Film in Elsewhere

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CHUCK CLOSE, a doco by MARION CAJORI (Madman DVD)

4 Oct 2010  |  2 min read

More than a documentary about the great American artist Chuck Close -- whom we see work on an astonishing self-portrait during the course of the filming -- this remarkable, revealing and important film weaves in the work of many of Close's contemporaries (Richard Serra, Robert Storr and others) and has friends and longtime colleagues (Philip Glass among them) speak about Close' significance . .... > Read more

ANVIL! THE STORY OF ANVIL, a film by SACHA GERVASI

24 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

The story of this rock documentary -- or "rockumentary, if you will" -- is so soaked in parallels to the fictional Spinal Tap that you cannot help notice and mention it. But let's not because at heart here there is another and better story than a real life version of a parody. Anvil is a great story of love and faith: the love of two men -- singer/guitarist Steve "Lips"... > Read more

JAMDOWN, a film by EMMANUEL BONN (MVD DVD)

20 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

This unfocused and largely haphazard film -- part travel footage, part film of reggae artists, some political subtext hinted at -- dates from 1980 when French filmmaker Bonn took a camera to Jamaica and the streets of black Britain. There is considerable footage where the camera is looking out the window of a vehicle which travels though the Third World streets of somewhere in Jamaica... > Read more

ERIC CLAPTON; THE 1960s REVIEW (Chrome Dreams/Triton DVD)

13 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

Eric Clapton has made a somewhat sudden appearance in the past month with a survey of his early career here, the album with John Mayall and also his Journeyman popping up as a Bargain Buy. Now by coincidence this interesting -- and rather detailed -- overview of his rapid career in the Sixties (Yardbirds, Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith) arrives. Another in the Chrome Dreams series... > Read more

ARCHITECTURE; THE COMPLETE BOX SET (Five DVDs, Ovation/Southbound)

13 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

Although at a first encounter the narration to this series -- 29 major architects and/or buildings in separate episodes over five DVDs -- might seem a little dry and distant, you warm to it as the images take hold and the voice-over offers clear and informative commentary. These episodes take the nature of self-contained films (character and period explored in relation to the work) and... > Read more

SUFI SOUL by WILLIAM DALRYMPLE (DVD): Seeking the Beloved within

12 Sep 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

In these post -9-11 days it is odd to consider that the biggest selling poet in America in the Nineties was Islamic. The deeply philosophical works of Rumi, a poet of the Sufi branch of Islam, were outselling the biggest names America had to offer. And in the world of music the elevating sound of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was being hailed by the likes of Jeff Buckley, Eddie... > Read more

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: Mustt Mustt (Massive Attack remix)

HERB AND DOROTHY, a documentary by MEGUMI SASAKI (Madman DVD)

11 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

This charming, low-key and multiple award-winning documentary introduces two remarkable, modest but fiercely intelligent art collectors, Herbert and Dorthy Vogel of New York who met in '60 and shortly thereafter began painting and drawing. But within a few years, despite some interesting work of their own as the doco shows, they had started collecting the work of others. Their brief on what... > Read more

EDGEPLAY; A FILM ABOUT THE RUNAWAYS by Victory Tischler-Blue (Shock DVD, 2004)

11 Sep 2010  |  1 min read

Clearly timed to ride the coattails of the film The Runaways about this seminal all-girl band of the the Seventies which launched the careers of Joan Jett and Lita Ford and (based on the memoir Neon Angel by lead singer Cherie Currie), the re-presentation of a doco made by the band's former bassist Vicky Blue should be an object lesson in just how exploitive, abusive (emotionally and... > Read more

YOUSSOU N'DOUR; RETURN TO GOREE, a doco by PIERRE-YVES BORGEAUD (Roadshow DVD)

6 Sep 2010  |  <1 min read

Goree is the island off the coast of Senegal through which thousands of slaves passed on their way to Middle Passage and, if they survived, various parts of the "New World", notably the US and Caribbean. Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour here traces a musical journey from Goree to the jazz and gospel music of the US, and digressions with the blind Swiss pianist/musical director... > Read more

BOOZE IN THE MOVIES: Through a glass, darkly . . .

2 Sep 2010  |  2 min read  |  1

For a few days in my late teens I stayed on Moturekareka, an island just south of Kawau Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. The sole other occupant was alcoholic old Snow who lived in a crude shack lined with newspapers. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t stay in the huge, deserted villa near the pier. It had formerly been a post office-cum-house and looked as if the occupants had only... > Read more

CORNER GAS; SEASON THREE (Madman DVD)

30 Aug 2010  |  1 min read

Does Canada make the most consistently interesting but largely unseen television programmes? Possibly: any country which can give the world The Beachcombers (filmed in quaint Gibsons and sold to 50 countries in the Seventies) and also the very droll Corner Gas (sold to considerably fewer) gets my vote as a nation which has found its points of difference: they seem to be truth in... > Read more

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN, a film by OLIVER HIRSCHBIEGEL (Madman DVD)

23 Aug 2010  |  1 min read

Although this seems to have all the hallmarks of a stage play adapted for the screen, Five Minutes to Heaven (by the director of the gripping Hitler-bunker drama Downfalll) is based on a true story which never exactly happened. The truth at the core is that a young, angry teenager out to prove himself to the local Ulster Volunteer Force murders, in cold blood, a young Catholic boy during the... > Read more

HUE AND CRY, a film by CHARLES CRICHTON, 1947 (Madman DVD)

15 Aug 2010  |  <1 min read

The population in central London in the years after the Second World War was less than half what it is today, around 3.5 million. Even in the early Sixties it wasn't much more . . . which explains why, if you watch an early episode of The Avengers for example there was hardly a car on the roads and eerily few people. In the Forties -- when there weren't the tourists there are today or in the... > Read more

PRIVILEGE, a film by PETER WATKINS, 1967 (Universal DVD)

15 Aug 2010  |  1 min read

Set in a dystopian future where the British government and state authorities (as well as organised religion) exercise complete and often subtle social control over citizens, this remarkable film by Peter Watkins came just as Beatlemania was ending but seems to use an extension of it as its starting point. Nominally it could be called a "pop film", but it is much more than that and... > Read more

LONDON ROCK AND ROLL SHOW 1972 (Rajon DVD)

2 Aug 2010  |  1 min read  |  3

What adjectives can you apply to this 80 minute concert film? Exciting, essential, hilarious, important, historic . . .?All of those, for sure. Since its heyday, rebellious and raw rock'n'roll of the Fifites has undergone periodic revivals (around the time of Lady Madonna, the early Seventies, late Seventies again with the Stray Cats and so on) but when the greats of music such as... > Read more

Little Richard: Tutti-Frutti

GRAND DESIGNS: SERIES SIX with KEVIN McCLOUD (Roadshow DVD)

2 Aug 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

Some people watch celebrity chefs on television and buy glossy monthlies with enticing recipes -- and yet still make the same six meals which come easy and never fail. Then there are others (myself included) who don't open themselves up for the criticsm of such laziness: we watch programmes like Grand Designs -- but would never think of lifting a hammer purposefully. We admire those who... > Read more

COMIC BOOK CONFIDENTIAL, a documentary by RON MANN (DV1/Southbound)

22 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

This 90 minute doco may look dated now -- and it is rather superficial in some respects -- but it offers a useful comicshistory.001 overview of the US major players from just before the Second World War (given scant attention) and into the more interesting, diverse and controversial period of the Fifties and mid-Sixties. Looked at from this distance the alarmist "public service"... > Read more

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STEET BAND: LONDON CALLING; LIVE IN HYDE PARK (Sony DVD)

19 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

Already a global chart-topper, this double disc DVD not only captures Springsteen and band in concert in June '09, but also acts as an emblem for how much people identify with the man and his songs. Through his image-heavy, narrative songs delivered with a big band wallop (drummer Max Weinberg looks like he is hanging on for dear life throughout), Springsteen has managed to touch some... > Read more

THE NEW STATESMAN written by LAURENCE MARKS AND MAURICE GRAN (Shock DVD)

19 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

Although as dated in its own way as Mind Your Language (the British sitcom which milked racial stereotypes for humour), The New Statesman still has something to recommend it to contemporary audiences. Filmed in the Thatcher era (a character playing Thatcher appears in the series), it broadly satirised the greed and ruthlessness of that period through the loathsome, sadistic and self-centred... > Read more

JOAN BAEZ; HOW SWEET THE SOUND a documentary by MARY WHARTON (2009)

10 Jul 2010  |  2 min read

Time to flip all the cards and say that until recently I was never as smitten with Joan Baez as so many people were. Certainly the purity of her voice was striking and when I started discovering Dylan in his early days she seemed to be that dark angel hovering in the wings -- but none of her folk music really stuck with me. I never much liked any of that wimpy "we shall overcome"... > Read more