Category Archives: Humour

IN THE SOUP Urgent Restoration & 25th Anniversary Re-Release

in the soup

Help restore the damaged archival print of Alex Rockwell’s 1992 indie Sundance winner IN THE SOUP before it’s lost forever.

1992 Sundance winner and cult classic In the Soup is in danger of disappearing forever. 

In The Soup is an acclaimed independent feature comedy by director Alexandre Rockwell. In rich black and white, it’s the story of an aspiring young New York filmmaker (Steve Buscemi) in the throes of his creative struggle, his beautiful neighbor and muse (Jennifer Beals), and a lovable con man (Seymour Cassel), chasing their dreams in quintessential 1990s NYC amidst a cast of oddball characters played by Stanley Tucci, Sam Rockwell, Will Patton, Jim Jarmusch, Debi Mazar, Carol Kane, and others. 

Upon its release in 1992, it won the grand jury prize at Sundance competing against films like Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino) and Gas, Food, Lodging (Alison Anders), and proceded to play some of the most prestigious festivals worldwide throughout that year, including Venice, Toronto, and the New York Film Festival.  

It came out to critical acclaim: In the words of reviewers from the New York Times, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Time and more, it is “hilarious,” “irresistible,” “furiously clever,” “a magical and touching comic romance about movies and crime,” “a dryly funny film of exceptional visual beauty” and “a droll, self-conscious fable with an unexpected heart of gold.” Basically, people loved it.

As of last year, there was only one fine-grain, black-and-white master archival print left, and unfortunately, while being screened at a cinema in Los Angeles, this precious but aging, fragile print was accidentally damaged during projection to the extent that moments of the first and fifth reel were virtually shredded.

It’s a great film, so check out the Kickstarter campaign to save IN THE SOUP here!

 

Stone Me, What A Life! – Tony Hancock

hancock460.jpgThey say that all small boys are influenced by their big brother’s music collection, and while that may well be true of me, I was also influenced by my family’s taste in other forms of entertainment.  Luckily I grew up in a time when television and radio weren’t as youth focused as they are now and I could enjoy the same shows as my parents and siblings, such as Will Hay, Ealing Comedies and Tony Hancock. During the miners’ strikes in the ‘70s there were power cuts. Which meant no telly. Reading comics by candle light and listening to an old transistor radio. Radio 2, usually, since my parents were of that age group. The Navy Lark, Round The Horne and, of course, Hancock.

Tony Hancock – the easiest comedian for charades – and I share the same birthday, May 12th. Whether or not we share the same death day remains to be seen, of course, and let’s just hope we can put that little fact-finding mission on hold for a while, eh?

One of the UK’s major television and radio stars throughout the 1950s and early ‘60s, British actor and comedian Tony Hancock killed himself on 25 June 1968. He overdosed on booze and pills and left a suicide note that said:

‘Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times’

Indeed, Hancock’s eponymous character on radio, on television, and in film, regularly tried his hand at countless activities and endeavours that invariably failed.

One episode – The Bedsitter – teeters dangerously on the precipice of bleak existentialism. The Bedsitter is a one-room set, one-man-show, where Hancock endlessly flips through a Bertrand Russell tome trying to find meaning in life, but fails, of course.

Tony Hancock - The RebelIn the most famous episode of his television show The Blood Donor,  ‘the lad himself’  proudly donates a pint of his particularly rare blood only to end the episode by cutting himself so badly on a breadknife that he needs a transfusion of his own blood. The recording of the television version of The Blood Donor proved to be problematic as Hancock had recently been involved in a car accident and suffered from concussion so that he had to read his lines from autocue.

After the American failure of his film debut The Rebel, Hancock broke with his long time writing team of Galton and Simpson, who were responsible for most of the great writing in Hancock’s shows, as well as ditching his long-term agent, the splendidly named Beryl Vertue. This pretty much led to his career decline.

Disappointment was always breathing at the back of Hancock’s neck, it seemed.

Hancock, and other character actors, are regularly in my mind when I’m creating characters. Quigley, the hit man in my yarn The Bucket List, was partly inspired by the image of Tony Hancock stalking the streets with a gun.

Hancock could be said to be the perfect noir comedian, in fact. I’ve said before that crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order, and Tony Hancock’s comedy is pure noir. A natural loser. When I started writing I wanted to write small, odd stories about small, odd people – like Hancock.

Like his fictional incarnation, Hancock was prone to introspection, a concoction of egotism and self-doubt which he bared when he was interviewed in the BBCs Face To Face programme in the early 1960s.

Spike Milligan said of Hancock that he was a ‘Very difficult man to get on with. He used to drink excessively. You felt sorry for him. He ended up on his own. I thought, he’s got rid of everybody else, he’s going to get rid of himself and he did.’

As Tony Hancock said: ‘Stone me, what a life!’

(This first appeared at Tom Leins’ blog as part of his Under The Influence series)

The Guns Of Brixton paperback is only £4.37, with FREE UK delivery.

GOB paperback

Pop over to Books etc and get it while it’s hot!

‘A foul-mouthed, violently comic crime caper, full of gaudy characters and dialogue sharp enough to shave with. When London gangster Mad Tony Cook gives aging thugs Big Jim and Kenny the simple task of collecting a briefcase from northern courier Half-Pint Harry he doesn t suspect that the courier will end up dead in his lock-up, or that Kenny and Big Jim will then dress up in drag to rob a jeweler’s shop and lose the coveted briefcase. A fast-moving, wild, and hilarious search for the missing briefcase quickly ensues, with fatal consequences.’

A Film For Friday: Small Crimes

small crimesSmall Crimes is a sharp, short slice of noir based on David Zeltserman’s classic cult novel.  A low-key, quirky crime film that is packed with great nuanced performances. Tightly directed with a gripping screenplay that smartly straddles the razors edge of noir and absurdity. Rich characters with a marvellously self-deluded and engaging protagonist. Small Crimes is brilliant, black comedy of errors that ticked all the boxes for me. I loved it.

Updates! An Interview, A Review, and Tony Hancock

too-many-crooks
Too Many Crooks

Over at SOLARCIDE I’m interviewed by NATHAN PETTIGREW and talk about TOO MANY CROOKS, London, boozing and more.

Pubs and alcohol are main characters in your work. When an idea for a story comes to you, does it already start in that setting? Are your characters already there having drinks when they are first conceived?

Ah. Well, as someone who has spent far too much of his life in pubs it seems a natural setting. It’s not a great stretch. Also, when people go to pubs they usually talk- or they did before WiFi Hotspots- and they usually talk rubbish, which can be pretty funny. I like to think I write absurdist fiction and most people in pubs are absurd or say something absurd at some part of the night.

Read the rest here.

TOM LIENS has a new feature at his blog where writers talk about their influences.  I plump for TONY HANCOCK. hancock460.jpg

Tony Hancock – the easiest comedian for charades – and I share the same birthday, May 12th. Whether or not we share the same death day remains to be seen, of course, and let’s just hope we can put that little fact-finding mission on hold for a while, eh?

Read the rest here.

And Tom also gives TOO MANY CROOKS  a tidy review.

If you can imagine a Guy Ritchie film re-cast with Carry On actors, you will come close to understanding this book’s offbeat charm!

Read the rest here.

Warren Stalley Reviews Too Many Crooks

too-many-crooksOver at Amazon.co.uk Warren Stalley says:

5.0 out of 5 starsSeven Dollars on the Red

Right from the start of Too Many Crooks there’s a blast of violence and gallows humour which sets the tone for the latest novel by talented Brit Grit author Paul D Brazill. The narrative follows various dubious criminals caught up in the search for the valuable Nazi Totenkopfring. Can amnesiac victim McGuffin stay alive long enough in Poland to recover his memory and find the ring? What connection does he have to Leslie Hawkins and her husband Sydney back in England who are also looking for the ring? Too Many Crooks is littered with the usual Brazill razor sharp one liners honed to perfection, as the eccentric characters’ weave in and out of trouble in England and Poland. To summarise this is another polished winner and one of the very best pieces of work from Paul D Brazill.’

Out Now! Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill

too-many-crooksToo Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!

When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow…

Too Many Crooks by Paul D. Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.

Published by Near To The Knuckle, you can grab Too Many Crooks from Amazon.com , Amazon.co.uk and any other Amazon. The paperback is on its way!