Starting with film, my top 10 were…
Maybe it was because I lost my 93 year old Dad in February and still visit my 92 year old Mum, but this film about a crotchety stubborn old bugger who staunchly believed he had won a million dollars in a sweepstake really got to me. A road trip movie with a difference, the performances of Bruce Dern and Will Forte were heart-wrenching. The fact that it was shot in black and white added greatly to the sombre sadness which pervaded the film. This was a film that will live with me for a very long time.
• The Grand Budapest Hotel
About as far removed from Nebraska as you could possibly get really. An artificial world filmed in a very stylistic manner made this a visually stunning film with an all-star cast. In fact it was so stylised it had the potential to tip over into farce but in the hands of Wes Anderson it ended up being a truly exciting piece of cinema.
• Dallas Buyers Club
A story that had me on a rollercoaster of emotion. At times angry, at others deliriously happy and then extremely sad. All carried along by brilliant performances from Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. Also, for me anyway, an impressive performance from Jennifer Garner. The film is a very moving piece of cinema.
A film about some nutcase trekking across Australia with some camels? No thank you. But I sure am glad there was nothing else worth watching on Qantas that day as this film is astonishing. Based on a true story (sorry to any who knew the real Robyn Davidson for calling her a nutcase), Mia Wasikowska’s performance ensures this film remains captivating for its entirety. Beautifully shot as well.
• 52 Tuesdays
This film that charts a year in the life of a 16 year old as her mother undergoes treatment to become a man. A fairly bold storyline given a point of difference in that it is not told from the point of view of the person undergoing the transition but rather someone very close to them.
• Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen Brothers in great form. I’m a fan and here they continue their great track record. Interesting story with the usual array of Coen misfits.
• 12 Years A Slave
A truly epic film. A brutally frank and honest depiction of what happened during that shameful period of American history. A film that will stay with you.
• The Railway Man
A film driven by great performances from Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman. Firth’s character suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese during the building of a railway line in WWII and the consequent emotional damage later in life impacts greatly on his marriage. A very emotional cinematic experience.
• The Armstrong Lie
An insight into how arrogance and bullying can be used by people at the top of their game, leading to the view they can get away with anything. The biggest lie in sport, possibly only ever matched by the 2006 AFL premiership.
Wonderful performances from Don Hany and Hugo Weaving turned a somewhat pedestrian script into something very moving and intriguing. Nice performances from the birds of prey as well.
And now to music. Let me firstly say that I have loved The Rolling Stones since the day in 1965 when my cousin played Little Red Rooster four times in a row. I have now been lucky enough to see them live six times, 29 October 2014 being the sixth. It is outrageous that they can still rock so hard and so well at their age (and in some cases, state of disrepair). But what a great night it was.
Another highlight in October was seeing The Mavericks at the Palais Theatre in St Kilda. It has been a dream of mine for a long time to see this band and I was not disappointed. Lived up to my lofty expectations.
February 2014 was a great month for me, having seen Booker T, Bruce Springsteen, The Basics and Neko Case. All wonderful and exhilarating shows.