READ BOOKS: I read a few books this year, as usual. I reread The Great Gatsby, which was pretty great. I also saw the movie but more on that later, this section is about books, damnit. The books is good, short and its story of overwhelming wealth, shallowness and depravity is quite relevant in today's world. If you somehow managed never to read it, you should. It's short, simple and tells a good story albeit with characters you love to hate, wealthy snobs.
I read Memory of Light, the final book of The Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I already wrote a blogpost about it here, so this will be short. Let me just say it was a fantastic ending to an amazing series, delivering everything I wanted and more. It was the ending that series deserved, true to the world and its characters, and fundamentally satisfying.
I reread All The Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy. McCarthy is an artist with a pencil. His descriptions of the countryside are moving, his dialogue is realistic and yet, poignant. He does not tell you his characters thoughts and feelings because he doesn't have to. He shows you through their words and actions. He's my favorite author of all time because his novels are like no other. Blood Meridian is, quite literally, the best novel I've ever read. I can hardly describe it, except as the story of a kid becoming a man in the violent bloody west. Nobody else writes like he does. His style is sparse but you get everything you need to know, everything you need to fill in the little details on your own, everything you need to perfectly picture the story in your mind. I reread this particular novel because it's part of The Border trilogy, which I wanted to read. I also read the second, The Crossing, and am currently reading the third, Cities of the Plain. It's not your typical trilogy, I'll tell you that. If Blood Meridian is too much for you, perhaps because of the unending violence and soul-crushing events, then All the Pretty Horses is a good one to start with. It's the same style, about a couple of friends who journey down into Mexico and find trouble, but it's not nearly as heart-crushing as Blood Meridian. Regardless, McCarthy is an amazing author, and I haven't even mentioned The Road, possibly the best post-apocalyptic novel out there. Alright, enough with the author worship I suppose.
I also read a few issues of an online fiction magazine called Fireside. It's all about producing a successful internet fiction magazine while paying authors who contribute a fair wage, so good stuff. You can get the first three issues for free, something to check out if you enjoy reading short stories.
WATCHED MOVIE: I watched some movies this year, though after checking out a few of them, they didn't come out this year, oh well, still going to give them a mention anyways. Watched Cloud Atlas recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a fantastic idea, truly epic in scope and even if perhaps it doesn't deliver everything neatly and perfectly, it tells a damn decent story with interesting characters throughout an enormous time period, connecting people and lives across the ages. It's long, confusing at first and takes some work to make all the connections, but it's worth it in the end. There's not quite another movie that does anything like Cloud Atlas so for that reason alone, it's worth a watch.
Another movie I watched that did not come out in 2013 was 13 Assassins. Hey it's got the number 13 in it, that should count for something. It is a foreign film about 13 samurai who pledge to assassinate a horrible royal youth who will come into power. They set up an entire town to face hundreds of enemies and the final confrontation is glorious. The build-up is also quite good, and it's not only good because of the fighting, the storyline, acting and everything else is great to watch as well. Good movie.
I watched Broken City, which apparently did come out in 2013! So ha! It features Mark Wahlberg playing Mark Wahlberg PI and Russel Crowe as a dirty politician. It doesn't rock the boat but it's entertaining and enjoyable. You probably know what to expect before you begin but it doesn't let you down in any way.
I told you I was going to bring up The Great Gatsby movie again, so here I shall. I have mixed feelings about the film but I did enjoy it. The storyline drags too long and it gets boring. The whole narrating mechanic they came up with is rather useless. The sets and scenes are amazing, however, the fancy parties every bit as ridiculous and overwhelming as you could expect. The music, a modern soundtrack, works and it doesn't work. I can see why they did it and at times, I felt like it fit, but at other times it didn't. I think swinging jazz from the twenties would have worked perfectly fine in its place as well. Another thing done right was the acting. Leonardo Dicaprio IS Gatsby. He's obsessive, ridiculous, and nearly insane. He's fantastic in the role. So, after all of that, I enjoyed the movie and would see it again, but I can also see how others might not enjoy it.
Elysium. Poor Elysium. I liked it? When I watched it, I basically saw past all the inconsistencies and ridiculous things that didn't make much sense, and enjoyed it. Looking back, it just doesn't seem very good, with so much of the world seemed like it was made-up to fit the story, rather than a realized world with the story set in it. That might not make sense to some. When you write a story, you do create a world for that story, but it shouldn't feel like it. It should feel like a real-ish world where these events happened. I really wanted to like this movie, and I do. The plot never goes where you expect it to, which is something I like about this director, the same guy who did District 9. District 9's world made sense, however. It felt like it could be real. Elysium just doesn't have that feeling, which is too bad. Things like, there are no defenses on Elysium, so they have to have a man on Earth fire rockets at immigrant ships that try to reach Elysium? Robot guards that can be changed with a line of code to allow the president to be overthrown? Wouldn't there be some sort of safeguard, restriction, something? It just feels like the world is just there for the story, created out of a whim and not really thought out fully. It's a good idea with good acting and interesting plot that just comes off as hollow, with a background that doesn't seem thought out.
Man of Steel. Here's a superman movie I can get behind. A gritty superman facing other super-beings? Buildings torn to shreds? Pulverised? Yes, this is a good superman movie. The world should shake when superman fights, buildings should fall and people should be in danger. The amount of pure destruction in that movie is amazing. I really enjoyed it.
PACIFIC RIM! HOLY SHIT I ALMOST FORGOT PACIFIC RIM! YES I NEED TO WRITE THIS PARAGRAPH IN ALL CAPS! PACIFIC RIM IS THE BEST GIANT-MONSTERS-FIGHTING-GIANT-ROBOTS MOVIE OF ALL TIME! OF ALL TIME! IT HAS ACTION! IT HAS GOOD CHARACTERS AND A DECENT-ENOUGH PLOT! IT HAS AWESOME ROBOT-MONSTER FIGHTS WITH AMAZING GRAPHICS! IT HAS A ROBOT ROCKET-PUNCHING A MONSTER! IT HAS A ROBOT HITTING A MONSTER WITH A DESTROYER BATTLESHIP LIKE A BASEBALL BAT! IT IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!(YES I NEEDED ALL THOSE CAPS! IF YOU SAW PACIFIC RIM YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND)
Iron Man 3 was...okay. It was entertaining. Robert Downey Jr. was fantastic, as always, but the whole movie felt...ridiculous? I liked the idea of it, of losing everything and him having to survive without his suit and shit like that but...meh. I suppose that's my feeling over all. The first Iron Man is still the best.
World War Z was a decent zombie movie that had absolutely nothing to do with the novel except for the name, which is a damn shame.
WATCHED TV SHOWS:
So many good tv shows in 2013. Breaking Bad ended, one of the finest shows on television, the story of a teacher turned meth-maker with fantastic writing, acting and storytelling. I don't think there's much I have to say about this show other than it's dark, grim and fantastic. Walking Dead just keeps getting better and this half-season in 2013 was no different.
The Killing is one of the best shows on television that nobody is watching. The first two seasons could be seen as slow and the fact that a single case takes two seasons to resolve is agreeably frustrating, but the acting on this show is some of the best, with some of the most realistic characters on television. These characters are flawed and this show is goddamn depressing but it is one of my favorite shows of all time. The third season that aired this year was incredible, intense, and moving. It's not heart-wrenching, it's heart-taking-out-of-your-chest-and-stomping-on-it...in a good way. This show goes places others fear to tread. If you can't take dark and depressing, don't watch it, but it is some of the best storytelling on tv today.
Hannibal is the best new show on television and if you can take grim, violent and dark in your tv, you should watch it. It's about a man who helps the fbi hunt serial killers by seeing a crime scene and imagining he was the serial killer, in the meantime seeing Hannibal for therapy. Like I said, it's dark and violent but the acting and story are fantastic. Hannibal in this is different from Hopkins but amazing in his own way. It really truly works. Seriously, this show is really good, if you can stomach it. (haha, get it? Hannibal eats people, 'stomach it'....haha) Seriously, this show kind of came out of nowhere for me but I devoured the first season and am hungry for the second course....(Okay okay, no more puns)
The second season of Game of Thrones was pretty good, but I could see fans who haven't read the books getting frustrated by its somewhat slow place. The problem is there's so many storylines that they spend only like five minutes per storyline per episode. What's great is seeing the reveal of the Red Wedding and everybody's response to it. Yeah, George R. R. Martin doesn't play by the rules, which is why his writing is so great.
Scandal's a great show, fast-paced and never boring with great twists, good acting and intriguing characters. It's only in its second season and it just keeps getting better.
Justified is a great show that's more than just about a guy who shoots people for a living. It does have a guy who shoots other guys alot, but the other aspects of it are also good! The marshal is a great character and his supporting cast shines as well, especially Boyd Crowter, the bad guy, played by Walton Goggins who is award-worthy in the role.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: I think I did about as much talking about things I did as I can. Those are the things I enjoyed in 2013. Well, most of them....some of them anyhow, it's somewhat difficult to keep track of everything. Anyways, what did you watch or read or experience? What did you enjoy or not enjoy? Let me know in the comments or in an email. I am interested in what I may have missed over the past year or hell, before that. I'm sure there's quite a bit.