..a lot of YA.
— Kim Townend (@kimlovesstuff) December 28, 2015
I don’t know whether it’s arrested development in full force, or the fact that so many of the ‘adult’ books by female writers I’ve read are studies in marriage or parenting, but YA books (especially the ones written with the adult end of the spectrum in mind) are just more fun. Full of the ‘what ifs?’ rather than the ‘oh no’s
And if like me, you’re keen on anything supernatural based, the YA variery are generally loads better. (Mostly because you don’t have to read embarrassing vampire sex scenes).
So, on the off chance thay you’re interested, stand out books of 2015 for me included:
I really loved this. It’s not YA (officially), but it is a coming-of-age tale/thriller. Think Jawbreaker (movie, not band) meets The OC meets School Ties but with a way darker edge (the narrative is kicked off by a murder) Excited to see what Lili Anolik does next.
If you’re old enough to have grown up on 80s movies and understand their majesty and excellence, and also are a feminist, and also live to read books of critical essays, then you are going to love this. You’re probably also going to get really annoyed about the state of Hollywood today and maybe you’ll wander around talking shit about ‘foreign markets’ for a while too.
Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven Boys (first 3 books in quadrilogy)
Bit late to the game on this one. Had this on my Kindle for the better part of a year before I got around to reading it and then absorbed the first 3 books in the series in the space of a month or two. Southern Gothic YA obsessed with dead Welsh kings? Muscle cars? Elite prep schools? YA written as if the reader is actually aware of the things that teenagers do? I’m dying that I have to wait until April to read the final book. Also, I have a huge crush on Gansey, which is totally cool because he’s fictional.
I’m going to start this by explaining that I am not a Harry Potter fan. In the slightest, and I never really understood Potter fanfic. I’ll take Narnia over anything Rowling creates, any day of the week. However, I am a huge nerd for anything that Rainbow Rowell puts out, and I fell in love with Simon and Baz back when they were just written in italics in Fangirl. I WISH THEY WOULD ADAPT THIS FOR TV.
Part study on post Katrina New Orleans, part Originals-esque vampiric monster thriller. Alys Arden proves herself to be a worthy sucessor (if a slightly less subversive one) to Poppy Z Brite’s New Orleans gothic throne. If you really liked The Craft way back when, then you’ll probably really like this now.
It’s Valentine’s, and me being a girl and all, despite punk rock leanings and an at-times-Daria-esque shell, I sometimes like to watch rom coms. DON’T JUDGE ME.
Not real Rom Coms of course, I’m way to self aware for that stuff – my guilt complex only allows me to fully enjoy them if they’re of the indie variety. So without further ado, here are my top 5 indie rom coms to watch alone, or with your best girl pal (boys really take the edge of them, I speak from experience)
Justin Theroux directs Billy Crudup as Henry Roth, a massively damaged and misanthropic childrens books author living in New York. Through some saddening fate twists he’s forced to work with new illustrator, Mandy Moore (with the nicest heavy eye-makeup I’ve ever seen). He’s awkward and mental, she teaches him not to be – you know the deal, but everyone is pretty, there are heartbreaking moments of honesty and Theroux handles the direction well with beautiful lighting and a perfect score.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
I don’t understand what there’s not to love about this movie. Sure, the book was a little more punk rock in it’s name dropping but JEEEEZ. Did you see how downright adorable everyone in this movie is. And not in a really sickening way either. Kat Dennings is a huge girl crush of mine, based on her basic perfection. Michael Cera is admittedly type cast, but dang, he does it so well. Adorable, sweet, cute, a harkback to 80’s into the night movies and laugh out loud funny. ALWAYS improves my mood – and a singalong soundtrack to boot.
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Kevin Smith has a huge hard on for John Hughes movies, but who doesn’t, right? This is where he has come closest to getting it right. Elizabeth Banks is awesome as Miri, and this was the movie where Seth Rogen started becoming less annoying in general. Porn stars, hockey, star wars, high school reunions and a jaw droppingly funny cameo from Justin Long. Oh, and it leaves you with that warm and fuzzy feeling you haven’t had since 1994.
Going The Distance
If you know me at all you know that a) My dedication and love for Drew Barrymore knows no bounds and b) I completely believe in the potential of long-distance-relationships. Thereby, it’s not a huge leap to assume that I would be smitten with Going The Distance from the get go. Yes, it’s very cheesy, there are some cringeworthy moments and it’s very predictable, but it’s adorable and funny and Long and Barrymore carry it beautifully. It’s also a treat for fans of Top Gun.
Lars and the Real Girl
Written by long time 6 feet Under scribe Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl centres around the character of Lars played to perfection by Ryan Gosling (in his least dreamy role to date). He’s very damaged by circumstance, and, long story short imports a Russian sex doll and parades her about the small town he inhabits, apparently believing she’s his girlfriend. Stay with me, I know it sounds so indie quirky that you want to die, but give it a chance by the end of the movie it’s pretty much the dictionary definition of heartwarming, albeit you’ve taken an odd route to get there.
I feel pretty good about myself that I managed to write this list and avoid Zooey Deschanel completely. I have tons more that I wanted to add to the list, but really, who wants to read all of that on Valentines . It’s a day for smooching or eating cupcakes and listening to pop-punk, right?
And on that note, I’m off to partake in one of the above.
It’s 9.30 on NYE, I still have a couple hours to get the last part of this blog post written so as I don’t feel like a complete slacker. Here goes:
I am well aware that this wasn’t the greatest movie made all year, and the schmaltz factor was pretty fucking high, but it can’t be ignored as a cultural phenomenon, and if you’ve been reading this blog for longer than 5 minutes, you’ll be well aware of my long time (guilty, guilty) love of the book series. Points to note about Twilight. 1)It could have been SO SO much worse 2)fuck me Robert Pattinson is hot, and born to play Ed Cullen 3) It’s hard to make a credible teen romance, and 4) If you watch the movie alone it’s a totally different story.
This was at Sundance in 2007 but somehow took until this year to surface on DVD. I’m a giant geek for DGG, (see many, many previous posts) and I’d been eagerly awaiting this for what seemed like ever. It was in no way a disappoinment. It had all of the qualities that I loved in All the Real Girls – small town movie, beautiful camera work, sparse script and add to that tragedy, snow and high school and I’m in indiemovieheaven. The casting really couldn’t be any better, and this movie made me fall a little bit more in love with Olivia Thirlby.
I was stoked when I heard that this had made the Sundance 08 line up and super happy when I got to attend a screening later in the year, Choke is one of my favourite Panahniuk novels and was my suprise life- affirming- restoring-my-faith-in-first-time-directors movie of the year. Sam Rockwell shines (and everyone else does a pretty fucking good job too) sure the movie is a little clunky along the way, but somehow at the end you feel like maybe your life has changed a little. Oh, and it’s laugh out loud funny too.
I wrote about this two weeks ago here – well, mostly I gushed about it. American Teen is my documentary of the year, and definitely not because it’s not about global warming, the recession or water. It’s awesome. Please please watch it.
This year Jonathon Levine became my new favourite director, I loved All the Boys Love Mandy Lane but I fell head over heels for the Wackness, hell I even listened to hip hop for two weeks after. The Wackness was a perfect movie about the 90s, about high school, about the heat of NYC and about that moment as a kid when you realise adult have no fucking clue what they’re doing either. It reminded me a little of All Over Me, although there’s nothing queercore about this movie it is a lot about young fucked up love in the city.
Well, that’s it. My top 10 of 2008 done and dusted. It must’ve been somewhat of a relief to read one movie list this year without Dark Knight on it, huh?
Right, I’m gonna watch the Wrestler and fall asleep sober, Happy New Year Y’all. x
I’m having a perfect last sunday morning of the year, it’s freezing, but the sun is shining through my window and forming rainbow prisms all over my room, nancy is asleep on the bed next to me, I’m listening to Jesse Lacey cover Iron and Wine (from when Iron&Wine was still awesome) and everything is perfectly calm. It’s a nice end to the year, but a pretty shit segue into the first part of my end of year film list.
Before you read this and disagree I want to make a couple points about the criteria for being on this list. The film must have had some kind of DVD or Cinematic release this year to get on the list. It gets complicated with worldwide release schedules, particularly for indies. Oh, and I have to have properly enjoyed the movie, there are at least a couple of guilty pleasures on this list, but like Klosterman says, there’s no such thing. Oh, and there’s no order to this list, it’s simply my favourite ten films of the past year.
To begin with, yes Jeff is Ben’s brother, but neither that, nor the minimal lucero score is the reason this film makes the list. It did crazy well on the festival circuit, and it’s clear that Jeff shares the same love of Terrence Malick, that his producer David Gordon Green (huge indie swoon) does. I put this on an Americana movies list earlier this year, ‘cos although super recent, it already has that classic feel about it. The narrative is simple, 3 brothers (Son, Kid & Boy) begin a feud with their (distinctly more christian, and less poor) half brothers after the death of their estranged father. It’s beautifully shot, sparsely scripted and amazingly acted. If there was ever a film to accompany the likes of Lucero, Drive By Truckers and Two Cow Garage then this is it.
In Search… reeks of 90s indie. Remember way back when indie movies were still good, Robert Rodriguez was just some dude who directed black and white 16 mls and the mainstream media didn’t give a fuck about sundance. And because of all of this movies could be more honest, and less audience driven? This movie remembers that too, and although (presumably) set in the present day the 90s themes and motifs are prevalent, from shooting in black and white, to the real time two protagonist narrative. I’m not going to lie, it borrows heavily from Linklater, but updates it and gives the characters some focus. (The exec producer, also worked on Dazed… and Before Sunrise, so the connection is formal and real) It’s the story of a 29 year old guy (Scoot McNairy) saying goodbye to the worst year of his life and trying to have a good new years eve. Scoot rules in this role and plays it perfectly, like a modern day, more forgiving, less self absorbed Ethan Hawke. You should really watch this, cos I don’t have the space to gush.
Mr Theroux was once an indie darling, but then he acted in Charlie Angels II and suddenly all credibility was lost, it’s lucky then he had the foresight to direct this and win some back. Dedication seems like the type of fake indie you should hate. Weinstein produced, starring Mandy Moore, a touch of the rom com about it. But bizarrely, it really works. This is in no small part due to the awesomeness that is Billy Crudup, who plays this mean, fucked up,misogynistic childrens book author to a tee. There are a million and one amazing exterior shots of NY that will make you yearn to live in the city, and Mandy Moore is almost impossibly pretty. It’s a perfect sunday movie.
I reviewed this one not all that long ago, so I’ll keep this one brief. You all know what a sucker I am for books with titles related to Morrissey, the novel that this perfect swedish vampire movie is based on is named after the song “let the right one slip in” Swedish indie cinema has such a weird Morrissey fixation, look at early Moodysson… It’s the tale of Oskar, a bullied schoolboy and how he befriends a girl vampire. Think “the little vampire” but violent and oddly sexual. I loved this movie and it made me long for a time when more movies actually said something, because in 2008, very few did.
This is another one I wrote about last month, so I’m not going to again. Suffice to say that the more I think about it, the more I realise Kevin Smith is growing up into a slightly cruder John Hughes. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s the reason adults don’t like him, and indie fans find him to schmaltzy, but I think it’s the reason I love him. Oh, and he made Seth Rogen playing Seth Rogen a little less irritating than usual.
Im gonna have a bath and think about writing the second half of this list later.
I had some food, green tea and decongestants and I’m back with the second part of my 2008 records list. (Oooh, I also made a best of 2008 mixtape, check the end of this post)
Paul Baribeau – Grand Ledge
Yes, yes I know that technically this was released in 2007, but it was released on vinyl this year so it’s going on my list. Don’t let the fact that AP called him the greatest living folk artist deter you. Paul Baribeau is a genius. Honest yet never whiny, he sings about the trials and tribulations of twenty something non corporate lifestyle. In this record he carefully jumps from super sad songs, to songs full of hope and positivity. He seems like the kind of dude you would want to be your best friend. The track Christmas Lights can sometimes make me cry (in the good way).
Fake Problems – It’s Great to Be Alive
This may not technically be out yet, but I’ve got it, and I’ve listened to it a shit ton, so it’s going on my list. I saw Fake Problems twice this year, and they ruled both times. I liked the last two records, but this one it like, wo-ah, you know? There are actual songs, but still enough crazy hand claps and group shout alongs to keep anyone happy. Positive even when dealing with the most negative narrative, they’re a band I often tag on last.fm as “impossible to be sad to”. All the songs are great, but Dream Team has had my foot tapping more in the last month than almost anything else this year.
Whiskey Trench – The Good Sun ep
The Whiskey Trench ep rules. In a simple, honest and gruffy punk kind of a way. A band made up of other bands (including Sainte Catherines) it’s not that they’re necessarily doing anything new, but they’re doing it really fucking well. This record makes me happy, and also makes doing household chores something that resembles fun. I’m excited about a full length.
Tom Gabel – HeartBurns
As if I wasn’t going to put this on my list. Everyone’s favourite credible punk rock crush takes some time out from Against me! to get back to some solo grown up punk rock angst. It actually really doesn’t sound like Against me! and has far more in common with Tom’s early stuff, just older and better produced. Random Hearts gets stuck in my head almost daily. That part of November when he joined the reunion tour? I wanted to die from not being able to go. Music swoon.
Gaslight Anthem – The 59 Sound
This is easily my record of the year, I can’t even imagine how many times I’ve listened to it, and although I had a spectacularly bad live experience with these boys earlier this month I still can’t stop being in love with almost every song on this record. From the perfect opening to the (okay I’ll give you this one) incredibly Springsteenesque Backseat, it flows the way Afghan Whigs records did. Playing pick the influences is a fun game, but joking aside, I can’t say anything bad about this record and the magical retro Jersey romanticism it brings whenever its played. It also sent me back into the motown phase I haven’t re-visited since my teens. It kills me that my favourite current record is written by a teetotal christian, but that’s just the icing on this years weird cake.
Here, is my kimlovesstuff best of 2008 to download and acquaint yourself with. Tracklisting is as follows
- Paul Baribeau – Christmas Lights
- Fake Problems – The Dream Team
- Gaslight Anthem – Old White Lincoln
- The Riot Before – Threat Level Midnight
- Ben Nichols – Toadvine
- Whiskey Trench – The Good Sun
- Chinese Telephones – Back to You Again
- Tom Gabel – Random Hearts
- Murder by Death – Fuego
- For Science – East of E
- Death Cab for Cutie -The Ice is Getting Thinner
- The State Lottery – Cities We’re not From
- Lemuria – Pants
- The Ergs! – Books about Miles Davis
- Gaslight Anthem – Blue Jeans and White Tee Shirts