Staff Pick DVDs: July Part Two

With the closure of the Cemtral Library our AV loving staff haven’t been sitting idly by. Our first pop up at Arapaki has been open a couple of months and we have been digging into the DVD collection there, watching some old favourites and checking out some new releases. There is a bit of everything here, from modern classics to new docos and TV shows, as well as some brand new titles hot off the processing trolley. Our staff have been watching so much that we’ve had to split it into two lists, part one is here!


Shoplifters
One of the most consistent filmmakers of today, Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda has never made a bad film but his latest work is an exceptional work even by his standard. He questions what family really means by gracefully portraying vulnerable people who live in a shabby house in the edge of society. The narrative is gentle and atmospheric but it’s, in fact, almost Ken Loach-like social realism drama. (Shinji)

Kusama : infinity : the life and art of Yayoi Kusama.
The history, evolution and development of Kusama’s core themes, concepts and the ideas behind her work are well covered. While her conservative upbringing and her life story are covered in this documentary, for me this is one of the film’s weaker elements. By end of this well made and highly informative movie we know a lot about Yayoi Kusama’s art and practice and her position in the modern art world but perhaps a little less about the artist herself. (Neil J)

Ngati
Director Barry Barclay theorised a “fourth cinema” that would be made by indigenous film-makers, from an indigenous perspective with the primary intended audience being indigenous peoples. He achieved his goals with the beautiful Ngāti, the story of a young Australian doctor exploring his Māori heritage. The first feature film to have a Māori writer and director is one of the masterpieces of New Zealand cinema. (Joseph)

Bohemian Rhapsody
This is the biographical story of the life of Freddie Mercury from his youth through to Queen’s 1985 Live Aid performance (of which this movie contains the entire performance). As a matter of course, this has all the wonderful Queen music that we know and love. Giving a wonderful ‘behind the scenes’ look at how they came to write their songs, Raimi Malek is wonderful as Mercury. (Brigid)

Informer
Tense drama as Raza Shar, a young charismatic second generation Pakistani from East London, is coerced by a Counter-Terrorism officer’s DS Gabe Waters (Paddy Considine) and DC Holly Morten’s into going undercover as an informer. As the stakes get higher Raza’s life slowly spins out of control, while Considine’s new partner begins to probe his undercover past and drag up some secrets he’d prefer to stay buried. (Mark)

Annihilation.
The husband of an ex-soldier now biologist goes missing on a deep secret mission in the Shimmer (a mysterious part of the world where strange things happen). Lena’s husband suddenly returns sick and minus his memory, so she and her team must enter the Shimmer to find out what happened. A good story. and reminiscent of The Fog. (Brigid)

Atomic Blonde
Atomic Blonde isn’t just set in cold war Berlin. It’s set in the end of days of cold war Berlin. Which is different. Something is about to happen. I can’t remember if this movie actually features the song Atomic by Blondie. But it doesn’t matter because the whole situation oozes Blondie and Atomic and crumbling trust, following crumbs, spies, hair follicles and sun bleached Charlize Theron as the most powerful American spy. (Tim)

Instant family
A great comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, and Rose Byrne, a professional couple who suddenly realise they are missing something in their lives. Children. After a discussion and doing a course they are all set to become foster parents! When matched with a Spanish-speaking rebellious teenager, they find out she has siblings and Pete and Ellie suddenly go from 0 to 3 children overnight. (Brigid)

The little drummer girl.
Adaptation of the novel by John le Carré, set in the ’70s in which Charlie is recruited by charismatic agent Gadi, to play a part in operation to ensnare a serial bomber for Mossad spymaster Kurtz. A Palestinian terror cell has been responsible for the killing of a number of prominent Jews in western Europe, and the aim of the mission is to embed Charlie within the cell so she can draw out its elusive leader. (Mark)

You were never really here
Lynne Ramsay is a poet of the visual cinema with a distinctive vision – You Were Never Really Here is a real departure in some ways from her previous films. In places it feels like a modern day Taxi Driver and as such it is a powerful, brutal, visceral and violent watch not for the faint hearted. Yet Ramsay’s trademark visual style is still there, only this time it’s the harsh neon city or the sheen of light on blood. (Neil J)

American honey
Shot on warm, saturated film, the viewing experience is an absolute pleasure. The soundtrack rattles with dance pop, 21st century hip-hop and country. The narrative rises and falls, resembling life; full of risk, sorrow and joy. Sasha Lane proves her acting chops in the lead role and Shia LaBeouf delivers his best performance. Director Andrea Arnold has bottled the spirit of youth in these economically precarious times. (Joseph)

The old man & the gun
Based on the story of Forrest Tucker, who had a unique leisurely style of bank robbery and escaped from prison 16 times, director David Lowery turned it into a witty laid-back outlaw tale. The centre of the movie is, of course, Redford who plays Tucker, and it is obvious that he loves playing this character. The chemistry between Redford and legend Sissy Spacek, who plays his love interest, is simply wonderful, and lifts the whole thing to another level. A perfect swansong. (Shinji)

The Happytime Murders
Melissa McCarthy stars in this Brian Henson alternative production about a place where puppets and people live and work together. A detective (McCarthy) is teamed with her ex-partner, a puppet, to investigate a series of murders of puppets from the Happytime movie series. Don’t be fooled by the puppets as this movie is very definitely R rated – most definitely NOT Sesame Street. (Brigid)

Bad times at the El Royale
A group of mysterious strangers show up at a once posh but now slightly run down hotel in the late 1960’s, but it soon becomes apparent that not everything or everyone are who or what they seem. There is much to be enjoyed about ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’ as it has a twisty, compelling plot, it is very stylishly filmed and sports a stellar cast. (Neil J)

Inside Llewyn Davis
The Coen brothers are always a directing duo to watch, and this Oscar Isaac starring feature is one of their finest. Set in the early 60s folk music scene in Greenwich Village, the snow and solemn environments provide the backdrop to the road rambling of a failing folk musician. (Joseph)

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