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Cult Sights & Sounds, Bristol, Spain & South America

68½ – MOVIES, MANSON & ME (REDUX)

It’s fifty years since May ’68! What better way to celebrate than with a new, improved (i.e. shorter) version of my first book, 68½ – MOVIES, MANSON & ME? First published in 2016, the feedback I subsequently received, from both readers, was that, while they loved the sex, the drugs, the rock & roll, and even the movie trivia, they could have happily done without the “treatments” i.e.  the summaries of every script I had ever written. In so doing, or saying, they join a long and honourable list of film producers who never bothered to read my scripts either. Continue reading “68½ – MOVIES, MANSON & ME (REDUX)”

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In Extremadura, out now!

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, out now!”

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Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

So, Quentin Tarantino has made a film about the so-called “Manson Murders”. It had to happen. Tarantino and Manson are perfectly matched, even down to the love of the N-word. But just what IS the enduring appeal of, the fascination with Charles Manson?  I‘ve asked myself that question a hundred times, and been asked it as many. After all, I wrote a book “about” him, even if it was really more about me and all my unmade film scripts (including a Manson musical). Continue reading “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood”

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Every Album I Own: Z is for Zappa (& the Mothers)

“Oh, Jeanne, to reach you at last, what a path I had to take,” Michel tells the object of his desire at the end of Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket. He’s seen his best friend Jacques steal her away (although, being French, he doesn’t seem that bothered); he’s taken her to his mother’s funeral; fled to Rome to avoid the authorities, and from there to England (he won’t be doing that post-Brexit) where he plies his trade, blowing his pickpocketed gains on other women and drink. But the pull of the Motherland is strong, and Michel returns to France, only to find that Jeanne has a child by Jacques, who has abandoned her. Michel is finally caught at the race-track by a plainclothes policeman and sent down. Only in prison can he finally tell Jeanne how he really feels. Continue reading “Every Album I Own: Z is for Zappa (& the Mothers)”

Archaeology Corner: Pretty Maids All In A Row

I first saw Pretty Maids All In A Row when I was about six, I think, and it’s stayed with me ever since. Got me a DVD of it now, and it holds up well. It’s a very black sex comedy/murder mystery, set in a Californian high school at the turn of the 70s, when all that’s left of the “hippy dream” is sexual promiscuity, and where the scantily clad female students can’t get enough of their hot, moustachioed “guidance counsellor” Tiger McDrew, played by Rock Hudson. I can’t think why it stayed with me. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: Pretty Maids All In A Row”

Bristol Fashion: Docs & Drugs & Rock & Roll

First off, a caveat: the title of this latest post is a bit misleading, I’m afraid – but so was the poster to Soldier Blue. There’s very little in the way of drugs, unless you are partial to potassium chloride, in which case you’re not reading this because you are dead. There’s very little rock and roll either, unless you count Tricky, but I can at least promise you docs (medical) and docks (the floating harbour) and even one documentary, Naked and Famous. Continue reading “Bristol Fashion: Docs & Drugs & Rock & Roll”

Every Album I Own: Y is for Neil Young

Forever Young huh? My first brush with Neil was a copy of the Crosby Stills Nash and Young classic, Déjà Vu, which my cousin Marc and I inherited as part of a job lot from a kindly neighbour circa 1978. We were fourteen (fifteen in Marc’s case) and keen to expand our record collection beyond Led Zeppelin IV and a couple of Hawkwind albums, and Darrell was keen to oblige. Years later, we discovered he was a paedophile, but he never hit on us, so who am I to judge? Darrell, if you’re reading this in prison, thanks for the introduction to Neil Young, though maybe not so much Barclay James Harvest. Continue reading “Every Album I Own: Y is for Neil Young”

Bristol Fashion: The Medusa Touch & Hearts of Fire

In 1977, at the height of punk, Richard Burton came to Bristol and made the punkiest of Bristol films (yes, even punkier than Radio On!). I’m talking about The Medusa Touch. Okay, it’s possible that Burton himself didn’t come to Bristol, or that if he did, he spent all his time in the pub (which pub, I wonder) because you only get to see a few shots of the Cathedral on College Green, but it’s still a BRISTOL film, and, more to the point, one which brings the roof crashing down on a motley collection of local dignitaries, who would have included the Queen, if the scriptwriters hadn’t bottled it. Continue reading “Bristol Fashion: The Medusa Touch & Hearts of Fire”

Archaeology Corner: Jim Brown, All-American

I recently saw a documentary about stand-up comic and actor Richard Pryor and I was surprised to hear the name Jim Brown pop up as a sometime business partner of Pryor. Not THE Jim Brown, I asked myself, whose brilliant but somehow overlooked career stretches from Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen to Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks? Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: Jim Brown, All-American”

Every Album I Own: X is for XTC’s White Music

Happy New Year everyone! This time last year I was writing about Neu! and claiming that we have a tradition in my house where, every January 1st, I play the three classic Neu! albums (Neu!, Neu! 2 and Neu! ’75) which was so obviously a lie that only my daughter believed it. Hopefully by January 1st 2020 I’ll have reached Z and put this stupid project to bed once and for all. That’s only two more posts, one every six months, which is more or less do-able, I think. Continue reading “Every Album I Own: X is for XTC’s White Music”

Archaeology Corner: Here’s To Them (Gordon & Ted)

It’s a dangerous thing, the auteur theory. It can lead you to thinking that a workmanlike director such as Gordon Douglas or Ted Kotcheff, neither of whom anyone bar a few film buffs has ever heard of, will turn in a masterpiece every time; that someone as competent but essentially limited as Douglas or Kotcheff will somehow transcend the clunkiest of scripts, the demands of genre, the cruel privations of budget, every time they stand behind a camera. Yes, they did make four of my favourite films (Them and Barquero, Two Gentlemen Sharing and Wake in Fright). But for every Barquero, every Wake in Fright, there is a Viva Knievel, an Uncommon Valour. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: Here’s To Them (Gordon & Ted)”

Bristol Fashion: Where’s My Money?

Mike Manson’s Where’s My Money (2008) is set in Bristol in 1976, and fairly reflects the strange, paralysed, but not unpleasant atmosphere of the mid-1970s. I guess it depends how old you were or what you were into at the time. This was the golden age of free festivals, for example – only the year before, enlightened Home Secretary Roy Jenkins (pre-SDP) had given his blessings to a government-sponsored festival at Watchfield, where Hawkwind played, and bad acid left dozens of people curled up in panic-stricken balls around the festival site. Continue reading “Bristol Fashion: Where’s My Money?”

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