Best Of 2015


Astrid:
In my end of the year review I try to remember some of the movies and TV series that I watched this year, but did not discuss in this little blog of ours. Often these things went without a mention because I was watching them alone and not with Nick. Also, I watch so much stuff that I just forget – so then I don't talk about it. And finally: I'm not really big on these kinds of lists and the idea that this is the time to wrap a whole year up neatly and have some perspective. Blaah...maybe I'll move on to the Mayan calendar and its 13 month year. 

Game of Thrones 
Anyhow, this was the year of binge-watching TV series after another. There were some good series to enjoy (an understatement). Has TV really always been this good or is streaming great for TV? My greedy watching habits started with Nashville, went on to Girls, then the summer was spent knitting and watching all five seasons of Game of Thrones as fast as possible with some dignity, a marriage and a child (plus a mother-in-law). I had given Game of Thrones a pass as I thought I would be bored out of my skull with sword fights and royal this and that. But I was wrong. I fell totally in love with the mix of fairytale, myth, romance, violence and magic. And Girls – it is difficult to convey in one sentence how refreshing the series is. I love Lena Dunham's brain. Oh, and then the fantastically funny and also unconventional depiction of older women in the midst of a divorce by Netflix: Grace and Frankie. I look forward to more of that next year.

HBO Girls
Later this year my appreciation for Jennifer Lawrence deepened with her first film Winter's Bone. I also enjoyed the Wolfpack documentary, although it was a heart-breaking thing to see and I questioned the timing of this documentary in the lives of the young men it depicted. Similarly, The Jinx toyed with my sense of what is right and what is real. True Detective 2 was a disappointment, but it still managed to lure me in every Monday evening in the summer. I missed Matthew, no other way to put it. When it was almost winter in Helsinki, we watched Love Is Strange with Nick one evening. It was one of those wonderful evenings where the film took us to a different place, we forgot about our lives for a moment and by the end we were totally reflecting on ourselves and our relationship. And of course it was a lovely film because of its depiction of an older gay couple in NYC. Last but not least I got into The Affair – another HBO series already two seasons in. Wow, what a gripping drama. I cannot decide who is more appealing, Ruth Wilson or Dominic West.  Together they convey so many difficult emotions and fractured desires. Lust, love, sadness, being torn between two lives, two loves, generations, family life, class, those are just a few of the topics that the drama touches upon. The way the series deals with differences in our memories is great. You have to see it. There is a great artistic touch and simplicity to the series, something old-fashioned and yet so timeless and current. Thank you streaming services for these great series in 2015. I have so many plots to follow up on in 2016.

Dominic West and Ruth Wilson in The Affair
Nick:
2015 has been a TV year in some ways, yet cinema visits were more frequent. From the small screen HBO series Game Of Thrones (something I truly enjoyed and watched all five seasons in haste), True Detective 2 (brooding and intense), The Jinx and Six Feet Under (black humour personified) have all been enjoyed immensely, whilst the more cartoonish Gotham has delivered pulp thrills. Jessica Jones is hard to say much about from just one episode, but the premise was good and a sense of promise pervades. West Wing was re-watched by me and had lost none of its Aaron Sorkin sharpness. The level of groundbreaking reporting and revelation extended the accolades I would foster on the revealing The Jinx: The Life and Deaths Of Robert Durst, it also afforded me a new interest in documentary, with Amy being equally persuasive in quality. Musical docs via Netflix such as the Nina Simone and Grateful Dead ones were enjoyable and proficient, whilst The Possibilities Are Endless about Edwyn Collins recovery from serious illness showed what could be done with the documentary format, atmosphere and abstraction telling a story as effectively as dialogue. Finally The Wolfpack about six brothers bought up almost exclusively in a Lower East Side apartment, their only real contact with the outside world for many years is movies. The Wolfpack is not only incredulous viewing but also fascinating and unlike anything you've ever seen.

The cartoonish Gotham has delivered pulp thrills.
The Wolfpack is incredulous viewing
Peter Dinklage stands out in the entertaining/obsessively watched Game Of Thrones
My indulgence in the comic book movie increased. Avengers: Age Of Ultron was poignant fun, whilst the Thor movies, although not so exciting, still had their moments. Apart from re-watching some Captain America,  Nolan's Batman trilogy one weekend or the Iron Man pictures, 2015 was generally superhero light. But action movies filled in a void: Mad Max: Fury Road was at the high end of the genre, whereas the latest Daniel Craig Bond vehicle, Spectre, despite some 'wow' set pieces undid a lot of the good established with Craig as the character, resorting to a more cliched, bombastic and kitsch version of Fleming's licensed agent. I did watch a lot of shoot 'em up films late at night, instantly forgettable yet somehow filling a need. Die Hard 1 and 3 were revisited and enjoyed. Clint Eastwood's controversial, extremely popular yet flawed – but ultimately misunderstood war movie American Sniper had moments of high tension and DID fly its anti-war mast if you looked closely enough. Equally absorbing for different reasons was Ned Rifle, Hal Hartley's return, bringing his standard quirk. Puffing unashamedly on a big fat spliff for inspiration was PT Anderson's very stoned yet still inspired take on Thomas Pynchon's Inherent Vice. From out left but perfectly acted was Alfred Molina and an excellent John Lithgow in twilight-age queer romance Love Is Strange, a really touching film.

Daniel Craig's latest Bond outing, Spectre fails to deliver the usual standards
Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller in the flawed yet misunderstood American Sniper
Molina and Lithgow shine in the touching Love Is Strange
Revisiting Nic Roeg's masterful Walkabout was given extra impetus after having sat through Jonathan Glazer's distinctive eye catcher Under The Skin. Another alien yarn bringing maximum joy was John Carpenter's similar themed Starman. A big regret was watching Lance Henriksen embarrass himself in the horrible AVP:Alien vs Predator (so, so, so bad) but I did make up for it by watching the increasingly brilliant Aliens. Other oldies which offered benefits were Silence of The Lambs, Play Misty for Me, In the Heat of The Night, Fonda and Redford in the rom/com Electric Horseman and Arthur Penn's genuinely quirky Western The Missouri Breaks. As Star Wars fever still lingers thanks to The Force Awakens (still haven't seen it yet) I re-watched all the previous 6 episodes, finding the 1-3 pictures not so awful as reputation would suggest. With my excitement for this and the Batman/Superman slugfest to drop in 2016, I'll wrap that up. Thanks for reading My Lawyer... this year and if you haven't done so please follow us on Facebook. See you in 2016.

Redford as the spent cowboy in Electric Horseman
Scarlett Johansson in Jonathan Glazer's eye catching Under The Skin

Nick enjoyed watching in 2015

1. Under The Skin Directed by Jonathan Glazer 2013
2. Inherent Vice Directed by PT Anderson 2014
3. Mad Max: Fury Road Directed by George Miller 2015
4. Game of Thrones HBO, Seasons 1-5 2011-2015
5. Amy Directed by Asif Kapadia 2015
6. American Sniper Directed by Clint Eastwood 2014
7. Walkabout Directed by Nicolas Roeg 1971
8. Starman Directed by John Carpenter 1984
9. Ned Rifle Directed by Hal Hartley 2014
10. Avengers: Age of Ultron Directed by Joss Whedon 2015

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