Sunday, 30 December 2012

How 2012 was for me.

This time last year I was probably at my lowest and had never felt more alone, so you could say Christmas hadn't been great.  However, I always seem to emerge from these metal states.  If you asked me how, frankly I really couldn't tell you.  Anyhoo.... So the year in how I felt could only go in one direction.  In January I had been put on the waiting list for CBT, I have before, but nothing ever came of it and I asked again at MIND for befriender help.  There was a bit of a wait for both.  In the meantime I was finally progressing with putting weight on.  You're probably thinking why is that difficult?  Well it's a problem I've had since childhood, I have food issues, still do now, and I've always been under weight.  I was gaining it slowly, but gaining none the less and I was getting more confidence in myself from it.  By the summer I was just a smidge under the 10 stone minimum I should be for my height... still waiting for the therapy and befriender help though.

Through reasons I won't go into, so I won't bore you I became stressed, anxious and all that and started losing weight and started my usual spiral down again.  Then finally started CBT sessions, over the phone, but not starting at the time when I was most well it wasn't as effective as I had hoped.  After a couple of sessions I was given intensive ones.  The therapist was better and I found them more useful, but it has taken a while for it to really sink in with me. The sessions ended back in November.  Finally have a befriender from MIND, this began at the start of the month, so far so good.  I have a couple of books on overcoming panic disorder and agoraphobia, which I am reading through and I am feeling and going into the New Year with a positivity and determination I haven't had before.

Now I have the mostly waiting stuff out of the way, I'll tell you what was great about the last year.. It was finally getting myself online socially active, something I had deliberately stayed away from... What a complete idiot!  13 months ago I joined The SFX Forum, one of the best decisions I made in a long time.  For those that don't know it's a geek magazine sci-fi/fantasy/horror, a mag I have been buying for 15 years.  After getting over my online shyness I decided to go onto facebook.  I put a facebook link on my forum profile, as I had seen others had done so.  Another good decision, because at the same time as I was beginning to reconnect with long lost friends and not so long lost, I had friend requests from forum members, sorry no names.  This has continued throughout the year, I even joined twitter and I am hopeful that along with being able to get out hang with old friends and socialize, I'll be able to say an in person hello to many of my new online friends.

I truly believe this is going to be the best year I've had in over 20 years, I am not going to let my stupid mind fuck this year up to!

I wish all my friends new and old will have awesome New Years, full of fun and joy!!

My Top 20 Films of the Year (and yes I know some were released during the last two years :) )

These are not in any order, because I keep changing my mind.

Tyrannosaur - A brilliant feature debut from Paddy Considine (Dead Man's Shoes, The Bourne Ultimatum) in which a relatinoship forms between a violent drunk, who is in crisis and a Christian charity shop worker, who appears to hide troubling secrets... This is not a friday night happy watch, but it is a superb piece of urban drama with two excellent performances from the always reliable Peter Mulan, Olivia Colman and Eddie Marsan.
 
Drive - The coolest 70's film, not to have been made in the 70's.  The dialogue is sparse and violence is brutally explosive.  A stunt car driver/mechanic/getaway driver gets mixed up in dangerous doings after helping out the female neighbour he forms a friendship with.  Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are great, actually the whole cast is, which includes Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), the soundtrack is awesome, my favourite of the year and the direction is excellent from Nicolas Winding Refn, who is going to direct a movie version of 80's tv series The Equalizer.
 
The Skin I Live In - A twisted sci-fi film from Perdro Almodovar in which Antonio Banderas' doctor, who specialises in body augmentation, in particualr face reconstruction.  He's privately developing a synthetic skin at his home clinic and it appears to involve patient/subject locked up within one of the rooms of his mansion.  This is one of those films that lingers long in the mind after watching.  It's a frankly bonkers plot, but I loved it.
 







The Secret in Their Eyes - An Argentinian drama/thriller, about a retired legal counsellor, one of my favourite actors Ricardo Darin, who's writing a novel about a case, one in which a woman has been brutally raped and killed, he'd worked on 20 years previously.  He suspected the wrong man was convicted and as he talks to those involved it becomes clear who the real killer was. Unresolved feelings also surface about not saying what you feel and keeping secrets from the ones you love.  This is an absolutely fantastic film.


                                      It's The Muppets! - A film that put the biggest smile on face. Nuff said. 
 
Winters Bone - Set in the Apalacian mountains, Jennifer Lawrence is outstanding as a girl searching for her father who's skipped bail.  She needs to find where he is so the family home won't be sold.  Part thiller/drama, the directing and acting from the entire cast is excellent.             
 
Warrior - If you are a fan of films like Rocky then this is definitely one for you. This is a melodramatic fight movie about two estranged brothers, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, whose family was torn apart by their drunken violent father, when they were teens. Circumstances bring them back into contact because the brothers enter a Mixed Martial Arts cage contest, one being trained by the father, the other not. I loved this, the acting is great, ok there are a couple of slightly cringe-worthy dialogue, but frankly it doesn't get in the way of a film where you end up not knowing who to root for.
 
Cave of Forgotten Dreams – This is a documentary about the Chauvet Caves in Southern France, where the oldest Human art was discovered. These cave paintings are 32,000 years old and this was the first and only time that anyone other than the scientific and archaeological teams would be able to see them. As with all of Werner Herzog's documentaries, to date his best known one is Grizzly Man, I found this not only a fascinating watch, but very poetic. He always seems to find very interesting and engaging interviewees and I also find the sound of his voice over strangely relaxing, making viewing a bit other worldly.

 


 
We Need To Talk About Kevin - This is a brilliant film which was poorly overlooked by the Oscars.  Tilda Swinton is excellent as the grieving and guilt ridden mother and Ezra Miller is bloody brilliant and creepy as the titualr Kevin.  How I felt after seeing this film is a totally different matter, a film that will stay with you for a very long time time after.  I imagine this would have an even greater effect if a parent.
 

 
A small police squadron storm a tenement block in an attempt to arrest a local kingpin.  Suffice to say things do quite go as planned in this exhausting brutal ballet of film.  The best action film of the year.
 

 
The Cabin in the Woods - Five college kids go to stay in a cabin deep in the back of beyond, so far so conventional, but don't be fooled.  It's a horror film that's frankly not the slightest bit scary, HOWEVER, don't let that put you off, as this is a film that will surprise you and thrill you and maybe make you laugh.  This is brilliant!  What do you expect when Mr Joss Wheedon is one of the writers.


 
The Avengers - After being teased through five films, they have finally been assembled... It doesn't disappoint, in fact it exceeded my expectations.  Mr Joss Wheedon, yes him again, has crafted a perfectly balanced film that manages to give equal time to the whole cast of characters.  The acting is terrific, the dialogue is witty and sharp, it rattles along at a thrilling pace and never outstays it's welcome. Oh and the direction is great.  And finally I wasn't bored while seeing Hulk smash!  Brilliant stuff!
 

 
The Guard - A comedy crime thriller about a very laid back and unconventional Irish police man, the excellent Brendan Gleeson, who must work with an FBI agent, Don Cheadle, to investigate and smash a drug smuggling gang.  This is a very funny film and has in it's main character Gerry Boyle, my favourite since The Dude in The Big Lebowski.  Top notch film from the brother of Martin McDonagh, In Bruge.
 

Snowtown – This is a film about Australia's most notorious serial killer John Bunting. This is not a film I can say I liked in the sense of enjoyment, there is a slow building sense of tension, which at the end leaves you feeling depressed and unnerved. This is not a criticism, as a film about a serial killer shouldn't leave you feeling happy about world, so this film achieves it goal brilliantly. A very well acted film, with particular mention going to Lucas Pittaway as Jamie, the 16 year old abused boy looking for a father figure and Daniel Henshall as the charismatic John Bunting who fulfilled that role. Certainly not a Friday/Saturday night beer and pizza movie, but none the less a must see.

The Dark Knight Rises - I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan and for me he has yet to make a bad film, this almost change... During the opening 40 mins I nearly stopped watching.  It opens with a spectacular scene, to me... logically it didn't make sense and I became annoyed.  From there the pace slowed and became frankly a little dull.  However, it did get much much better.  Holding her own amongst such testosterone,  Anne Hathaway as Catwoman stole the film, her presence lighting all scenes.  Christian Bale's voice for Batman still irritates me and I did smirk whenever I heard Bane, who sounds like John Merrick, but with minor faults, oh and a plot that is the least logical of the trilogy, this is none the less a thrilling, the chase through Gotham, the stadium scene to name two.... and fitting end to one of the best trilogies of all time. 
 
 
Kill List - The opening 20 mins is very gritty domestic drama, but then the the leads, a pair of hitmen, take a job from someone they know nothing about, then things change...This film is brilliant and incredibly disturbing. It is a contemporay take on a classic British film, won't say which otherwise it will give too much away as to how the film ends up. This is one of those films that stays in your head, from some quite frankly, very unpleasant scenes. The best British horror I have seen in years.
 
 
Take Shelter - Michael Shannon plays Curtis, a man who begins to have ever more terrifying dreams and hallucinations of an apocalypse.  He doesn't know whether he's going the same way into mental illness like his mum or to read into them as something that's going to happen.  Shannon is well cast as the husband who's unhinged and wrestling with how to protect his family, from an apocalypse or himself.  Jessica Chastain as Curtis' wife is also very good, but this is definitely Shannon's film.  The direction and cinematography is very good too in a film that's ambiguous right until the last moments...
 
 
The Troll Hunter - Students investigating the mystery of recent bear killings, see a strange man at the latest scene and decide to follow him in the hope of answers.  What they didn't bargain on was being shown a totally unknown part of Norwegian life.  This is the best monster movie since The Host.  It's thrilling, funny and importantly, the Troll mythology makes total logical sense within the world of the film.  Fee fye fo fum I smell the blood of a Christian! Brilliant!
 
 
Headhunters - An insecure and over compensating headhunter, who is the best at what he does within Norway and happens to be an art thief to pay for a very extravigant lifestyle, picks the wrong next heist target... an ex mercenary.  This is a great Nordic Noir thriller and the second Norwegian film on my list.  It has a terrific cast, including Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones, and a fantastic twisty script.  Certainly the Heist film of the year, at the very least!
 
 
 
 
Animal Kingdom - A 17 year boy contacts family he hasn't seen in years after his mother dies of an overdose in front of him.  The family welcome him in, but it's at a time when they're being heavily investigated for their criminal activities by Guy Pearce's cop, who then sees the boy as a way to bring the family down.  There are great performaces throughout, but the matriach of family, played Jacki Weaver, has a particular loving menace, who'd do anything for her criminal sons.  A top notch Aussie film.  
 
 




Sunday, 23 December 2012

An introductory hello. :)

Hello and welcome to my blog. :)

I have been thinking about writing one for a while, but it has only been during the past few days I found the courage to actually start.

I suppose I should say something about myself....  Well I'm 37 years old, crikey! so much time has slipped by without me having done anything with my life.  Sorry, getting ahead of myself and it's way too early for any moaning.  Anyway.... Basically I'm a geek.  I love sci-fi, fantasy, film and music ( Metal), however, not exclusively.  I'm currently attempting to study for an honours degree in psychology, so far so good, well I think so??  and the other thing/s in my life and which  has dominated it for 21 of those years is panic disorder and agoraphobia and a consequence of these, depression.

There wasn't one thing that triggered it, it's just something that developed over time.  Ever since I was a baby I had fears/phobias and the first one was water, more precisely putting my head under the water.  It's something I still can't do to this day.  I did learn to swim, well a bit, when I was 12, but only managed 25 metres.  Oh yes woo and indeed hoo, go me (sarcastically).

I was a functioning agoraphobe, mostly, I had a social life, worked, drove a car, that is until about 7 years ago when my anxieties completely took over my life.  During these last 7 years I've struggled to get my life back, unsuccessfully.  Though I am optimistic this is changing... Finally!

This blog will be about my progress is getting back out into the world, film reviews and anything else I fancy saying.  Oh you lucky/unfortunate people you. :D

I hope I don't bore you.

Paul