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Community & Languages Newsletter

Enjoy the season with New Zealand stories about friendship, adventures and family secrets; relax by watching a movie from the library’s latest DVD collection; or start a new craft project. Enrich your summer cuisine with delightful recipes from around the world and read romantic sagas in Spanish.

Library News

New Zealand

Always eclectic, new additions to the New Zealand Collection this month feature stories from a museum curator, a kiwi sanctuary, photography, poetry, the sad history of post war state care of children and lastly a murder mystery. The new book shelves of the NZ Collection have something to interest everyone.

Syndetics book cover The unburnt egg : more stories of a museum curator / Brian Gill.
“Museum natural history collections have been called libraries of life. In The Unburnt Egg Brian Gill continues his spellbinding stories from more than thirty years as a curator. Some tales are so bizarre they read like fiction: a population of ship rats decimating the entire wildlife of an island and then collapsing; birds leaving their young to be raised by other birds; frogs and lizards living in trees and flying. Others reveal the painstaking detective work involved in solving mysteries presented by police, biosecurity agencies, government departments and members of the public. Frogs’ legs on sale as chicken, a feather hidden in a bag of sugar, a live boa constrictor on a street in snake-free New Zealand–it’s all in a day’s work.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Through the eyes of a miner : the photography of Joseph Divis / Simon Nathan ; with assistance from Les Wright and Brendon Wilshire.
“Joseph Divis (1885-1967) photographed life in New Zealand mining towns where he lived and worked between 1909 and 1935. His images provide a unique record of life in some small communities, especially the now-abandoned town of Waiuta, near Reefton.” (Introduction)
Syndetics book cover Mister Hamilton / John Dickson.
Mister Hamilton, John Dickson’s first collection in eighteen years, is an appealing, questioning mix of elements. Over a base of South Island bedrock (granite, schist, greywacke), Dickson has peopled this quietly fiery collection with day-to-day working voices and narratives, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes charged with a political consciousness and lyrical intensity. Shot-through with veins of jazz, rock and blues, quizzical religiosity and a streak of the absurd, this book takes a fresh look at the streets and lawns and people of urban and suburban ‘Pig Island’ and offers some thoughtful, wisely pitched and immensely likeable poems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover My father’s ears / Karen Goa.
“When an Italian immigrant’s harsh but intriguing past catches up with him, his skeptical daughter Sophie sets out to discover the truth about her father, his affair with a Romanian trapeze artist and a mysterious New Zealander claiming to be his son. This twisting tale of secrets and social dilemmas is set against a remarkable and moving history of Italian immigration.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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DVDs

As always, a wide variety of DVDs have been added to our extensive collection. They include recent smash hits such as Florence Foster Jenkins, Me before You and our very own Hunt for the Wilderpeople. As for TV series, check out very popular Peaky Blinders. Season three.

florence Florence Foster Jenkins.
“Despite lacking pitch, rhythm and tone, Florence Foster Jenkins became one of America’a best-known sopranos. Born in 1868 to wealthy Pennsylvanian parents, Florence was a talented young pianist but her life was thrown into turmoil when she eloped with Frank Jenkins, a man twice her age. The marriage proved a disaster and Florence was forced to abandon her dreams of a musical career. Then her father died in 1909 and, newly installed in New York, she used her considerable inheritance to fund her passion, setting up a prestigious music club. Many young singers owed their start to Florence, but she too yearned to perform and began giving regular recitals that quickly attracted a cult following. And yet nothing could prepare the world for the astonishing climax of her career when, at the age of seventy-six, she performed at the most hallowed concert hall in America.” (Back cover)
cover image Peaky Blinders. Season three.
“Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is drawn into a maze of global intrigue in the electrifying third series of Steven Knight’s acclaimed family saga.Approached by a secret organisation on his own wedding day, Tommy finds himself at the centre of an international arms deal that could change the course of history. In a sphere where no one reveals their true intentions until the game is up, Tommy has to contend with a White Russian exile whose brutality knows no bounds, a priest with a killer dog, a beautiful Duchess even more manipulative than him, and a powerful entity at the heart of the British establishment that will stop at nothing to accomplish its reactionary aims. The pressures they inflict upon Tommy are carefully chosen and exquisitely unpleasant.” (Syndetics summary)
cover image Me before you / New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures present a Sunswept Entertainment production.
“Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark lives in a quaint town in the English countryside. With no clear direction in her life, the quirky and creative 26-year old goes from one job to the next in order to make ends meet. Taking a job at the local ‘castle’ she becomes caregiver and companion to Will Traynor, a wealthy young banker who became wheelchair bound in an accident. Embarking together on a series of adventures, both Lou and Will get more than they bargained for.” (Syndetics summary)
cover image Eye in the sky.
“London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists from their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a “capture” to a “kill” operation as Powell realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission. From his base in Nevada, American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine year old girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the house. With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation, the impossible decision of when to strike gets passed up the “kill chain” of politicians and lawyers as the seconds tick down.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

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Community Languages

Enjoy our latest additions to our Spanish collection featuring romance, suspense, family sagas and more.

Syndetics book cover Cinco esquinas / Mario Vargas Llosa.
“«Él había pensado que, después de todo, un periodista puede ser a veces útil. “Y también peligroso”, concluyó. Tuvo el presentimiento de que nada bueno saldría de esta visita.»
La idea de esta novela comenzó con una imagen de dos señoras amigas que de pronto una noche, de una manera impensada para ambas, viven una situación erótica. Luego se fue convirtiendo en una historia policial, casi un thriller, y el thriller se fue transformando en una especie de mural de la sociedad peruana en los últimos meses o semanas de la dictadura de Fujimori y Montesinos. Me gustó la idea de que la historia se llamase Cinco esquinas como un barrio que, de alguna manera, es emblemático de Lima, de Perú y también de la época en la que está situada la historia.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Cicatriz / Juan Gómez-Jurado.
“Simon Sax is a lucky guy. He’s young, smart and is about to become a billionaire by selling a great invention. And yet, he feels lonely. His success contrasts with his lack of social skills. He joins a dating site where he falls in love with Irina, with the inexperience and passion of a teenager. But she has an enigmatic scar on her cheek, and carries a dark secret…” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Divorcio en el aire / Gonzalo Torné.
“La tercera novela de Gonzalo Torné.
Divorcio en el aire empieza cuando Joan-Marc y Helen se marchan a un balneario para tratar de salvar su matrimonio. Ese espacio se convierte en el eje de una historia que relata el origen de su relación con Helen, primero en Madrid y luego en Barcelona, así como la biografía del propio Joan-Marc: su educación, su iniciación al sexo, las desastrosas relaciones con su familia, sus problemas financieros y el reencuentro, ya a las puertas de la madurez, con antiguos compañeros de clase, a los que la vida ha situado en posiciones insospechadas.
En este sentido , Divorcio en el aire habla de una cuestión fundamental: la dificultad de asumir el paso del tiempo y su irreversibilidad.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Guía astrológ̤ica para corazones rotos / Silvia Zucca.
“¡Bienvenidos al club de las desdichadas intergalácticas! Me llamo Alice y hasta hace unos meses mi autoestima estaba por los suelos. Mi ex estaba a punto de ser padre y un hombre imposiblemente sexy acababa de aparecer en la oficina, lo que no me ayudaba demasiado. Entonces a mi vida llego Tio, mi entrenador astrológico personal, para explicarme que mis problemas no eran debidos a un complot cósmico sino a la posición de los planetas en mi carta astral. Así que lo único que podía hacer era ponerme en manos de la obra y averiguar qué sorpresas me tenían reservadas las estrellas. Y os aseguro que lo que descubrí fue mucho más que eso y, sobre todo que, cuando se trata del amor, el destino no está escrito en el cielo.” (Syndetics summary)

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Cooking

With delectable recipes and dishes for every meal and occasion, this is a collection of cookbooks from around the globe.

Syndetics book cover Spain : the Cookbook / Simone and Inés Ortega.
“The world’s best selling Spanish cookbook and the indispensable bible of traditional and authentic Spanish home cooking.” (Book Jacket)
Syndetics book cover France : the cookbook / Ginette Mathiot.
“With more than 1,400 recipes, Mathiot guides the reader through all the classic recipes and techniques of French cooking… with a clear and authoritative voice. The recipes, which have been fully updated by Clothilde Dusoulie, author of the popular Chocolate & Zucchini blog, prove that authentic French food doesn’t have to be complicated, heavy or too rich.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Greek : Heart-warming Traditional Recipes / [food director, Pamela Clark.]
“From the delicious dips and little morsels they call Mezze and eat with a glass of ouzo before dinner to the super-sweet honey-drenched baklava they eat with their coffee after dinner, Greek food is a culinary delight. Seafood is plentiful in Greece and there are recipes included here for prawns, sardines, squid and octopus. Peasant dishes such as moussaka, slow-roasted lamb, and dishes made from rabbit and goat are an important feature of the cuisine too. And there are celebration dishes – especially for Easter. And along with the beautifully photographed recipes, there are several beautifully photographed landscapes of Greece.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Eat to Stay Young : ingredients & recipes to rejuvenate your body & mind / Gill Paul ; nutritionist: Karen Sullivan
“Growing older is natural, but eating the right foods can slow the process down and keep your body’s stores of age-fighting nutrients topped up. Featured in this book are the key foods that have been proven to increase the feeling of youthfulness in our minds and bodies – cranberries, aubergines, guava, tuna and cinnamon to name a few. A clever problem-solver helps you choose the ingredients that address your symptoms, whether thinning hair, dry skin, poor circulation, joint pain or forgetfulness. With over 60 easy-to-follow, quick-to-prepare, completely delicious recipes and weekly meal planners, Eat To Stay Young is the perfect way to turn back the clock and achieve optimum health.” (Syndetics summary)

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Craft

Give your creativity a fresh start with gorgeous ideas from this selection of our latest craft books. Discover some glorious designs for quilts, inspired by the rich colours of the terracotta walls and the white churches of the Mediterranean. Happy crafting!

Syndetics book cover Knit together, share together : simple knitting for all the family / Marja de Haan ; translated by Barbara Mee.
“Knitting can bring generations together. This practical and beautifully illustrated book, which contains step-by-step knitting instructions and patterns, was inspired by a granddaughter knitting a simple doll’s sweater, her grandmother knitting the doll itself, and the girl’s mother knitting a matching sweater for her daughter. Even young children can learn to knit the basic stitches, and this book features projects suitable for every age and stage of experience. Knitting not only stimulates the mind and develops motor skills and dexterity but is also a way of creating something useful, with love, which can be cherished.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Knitting for the outdoors : merino handknits for active Kiwis / Gillian Whalley-Torckler ; photography Darryl Torckler.
“Merino wool is the best for warmth and comfort, especially in garments for active outdoor people. This book features quick knits in modern designs and includes hats, gloves, mittens, scarves, hoodies and vests which look good anywhere and appeal to men and women, girls and boys.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Bible sampler quilt book : 96 quilt blocks inspired by the Bible / Laurie Aaron Hird.
“Devotion meets design in a stunning sampler quilt honoring both the Old and New Testament! Evoke the spirit of favorite Bible passages in fabric with this gorgeous how-to guide from renowned sampler-quilt author Laurie Aaron Hird. In The Bible Sampler Quilt, Laurie pairs scripture with beautifully pieced blocks representing significant people, themes and events from The Bible. Inspired by well-loved Bible passages, The Bible Sampler Quilt invites you to create a quilt that is both beautiful and spiritually uplifting.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Kaffe Fassett’s quilts in Italy : 20 designs from Rowan for patchwork and quilting.
“Che bella! Kaffe’s inspiration for the 20 new quilts in this book was drawn from the exquisite, richly colored villages of Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera. The region, with its terracotta walls and handsome black and white churches set off by jewel-like glimpses of the Mediterranean, is beautifully reflected in the colors and patterns created by Kaffe and his team of designers. In addition to the gallery of quilts, the book provides detailed information on how to make each featured quilt, along with general practical patchwork and quilting information and a visual summary of Kaffe’s latest fabrics.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Staff Pick DVDs – Dec/Jan….

Some staff DVD picks to round out the year- an acclaimed HBO drama, Italian comedy, Japanese animation, German horror, and an in depth examination of the Cimemax oeuvre. We will be back early next year with the picks of our favourite DVDs of 2016.

Cover imageThe night of.
Critically acclaimed HBO drama starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed. New York student Naz (Ahmed) embarks on a wild night of drugs and sex with a mysterious woman after picking her up in his father’s cab. The next morning he wakes to find her stabbed to death in her bed. With no recollection of the previous night’s events, Naz flees the scene but is quickly brought in by the city’s police and identified as the main suspect for the murder. Scuffling precinct- crawling defence lawyer John Stone (Turturro) finds himself in the right place at the right time to take Naz’s case, and after initially thinking of it as a way to lift his own fortunes, he comes to believe in his clients innocence. Based on the UK series Criminal Justice, it had initially been a passion project of James Gandolfini, who was to play the part of lawyer Jack Stone before his untimely death. However Turturro steps up instead and delivers a knockout performance. Scripted by novelist Richard Price, it succeeds on every level. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageOur kind of traitor.
A civilian couple (Ewan McGregor & Naomie Harris) on vacation in Marrakesh to work on their marriage befriend a flamboyant and charismatic Russian named Dima (Stellan Skarsgard), who, unbeknownst to them, is a financial wizard/money launderer for the Russian mafia. When Dima confides to his new friends that he plans to escape from the mob, they agree to be the go-between for him with MI6. He promises the accounts and names of prominent British Politicians receiving bribes to open a new London based bank that will be a front for Russian Mob money, in exchange for asylum for himself and his family. But with MI6 officer Damien Lewis running an operation unsanctioned & opposed by his political bosses, how can they get Dima and his family out? While it perhaps lacks the gravitas of The Constant Gardener, or A Most Wanted Man, this is a solid adaptation of the John Le Carré novel from 2010. McGregor & Harris are good as the ordinary couple, Skarsgard chews scenery as the larger than life Dima, and Damien Lewis is excellent as the clinical upper-crust MI6 agent. Definitely worth a watch. Perhaps the main issue it has, is that it had the misfortune to be made/released around the same time as the excellent The Night Manager, which showed just how much Le Carre’s tales benefit from a longer running time and a more detailed approach. (Mark)

Cover imageMy Mother = Mia madre.
Margherita is a renowned film director but struggling to complete her latest film. She’s broken up with her partner and doesn’t have the slightest idea what her daughter has been up to. Her life is in tatters, and furthermore and most importantly, her beloved mother is dying. Italy’s leading film maker Nanni Moretti (The Son’s Room, We have a Pope)’s new film is about facing mortality. The theme is naturally sombre but Moretti, who is one of the unique auteurs of today, shows his flair of comedy and ingenious skill to make it a tender, charming family drama. It’s a perfectly constructed film in which every detail is in the right order, and has a beautiful balance of melodrama and comedy. Before we know it, we share the story rather than watching it. After all, we are all someone’s children. (Shinji)

Cover imageGoodnight mommy.
Eerie German ‘horror’ film sees 9 year old twins Lukas & Elias living in an idyllic isolated summer cottage waiting for their Mother to return from having plastic surgery. When she returns her face is covered in bandages, and slowly little things emerge about her seem that seem off. Gradually their suspicions increase… Is that really their mother under the bandages? Some have criticised that the twist is telegraphed far too early & easy to guess. Maybe so, but the film isn’t really about the twist, it’s about the insular nature of the world of ‘childhood’ , the slow build of tension & atmosphere. More for those who are into the new ‘wave’ of non-slasher horror films as represented by films like It Follows, Babadook & Under The Skin. (Mark)

Cover imageGreen room.
Down-on-their-luck punk rockers ‘The Ain’t Rights’ agree to a last-minute gig in a backwoods Oregon roadhouse. The gig soon takes a sinister turn as the band members stumble upon a grisly murder scene and find themselves trapped in the Roadhouse, targeted by a ruthless club owner and his associates, determined to eliminate all witnesses. Effective indie thriller sees the talented Anton Yelchin in one of his final roles, and a nasty turn from Patrick Stewart as the leader of a bunch of Neo-Nazi’s. Makes the most of its claustrophobic setting. Definitely worth a watch. (Mark)

Cover imageThe tale of the Princess Kaguya.
Watching at home last week, I found ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ to be an absolute revelation. The film retells one of the earliest recorded Japanese folk-tales, a story of love and obligation which plays out between humans and the denizens of other realms. It blends the fantastic with the everyday, and handles both with deftness and great emotional charge. Coming from the famous Ghibli studios, its elegant design and thoughtful storytelling are a cut above even its famous stable-mates; the animation style is particularly striking, drawing on traditional modes of brush painting and contemporary digital techniques to produce some startlingly expressionistic and charged moments. The sound design is likewise exceptional, building an elegiac mood of dreamlike fantasy around the film’s stunning images. I have rarely been more moved by any film than by ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’, which manages to draw memorable moments of great lightness, sublimity and humour, and weighty human realities, into one perfectly formed whole. Due to the film’s length, I wouldn’t recommend it for the smallest people, but it’s excellent for the thoughtful older child who loves a strong story, as well as adults of all ages. (Alex)

Currently riding high with the success of the adaptation of Max Allan Collins’ gritty Quarry crime novels which is getting favourable comparisons to the first season of True Detective, the following reviews are a look at the guilty pleasure of some of Cinemax’s (or ‘Skinemax’ as it is better known) attempts at legitimate TV programming…
CoverimageHunted.[Series one].
Melissa George helms this Spy drama, created by X-Files alumni Frank Spotnitz, a joint production between the BBC & Cinemax. George plays Sam Hunter an operative for a private Intelligence/Security firm called ‘Byzantium’, who is ambushed after a rescue operation in Tangiers. Barely managing to survive she recuperates for a year in secret before returning to Byzantium, where her new assignment is to infiltrate the family of a wealthy British criminal who has leveraged his entire fortune into winning the bid on a Dam construction project in Upper Khyber. Paralleling this, Sam attempts to uncover which of her Byzantium colleagues was behind her assassination attempt, and why it seems to tie into a traumatic incident from her childhood. At only 8 episodes this slick spy show throws in a lot of plot, sometimes becoming overly convoluted, and most of the secondary characters don’t make much impact. However it’s entertaining enough if you’re looking for a post-Spooks spy fix with plenty of action. Dropped by the BBC after this series.

Cover imageStrike back. Cinemax season one.
Two things are clear from then first moments of Cinemax’s ‘Strike Back’ Season 1. The first is that it has incredibly high production values, and the second is that it has almost zero intellectual content. The Cinemax series is technically Season 2 of this show, as it was originally a BBC Sky 2010 UK mini-series entitled Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (Reviewed here) which starred Richard Armitage in the lead role as John Porter, a member of Section 20 a secretive branch of the British Defence Intelligence service. Supposedly envisioned as a continuing role, that idea came to an end when Armitage left to work on the Hobbit movies. However American channel Cinemax decided to continue the series, rebooting it as a joint US/UK production with two new leads, Philip Winchester (an American playing a Brit) & Sullivan Stapleton (an Australian playing an American – who would later turn up as the lead in Blindspot). When Porter is kidnapped & killed by mysterious Pakistani terrorist Latif, who is masterminding a upcoming terror plot, Michael Stonebridge (Winchester) is tasked to find dishonourably discharged Delta Force operative Damian Scott (Stapleton), who is the only other person who can positively identify Latif. Scott is soon recruited into Section 20, and the five stories (10 episodes) are essentially stand alone, but all connected by the unifying search to find Latif. Sort of 24 minus the moral questions & hand-wringing, and with more gun fights & gratuitous sex scenes. Strike back would go on for 3 more Cinemax seasons: Cinemax Season Two, Cinemax Season Three & Cinemax Season Four before wrapping up.

Cover imageBanshee. The complete first season.
Of the Cinemax series’ before Quarry ‘Banshee’ was the most critically & commercially successful. Created by writer Jonathan Tropper & produced by Alan Ball (creator/EP of True Blood) ‘Banshee’ is, if anything, more lurid and violent than ‘Strike Back’. It begins with a thief (Kiwi Antony Starr) just released from jail after serving fifteen years of hard time. He persuades his foul mouthed drag queen/computer expert friend (a hilarious Hoon Lee) to track down his ex-flame and partner-in-crime Anna (Ivana Milicevic), and the diamonds she got away with. Arriving in a crooked Pennsylvania town called Banshee he soon finds her living under an assumed name and married with 2 children, one of which could be his. Seeking solace in a bar on the outskirts of town he and bartender and ex-con Sugar (Frankie Faison) witness the brutal death of Banshee’s incoming sheriff Lucas Hood, whom no one in town knows. He then decides, while burying the body, that assuming Hood’s identify is this best way to disappear off the grid and stay near his ex-girlfriend [No spoilers, as this all takes place within the first 30 minutes]. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the show: in that it’s somewhat preposterous, but also addictive & incredibly intense. Each episodes is stuffed full of action, with brutally realistic fight scenes, gratuitous sex and intense character interactions. The arrival of ‘Hood’ causes decidedly mixed feelings in Milicevic’s Anna (now married to the local D.A) in that she still harbours feelings for him but is scared his presence will cause the mysterious Mr. Rabbit, the Ukrainian mob boss whose diamonds they stole, to find her. In turn Hood finds that the corrupt town, controlled by Amish overlord Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen) is the perfect vehicle to dilute his barely contained anger, and proceeds to dispense some distinctly non-by-the-book Policing. Starr is excellent as Hood, his wounded countenance the perfect balance to the American Gothic hardboiled noir of the story. The hidden secrets, relationships, shifting alliances between the characters, Hoods Deputies, the local Indian Tribe, the Amish community & criminal factions all provide enough backdrop & character arcs for Banshee Season Two, Three & Four.
For more Cinemax see also The Knick Season 1 & Season 2, and the upcoming release of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast. (Mark)

More new DVDs this month

Here are some new DVDs in our collection. This month is a bit of everything with Louis Theroux’s humorous look at the mysteries of Scientology; kids hit Finding Dory; new big budget remakes of 80s classic Ghostbusters & the story of Tarzan; critically acclaimed coming-of-age music comedy Sing Street; and the latest entry in the Star Trek franchise. With TV there is the newest season of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander saga; the final episodes of the BBC version of Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell’s Wallander series; and acclaimed new HBO crime series The Night Of.

cover imageMy Scientology movie.
“With a lifetime of experience dealing with eccentric, unpalatable and unexpected human behaviour, the unassuming Theroux won’t take no for an answer when his request to enter the Church of Scientology headquarters is turned down. Inspired by the Church’s alleged techniques, and aided by former Scientology members-turned-whistleblowers, Theroux uses actors to recreate incidents people claim to have experienced as members in an attempt to better understand the way it operates. However, in a bizarre twist, it becomes clear that Louis is not the only one making a documentary… Suffused with a good dose of humour and moments worthy of a Hollywood script, MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE is as outlandish as it is revealing.” (Product Description, Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageFinding Dory.
“When Dory, the forgetful blue tang, suddenly remembers she has a family who may be looking for her, she, Marlin, and Nemo take off on a life-changing quest to find them, with help from Hank, a cantankerous octopus; Bailey, a beluga whale who’s convinced his biological sonar skills are on the fritz; and Destiny, a nearsighted whale shark! Dive into the movie overflowing with unforgettable characters, dazzling animation, and gallons of fun!” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe legend of Tarzan.
“It has been years since the man once known as Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) left the jungles of Africa behind for a gentrified life as John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, with his beloved wife, Jane (Margot Robbie) at his side. Now, he has been invited back to the Congo to serve as a trade emissary of Parliament, unaware that he is a pawn in a deadly convergence of greed and revenge, masterminded by the Belgian, Captain Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz). But those behind the murderous plot have no idea what they are about to unleash.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageSwiss army man.
“A wholly original, enormously entertaining, and deeply heartfelt look at what it means to be human, SWISS ARMY MAN is the feature film debut of acclaimed music video directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan (collectively known as DANIELS). Bursting with limitless creativity in both form and content, SWISS ARMY MAN goes from the absurd to the emotional to the whimsical to the profound and back again. Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island, having given up all hope of ever making it home again. But one day everything changes when a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore; the two become fast friends, and ultimately go on an epic adventure that will bring Hank back to the woman of his dreams.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageGhostbusters.
“Ghostbusters makes its long-awaited return with Director Paul Feig’s unique and hilarious take on the classic, supernatural comedy, led by the freshest minds in comedy today. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. Together they team up to save Manhattan from a sudden invasion of spirits, spooks and slime that engulfs the city.” (Synopsis, amazon.co.uk

cover imageSing Street.
Sing Street takes us back to 1980s Dublin where an economic recession forces Conor out of his comfortable private school and into survival mode at the inner-city public school where the kids are rough and the teachers are rougher. He finds a glimmer of hope in the mysterious and über-cool Raphina, and with the aim of winning her heart he invites her to star in his band’s music videos. She agrees, and now Conor must deliver what he’s promised – calling himself “Cosmo” and immersing himself in the vibrant rock music trends of the ‘80s, he forms a band with a few lads, and the group pours their hearts into writing lyrics and shooting videos. Sing Street is an electrifying coming-of-age film that will resonate with music fans across the board.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe night of.
“Eight-part crime drama starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed. New York student Naz (Ahmed) embarks on a wild night out with a mysterious woman after picking her up in his dad’s cab. The next morning he finds her stabbed to death in his bed. With no recollection of the previous night’s events, Naz flees the scene but is quickly brought in by the city’s police and identified as the main suspect for the victim’s murder. After he is denied a legal representative, defence lawyer John Stone (Turturro) steps in to help Naz prove his innocence. As he awaits prosecution on Rikers Island, Naz adapts to the politics of life on the inside while his legal team try to piece together what happened on the night of the crime.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageOutlander. Season two.
“Claire and Jamie arrive in France, hell-bent on infiltrating the Jacobite rebellion led by Prince Charles Stuart, and stopping the battle of Culloden. With the help of his cousin Jared, a local wine merchant, Jamie and Claire are thrown into the lavish world of French society, where intrigue and parties are abundant, but political gain proves far less fruitful. Altering the course of history presents challenges that begin to weigh on the very fabric of their relationship. However, armed with the knowledge of what lies ahead, Claire and Jamie must race to prevent a doomed Highland uprising and the extinction of Scottish life as they know it.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageWallander. The final chapter.
“All three feature-length episodes from the third series of the BBC crime drama starring Kenneth Branagh as the Swedish detective. Inspector Kurt Wallander (Branagh) and his team at Ystad police station investigate a number of violent and terrifying murders in the beautiful setting of Skane County, Southern Sweden. In this instalment, Wallander must investigate the disappearance of a Swedish citizen while attending a conference in South Africa. After returning home, the detective struggles with the onset of Alzheimer’s whilst trying to solve his final cases.” (Product Description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageStar trek. Beyond.
“Dispatched on a rescue mission to the farthest reaches of space, the USS Enterprise is ambushed by Krall, a ruthless enemy sworn against the Federation. Crash-landing on an uncharted hostile world, Captain Kirk, Spock, and the crew are separated with no means of escape. Only Jaylah, a rebellious alien warrior, can help them reunite and find a way off the planet in a race against time to stop Krall’s deadly army from triggering all-out galactic war.” (Syndetics summary)

New DVDs in December

As always, a wide variety of DVDs have been added to our extensive collection. They include recent smash hits such as Florence Foster Jenkins, Me before You and our very own Hunt for the Wilderpeople. As for TV series, check out very popular Peaky Blinders. Season three.

1film21796Crossing Rachmaninoff.
“Aspiring piano soloist Flavio Villani is preparing Rachmaninoffs Piano Concerto No. 2 for his first orchestral performance. He must challenge traditional musical thinking and battle personal demons for a chance to make music his life. Crossing Rachmaninoff is a personal odyssey, with all the elements of drama and catharsis that Rachmaninoff himself depicts so splendidly. It explores the fundamental desire to be accepted for who we are, the beauty of music and the courage of those who make it.” (from Syndetics summary)

florenceFlorence Foster Jenkins.
“Despite lacking pitch, rhythm and tone, Florence Foster Jenkins became one of America’a best-known sopranos. Born in 1868 to wealthy Pennsylvanian parents, Florence was a talented young pianist but her life was thrown into turmoil when she eloped with Frank Jenkins, a man twice her age. The marriage proved a disaster and Florence was forced to abandon her dreams of a musical career. Then her father died in 1909 and, newly installed in New York, she used her considerable inheritance to fund her passion, setting up a prestigious music club. Many young singers owed their start to Florence, but she too yearned to perform and began giving regular recitals that quickly attracted a cult following. And yet nothing could prepare the world for the astonishing climax of her career when, at the age of seventy-six, she performed at the most hallowed concert hall in America.” (Back cover)

2film21836Warcraft : the beginning.
“The peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilization faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home to colonize another. As a portal opens to connect the two worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home.” (Syndetics summary)

film21771Labyrinth of lies.
“Germany, 1958: nobody wants to look back to the time of the Nazi regime, so when young prosecuting attorney Johann Radmann comes across sensitive documents that would bring members of the SS who served in Auschwitz to trial, he is told to bury the past. However, against the will of his superiors, he begins to examine the case and lands in a web of repression and denial. He is sucked deeper and deeper into a labyrinth of lies and guilt in his search for the truth, but what he ultimately brings to light will change the country forever.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imagePeaky Blinders. Season three.
“Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is drawn into a maze of global intrigue in the electrifying third series of Steven Knight’s acclaimed family saga.Approached by a secret organisation on his own wedding day, Tommy finds himself at the centre of an international arms deal that could change the course of history. In a sphere where no one reveals their true intentions until the game is up, Tommy has to contend with a White Russian exile whose brutality knows no bounds, a priest with a killer dog, a beautiful Duchess even more manipulative than him, and a powerful entity at the heart of the British establishment that will stop at nothing to accomplish its reactionary aims. The pressures they inflict upon Tommy are carefully chosen and exquisitely unpleasant.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageHunt for the Wilderpeople / a film by Taika Waititi.
“Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageMe before you / New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures present a Sunswept Entertainment production.
“Louisa ‘Lou’ Clark lives in a quaint town in the English countryside. With no clear direction in her life, the quirky and creative 26-year old goes from one job to the next in order to make ends meet. Taking a job at the local ‘castle’ she becomes caregiver and companion to Will Traynor, a wealthy young banker who became wheelchair bound in an accident. Embarking together on a series of adventures, both Lou and Will get more than they bargained for.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageMoney monster / Tristar Pictures presents ; in association with LStar Capital ; a Smokehouse production ; an Allegiance Theater production ; a Jodie Foster film.
“In the real-time high stakes thriller, financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty, are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything forcefully takes over their studio. During a tense standoff broadcast to millions on live TV, Lee and Patty must work furiously against the clock to unravel the mystery behind a conspiracy at the heart of today’s fast-paced, high-tech global markets.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageRace / a Stephen Hopkins film.
“Jesse Owens’ quest to become the greatest track and field athlete in history launches him onto the world stage of the 1936 Olympics, where he faces off against Adolf Hitler’s vision of Aryan supremacy.” (Syndetics summary)

Staff Picks DVDs for October

Featuring rom-coms, thrillers, recent film festival entries, highly regarded tv series and a film by a blacklisted director, this month’s picks should contain something for everyone.

Cover image10 Cloverfield Lane.
Tense thriller that takes place in the ‘Cloverfield’ universe but is not a sequel to that film from 2008. The film opens with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) in a car leaving her boyfriend. When the car is hit in an accident she crashes and blacks out, only to wake up in a bunker chained to the wall. She soon discovers that she was pulled from the car wreck by Howard (John Goodman), a survivalist who has built a shelter meant to withstand any apocalyptic event. He tells her that the world is in chaos above ground due to some sort of chemical or nuclear attack, and that he has saved her and Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), the other bunker-mate. Certain things happen to lead credence to his story, and the three settle in to their confined surroundings. After a while however she begins to think that Howard might not have been entirely truthful about who he is & why he made the bunker in the first place…Fantastically claustrophobic, and full of plot twists, the film proves that you can still make edgy entertaining films with just small locations and a minimum of players. Some may feel the end sequence a little over the top, but it doesn’t really take away from what has come before. (Mark)

Cover imageMahana.
Adapted from Witi Ihimaera’s novel, Bulibasha and set in Gisborne in the 1950’s, Mahana tells a beautifully, haunting and tragic story of two warring families, The Mahanas and the Poatas, who are forever at each throats and competing for work, sport and engaging in the odd thrilling car chase. However the dynamic shifts when Simeon, idealistic, optimistic and bent on change, starts to question family expectations; uncover hidden secrets and even starts to make peace with sworn enemies, which threatens the tyrannical rule of patriarch Tamihana (a fine performance by Temuera Morrison), who rules the Mahana whanau with an iron and militant fist; and who will not be challenged in anyway. So a battle of wills irrupts between grandfather and grandson, where on the odd occasion the unquiet spirit of Jake the Muss is awakened. Overall I thought the film was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes, especially with regard to the on-going, but silent struggle that the grandmother, Ramona, (Nancy Brunning) goes through until the truth is finally revealed near the end. Both Temuera Morrison and Nancy Brunning owned and brought justice to the roles of the grandparents, Tamihana and Ramona. This film does indeed does justice to Ihimaera’s novel and beautifully showcases Aotearoa in its essence and culture. (Katie)

Cover imageParks and recreation. Season seven, the farewell season.
While the last season is perhaps not as consistent as what has come before, and perhaps a bit rushed in places given the need to round out the characters arcs and relationships, it is still a great wrap up to what was one of the most consistently funny comedy shows on TV. The show may be over but the wisdom of Ron Swanson will live forever. (Mark)

Cover image2 guns.
This is an action/thriller starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. This is a movie where the 2 men go undercover to try and get into a Mexican drug Lord’s cartel. Unbeknown to the other they both work for different crime fighting organisations (Denzel for the DEA) and Mark for (Naval Intelligence). They both get disowned by their own agencies and have everyone after them. Great pace and lots of action. Keeps you guessing. Not as violent as ‘Man on Fire’. (Brigid)

Cover imageBosch. Season two.
Season 2 of the adaptation of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series if a lot more consistent than the first season. All the rough edges have been smoothed over, all the actors now seem far more comfortable in their characters, the writing is a lot more consistent, and the changes in some of the characters in updating the show to a more modern period seem less jarring. Season 2 takes inspiration from Connelly’s novels Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote, and while the plot line of ‘The Last Coyote’ is the most truncated and differs from the book, the rest of the story draws enough of Connelly’s plotlines to satisfy fans of the books. Renewed for a third season which will supposedly adapt Connelly’s novel The Black Echo and elements of A Darkness More Than Night. (Mark)

Cover imageLove, Rosie.
‘Love Rosie’ tells the story over the course of twelve years, through letters, emails and instant messaging about the ever changing relationship between the two main characters Rosie Dunne and Alex Stewart. The question that will hang on your lips throughout the film is are they always meant to be more than friends or will they risk everything including their friendship on love? This question can only be answered by watching the film. This movie is an enjoyable romantic comedy that is suitable for a girls night in. It has everything you can expect: laughter, tears and a little romance. I’m not usually a fan of chick flick movies, but I think this has been a great chick flick and romantic comedy movie I have seen since Love Actually. (Katie)

Cover imageOccupied. Series 1.
Excellent new Norwegian TV series, apparently the most expensive (and most watched) in the history of Norwegian television. Based on an idea by popular Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo the show is set in the near future, where a catastrophic hurricane fuelled by climate change, has led to the rise of the Norwegian Green Party into political power. Idealistic Prime Minister Jesper Berg, has plans for thorium-based nuclear energy, and cuts off all fossil fuel production. With the Middle East in turmoil, Europe is suffering an energy crisis, and in retaliation the EU asks Russia to initiate a ‘velvet glove’ invasion of Norway. Russian special forces kidnap Berg, insisting that he submit to EU demands or face a full-scale invasion. What follows is told from the perspective of several characters as the effects of a ‘non-violent’ occupation begin to insidiously colour the lives and undercut the political processes of the Norwegian people. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover image45 years.
A letter arrives a week before Geoff and Kate’s 45th wedding anniversary party and makes their long, harmonious marriage no longer the same. The England’s latest auteur, Andrew Haigh’s third feature ’45 years’ is a low-keyed, chamber piece but deeply affecting. It’s a simple setting drama like his breakthrough film Weekend, which portraits the devastating love affair of two young men, and subtly yet sharply exposes how fragile our love and relationships are. The film is shot in order from the first scene, and natural, wonderfully nuanced performances by Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay make every detail meaningful. They reach the height at the ending scene with the memorable song ‘Smoke gets in your Eyes’. A quiet triumph. (Shinji)

Cover imageKill your friends.
Mostly good adaptation of John Niven’s hilariously nihilistic satire set amongst dodgy A&R record men at the height of UK ‘Britpop’ madness. A&R man Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult) is slashing and burning his way through the music business, a world where ‘no one knows anything’ and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public. Fuelled by greed, ambition and inhuman quantities of drugs, Stelfox searches for his next hit record, but a couple of bad missteps make it look like his career is all but done. Just how far will he go to get to the top…Stelfox is surely one of the most appalling Fictional creations ever put on paper, yet his narration makes the novels sordid nastiness so funny that you can’t help laughing. This, however, is a more difficult task to put over on film and while some of it works, other scenes could perhaps have used more of Hoult’s narration to undercut all the grim bits that hew a little too close to American Psycho. (Mark)

Cover imageLondon has fallen.
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman This movie is a sequel to Olympus has fallen. Many World Leaders have gathered in London for a Meeting and the Terrorists start to attack. Lots of explosions. If you enjoyed ‘Olympus has Fallen’ you should enjoy this one too. (Brigid)

CoverOrphan black. Series four.
After the somewhat convoluted third season ‘Orphan Black’ decided to do a bit of a ‘back to basics’ reset for the series, so the fourth season goes back to the beginning and follows the story of Beth, whose suicide set the whole story in motion for Sarah in Season one. Definitely an improvement over the previous season, which had gotten a little caught up in the complications of its mythology. (Mark)

Cover imageWhen Marnie was there.
This movie was screened at last week at the Thursday Night Film screening at the Central Library. This film tells the story of Anna, an introverted orphaned girl and a bit of a lost soul, who feels abandoned, unwanted and unlovable. However, while on holiday, a chance encounter with a mysterious blonde girl, Marnie, who in many ways is a reflection of Anna, changes Anna’s life forever. As the summer progresses, Anna spends more time with Marnie, and eventually Anna learns the truth about her family and foster care, which allows her to open up to possibilities all around her, mainly meaningful relationships with friends and her surrogate family. This film is hauntingly beautiful and truly captures the essence and beauty, you would in find in most Japanese animated films produced by the Company, Studio Ghibli, who also brought such Japanese animated films to life, such as Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro. Overall a great film that young girls will enjoy, that explores the true meaning of friendship and finding yourself. (Katie)

Cover imageThe nice guys.
Engagingly funny crime flick written & directed by buddy-movie maestro Shane Black. Set in Los Angeles in the late 70s, the film opens with a boy witnesses fading porn star Misty Mountains die in a car crash. Later that week, down-on-his-luck private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is approached by the aunt of Misty Mountains who claims to have seen her niece alive. March is sceptical of her claim, but realizes that a missing girl named Amelia is somehow involved. However, Amelia does not wish to be found and hires enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) to intimidate March into staying away from her. Later that night, Healy is attacked at his home by two thugs who attempt to interrogate him about Amelia’s whereabouts. After escaping he then teams up with a reluctant March to find Amelia before the thugs do. Gosling & Crowe make a good pairing, and while it is not as sharp or consistent as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, nevertheless it’s an enjoyable melange of Black’s favourite techniques, dialogue and style. (Mark)

Cover imageA pigeon sat on a branch reflecting on existence.
Swedish one-of-a-kind auteur, Roy Andersson has a huge studio in Stockholm to build every kind of set for his works. It’s his holy ground where he established his idiosyncratic style; every scene is a single shot from a fixed camera position, meticulously composed painting-like milieu, deadpan style acting by non-professional actors, and so on. This latest work, the final chapter of ‘the living trilogy’, which explores what it means to be a human being, is no exception. It’s an utterly unique, absurd black comedy, which is dominated by a strange milky white colour, and slightly darker and heavier than its predecessors (Songs from the Second Floor and You, the Living). This peculiar taste may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but no one makes films like Roy Andersson. That’s for sure. (Shinji)

Cover imageMidnight special.
A great little ‘Sci-Fi’ movie from writer/director Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud). The story revolves around Roy (Nichols regular Michael Shannon) and his biological son who are on the run from a cult that he has kidnapped the boy from, and also from some Government agencies who have an interest in the mysterious powers the boy apparently has. Shannon and his friend hook up with the boy’s biological mother (Kirsten Dunst) and together the four of them try to get the boy to a special place he feels he needs to go to to discover his purpose while trying to evade the forces after them. Endlessly intriguing, at times ‘Midnight Special’ feels somewhat retro, a homage to early Speilberg or Stephen King, and proves you need few CGI effects to create a modern ‘Sci-Fi’ film, just some good old fashioned character based story telling. (Mark)

Cover imageThe lady in the van.
Very unusual movie about an incident in the Author Alan Bennet’s life. He meets an eccentric lady (Maggie Smith) who lives in an old Van and moves from place to place in her Van. It is very sensitive in parts. ‘The Lady in the Van’ decides to live in his driveway for a period of time. It is a story about their interaction. Not a Comedy. (Brigid)

Cover imageBeauty and the beast.
A Walt Disney movie about a tough no nonsense heroine, named Belle (French word for Beauty), who offers herself in exchange for her father, who has been imprisoned by the Beast, and discovers that her captor is an enchanted prince in disguise. While the situation is anything than ideal, this Beauty and the Beast must learn, in very Pride and Prejudice-like to overcome their pride and stubbornness, in the hopes of falling in love and breaking the beast’s enchantment. This film is beautifully constructed and made! Filled with lots of quirky characters, in the form of Lumiere (a candle stick), Cogsworth (a cynical clock), Mrs Potts (a mother-hen teapot) and many musical numbers. A film that the entire family can enjoy – especially on a Saturday night! (Katie)

Cover imageTehran taxi.
In 2010, Iranian master director Jafar Panahi (This is not a Film, Crimson Gold) was baselessly convicted of crimes against national security and banned from making films. However, he is somehow still making films and ‘Tehran Taxi’ is his third feature since his conviction. This time, the director himself drives a taxi through the city of Tehran and picks up various passengers. At first, this simple set-up gives an impression similar to documentary shot by iPhone, but Pnahi’s ingenious hands turn the taxi into a mirror of Iranian society, social morals and politics. The message implied in the film is powerful and serious but he does it with a droll, playful manner. This film won the Golden Bear (best film) at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015, and Panahi’s niece, who appears in the film and is adorable, received the honour on his behalf because he has been banned from travelling. A genius work. (Shinji)

Cover imageEye in the sky.
Extremely tense ‘real-time’ thriller about a drone mission. Helen Mirren, a UK-based Colonel is in command of a top-secret drone operation to capture a high level English target in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from “capture” to “kill.” But as an American pilot (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone, triggering an international dispute reaching the highest levels of US and British government as to the moral & political implications of ‘collateral damage’. Gripping, intelligent film-making that is entertaining without shying away from posing some difficult questions. Features one of the last performances from the greatly missed Alan Rickman. (Mark)

Cover imageINXS : never tear us apart.
“I was standing. You were there. Two worlds collided and they can never tear us apart.” It’s amazing how sixteen simple worlds can have such a huge impact and really touch your soul. While it’s been two years exactly since this mini-series aired on television in New Zealand, in my opinion it’s still a goodie and is worth watching, especially as the 16th of August is band member’s (and unofficial leader of the band), Tim Farris’ birthday and INXS is hosting an event called Platinum Award Success… in Sydney that marks their achievement, success and contribution to the Australian and international music industry! “Never Tear Us Apart” is a two-part, 4 hour television event that tells the uncensored story of Australia’s most successful 80′s Rock band – INXS. It’s a story of mateship, success and excess. It’s the ultimate sex, drugs and rock’n’roll story that ends in tragedy. This movie portrays an honest and raw account of the rise and fall of one of my favourite bands, who decided to take an innovative approach to breaking the international music market overseas which paid off, at the price of alienating the Australian music industry. In watching this movie, you will get insight and details of their personal lives, their rise to fame from Australian pubs to stadiums around the world- Wembley as a major impact of their career! Features famous chart breaking songs such as New Sensation, Original Sin, What You Need, Need You Tonight and the chilling, heart breaking love ballad: Never Tear Us Apart. Also shows some archived footage of the original concerts and earlier tracks of their greatest hits – MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!, near the end you will here an earlier recording that Michael Hutchence made of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’. Overall this mini-series is in a word –AWESOME! Luke Arnold owned the role of Michael Hutchence and pretty much stole the limelight. This miniseries made me laugh, made me cry and entertained me from start to finish. (Katie)

Cover imageWhat we did on our holiday.
Starring David Tennant, Billy Connelly Rosamond Pike, Annette Crosby and Celia Imrie. This was a really good movie. Watched it with three generations and they all enjoyed it. The story starts with a family which is going through a separation process and they are going back to Scotland to see their Father (Billy Connelly)/Grandfather. Who is having a big 75th birthday which is possibly his last. They are trying to keep the separation from the rest of the family but the process is rocky. They give the kids a list of lies they have to tell. Some very moving and funny parts to this movie as the young children have to cope with the eccentric extended family. Really worth a watch. It is a Comedy and very funny in parts. (Brigid)

New DVDs in October

This month’s new DVD additions include the blockbuster ‘Captain America : civil war’, the inspirational biopic of Michael Edwards or ‘Eddie the Eagle’, Britain’s most famous ski jumper, the new Shane Black buddy crime comedy ‘The Nice Guys’, and the tense military drama ‘Eye in the Sky’, helmed by Helen Mirren. New TV includes the ‘American Crime Story’ series focusing on the trial of O.J. Simpson, the Anthony Trollope historical drama ‘Doctor Thorne’, mysterious action with ‘Blindspot’, and the 2nd season of the acclaimed Showtime series ‘The Affair’.

cover imageEye in the sky.
“London-based military intelligence officer Colonel Katherine Powell (Helen Mirren) is remotely commanding a top secret drone operation to capture a group of dangerous terrorists from their safe-house in Nairobi, Kenya. The mission suddenly escalates from a “capture” to a “kill” operation as Powell realizes that the terrorists are about to embark on a deadly suicide mission. From his base in Nevada, American drone pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is poised to destroy the safe-house when a nine year old girl enters the kill zone just outside the walls of the house. With unforeseen collateral damage now entering the equation, the impossible decision of when to strike gets passed up the “kill chain” of politicians and lawyers as the seconds tick down.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe jungle book / Disney presents ; a Fairview Entertainment production ; a Jon Favreau film.
“An epic adventure about Mowgli, a man-cub who’s been raised by a family of wolves. Mowgli finds he is no longer welcome in the jungle when fearsome tiger Shere Khan, who bears the scars of Man, promises to eliminate what he sees as a threat. Urged to abandon the only home he’s ever known, Mowgli embarks on a captivating journey of self discovery, guided by panther turned stern mentor Bagheera, and the free spirited bear Baloo.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageEddie the eagle.
“Comedy sports drama directed by Dexter Fletcher and inspired by the true life story of Michael Edwards or ‘Eddie the Eagle’, Britain’s most famous ski jumper. Taron Egerton stars as the title character, who, with the support of his trainer Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) trains for and competes in the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. The first British skier to qualify for the Winter Olympics, the entirely self-funded far-sighted plasterer became an emblem for the British ability to heroically fail. The story follows Eddie on his Olympic journey which famously saw him finish last in both of the events he competed in.” (Production description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageCaptain America : civil war.
“Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” finds Steve Rogers leading the newly formed team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. But after another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps—one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark’s surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageAmerican crime story. The people v. O. J. Simpson.
All ten episodes from the first season of the ‘American Crime Story’ series. Focusing on the trial of O.J. Simpson (Cuba Gooding Jr.), the series follows the trial from discovery of the crime scene right through to verdict. The episodes are: ‘From the Ashes of Tragedy’, ‘The Run of His Life’, ‘The Dream Team’, ’100% Not Guilty’, ‘The Race Card’, ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’, ‘Conspiracy Theories’, ‘A Jury in Jail’, ‘Manna from Heaven’ and ‘The Verdict’. (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe nice guys.
“Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe team up to investigate the case of a missing girl in this thriller co-written and directed by Shane Black. After becoming involved with the Mob, Amelia (Margaret Qualley) mysteriously disappears. Enforcer Jackson Healy (Crowe) and down-on-his-luck private investigator Holland March (Gosling) are recruited to find her and set out on a complex and high-profile investigation which leads them all over 1970s Los Angeles. With media interest increasing and their own personal safety called into doubt, the duo come across the seemingly unconnected death of a porn star, a discovery which sheds new light on a conspiracy that leads right to the highest echelons of power. The cast also includes Kim Basinger, Angourie Rice and Matt Bomer.” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageDoctor Thorne.
“Mary Thorne, penniless and with undisclosed parentage, grows up under the guardianship of her uncle Doctor Thorne. She spends much of her formative years in the company of the Gresham family at Greshamsbury Park estate. As they close on the world of adult cares and responsibilities, the past starts to impinge and the financial woes of the Gresham family threaten to tear relationships apart.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageBlindspot. The complete first season.
“Sullivan Stapleton stars as hardened FBI agent Kurt Weller, who is drawn into a complex conspiracy when a mysterious woman (Jaime Alexander), is found in Times Square covered in a series of cryptic tattoos … including his name on her back. As Weller and his teammates at the FBI — among them, wartime vet Edgar Reed, the secretive Tasha Zapata and Assistant Director Mayfair (Marianne Jean-Baptiste) — begin to investigate Jane Doe’s tattoos, they are drawn into a high-stakes underworld that twists and turns through a labyrinth of secrets and revelations — and the information they uncover might ultimately change the world.” (Synopsis, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageBetter call Saul. Season two.
“Before he was Saul, he was small-time, hustling attorney Jimmy McGill (Golden Globe® nominee Bob Odenkirk). Season 2 finds Jimmy leaving shortcuts behind for his budding romance with Kim (Rhea Seehorn). With his stern brother Chuck (Michael McKean) keeping watch and fixer Mike (Jonathan Banks) drawn into a menacing cartel web, how long can “Slippin’ Jimmy” stay on the straight and narrow?” (Product description, amazon.co.uk)

cover imageDad’s army.
“It is 1944 and World War II is reaching its climax. The Allies are poised to invade France and fnally defeat the German army. But in Walmington-on-Sea morale amongst the Home Guard is low. Their new mission then to patrol the Dover army base is a great chance to revive spirits and reputation, that is until glamorous journalist Rose Winters arrives to write about their exploits, setting the pulses racing and putting the local women on red alert. MI5 then discover a radio signal sent direct to Berlin from Walmington-on-Sea. There’s a spy on the loose! The outcome of the war is suddenly at stake, and it falls to our unlikely heroes to stand up and be counted.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe affair. Season two.
“With a murder unsolved and a betrayal exposed, the truth is suspect and shifting between the perspectives of Noah, Alison, Helen and Cole. The story now reveals the complex family ties, passionate betrayals and vengeful emotions that have resulted from the illicit summer liaison. And as the two estranged couples try individually to plan for the future, a new series of deceptions will once again force them to question everything they believed.” (Syndetics summary)

New DVDs in September

New DVDs for September include an animated version of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign, acclaimed German films’ Phoenix’ & ‘Victoria’, and poignant drama with ’45 Years’. New TV includes the return of ‘Happy Valley’, acclaimed new TV show ‘The Last Man on Earth’, the latest season of ‘Un Village Français’ and the Stephen King adaptation ’11.22.63′.

cover image25 April.
“The 1915 Gallipoli Campaign as you’ve never seen it before The tragic 1915 Gallipoli Campaign of WW1 is told through the perspective of six New Zealanders. Utilizing state of the art animation to dramatize actual letters written by soldier and medical personnel while they were at Gallipoli. 25 April sketches a gripping and profoundly moving picture of a battlefront whose name has become synonymous with failure and needless carnage.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageAllegiant.
“Tris must escape with Four and go beyond the wall enclosing Chicago. For the first time ever, they will leave the only city and family they have ever known. Once outside, old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless with the revelation of shocking new truths. Tris and Four must quickly decide who they can trust as a ruthless battle ignites beyond the walls of Chicago which threatens all of humanity. In order to survive, Tris will be forced to make impossible choices.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageSupergirl. The complete first season.
“Born Kara Zor-El on the doomed planet Krypton, the preteen Kara escaped at the same time as the infant Kal-El, but didn’t arrive on Earth until many years later after being lost in the Phantom Zone. Protected and raised by her adopted family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex, and learned to hide the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin. Years later, at age 24, living in National City and working as an assistant for Catco Worldwide Media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), Kara has spent so many years trying to fit in that she forgot to ever stand out. All that changes when she decides to embrace her superhuman abilities and become the hero she was always destined to be…” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe last man on Earth. The complete first season.
“The year is 2020, and after a deadly virus has swept the planet, only one man is left on earth: PHIL MILLER (Forte). He used to be just an average guy who loved his family and hated his job. Now, in his RV, Phil searches the country for other survivors. He has traveled to every city, every town and every outpost in the United States, Mexico and Canada, and has found no one. As he returns to his hometown of Tucson, Phil comes to the painful realization that he is almost certainly the last living being on the face of the earth. All he wants is for someone – anyone – to find him in Tucson – preferably a woman.” (Editorial reviews, Amazon.com)

cover imageHappy Valley. Series 2.
“Sarah Lancashire returns in the acclaimed BBC thriller written by Sally Wainwright. No-nonsense police sergeant Catherine Cawood is back heading up her team of dedicated police officers in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire. While on duty, she makes a gruesome discovery – a body. The victim’s injuries bear a striking similarity to a string of other murders over the previous few months, suggesting a serial killer is on the loose. But the case becomes even more shocking when it emerges that Catherine knows the victim – something that could have serious repercussions for both herself and her family.” (Product Description, Amazon.co.uk)

cover imagePhoenix.
“June, 1945. Badly injured, her face destroyed, Auschwitz survivor Nelly returns to Berlin. Having barely recovered from facial surgery, she sets out to find her husband Johnny. Nelly’s family has been murdered in the Holocaust – Johnny is convinced that his wife, too, is dead. When Nelly finally tracks him down he doesn’t recognise her, but seeing a resemblance Johnny asks her to take on the identity of his ‘late’ wife in order to access her inherited fortune. Nelly agrees: she becomes her own imposter. She wants to know if he loved her – and whether he betrayed her. She wants her old life back.” (Product Description, Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageUn village français. Vol. 4.
“Summer 1943. The announcement of the STO, an order for all young French men to be taken into forced labour in Germany shakes Villeneuve and all of France to its core. Avoiding capture, Antoine and Claude and a small band of others head into the forest to live in freedom but soon find the hunger, cold and boredom overwhelming. In the village the Resistance grow bolder and bolder, but the new mayor, Chassagne, makes every effort to support the STO and hunt the guerrillas and repression in the village increases day by day.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageVictoria.
“This film is not a movie; it’s not about a bank robbery. It is bank robbery. Victoria was shot in one single take. Two hours and eighteen minutes. No cuts. No CGI. No cheap tricks. No expensive ones, either. Just one shot. Victoria, a young woman from Madrid, meets four local Berliners outside a nightclub. Sonne and his friends promise to show her a good time and the real side of the city. But these lads have gotten themselves into hot water: they owe someone a dangerous favor that requires repaying that evening. As Victoria’s flirtation with Sonne deepens into something more, he convinces her to come along for the ride. And later, when things become more ominous and possibly lethally dangerous for Sonne, she insists on coming along. As the night takes on an ever more menacing character, what started out as a good time, quickly spirals out of control. As dawn approaches, Victoria and Sonne address the inevitable: it s all or nothing and they abandon themselves to a heart-stopping race into the depths of hell.” (Editorial Reviews, Amazon.com)

cover imageA bigger splash.
“Directed by the Academy Award-nominated Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love), and starring Ralph Fiennes, Dakota Johnson, Matthias Schoenaerts and Tilda Swinton. Rock legend Marianne Lane is recuperating on the volcanic island of Pantelleria with her partner Paul when iconoclast record producer and old flame Harry unexpectedly arrives with his daughter Penelope and interrupts their holiday, bringing with him an A-bomb blast of nostalgia from which there can be no rescue. A Bigger Splash is a sensuous portrait of desire, jealousy and rock and roll, under the Mediterranean sun.” (Product Description, Amazon.co.uk)

cover image11.22.63.
11.22.63 hurtles viewers deep into the unpredictable darkness of the American dream. James Franco stars as Jake Epping, a high school teacher at a loss with his life, who wants to make a difference and do something meaningful. Encouraged by his ailing friend (Chris Cooper), Jake journeys back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story transports audiences into the world of 1960s Texas as Jake explores the multiple mysteries surrounding the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. But Jake’s mission faces threats not only from Oswald, but from Sadie, a beautiful librarian he falls in love with, and from the Past itself… which doesn’t want to be changed. And if the Past doesn’t want to be changed, it will push back — often violently. With something for everyone, this edge-of-your seat mystery offers an epic and emotional thrill ride.” (Amazon.co.uk)

cover image45 years.
“Kate Mercer is planning a party to celebrate her 45th wedding anniversary. One week before the celebration a letter arrives for her husband, Geoff, containing news that the body of his first love has been discovered, frozen and preserved in the icy glaciers of the Swiss Alps. Kate continues to prepare for the party, but she becomes increasingly concerned by Geoff’s preoccupation with the letter and the startling revelations about his former life. As their anniversary gets closer, and they delve further into the past, their future is left in question.” (Syndetics summary)

New DVDs for August

New DVDs for August include: the blockbuster Batman v Superman: dawn of justice a new Coen Brothers comedy set in Hollywood’s Golden Age; a sequel to the 2002 hit My big fat Greek wedding; a new HBO show set in the music scene in 1970s New York; an acclaimed feature documentary on the stories of students who have been sexually assaulted on American university campuses; the latest season of House of Cards and more….

cover imageMahana.
“In the 1960s on the east coast of New Zealand, two Maori sheep-shearing families – the Mahanas and the Poatas – are longstanding enemies and commercial rivals. 14-year-old Simeon Mahana, the youngest son, is in conflict with his traditionalist grandfather, Tamihana. As Simeon unravels the truth behind the longstanding family vendetta, he risks not just his own future prospects, but the cohesion of the entire tight-knit society.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe hunting ground.
The Hunting Ground is a critically acclaimed feature documentary that chronicles the personal stories of students who have been sexually assaulted on American university campuses. Interweaving observational footage, expert insights and first-person testimonies, the film follows survivors pursuing both their education and justice in the face of institutional failure to respond effectively and appropriately to their reports. This confronting expose of sexual assault on American university campuses has sparked a national debate in the United States about rape culture, sexual consent and victim support.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageBatman v Superman : dawn of justice.
“From director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel) comes Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, starring Oscar-winner Ben Affleck (Argo) as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) as Superman/Clark Kent in the characters’ first big-screen pairing. Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before. (Product Description, Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageHail, Caesar!
“Four-time Oscar®-winning* filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Ceasar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum, Hail, Ceasar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.” (Description, MightyApe.co.nz)

cover imageMy big fat Greek wedding. 2.
“The Portokalos Family is back as the original cast of the 2002 blockbuster hit reunite in this hilarious sequel. This time, Nia Vardalos (Toula) and John Corbett (Ian) are joined by new cast members, Rita Wilson and John Stamos. After spending most of their time focusing on their troubling teenage daughter, Toula and Ian are facing marital problems while also having to deal with yet another Greek wedding – this time, even bigger and fatter.” (Editorial Reviews, Amazon.com)

cover imageThe last panthers.
“A thrilling six-part crime drama series, based on real events. At the beginning of the millennium, major cities across Europe were targeted in a series of daring jewellery robberies carried out by the ‘Pink Panthers’ – a gang famed for their bold daylight raids and movie-style getaways. But after terrorising Europe’s jewellers for a decade, they suddenly disappeared. Now, a heist in the south of France bears all the hallmarks of the Panthers. What starts with diamonds, leads to guns, drugs, high-finance and involves the corridors of power in the EU, the City of London and the murky world of Europe’s criminal underworld, uncovering a new breed of criminal – the ‘Banksters’.” (Adapted from description, MightyApe.co.nz)

cover imageHouse of cards. The complete fourth season.
“Season 4 begins Commander-in-Chief Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) fighting for his political life with principled insurgent Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) threatening to wrest the Democratic Party presidential nomination from him. Yet the biggest menace to his Presidency is posed by someone closer, First Lady Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) who has disappeared since her bombshell announcement at the end of season 3. But it soon becomes apparent that Claire is merely the start of his difficulties as unhappy ghosts of his past re-emerge to haunt him.” (Description, Mightyape.co.nz)

cover imageVinyl. The complete first season.
“The music scene in 1970s New York is still awash in sex and drugs, but rock ‘n’ roll is giving way to an era of punk, disco and hip-hop. Desperately trying to navigate the changing landscape is American Century Records founder and president Richie Finestra, whose passion for music and discovering talent has gone by the wayside. With American Century on the verge of being sold, a life-altering event rekindles Finestra’s pro­fessional fire, but it may leave his personal life in ruins.” (Description, MightyApe.co.nz)

cover imageScandal. The complete fourth season
“After the shocking events surrounding President Grant’s re-election, a newly fragile Olivia has gone off the grid. But her plan to “stand in the sun” with Jake is derailed when Quinn tracks her down with news of Harrison’s death. Once back in D.C., Olivia struggles to reconnect with her embittered “gladiators”. There, she’s finally forced to confront the unspeakable evil her father has wrought. And once she chooses sides against him, there’s no turning back.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageLove, Rosie.
“A heart-warming, modern and romantic comedy-of-errors. Since the age five, Rosie and Alex have been best friends, facing the highs and lows of growing up side by side. A fleeting shared moment, one missed opportunity, and the decisions that follow send their lives in completely different directions. As each navigates the complexities of life, love, and everything in between, they always find their way back to each other, but is it just friendship, or something more?” (Syndetics summary)

Latest Staff Picks DVDs

Some staff DVD picks for June with a bit of everything from financial dramas, mysteries, foreign thrillers, and book adaptations…

Cover imageThe bridge. The complete series three.
Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) returns in the third season of The Bridge investigating a series of strangely posed murders all seemingly linked to a right wing vlogger. Assigned a new Danish partner, Henrik (Thure Lindhardt), whose private life seems murky, she also has to deal with the sudden appearance in her life of her estranged mother. While the plot of the third season of the super popular Danish/Swedish crime show is as convoluted as previous seasons, it is perhaps somewhat pulpier and not as consistent. However on the other hand, Saga’s new work partner is more enigmatic and interesting than Martin (now in jail following the events in Season 2) and his backstory plays out quite cleverly throughout the episodes, paving the way for perhaps the next season. As for Saga, Sofia Helin’s performance continues to amaze, with the return of her mother and some more of her history revealed she is able to shape her character with a deeper emotional palette. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageWinter. Season 1 ; + The killing field.
The peace of small town, Rocky Point, a beautiful seaside fishing town off Sydney, is disturbed when a young mother, Karly Johansson is found murdered and it’s up to Detective Sergeant Eve Winter (Rebecca Gibney) and her taskforce to solve the case. While there, she reunites with Detective Sergeant Lachlan McKenzie (Peter O’Brien), who has feelings towards Eve. Lachlan suspects that Karly’s murder has a connection to a murder case 8 years ago where another woman was found dead. The key solving the case lies with unlocking the memory of Karly’s best friend/foster sister, Indiana Hope, (Sara West), a troubled former prostitute and a key witness that could bring down an underground drug and human trafficking ring. As the season unfolds, everyone’s pasts are revealed. You also find out that there is more to Karly, or should I say her family, than meets the eye. As for the true identity of the killer, well you won’t see it coming. Overall I enjoyed this series. Once the first episode locks you in, you have to watch it to the very end to get an understanding of how everything connects, who done it and why. If you are a fan of crime series like Broadchurch, The Killing and The Bridge, then Winter is a must see series. Also check out the telemovie ‘The Killing Field’, that sets the whole series in motion. (Katie)

StaffPicksDVDs399 homes.
Well acted but depressing drama focusing on the speculative property market that arose as part of the 2008 financial crisis. Andrew Garfield plays a single father evicted from his family home along with his mother by ruthless local property kingpin (Michael Shannon). Forced into living in a motel, Garfield’s character needs money & is forced to parlay his construction skills into doing odd jobs for Shannon. Soon, rising in the ranks, he is leading Shannon’s eviction crew and spiralling into a moral abyss of hard cash & speculation, centring on a massive land deal that can only be secured if they acquire the titular ’99 homes’. Shannon is great. Much to admire here, but hard to enjoy. (Mark)

Cover imageWitnesses.
‘Witnesses’ is a 6 part French thriller made for TV in the Scandinavian Noir style, set in Le Treport, Normandy. It has been likened to The Bridge and The Killing. Although people have said it was grisly, I didn’t find it so, and in fact it was less grim and creepy than some of the Scandi thrillers. The main character of Sandra Winckler is an interesting woman, as is Paul Maisonneuve a suave retired cop who is hauled out of retirement to solve the case, (which turns out to be two cases). The tension between the two leads dates back to when Paul was training new recruits including Sandra. Le Treport is bleak and atmospheric. ‘Witnesses’ is stylish and well worth a look. Hopefully there will be Series 2. (Marilyn)

Cover imageThe lobster.
We don’t usually post negative reviews on this site, as we are here to recommend movies that you will actually like. However this is a wildly diverging film which has as many 1 star reviews as 5 stars on Amazon, so here are 2 different takes on this film for you to decide…
The first English language feature from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth) is a satire on modern relationships. In this dystopian future people live in The City where if they suddenly find themselves single they are taken to The Hotel, where they must find a romantic partner in forty-five days or be transformed into an animal of their choice. Guests at the hotel can gain extra days by hunting and capturing any of the non-conformist ‘loners’ who live in the forest. David (Colin Farrell) arrives at the hotel after his wife has left him, but soon falls in with the Loners, who are led by the sadistic Léa Seydoux. Amongst the Loners he meets the quirky Rachel Weisz, but the Loners have many rules, one of which being that you can never fall in love…Not really a ‘comedy’ or ‘romance’ as such, but there are many hilariously deadpan moments. Definitely not for everyone. (Mark)
We recently watched the Lobster. It is a dog. We were completely sucked in by the blurb on the case. The cast of Colin Farrell and Rachael Weisz looked promising but alas it is total rubbish. We watched to the bitter end hoping something would happen but nothing does. I think they were trying to be quirky but it is just weird nothingness. (Pru)

Cover imageCarol.
In the painting of Edward Hopper’s like milieu, Douglas Sirk-esque gorgeous melodrama unfolds. Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s love story of two women (The Price of Salt published in 1952) is a tender, immaculately executed drama. Under Haynes’ direction, the milieu of the era is exquisitely recreated and every element shapes the film; cinematography, art design, wardrobe, music (particularly ‘No Other Love’ sung by Jo Stafford), contribute marvellously to this story of two women’s forbidden but distained encounter. Obviously it’s about the rich, unhappily married woman Carol (played by stunning Cate Blanchett) but it is told from the young Therese’s point of view, and we also witness Therese’s growth, from the weak-minded girl to the woman who has her own identity. This process is superbly performed by Rooney Mara. It’s a beauty of underplayed moments. Divine. (Shinji)

Cover imageUnforgotten. Series one.
Classy UK crime drama sees the excellent Nicola Walker (Spooks) as a DCI in charge of investigating the cold case of a young man’s body discovered in a derelict building. The key to this series is the focus on the step by step, painstaking investigative methods used by the squad to identify the body, discovered to be that of a homeless boy murdered in 1976 when the building was a hostel, and the focus on the realistic characters involved, from the grieving mother to the suspects the case throws up. Everyone, from the victim to the suspects is portrayed as a complex character, neither all good or all bad, and the shows quiet rhythm gradually peels away the psychological damage that festers in the past. (Mark)

Cover imageOur zoo.
This DVD series is highly recommended. Our Zoo is a six part series that is based on the true story about George Mottershead, his dreams of creating a cage-free zoo, his family, of both humans and animals, and how their lives changed when they embarked on the creation of Chester Zoo, despite opposition from the local community. Overall, a fantastic and heartwarming series that the whole family can watch together and enjoy, especially during winter. Moments of highlights include Mottershead saving a camel, parrot and a monkey from certain doom AKA being put down, a flock of Humboldt penguins being lead to on foot to the zoo after the van breaks down and the birth of two bear cubs. It’s a shame that this programme wasn’t renewed for another season. (Katie)

Cover imageThe invitation.
Excellent low-key indie thriller sees the protagonist Will (Logan Marshall-Green), still mired in grief after the loss of his young son young son in a tragic accident, attend a dinner party at his old house with a group of old friends, hosted by his ex-wife Eden (Tammy Blanchard) and her new partner David (Michiel Huisman from ‘Game of Thrones’), who have returned to town after being away for some time. As the night progresses, Will begins to suspect that things are not as they seem, but is his disquiet and burgeoning paranoia just a reflection of his unresolved grief and anger that his ex-wife seems to have moved past their son’s death, or is something else going on…’The Invitation’ shows just what you can do with a bunch of relatively unfamiliar actors, a tense script, and a small location. (Mark)

Cover imageThe assassin.
Taiwanese master director Hou Hsiao-Hsien tackles a wuxia (martial hero) film for the first time in his long career but it’s not a usual film of its kind. ‘The Assassin’ is a sublime, breathtakingly beautiful film in which every scene is a work of art. The story is told in typical Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s ‘read between the lines’ style and it’s a little difficult to understand the relationships among the characters. It may be better to go into the film with some prior knowledge of the plot. Hsieo-Hsien has a no-rehearsal policy and waits for actors to be ready for the scene. Amazingly, he sticks with this policy in this film which includes action scenes and that requires intense but subtle nuanced acting (the only exception was the dance sequence to allow actors to memorize the choreography). It took seven years for him to complete but his perseverance paid off. This meticulously crafted film should be watched on a big screen to appreciate every detail. Regardless, it’s bliss. (Shinji)

Cover imageThe absent one.
The next instalment in the on-going series of adaptations of Danish crime writer Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q novels, follows on from 2014′s The keeper of lost causes. When the policeman father of twins murdered 20 years ago approaches Carl Mørck he turns him away, however when he commits suicide shortly after he becomes obsessed with the exacting justice. His investigation leads away from the then young man originally convicted and towards a group of young students from a nearby boarding school. ‘The Absent One’ has every trope we’ve now come to expect from our Scandi-noir: socially awkward detectives in long raincoats, corrupt rich people, lurid crimes, kinky sex, and dollops of brutal violence and it’s a testament to the talents of the actors involved, the tight screenplay & high production values, that it is all still so gripping. (Mark)

StaffPicksDVDs4Grantchester. Series 2.
This series had me on edge from start to finish. An unspeakable crime, the death of a pregnant 15 year old girl, has been committed that shakes the local community to its core and where no one is unable to find peace. Worse, this is a crime that threatens to tear crime fighting partners, Geordie and Sidney, apart. Poor Sidney suffers a crisis of faith, hence leading to more drinking and smoking as usual, and Geordie finds that there is a huge price to pay for doing his job and has to reassess what is defined as justice. The questions remains on everyone’s lips – both characters and audience, What is defined as justice? Does the cycle of hate, vengeance and taking life end? And will all parties, both guilty and innocent find peace? Sadly, you won’t get any spoilers out of this review, except to say that if you thought Season One was good, then Season Two is even better. This is the best British detective series I have seen since Sherlock Holmes. (Katie)

Cover imageThe night manager. The complete series.
Fairly faithful British-American television miniseries adaptation of the 1993 novel of the same name by John le Carré, adapted to the present day starring Tom Hiddleston, Hugh Laurie, and Olivia Colman. Hiddleston is the titular ‘Night-Manager’, a loner and former soldier who crosses paths with the beautiful mistress of a powerful man in the Cairo hotel where he works. After she passes some documents to him for safe keeping, he in turn passes them onto a contact in the British Embassy & thus on to British Intelligence. A leak ensues, and blaming himself after she is killed, he drifts through several courtiers, eventually ending up 4 years later in a small hotel in Zurich. One night he learns a guest is coming to stay, an English arms dealer (Laurie) whom he believes was one of the people responsible for the death of the woman years ago. Seeing a chance for revenge he re-instigates a contact at British Intelligence (Coleman) and thus begins a plan to infiltrate Laurie’s organisation. Shades of 007 abound in this stylish global thriller. Excellent cast, particularly Coleman, and Laurie who is excellent as the morally bankrupt Dicky Ropher. No surprise that Hiddleston is being tipped as the next Bond. (Mark)

Cover imageMaleficent.
This is Sleeping Beauty as you have never seen it before. The story of Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” is different from its predecessor. But more importantly this story focuses on the evil fairy/villain in the original story, Maleficent. In this version, Maleficent, (Angelina Jolie), who was originally a good fairy and protector of the fairy lands called the Moors, becomes a vengeful, bad fairy, (or ‘turns to the dark side’ in tradition Darth Vader style), after she is betrayed by King Stefan. To pay him back, she curses his daughter, the infant princess Aurora to a ‘sleep like death’ which she can only awaken from by ‘true love’s kiss’. However things become complicated when Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom – and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well. To add more complication to the mix, Maleficent, acting as a surrogate mother, becomes fond of Aurora! Throughout the film, Maleficent experiences conflict, similar to iconic Star Wars villain, Darth Vader, whether being trapped in the dark side is permanent or whether there is still good in her… and she will save the day. Overall I found the film very entertaining and without question, does it’s predecessor justice. Lots of things you can expect from a Disney movie: Excitement, adventure, action and… a happy ending! I rate this movie: 7/10 (Katie)

Cover imageThe big short.
Based on the book of the same name by journalist Michael Lewis, the doc-style film follows eccentric financial analyst Michael Burry (Christian Bale) as he uncovers an impending crash in the housing market and puts together a plan to profit from it. As Burry’s predictions are spread by those who believe he is crazy, a small number of people, including Jarred Bennett (Ryan Gosling), Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt) and Mark Baum (Steve Carell), begin to follow his lead. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Bale), winning for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film also won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Fascinating and hugely entertaining ‘The Big Short’ is also an incredibly unconventional, using fourth wall techniques where the actors speak to the screen to facilitate plot points, and cut-away’s to other celebrities and actresses (not in the actual film) who explain the complexities behind subprime mortgages and collateralized debt. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageSpotlight.
This one of the most heart breaking and shocking of all movies I have ever seen. However it is a movie worth seeing that really opens your eyes and will shake you to the core. Spotlight is based on the true story of how in 2001, a team of investigative journalists from the Boston Globe uncovered and published a massive scandal of child molestation, spanning over 20 years where unfrocked priests were molesting children in the poorer areas of Boston. As if perverting the course of justice for these children weren’t enough, the reporters uncover further scandal within the local Catholic Archdiocese, where, (MASSIVE SPOILER), not only were they were aware the abuse, they moved the offending priests to other parishes leading more children being abused, as well as dishing out cash payments to the families in exchange for their silence. However in true vigilante style, the reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church and publish it to raise public awareness within the community of an ongoing universal problem/issue. (Katie)

New DVDs for July

New DVDs for July include a fascinating doco on art collecting socialite Peggy Guggenheim; a new TV adaptation of ‘War & Peace’; critically acclaimed films such as ‘Song of Saul’ & ‘The Revenant’; Alan Bennett’s story of ‘The Lady in The Van’; a gripping look at the financial crisis of 2008 in ‘The Big Short’; and the latest Quentin Tarantino.

cover imagePeggy Guggenheim : art addict.
“Filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland examines the life of Peggy Guggenheim, the wealthy socialite who amassed a world-class collection of modern European and American art. Vreeland does a good job of examining the different sides to Guggenheim’s life and cohering them into some sort of whole by the end of this cradle-to-grave account. She was blessed by a stroke of incredible good fortune: the discovery of audio tapes, thought lost, of interviews between Guggenheim and her biographer Jacqueline Weld.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageWar & peace.
“Russia 1805. When we first meet Pierre, Natasha, and Andrei, their youthful ambition, despite their privileged circumstances, is to find meaning in their lives. Kind-hearted but awkward Pierre, the illegitimate son of Russia’s richest man, wants to change the world for the better. The beautiful and spirited Natasha is searching for true love, while handsome and gallant Andrei, frustrated with the superficiality of society, seeks a higher purpose. At the same time Napoleon’s army edges ever closer to Russia’s borders. As everthing they thought they knew is thrown into question, Pierre, Andrei, and Natasha find themselves in a time when Russian lives are about to change forever.” (Container)

cover imageSon of Saul.
“October 1944, Auschwitz-Birkenau. Saul Ausländer is a Hungarian member of the Sonderkommando, the group of Jewish prisoners isolated from the camp and forced to assist the Nazis in the machinery of large-scale extermination. While working in one of the crematoriums, Saul discovers the body of a boy he takes for his son. As the Sonderkommando plans a rebellion, Saul decides to carry out an impossible task: save the child’s body from the flames, find a rabbi to recite the mourner’s Kaddish.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe revenant.
“Inspired by true events, an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald. Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe lady in the van.
“The film tells the true story of the relationship between Alan Bennett and the singular Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who “temporarily” parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for fifteen years.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe Danish girl.
“The remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda’s marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili’s groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe big short.
“The financial meltdown from the perspective of a number of players: Michael Burry, a bizarre autistic-like stock-picking genius, and the first to realize that the market’s housing boom is based on a “house of cards” sham; Mark Baum, self-loathing fictional character whose firm picks up insider trading information from a wrong number phone call; Jared Vennet, a smart-aleck broker who confirms the ominous suspicion; and Charlie Gellar and Jamie Shipley, small-time players who hit it big.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageOrange is the new black. Season three.
“A new regime has arrived at Litchfield and with it comes new business interests, spiritual movements, and parental problems that turn life behind bars upside down and ignite power struggles among Litchfield’s residents and guards.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageSteve Jobs.
“A biopic of Steve Jobs that takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution in order to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe h8ful eight.
“A stagecoach hurtles through the wintry Wyoming landscape. Bounty hunter John Ruth and his fugitive Daisy race toward the town of Red Rock, where Ruth will bring Daisy to justice. Losing their lead on the blizzard, they seek refuge at Minnie’s, a stagecoach stopover on a mountain pass. When they arrive at Minnie’s, they are greeted not by the proprietor but by four unfamiliar faces. As the storm overtakes the mountainside stopover, our travelers come to learn they may not make it to Red Rock.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageDeadpool.
“Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, the film tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopts the alter ego Deadpool. Armed with his new abilities and a dark, twisted sense of humor, Deadpool hunts down the man who nearly destroyed his life.” (Syndetics summary)


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