My 2015 favourites

HI! Hope you all had a lovely New Year, spent with friends, family, a bottle of wine, or perhaps just a comfy bed.

This is just a small post about some of my favourites throughout 2015. Film, literature, music, random little things that made me happy throughout the year. ENJOY!


 

MUSIC

I spend a lot of my time commuting, so having something good to listen to is essential for me.

My first favourite is not actually music – but what I listen to music through.

One of the few perks of working in retail are the discounts companies give to re-sellers of their products. Now, I’ve always been a huge fan of Bose, so when I was able to buy some of the headphones for a ridiculously good price, I jumped at the chance. I now listen to pretty much everything through Bose Qc25s. They have active noise cancellation technology inside them – which basically means they cancel out every piece of ambient noise around me. On top of that, the sound detail is exceptional. Worth every discounted penny I paid for them!

Here is a link to the favourite tracks I’ve listened to this year. Not all of them were released this year, but why should that matter? This was the year that I discovered how amazing Fleetwood Mac are – nothing like being 40 years late to the party.

Enjoy the eclectic mixture!

FILMS

2015 was an incredible year for cinema, and choosing a small number of highlights is a very difficult task. But here are the top 5 films of my year.

#5 SLOW WESTDir., John Maclean

A brilliantly dark-humoured western. To me it was a skewed retelling of the damsel-in-distress story – except the damsel in question was in no need of rescuing from the well-intentioned, but often inept Jay Cavendish, played superbly by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Michael Fassbender also stars, and as we’ve come to expect, is excellent, as the outlaw turned guide to Cavendish.

#4 ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRLDir., Robert Eggers

You would be right in thinking that cancer is hardly a topic that is suited to comedy, but in the case of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This film is such an honest portrayal of how shit scary something like cancer can be – and it is hard to watch at some points. However, the darker moments make the lighter ones even more uplifting. The film is sentimental without being mawkish. It is charming without being sappy. It is funny without being cliche. It is a wonderful example of how to rightly portray adolescence on film.

#3 Mad Max: Fury RoadDir., George Miller

I really love the first two Mad Max films. The originals, with Mel Gibson before he got really weird. They’re gritty, and the production levels are so basic, and campy, and hammy, and just so great. So it was with trepidation I stepped into the theatre to see not quite a sequel, but not quite a reboot. Even with the star power of Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy, I was nervous. Turns out, this was completely unfounded. A brilliant film where you can practically smell the grease and petrol emanating from the screen. It’s a physical experience to sit through, hearing the gears grind, metal shearing apart, sand whipping into your eyes – and it is made even better by the outstanding leading role played by Theron. It would not be amiss if the film was called Imperator Furiosa, rather than Mad Max – for nearly all of the film, the male lead is mute, or speaks in grunts. Cinema got the feminist hero we were all waiting for, finally!

#2 Star Wars: The Force AwakensDir., J.J. Abrams

No spoilers. I will just say this film was exceptional. It payed homage in all the right ways to the original trilogy, whilst making me deeply invested in the new additions to the Star Wars universe.

#1 Inside Out Dir., Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen

Not many films make me cry. But this one did. Perhaps the greatest Pixar film ever made, which is quite a tall order, yet I do stand beside that. Beautifully realised, it is deeply touching in all of the right ways. This film made me think long and hard about my own emotions as a child, and where they have led me as an adult. It made me think about how my actions must have negatively affected my parents – we all laugh about how parents worry about us, but it wasn’t until I saw this film I even contemplated the emotional torment I must have put them through. It’s not all emotional contemplation it provokes – like any Pixar film (except perhaps Cars 2) I was laughing continuously throughout. Having Amy Poehler, who is one of my favourite actresses certainly made me laugh all the harder. I want nothing more than for this film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Not just as it would be groundbreaking as an animated feature has never accomplished this – but for the simple reason that it deserves to!

Special mentions: Brooklyn; Ex Machina; Samba; Still Alice


 

BOOKS

‘YES PLEASE’ – Amy Poehler

As mentioned only briefly above, I’m a big fan of Amy Poehler. Parks & Rec is one of my favourite comedy shows, and as a person, Poehler is pretty inspiring. She is a writer, performer, and has set up a Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – an online space for women and girls to encourage, inspire, and motivate one another. Her book ‘Yes Please’ was wonderful to read. Part memoire, part advice book, part comedy sketch, it reinforced all the things I believed about Poehler to be true. She is smart, super funny, articulate, and incredibly passionate about what she does. If you need uplifting, this is the book to do it.

Collected War Memoirs – Spike Milligan

My hero, Spike Milligan wrote 7 volumes of his war memoirs, and to my shame I can’t remember which number I started off with this year. However, it doesn’t really matter. These memoirs are a beautifully funny account of one man’s dance with sanity in one of the most insane situations a person can find themselves in – a World War. The 6th and 7th volumes actually take place during peace time, as Spike shuffles around Europe, developing as a performer and finding and losing love, and ultimately, describing his tentative steps in UK show business. These final chapters were incredibly revealing about one of the greatest comics we’ll ever know.

‘Chavs: The Demonisation of The Working Class’ – Owen Jones

This was a incredibly enlightening read. A very detailed and thoughtful examination of vilification of certain social groups within the UK – in this case, the demonisation of the working class through the term ‘chav’. Whilst incredibly interesting in terms of subject matter and analysis, what was striking, was what I learned about myself through reading it. I learned how easy a trap to fall into shaming other people can be – purely out of convenience. It is incredibly simple to target a social group that is not as well off as the one you are in, and mock that. I like to think that I’m far more aware and sensitive to things like that now – and even actively try to help others. I’m glad I read this book, if only for the reason that it has helped me understand how important it is for me to be mindful of other people.


 

2015 felt up and down for me. I’m very happy in the life I’m living – I have a steady, if unfulfilling job, I have a safe home, and a loving family. One of the best parts of my year has been maintaining some great friendships, and making some new, wonderful ones.

In 2016 I’m enrolling in a journalism training scheme, and will hopefully begin a career that I can be proud of.

Fingers crossed.

J.

 

 

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I’m 25 and I am still struggling to find my way in life.

*CLICHÉ KLAXON*

I know right. What a stereotype I am. I’m not sure if my parents didn’t push me hard enough when I was younger, I mean that would be a convenient excuse. Am I lazy, unfocused, lacking ambition. Probably. Or is this just what everyone else goes through in life?

Whatever the answer to the above question, I have an ambition that over the coming months, I will change my direction and head towards a future that I am happy with.

I currently work in retail, which is actually OK. I mean, the hours are crap and at its worst, it is a monotonous existence, but somehow over the past two years I have overall, enjoyed what I do. I work with great people, and I’m interested in the products that I have to sell. But, let’s not kid ourselves, the work is neither life changing nor fulfilling.

This blog is testament to the enjoyment I find in writing. It’s annoying at times, and I wish I sounded more intelligent than how I perceive I come across.

*NEUROSES KLAXON*

Nonetheless. I enjoy expressing my opinion on pretty much anything. Yet I’ve struggled to find justification to pursue this interest further. I thought about journalism a long time ago, and persuaded myself that it wasn’t worth pursuing, purely due to my perception that the competition within the industry would be so fierce, my status as a hobbyist did not make it worthwhile.

Bullshit.

I’m at a stage now where I’m really pissed off at my younger self for not pursuing my interest sooner, and with even an ounce of determination. But, this is why we grow, and mature, and learn to find our way. 21 year old Jonny was a bit of a wimp, and to my credit, 25 year old Jonny still is. But what I have chosen is to not let that define me any longer.

In the coming days and weeks I will be applying to train with the Press Association to be a journalist. Luckily, the PA run a course in partnership with one of my local newspapers, so I have the good fortune to be able to study in my home town.

There are no guarantees, but I am going to try my damned hardest to get all I can out of this experience.

Stay posted, I’ll let you know how it goes.