At the tail end of the 60s/dawn of the 70s, Swiss-Iranian director Barbet Schroeder made two films, both of which were sound-tracked by a post-Syd Barrett Pink Floyd at the peak of their powers. One of those films (More) is a stone-cold hippies-go-mad-in-Ibiza classic, while the other (La Vallee, aka Obscured by Clouds) is a less than perfect hippies-go-mad-in-Papua-New-Guinea flick and is frankly a bit meh, but probably worthy of revisiting, or even visiting (the film, that is – not Papua New Guinea, which is a very dangerous place). Both are easily obtainable on UK Blu-Ray, so don’t be put off by the unsubtitled trailers below.
I have a new project, a book (an entire book!) about Radio On, a film only I and a couple of other people actually like, and about the A4, which is a road. Yes, a book about an obscure(ish) film, and the road from London to Bristol (or Bristol to London) on which much of the film’s inaction takes place. But actually (inactually) much of the early scenes in Radio On were filmed on or under the Westway, the A40, which doesn’t go to Bristol, but does enable me to talk about David Bowie, J.G. Ballard and Hawkwind.
Reading Andy Sharp’s brilliant, bonkers The English Heretic Collection, I discovered – among the more predictable meditations on J.G Ballard, Witchfinder General and the numerous secret army bases dotted around England – this pearl of wisdom regarding the opening credits of everyone’s favourite Home Guard sitcom:
“They are on manoeuvre towards their ultimate fate. Corporal Jones, stumbling, looking over his shoulder for some imaginary Hun; neurasthenic from his experiences in the trenches. Jones’ much-loved catchphrase Don’t Panic! isn’t comedy gold, but a projection of the PTSD that riddles the minefield of his memories. He’s clearly triggered by the slightest emergency.”Continue reading “Dad’s Army: English Heretics”
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”
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”
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”
(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”
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”
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”