Kiss Like a Fist by Graham Wynd

Written when I still lived in Galway and it has that flavour…

Punk Noir Magazine

She had a mouth that could raise the dead. It had raised me plenty over the years, but I’d never been close enough to Rosaline’s orbit to do anything about it.

Until tonight.

I brought her a third martini and her tongue had loosened enough to share some sage advice with me as she leaned back in the little snug. “Never fuck anyone crazier than yourself,” she said, sucking an olive between those rose red lips.

I would have done well to listen to that advice, but it was already too late. I was hooked like a flopping pollock, mouth agape and eyes glassy. Guess I even forgot to breathe. Like the day you find a tenner in the street and you know have to gamble on it because if you stick it in your pocket it will just be spent on mundane things and go too quick, but if…

View original post 3,430 more words

Review: The Burnt Orange Heresy (2019)

p17622987_p_v8_aa

Opens Friday 6 March in the US

Don’t be put off by the title; it’s not an exposé of the current occupant of the White House, but an adaptation of the 1971 Charles Willeford novel of the same name. I went to a special screening thanks to the Woodstock Film Festival folks with my pal Peg Aloi AKA The Media Witch. There was a Q&A with producer William Horberg after.

The film stars the very tall pair, Claes Bang and Elizabeth Debicki, in the primary roles (I never noticed during the BBC Dracula how long Bang’s torso is) with Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland in small pivotal roles. Scott Smith, who wrote A Simple Plan, scripted the film from the novel. He reduced the overwhelming misogyny of the book somewhat (‘Really?’ Peg asked). Horberg mentioned how his pal Neil LaBute was interested in filming the novel at one point. I shudder to think.

Art, grifting, theft and criticism: the book is a lot more deliberate about the last. Smith’s script takes the central themes and turns them into plot decisions. It’s more efficient and dramatic. I’m immersed in stories of art forgery at present for a project (yeah, there’s some Ripley in it, too) so this story has been swirling around in my head. Smith focuses on how the stories we shape in turn shape who we are, but the devil is in the details.

Bang and Debicki are excellent as Figueras (the Puerto Rican identity that’s a linchpin of the novel is dropped) and Hollis. Immediately drawn to each other but infinitely wary, too; he, because he has no authenticity—she, because she has too much. As an art critic on the make, he’s easily exploited by Jagger’s smarmy art dealer Cassidy to get an exclusive: one for each of them. Per Horberg, Jagger asked for rewrites of his part. Possibly just a power move, but the character is much more clever than in the books. It’s not giving away too much to say that he send Figueras to interview reclusive artist Jerome Debney (Sutherland) and to steal a painting from the man who’s only ever had one work displayed.

Berenice exists in the novel as an excuse for Figueras to ramble about his opinions on art and criticism at length (something I have an interest in though most noir fans may skip over the pages on Becket, Dada and Surrealism quickly) and as a plot point. It’s to Smith’s credit that she’s more than that in the film. It’s to Debicki’s credit that she makes her a believable character. The sweetness of her scenes with Sutherland is delightful (Horberg’s account of how he got him for the role spells out the importance of who-you-know-Hollywood). Smith has the elder artist spouting Yeats and Shakespeare not pretentiously, but as naturally as someone with a huge store of words hoarded over the years.

But I’m not sure why they changed the frankly even cheerfully sexual character into one who’s guiltily ‘whoring around Europe’ [cue eyeroll]. Ah, modern American puritanism. She’s ‘punishing’ herself by hanging around Figueras. He’s much more desperate and on the edge. In the novel he’s grafting as well as grifting. In the film, you get the feeling he’s scraping bottom more, thus easier to manipulate as Cassidy is more than willing to do. The transfer to Italy pays off in beauty (Visconti’s villa and grounds stand in for the collector’s summer home) what it loses in the seedy specificity of Willeford’s Florida. But in what world is this a ‘romance’ spiky or not? Only the Hollywood Reporter. Beautiful cinematography (David Ungaro) and music (Craig Armstrong) help build the neo-noir ambiance.

 

Spoilerish:

 

The guilty revelation at the final unveiling works well dramatically. In the novel the resigned self-sacrifice comes because Figueras realises he’s peaked. His confession to the crime is specifically to claim a false motivation. It’s a cover-up of the other crime that’s much more important to him and his legacy as a critic. He feels triumph.

 

DEFFO SPOILERS!

 

 

 

 

 

The breakdown of the murder into two parts makes it that much more horrible. In the book Berenice is barely more than a cypher, so her only purpose on the road trip is being knocked off. In the film the first attempt is a heat-of-the-moment thing; Figueras seems shocked by his own violence and when he talks her back up the stairs to the flat, you almost believe that he regrets it. But the anger is deep; his own fears of failure. When she taunts him with the buzzing fly sound, his move is violent, sudden and final. But he is consumed by guilt and when the fellow critic points him to the ‘Mark of Cain’ the painter left—or rather, the fingerprint Berenice left on the canvas—he’s obviously stricken. There’s no triumph. Not for Figueras anyway; Berenice’s posthumous triumph hangs from the humble refrigerator door of her mother’s house.

The FU School of Writing School by Graham Wynd

Enroll today! Reasonable tuition, great texts.

Punk Noir Magazine

When your books are less than successful, when you find it hard to make a splash, people tend to say the same kind of things:

 

Don’t give up! Your audience is out there! You’ll find them and connect. Stick with it.

 

I am here to tell you that this is not true. The majority of us will not find out audiences. We will work and toil and promote and do stupid interviews that no one will read about our books that no one will buy. FFS people can’t even be bothered to read the links to posts for giveaways.

 

‘Oooh, I want one! How do I enter?!’

 

The info is in the link you haven’t clicked, Einstein. It’s pretty simple. But your performative enthusiasm is noted. And worthless.

 

We all know it means fuck all. Because you don’t buy the books, you don’t read the…

View original post 412 more words

The Ghost in You by Graham Wynd

No idea where this is going; holding a lit match in the darkness as I feel my way along.

Punk Noir Magazine

The bass thrummed like a distant heartbeat from deep in the earth, as if a long-buried temple called forth its adherents from slumbering death. Frazer didn’t even have to look up from her drum kit to know the band were swaying as one to its tempo. Even Pike who could barely exist without flapping his lips—improvising, scatting, even humming when he had no words to sing—seemed content for a space to just lean into the beat as Jones stretched the chord out on his guitar and the room rolled with it—hypnotised, in the music’s thrall like zombies called by its chant.

You could wield a guitar like a weapon—and sometimes Jones surely did—but tonight it was a kind of repository for all the energy in the room, taking it, swirling it around and sending it back threefold to start the process again.

Keeping the pace on the kick with the…

View original post 586 more words

If I Could Be With You Tonight by Graham Wynd

My latest over at your fave punk noir mag —

Punk Noir Magazine

The scene was perfect. Hollywood could not do it justice.

A quiet house at the end of the lane. Two young people on their own. The baby they were sitting had been tucked in long ago, sleeping in chubby-fisted peace.

And the scary movie – somewhat snowy despite all attempts to adjust the antenna – had just enough chills to bring them closer together on the sofa, though the monster from outer space was vanquished in the end by the plucky cooper and the sprightly clerk. America was safe once more.

Shy smiles gave way to an arm slipped slowly around a shoulder. Giggles and glances exchanged and then that first sweet kiss—long anticipated, dreamed even, but all the more magical because now it was real. It would have been difficult to picture a more perfect scene.

If only it had been me there on that couch.

But I had…

View original post 112 more words

Barely Crimbo by Graham Wynd

Here it is barely Crimbo…

Punk Noir Magazine

GRAHAM WYND

Here it is barely Grimace;

Time to deck the malls.

Wish you a hairy crossbus;

Fall down all the golden balls.

Hark the Harold angles bring

Glory to the edge-lord bling.

Dashing through the pub,

With a one-horse foamy ale,

Oh, what fun it is to slide

Through tat that’s cheap on sale.

Olé.

Grimble bells, Batman tells,

Robin to get stuffed.

Mangles we have heard on high,

Sweetly sleeping rough.

Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o’Rhea

For that Galileo.

View original post

Piano Man by Graham Wynd

I’m over at Punk Noir Mag —

Punk Noir Magazine

‘That do for you, Tommy?’

Eric had a think. Surely he was always Frank and Earnest: Frank in the north, Ernie in the south. This was north. ‘Frank, love, the name’s Frank.’ Daftie. But she was well fit, a regular gym devotee. He was a bit surprised when she responded so well to his flirting. Above his league but hey, anyone might have a champion sort of day.

‘Sorry, it’s just that you remind me of Tommy.’ She handed him a generous glass of whisky. Posh included her liquor in the pretty little cabinet. The woman was drinking some bubbly with a double-barreled French name, but he went right for the good stuff. ‘I’m just going to change the music.’

‘Oh but I like that piano man,’ Eric laughed. ‘You know, sing us a song Mr Piano Man, sing us your songs all right…’

She looked at him blankly, then…

View original post 552 more words

Soundtrack for a Sunday: Get Shorty

On a whim, I watched Get Shorty again last night. I’ve been feeling kind of lousy lately and I thought it would be just the ticket. Of course it’s hard to miss with Elmore Leonard’s dialogue (though it happens, alas), but it struck me again that the soundtrack by John Lurie is part of the magic that makes the picture sing.

Finger-snapping New York feel but wandering in the sun: the keys give the walking pace, the horns the attitude, and the tick tick tick of the percussion is a lively mind ticking along looking for angles, opportunities. It’s of a piece with the Florida bright text of the opening credits and the trouble that kicks off the film.

Everything works so well in the film: Rene Russo’s intrigued grin (a criminally underused actor), Travolta hits all the right notes and conveys the sense of wonder of someone from a world away in love with Hollywood (before the reality sets in). I remember that feeling when I first moved there. You carry the romance for a while. Maybe some carry forever. What else? Delroy Lindo looking fine. Gene Hackman playing a clueless hack. Farina: ah man. Gandolfini giving such character. And all the swell folks taking bit parts like Bette Midler and Miguel Sandoval.

But the music pulls it all together, makes it seamless. It matches Leonard’s pacy dialogue. That’s what goes all wrong in the tepid ‘sequel’ Be Cool. Hollywood literalism: it’s about how the music industry makes everything a product (because yeah, Hollywood doesn’t do that, right?). So forget the original soundtrack, let’s stuff it full of product — seriously stuff it. A bloated bag of nothing but air.

Makes me want to get out my Lounge Lizards vinyl…

The television series is good — though it strays a long way from Leonard — maybe because their soundtrack is aces.

[Tangential digression: Elmore Leonard is often called the ‘Dickens of Detroit’ which is a disservice to both. I get it: popular, he writes intricately interweaving narratives of people from all walks of life, but Dickens was never funny. If you have to compare him to a nineteenth century writer, why not Trollope? Funny and cracking dialogue plus all kinds of people — but I mean, funny. But the Trollope of Tiger Town? Probably not going to catch on, is it?]

Imperial Wax @ Dolan’s, Limerick


Bathed in an orange glow most of the night: a high energy show that totally engaged the enthusiastic audience. Photos by K. A. Laity Loads more photos, but this gives a good feel of the energy.

.

Number 13: A Noir Ghost Story K. A. Laity

Kicking off #Noirvember right —

Punk Noir Magazine

‘Why me?’ Kriste asked, knowing it didn’t matter.

 

‘Because you’re the littlest. And because I said so.’ Bishop smiled at her, but it wasn’t a nice smile and not just because of the teeth knocked out. Mum said his dad did it, but Bishop said he was fighting with a copper and got the better of him.

 

None of them would argue.

 

‘I bet she’s too scared,’ Nielsen said, his voice rising to a mimicking sharpness.

 

‘It’s haunted you know,’ Anderson added. The eyes behind his dirty glasses looked bored and cruel. ‘That’s why the money is still there.’

 

‘What if it’s too much for me to carry?’ Kriste had to try something. The sun was setting and she was going to be late for her tea.

 

‘Throw it out the door to us,’ Bishop said waving a hand around the checkerboard tiles of…

View original post 1,302 more words