KILLINGS, daily columns and blog —

Editors' Picks

Best of 2013 (Part Two): Television, Film and Writing

by Kill Your Darlings , December 19, 2013Leave a comment

In the final of our two-part series, some of our favourite Killings contributors highlight their top cultural moments of 2013 – in television, film and writing. Have they missed any?

Best Televsion — Julia Tulloh 

Arrested Development

What a monumental year for television. Breaking Bad wrapped up after six years of South Western crime; Arrested Development released its long-awaited fourth series; and Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary special screened in cinemas around the world. We found out the third series of Girls would feature Danielle Brooks as its first black female characterOrange is the New Black gave us hope that complex female characters may one day be commonplace. Melbourne’s very own Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, despite its sometimes questionable acting and pacing, launched a ridiculously successful costume exhibition.

Predictably, the television episode that stuck in my guts the most this year was Game of Thrones’ ‘The Rains of Castamere’, a.k.a. the Red Wedding. Since this episode spawned an onslaught of recaps, blog posts and memes after it aired, I needn’t say much – except that it’s the only story I know of where audience engagement actually increased after all the apparent ‘goodies’ (and I mean all) were brutally killed off (and I mean brutally).

My other main moment of 2013 concerns New Tricks, the BBC crime-comedy-drama that your grandparents probably love. For ten years, Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) has busted serial killers with her team of old codgers: this year, she got promoted and left the team (and hence show). I nearly cried when she announced it. Even though the series’ gender politics were sometimes troubling (see how FUNNY it is? A FEMALE boss?) Pullman still smashed the glass ceiling like it weren’t no thang. I’ll miss her.

Read more from Julia Tulloh here

Best Film — Kate Harper 

Before Midnight Best ofBefore scolding me for not mentioning that film, be aware that these are only the five that have stuck with me the most. Beginning the year, an image that I can’t shake is of a pigeon trapped inside a Parisian flat in Michael Haneke’s Amour. Starring Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-louis Trintignant, Amour’s depiction of long love and impending death as both ordinary and entirely unique was a breathtaking way to kick off. Then in May there was Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, which I loved for its chutzpah. A Three Act intergenerational melodrama, it was Greek Tragedy for today: the cursed houses of Glanton (Ryan Gosling) and Cross (Bradley Cooper) blessed with super-sexy genes and a Mike Paton score.

In July, I met up with old friends, Jessie and Celine – a.k.a. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy – in Before Midnight. A series that began in 1995, the third made for some uncomfortable-looking dates at the screening I went to: showing the mixed results of following romantic love, the film begins where most Hollywood films would end. Talking and tears continued into September in Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell, where she uncovered her family’s narrative through a uniquely kaleidoscopic style. The last of the best for me was Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity; despite some naff dialogue, few recent films have exhibited the affects of cinema’s magical capabilities quite as spectacularly.

Looking back, it sure has been an emotional year of films, with the spectre of mortality and troubled relationships at every turn. Thank God for Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa!

Read more from Kate Harper here

Best Writing — S.A. Jones

harmless2013 was a year that reminded us how important reading is. When print media bares its ferociously partisan fangs as it did in the national election, there is power in literacy. What we read and how we read matters. We have to bring our full selves to reading, mind and body. My 2013 ‘best of’ are the works that demanded something of me – the reader – but honoured me as a reader too.

My favourite fiction was Julienne Van Loon’s superb novella HarmlessIt is heartbreaking, wise and provacative. In creative non-fiction I enjoyed Karen Hitchcock’s column in The Monthly. Hitchcock writes about the mysteries of the human body and the limits of medical knowledge in solving those mysteries. For online news I’ve subscribed to The King’s Tribunewhere I was moved by Jane Gilmore’s sensitive writing about The Gatehouse in St Kilda and the murder of Tracy Connelley.

In historical non-fiction the standout was Wibke Bruhn’s My Father’s Country, a book I came to a couple of years after its publication. It’s a family history that provides an insight into Nazism and the price paid by those who resisted. Read it. (Then watch Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon. Whatever was obscure in high school history about the rise of Nazism will become clear). Shout-outs also to The Sydney Review of BooksAnne Summers Reports and The Toast: all welcome additions to the reading landscape in 2013.

Read more from S.A. Jones here




West Bank

David Donaldson

Whitewashing occupation? Bill Shorten and the Israel Lobby

Racism and military occupation have no place in the modern world, and are certainly not something looked upon favourably by a majority of Australians. Yet while apartheid, for example, has become a byword for shame and racism, the Labor Opposition leader feels comfortable asserting that some Israeli West Bank settlements are legal. Read more »

Tony Abbott

David Donaldson

Abbott and Brandis’ culture war backfires

What is supposed to happen in a culture war is that conservatives use a controversial issue to drive a ‘wedge’ through the left, forcing a split between factions. In Australia, this usually means pitting Catholic unionists against their socially liberal colleagues in the Labor party. Read more »

climate change

David Donaldson

Australia is going backwards on climate policy

During the Howard years, it was usual for Australia to be awarded ‘Fossil of the Day’ by climate advocacy groups whenever it attended a climate negotiation conference. The award signifies the country that had done the most to hinder climate change negotiations, and Australia has won a pile of them. Read more »

Zoe Pilger

Carody Culver

Girls, eat your hearts out

Middle class hipsters, conceptual artists and third-wave feminists have long been easy targets for mockery, so I admit that I wasn’t expecting anything too groundbreaking when I picked up Zoe Pilger’s Eat My Heart Out, a satirical romp through contemporary London that reads like a surreal mash-up of Broad City, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Less Than Zero. Read more »

Laika, Astronaut Dog

Carody Culver

Houston, we have a fabrication

As someone who doesn’t have children, I’m no less resistant than any of my book-loving friends-with-kids to the charm of a beautiful picture book. So when I spotted Laika: Astronaut Dog by writer and illustrator Owen Davey, with its charming retro-style artwork Read more »

& Sons

Carody Culver

WASPiration: David Gilbert’s & Sons

As someone who’s always secretly aspired to being a WASP (before you mercilessly judge me for this, I should clarify that my desire has less to do with attaining elevated social and financial status than with being able to dress like a character in The Great Gatsby Read more »

American Pickers

Julia Tulloh

Eccentric junk collectors held high on American Pickers

The History Channel’s American Pickers, currently in its sixth season, is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable reality series on TV. It’s not a competition show, it doesn’t exist to objectify people and it isn’t particularly dramatic. So what’s the appeal? Read more »

Justin Timberlake

Julia Tulloh

Pleasantly forgettable: Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience

On 7 March this year, tickets went on sale for the Australian leg of Justin Timberlake’s latest tour, ‘The 20/20 Experience’. All five shows sold out in a few hours. The same day, five new shows were released, with most tickets for these rapidly selling out too. Read more »

BuzzFeed

Julia Tulloh

BuzzFeed quizzes understand me

If you use social media regularly – Facebook, in particular – you’ll have completed a BuzzFeed quiz during the past month. Don’t deny it. Even if you didn’t share your results online, deep down you’re still feeling smug because the ‘What Should You Actually Eat For Lunch?’ quiz confirmed that eating ice cream was, in fact, an appropriate meal for your personality type. Read more »

The Lego Movie

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Nostalgia and today’s family-friendly films

Hollywood has always known the adults are watching alongside the kids, and that to push a film into record profits (as Lego looks set to do with a global box office of $428 million and counting), you need to appeal to ‘kids of all ages’. Read more »

nympho-poster

Rochelle Siemiennowicz

Weirdos on screen: Noah and Nymphomaniac

There are some filmmakers you’ll follow into the dark, no matter how bad the buzz is about their latest work. For me, naughty boy Lars von Trier (The Idiots, Breaking the Waves, Dogville, Antichrist, Melancholia) and strange kid Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Black Swan) are two filmmakers who can be loved or detested, but never ignored. Read more »

planes

Rochelle Siemienowicz

Notes from a plane

There’s an art to choosing the right film for every particular occasion, and as I nervously sit in a Qantas jet about to take off on a four-hour flight from Melbourne to Perth, the choice seems very important indeed. Read more »

tweet

Connor Tomas O'Brien

The Web as an Empathy Machine

Ad hoc Twitter projects like #RaceSwapExp neatly draw together all that is terrific and all that is terrible about the web as a system. Depending on how it is used, the web can either allow us to retreat into callousness, cliques, and fixed ways of thinking or it can function as the world’s most sophisticated and effective empathy machine. Read more »

Samsung fingers

Connor Tomas O'Brien

‘Fooled’ by technology

As I browsed the web last Tuesday, something struck me: tech companies can no longer pull off compelling April Fools’ Day hoaxes because there’s no longer even the thinnest line delineating sincerity from spoof. Read more »

wifi

Connor Tomas O'Brien

Flight 370 and gaps in the internet

On Twitter the other day, sandwiched between a slew of links to articles about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, somebody tweeted a link to the website for Tile, a Bluetooth-enabled device that can be attached to physical objects, enabling them to be located within a 150-foot range. Read more »

Magabala Books

Danielle Binks

Magabala Books and the importance of Indigenous YA literature

Magabala is Australia’s leading independent Indigenous publishing house based in Broome, Western Australia. An independent Aboriginal Corporation since 1990, Magabala’s objective is, ‘restoring, preserving and maintaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.’ Read more »

Young Adulthood Books

Danielle Binks

The young adult books of my young adulthood

In March, Penguin Books Australia rereleased Melina Marchetta’s first novel as part of its Australian Children’s Classics series. Looking for Alibrandi was first published in 1992; the first print run sold out in two months, and Marchetta’s debut went on to win the Children’s Book Council of Australia Children’s Book of the Year Award. Read more »

When You Reach Me

Danielle Binks

A children’s lit prize of one’s own

Earlier this year, Readings Bookstore announced the creation of The Readings Children’s Book Prize. The eligibility criteria for the 2014 Prize was specified as ‘a work of published fiction, written for children aged 5–12’. Read more »

EMA

Chad Parkhill

Radical honesty: EMA’s The Future’s Void

Erica M. Anderson’s recently released second solo album, The Future’s Void, has been for the most part well-received by critics – albeit with some caveats. Read more »

music theory

Chad Parkhill

Do music critics need music theory?

Canadian musician Owen Pallett – the man who arranged the strings on Arcade Fire’s albums, co-wrote the soundtrack for Spike Jonze’s Her, and has a bunch of wonderful solo albums – can now add another feather to his cap: that of an engaging music writer. Read more »

Tune Yards

Chad Parkhill

Drips, leaks, and spurts

I’ve spent the last two weeks in a state of perpetual excitement – musically speaking, that is. First came tUnE-yArDs’ new song, ‘Water Fountain’, a joyous, riotous explosion of colour and movement. Then Swans released ‘A Little God in My Hands’, a seven-minute epic of a track … Read more »

Community

Stephanie Van Schilt

Diary of a lurker: TV and Twitter

At the end of last month, global information provider Nielsen announced that Australia was to become the third country in the world with the ‘Nielsen TV Twitter Ratings’ service. According to a Nielsen Company press release, the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are ‘the first-ever measure of the total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter’. Read more »

Broad City

Stephanie Van Schilt

Funny Broads

‘All comparisons between Girls and Broad City should be hereto forth banned from the internet.’ I agree with Katherine Brooks. Yet the comparisons continue, ad nauseam, mostly following one of two lines of thought. Read more »

The Carrie Diaries

Stephanie Van Schilt

‘Alive Girl’ TV: The Carrie Diaries

Get ready to feel old: it’s been ten years since the final episode of Sex and the City aired. I’m not talking about the first episode back in 1998, but the final episode – the one before the two questionable movies were released. Read more »