Film in Elsewhere

Unusual or interesting DVDs, cult and classic films, movie reviews, genre overviews and interviews.

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SOUNDBREAKING, a television doco series by JEFF DUPRE and MARO CHERMAYAFF

29 Apr 2016  |  2 min read

If you listen to the debut solo album Mind of Mine by former One Direction star Zayn Malik – and you should, it's mostly very good – what strikes you immediately is how well produced it is. But isn't that true of all hip-hop albums these days, other than those which are willfully lo-fi? You don't have to be sound boffin to identify the difference between the aural... > Read more

MAVIS! A doco by JESSICA EDWARDS

22 Apr 2016  |  2 min read

In an interview with Elsewhere a couple of years ago the Memphis-based writer Robert Gordon noted, “I see my kids in school -- they are now in 9th and 11th grades -- and man, they don't know which was further ago, unfortunately, the Civil Rights movement or World War I.” But before we bemoan once more how shallow or ill-educated young people are today it's worth noting what... > Read more

THE SOUND OF HER GUITAR, a doco by BILL MORRIS

14 Apr 2016  |  2 min read

This charmingly low-key, often movingly honest documentary about New Zealand singer-songwriter Donna Dean takes her from a childhood in a state house in Glen Innes under blue Pacific skies (she ackowledges the drinking and violence between her parents) into Texas clubs and bars and radio stations singing her distictive and mature country music to appreciative audiences. Dean and her... > Read more

Pretty Buttons

THE WRECKING CREW, a doco by DENNY TEDESCO (Madman DVD)

28 Mar 2016  |  3 min read

While no one would doubt the genius of Brian Wilson, he – like Duke Ellington and classical composers – needed others to realise his music. Initially (and remarkably briefly when it came to recording sessions) he had the close harmony, Chuck Berry-meets-surf guitar format of the Beach Boys. But as his musical dreams became more Technicolor and widescreen he required... > Read more

THE CONNECTION, a film by CEDRIC JIMINEZ (Madman DVD)

25 Mar 2016  |  1 min read

The French title of this drugs'n'crime thriller largely set in Marseilles in the Seventies is the clue: It is La French. Add that to the English mistranslation and you get the link, this is a stylish-looking flipside and companion to the classic French Connection of '71 in which the story goes back to the source of the drugs pouring into the US which Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) and pals... > Read more

AWAKE; THE LIFE OF YOGANANDA, a doco by PAOLA DI FLORIO and LISA LEEMAN (Madman DVD)

7 Dec 2015  |  3 min read  |  1

In the early Seventies those who didn't have their noses buried in the escapist fantasies of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were reading more interesting and philosophically challenging books like Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Dice Man and Paramhansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi. First published in 1950 – two years before Yogananda's death -- and... > Read more

AMERICAN WAR GENERALS (Madman DVD)

4 Dec 2015  |  2 min read

Two true stories from days gone by. In 1969 as an 18-year old I flew into and out of Saigon and looked down on that blasted landscape of craters around the city. And then the thick jungle which seemed to be impenetrable and covered most of the country outside of the city and a few hamlets. I remember quite clearly thinking, you can't win a war down there. In 2005 flying over vast... > Read more

LIVING IS EASY WITH EYES CLOSED, a film by DAVID TRUEBA (Madman DVD)

12 Oct 2015  |  3 min read  |  4

When, at the end of 1966, John Lennon was going spare after a US tour where he was lambasted for his “Beatles more popular than Jesus” remarks, he took up the offer from Dick Lester – who had directed A Hard Day's Night and Help – to join the cast of a film he was shooting in southern Spain. Lennon, as we now know, was increasingly unhappy in his marriage . . .... > Read more

Strawberry Fields Forever (1966 demos)

THE INCIDENT, a film by LARRY PEERCE (Madman DVD)

12 Oct 2015  |  1 min read

This exceptionally taut black'n'white drama from 1967 is one the great cult films, not just for its undeniable filmic qualities but the fact it was for so long unavailable on DVD or, to the best of this writer's information, never screened on television. Certainly not in New Zealand. The screen debut of Martin Sheen and Tony Musante (as two hoodlums who take over a New York subway carriage... > Read more

LEVIATHAN, a film by ANDREY ZVYAGINTSEV (Madman DVD)

28 Sep 2015  |  <1 min read

The titular beast from the depths in this bleak and sometimes depressing masterpiece only fully reveals itself in the final half hour, and it's not that on the cover of this DVD. In a remote fishing town on the Berents Sea in the far north of Russia, Kolia (Oleg Negin) is trying to save his auto-repair business and rather lovely old house from a compulsory acquisition which the mayor in... > Read more

DIOR AND I, a doco by FREDERIC TCHENG (Madman DVD)

21 Sep 2015  |  1 min read

Even if by the end of this 90 minute documentary you are no wiser about his personality or even exactly what it is he does, you will perhaps still be persuaded that Raf Simons is a rare visionary and quite possibly a genius in his chosen field. That field is in fashion design and in 2012 this Belgian -- who had been known largely for his minimalist menswear -- was appointed creative... > Read more

EVER THE LAND, a doco by SARAH GROHNERT

7 Sep 2015  |  2 min read

At the start of this deliberately slow but ultimately engaging documentary about this country's first “sustainable building”, a kaumatua addresses his Ngai Tuhoe people. The Tuhoe – who never signed the Treaty of Waitangi and have had a fractious relationship with the Crown and more recently the police in the infamous “Uruwera Four” sedition trial —... > Read more

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY, a tele-series by ANDREW V McLAGLEN (Madman DVD)

2 Sep 2015  |  1 min read

As much reminder of how a television mini-series and historical drama used to look in the Eighties, this six hour epic across three discs is certainly ambitious in attempting to present the American Civil War from a few different perspectives. Filmed in Arkansas and notable for its historical accuracy and the then-spectacular and graphic battle scenes, it is based on the books by Pulitizer... > Read more

THE ADMIRAL: ROARING CURRENTS, a film by KIM HAN-MIN (Madman Blu-ray/DVD)

20 Aug 2015  |  2 min read

At the end of the 16th century — around the time Shakespeare was writing The Merchant of Venice and Sir Walter Raleigh was a hero of his people -- events of a very different kind were unfolding and being soaked in blood on the far side of the world. The Japanese had invaded the Korean peninsula and the Joseon Dynasty – which had been in place for a couple of centuries... > Read more

IT FOLLOWS, a film by DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL (Rialto DVD)

14 Aug 2015  |  1 min read

In his latest novel You Don't Have to Live Like This, the American writer Benjamin Markovits has his central character Marny move to Detroit, the city notorious for being abandoned by its industries and citizens. From its heyday with automobile factories and Motown providing work and cultural focus, Detroit has become a city of gap-tooth streets where people have walked away from... > Read more

THE HOMESMAN, a film by TOMMY LEE JONES (Madman DVD/Blu-Ray)

20 Jul 2015  |  2 min read

Women are rarely central figures in Westerns and are most often either inconsequential or barely visible. In many they actually don't appear at all. Which makes this grim, frequently troubling and sometimes narratively unexpected film directed by Tommy Lee Jones (who also plays the grizzled, pragmatic and mostly self-serving George Briggs) such a surprise. At its core it is... > Read more

PHILIP DADSON: SONICS FROM SCRATCH, a doco by SIMON OGSTON and ORLANDO STEWART

17 Jul 2015  |  3 min read

Even if Philip Dadson's name is not as well known as it should be outside of academic and sonic art music areas, many New Zealanders would respond to just two words: From Scratch. The innovative percussion trio – Dadson, Don McGlashan and Wayne Laird in its most famous iteration – took their mathematically complex, minimalist music into the mainstream of public... > Read more

5 FLIGHTS UP, a film by RICHARD LONCRAINE

14 Jun 2015  |  2 min read

When, about 12 years ago, I bought the modest townhouse I'm in, I went through what is called a “blind auction”. For those who don't know what this professional deceit is, I'll explain. You, the buyer, are given by the agent a very loose range of telephone number/dollars in which the seller is prepared to let the property go at. You don't... > Read more

THE SALVATION, a film by KRISTIAN LEVRING (Madman DVD/Blu-Ray)

11 Jun 2015  |  3 min read

Only those with limited imagination would see the Western genre as just being something about horses and gunplay. Certainly those elements may well be there – I prefer my Westerns with both, more of the latter – but the genre is as wide as the skies of Montana. Within "the Western" there has been scope for the clash of cultures (Native American v settlers,... > Read more

LOVE AND MERCY, a bio-pic by BILL POHLAD

10 Jun 2015  |  3 min read

Murray Cammick – whose knowledge about and passion for soul music are not to be questioned – had an interesting criticism of Get On Up, the biographical film of James Brown's life. The actor playing Brown (Tate Taylor) was too tall, said Cammick. Brown's short stature was what made him the man he was. Let's not take Cammick to... > Read more