Film in Elsewhere

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

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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

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH, a film by IAIN FORSYTH and JANE POLLARD (Madman DVD)

11 Dec 2014

During a recent Q&A session after a screening of this film about him, Nick Cave mentioned in passing that a sequence involving Bad Seed/Dirty Three/Grinderman band member Warren Ellis wasn't true: Ellis didn't live in that particular house and he didn't cook eel as he was shown to be doing. There were some surprised laughs, but as I looked around I got the sense that some people in the... > Read more

FRANK a film by LENNY ABRAHAMSON

17 Nov 2014    2

Not many people know that when Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band were recording their classic and sometimes frightening album Trout Mask Replica in '69, the good captain (Don Van Vliet) kept the musicians all-but captive in a big house in Topanga Canyon to ensure the job got done to his satisfaction. Artists often talk themselves into a different environment in the hope of finding... > Read more

CHARLES LLOYD; ARROWS INTO INFINITY, a doco by DOROTHY BARR and JEFFREY MORSE

15 Oct 2014    1

A very odd thing happened a few years ago when I was offered an interview with the great jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd in advance of a New Zealand concert. I agreed immediately because after all, this was the great Charles Lloyd whose albums in the previous 25 years on ECM had set a new threshold in not just his own illustrious career but in jazz itself. More than that, the man... > Read more

Lady in the Harbour

WHIPLASH, a film by DAMIEN CHAZELLE

13 Oct 2014

Films about jazz are rare, good ones even more so. The reasons for this are pretty easy to discern: jazz is a minority art form and therefore of not much interest to the general audience, most of whom have very different views on what “jazz” actually means. That's because the word has become so widely used, misused, re-defined and co-opted for other purposes... > Read more

THE JACQUES TATI RESTORED COLLECTION (Madman DVD box set)

10 Oct 2014

In the Sixties and Seventies it was easy and fun to ridicule French culture: they made lousy pop'n'rock, their art films were so earnest they were readily parodied . . . and they hailed Jerry Lewis as an auteur at a time when he had fallen from grace in America. But every now and again stuff slipped through the skepticism, one of them being the films of Jacques Tati whose Monsieur... > Read more

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE a film by JIM JARMUSCH (Madman DVD)

15 Sep 2014

The appeal of vampire movies is well established. It's about sex . . . and if you doubt that you haven't seen enough of the breast-heaving Hammer horror films of the Sixties. Oh, and of course they are about death. Or eternal life, if you will. And every generation of teenagers gets its own hip style of vampire movie. The appeal for teens is enhanced if you are an... > Read more

ALFRED HITCHCOCK DIRECTS: THE TV COLLECTION (Madman DVD)

5 Sep 2014    1

Alfred Hitchcock may have been a genius, but he was certainly a nasty piece of work when it came to women actors, especially those who spurned his sometimes clumsy advances or let him down in some way. Some have noted that his films became increasingly violent towards woman after Psycho (1960), around the time he built up a stew of resentment towards actresses such as Kim Novak, Audrey... > Read more

SURVIVORS, REVISITED (2014): A television series from past about the now-future

18 Aug 2014    2

One of the more smug, not to say stupid, comments on television recently came from an expert speaking about the likelihood of the Ebola virus in West Africa making it to New Zealand. The essence of what he said was that the country’s geographical isolation would protect us. This opinion followed the statistic which said that this easily communicable and often... > Read more

SKEPTICS: SHEEN OF GOLD a doco by SIMON OGSTON

28 Jul 2014

When this film -- Simon Ogston's stylish, thorough and often moving documentary about New Zealand's Skeptics -- appeared briefly in cinemas a year ago it vindicated longtime Skeptic fans who, rightly, believed them to be one of the most important bands ever to emerge in New Zealand. Uncompromising, intelligent, visceral and often compellingly thrilling, the Skeptics existed in a context of... > Read more

A HARD DAY'S NIGHT, REMASTERED AND REISSUED (2014): All they had to do was act naturally

16 Jul 2014    1

At the same time as the Beatles were filming their first feature A Hard Day's Night, the once-great Elvis Presley was cranking out mindless Hollywood movies such as Fun in Acapulco and Kissin' Cousins. The King of Rock'n'Roll had gone soft and although his films were still successful at the box office, few would acclaim them as high art. His British counterpart Cliff Richard... > Read more

I Should Have Known Better

NEBRASKA, a film by ALEXANDER PAYNE (Roadshow DVD)

9 Jul 2014

The story of America is entwined with the myth of the road. From Daniel Boone and “Go West, Young Man” wagon trains through Jack Kerouac, Easy Rider, Springsteen's lyrics and onto Little Miss Sunshine and Road Trip, the songlines, trails and highways of America have been where people have found redemption and truth. Stories told about the road are of discovery and, just as... > Read more

GREG CAMALIER INTERVIEWED (2014): The sound of soul and the Swampers

7 Jul 2014

For a small, out of the way town which only had a population of about 8000 back in the Sixties and Seventies, Muscle Shoals in Alabama sure made its mark on the world. Situated by the Tennessee River and in the crosshairs of the racial divide, Muscle Shoals was home to the famous FAME recording studio founded by Rick Hall where Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Percy Sledge and dozens... > Read more

SONNY ROLLINS; BEYOND THE NOTES a doco by DICK FONTAINE

30 Jun 2014

When the great jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins came to New Zealand in 2011, it was my pleasure to do a phone interview with him beforehand . . . and then see him in concert. I'd only seen Rollins twice previously and each time they were polar opposite performances, so it was impossible to know what to expect. And similarly interviewing him. Some musicians can be tetchy subjects,... > Read more