals in the last few days of December has led to this subsequent burn-out of not watching or writing, so this year I aim to prevent that by instead setting smaller, more achievable monthly goals. These will not be carried forward from one month to the next, if I miss one by the end of the month then that’s that. This may well end up in twelve miniature mad scrambles instead of one giant one, but I think that’ll be preferable. So what are these monthly goals?
The main focus will remain on the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die list. I aim to watch and review eight of these a month, with four month having nine reviewed. This will end up with a total of at least 100 crossed off the list come the end of the year.
From these one each month will be from the shortlist of “Bad” movies sent to be my 1001-champions Steve and Chip. The shortlist isn’t actually all that short, with thirty films still on it, so there’s plenty to choose from. I’m aiming to hit at least Satyricon (1969) and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) because I have those readily available, and the rest we’ll see.
One more each month will be a blind spot movie, as voted for by you, my lovely readers. The twelve films winning the poll are: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The Maltese Falcon (1941), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), In The Heat Of The Night (1967), The Producers (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Exorcist (1973), Suspiria (1977), Raging Bull (1980), The Elephant Man (1980) and Das Boot (1981). And wouldn’t you know it, but I’ve got all but one of these (Suspiria) on DVD, so this should be a doddle. Thanks to everyone who voted, you can expect something similar next year.
Finally, I want to pay more attention to my Film-Makers series, in which I’m trying to review all the films by some actors and directors I’m particularly fond of. This has taken a back seat lately, but I want to get back into it. This year I aim to focus mainly on Kate Winslet (5 films left, including this year’s Triple Nine), Alfred Hitchcock (6 films left), Quentin Tarantino (7 films left, including this year’s The Hateful Eight), Steve McQueen (21 films left) and Stanley Kubrick (9 films left). If the notion takes me I’ll dabble with some of the other lists I’m going through – Christopher Nolan (4 to go), Coen brothers (8), David Fincher (5), Edgar Wright (3), Peter Jackson (7), Steven Spielberg (22) and Paul Newman (55). My aim is to watch two relevant films a month. Some of these are likely to be from the 1001 List where possible.
Outside of the movie world, my other monthly aims are to try and read a new book every month – my collection of un-read books rivals my un-watched DVDs – and visit somewhere new every month. That may seem like a strange one, but I don’t go to all that many new places, and I feel like we should explore more, especially with Murphy. January will be easily crossed off these lists with my imminent Asian excursion, involving two very long plane flights for lots of book reading and, hopefully, film watching.
Posts you may have missed:
Blueprint: Review’s Collaborative Top 10s of 2015
Lambcast #303 Best of 2015: I was joined by Lindsay Street, Dacid Brook, Daniel Lackey and Vern to run down our Top 5 Movies of 2015.
Docrafts Origami Flower Tutorial: It’s nothing to do with movies whatsoever, but I still did it and this is where I post stuff I’ve done. My girlfriend works for Docrafts, and she recruited me to make some origami flowers because for inexplicable reasons I’ve spent a lot of my life folding paper. This is a tutorial for how to make some origami flowers. The video took a while to shoot, but I spent longer working out which shirt to wear.
Aim: Review 8 or 9 1001 List movies each month
To go: 8
Should be on: 2
On Track: No!
Aim: Review 1 “Bad” movie each month
To go: 0
Should be on: 1
On Track: No!
Aim: Review 1 “Blind Spot” movie each month
To go: 0
Should be on: 0
On Track: Yes!
Aim: Review 2 “Film-Makers” movie each month
To go: 0
Should be on: 0
On Track: Yes!