Film in Elsewhere

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THE MAGIC OF AUDREY HEPBURN (Madman DVD)

28 Jun 2010  |  2 min read

The description "unauthorised" usually implies content that the subject may not wish to have exposed to the public, but there is nothing in this documentary -- hagiography in fact -- which Hepburn might have disapproved of. She is here described in terms of a secular saint for her charity work, and with adjectives which suggests she hovered close to the angelic in terms of beauty,... > Read more

CHINA POWER; ART NOW AFTER MAO, a documentary by PIA GETTY (DV1/Southbound DVD)

28 Jun 2010  |  2 min read

In a recent documentary Drilling for Art, the spotlight was put on Dubai as a place with no art history (other than some minor folkloric things) and a city where 95 percent of people come from somewhere else. A few years ago Dubai decided it needed Art -- and so in tentative steps started encouraging contemporary galleries to open, and invited in orchestra leaders and educated expats to... > Read more

THE WIGAN CASINO, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint/Southbound DVD)

24 Jun 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

In the advance publicity for his feature film Cemetery Junction (set in the Seventies and written/directed with Stephen Merchant), Ricky Gervais was quick to point out that in the mid Seventies not everyone dressed like glam-rock David Bowie and Marc Bolan, and that for most people in Britain life just went on at the same grim pace: work in the factory, a few pints down the pub, dead end jobs... > Read more

LENNON AND HARRISON; GUITARS GENTLY WEEP (DV1/Southbound DVD)

21 Jun 2010  |  <1 min read

Although this DVD and CD set is beautifully packaged -- classic cover photos by Astrid Kirchherr, thick and lavishly presented biography book -- it fails to live up to its claim of exploring the (often tetchy) relationship between these two men. The 55 minute DVD notes that the relationship between Lennon and McCartney has been much analysed, but this one hasn't. However thereafter the film... > Read more

THE JOE STRUMMER STORY, a documentary by MIKE PARKINSON (DV1 DVD/Southbound)

21 Jun 2010  |  <1 min read

With each passing year the myth and power of Joe Strummer seems to grow as his story has its contradictions and inconveniences ironed out. His wilderness years after the Clash are all but ignored and increasingly it seems as if Strummer moved seamlessly from agit-prop rocker to senior statesman who took his message of tolerance and commitment to the masses around campfires and through the... > Read more

The Clash: In the Pouring Rain

GENERATION KILL, from the book by EVAN WRIGHT (DVD)

20 Jun 2010  |  2 min read  |  2

Anyone looking for an insight into the modern American military in combat need not go past Evan Wright's exceptional Generation Kill. Gung-ho marines raised on video games, hyped up on caffeine, pounding hip-hop and testosterone roll into Iraq in the first days of the 2003 war to clear a path, be a diversion and kill the enermy. They are there to "get some" as they say. Wright was... > Read more

STONES IN EXILE, a documentary by STEPHEN KIJAK

14 Jun 2010  |  2 min read  |  2

Keith Richards once offered a neat observations of Mick Jagger: "Mick's a lovely bunch of blokes." Jagger, by all acounts, has that uncanny ability to switch his langauge and accent depending on who he is talking to: with the turn of his head he can go from plum-in-mouth when chatting with a lord or lady to a Jamaican accent if the next person is a Rasta from Kingston. He's also... > Read more

ABSOLUTE WILSON, a documentary by KATHARINA OTTO-BERNSTEIN (Southbound DVD)

14 Jun 2010  |  2 min read

Choreographer Robert Wilson is one of those rare individuals who can dress a stage to look like a private dream inspired by the stillness of a Rene Magritte paiting or a mad cabaret populated by frogs and floating chairs. Either way, at a glance you can spot a Wilson design. They are idiosyncratic, unique, often visionary, sometimes disturbing and always compelling. Frequently they are... > Read more

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, a documentary series by TONY PALMER (Isolde/Southbound DVD)

8 Jun 2010  |  2 min read

These days there are any number of documentary flms about music: Ken Burns' Jazz series, Martin Scorsese's series about the blues, country music dealt to in Lost Highway, the excellent History of Rock'n'Roll . . . Individual artists are also getting their due: the Beatles' Anthology; various Elvis docos; Scorsese on early Dylan in No Direction Home; Bogdanovich on Tom Petty and the... > Read more

STALINGRAD, a documentary series by S. DENHARDT, C. DEICK and J. MULLNER (DV1/Southbound DVD)

7 Jun 2010  |  2 min read

In the tragically vast annals of war, the battle for Stalingrad stands out for the horrendous loss of life, the stubborness and arrogance of Adolf Hitler, the horrors that the German 6th Army endured imprisoned in that city, and the dreadful aftermath. This award-winning, three-part documentary resiles from none of that and if it perhaps slightly marginalises some of the sufferings of the... > Read more

IN THE REALMS OF THE UNREAL: THE MYSTERY OF HENRY DARGER a documentary by JESSICA YU (Ovation/Southbound DVD)

1 Jun 2010  |  2 min read

When the reclusive and friendless Henry Darger died at 81 in Chicago in 1973 (after a brief period in the same poorhouse in which his father had died) his story really began. Shortly before his death his neighbours discovered that Darger's apartment was full of the most remarkable, sustained artwork. Over the course of his later life -- in the absence of the distractions of company,... > Read more

MONTY PYTHON: ALMOST THE TRUTH, THE LAWYER'S CUT (Eagle Rock DVD): This is all getting far too silly

23 May 2010  |  1 min read

If you thought the last word on the Pythons had been the DVD box sets, the CD reissue of their albums and their Autobiography modelled on the Beatles' Anthology book, then . . . Yes, here at seven and a half hours with all the living Pythons interviewed and reflective -- plus relevant clips, period footage (the Goons) and commentary from fans such as Eddie Izzard, Steve Coogan, Russell... > Read more

Eric Idle: The Bruce's Philosophers Song

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR MEMORIES, a doco by DAVID LAMBERT (DV1/Southbound DVD)

17 May 2010  |  1 min read

Introduced by Victor Spinetti -- the only man other than the Beatles to appear in three of their films, A Hard Day's Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour? -- this rather stilted but nonetheless mildy amusing doco is knobbled by the obvious: it doesn't include any of the original Beatles film; none of their music (aside from covers of relevant songs); and, aside from fleeting hand-held footage... > Read more

The Beatles: Blue Jay Way

TRILOGUE; LIVE IN BERLIN 1976, a concert film (Jazz Shots/Southbound DVD)

16 May 2010  |  <1 min read

The tragic story of bassist Jaco Pastorius (1961-87) has been told in depth at Elsewhere (here) but this concert film from '76 -- with avant-trombonist Albert Mangelsdorff and drummer Alphonse Mouzon -- captures him before the rapid decline through drink, drugs and neglect. In Weather Report, Pastorius's style often headed towards jazz-rock fusion and even funk, but here -- with... > Read more

ELVIS COSTELLO: SPECTACLE, SEASON ONE (Ovation/Southbound DVD set)

10 May 2010  |  2 min read

Because television talk shows depend largely on the quality of the guests, Rove (the programme, not the man) will always be more interesting than any local production. When it comes to visiting artists and celebrities, Australia gets more passing trade. Imagine then the greater talent available in New York if you set up a music/talk show with Elvis Costello – whose musical... > Read more

THE COMMITTEE, a film by PETER SYKES, 1968 (DV1/Southbound DVD)

3 May 2010  |  1 min read

This strange, disturbing and largely unseen until now British film defined "cult movie" for many decades. With Manfred Mann lead singer Paul Jones as the central character, incidental music by Pink Floyd and Arthur ("I am the god of hellfire") Brown performing Nightmare, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of pop film. But it is far from it. The... > Read more

WILCO: I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART a film by SAM JONES (Rhythmethod DVD, 2004)

1 May 2010  |  3 min read

Recently an interesting film turned up on TV, but not interesting in a good way. It was Catch Us If You Can, the mid-1960s vehicle for the Dave Clark Five, a pop group briefly touted to challenge the Beatles' supremacy. This was the DC5's A Hard Day's Night. But it wasn't. Where the Beatles' flick had a snappy script and knowing wit, superb cinematography and genre-defining... > Read more

Wilco: War on War (from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot)

AVATAR, a film by JAMES CAMERON (2009)

29 Apr 2010  |  4 min read

The day after I saw Avatar in a 3D preview screening I wrote a blog about it: here is a modified and updated version of that to coincide with the DVD release. Despite the naysayers who emerged after the initial rush of enthusiasm, I haven't changed my opinion that this a terrific film . . .  I didn’t think much of James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Titantic. But then I saw... > Read more

DEPARTURES, a film by YOJIRO TAKITA (Madman DVD)

26 Apr 2010  |  1 min read  |  1

The on-going economic downturn in Japan -- which has seen thousands of salarymen laid off and emotionally adrift -- has lead to a number of films addressing that issue of dislocation and disruption in a society which had promised and expected conformity and security. The beautiful Tokyo Sonata by Kiyoshi Kurosawa was a heartbreaking insight into the lengths one man would go to keep up the... > Read more

HOW WE BUILT BRITAIN, a documentary series with DAVID DIMBLEBY (BBC DVD)

25 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

Anglophiles and architects may naturally be drawn to this six-part series which comes with the subtitle "The Dramatic and Heroic Story of Britain's Architecture". But architects might be disappointed. Starting in 1066 -- which rather ignores quite a chunk of history -- this digressive series fronted by the eye-twinkling and winking Dimbleby becomes something more like a social... > Read more