Film in Elsewhere

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

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

20 Jul 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

8 Jun 2015    3

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)

MAPP & LUCIA, a television series by STEVE PEMBERTON

24 May 2015

There is a wonderful tradition of English fops, snobs and upperclass twits. And from Oscar Wilde through Bertie Wooster to Monty Python, Margot Ledbetter on The Good Life and recently Downton Abbey, there's a rich vein of humour to be milked from it. In the wake of Downton's recent success, it's no surprise therefore to see the “Mapp and Lucia” stories of E.F. Benson... > Read more

HEAVEN ADORES YOU, a doco by NICKOLAS ROSSI

19 May 2015

The only book I've read about singer-songwriter Elliott Smith – Benjamin Nugent's Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing -- had me conclude, Alan Partridge-like, “What a shit!” Smith – who died at 34 in odd circumstances in October 2003 – seemed needy, emotionally manipulative (how would you respond to an e-mail which read “Please don't be mad at me if I... > Read more

CATHEDRALS OF CULTURE, a documentary on great buildings by VARIOUS FILMMAKERS (Madman DVD)

30 Apr 2015

Because architecture is the most public of all arts it has a powerful impact on the way we see and relate to our world: Architecture is the thoughtful making of spaces, we are told in this doco series, and we shape our buildings and our buildings shape us, to paraphrase Winston Churchill. The premise of this series of 25 minute documentaries about six very different but important... > Read more

COBAIN: MONTAGE OF HECK, a film by BRETT MORGEN

29 Apr 2015    1

In the final third of this sometimes uneven but always fascinating two-hour documentary about Kurt Cobain there is considerable previously unseen home footage. There we see Cobain, his wife Courtney Love and their baby Francis Bean Cobain (an executive producer on this authorised doco) playing happy families. It is worrying for a couple of reasons: Cobain and Love are clearly in... > Read more

GALLIPOLI, a television series by GLENDYN IVIN (Roadshow DVD/Blu-Ray)

26 Apr 2015    1

On Anzac Day there was a commemoration in the hall of my former, all male secondary school. Beneath the names of hundreds of successful students and the gaze of past principals and teachers with more than 35 years' service, a very large number of people – of all ages and cultures – bowed their heads in prayer (to the Christian God and His son Jesus Christ) and listened... > Read more

CILLA, a film by PAUL WHITTINGTON (Roadshow DVD/Blue-Ray)

22 Apr 2015

For a film with a number of parallel threads and themes competing for attention – the rise of Liverpool singer Cilla Black to fame in the mid Sixties; her relationships with gay manager Brian Epstein (and his rough trade life) and partner Bobby Willis (an aspiring songwriter and singer himself); the Protestant-Catholic divide in the city and so on – this two-hour plus bio-pix... > Read more

THE KILLERS, a film by ROBERT SIODMAK (Shock DVD/Blu-Ray)

8 Apr 2015    1

Of all the great film noir movies of the Forties and Fifties, few have the cachet and longevity of The Killers from '46. Based in part on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, the great Burt Lancaster in his first starring role, the radiant and steamy Ava Gardner as the female lead, music by Miklos Rozsa, an intelligent and adult story told through flashbacks (like Citizen Kane and... > Read more

ALEX GIBNEY INTERVIEWED (2015): Searching for Fela man

20 Mar 2015

Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney is perhaps best known for his documentaries about Wikileaks, the Enron debacle, the sex scandal involving New York governor Eliot Spitzer and the career of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. But throughout his long career – he is now 61 and has been directing films for 35 years – there have always been a few docos about musicians,... > Read more

FINDING FELA, a doco by ALEX GIBNEY (Madman DVD/Blu-Ray)

16 Mar 2015

Early on in this in-depth two hour documentary about the life, music, cultural impact and legacy of the Nigerian lightning rod Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the director/choreographer of the Broadway musical Fela! Bill T. Jones says, "this is hard medicine for our era". He's not kidding. Fela's willingness to stand up to the repeated assaults, imprisonments and harrassments from the... > Read more

FRONTERA, a film by MICHAEL BERRY (Anchor Bay DVD/Blu-Ray)

1 Mar 2015

Many, many years ago I spoke with the man who was the head of Refugee and Migrant Services in Auckland. At the time I was writing articles about displaced people who were arriving in New Zealand under our extremely modest refugee quota. He told me of an Afghani man who, after fighting the Russian invaders, had been forced to flee his country and traveled overland to the east,... > Read more

ZOMBEAVERS, a film by JORDAN RUBIN

8 Feb 2015

Because some of the most academic and intelligent people I have met in my life are also among the most socially inept, emotionally fragile and stupid, I've never thought being intelligent made you a better human being. Being well read confers no moral superiority either, otherwise the great writers would all sit on the right hand of God. And we know if you ever wanted to encounter a... > Read more

BIRDMAN, a film by ALEJANDRO G INNARITU

7 Jan 2015

When films deal with filmmaking, actors or the theatre, they can often be insufferably coded, loaded and playing to the gallery. Asides and references – visual or vocal – can frequently be aimed at the cognoscenti who get to smile with that smug, wry amusement of recognition. And there are certainly moments in the first third of the acclaimed... > Read more

INFORM-EDUCATE-ENTERTAIN; THE DVD by PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING (Test Card/Southbound DVD)

27 Dec 2014

Those many of us who considered Public Service Broadcastings' Inform-Educate-Entertain to be one of the best albums of 2013 definitely need this DVD, because -- as we know -- PSB are as much about the images as the music and samples. Using old British and US documentary footage, films and public information programmes as source material, PSB constructed songs around samples and brought to... > Read more

THE DARK HORSE, a film by JAMES NAPIER ROBERTSON (Transmission DVD)

13 Dec 2014

That this film should have picked up so many wins at the NZ Film Awards will come as little surprise. Taking nothing away from the excellence of the acting and directing, there were few other serious contenders -- What We Do in the Shadows? Please! -- and it is also a feel-good film which has mainstream appeal. In fact, one friend called it "Karate Kid with chess" which was rather... > Read more