JOHN COULTHART’S BEST OF 2007
1) 2007 was The Year of Cormac McCarthy. The Road won a Pulitzer, the Coens made a film of No Country for Old Men and the man himself talked to Oprah in his first, and possibly last, TV appearance.
2) Gigs: Machinefabriek in Manchester and Boredoms in Manchester. Two events that were polar opposites but equally electrifying.
3) Book of the year: The Black Dossier by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill. A wonderful smorgasbord of pastiche combining comics, prose, a Shakespearean play, a free pair of 3D glasses and more obscure British cultural reference than you can shake a loaded blunderbuss at.
Honourable mention to The BUTT Book, the first 16 issues of BUTT magazine in one fat volume.
4) Album of the year: Ekvílibríum by Valgeir Sigurðsson. A tremendous debut by the Icelandic producer with guest appearances by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Dawn McCarthy and others.
Honourable mention to Raising Sand by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss.
5) CD reissues: An Electric Storm by White Noise and The Complete On The Corner Sessions by Miles Davis.
6) DVD releases: A great year for cinematic work which had been difficult or impossible to see suddenly becoming available for all. Among the highlights: Jordan Belson, Jodorowsky’s major works, Kenneth Anger’s Magick Lantern Cycle, Tim Buckley’s TV appearances, Jan Svankmajer shorts, Lindsay Anderson’s If…, Cammell & Roeg’s Performance and three films by Derek Jarman.
7) Work: The Mindscape of Alan Moore. DeZ Vylenz’s documentary finally made it onto DVD, packaged and designed by yours truly.
8. Films: Hollywood’s products continued to be barely worth following but I did enjoy Perfume (a successful adaptation of Patrick Süskind’s novel), Zodiac (David Fincher getting serious at last) and it was good to see new work from David Lynch. Film of the year for me (although it’s actually from late-2006) was John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus, a funny and joyful drama which managed to show real people–gay, straight or otherwise–having real sex and enjoying it for once. Mitchell said he wanted his film to serve as “a small act of resistance against Bush and the America we live in”; it’s that and a whole lot more.
9) In 2007 I finally managed to see some cinematic obscurities I’d waited decades to watch again. The peerless Ubuweb turned up a copy of Impressions de la Haute Mongolie, a bizarre quasi-documentary collaboration between José Montes-Baquer and Salvador Dalí from 1975 concerning a quest for giant hallucinogenic mushrooms in Upper Mongolia. Then there was Images, Robert Altman’s 1972 psychodrama (made between McCabe and Mrs Miller and The Long Goodbye) which had been out of circulation for years, and David Rudkin’s TV adaptation of The Ash Tree by MR James, also from 1975, and still as creepy as I remembered it.
10) The Arthur resurrection. Because you can’t keep a good magazine down.
John Coulthart is a Manchester-based artist, designer, archivist, historian, writer and blogger. His work has appeared in Arthur countless times.