Tag Archives: Films

#FirstWorldProblems: The Motion Picture – Joanna Hogg’s film ‘Exhibition’

23 Oct

Every so often a film comes along that seems intentionally designed to test the limits of its audience. In action movies, for instance, one can’t help but ask if Michael Bay is taking the piss with each successive Transformers sequel, wondering just how little plot and character development he can get away with, providing he fills the screen with explosions, giant robots and the pert bosoms of actresses half his age. Pretty much the same could be said of the art-house crowd and Joanna Hogg’s latest, if you replace explosions with shots of bespoke Swedish furniture, giant robots with vague dialogues about conceptual art, and Megan Fox with Slits guitarist Viv Albertine.

Exhibition follows two artists, H (played by real-life conceptual artist Liam Gillick) and D (Albertine), as they go through the process of selling their spacious London home. The film is made up of scenes from their everyday life, including dinner with friends from across the road and meetings with an estate agent, played by Tom Hiddleston. H works in an upstairs room (though at what, exactly, we never find out), while D spends a lot of time faffing about on a stool. And that’s about it.

Pictured: D (Viv Albertine) faffs about on a stool.

Pictured: D (Viv Albertine) faffs about on a stool.

To call the film plotless would be to invite comparison with a fragmented, dreamlike work such as Tarkovsky’s Mirror. Exhibition isn’t plotless. In offering us two fairly commonplace characters (at least in the middle class, affluent and mono-ethnic corner of London in which it’s set), and in presenting these moments from their life in chronological order, it reaches for a plot, without having the nerve to tell a story.

With its focus on the glacial, modern interior design of H and D’s lavish pad, Exhibition’s bum-numbing 101 minutes feel not so much like a movie as a particularly uneventful episode of Grand Designs. In its asking us to sympathise with D’s agony over having to move out of this dream home, the feeling isn’t so much one of a Brideshead or Il Gattopardo-style elegy, prompting our sympathy with the well-to-do in a time of crisis, but rather a big screen adaptation of the “First World Problems” hashtag and meme.

The real world, in which police sirens wail and bad things are happening elsewhere, is alluded to in the film’s admittedly excellent sound design, which does much of the heavy lifting when it comes to D’s character development. Albertine herself drifts through the role ghost-like, more or less a blank canvas, and apart from one – and only one – scene of confrontation (someone horribly working class parks in front of their garage) Gillick’s H is barely a character at all. Are their vague conversations about art meant to provoke thought or inspire contempt? I really couldn’t tell. If it’s the former, then culturally we’re doomed. If it’s the latter, then this is satire without teeth.

Ultimately, Exhibition is about very little of any consequence. Any interesting ideas (is D a little agoraphobic? When she searches every cupboard, is she checking for burglars or just looking at each one for the last time?) are abandoned almost as soon as they are introduced. This isn’t just a slow film, it’s a film in which nothing happens, and Hogg makes the mistake of thinking that these are one and the same, that an absence of character development, plot or suspense are the hallmarks of intellectual or artistic rigour. They are not.

"Shall we go into any detail about what it is either of us actually does for a living?" "Let's not."

“Shall we go into any detail about what it is either of us actually does for a living?”
“Let’s not.”

Adding to the frustration of having lost over an hour and a half watching this film – waiting for something, anything to happen – is the almost universal praise it received from the British press. Five star reviews in the Guardian and Times. Four stars from the Telegraph and Empire. Interestingly, once you stray outside the UK’s Londoncentric and incestuous cultural scene, the reviews cool off considerably, nowhere more so than in this bang-on assessment from the Village Voice. 

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with films that explore, or attempt to explore the middle and upper classes in an age of bleak austerity; characters from all backgrounds are worthy of attention. What grates with Exhibition is its navel-gazing. This is Kensington property porn masquerading as art, and at a time when so many are struggling to put food on their own tables, let alone keep roofs over their heads, that just feels appallingly crass.

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5 Observations About Netflix UK

20 Oct

I’ve been signed up to Netflix UK for a little over a year. On the whole, I’d say it’s pretty good value for money. I have eclectic tastes, so there’s always something I’ll want to watch, and its abundance of sitcoms and US shows gives me something to do on my lunch breaks. After a while, however, you do start to notice some funny little quirks the site has. Such as…

1) It’s not as good as Netflix US

Don’t ask me how (it wasn’t entirely legit) but I recently had the opportunity to compare UK and US Netflix, and OH MY WORD. While Netflix UK has plenty of TV series and some good (if not particularly recent) films, US Netflix is like a different site altogether. “They have this?” you’ll say. “Already? And this?” We were able to watch films I had seen in the cinema only a month or so earlier. And there are so many movies. And it has a “Classic Movies” section, because it has so many movies that a whole section’s worth of them count as “classic”.

2) But that doesn’t mean it’s rubbish

Peter Finch in Network

Peter Finch in Network

One complaint I hear all the time (not least of all from my partner) is that there’s never anything to watch on Netflix UK. To which I say, tish, piddle and nonsense. Taking a cursory glance at the “browse” homepage, I can see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Breaking Bad, Pixar’s Brave, Annie Hall, The Fisher King, Blue is the Warmest Colour, The Secret in Their Eyes, The Shawshank Redemption, 9 to 5, Skyfall, Black Mirror, Pulp Fiction, the documentary McCullin, Network, and Downfall, all of which are excellent.

3) Hooligan movies are a cottage industry

Jesus… There are a lot of “hooligan” films out there. Whole sections of Netflix UK are awash with close-ups of snarling men with shaved heads superimposed over a red cross, invariably with titles like Rise of the Essex Lads III: Retribution. Still… I suppose it gives Craig Fairbrass something to do.

4) So that’s what Val Kilmer’s doing these days

As well as having ballooned, like some deep sea fish threatened by a predator, to about three times his normal size, Val Kilmer has been largely absent from the big screen for some time. The last mainstream movie release I can remember him appearing in was Werner Herzog’s not-quite-as-terrible-as-it-should-have-been Bad Lieutenant sequel/spin-off/remake/whatever, Bad Lieutenant: Port of New Orleans. Other than that, well… I’ll let Netflix UK do the talking:

The most recent film on there I’d recommend (Wonderland) was made in 2003. Twixt is the latest offering from the truly tragic Francis Ford Coppola (I’ve watched 5 minutes of it, and it’s terrible), while The Traveler (2010 – 20% on Rotten Tomatoes) looks as if it was shot on a mobile phone. In 2002.

Great actors make occasionally shitty films, and sometimes their careers dry up. We all know that. But if any actor’s career demonstrates that there’s no harm in being easy to work with, it’s Kilmer’s.

5) You should never, EVER watch InAPPropriate Comedy

Following in the less-than-hallowed footsteps of Movie 43InAPPropriate Comedy is made up of comedy sketches, was written and directed by someone called Vince Offer and stars Adrien Brody, Rob Schneider, Michelle Rodriguez and (but of course) Lindsay Lohan. Quite how Offer managed to convince them (well… all of them except Lohan) to appear in this is beyond me. To give you a taste of just how terrible this film is, Brody plays Flirty Harry, who’s a bit like Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, except the joke… get this… is that he’s gay and he flirts with people. And his catchphrase… brace yourselves… hold on to your sides… is, “Go ahead… Make me gay.”

Because Dirty Harry says “Make my day”, see? And “day” rhymes with “gay”.

"Go ahead, punk. Laugh at my career choices."

“Go ahead, punk. Laugh at my career choices.”

Having endured about 10 minutes of this shit before wanting to punch a hole through my laptop, board a flight to LAX, get in a cab, go to Adrien Brody’s house and kick him in the bollocks, then get back in the cab, go back to LAX and fly home, I can only assume that Vince Offer is a billionaire or a crime lord. Either Academy Award® winner Adrien Brody was paid a lot of money to appear in this film, or Offer kidnapped a close member of his family and wouldn’t let them go till Brody rocked up on set. Seeing as this is the actor who once dumped a girlfriend to get into character for The Pianist, I’ll assume it’s the former.

But despite my glowing recommendation, do not watch this film. Not even “ironically”. You can’t watch a terrible comedy “ironically”. If you want to laugh at a bad movie, check out Oliver “Downfall” Hirschbiegel’s Diana, which is also on Netflix UK, and which is fucking hilarious.

‘All Is Lost’

22 Aug

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It’s often hard to believe there was ever a time when movies had virtually no dialogue (you know… apart from title cards saying “Oh no! That dastardly cad has tied my beloved to the train tracks!”). If people praise a film’s script nowadays, very rarely do they mean the deft way the plot is strung together or the richness of the characterisation, but rather the cleverness, the wittiness or the realism of its dialogue. When a film is short on dialogue, it’s the first thing critics will point out, whether it’s novelty pseudo-silent movie The Artist or the bleak and speechless opening scenes of There Will Be Blood.

So tricky is it to develop characters without dialogue, that when protagonists are separated from other people, they are often given either a voice-over (The Life of Pi) or a tendency to talk to animals or inanimate objects (The Life of Pi, Castaway) to compensate, but apart from the briefest opening narration, writer-director J.C. Chandor gives Robert Redford no such props in All Is Lost.

Here Redford plays an unnamed character (listed in the credits simply as ‘Our Man’) whose yacht runs into trouble in the Indian Ocean. The film then follows him as he patches up damage to its hull, and attempts to make his way towards the nearest shipping lanes, with varying degrees of success. And that’s pretty much it. As the title suggests, things don’t exactly go to plan. Indeed, that bit of narration at the beginning suggests things will go very badly, and it would spoil the film completely to tell you how it ends, or anything that happens along the way, because this is a film in which every second, every little moment, counts.

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Without dialogue – save one or two muttered curse words and a single, abortive attempt at an S.O.S. – Redford’s performance is all about microscopic moments, changes of expression. It certainly helps that, while undeniably craggy (he is 78, after all) Redford is still in great physical condition for his age, and the fact that his opening voice-over (a letter to loved ones) is so apologetic, and he is sailing alone on the far side of the world, invites the viewer to craft their own back story for his character. Retired businessman, I guessed, with adult offspring (I pictured a small army of daughters) and at least two divorces under his belt. But despite his relative athleticism, there’s still a frailty there that will have you on the edge of your seat with both worry and suspense.

If the character were played by an actor half his age, that concern just wouldn’t be there, or the film would have to rely on cheap tactics (e.g. a full-blown shark attack, or pirates) in order to place the character in peril. Here, peril is provided by nothing more schlocky than a boat that is sinking, surrounded by thousands of miles of open water in every direction.

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Chandor’s previous feature, Margin Call, was one of my favourite films of 2012, and demonstrated his ability with both an intelligent script (packed full of dialogue) and an ensemble cast. Here, he’s gone in totally the other direction (perhaps a conscious decision), and shows incredible skill at handling both small, intimate moments and the big set pieces. The storm sequences really are the stuff of chewed fingernails and frayed nerves, and some of the underwater photography is just ravishing. The score – by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ Alex Ebert – is also worthy of much praise, adding a transcendental edge to Redford’s aquatic mishaps; though I could have done without the end credits’ song, in which Ebert more or less sings the credits as they roll (far too reminiscent of Whose Line is it, Anyway?)

At a time when so many films are either sequels, remakes or adaptations, and almost exclusively about – and aimed at – young adults, a film as exciting, as dramatic as this, with a protagonist well into his autumn years, is something to be cherished. 

All Is Lost is out on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Enraged Eric – ‘The Rover’

19 Aug

Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce in The Rover

I think we’ve now reached a point where we can put together a sliding scale of just how horrible the apocalypse and its aftermath will be, based entirely on post-apocalyptic movies. The final scene in 2012, for example, gives the impression that while there may be a whole lot of earthquake-related PTSD to deal with, everyone is quite enjoying the round-the-world cruise aboard their giant, tsunami-proof arks, so we could score that a 1 out of 10 for bleak hopelessness. 

Right at the other end of that scale you have something like the nuclear holocaust docudrama Threads, in which life in Britain is plunged back into the Dark Ages or the big screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, in which survival means not only foraging for food but making sure you don’t get eaten by redneck cannibals.

Though most high street branches of Tesco were still open for business.

…Even though most high street branches of Tesco remain open for business.

Perhaps three quarters of the way along that scale comes David Michôd’s The Rover. Starring Guy Pierce and Robert Pattinson, and set in a dust bowl Australian outback, “10 years after the collapse”, the setting and subject matter were always bound to attract comparison with the Mad Max movies (a fourth installment of which is out next year), but in truth The Rover makes the Mad Max films look like Cannonball Run. 

Pierce plays Eric who, while refreshing himself at a tin shack passing itself off as a roadside tavern, has his car stolen by a criminal gang, headed by Henry (Monsters and Killing Them Softly’s Scoot McNairy). The gang are on the run from a botched robbery, having left Henry’s younger brother, Reynolds (Pattinson) behind, but when Eric and Reynolds meet, Eric forces the latter to help him find his car.

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What follows is a kind of road-movie-cum-western, as the pair travel from one ramshackle settlement to the next. Quite what caused the “collapse” is never really explained – it’s assumed to have been economic, with Australia’s mining industry just about the only infrastructure still up and running – but its aftermath is felt everywhere, from a glacially calm grandmother attempting to pimp out her grandson to a doctor keeping her dogs in cages, so they won’t be taken away and eaten by thieves. This might not be a world ravaged by environmental disaster or nuclear war, but virtually all sense of civilisation is gone. Violence is sudden, casual and almost inevitable in a world where law and order are provided by ragtag gangs of soldiers, rather than police.

The real revelation here is Pattinson, who I’d previously seen only in a handful of films, none of which were a particularly good showcase for his skills. Some reviewers have singled out his twitchy mannerisms and speech patterns for criticism, reading the character as a simpleton (one even mentioned Robert Downey Jr.’s “full retard” speech from Tropic Thunder), but I can only assume they weren’t paying attention to the film. Did they perhaps miss the moment when Eric overhears Reynolds speaking fluent Cantonese? Were they in the loo when Reynolds takes out a small army unit and rescues Eric, having dug under a fence to break into their compound? The character certainly seems more of a savant than a simpleton; and while Eric may be the film’s protagonist, Reynolds is certainly its heart.

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Pierce’s performance is perhaps not so much of a surprise, having delivered a similarly stoic turn in The Proposition, but his character remains fascinating. It becomes clear, following a shocking act of violence early on, that Eric is an unknowable quantity. If we sympathise with him for the loss of his car – even though his particular attachment to it remains a mystery until the very last scene – that sympathy dissipates pretty quickly, and soon enough it’s clear this is a movie without “goodies”… only “baddies” and “even worsies”.

The film’s major triumph, however, is in its depiction of a society that has come apart at the seams; indeed, one which no longer has the right to think of itself as a society at all. It takes only a cursory glance at recent headlines to realise that the barbarity depicted here isn’t far-fetched, begging the question – is the “collapse” referred to in the opening titles an event we have to look forward to, or something that’s already happened?

Let's face it - it's the latter.

Let’s face it – it’s the latter.

So “So Bad, It’s Good” It’s Bad – ‘Sharknado 2’

2 Aug

Sharknado 2

If, in years to come, the 21st Century is remembered for one thing, it’ll be as the era that witnessed the death of irony and sarcasm. Social media have rendered subtleties in tone obsolete, so that comments intended with tongue firmly in cheek read as utterly sincere, and “parody” accounts and websites such as christwire.org are regularly cited as genuine examples of fundamentalism. (See “Poe’s Law” for further details.)

The late 20th Century’s tsunami of postmodernism left Western culture awash with insincerity, so that almost everything these days is framed with irony. Whereas twenty years ago we might have watched films such as Plan 9 From Outer Space or Mommie Dearest because they set out for greatness but achieved only schlock, we are now making films with the intention that they will be “so bad they’re good”.

Pictured: Academy Award® winner Faye Dunaway

Pictured: Academy Award® winner Faye Dunaway

Which brings us to Sharknado 2. This TV movie, produced by the SyFy channel, is the sequel to 2013’s Sharknado. We know this, because its full title is Sharknado 2: The Second One, in case some of us fail to understand the concept of sequels. The first film centred around the unlikely premise in which Los Angeles is hit by a tornado that manages to suck all the sharks out of neighbouring waters, and then dump them on an army of unsuspecting Angelinos, including a surprisingly lifelike Tara Reid and John “the dad out of Home Alone” Heard.

Typically, for this sort of movie, it features scenes in which those milling about in the background fail to respond in any way whatsoever to the THOUSANDS OF FUCKING SHARKS falling from the sky, and – despite the dense black clouds overhead and the editor dimming everything in post-production – the streets of LA are brightly sunlit throughout. The sharks look like something from one of the earlier Tomb Raider games, the CGI floodwater looks like mercury, and a climactic scene has our hero, Fin Shepherd (Ian Ziering) fight his way through an unconvincing shark’s innards with a chainsaw.

As illustrated here by a 6-year-old using Photoshop. In 1995.

As illustrated here by a 6-year-old using Photoshop. In 1995.

Sharknado, in summary, is not a good movie, but even pointing this out feels redundant, because whereas those responsible for Batman & Robin or The Room or Battlefield Earth thought they were making good films, the makers of Sharknado knew it was rubbish. Even so, what they aim for isn’t self-conscious spoof, in the vein of Airplane! or Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks, but a strangely lacklustre compromise between the two: Too aware of its own shortcomings for them to be fun, and not funny enough to inspire belly laughs.

For its part, Sharknado 2 does, at least, aim for the latter, and at times it even comes close. There are some mostly unnecessary “star” cameos from the likes of Andy Dick, Billy Ray Cyrus and Kelly Osbourne, and this time round our “Oh my God… They’re in this?” turns are provided by Judd Hirsch (playing a taxi driver… Taxi… geddit?), A Serious Man’s Richard Kind and Kill Bill star Vivica Fox. Ian Zierling and Tara Reid return as our intrepid, chainsaw-wielding hero and a Ritalin-impaired marionette (at least, I think that’s who Reid plays), and the whole thing ends with a scene in which Zierling surfs a shark through a tornado before landing it on the Empire State Building’s spire. Of course.

Same thing happened when we were there last year. True story.

Same thing happened when we were there last year. True story.

But whereas a movie like Airplane! knowingly sends up the cliches and other weaknesses of disaster movies, Sharknado 2 blunders on, blissfully unaware of its own. New York’s subway system floods, and its tunnels become infested with sharks and – somehow – alligators, yet the streets of Midtown remain surprisingly calm and quiet, with shoppers and commuters visibly going about their business as usual. When three tornadoes (sorry… sharknadoes) converge on Manhattan, an aerial shot shows what appears to be a Sunday morning level of traffic passing through Times Square. That isn’t “ironic cheesiness”, that’s just terrible film-making.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh, and at times I laughed quite heartily at Sharknado 2, but when the credits rolled I was left with that same feeling of hollow dissatisfaction that I had after its predecessor, because in the absence of genuine wit (and that’s the one thing Sharknado 2 is utterly lacking), there has to be someone on the receiving end of those laughs. If you can’t laugh with someone or something, you have to feel that you are laughing at it, and with the Sharknado movies that just feels pointless.

At the risk of taking SyFy’s monster movies way too seriously, it would be easy to dismiss Sharknado and its ilk as just “trash TV”, but I can’t help but feel these movies are part of a wider programme in which our cultural benchmarks are being  lowered intentionally. High production values cost more money, so why not make a virtue out of terrible direction, acting and special effects? Groom people into not only accepting rubbish as the norm, but demanding it, and you can get away with anything.

Too late.

Exhibit B.

 

 

A Revenger’s Tragedy – ‘Blue Ruin’

7 May

Blue Ruin

The more you know about a film in advance, the more it ruins the film. This was a lesson I  learned after attending my first film festival. Going in to a film blind (not literally), with a minimum of hype, expectation and prejudice is the absolute best way to watch a movie. Want to know what happens when you watch way too many trailers and get yourself so excited you could shit yourself?

This. This is what happens.

This. This is what happens.

That isn’t to say a tiny bit of hype won’t nudge you in the right direction. Last Saturday, while finishing up a day’s work, I overheard the panel on Radio 4’s Saturday Review talk about a film called Blue Ruin. I wasn’t paying much attention, but from what I heard I liked the sound of it. It was like a revenge film, they said. But not that kind of revenge film. Or, at least, that was the gist of what I caught.

Now, if I tell you Blue Ruin is a revenge film, I know already what you’re thinking of. The revenge movie in your head stars one of the following:

  • Jason Statham
  • Denzel Washington
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

And it features:

  • A scene in which a car flips over while exploding.
  • A corrupt FBI/DEA agent played by Eric Roberts or Don Johnson.
  • A European actor lauded for their role in an arthouse flick as the main villain.

Let me start by telling you that Blue Ruin is not that kind of movie. When we first meet protagonist Dwight (Macon Blair), he’s living in a rusting Oldsmobile (the titular “blue ruin”) on a beach, with long, straggly hair and a beard that may or may not house an entire family of sparrows. Actually, scratch that, when we first meet him he has broken in to a complete stranger’s house so he can use their bath while they’re out. Dwight is, in short, a loser, a hobo, a bum.

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And no… He’s not your unconvincing-false-beard-and-grime kind of hobo. Dwight genuinely looks as if he has been sleeping rough for a decade. Saying barely five words, if that, in the film’s opening 10 minutes, he has the look of a very haunted man; the reason for which becomes clear when he’s taken in to a police station by a tender, sympathetic officer, and told that the man who murdered his parents is about to be released from prison.

What follows is, as already mentioned, a revenge film, but one quite unlike anything you’ve seen before. If it reminded me of anything, it was of Dead Man’s Shoes, with its mixture of suddenly, clumsy and gruesome violence and its vein of very black humour. That said, whereas Paddy Considine’s character in that film is a latter day Man With No Name, skilled in the art of one-man warfare, Dwight is inexperienced and bumbling.

Macon Blair as Dwight (after having a shave)

Macon Blair as Dwight (after having a shave)

Writer-director Jeremy Saulnier has assembled a top notch cast for what is only his second feature film. Blair is incredible as Dwight, holding your attention while saying so very little, and he’s given great support by Devin Ratray (aka Buzz from Home Alone) as Dwight’s gun-savvy friend Ben and Kevin Kolack as Teddy Cleland – one of the limo-owning crime clan Dwight finds himself up against.

If the cast sound unfamiliar, that’s because there’s a good chance their will be. Ratray aside (and I’d be surprised if you recognised him), I wasn’t familiar with any of the main cast, and if anything this only drew me in to the film even further. From the word go I was gripped, and some scenes (one word: crossbow) had me almost literally on the edge of my seat and watching the film through my fingers.

Besides being suspenseful, occasionally very funny and in places wince-inducingly painful to watch, Blue Ruin’s chief success lies in its protagonist. Dwight is both flawed (you can’t help but wish he’d chosen another path) and sympathetic (you can appreciate why he chose this one). His stumbling into a murky, backwoods criminal underworld feels almost accidental, even if it’s intentional, reminding me of Breaking Bad’s Walter White, and his first tentative steps into the meth business.

No news yet on whether there'll be a Blue Ruin Lego play set.

No news yet on whether there’ll be a Blue Ruin Lego play set.

What’s even more amazing about Blue Ruin is that it was funded through Kickstarter, and a great example of how that particular funding model can work, even if the chances of indie films enjoying big screen success are still relatively small. At least, it would seem, there is some hope for interesting, intelligent movies to survive in a big-screen world of sequels, prequels, remakes and reboots.

5 Predictions for 2014

23 Dec

And so 2013 comes to a close, ending much like one of those Sundays you have in your early 20s, when you hit the sack as others are sitting down for breakfast and crawl out of bed when it’s dark and almost time for you to crawl back in again. It’s gone quickly, is what I’m saying. Even so, I’ll now attempt to see into the future and tell you 5 things we have waiting for us in 2014.

1) TV

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The biggest show on TV in 2014 will be Gogglebox+, a spin-off from the popular Channel4 show, in which the viewer is given the choice to watch one of up to 100,000 different families watching Gogglebox, including their own. The show will begin as a red button option, before being commissioned as its own interactive web series. Things will reach a postmodern event horizon when, via a multi-screen option, those participating in Gogglebox+ can watch the regular characters from Gogglebox watching them watching Gogglebox+.

2) Pop Music

Pop Music

2014 will be the year when, in a bold, empowering move that demonstrates her maturity and bravery as an artist, a teenage female pop star whose songs are written and produced by men in their 30s will participate in a live donkey show at the VMAs. The ensuing opprobrium will be aimed entirely at the pop star and not at the men who organised and choreographed the routine.

Meanwhile, French producer and songwriter David Guetta will be arrested, in November, accused of taking out a contract on the life of Pharrell Williams. Lawyers for the prosecution claim that Guetta wanted to end “for once and for all” Williams’s tireless campaign to “wrestle RnB back from the clutches of very boring, unimaginative white men”. In December, officers involved in the investigation begin questioning Calvin Harris for his role in the alleged plot.

3) Movies

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Following the announcements that both Batman and Wonder Woman will appear in the sequel to Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Warner Bros announce that the following characters are also to feature in the movie: The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batgirl, Bizarro, Nightwing, Plastic Man, Swamp Thing and John Constantine. Incredibly, despite the project’s prestige, the producers struggle to find a writer willing or able to cram all these characters into a coherent story write the screenplay for this as-yet-untitled film.

4) Celebrities

Jamie Box

Following his appearance on next year’s hit TV show, The Know-Nothings (a documentary following a group of people who quite literally know nothing), next year’s biggest and best-paid celebrity will be fitness instructor Jamie Box from Chester. Box, 22, thinks that the capitol of France is Germany, and that whenever he goes to the cinema the actors in the film he’s watching are performing the film live. In September 2014 he garners his 14,000,000th follower on Twitter and publishes volume 3 of his autobiography before being named as Claudia Winkleman’s replacement on Film 2014.

5) Politics

Russell Brand

Voter apathy increases, after Russell Brand reveals – at a press junket to publicize his slapstick remake of Gandhi – how the previous change in government had little-to-no impact on his 8-figure bank balance. This shock revelation, coupled with the fact that Brand has enjoyed continuous employment for the last 10 years, leads those earning almost 1,000 times less than him and still struggling to find or hold on to a job, to believe voting makes no difference whatsoever. As a result, the only people intending to vote in 2015 will be those who fall outside his fan demographic, i.e. anyone roughly the same age or older than Andrew Sachs. Gearing up for the 2015 election, all of the major parties will announce harsher penalties on the young (loss of housing benefit for the under 40s, a pension age of 97 for anyone born after 1990) and a holiday in the Bahamas and endless repeats of Lovejoy on GOLD for the over 65s.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage will appear on the BBC no fewer than 946 times, including – thanks to the wonder of computerized visual effects – two separate appearances on a single episode of Question Time.

Nigel Farage, Ukip