Film in Elsewhere

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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

CRAZY HEART, a film by SCOTT COOPER (Roadshow DVD)

5 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

As in rock‘n‘roll, country music has its casualties, like Hank Williams who died at age 29 in the back of his chauffeur-driven Cadillac on the way to a gig. Others make a longer crawl to the bottom through years of drink, dope, one-night stands in cheap bars where they stagger through versions of their hits with a local pick-up band, then crash in a motel with a pliable and... > Read more

OF TIME AND THE CITY, a film by TERENCE DAVIES (Madman DVD)

5 Jul 2010  |  1 min read

This poetic meditation on his home city of Liverpool by the great British film-maker neatly blurs fact and faction into a seamless dreamscape of reflection on what once was and what has been lost . . . not just in that dark and dank city of his childhood, but also for the director himself. Using archival footage in grim black'n'white and with lines drawn from TS Eliot, AE Houseman, his own... > Read more

NO DIRECTION HOME a film about Bob Dylan by MARTIN SCORSESE (2005)

4 Jul 2010  |  4 min read

Against expectation, 2005 was a rare year for 64-year old Bob Dylan, especially since he hadn’t had an album of new material out in four years. Yet Dylan seemed to be everywhere in 2005, and it announced his rehabiliation for casual listeners -- and prepared the ground for his critically acclaimed 2006 album Modern Times. But in 2005 Dylan's influence -- for the first... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited

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

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

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

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