you know space invader? best of 2010 part three – film, tv, comics

December 12, 2010 at 8:14 pm | Posted in musings, not bloody music | Leave a comment
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My favourite film of the year was Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop: part survey and history of street art, part hilarious and intriguing character study, part wry satire of the art establishment.  Some have grumpily complained that these parts don’t add up but I reckon the tongue-in-cheek final act just adds to its considerable charm.

Inception deserves praise for proving that a successful mega-budget Hollywood blockbuster can also be smart and demand that the audience pay attention.  You’d think that should be the norm but, given how low standards for most alleged ‘entertainment’ have sunk, it came as a revelation.  What an old tutor of mine used to describe as ‘the higher pulp’.  I’m hoping Santa will drop off a DVD of this.

The Disappearance of Alice Creed is a little gem.  A tough, three-handed kidnap thriller with an amazing turn from the incomparable Eddie Marsan.  I will watch literally anything that has him in it.

Finally for film a trio of new wave ‘creature features’: Cloverfield (2008), District 9 (2009) and Monsters (2010).  Over the last few years the ability to knit together digital effects and live action has reached a level of almost documentary realism.  I love the idea that a monster film can be ‘shot’ with a hand-held camera and that a film can be made where the monsters are simply background to the world the characters inhabit.  I’m hoping that, as the software allows films to be made without ridiculous budgets and thus out of the grip of the studios, this could be the dawn of a new era of socially aware, philosophically interesting science fiction.  Like the early 70s but with more tentacles!


Mad Men is the only thing on television, isn’t it?  I admit that Season Four had a couple of makeweight instalments but episode 7, The Suitcase, was possibly the best 50 minutes of television I’ve seen since, well, Deadwood.  I have no higher praise.


(if in Leeds, please spend money at RFM’s approved supplier: OK Comics)

It has been a largely underwhelming year with a couple of notable exceptions.  Early on I found myself bored with the more academic end of the underground and unmoved by the clear-line melancholy of broadsheet darlings like Chris Ware.  Previously reliable creators dropped the ball: Jason’s Werewolves of Montpellier was merely mediocre, the eagerly anticipated finale to Scott Pilgrim was dreadful.  The violent, pungent vulgarity of Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit made me laugh but could be read through in five minutes.  Having finished the magnificent Goon story arc, Eric Powell gave us a few all-too-short mini-series.

I was jonesing for some storytelling.  What to do?  My usually robust ability to suspend disbelief twitches when it comes to superheroes, so I went for a few well-thought of books on the fringes of the mainstream: American Vampire, Scalped, DMZ, Unwritten, Sweet Tooth.  None lit my fire.  Well, apart from…

Daytripper is a ten-part meditation on the glory and fragility of existence.  We accompany writer Brás de Oliva Domingos on key days in the various alternate universes in which he/we are living.  The periodic jolts caused by its audacious structural weirdness only ramped up my admiration.  An ambitious piece of South American magic realism in comic form.

Other than this, it was left up to that unbeatable end-of-level boss Robert Kirkman to show how it should be done:

The Walking Dead remains the current best example of what can be done with a monthly comic format.  Beautifully paced, thrilling storytelling.  Strong characters reacting believably, hard decisions made in impossible situations, realistic emotional strain, tragic deaths, heroism and cowardice.  An epic of survival horror that both respects and transcends the tropes of the genre and, in its own modest way, asks what it means to be human.  I’m hoping that the recent television adaptation will encourage more people to investigate the source.  And on that positive note, here endeth the best of 2010 round-up.

Happy Zombie Apocalypse!

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