The Year in Review, 2007
Well, another year has been and gone. We’re all a year older, but probably not much wiser. As usual, I’m going to do a brief run-down of various events and issues that I’ve touched on in my news posts over the year. It’s generally not my style to comment on current affairs, so I won’t be saying anything about the murder of Benazir Bhutto, Tony Blair’s departure from office or anything like that. This year, I’ve decided to split things into several sections.
Life™ was somewhat different for me this year. The biggest change was, fairly obviously, that, at the end of March, I landed myself a full-time job, working for the NHS on their Smoking Cessation programme. I spent four and a half months working thirty-seven and a half hours a week in an office, entering data and phoning people to ask them whether they had managed to successfully stop smoking, and, while I’m not about to claim that this was the most unpleasant way anyone could ever spend four and a half months, I won’t deny that I was extremely relieved to see the back of the place in August, at which point I went into a part-time Library Assistant position at the Gallery of Modern Art. To say that I find this job vastly preferable to my previous one would be the understatement of the year, and that’s not just because I work fewer hours.
On a not entirely unrelated note, my application for funding for my PhD was unsuccessful, but my four and a half months of back-breaking (I kid) labour with the NHS was enough to pay for my first year of part-time study, and more besides. I started the PhD, on portrayals of gender in the giallo (following on from my MLitt dissertation on the same area), at the end of September and, while illness in November prevented me from making as much headway as I would have liked, the work that I’ve done so far has certainly gone a long way towards getting me back into the swing of things, academically speaking, and I look forward to properly delving into my subject of choice over the next twelve months.
Zeros and Ones
The big technological issue of 2007 was the ongoing battle between the two rival high definition home video formats, HD DVD and Blu-ray, and the perpetual game of teeter-totter in which each format continued to vie for supremacy, engaging in a conflict of words as much as sales. A war in which what your opposition doesn’t have is every bit as important as what you do have, the biggest surprise was undoubtedly Paramount’s shock decision, in August, to ditch Blu-ray entirely and concentrate on HD DVD. With no end to the format war in sight any time soon, 2008 looks set to be another interesting year.
For me, my most significant purchase was that of a Japanese Playstation 3, reneging on my single format stance and embracing neutrality. Personally speaking, the balance continues to lie firmly in favour of HD DVD in terms of exclusive titles (a fact only compounded by the aforementioned Paramount decision), but I can’t deny that it’s nice to be able to own and watch high definition copies of Casino Royale, The Descent and Ratatouille.
I also bought three additional pieces of hardware: a new desktop PC in May, an Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive in July (to replace my clunky and oversized stand-alone HD-A1 player), and a Blu-ray enabled laptop in October. In the case of the latter, my original intention was to use it primarily for PhD work, although, in reality, I’ve got just as much, if not more, use out of it as a convenient means of taking screen captures from Blu-ray discs.
At the Pictures
Perhaps largely due to my period of full-time employment, I watched somewhat fewer films this year than in the previous two years. By my calculation, I watched a total of 164 films, 77 of which were ones that I hadn’t seen before, down from 216 (99 new) in 2006. Still, I did manage to see several significant films, including the great - 2001: A Space Odyssey, Babel, Black Book, Black Sabbath, the Final Cut of Blade Runner, Blood Diamond, Children of Men, Full Metal Jacket, Grindhouse, Hot Fuzz, Inside Man, Life of Brian, The Lives of Others, Pan’s Labyrinth, Ratatouille, Sicko, This Film is Not Yet Rated, Zodiac - the reasonably good - 1408, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Brokeback Mountain, Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Bourne Ultimatum, Chicago, Crank, The Game, Hard Candy, Idiocracy, Mission Impossible, Mission Impossible III, Mother of Tears, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Red Road, Syriana, Tideland, Transformers - and the guff - Aeon Flux, Fantastic Four, The Fountain, Futurama: Bender’s Big Score!, Hostel, House of the Dead, The Matrix Revolutions, Mission Impossible II, Norbit, Paprika, A Scanner Darkly, The Simpsons Movie and the remakes of Poseidon and The Wicker Man.
Best new film I saw in the year? Either Black Book or Children of Men. Worst? Without a shadow of a doubt, Norbit.
I bought or otherwise received 118 films on disc, 42 of which were HD DVDs, 31 Blu-ray discs and 45 standard definition DVDs. I wrote 44 reviews for DVD Times, down from last year’s 66. Of these, 16 were for HD DVDs, 12 for Blu-ray discs and 16 for standard definition DVDs.
I read the following books: Legion by William Peter Blatty, The Naked Drinking Club by Rhona Cameron, Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File by Frederick Forsythe, Carrie by Stephen King, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, The Red Dahlia by Lynda La Plante, Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, Almost Blue by Carlo Lucarelli, The Dead Hour by Denise Mina, The Mephisto Waltz by Fred Mustard Stewart, Odette by Jerrard Tickell, Mercy Alexander by George Tiffin, and The Devil Rides Out, Gateway to Hell, Strange Conflict and To the Devil - a Daughter by Dennis Wheatley. Which, now that I think about it, is a heck of a lot more than I’d expected.
Song and Dance
I snagged the following CDs: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Ennio Morricone), Blood Diamond (James Newton Howard), Cars (Randy Newman), The Descent (David Julyan), Grindhouse: Planet Terror (Robert Rodriguez/John Debney/Graeme Revell), The Iron Giant (Michael Kamen), Kingdom of Heaven (Harry Gregson-Williams), Mother of Tears (Claudio Simonetti), The Professional (Eric Serra), The Secret of NIMH (Jerry Goldsmith), Serenity (David Newman), This is the Life (Amy MacDonald), V for Vendetta (Dario Marianelli), Veronica Guerin (Harry Gregson-Williams), Why Bother? (Peter Cook and Chris Morris).
Well, all in all, I think that’s it for another year. Look back on it, it reads a bit like a shopping list with the occasional personal titbit, but I suppose that’s the way of things in our evil capitalist society. Anyway, here’s to a great 2008 and yet more wanton spending.