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Cult Sights & Sounds, Bristol, Spain & South America

On Brandon Hill: Popular Culture in Bristol since WW2

Yes! It’s finally hit the shelves of Smashwords as a FREE (free!) e-book! On Brandon Hill is the FIRST EVER comprehensive history of post-war Bristolian culture, spanning the years 1945 to 2020 (or thereabouts) and covering all the major art forms for which the city is famous – music, TV, animation, street art – as well as its less celebrated contributions to film, theatre, literature, fine art etc. Continue reading “On Brandon Hill: Popular Culture in Bristol since WW2”

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In Extremadura

My second book is a radical deconstruction of the Brit Abroad genre (see, for example, A Year In Provence,  Driving Over Lemons)  (on second thoughts, don’t!)  Spanish/South American travelogue, potted history and treatise on the nature of mortality rolled into one, it includes predictable digressions on cinema (Orson Welles, Luis Bunuel)  literature (Javier Cercas, Tintin) peregrination,  wild swimming in Scotland, celebrity speed freaks and the death of David Bowie.  Continue reading “In Extremadura”

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Look at the Fool: Jake Thackray, the Frank Zappa of Folk

Jake Thackray divides opinion. There are those who, with some justification, regard him as a male chauvinist (partly true) and as a poor, Anglophone substitute for Georges Brassens, the great French chanteur (undoubtedly true, but also irrelevant if you don’t speak French and you want to get the jokes).  But the jokes aren’t even funny, Jake’s detractors cry. And he’s a male chauvinist. But the rest of us – at least, that portion of the public who are aware of his former existence  – see in Jake Thackray the classic tortured genius wrapped in comedian’s clothing, the Frank Zappa of folk, the Fool who dares to tell it like it is (men are dirty bastards; women talk too much; don’t be a sheep and follow the herd). Of course, a lot of people think there’s no place for humour in music and pour scorn on those – like Zappa – who wear their brilliance lightly. So let’s look at the fool, warts and all. But first a Tim Buckley song:

Continue reading “Look at the Fool: Jake Thackray, the Frank Zappa of Folk”

Southern Man: Five Films Starring Ned Beatty

Starring Ned Beatty: these are not words you generally see trailing a film, largely because Ned Beatty isn’t, on his own,  a reason for most people to go see a film, unless you are me. And even I would baulk at watching The Killer Inside Me again, Ned or no Ned. Continue reading “Southern Man: Five Films Starring Ned Beatty”

David Bowie, The Man Who Fooled The Earth

I know you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, but there I was watching the David Bowie Five Years doc from 2013 on BBC4 the other night and I found myself thinking (for the umpteenth time in my life) what’s all the fuss about? I mean, this was by common consent Bowie’s purple patch, from 1975 to 1980 or thereabouts, when he recorded a clutch of albums (Young Americans, Station To Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters) that even I concede are pretty humungus, yet all the documentary served to do was remind me of the myriad reasons why Bowie and his followers annoy me, while pointedly ignoring his cocaine-fuelled flirtation with fascism. Continue reading “David Bowie, The Man Who Fooled The Earth”

Archaeology Corner: The Magnificent Seven (1960)

 

One of the upsides of all this coronavirus, being in lockdown etc is that I have the time not only to catch up on all the new films, good, bad and indifferent, on Netflix and to order DVDs of trashy horror movies and minor British gems like I Start Counting (with Jenny Agutter) but also to revisit films like the original Magnificent Seven, which I wouldn’t normally do, there being more pressing issues, like work, and travel to work, and socialising with friends, not that I did much of that before but I’ve realised how completely unnecessary it is now, and intend to do even less in the New Normal. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: The Magnificent Seven (1960)”

Psychology Corner: The Strange Case of Randy Quaid

First of all, he’s called Randy, which already puts him among the elect: Randy Brown, soul singer extraordinaire, and Randy California, late guitarist with LA band Spirit, are others worthy of their own posts. He has appeared in over 90 films, a couple of which are among the finest Hollywood has ever produced. But it is Randy Quaid’s bizarre post-millennial behaviour that really redefines his career, blurring the lines between the actor and the man, fiction and fact, as hilariously and satisfyingly as Martin Scorsese’s lame Dylan mockumentary Rolling Thunder doesn’t. Continue reading “Psychology Corner: The Strange Case of Randy Quaid”

Koronavirus Korner: The Masque of the Red Dwarf

All this fuss about Coronavirus and the curtailing of the Venice carnival casts a new light on the small but significant collection of films set in Venice, notably Visconti’s Death in Venice, which I hate, and Nic Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, which I love. Continue reading “Koronavirus Korner: The Masque of the Red Dwarf”

Bristol Fashion: In The Dark Half

Photo by Mareks Steins, Pexels

In a previous blog (Docs & Drugs & Rock & Roll)  I bemoaned the lack of genuinely Bristolian films, as in films that were actually ABOUT Bristol, and not just shitty  rom-coms like Starter For Ten, The Truth About Love or the slightly grubbier Eight Minutes Idle, which all use the most “photogenic” parts of  the city (i.e. Clifton) as a backdrop without even acknowledging where they are. I said I wanted a film of Ed Trewavas’ sordid and disturbing novel Shawnie, which is set in Knowle West, with all the drugs and prostitution and casual violence you’d expect, but really I wanted something like In The Dark Half , which I just watched again and now really like, in spite of the sub-Sixth Sense “twist” at the end. Continue reading “Bristol Fashion: In The Dark Half”

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