Film in Elsewhere

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

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THE SPARKS BROTHERS, a doco by EDGAR WRIGHT

19 Jul 2021  |  2 min read

In The Sparks Brothers – a documentary about Sparks, the idiosyncratic band of brothers Russ and Ron Mael – British television personality Jonathan Ross says they had “a punk sensibility, a desire to shake things up and make you think”. The irony is – despite Steve Jones saying in pre-punk days he and fellow Sex Pistol Paul Cook loved Sparks – gobby punk... > Read more

ZAPPA, a doco by ALEX WINTER

19 Mar 2021  |  4 min read  |  1

The further we get from Frank Zappa, who died in late 1993, the closer he seems to come. His late wife Gail ensured his vast catalogue was given reissue (more than 60 albums in his lifetime, more than 50 posthumous releases), his son Dweezil tours his father's music as Zappa Plays Zappa (in early 2018 he and his cracking band played Auckland), there have been books and academic... > Read more

SKEPTICS: SHEEN OF GOLD a doco by SIMON OGSTON

11 Dec 2020  |  <1 min read

When this film -- Simon Ogston's stylish, thorough and often moving documentary about New Zealand's Skeptics -- appeared briefly in cinemas many years 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... > Read more

LENNONYC, a doco by Michael Epstein (DocPlay)

7 Dec 2020  |  1 min read

Released 10 years ago and now on DocPlay, this two-hour documentary shines a spotlight on John Lennon moving to his newly adopted home in New York City and the disturbing politics of the period. Threatened with deportation (ostensibly for a British drug conviction) and followed by the FBI, Lennon refused to lay low and took to television to make his case and delivered the highly uneven (if... > Read more

KIM HEGAN INTERVIEWED (2020): The way, the truth and the life of a Buddhist master

4 Sep 2020  |  9 min read

Kim Hegan throws his head back and lets out a hearty laugh. I've just said to him, “It's an ill wind . . .” We're sitting in an Auckland cafe on an almost-post-Covid morning talking about his film Return to Gandhi Road which he produced and appears in, and was directed by his daughter Yeshe in her first full-length documentary. The project has taken 10 years, involved four... > Read more

RETURN TO GANDHI ROAD, a doco by YESHE HEGAN

3 Sep 2020  |  4 min read  |  1

The story at the centre of this remarkable 90 minute documentary is so intricate and interwoven in terms of geographical, spiritual and biographical layers that it deifies easy synopsis. So let us alight on a simple image and tease that thread out. Imagine a wooden block about the length of your forearm. On it is carved a text written in the 6th century.... > Read more

THIS TOWN, a film by DAVID WHITE

9 Aug 2020  |  2 min read  |  1

As an elevator pitch, a script draft and even on the screen, this film by first time feature director David White shouldn't work. It channels – sometimes without much repurposing – just about every trope in recent New Zealand comedy. You can tick them off if you care to: the small town populated by sometimes slightly eccentric or stereotypical characters where it seems to be... > Read more

LAUREL CANYON directed by ALLISON ELLWOOD (2020): California dreamin' and tension

13 Jul 2020  |  2 min read

In 2009 the producer, music journalist, radio consultant and album compiler Harvey Kubernick wrote an interesting book Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and Music of Laurel Canyon, the story of the area where he lived in Los Angeles. It came with a foreword by the Doors' Ray Manzarek and an afterword by producer Lou Adler (The Mamas and The Papas etc) In 360 heavily illustrated pages, this... > Read more

THE TAMI SHOW (2020): The lady in lockdown

22 May 2020  |  1 min read

Given that last year was a pretty lousy one for many people (self included) many were looking forward to a fresh start in 2020. Well, then that happened . . . Few musicians were looking forward to this year as much as singer-songwriter Tami Neilson who had a fine album ready to go (Chickaboom! reviewed here), had the backing to tour internationally to consolidate... > Read more

KIM'S CONVENIENCE, by Ins Choi and Kevin White. A Netflix series

13 Apr 2020  |  1 min read

Round Elsewhere's way when we aren't diverted by drug cartels (Narcos, the incredibly tense Ozark) or being taken on some bleak journey with a detective posted to some snow-blown remoteness to investigate a murder in Iceland/Norway/Canada/Alaska etc we like to take comfort in a gentle comedy series . . . like Kim's Convenience. This series – set in and around a Korean family's... > Read more

MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL, a doco by STANLEY NELSON (Netflix): Running the Voodoo Down again

2 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

When I interviewed Miles Davis in 1988 in advance of his Auckland concert, I punched in an improbably long line of digits to a New York number and after confirming it was him on the other end – the hoarse grunt was enough – I introduced myself and asked him about his most recent album Siesta. After a long silence the distinctively raspy voice grumbled,“I dunno what... > Read more

DELINQUENT DAYS; OUTSIDERS ON THE SILVER SCREEN (2020): The kids aren't alright

12 Jan 2020  |  3 min read

In the shorthand of pop culture, some would have you believe there was nothing going on between the death of Buddy Holly and the arrival of the Beatles. Certainly there were a lot of bland, production-line pretty-boy pop stars as we noted here, but there was also much more happening. As we said in that piece, “there were surf bands and Motown, Phil Spector, doo-wop... > Read more

MICHAEL HUTCHENCE: MYSTIFY, a film by RICHARD LOWENSTEIN

2 Sep 2019  |  3 min read  |  1

  Here's the briefest of encounters with the Australian superstar. It was at a fund-raising concert in Sydney in '92 and there were big acts aplenty on the bill. Backstage I chatted with Neil Finn (then of Crowded House) and the charming Johnny Diesel who should have been massive but instead had an excellent career. The catering tent was open to all, kids and partners ambled... > Read more

THE CHILLS: THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF MARTIN PHILLIPPS, a doco by JULIA PARNELL and ROB CURRY (Madman DVD/Blu-Ray)

23 Aug 2019  |  4 min read  |  1

About two-thirds the way through this revealing, sometimes disturbing and occasionally (unintentionally) funny 95-minute doco Martin Phillipps is seen going through his scrupulously archived Chills clippings and comes on one from '92 written when he returned to New Zealand after announcing onstage in the US – to the surprise of his bandmates – that the Chills would be no more.... > Read more

APOLLO 11, a doco by TODD DOUGLAS MILLER (2019): Close enough to touch . . .

23 Aug 2019  |  2 min read

Even in the too-near future when fancy rockets from President Trump's visionary Space Force are shuttling Russian oligarchs and wealthy white billionaires off to the safety of Mars as the polluted Earth chokes and dies, people will still marvel at the technical genius and singular courage which took Man to the moon in July 1969. As we labour today under social division, fake news, the... > Read more

HERBS: SONGS OF FREEDOM (2019), a doco by TEAREPA KAHI

18 Aug 2019  |  3 min read  |  2

Well intentioned – and necessary – as this documentary is as a salute to one of the most important bands in Aotearoa New Zealand's music history, by never having a clear focus or trajectory it falls well short of the marks it seems to be aiming for. Herbs were this country's first overtly political group and the 1981 debut EP Whats' Be Happen (referred to as an album these days)... > Read more

MUSIC AND HOW WE SEE IT (2019): Movies about music in the NZ International Film Festival

23 Jul 2019  |  2 min read

NZIFF has kicked off in Auckland and this year's festival boasts an eclectic mix-tape of music-themed films.  A major highlight is the stunning film Amazing Grace – featuring the undisputed queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, as you’ve never seen her before. This spine-tingling film captures a two-night recording session in a Los Angeles Baptist church in... > Read more

ROLLING THUNDER REVUE, A BOB DYLAN STORY, a film by MARTIN SCORSESE: The drifter escapes, again

8 Jul 2019  |  4 min read  |  2

In 1975, when the acclaimed actor and playwright Sam Shepard was invited by Bob Dylan – whom he had never met – to come on tour with him, Shepard wasn't sure why. Nor, it turned out, was Dylan. Maybe he could write some lines for the artists who would be performing on what was called the Rolling Thunder Revue, said Dylan, but there would be improvised stuff so... > Read more

A QUEEN IS GONE, LONG LIVE QUEEN (2019): Freddie's dead, Adam is born

26 Jun 2019  |  2 min read

At a time when the film Yesterday creates a world in which the Beatles' songs never happened, here's another scenario to speculate on: what if the Beatles hadn't broken up when Paul McCartney announced his departure? What if Lennon, Harrison and Starr decided to carry on recording as the Beatles and got in an old pal like bassist Klaus Voorman – whom they known since Hamburg days... > Read more

YESTERDAY, a film by DANNY BOYLE

24 Jun 2019  |  3 min read  |  1

Because the Beatles' career, music and personal lives have been deconstructed in detail, analysed in similar depth and held up to the light for more than half a century, it is almost inevitable they would provide perfect material for fiction or dramatisation. Think of the Beatles' films made without them: Nowhere Boy about the teenage John Lennon, Backbeat about their Hamburg years, The... > Read more