New Music and Screen Themes year end wrap

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Entertainment editor John Turnbull looks back at the best in music, television and movies from 2017. Oh, and one really bad movie…

Best Music

2017 has been an odd year for music. Miley Cyrus has reinvented herself as a clean-cut born-again virgin, Kid Rock announced and then immediately denounced a run for the Senate, At-The-Drive-In reformed to a chorus of… oh, that’s not bad, and way too many talented artists took their own lives.

Best Albums #3: Nothing But Thieves — Broken Machine

The second album by this British rock quintet took the promise of their 2015 self-titled debut and delivered on it in spades. Vocalist Conor Mason has one of the most distinct voices in modern rock, along with the ability to write catchy songs that stick in your head long after you’ve finished listening. From the stomping rock of Amsterdam to the delicate lamentation of Sorry, Nothing But Thieves cover a lot of ground on Broken Machine.

Standout tracks: Amsterdam, Particles, Broken Machine, Sorry

Sample lyric: "And I say honey what is love, you just say I drink too much." (Sorry)

Verdict: 9/10 — improves with every listen.

Best Albums #2: Pink — Beautiful Trauma

Mother, feminist, activist, rock star—  Pink wears a lot of hats and she wears them well. On her seventh studio album, Pink covers the emotional gamut from hope to despair, from joy to rage. With a powerful vocal presence and a lot of famous friends, including a creatively reborn Eminem on Revenge, Pink stakes her mark as one of the most important vocalists of the early 21st Century. Suck on that, Beyoncé.

Standout tracks: Revenge, Barbies, I Am Here, What About Us

Sample lyric: “And I lock every single door, and I look behind me even more.” (Barbies)

Verdict: 9/10 — damn near a masterpiece.

Best Albums #1: Linkin Park — One More Light Live

One of the final albums released in 2017 may well be the best. As much a tribute to departed vocalist Chester Bennington as a testament to the band’s five-star live performances, One More Light is all the more beautiful in that it features the final performance of an artist who struggled with fame, addiction and mental health. Since their 2000 debut album Hybrid Theory, Linkin Park have been a band that sang about pain and disenfranchisement, but in a year where we lost Bennington, Chris Cornell and Lil Peep to suicide and/or drugs, one questions the price of inspiration.

Standout tracks: Battle Symphony, Nobody Can Save Me, Crawling, Heavy

Sample lyric: “I’m dancing with my demon, I’m hanging off the edge.” (Nobody Can Save Me)

Verdict: 9/10 — a tragic loss

Best TV

Once again, 2017 has proved that the small screen is the place to go to look for well-written, slickly produced entertainment, but only if you can afford pay TV or one of the growing number of competing streaming services.

Best TV #3: Preacher

Based on the comic book series by Garth Ennis and the sadly departed Steve Dillon, Preacher tells the ongoing story of a conflicted southern preacher with the voice of God, his assassin ex-girlfriend and a drunken Irish vampire, along with various angels, zealots and a guy with a face like an arse. As you might have picked up, Preacher is unlike anything currently on TV. Moving on from the geographically limited first season, this time our anti-heroes criss-cross the world from New Orleans to Paris, searching for God, but ultimately finding something very different.

Best TV #2: Game of Thrones

At this point you probably know whether you like Game of Thrones or not. If you do, you’re already well aware of the awesome nature of Season 7, with betrayal, grand battles, ice dragons, men on a mission, witty repartee and the occasional dick joke. If you don’t, there is probably nothing I can say to get you to watch a show where incest is a major plot point and not necessarily the sign that a character is a bad person. Still, with one season to go and an episode budget to rival many major movies, Game of Thrones is a perfect example of premium television.

Best TV #1: Rick & Morty

It can be a sometimes frustrating experience to be a Rick & Morty fan. The gap between seasons is interminable, merchandise has flooded the planet to the extent that homeless people are wearing Pickle Rick tee shirts and many other fans have proven to be major dickheads — evidenced by the hate mail received by female writers for the series perceived drop in quality. On the upside, Rick & Morty is funny, clever and subversive as hell, which makes sharing enjoyment with some MRA neckbeards tolerable, I suppose…

Best (and Worst) Movies

This year has seen some great comic book movies and also some other films, like that one with the train and the other one with the war.

Best Movie #3: Thor Ragnarok (directed by Taika Waititi)

Proving that you don’t have to sacrifice action to add comedy to the mix, director Taika Waititi saved Thor from Shakespearean prose and an over reliance on a big hammer, making Thor: Ragnarok the funniest comic-book movie since Ant-Man. Teaming charming Aussie Chris Hemsworth with a decent looking CGI Hulk, a kick-ass lady-warrior who likes a drink and a sardonic rock-man voiced by Waititi himself, Ragnarok is a rare example of a director’s unique vision shining through the clutter of the Marvel universe. One can only hope that the Guardians of the Galaxy’s appearance in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War is a good sign…

Best Movie #2: Star Wars The Last Jedi (directed by Rian Johnson)

I have to admit that the first time I watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I didn’t love it. At over two-and-a-half hours, it’s too long, big stretches of the plot felt like a retread of Empire Strikes Back and some of the plot twists were borderline laughable. Then I watched it again with my kids and my opinion changed completely. Seen in the right frame of mind, The Last Jedi is a rip-roaring action movie with a trio of strong female leads, particularly Daisy Ridley as Rey and the dearly missed Carrie Fisher as Leia. Well worth seeing on the big screen, this is Star Wars for a new generation.

Best Movie #1: Logan (directed by James Mangold)

After a bunch of Wolverine movies that were never better than average, despite the committed performance of star Hugh Jackman, 3:10 to Yuma director James Mangold came in and produced the closest thing to a masterpiece that comic book movies have seen. Alternately poetic and shockingly violent, Logan has strong themes of family and the bond forged between outsiders, driven by outstanding performances from Jackman, Sir Patrick Stewart as an aging Professor Xavier and newcomer Dafne Keen as Logan’s surrogate daughter Laura. For a movie that features multiple brutal murders, it’s quite beautiful…

Worst Movie #1: Mother! (directed by Darren Aronofsky)

I’ve been trying to keep this wrap-up positive, but I can’t let this one pass. In a year where both Transformers and Fast & Furious released yet another film in their seemingly endless franchises, the worst film was entirely original and not in a good way. It is clear that director Darren Aronofsky desperately wants to be looked upon as an auteur, mentioned in the same sentence as legends like Kubrick, Cronenberg and Scorsese. Unfortunately, Aronofsky seems to have trouble translating his artistic vision into anything resembling an entertaining movie, so the start of this paragraph may be the only time that the director gets his wish. As I said when I first reviewed Mother!, fuck this movie.

That’s it for 2017, my friends. Thanks for reading. I’ll be taking a hiatus in January and returning refreshed and inspired in February with a new year of movies, music and critical thinking. Have a celebratory and safe new year and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do…

Books by John Turnbull are available on Amazon and Kindle, including supernatural thriller Damnation’s Flame; action/romance Reaper, black comedy City Boy and travel guidebook Bar Trek: EuropeDamnation's Flame by John Turnbull is also available in paperback in the IA store HERE (free postage).

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