Film in Elsewhere

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ROGER CORMAN PRESENTS SHARKTOPUS, directed by DECLAN O'BRIEN (Anchor Bay DVD)

19 Sep 2011  |  1 min read

Some years ago in this interview the master of B-grade flicks Roger Corman admitted that these days he often just thought up the title and let other directors flesh out the actual film. Hence Dinocroc. And of course, Dinocroc 2. Which also explains this amusingly low budget affair ("Half-shark. Half-octopus. All killer") in which our titular hybrid monster -- invented by... > Read more

HARRY SINCLAIR INTERVIEWED (2011): Expat filmmaker talks about his life

12 Sep 2011  |  11 min read

Harry Sinclair who has lived in the States for the past 10 years – the last four in LA, years prior to that in New York – is still well known in New Zealand. His reputation rests on two significant poles: As one half of the music/performance duo The Front Lawn with Don McGlashan, and for his pop-up television series Topless Women Talk About Their Lives, 41 short episodes which... > Read more

HAIL BOP! A PORTRAIT OF JOHN ADAMS, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint DVD)

15 Aug 2011  |  2 min read

Early in this insightful 100 minute portrait of the American composer John Adams by Tony Palmer, Adams cites Milton Babbitt's article Who Cares If You Listen? and being struck by the cavalier attitude of many composers who knew they had no audience and had created a mindset which "basically said 'Screw you'." "I remember Babbitt saying he would no sooner expect the average... > Read more

Now It is Night

BOB DYLAN; 1990-2006: THE NEVER ENDING NARRATIVE (Chrome Dreams DVD)

8 Aug 2011  |  3 min read  |  1

Although Bob Dylan closed his shapeless and directionless Eighties with the acclaimed Oh Mercy album produced by Daniel Lanois, no one would really have considered him ripe for a career reinvention. And Under the Red Sky of the following year -- a cast which included Slash, Bruce Hornsby, George Harrison and numerous others on material as unworthy as Wiggle Wiggle and Handy Dandy -- seemed... > Read more

The Levee's Gonna Break

RUTHIE FOSTER: LIVE AT ANTONE'S (Fuse DVD)

2 Aug 2011  |  <1 min read

Many who witnessed the sad and rather shameful "performance" by BB King in Auckland's Civic this year (see review here) have walked away embarrassed for King  . . . but thrilled by his opening act, the great Ruthie Foster. Her joyous, powerful and good humoured (but also deeply sensitive) set of gospel, soul, blues and Motown-styled pop was invigorating and her promise to come... > Read more

Up Above My Head

KATE BUSH; A LIFE OF SURPRISES (Chrome Dreams DVD)

1 Aug 2011  |  2 min read  |  1

When the frequently reclusive Kate Bush reappeared recently with her album Director's Cut -- on which she returned to 11 of her earlier songs to revise them -- there was the inevitable flurry of interest in her again. (Typically she did few interviews, possibly even only the one in Mojo.) However the album was underwhelming and received only polite reviews. But you'd be unwise to... > Read more

Rubberband Girl

CHANTS R&B: Christchurch's rare rock, rumble and bang captured on film

27 Jul 2011  |  7 min read  |  1

Chants R&B out of Christchurch in the Sixties were a rare New Zealand band, on so many levels. Rare in that they played exciting, noisy, feedback-infused rhythm and blues rock at a time when most other New Zealand bands were following the Beatles into bright pop.Rare that they recorded a live album.Rare that they were so often photographed.Rare also  that they were filmed.And most... > Read more

I'm Your Witchdoctor (1966)

HOWL, a film by ROB EPSTEIN and JEFFREY FRIEDMAN

18 Jul 2011  |  2 min read

The three parallel, intercutting narratives here in this story of Allen Gisnberg's famous, half-hour poem Howl and the subsequent obscenity trial can be off-outting at first, and in truth don't serve the film or poet especially well. But for those new to the subject its slightly racy, post-modern attitude is bound to have considerable appeal. Generations have grown up with the first lines... > Read more

Footnote to Howl (reading from 1956)

BRIAN ENO: THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH (2011) (Sexy Intellectual/Triton DVD)

28 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

Despite the title here being appropriated from David Bowie, this does seem a fair description of Brian Eno, the self-described "non-musician" who made his name in Roxy Music as the flamboyant synth-twiddler who brought an avant-garde sensibility to a band which might have otherwise simply sounded retro and poopy. Eno's sonic textures only appeared on the first two Roxy Music... > Read more

BLACK SWAN, a film by DARREN ARONOFSKY (Fox DVD)

17 Jun 2011  |  1 min read

There are few successful films where the protagonist is so unsympathetic and whose character requires a suspension of disbelief, yet whose tension-filled course towards their fate you will watch with increasing concern. Black Swan -- flawed but beautiful, much like its central character -- is one of them. Set in the competitive and physically demanding world of professional ballet,... > Read more

EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS, a film by MARTIN DAVIDSON (Triton DVD)

13 Jun 2011  |  2 min read

Although this B-grade rock-cum-mystery film from '83 has plot holes and continuity problems so big you could drive a pink '57 Chevy through them, it isn't without some interest, especially if Bruce Springsteen means anything to you. In the most broadest of terms, it starts like Citizen Kane (a television reporter Maggie Foley -- played by Ellen Barkin -- goes in search of the real story... > Read more

WHEN YOU'RE STRANGE; A FILM ABOUT THE DOORS, a doco by TOM DICILLO (Madman DVD)

1 Jun 2011  |  3 min read

Two things strike you immediately about this much vaunted and Grammy award-winning doco: That Jim Morrison was a man of brooding good looks except when he smiled and then he looked just plain goofy (and there is a lot of him smiling and laughing in the early footage here); and that the script which Johnny Depp reads in a tired monotone seems to have been written by a 12-year old who has relied... > Read more

The Doors: End of the Night (1967)

TREME; THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, a series by DAVID SIMON (4-DVD set)

23 May 2011  |  3 min read  |  6

As I write this, large areas of Louisiana have been under water this past week as the Mississippi rose and authorities opened floodgates so as not put pressure on the levees further down, notably around Baton Rouge and New Orleans. And in nearly every report of the events – caused by melting ice and run-off way up north – one word has rung like a refrain: Katrina.... > Read more

The Wild Magnolias: Soul Soul Soul

STRAVINSKY; ONCE, AT A BORDER, a doco by TONY PALMER (Voiceprint DVD)

18 May 2011  |  1 min read

When Tony Palmer made this acclaimed and insightful documentary about Igor Stravinsky on the 100th anniversary of the composer's birth, the great man had been dead less than a decade. As with the other docos by Palmer previously mentioned at Elsewhere (notably All You Need is Love), the filmmaker was therefore close to the lifetime and influence of his subject, and this being done at the... > Read more

Vladimir Ashkenazy: Concerto for piano and wind instruments by Stravinsky, composed 1923

IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF FAMOUS COMPOSERS (Time Life/Shock DVD)

16 May 2011  |  2 min read

Myth making and hype attached itself to Beethoven at an early age. When he was eight his father -- a boozer -- presented him at a recital as being just six in order to pass him off as a child prodigy like Mozart. Not that Ludwig needed much help in the prodigy stakes. And although he was a genius, it wasn't without a struggle and constant revision of his scores, as the profile of him... > Read more

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Victor Yampolsky: Symphonie Fantastique Op 14, Fourth Mo

BIEBERMANIA!, a film by THOMAS GIBSON

16 May 2011  |  2 min read

In a cover which looks about as far from exciting as that exclamation mark wants us to believe this is, comes yet another unauthorised biography -- this from a director of E! Hollywood True Story -- about a young man for whom no hyperbole is too understated. Here again we are told of his remarkable rise from Stratford in Ontario -- "a small bucolic town" on the cover, a... > Read more

BOB DYLAN, ON FILM: Acting on the margins

14 May 2011  |  3 min read

Somebody at the University of Applied Narcotics in San Francisco has probably written a thesis about Bob Dylan's bizarre film career. Like Neil Young, Dylan appears in movies which make little sense to anyone, possibly even himself. Yet it all started so well. The terrific doco Don't Look Back, by Don Pennebaker, of Dylan's brief British tour in '65 captured him toying with journalists,... > Read more

JUSTIN BIEBER: TEEN IDOL, a doco by MAUREEN GOLDTHORPE

2 May 2011  |  2 min read

When Justin Bieber seemingly appeared out of nowhere to the soundtrack of cute r'n'b pop and screaming girls, people who should have known better -- especially those media commentators who had been there for Beatlemania in their own youth -- just seemed idiotic in their damning and condescending comments. They came off as more silly than the girls who screamed because these were people who... > Read more

LADY GAGA, ONE SEQUIN AT A TIME, a doco by SONIA ANDERSON

2 May 2011  |  3 min read

The famous British DJ Jimmy Savile wore a suit made of bananas when he was hosting a television show. Copying Lady Gaga's notorious "meat dress"? Not at all. Savile -- now Sir Jimmy -- wore his eye-catching clobber on Top of the Pops back in the Seventies. Visually striking and an icon she may be, but you certainly couldn't accuse Lady Gaga of originality. Her music is a... > Read more

THE GRAND OLE OPRY PRESENTS . . . CLASSICS (Time Life 5-DVD set)

25 Apr 2011  |  1 min read

Can you have too much of that old time mainstream country music? Some might say that five discs and 10 hours of country singers at the Grand Ole Opry might just be that bridge too far . . . and to be honest I didn't get more than halfway through this set which draws mostly from the Fifties and Sixties. It is hilarious of course if you just want to tune in for the downhome humor, awkward... > Read more

Loretta Lynn: You Ain't Woman Enough