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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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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”

Archaeology Corner: The Marvellous Melvin and Marvin Show

(Photo by Caio Resende, Pexels)

This month’s blog is about two more of my favourite actors (it’s a long list and there’s still a long way to go). Murray Melvin and Lee Marvin may be worlds apart – quite literally – but they share a certain cult status, albeit to vastly different degrees, Lee Marvin being a superstar and Murray Melvin not being one. And thus, as Orson Welles is alleged to have said, does nature balance itself. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: The Marvellous Melvin and Marvin Show”

Archaeology Corner: Restoration Ruin and “Outsider” Music  

An album I can’t stop playing right now is jazz pianist Keith Jarrett’s Restoration Ruin. No, stop, come back… don’t let the words “jazz pianist” put you off, just because this man made a record in Cologne (the legendary “Koln Concert”) which comprises of nothing but solo piano for eight and a half hours, or summat. Restoration Ruin is a very different beast. There’s  very little piano, for one thing. But Jarrett does, like Stevie Wonder and Todd Rundgren and Prince, play every instrument, including guitar, bass and (on two tracks) drums. And it’s the only album he ever sang on. Some might say that’s a good thing, but I don’t. I’d like him to sing on all his albums. Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: Restoration Ruin and “Outsider” Music  “

Unidentified: Soundtrack To An Imaginary Movie

Sadly, I‘ve now abandoned my Charles Manson musical as being in questionable taste and – since it relied on the music of the Beatles, specifically the entire White Album – financially and legally prohibitive. But every cloud has a silver lining (except for Brexit – can’t see any silver linings in that particular notebook). So I’m directing my waning energies towards the intriguing story of singer-songwriter Jim Sullivan, and the potential his disappearance in 1975 offers for the Weird Scenes In The Desert movie to end all Weird Scenes In The Desert movies, Grand Theft Parsons, Vanishing Point and Electra Glide in Blue notwithstanding. Continue reading “Unidentified: Soundtrack To An Imaginary Movie”

Archaeology Corner: Anthony Zerbe, the Oh-My-God Man

Today’s rather hurried post is about yet another of my favourite obscure(ish) American actors, Anthony Zerbe, or Zerbe the Greek, as I want to call him, although I don’t think he has any Greek relatives tbh, so I’ll just have to say, omg – Anthony Zerbe.  He makes Yaphet Kotto look like a black Jew, which of course he was, so Anthony is clearly a man concerned with the Truth, and amen to that.* Continue reading “Archaeology Corner: Anthony Zerbe, the Oh-My-God Man”

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)”

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