GregHorrorShow: The Films Of 2016

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For me 2016 was the year that film found it’s groove again. After several years of bemoaning the state of the industry and lauding TV, it’s time to celebrate some great films! For full disclosure I did work on some of these films in the capacity of my day job but that hasn’t affected whether or not I’d recommend them to you fine folks   😉

I’ll start with a short, Pear Cider and Cigarettes, which I was lucky enough to do some work on. This animated film was a real treat, I loved the style and look forward to seeing more from Robert Valley. Keeping things animated was Ethel and Ernest, the true story of Raymond Briggs’ parents, animated by the great man himself. It was a touching, wonderful film. Another touching film was Sing Street, one that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like. It was a brilliant romp through 80’s clichés and the first video their band makes had me in stitches!

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On a darker tip I enjoyed Urban Hymn, the story of a social worker that tries her best to help an under privileged child break out of the negative lifestyle she’s chosen. If I thought that was sad I was under-prepared for I, Daniel Blake – which is all the more tragic for the light it shines on some people’s real life experience with the NHS/Government. A Monster Calls was truly heart-wrenching, the story of a boy dealing with his mother’s terminal illness, but a fantastic watch.

The Hateful Eight was an early year highlight, especially getting to see the 70mm version when they brought it to London! I also really liked The Infiltrator and was surprised it didn’t get more buzz upon release. Bryan Cranston was great and it was a cool, tense flick. American Honey was another revelation, Andrea Arnold delivering an amazing slice of Americana and uncovering a side of US life I had no idea existed.

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Having kids means that a lot of cinema time is spent watching films aimed at a younger audience and there were some greats in 2016; Secret Life Of Pets was probably my favourite, closely followed by Finding Dory, which did a great job of following up on the original. Trolls was good fun but super fluffy and felt quite light compared to some of the other kids films I’ve seen over the last few years.

Midnight Special was truly awesome, a sci-fi film that left you with more questions than answers – which is always nice. Another, slightly lower budget, sci-fi flick was Netflix’s Arq – the story of a handful of characters reliving the same few hours over and over again. Clever stuff and I thought it was good fun. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was quite enjoyable but by the end was pushing the boundaries of how much ‘Tim Burton’ I can take in one film!

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FILM OF THE YEAR

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It’s been a tough year to pick just one film but I have to go with The Hateful Eight. Fantastic performances all round, though Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue and Tim Roth as Oswaldo Mobray pretty much stole the show for me. Shot beautifully and with a masterful soundtrack from Enrico Morricone, if you can stand the violence and bad language you won’t find a better film in 2016.

 


 

 

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GregHorrorShow: The Music Of 2016

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As someone who is fortunate enough to work in the music industry, it’s easy to forget that for a lot of people mainstream radio is the main way to consume music. That is changing with the arrival of streaming services that offer new and exciting ways to discover new music, and old music of course. I always like to try and highlight some of the lesser known bands I’ve discovered through the year while showcasing great tunes from different genres in general. And so my playlist for 2017 is bigger than some previous years. Strap yourselves in and enjoy some great new tunes!

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During my working day I’m exposed to a ton of great, fresh music but there were also some returning established artists that had good stuff out too. I wasn’t a huge fan of the new Britney Spears album but ‘Clumsy’ was a good cut, I really liked ‘Hurts’ by Emeli Sande and the return of A Tribe Called Quest was most welcome. Ryan Adam’s new single ‘Do You Still Love Me’ is fantastic and I also thought the latest Primal Scream track is the best thing they’ve done in a while. I really liked Lady Gaga’s ‘Perfect Illusion’ as well, a great single to return with.

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The best band I saw live this year was Vaults and their album (finally) dropped late this year – it’s definitely well worth a listen. I feel like, for me at least, 2017 has been much more about tracks as opposed to albums but there were some great ones to check out. Savages, Polica and Michael Kiwanuka all delivered amazing albums but I found myself listening to more and more playlists rather than fully fledged albums.

In among all the other regular tracks I’ve included a handful of tracks to highlight my favourite game music from the year. It has been an amazing year for game scores – I’d definitely recommend checking out Spotify’s game section to find some more releases from this year.

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BEST ALBUM

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It had to be ‘Love And Hate’ by Michael Kiwanuka. This album is ridiculously good, possibly the best I’ve heard in years. ‘Cold Little Heart’ is a 10 minute epic that kicks things off but this album is a great experience. Sit down, relax and enjoy!

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BEST SONG

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I almost gave this to Toothless for ‘Sisyphus’ which is my current jam but I can’t look beyond Sigma for this, which is a surprise to me as I haven’t been a huge work of their previous tracks. Teaming with Birdy for ‘Find Me’ they have a track that ticks a lot of ‘pop’ boxes. And I played this on a loop more than I’d care to admit.

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So there you have it, another year down and with the music industry remaining in growth it should be exciting times ahead!

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GregHorrorShow: The Books Of 2013

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I’ve managed to read quite a lot of books this year, across both new works and some that are considered classics.

Unfortunately there were a few titles that I just couldn’t get into. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster was one such book, as was Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Neither really did anything for me, which I feel is a shame as they are obviously well respected works.

From current writing I was disappointed with Hitman: Damnation by Raymond Benson. I’ve read some really interesting books based on game worlds in recent years and this one turned out to be a bit of a bust. Not terrible, just pretty average.

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Here are the books I’d recommend checking out from those I read during 2013 (in no order):

  • The Affair – Lee Child
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndam
  • To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  • The Way It Is – George Pelecanos
  • Rainbow Six – Tom Clancy
  • Hallucinating Focault – Patricia Dunker
  • Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger
  • Consider Pheblas – Iain Banks
  • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  • Dead Space: Catalyst – BK Evenson
  • Like Water For Chocolate – Laura Esquivel
  • The Fall – Guillermo Del Toro/Chuck Hogan
  • The Wanted Man – Lee Child

Lee Child delivered as always and I found John Wyndam’s The Chrysalids to be a haunting book that had a real impact.

BK Evenson delivered a very good game-based novel with Dead Space: Catalyst and The Fall by Chuck Hogan/Guillermo Del Toro was a great way to round out the Strain trilogy.

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However my two favourite books this year (I can’t pick between them!) were To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Both superbly written and with gripping plots.

What have you guys been reading this year? I’m always on the lookout for new books so feel free to shout out in the comments below if you have any recommendations (old or new!)

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