Showing posts from February, 2019


These days, if a harmonica is ever heard in a new pop song, it is mainly because Stevie Wonder is involved, but with the way he plays it, you always know it’s him. However, as synonymous with them as he is, no Wonder-branded harmonica has been offered for sale by Hohner, the leading maker of the instrument, which have produced harmonicas using the names of Bob Dylan, Toots Thielemans (who performed the title songs of both “Midnight Cowboy” and “Sesame Street”) and Larry Adler (who did the same for the film “Genevieve”). That covers the harmonica players most people can name, apart from one. When I found out that Hohner make John Lennon harmonicas, I was surprised. Wasn’t this the same John Lennon who stopped using one in The Beatles because he said it became too much of a gimmick? The ability to add an extra layer to your band’s sound without employing an extra member, unlike with a keyboard or saxophone, must have been a significant benefit from the start - Lennon’s uncle had t


At the time of writing the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union on Friday 29 th March, at 23:00 GMT – British Summer Time starts two days later. That night, a significant number of people will be in cinemas for the opening weekend of what I have been calling “Tim Burton’s Dumbo,” a remake twice as long as the original, in which no animals or trains will talk. The acrimony over Brexit means some may need to hear “Baby Mine” that night, a song that lost the 1941 Academy Award for Best Original Song to “Last Time I Saw Paris.” I’ll be at home instead, watching the news – I’m not expecting anything to happen but, right now, I’m not sure anyone can tell me what will. I remember voting by post in the June 2016 referendum, meaning   I could tune out of the fighting between the Leave and Remain campaigns, but once 51.89% of 72.21% of the electorate, or 17.41 million people, voted to leave, the debate on how to interpret the result began, something that appears to be unreso


Last time, I vowed to enter Hollywood to sort out the film “Myra Breckinridge,” which I described as the worst film ever made. I will admit I don’t take my cache as a film critic, of any description, that seriously – I am not Mark Kermode trying to rehabilitate “The Exorcist” here – but there are two ways to create something good from the wreckage of “Myra Breckinridge”: mount a new adaptation of Gore Vidal’s novel, or go back in time and change the original film. As interesting as it could be, a new adaptation, in my opinion, will not work: the novel is a satire of a particular moment in Hollywood at the end of the 1960s, its Classical period now over, and the people in charge having been overturned. You could set a remake in its original time period, but you would have to drill the historical context into the audience before expecting them to laugh. You could try to set it in the present day, with Myra exclaiming about “star quality” in an era where everyone is an open book,


Once upon a time, I thought this was a good idea. This is the first of a two-part exploration of why the 1970 film “Myra Breckinridge” is the worst film ever made. This first part explains why I think this is the case, and what it has done to me, while the second part will explain what I am going to do about it. It has taken me nearly ten days to even begin writing about why I think this film is so bad, and it is because I had absolutely no idea where to start, and I needed to have my own reason for thinking so. As someone with a degree in film studies, six years of writing about film online, and a film collection that would have rivalled a Blockbuster Video store, if I’m having trouble trying to write about how bad a film is, it must be pretty bad. The simplest thing to do is describe the plot. Myra Breckinridge is a film buff who arrives in Hollywood to overturn the degeneracy and method acting that has replaced the production of the films she so loves. In fact, she stat