#Thisisyourfilm 1999 – 2007

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1999:

Top Grossing Film: Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

My Favourite Film: Bangkok Dangerous.

Quite a few good films and big films this year – The Matrix, The Blair Witch Project, and Fight Club are all obvious choices. My pick though is one so very few have seen – there’s no excuse, it’s fucking glorious. Plenty of cult classics this year too.

Biggest Selling Song: Baby One More Time by Britney Spears

My Favourite Song: Unintended by Muse

I almost went for the title track, but then remembered how Unintended grabbed me. I’d heard some of their earlier EP from one of those old radio sampler cds, but it was their ballad that convinced me they would be huge.

Biggest Selling Album: Millennium by Backstreet Boys

My Favourite Album: Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Not too many huge releases this year that I could have gone for, really between this, Muse, and Lene Marlin. Californication is a beast though, a massive return to form and a huge commercial and critical success.

My Favourite Book:  Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

2000:

Top Grossing Film: Mission Impossible 2

My Favourite Film: Battle Royale.

A lot of strong foreign movies this year, aside from my winner. When I first saw Battle Royale I proclaimed it as the most important film of the new millennium. I still stand by that. Pick a better film from 2000, I dare you. 

Biggest Selling Song: Music by Madonna

My Favourite Song: Bumblebee by JJ72

The studio version is quite lovely in its torment, but seeing it live is an entirely different beast – it transforms into a destructive, euphoric masterpiece.

Biggest Selling Album: No Strings Attached by NSYNC

My Favourite Album: The Marshall Mathers LP

I don’t think there was a better album this year, a year which also included Rated R, JJ72,  Lost Souls, Brave New World, Kid A, Wishmaster, and more.

My Favourite Book: A Storm Of Swords by George R R Martin.

2001:

Top Grossing Film: Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone

My Favourite Film: The Fellowship Of The Ring

Plenty of worthy picks this year, but come on, LOTR wins every damn time.

Biggest Selling Song: It Wasn’t Me by Shaggy

My Favourite Song: Hurricane by Natalie Imbruglia

Biggest Selling Album: Hybrid Theory by Linkin Park

My Favourite Album: Origin Of Symmetry. 

White Lillies Island, Toxicity, Amnesiac, Blackwater Park, and a whole host of euro and american metal and rock coming back into the mainstream. Muse raised their game and easily bypassed any and all expectations for their second album.

My Favourite Book: Black House by Stephen King

I feel like I should apologize for how limited by reading appears on these lists. At this point in my life I was reading 2-3 books a week, mostly for University. Those books were almost exclusively old – pre-20th Century, or pre-1983 at least. What spare time I had was going on King’s latest releases. He had two this year, and Black House (which I stupidly read before The Talisman) is the better of the two. Looking at what else was released in 2001, I think my choice stands.

2002:

Top Grossing Film: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

My Favourite Film: The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers

See above.

Biggest Selling Song: Anything is possible/Evergreen by Will Young.

My Favourite Song: Under The Ice by Blind Guardian

Biggest Selling Album: The Eminem Show by Eminem

My Favourite Album: Century Child by Nightwish

Night On My Side, A Night At The Opera, Highly Evolved, I To Sky, Deliverance, and plenty more personal favourites.

My Favourite Book: Everything’s Eventual by Stephen King

Some of King’s finest short stories collected here, including Little Sisters Of Eluria and the award winning The Man In The Black Suit.

2003:

Top Grossing Film: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

My Favourite Film: The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

See above. Again.

Biggest Selling Song: Where Is The Love by Black Eyed Peas

My Favourite Song: No More Lies by Iron Maiden

Biggest Selling Album: Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent

My Favourite Album: Another Day by Lene Marlin

The Music, Damnation, Dance Of Death, Absolution, Souvenirs… probably others.

My Favourite Book: The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.

Not to be an asshole, but I was on the hype train for this before anyone else. I even started an IMDB thread about a potential movie on the book before the book was even released. Anyway, it’s great.

2004:

Top Grossing Film: Shrek 2

My Favourite Film: Dawn Of The Dead

This wasn’t a great year personally for standout films. There were some very good sequels and plenty of films I enjoyed – not many that leap out as a strong favourite. My two obvious picks involved zombies. I’ve gone for the one most would not pick.

Biggest Selling Song: Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Various

My Favourite Song: Ghost Love Score by Nightwish

Biggest Selling Album: Confessions by Usher

My Favourite Album: Welcome To The North by The Music

Faded Seaside Glamour, Once, Until The End, Leviathan, Lifeblood, and more. But my album of the year is also the album of the decade and one of the best ever.

My Favourite Book: The Dark Tower by Stephen King

Well, I had to, didn’t I?

2005:

Top Grossing Film: Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

My Favourite Film: Batman Begins

Plenty of worthy comedies and dramas, but Batman wins it.

Biggest Selling Song: Is This The Way To Amarillo by Peter Kay and Tony Christie

My Favourite Song: Something In The Way by Gemma Hayes

Biggest Selling Album: The Emancipation of Mimi by Mariah Carey

My Favourite Album: Ghost Reveries by Opeth

Counting down The Days, Dirty Diamonds, The Roads Don’t Love You and not a lot else. A pretty crappy year.

My Favourite Book: Kafka On The Shore, by Haruki Murakami

Cats. Cats everywhere.

2006:

Top Grossing Film: Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

My Favourite Film: Casino Royale

A terrific year for movies and at least five I could just as easily call my favourite. I’m going to go with what might not be the best out of my favourites, but I think it just about cinches it for ‘rewatchability’.

Biggest Selling Song: Crazy by Gnarls Barkley.

My Favourite Song: Waking Hour by The Gathering

Biggest Selling Album: The High School Musical Soundtrack

My Favourite Album: A Matter Of Life And Death by Iron Maiden

Inhuman Rampage, Black Holes And Revelations, Blood Mountain, Home. Iron Maiden’s return to form culminates in their epic war-based monster.

My Favourite Book: Cell by Stephen King

I know I know, but it’s good!

2007:

Top Grossing Film: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End

My Favourite Film: Enchanted

A bit of a crap year, actually. Even all the films which did well at The Oscars which most non-Oscars people like, I felt were a bit meh.

Biggest Selling Song: Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis

My Favourite Song: Bouncing Off Clouds by Tori Amos

Biggest Selling Album: Noel by Josh Groban

My Favourite Album: Send Away The Tigers by Manic Street Preachers

As you can tell, the number of quality releases drastically shrinks with each year this decade, so by this point there is’t much worth mentioning – naturally there’s a tonne I haven’t heard so there’s bound to be plenty of great albums and songs I’ve missed. I narrowed by albums down to three, but none of them are even great choices.

My Favourite Book: Unknown

You know, I don’t think I’ve read a single book published in 2007. I mean, I probably have but I can’t think of any which likely means any I did read I didn’t particularly enjoy.

Next time I’ll squeeze the remaining years into one post and I’ll probably remove the books section as there haven’t really been too many books in recent years that I’ve loved outside of the usual suspects. Maybe that’s what happens when you get old(er).

#Thisisyourfilm 1991 – 1998

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1991:

Top Grossing Film: T2

My Favourite Film: T2

What. A. Year. The top 3 highest grossing movies in the US among my top favourite movies, with T2 maybe being my favourite movie of all time and Beauty And The Beast being my favourite Disney movie ever. There’s a bunch of other classics this year too but Arnie, Eddie, Linda, Robert and co are never going to be topped.

Biggest Selling Song: Everything I Do By Bryan Adams

My Favourite Song: November Rain by Guns N Roses

As cheesy as it is, I do love Everything I Do – especially the long version. I should pick something else though so lets go with Axl’s epic.

Biggest Selling Album: Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

My Favourite Album: Nevermind By Nirvana

What. A. Year. My winner could have been either of the Use Your Illusions, Metallica’s Black Album, Dangerous, Hey Stoopid, and several others come close. But my winner has to be Nevermind – the so called album of a generation ‘nevermind’ the album of the year.

My Favourite Book: Ringu by Koji Suzuki

It’s a different kind of horror from the one on screen, but clinically delivered.

1992:

Top Grossing Film: Aladdin. 

My Favourite Film: Fire Walk With Me

Unlike most years in this era there isn’t one film which leaps out as my absolute favourite – there are four or five which I could choose between, followed by a larger group of almosts. There are a lot of interesting horror movies this year, plenty of comedies and action hits, but for now I’ll go with Lynch’s masterpiece.

Biggest Selling Song: I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston

My Favourite Song: Winter by Tori Amos

It’s perfect.

Biggest Selling Album: Some Gave All by Billy Ray Cyrus

My Favourite Album: Generation Terrorists by Manic Street Preachers

Well, we also had Little Earthquakes, Dirt, and a few other near shots.

My Favourite Book: Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King

1993:

Top Grossing Film: Jurassic Park

My Favourite Film: Jurassic Park

Another terrific year for action movies, with a host that I hold dear, but those dinosaurs stand tall above them all. There are a few close runners so stay tuned for when I eventually reach the 90s in my Oscars posts.

Biggest Selling Song: I’d Do Anything For Love by Meat Loaf

My Favourite Song: Life Becoming A Landslide by Manic Street Preachers

My favourite Manics song is obviously my favourite song of the year.

Biggest Selling Album: The Bodyguard soundtrack

My Favourite Album: In Utero by Nirvana

Also efforts from Radiohead, Manics, and others but In Utero stands alone in it’s bleak rage.

My Favourite Book: The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides.

My most easily recalled memory of this is that I read most of it on the toilet.

1994:

Top Grossing Film: The Lion King

My Favourite Film: Dumb And Dumber

One of my favourite years in the history of cinema, there is any number of personal favourites I could choose from as winner. Comedy has been a bit light in my choices so far though, so I’ll go with The Farrelly Brother’s finest film.

Biggest Selling Song: Streets Of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen

My Favourite Song: Lost For Words by Pink Floyd

There’s a bunch I could choose from any of the albums below, and a host of other singles, but I thought I’d mix it up a little with Floyd’s last great song.

Biggest Selling Album: The Lion King soundtrack

My Favourite Album: The Holy Bible by Manic Street Preachers

Classics from Portishead, Nirvana, Oasis, Jeff Buckley and others but they all hold their heads in shame as they bow to the terrible majesty of The Holy Bible

My Favourite Book: Insomnia by Stephen King

1995:

Top Grossing Film: Toy Story

My Favourite Film: Things To Do In Denver When You’re Dead

It was almost going to be Goldeneye but then I remembered Denver came out in 1995 and not 1996. It’s a perfect movie.

Biggest Selling Song: Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio

My Favourite Song: In Motion # 2 by The Gathering

I could have picked something from Jagged Little Pill but in the end I’ve gone for this Anneke era Gathering special.

Biggest Selling Album: Cracked Read View by Hootie And The Blowfish

My Favourite Album: The Bends by Radiohead

Brit-pop, general Indie music, and pop-punk albums were hitting their commercial and critical stride, while metal was roaring back to power in Europe. Only one winner here though. Michael Jackson and Alanis Morissette also sold a few copies of their respective albums.

My Favourite Book: Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

1996:

Top Grossing Film: Independence Day

My Favourite Film: Scream

A few standouts and personal favourites this year, but Stabby Joe and co remains a landmark in horror.

Biggest Selling Song: Macarena by Los Del Rio

My Favourite Song: Darling One by Susannah Hoffs

Lovely lovely

Biggest Selling Album: Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette

My Favourite Album: Everything Must Go by Manic Street Preachers

Not a lot to choose from this year, actually.

My Favourite Book: Desperation by Stephen King

1997:

Top Grossing Film: Titanic

My Favourite Film: The Fifth Element

Not a great year for huge personal favorites but a few make the grade with Luc Besson’s genre collapsing tale taking the top spot.

Biggest Selling Song: Candle In The Wind by Elton John

My Favourite Song: Sonnet by The Verve

Lovely lovely lovely

Biggest Selling Album: Spice by The Spice Girls

My Favourite Album: OK Computer by Radiohead

My Favourite Book: In The Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

1998:

Top Grossing Film: Armageddon

My Favourite Film: Ring

A pretty crappy year for personal favourites, but there are a bunch of smaller, forgotten movies that I love. Japan’s Ring is peerless though.

Biggest Selling Song: My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion

My Favourite Song: Ready For Drowning by Manic Street Preachers

Another one of my absolute favourite Manics songs.

Biggest Selling Album: Titanic Soundtrack

My Favourite Album: How To Measure A Planet?

Only a few possibilities for me this year, but with one sure winner. How To Measure A Planet? is album everyone should, nay, must hear.

My Favourite Book: Loop by Koji Suzuki

Next time around I’ll let you in on my picks from the new decade/year/millennium! Down boy!

 

Frommers – Japan Day By Day

*Review originally written in 2012 based on a free copy provided by Amazon – Buy it here
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If you’ve ever owned or browsed a Frommer’s Day By Day guide before (or indeed any of the similar publications from Lonely Planet, Time Out et al) then you’ll know what to expect here- an informative, highly detailed, highly useful guide split into a myriad of sections with plenty of imaginative tips, photographs and ideas for any type of traveler from conservative to seasoned, from expensive to cheap. As to expected from a guide like this, the writing can hardly be called entertaining, but is fluid and usable for when you decide or need to dip in to any particular topic. What does stand out though is the focus on local knowledge translated over for those who need to know- the writers obviously know Japan and have a good idea about what the reader/user may want.
Wise Content
Content-wise we have the usual introduction and sections on accommodation, tourist hotspots, dining, museums, travel tips etc etc, as well as some more unusual selections, but what has always been the highlight of the Frommer’s Day by Day series are the Day By Day areas- ready-made plans for either those travelers who (critically) don’t want to think outside the box or (realistically) want to see as much as possible in one particular day. These are well thought out and are the focal point of the guide rather than something tacked on like many other guides and range from ‘Best Of Japan in 1 (or 2 weeks)’ to ‘Best of Tokyo in 1 (or 2, 3) day (s)’. There are also chapters on the major towns, sights, culture and most of these come with a single page map showcasing the area and the nearest subway station. In addition to this we get an extremely handy (though hardly comprehensive) pull-out map of Japan, with the central areas of Tokyo and Kyoto on the other side. I would advise bringing a map of any area you plan on visiting before getting there if possible because although Japan is fairly easy to get around, it can be very overwhelming.
Thanks to a friendly layout, high budget glossy finish, and the knowledge of the writers this is arguably the best guide on Japan on the market though some may find it too large to carry around all day or off-putting due to the scale of content. My advice would be to use this is a guide to create your own ideas and plans, scribble some notes, leave this at the hotel, and take off on your own!

10000 Zombies

*Based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy it here
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I was hoping for a lot more from this- more coherent stories for example, but given that there are thousands of different ways to open and close your tale, as well as all the good stuff in the middle, it would be difficult to make any of them coherent. This is just a bunch of easy fun wrapped inside a few thousand rotting corpses. The zombies are impressively detailed and kids will spend hours creating their favourite characters and possibly delving into their own dark imaginations to produce their own fevered stories of blood and chaos. Wisely the illustrations are given a page all of their own so that there is a full page impact, while the stories appear on the other leaf. Each creation is split into three so if you turn the top third of a page you will be decapitating one monster and giving birth to a new one- likewise with the legs and torso. So, obviously this isn’t the sort of book you will pick up and read through, it’s more of a game, partly like those ‘you open the door- turn to page 49’ books of my youth.
Parents shouldn’t worry that there is anything too graphic or offensive or terrifying here, it’s all good clean gruesome fun- the sort which kids lap up. Horror ‘maestro’ Alex Cox narrates while we get a foreword from undead metal legend Rob Zombie, so chances are that is geared more towards ‘adult’ zombie fiends rather than the youngsters. It’s cheap and worth a look if your child is showing an interest in the dead side of life.
Have you read 10000 Zombies? Let us know in the comments!

Atmospheric Disturbances

*Based off a free copy provided by Amazon – by it here

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I was drawn to this both by the Hitchcockian blurb and the reviewer comparisons to Murakami, but when you make comparisons to two of the greatest, chances are you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Similarities to the film-maker and the author are lip service at best, and non-existant at worst. There are moments of course, but these are more from the overall plot and idea rather than anything specific in the contents. I’m sure there is an engaging plot here somewhere, but it’s so crushed under the weight of science, ideas, ideals, and pseudo-philosophical talk about nothing that you feel that you’re unwrapping a diamond ring style box only to find a ‘screw you’ sign inside.

The story opens with a man whose wife has lately vanished, but who has apparently been replaced by a loveless doppelgänger. Instances of the past relationship are seemingly just as loveless. Details dribble in concerning a plot which revolves around a good old fashioned crazy patient and a secret conspiracy-type quest. There is a journey, both literal and figurative, and eventually twists are revealed. It’s more a Cronenberg style approach showing a descent into madness through ploys and devices but it somehow feels even less engaging than this description.

Galchen is a clever woman- in fact she may be the smartest woman in the world, but most importantly she wants to tell us this. She has clearly spent at least 5 years in school learning things such as languages, sciences, and geography. Not many of us can say that. Under my cleverly veiled wit I’m sure some of you will have noticed that I’m making fun of the author’s approach- there is little or no attempt to hold a hand out to the reader and say ‘I’m in charge, follow me and I’ll reward you’. Rather, the approach is ‘ I am your teacher, I am better than you, what I am saying is Gospel (not that you’ll understand it) but it doesn’t matter anyway because you are an inferior sub-species’. So it seems.

The fact that this is written as a dissertation rather than a novel is what truly killed the experience for me. Each chapter has a cryptic teaser and usually a hypothesis, list or some other scientific device which has no place in a work of fiction. I kept reading, expecting this novelty to stop or at least make a positive impact, but with each passing page, with each deeper step into nowhere, I felt like I was back in the GSCE triple science room copying notes from a blurry overhead projector while a bored, suicidal, and probably drunk teacher read porn from behind steamed up glasses. If these memories spark a flame of desire in your soul, then by all means pick up this masterpiece and enjoy, or if you think you need more intelligent books in your collection then give it a go. For everyone else drawn to this for the same reasons that I was, there is no Hitchcockian suspense, wit, skill, or bravado, nor is there the gifted, lyrical storytelling or off-beat characters and bizarre fun of Murakami.

The Happets – Play With Colours

*Originally written in 2011 based on a free copy provided by Amazon – buy here
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My daughter is still too young to read or even be very interested at looking at a book for too long, but it is never too early to let your child get used to the idea and touch of a book. In that case a book should be bright, colourful, and preferably have something extra to spark and hold their interest. Play With Colours (The Happets) meets all of the criteria- the wrigi is big and bold, and the illustrations are very colourful. As for the added extra, we have a felt/cloth poking from each page which the child can feel, tug,and squeeze. Each page depicts a different character, each character is colour coded, and each pop-out cloth matches the design of the character it represents so your child can learn to understand colours and matching.
Once older your son or daughter will want to know what the words mean and what the story is. At the moment my daughter likes to watch my mouth when I sing, but will only stay on my lap for a page or two of reading, even with a variety of funny voices employed. This book basically gives a description of each character and their favourite things, all linked to their core colour. Whatever the character says they like, such as a blue kite, will be shown on the page so you can point at each item and repeat what it is. Each page then is a repeat of the one before, but with a new creature, colour, and likes, but each description ends with a fun ‘THAT’S ME!’ which you can shout together.
My only warning is that the book seems to be made of extra tasty paper- my daughter loves to chew this one more than any other, but once that phase passes this will be a great book to share. For reading time that is, not tea time.
Have you read this book? Let us know in the comments!

Undead – Kirsty McKay

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Scaring Children

I am an advocate of bringing horror to the younger generation. I’ve given reasons for this elsewhere, but basically a good dose of blood and guts keeps the doctor away. I didn’t come to this book with a high expectation- when I was young and wanted some scares I typically went to the adult section, not the teen one as teen literature is (or was) too often watered down or flooded with convenient and topical issues of the day. Thankfully McKay’s Undead is neither watered down, nor riddled with forced topics from parents’ groups, media, or publishers. Yes it is still aimed at a younger audience – no explicit swearing, sex, or unnecessary violence, but we do get some shocking moments, strong building of tension, and lots of zombie mayhem.

Chew The Bones

The premise is good, and explores another avenue of the classic situational zombie convention. Be it a shopping mall, your own home, or on a bus during a school trip, zombie fiction usually follows the same format but can be given effective twists if the writer is inventive enough. Here we find a small number of misfits barricading themselves in their school bus when the outside world drops dead and decides to chew on some lovely young bones. This leads to some obvious clashing between the pretty one, the outcast, the nerd and so on, and how they must overcome their differences to keep each other alive. This never truly feels contrived, although it does feel necessary at times in order to drive the plot forwards.

Shocking Revelations

We follow the group as they try to escape and struggle to work out what has happened –  this leads to some shocking, and some not so shocking revelations. Naturally we end on a cliffhanger and the hope of a sequel. As previously mentioned there is a lot of zombie fun, but this is more in the action vein rather than being explicitly gory. There are plenty of moments which would work well on film as jump scares, and we get a few unsavoury characters to darken the mixture. There is one sad and shocking scene involving some new characters introduced halfway through, so credit to McKay for having the confidence to stick it in- usually such an event would be quickly and happily rectified, but not here.
The story is gripping, McKay writes with panache and strives to avoid the usual cliches and pitfalls of the genre, giving an exciting tale with fully realised (if typical for the market) characters, and she doesn’t back down when faced with the pressure of giving the readers a happy, Hollywood ending.

Have you read Undead? What age do you think it is appropriate to introduce children to horror media? Let us know in the comments!

Buy It Here!