Film in Elsewhere

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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

THE COVE, a documentary by LOUIE PSIHOYOS (Madman, DVD)

19 Apr 2010  |  2 min read

At the time of this writing Japan's fishing industry is in the news for all the wrong reasons: The annual whale kill is down drastically because of efforts by Sea Shepherd to stop Japan's kill in Southern Ocean; New Zealand activist Peter Bethune is a Tokyo prison for boarding the whaling ship Shonan Maru 2 and attempting to present the captain with a bill after his vessel Ady Gil was in a... > Read more

GLASS, A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS, a documentary by SCOTT HICKS (Madman DVD)

13 Apr 2010  |  3 min read

In his insightful, provocative and usefully gossipy book The Rest is Noise (2007), the writer and critic Alex Ross took a free-wheeling survey of 20th century classical music and addressed why the damn stuff had become so difficult for "modern" audiences. As with jazz -- which lost its populist mandate when free form arrived and alienated those who liked to, if not swing, at least... > Read more

NGATAHI: KNOW THE LINKS, a documentary series by DEAN HAPETA (Kaha DVD)

5 Apr 2010  |  3 min read

Technology may have made the world smaller, but it has also divided it. Consider this: if you are a Satan-worshipping death-metal band in Sweden (and there are an alarming number) you can now have a valid and validated career by selling your music on the internet to like minds across the planet. But at the same time you are also marginalised by simply feeding the same agenda. You needn't... > Read more

VAN DIEMEN'S LAND, a film by JONATHAN AUF DER HEIDE, 2009 (Madman DVD)

4 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

In the first volume of his projected trilogy about the history of his homeland -- Australians: Origins to Eureka, published 2009 -- the writer Thomas Keneally writes of the first Irish convicts transported to what became Sydney. They believed that if they could just escape and head north they would get to China and be able to start a new life. Of course they took one look at the arid... > Read more

IN THE ELECTRIC MIST, a film by BERTRAND TAVERNIER, 2009 (Madman DVD)

4 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

Based on the James Lee Burke novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, this serial killer mystery (with surreal time slips into a world populated by the ghosts of the Civil War) is set in the Cajun bayou swamps of Louisiana which, of themselves, add an air of uneasy stillness and mystery. As detective Dave Robicheaux, Tommy Lee Jones pulls out a performance that seems to owe much to... > Read more

UNDER THE VOLCANO, a film by JOHN HUSTON, 1984 (Shock DVD)

3 Apr 2010  |  1 min read

There are two anecdotes -- both possibly apocryphal -- which I remember about the life of Malcolm Lowry, the British author of the terrifying novel Under the Volcano. The first is that when he was child his father took him to a medical museum and showed him the disgusting and disfigured body parts of those who had died of various venereal diseases. I guess that comes from the "that'll... > Read more

VISUAL ACOUSTICS, a film by ERIC BRICKER (Madman DVD)

29 Mar 2010  |  2 min read

This beautifully shot, 85 minute doco pays elegant tribute to the great photographer Julius Shulman, the man who defined how the world saw Modernist architecture. As the Modernist movement took hold and right through to the most contemporary buildings by Frank Gehry, photographer Shulman was there constructing eye-catching images (often in deep black'n'white, sometimes in glossy colour for... > Read more

SAMSON AND DELILAH, a film by WARWICK THORNTON (Madman DVD)

17 Mar 2010  |  4 min read

Two years ago I was in and around Alice Springs, a town that trades on the idea it is close to Uluru. It isn't. The town has a fascinating, if brief, white-fellah history, the landscape in that part of the desert is spectacular, and as an outsider it was hard to get a grip on Aboriginal life in the area. The rumours were bad enough, the reality was possibly worse. This extraordinary... > Read more

THE WHITE STRIPES; UNDER GREAT WHITE NORTHERN LIGHTS (XL CD/DVD)

17 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

Since this 2007 doco was filmed of the White Stripes tour across Canada (with interesting digressions of shows done on the fly), Jack White has peeled off into other areas of interest: Dead Weather, Raconteurs, the movie It Might Get Loud, more production (tantalisingly with early rocker Wanda Jackson) . . . Drummer Meg -- his former wife whom he here again refers to as his sister, keeping... > Read more

The White Stripes: Ball and Biscuit

IMMODESTY BLAIZE presents BURLESQUE UNDRESSED (EMI DVD)

14 Mar 2010  |  1 min read

Well, if you can have an Olympic event on the parallel bars, why not on a vertical bar -- especially when many thousands of people across the world are dedicated to it. So why not pole dancing as demonstation sport at the next Olympics leading to official recognition as sport thereafter? Well, here is why not. Pole dancing is, like, just sooo last year's thing. Burlesque is where... > Read more

THE HAUNTING PAST OF CINEMA: Classics illustrated

8 Mar 2010  |  2 min read

For those of us who are pay-per-view civilians, television is a kaleidoscope portal from the present (the Oscars, downtown Baghdad on a bad day) to the past (the History Channel), and sometimes into an imagined future (although heaven forbid it should be as po-faced as Stargate SG-1). The time-shift possibilities can be fun, but they are a warning if you think these are the best of times.... > Read more

Danny Elfman: Prelude, Psycho soundtrack (the remake)

Blur: No Distance Left to Run (EMI Double DVD set)

1 Mar 2010  |  2 min read

This beautifully shot, career-spanning, feature-length doco leaves a lot of threads hanging for those who didn't follow every nuance of the relationship between the four members of Brit-pop's Blur, and you certainly get the impression that guitarist Graham Coxon -- often a blitzkrieg of noise on-stage but nervous, reticent and slightly precious off -- was never a great communicator of his... > Read more

Blur: Tender (from the album 13)

THE ROLLING STONES; TRUTH AND LIES (Eagle Media DVD)

15 Feb 2010  |  <1 min read

While it may have been possible to make an even more superficial DVD of the Stones' career than this, it would take a bit more laziness. Relying on newsreel footage, a few talking heads and with no access to their music, what you get here is a fast trip through their fortysomething year career with most of the emphasis on the Sixties and early Seventies. It speaks volumes that their... > Read more

BOB DYLAN SPEAKS, SAN FRANCISCO 1965 (Eagle DVD)

8 Feb 2010  |  2 min read

In December 1965 Bob Dylan -- with his "protest singer" days behind him, an electric guitar now his weapon of choice, the as-yet unnamed Band as his group and with Like a Rolling Stone redefining the parameters of pop and rock -- sat down for an hour-long, televised press conference in San Francisco. Dylan would never do another like this, and in fact no musician has... > Read more

Bob Dylan: Like a Rolling Stone

GOODBYE AGAIN, a film by ANATOLE LITVAK 1961 (MGM/Shock DVD)

1 Feb 2010  |  1 min read

Based on Francoise Sagan's sorrow-filled 1959 novel of failed and tragic love Aimez-vous Brahms?, this adaptation with Ingrid Bergman, Yves Montand and Anthony Perkins won the latter a best actor award at Cannes for his portrayal of the young, spoiled and emotionally needy Philip Van der Besh. Quite why Perkins should have been singled out is odd: his role in which he becomes obsessed with... > Read more

IN THE LOOP a film by ARMANDO IANUCCI (Madman DVD)

24 Jan 2010  |  1 min read

Watching John Grisham's political thriller The Pelican Brief the other night on television re-run, I was struck by how conspiracy stories about corruption at the highest levels of power conspiciously fail in one area: they assume the Evil Ones can maintain walls of silence around them and that there is no such thing as base incompetence and stupidity in the world in which they are set.... > Read more

BUBBA HO-TEP a film by DON COSCARELLI, 2002 (MAGNA PACIFIC DVD)

24 Jan 2010  |  2 min read  |  1

Twentysomething years ago an amusing little book appeared, Elvis: The Novel. I don’t remember much of it, other than Elvis killing manager Tom Parker, and at one point an overweight Elvis is performing in Las Vegas when a very drunken John Lennon arrives and is appalled by his childhood hero reduced to waddling around singing old hits. Lennon (Yoko-less, rudderless) starts to heckle.... > Read more