To see out 2009 on the blog, we asked people from across the company to give us a short review of a movie, book, exhibition, or anything that struck them during the year. Here’s what they sent us.

Andy Stubbings, London: The Hurt Locker, by Kathryn Bigelow

My favourite film of 2009 was The Hurt Locker by Kathryn Bigelow. Hugely captivating and at times ridiculously tense, I can’t remember the last time a film at the cinema has been so immersive (certainly not the slew of mediocre ‘disaster porn’ movies of the last couple of years). I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it, but if you do get the chance, try and see it in a great big, loud cinema. Just don’t sit too close.

Jessica Baluss, Chapel Hill: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall

Part-time runner, part-time journalist Chris McDougall tracks down the reclusive Tarahumara  (‘the Running People’) in the rugged terrain of Northern Mexico.  He explores physiology and training across sports and cultures; the subculture and relatively unknown athletes of modern ultra-running; and a quirky cast of characters – including the author himself – who ultimately face off against the Tarahumara “ghost runners” in a page-turning extreme race through the desert.  It’s a thought provoking take on why we run – examining unnecessary layers of the modern running shoe and ‘the Nike effect’, as well as the corporatization of racing and sponsorship. It’s inspired many runners to try a different stride, terrain, pair of shoes, and to rediscover the joy of their next jog.

Stacey Yates, London: Sophie Calle, ‘Talking To Strangers’

For her exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, Sophie has taken a ‘break up’ letter from her lover and sent it to 107 women with different backgrounds and asked them to interpret the letter from their professional, or in some cases, personal standpoint.  Among others she has called on a criminologist, writer, proof reader, opera singer, mother, mime artist, 9 year old school girl, editor, and an 18th century historian….the list goes on.

It’s a fascinating look at our capacity to approach subjects in a variety of different ways and it’s done brilliantly. A fantastic multimedia installation where the audience seems to be walking around, well… looking for themselves in the various interpretations! Interesting and inspiring – and on until 4th January.

(The picture is from the Whitechapel Gallery, and is used with thanks.)

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