Here are a few of my favorite things... of 2009!
MASTODON - CRACK THE SKYE
Probably album of the year for me, Mastodon brought stoner / prog / metal with a healthy dose of the old school to a whole new audience. From the very first note of opening track Oblivion
I was totally hooked.
DEVIN TOWNSEND - KI and ADDICTED (pts 1 and 2 of a 4 album release)
OK, I'm really showing my metal geekiness now. I've been a tragic, obsessive HevyDevy
fan for over 10 years. Everything he releases I buy and devour. This year has been particularly exciting as he has come out of a hiatus and released 2 new albums, both very different from each other (and the next 2 promise to be even more different) but thats the genius of Devy. I wont bore you with any tracks, as Devin is very much an acquired taste, you either love him or hate him.
But I would love to put this clip up of Devin working in his studio. As this blog is part of my process diary, I'm really fascinated with seeing how other artists work and do their thing. I've also always been interested in watching people record music in studios and this very basic clip of Devin laying down vocals all by himself in his studio, for me is totally fascinating (and so geeky). Devin is totally in the zone. Creatively, physically and technically. This kind of birds eye (dicks eye?) view is the next best thing to sitting there in person, I just wish I could have a cup of green tea from his silver thermos.
I also might have finally been able to access and appreciate the music of THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, made infamous from their appearance in the great music doco Dig. Although Anton Newcombe made a great documentary subject, I could never really understand nor appreciate his rambling madness and detuned brand of psychedelia. But while working on this current job, I spent alot of time driving with DOP Germain McMicking and he had a compilation of BJM on high rotation. And this one track just clicked (such a beautiful song)... And now all the other tracks are beginning to make sense as well. I so love it when that happens.
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN
This Swedish vampire film has appeared on a few 'Best Of' lists going around and I totally agree. Every frame, ever beat of this film, in my mind, is a masterpiece. One of the few films while I was watching, I wished could have gone on for hours and hours and hours...
Here is a link for the trailer in HD.
Also, interestingly Greig Fraser who shot Last Ride, is currently in New Mexico shooting the Hollywood remake of Let The Right One In, to be called Let Me In... My fingers (and thousands of other fans' fingers) are firmly crossed that they don't fuck this up.
VAN DIEMAN'S LAND
When I first saw this film at the Adelaide Film Festival I had no expectations of what it might be like. But a few minutes in I knew I was watching something remarkable. I was really blown away by the film and the filmmakers who made it. I've since become friends with Jonathan (writer, director, producer) and Oscar (writer, actor, producer) and they are very cool guys and downright inspiring to say the least.
Sadly, despite good reviews VDL was mostly overlooked. The film is beautifully shot, had incredible performances and was bravely directed. It's another example of how a good film can slip by relatively unnoticed. I find it hard to believe that people just don't care about this kind of cinema. Speaking of which, I was surprised when VDL was totally overlooked by the AFI's and IF Awards, especially the IF's 'so called' Independent Spirit Award. This film was made with no Government funding and was realised through, donation, credit cards and good will. I'll step off the soap box now...
It's out on DVD soon and I strongly urge you to 'do yourself a favour' when you see it. I can't wait to have a copy up on my shelf.
I had my first piece of red meat after 16 years of being a vegetarian. After a few years of not feeling right and unexplained lethargy, I gave into a primal urge that I had been fighting for a long time. I suited up and headed to The Savage Club with my friend Mike and had a medium rare steak and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever eaten. It felt like pure medicine. I've been having the occasional hunk of flesh since and I feel so much better for it. Much to the discomfort of my (vegie) wife.
Watching my son Ollie complete his first year of school, reading and writing and making films!
And beginning to have the strangest and cutest conversations with my 3 year old Rosebud as she learns to thread words and sentences together.
THE LEICA M8
If you have been reading this blog over the past few months, you would have seen a few entires regarding the new 5DmkII and it's HD video shooting abilities. I have been using this camera for a while now and I'm still blown away by what it can do, and also by where this technology will take filmmakers of all kinds over the next few years.
But while I had my hands on such beautiful camera equipment I became more and more aware of finding a camera that would take me back to my love of photography in a more pure sense. Hence, I started drooling over Leica Rangefinder cameras, a camera system I have been aware of for years, but have been all too aware of the prohibitive cost, so I have been careful not to get to close.
But after the Black Pearl which also came with a cash prize I bit the bullet and bought a Leica M8 and a 28mm Leica Sumicron lens. I mean, if it's good enough for Wim Wenders... (Beware Leica porn ahead! but it's OK cos it's in black and white so it's ART!)
The M8 is a very simple camera but a very precise one. It just takes photographs (weird huh?), no HD video, no bluetooth, no HDMI out. Leica offers no auto focus or other bells and whistles, it processes images slowly, it's not great in low light and the fact that it has Leica engraved on it makes it at least twice as expensive as any other camera. But once you get your head around it, the files it produces are stunning and have a different feel to every other camera I've seen or used. The Leica lenses are simply breathtaking. Like Wim, it makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it. Learning to use a use a rangefinder has been like learning to take photos from scratch, but I think (I hope) I'm becoming a better photographer because of it and that is something I want to continue doing much more of in 2010 and beyond.
Happy New Year!
ps: Also over the next month or so I have plans of overhauling this site and making it into something a little more involved and hopefully much better.