Film in Elsewhere

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

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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

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