‘During the 1940s and 50s, Hollywood entered a “noir” period, producing riveting films based on hard-boiled fiction. These films were set in dark locations and shot in a black & white aesthetic that fit like a glove. Hardened men wore fedoras and forever smoked cigarettes. Women played the femme fatale role brilliantly. Love was the surest way to death. All of these elements figured into what Roger Ebert calls “the most American film genre” in his short Guide to Film Noir. In this growing list, we gather together the noir films available online.‘
I will probably never get over the feeling of missing out that comes from growing up in the hinterlands, far from where all the cool things start—even if that was never really true. But the big cities famed in song and story seem to be where everything breaks. I do recall the evening news spending a few minutes on the Sex Pistols final disastrous tour: my mother making a face while I tried to memorise everything about those brief clips.
I read a lot of music mags. Grateful to Trouser Press for the flexidisks, Then there were films: punk and new wave-filled films almost never made it to my remote location. Midnight movies were Rocky Horror Show and Gimme Shelter or Woodstock. Eventually Tommy and The Kids Are Alright made it up our way so I sat through the latter easily a hundred times (go on, test me). But we lagged behind what was new.
But mostly I relied on soundtrack LPs that I found in the bins at the cool record stores on the other side of town near the college campus. I’ve still never seen That Summer! but every beat of its soundtrack is etched in my brain: Undertones, Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric, the Only Ones, Mink deVille, Patti Smith (of whom I knew because of her incendiary performance on Saturday Night Live). Some of the songs were beginning to filter into FM play locally, but most were not.
We didn’t have John Peel. We might have had college radio but I didn’t know about it and it didn’t reach to our side of town. Some times at night you could get Detroit stations.
Sometimes we got both movie and soundtrack: Rock-n-Roll High School was a lifesaver. The Ramones were a reviving injection of aural energy. When I finally went to the Roxy in L.A. a few years later, it was like stepping on holy ground. And the soundtrack had more than just the Ramones: Eno, Nick Lowe, Devo and more.
A grail for me for a long time was Times Square. I obsessed over the soundtrack which had a brilliant mix of Ruts, Ramones, Gary Numan, XTC, Talking Heads, Suzy Quatro, Patti and so much more. I made the movie in my head, a surreal punk adventure; when I finally got to see it, that’s pretty much what it was. Two teens, misunderstood (of course) and dismissed, find each other and make punk history in the rapidly gentrifying Times Square. Tim Curry is a DJ. Robin Johnson and Trini Alvarado are magnetic. It all goes to hell of course, but they get a last performance on a rooftop. The film bombed at the time: older male critics just sneered. It rocks. There’s even some grifting.
I suspect that there’s a #metoo story in what happened to Robin Johnson. In any case the Stigwood Organisation treated her abominably (he was a piece of work) and Stigwood himself hacked up the film to stuff more music in, so I can dream of a director’s cut.
Long Live the Sleez Sisters.
Bio: K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of White Rabbit, A Cut-Throat Business, Lush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, À la Mort Subite, The Claddagh Icon, Chastity Flame, Pelzmantel and Other Medieval Tales of Magic and Unikirja, as well as editor of Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and the forthcoming Drag Noir. With cartoonist Elena Steier she created the occult detective comic Jane Quiet. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor pieces, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. She spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Galway, Ireland where she was a Fulbright Fellow in digital humanities at NUIG. Dr. Laity has written on popular culture and social media for Ms., The Spectator and BitchBuzz, and teaches medieval literature, film, gender studies, New Media and popular culture at the College of Saint Rose. She divides her time between upstate New York and Dundee.
David J (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets) presents ‘The Auteur (Redux / The Starlet’s Cut)’, a digital-only single featuring actress, activist and writer Rose McGowan. This release serves as a taster for his forthcoming double album ‘Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy And Allure’, which is set for release on Glass Modern Records in autumn.
The track features a stellar line up of musicians, including Paul Wallfisch (Swans), Larry Mullins AKA Toby Dammit (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds), Sean Eden (Luna) and Emily Jane White (backing vox). The accompanying video was created by Scott Saw of Fuze Studios.
“The original version of ‘The Auteur’ was released as part of an EP in 2002, an old song that tells a much older story but one which in light of the whole #metoo movement now has an addendum,” says David J.
“The most vocal proponent of that righteous call for respect and culpability, Rose McGowan, makes a fitting and emotional appearance on this brand new version’s reprise. Rose told me that she related to the lyrics on a very personal level and, because of this, she is also considering recording her own version of the song.”
Rose McGowan is a thought leader and agent of change, who originally gained recognition as an actress with lead roles in films such as ‘The Doom Generation’, ‘Scream’, ‘Jawbreaker’ and ‘Planet Terror’, as well as the hit series ‘Charmed’. As a writer, director, music artist, icon, entrepreneur, and feminist whistle-blower, she has focused a spotlight on injustice and inequality in the entertainment industry and beyond. As an activist, she led a movement to break the silence and has become a leading voice in the fight to disrupt the status quo.
David J has spent the last eight months touring the world with Peter Murphy on the massively successful Ruby Rising 40 Years of Bauhaus Tour, covering multiple countries across four continents.
David also recently offered two limited edition vinyl releases for Record Store Day: a remastered and expanded version of ‘V for Vendetta’ in Britain (via Glass Modern) and, in North America, the ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ 7″ single (via Schoolkids Records), performing Emily Jane White‘s ‘Hole in the Middle’ as b-side. In autumn of 2018, he also reissued his seminal album ‘Crocodile Tears and The Velvet Cosh’ and released ‘Oracle of the Horizontal’ with Duende, both on vinyl via Glass Modern.
As of June 14, ‘The Auteur (Redux / The Starlet’s Cut)’ is available across all digital platforms. A two-track version of the single, including the instrumental, can be downloaded exclusively via Glass Modern Records’ Bandcamp.
David J – Vocals
Rose McGowan – Lead female vocal
Emily Jane White – Backing vocals
Paul Wallfisch – Piano, bass guitar, Wurlitzer, backing vocals
Sean Eden – Electric guitar
Larry Mullins – Drums
Heather Paauwe – Violin, viola
Eleanor Norton – Cello
Strings arranged by Paul Wallfisch
Engineered and mixed by Paul Wallfisch
additional engineering by Tony Green
Produced by David J and Paul Wallfisch
Instrumental Version mixed by Paul Wallfisch
1. The Auteur (Redux / The Starlet’s Cut)
2. Instrumental Version
JW: When did you begin your career as a writer /editor of pulp writing, Maxim?
MJ: I never meant to specifically be involved in what you term ‘pulp’. From early childhood I was an avid reader and quickly found out that I actually wanted to write stories and all followed from there. My early tastes (and career) were for science fiction and fantasy, although I also read a lot of crime and I began publishing my first stories in magazines in France, where I was then living, from the age of 16. But because I was bilingual I read and was aware of what was being written in English and one day convinced a Paris publishing house to allow me to edit a volume of the latest in British SF, and that became my first anthology.
JW: Any favourite pulp writers?
MJ: Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Fritz Leiber, many of which I Iater had the opportunity to publish when I began work in publishing per se
JW: What makes a good crime/suspense novel?
MJ: If I knew, I would have written it. As it is I keep trying again and again and as soon as a new novel of mine is published, I realise I can do better and start another! It’s very much in the eye of the beholder, the right alchemical blend of locale, characters, plot and feelings.
JW: What did you think of the film version of Get Carter? Do crime novels tend to make good films, when adapted?
MJ: I’m a great fan of it (and actually director Mike Hodges is a good friend of mine; and I published his first novel a few years back). Although it differs greatly from the book which is equally good. Generally I prefer original scripts to book adaptations, but a few do stand out like Carter or Falling Angel or turn out even better in the case of The Godfather, which maybe points to the fact that mediocre books can make great movies while important ones do not, as they already occupy a level which even film at its best can’t reach.
JW: Are there any writers that you could tell would become a huge successes through their early writing?
MJ. Lots of new writers have impressed me immensely; even more so as for past 6 years I’ve been a judge for the Crime Writers’ Association First Novel Dagger so seen a lot of debuts, but as to predict who is going to be ‘big’, so much depends on marketing spend and promo publishers allow it and the unpredictable quirks of the book trade. Have spent most of my life in book publishing and all too aware that quality is not always the issue. Right now my two tips for the future are Chris Whitaker and Lou Berney but who knows if they will make it big.
JW: Do you have a new collection of stories that you are editing, Maxim?
MJ: Am currently editing the 3rd volume in what I hope will become a regular series of anthologies, each on a different mystery theme, for US publishers Mango. First one, Historical, has just been published. Next, Amateur Sleuths and Private Eyes is delivered and out in autumn and now working on 3rd, Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths, for 2020. And my fairly major general crime anthology Invisible Blood appears in UK and USA next month, with stories from many of the biggest names in the genre, including a new Jack Reacher tale by Lee Child.
I had taken 4 years off editing anthologies as I was busy on a series of books outside the genre, eleven in all, most of which made the Sunday Times bestseller lists, albeit under a pseudonym.
The Survivors (1975)
Bewitched (‘Humans: they all look the same to me, noses to the grindstone shoulders to the wheel, feet planted firmly on the ground, no wonder they can’t fly! It’s fine for them but not for us. We are quicksilver, a fleeting shadow, a distant sound that has no boundaries through which we can’t pass. We are found in music, in a flash of colour, we live in the wind and in a sparkle of star…’).
Omnibus: Cracked Actor (1975)
Just Another Saturday Night (1975) and Just a Boys’ Game (1979) (Both written by Peter McDougall – I could’ve taken ye any time)
Scum (Made in 1977, banned until 1991)
The Naked Civil Servant (1975)
Singing Detective (1986)
Kojak (We’ll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer and that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (My kinda guy)
Made in Britain (1983)
The Firm (1989)
True Detective (Season 1)
Doctor Who (circa 1967/8)
Children of the Stones (1977)
Close to the Knives – David Wojnarowicz (Hardly able to observe the breakage of everything, the wear and tear)
American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis (The eternal, facetious broiling of the damned)
Basketball Diaries – Jim Carroll (All the regrets of this city)
Our Lady of the Flowers – Jean Genet (Lice-ridden awakenings)
The Rosy Crucifixion (Sexus, Plexus, Nexus) – Henry Miller (‘All my Calvaries were rosy crucifixions, pseudo-tragedies to keep the fires of hell burning brightly for the real sinners who are in danger of being forgotten.’)
Meetings with Remarkable Men – GI Gurdjieff
The Gormenghast Trilogy – Mervyn Peake
Story of O – Pauline Réage
The Haunting of Tony Jugg – Dennis Wheatley
The Illuminatus Trilogy – Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea (Fun and kicks: drugs, the occult, sex, and conspiracy theory. ‘A fairy story for paranoiacs.’)
1984 – George Orwell
Ulysses – James Joyce (Deep into the collective unconscious)
Brighton Rock – Graham Green
Lord of the Flies – William Golding
The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham (Dystopia, my love)
Only Lovers Left Alive – Dave Wallis (Same)
Crash – JG Ballard
The Creative Tarot – Jessa Crispin
Ciao! Manhattan! (1972) (Speed is frozen)
The Uninvited (1944) (Haunted my dreams as a young kid)
Scorpio Rising (1964) (The capacity of desire to surprise)
Blade Runner (1982)
Withnail and I (1987) (A film that Brigandage singer Michelle and I saw at the Hampstead Classic and empathised with tremendously — we would argue about which of us was Withnail and which was I )
Enter the Dragon (1973) (You’ll never take the Oak Road)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Blow Up (1966) (There’s a great Modernism/Post-Modernism analysis of this on Youtube)
That’ll be the Day (1973)/Stardust (1974) (Dave Essex: bad muthafucka)
Network (1976) (You’re television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy)
Ashes and Diamonds (1948) (Starring Zbigniew Cybulski, the Polish James Dean – died similarly young, by falling under a train. I come from a Polish background)
Up the Junction (1968)
Harder They Come (1972)
Wild Style (1983)
Night and the City (1950)
American Graffiti (1973) (When I saw this I wished only for: pedal to the metal)
Asphalt Jungle (1950)
Radio On (1979)
Drowning by Numbers (1988)
Night of the Hunter (1955)
Taxi Driver (1976) (I don’t believe that one should devote his life to morbid self-attention).
Wings of Desire (1987)
Wandering Star – Lee Marvin (I’ve never seen a sight that didn’t look better looking back)
I Feel Love – Donna Summer (The real best single of 1977)
High Tide Green Grass LP – Rolling Stones (Insouciance in the UK)
Rock Creek Park – The Blackbyrds
All I Want is You and Street Life – Roxy Music (I don’t care what’s new)
Time Has Come Today – Chambers Brothers
Beat Generation/Blank Generation – Bob McFadden/Richard Hell
Primitive – The Groupies (I’m proud of my life/But don’t ask me why)
Yum Yum and Wicky Wacky – Fatback Band (And live at the California Ballroom, Dunstable, 1975.)
Tell Your Sister I’ll Throw Bricks with Her – Max (Live at the Clarendon mid-80s, and on private cassette tape) (I wrote an interview with Kevin Mooney – it’s on the internet somewhere. Explains everything)
Green Eyed Kid – The Shrew Kings (I was later in the band Woman with the singer of this bunch of bohos – Jef, who was also the original front man with King Kurt)
Metal Guru – T Rex (If I did another band I’d call it Metal Guru, probs)
City of the Dead – Clash (Backstage in the town of the dead, JS taught me the chords to White Riot on his guitar. I forgot them straight away).
Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) – Frank Wilson
Mr Magic (Private cassette of early 80s New York WBLS-FM radio shows)
Me and Baby Brother – War
Step Right Up – Tom Waits (Christ, you don’t know the meaning of heartbreak, buddy)
Two Sevens Clash – Culture
Golden Years – David Bowie (I spent part of a maths lesson in 1975 memorising the lyrics to this song. I failed the maths O’Level, but passed the far more important exam in coolness. J. )
Season of the Witch – Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & Trinity (Beatniks are out to make it rich)
Sing Sing Sing – Benny Goodman (RE swing scene 1975/6 – just before punk)
Please Give Me Something – Bill Allen (Just a little bit of something)
King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown – Augustus Pablo
Barabajagal – Donovan (Better than Dylan any day)
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted – Jimmy Ruffin (The roller-skating rink in Dunstable only had a handful of records. Part of my teenagerhood was spent going round and round on wheels, holding hands with some girl or other, if I was lucky, to this soundtrack.)
21 Gun Salute – The Gamblers (Bought in 1977 at the best record shop in the world #1 FL Moore, High Street North, Dunstable. I’m impressed in hindsight that a small shop in nowheresville had a selection of Jamaican import 45s every week)
Police and Thieves – Junior Murvin
Judy Teen – Cockney Rebel (The exquisitely bottomless metaphysical definitions of freedom, you understand)
Out of My Mind – The Chantelles (I bought this, with handwritten white label, from the Lost Record Shop, Luton, in the 70s, thinking it was the reggae group. That would have been good. But this was better. Record buying as metaphor)
Hallelujah – The New Creations (Bought in 1979 at the best record shop in the world #2, Honky Tonk, Kentish Town Road, London).
The Fantels – Hooligan (Bought at the best record shop in the world #3 Daddy Kool, Hanway Street, London)
IRT – Snatch (JN rocks)
The Groove Line – Heatwave (And live at the California Ballroom, 1978)
Rock On – David Essex (Dub)
One Nation Under a Groove – Funkadelic (‘Our’ song once)
A Touch of Velvet – A Sting of Brass – The Mood Mosaic (KTF)
Mystery Train – Elvis Presley (Fresh possibility)
Mexico (1985), Warszawa (1968 and 2000s), Krakow (1968), Crete (2000), Berlin (1896), New York (1989) , LA (1985), Barcelona (1967 and 2000s), Hastings (80s and 2000s), Wales (2000s), the Peak District (2000s), Whitstable (2018), Cyprus (2017).
FOOD – Vegan.
DRINK – Flat white with soya, green tea, strong English breakfast tea, Dr Stuart’s Valerian Plus, ginger and lemon tea, sparkling spring water, the fountain of eternal youth.
Bless: Iyengar yoga, Kennedy fixed gear bike, sauna, spa, hot bath always, Bryan Ferry’s mullet quiff, Johnny Thunders’ NYDs thatch, LTFC, FCB, .4 nib pens, Gibson Explorer guitar, holidays in the sun, original 1970s clothing, Ashridge Forest, South Downs, most beaches, most mountains, the ocean, Marsworth Reservoirs, Grand Union canal, Brockley Jack Theatre, Deptford Cinema, Crofton Park library, Aquarian tarot deck, Thoth tarot deck, tortoiseshell frames, Mixcloud while working (mostly dub and rockabilly mixes), peroxide, Flipside Radio, Cold Lips magazine, Foggy Plasma magazine, truth not facts, entertaining lies, the endless road, the application of the real, my diary, wandering around waiting to be touched, peeps into the extraordinary, miracles, epiphanic moments. Imagination.
Forthcoming: the novella Dark Entries, Cold Lips Press (2019).
Punk is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night (Zer0 Books, October 2017).
Contributor to Ripped, Torn and Cut – Pop, Politics and Punks Fanzines From 1976 (Manchester University Press, 2018) and Growing Up With Punk (Nice Time, 2018).
Contributor (fiction) to the anthologies The Edgier Waters (Snowbooks, 2006) and Affinity (67 Press, 2015).
Pushcart Prize nominee 2016.
The Guardian, the BBC, the Daily Telegraph, NME (pen name Richard North), ZigZag, The Big Issue, Time Out, etc etc.
Several plays performed at various theatres in London and nationwide, including the Arts Theatre, Covent Garden, London.
Published the fanzine Kick (1979-82), and played bass for the punk band Brigandage (LP Pretty Funny Thing – Gung Ho Records, 1986).
Photo: Millie Radakovic.
TELEVISION I have always watched a lot of television. Currently finishing off Game of Thrones, which isn’t quite as compelling as it was when it started but it is still pretty good. I do try and keep up with genre shows because of the website and have watched a few episodes of DC Universe’s Doom Patrol, which is quirky and intriguing. I like a lot of crime shows and my favourite TV show of all time is still HBO’s The Sopranos. I am looking forward to seeing the fourth season of Italian gangster show Gomorrah at some point soon.
BOOKS I do read a lot of fiction and I am finishing off the Folio edition of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. I probably read around a dozen novels a year. I like authors like George Pelacanos, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Elmore Leonard and Mark Billingham. Last year, I reread all of TH White’s Once And Future King. I read a little bit of factual material but I do find it harder to finish though. I read a lot of graphic novels mainly for Tripwire and the last extensive run I read was the entire Hellboy Library from Dark Horse for review. When I was a kid I read Brighton Rock by Graham Greene and that did leave quite a mark on me. Over the years I have read Norman Mailer, Peter Ackroyd, Stephen King and Brian Aldiss.
FILMS I have always loved film particularly the work of the Coen Brothers. If I had to pick my favourite films of all time, that list would include Goodfellas, Godfather Part One and Part Two, Lawrence Of Arabia, Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Third Man and The Great Escape. I also like some of Christopher Nolan’s output especially The Prestige and Memento.
MUSIC I admit that in terms of music I haven’t been impressed with anything new in quite a while. Favourite bands include The Pogues, Nirvana, Manic Street Preachers, Suede, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
TRAVEL I do like to travel as I take photos and so I enjoy trying to capture the flavour of that place. I often end up travelling to comic shows for Tripwire so sadly sometimes it is the same place every year but I would like to visit some more unusual places over the next few years.
FOOD I am a vegetarian but I do still try and enjoy my food. Favourite things are a well-made pizza and decent Thai food and I do like a lot of different cheeses. It has gotten easier to follow this diet over the past few years.
DRINK I like a decent bottle of red wine like a Bordeaux and I do like some ales as well as being partial to an occasional stout from time to time.
ART I like some of the Pre Raphaelite painters like Burne Jones and Rossetti. I also admire the work of painters like Singer Sargent and Whistler. I like illustrators too like movie poster masters Robert McGinnis and Bob Peak. I also enjoy looking at the work of illustrator turned painter Phil Hale too. I am also a fan of San Francisco-based painter Jeremy Mann, who creates these amazing, impressionistic cityscapes.
I do dabble in photography so I like the best practitioners of that art like Don McCullin, Steve McCurry, Andre Kertesz and Michael Kenna.
BIO: Joel Meadows is a journalist and writer with over three decades of experience on newspapers, magazines and books. His CV includes some of the most renowned publications in the world including Time Magazine, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Financial Times, The Guardian, Guinness World Records and The Observer.
He has also written extensively about comics, film, TV and culture for publications like Playboy, Time Magazine, Esquire, Variety, Empire, Big Issue In The North, Comic Scene and Comic Heroes. He has also written for IDW’s prestigious Full Bleed magazine, interviewing photography legend Don McCullin and acclaimed painter Jeremy Mann.
He is also editor-in-chief of Tripwire, a pre-eminent publication that covers comics, film, TV and related subjects, which existed as a print magazine from 1992 to 2013 and a website since 2015, tripwiremagazine.co.uk. His photography has appeared in places like Financial Times, Playboy Japan, Big Issue In The North, Comic Heroes, SFX, Full Bleed and Amateur Photographer. He is also the author of Studio Space, a book on comic artists and their workspaces which was published by Image Comics back in 2008.
He is also the author of a forthcoming book which also takes a look at the world’s best comic artists and illustrators like Posy Simmonds, Walter Simonson, Mike Kaluta, Frank Quitely, Laurence Campbell, Sean Phillips, Frank Cho, Tim Sale and many more and offers in-depth photos of their studios and talks to them about their way of working. Masters of Comics will be published in a lavish paperback by Insight Editions in June 2019.
He is also one of the producers of the Portsmouth International Comic Con and has worked on two of these so far.
According to Wikipedia:
‘Black Panther is an American television series by Marvel Knights Animation, based on the popular Marvel Comics superhero of the same name. The series was broadcast on the Australian children’s channel ABC Me in January 2010 and in the United States on BET in November 2011.[On March 16, 2018, the entire series was released through Marvel’s YouTube channel for free as Marvel Knights Animation – Black Panther.‘
It was developed and written by Reginald Hudlin and here it is:
Dark Entries – Robert Aickman. In 1968 I got this collection of short stories out of Croydon Library straight after seeing The Bells of Hell – an adaptation of Aickman’s Ringing the Changes in the Late Night Horror anthology series; needless to say the BBC has since wiped the tape.
A Harlot High and Low – Honoré de Balzac. A sequel to the more celebrated Lost Illusions, but I read this one first; I love the character of Vautrin, a criminal mastermind who ends up as Paris’s Chief of Police.
Ubik – Philip K. Dick. I dig the advertising slogans, and the slow drip-feed of hints that All Is Not As It Seems (it rarely is in a Dick novel).
The Enigma of Amigara Fault – Junji Ito. Ito is a genius and his horror mangas WILL give you nightmares. This one is particularly creepy and disturbing.
Le position du tireur couché – Jean-Patrick Manchette. After I moved to France and was training myself to read more French, a friend introduced me to the left-wing “polars” (crime stories) of Manchette; not just terrific reads, but the hard-boiled language is relatively simple. This was filmed, very badly, as The Gunman (2015), starring Sean Penn. A 1982 French adaptation, Le choc, is only marginally better, but at least in that version you get Alain Delon to look at.
Les liaisons dangereuses – Choderlos de Laclos. La Marquise de Merteuil, c’est moi. Remembrance of Things Past – Marcel Proust. Glad I read this in my early twenties; I’d never find the time now. Much funnier than you’d expect (I read the Scott-Moncrieff translation) and the author ties it all up at the end with the Mother of all Literary Pay-offs. Everything you ever needed to know about life, love, art, memory and the passage of time; it really did change my life.
Froth on the Daydream – Boris Vian. Vian is one of my heroes (as well as a novelist he was also a surrealist, poet, translator, literary prankster and provocateur, songwriter and jazz trumpeter), and this is his best-known book, full of wordplay and creative whimsy that ends up leading you into some very dark places.
Le chanteur – Daniel Balavoine (“Je me prostituerai/Pour la postérité” – vicious demolition of your average pop star career)
Bluebeard’s Castle – Bela Bartok (the ultimate musical dispatch from the eternal war between men and women; music to make your hair stand on end, plus some of the best brass ever)
Independence Day – The Comsat Angels (“I can’t relax cos I haven’t done a thing/And I can’t do a thing cos I can’t relax” – story of my life)
Imperial Bedroom – Elvis Costello
Bitches Brew – Miles Davis (I often play his Electric Period albums while writing because it’s extremely effective at neutralising unwanted outside noise, building work etc) Histoire de Melody Nelson – Serge Gainsbourg
Vec Makropulos – Leos Janacek (the downside of living for 300 years, plus lots of brass. I do like classical brass.)
Doctor on the Go – Lee Perry (from an album called Revolution Dub, purchased from Brixton Market with my dole money in the mid-1970s, before I even knew who Lerry Perry is; I love the piano backing, and the samples from TV’s Doctor at Large – Robin Nedwell’s laugh!)
The Royal Scam – Steely Dan (I love all their other albums too; they never get old)
The Avengers (1965-1968) The Emma Peel years.
Better Call Saul: I much prefer this to Breaking Bad.
Bilko: fastest, funniest, most cynical sitcom ever.
Desperate Romantics: The Pre-Raphaelites as preposterous soap opera.
Futurama: clever, funny, subversive, but can also make me cry.
G.B.H.: British TV drama at its best.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
The Wire: the first three seasons, with Stringer Bell.
FILMS (This is not to say I don’t love Vertigo, The Seven Samurai et al, but I tried to pick films that don’t usually feature in everyone’s all-time Top Ten Lists)
Green for Danger (1946) Alastair Sim – “When I took my departure that evening, it was not with the feeling that this had been one of my more successful investigations.”
Night of the Demon (1957) “I must protect myself. Because if it’s not someone else’s life, it’ll be mine. Do you understand, mother? It’ll be mine.”
The Rebel (1961) “Blimey, who’s gone raving made here then?” Best film about modern art ever.
Le deuxième souffle (1966) Lino Ventura, hard-boiled French gangsters in mackintoshes; cool nightclubs full of dancing girls; criminal codes of honour. I’m particularly fond of the mysterious Orloff, a peripheral character whose story I would like to write some day.
The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968) “Attack what? Attack where?” The yawning chasm between Britain’s preposterously elevated idea of itself and how it actually is: class-ridden, mired in delusions of Empire, hamstrung by nepotism and petty squabbling. There’s even some Fake News in there. Tony Richardson’s best film, still criminally undervalued, with a brilliant ensemble cast drawn from a Who’s Who of Great British Acting.
The Conformist (1970) Jean-Louis Trintignant is so insecure about his manhood that he becomes a hitman for the Fascists. One of the most handsomely photographed and designed films ever made; Bernardo Bertolucci’s best; and a big influence on the Hollywood movie brats of the 1970s.
Daughters of Darkness (1971) Delphine Seyrig as the world’s most soignée vampire, preying on a honeymoon couple in off-season Ostend.
The Fate of Lee Khan (1973) Hong Kong/Taiwanese martial arts period thriller with six great action roles for women. Directed by the great King Hu. One of the most nail-bitingly tense films I’ve ever seen.
The Fury (1978) Psycho kids who can make people bleed from all orifices; John Cassavetes in evil mode. Possibly Brian De Palma’s most bonkers film, full of weirdly mismatched performances, odd comedy, and a contender for most delirious ending ever.
After Life (1998) Dead people have to select a memory to take with them into eternity in Hirokazu Koreeda’s low-key but lovely, humane, deeply affecting and thought-provoking inquiry into the meaning of life.
Notting Hill, Soho & Tokyo in the 1970s, Westbourne Park & New York City in the 1980s, Holborn & King’s Cross in the 1990s, Paris in the 2000s, The Low Countries in the 2010s
Belgian beer, Belgian chocolate, Belgian frites, Roquefort, Pecorino & Ossau-Iraty cheese, small film festivals, cats, skulls, lipstick, handbags, travelling by train, canals.
Bio: ANNE BILLSON is a film critic, novelist, photographer, style icon, wicked spinster, evil feminist, and international cat-sitter who has lived in London, Tokyo, Paris and Croydon, and now lives in Brussels. Her books include THE HALF MAN, SUCKER, STIFF LIPS, THE EX and THE COMING THING as well as several works of non-fiction, including BILLSON FILM DATABASE, BREAST MAN: A CONVERSATION WITH RUSS MEYER, and monographs on the films THE THING and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
‘A Drink with Shane MacGowan was a new form of chat show hosted by the notorious Pogues frontman, and commissioned in the 1990s by Channel 4 arts supremo Waldemar Januszczak. However, they never broadcast this anarchic debut featuring live music, lively discussion between actors, writers, and musicians, pizza, and a fair few drinks…
Featuring in this episode: Johnny Depp, Traci Lords, Joe Gores, Chris Penn, Sy Richardson, Del Zamora, and music from Los Lobos, Jimmy Witherspoon, and Homewreckers.’