I just need to add a late release to the highlights of 2011 – Paco De Lucia – En Vivo – Conciertos Espana 2010. An incredible Flamenco live record from Paco’s most recent tour, this double CD set is powerful and artistic and deeply emotional. A total of 8 tracks over the two discs gives the maestro and his sidemen time to develop the songs and go to the essence of what they want to express. Paco plays divine, the band is absolutely amazing and the music really takes you to Spain and its roots. The Spanish edition of this set includes as well a DVD with a 20 minute documentary – a view behind the scenes. The album will be available internationally in early 2012, but for me it is one of the best of 2011.
And while being at it – why not mention my top films and books for the year:
Even so made in 2009, The Farewell Affair only made it to the movies (in Spain) in 2011 – but it has been worth waiting for (even if you didn’t know you actually did wait for it….). A spy movie from the Cold War, based on true facts, it is warm and brutal at the same time, showing how politicians and secret services play chess with human beings …. Extremely well done and gripping, in a suspense as well as in an emotional way.
Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, probably his best since Scoop, is an enjoyable affair with funny and clever references – great entertainment.
Carnage, the latest by Roman Polansky, could have been made by Woody Allen – it has the same neurotic characters and funny clever dialogs he had in his New York films. This is a rollercoaster of emotions and a showcase for the great actors in it – especially Jodie Foster. Check this out!
The Artist – a silent movie made today ? A risk taken by a studio – and it pays off 100 %! This is great entertainment, it is a great story, well presented in an ‘old’ way and still modern and uses sound to highlight certain moments – with surprising effect! Very charming and very engaging.
I admit – I did enjoy Tin Tin and I did like Super 8 as well. They are well done and they give you a few hours of entertainment on the highest technical level and that is all I did expect.
One book stood out for me this year from anything else I read: 1Q84, the three part modern fairy-tale by Haruki Murakami. As in most of his books we are asked to find the borderline between reality and what we want to see, experience … or question if there is a border at all … but as well he pays homage to the strength humans can have in many different ways … A complex book, but a very rewarding one.
Stephane Hessel’s little pamphlet Time for Outrage must rank as the most influential book of the year – translated in all major languages it started the 15M movement of civil disobedience in Spain and other countries and opened a lot of eyes … .A lot for a little book.
Finally … football (or soccer, as it is called in some countries): as a fan, this year, again, was the year of Barcelona FC! Even so in Spain I am a follower of Real Madrid, one has to accept that there is no better club team in the world at the moment! When they play, you can actually talk about the beautiful game, as the English call their football. Movements and control are like a ballet and all seems to be so easy … They will be the one to beat or quite a while !!
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year 2012 !