New DVDs at the Libraries

Glass DVD cover

DVDs at our new Arapaki branch and across the library network for May include Peter Jackson’s acclaimed WWI documentary as well as his adaptation of ‘Mortal Engines’ by Philip Reeve, M. Night Shyamalan’s follow up to 2001’s classic ‘Unbreakable’, a new horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, historical drama with ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, the award winning ‘The Favourite’, and some female centric sci-fi with ‘Annihilation’.

They shall not grow old
“Marking the centenary of the First World War, internationally renowned director Peter Jackson uses the voices of the veterans combined with original archival footage to bring to life the reality of war on the front line for a whole new generation. Footage has been colorized and transformed with modern production techniques to present never-before-seen detail.” (Catalogue)

Aquaman
“An action-packed adventure that reveals the origin story of half-human, half- Atlantean Arthur Curry and takes him on the journey of his lifetime–one that will not only force him to face who he really is, but also to discover if he is worthy of who he was born to be: a king.” (Catalogue)

Glass
“For one special security guard, tracking people down is a paranormal sort of hobby. Able to use his rare abilities to find people, David Dunn is suddenly given a job that seems more daunting than all the others before it. He’ll need to find Kevin Wendell Crumb, and time is of the essence. But part of the problem is that Crumb is an extremely disturbed man and with 24 personalities, he’s a lot more complicated than the others Dunn has found.” (Catalogue)

Castle Rock. The complete first season.
“A psychological horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, it is an original story that combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: Cujo, The Dark Half, IT and Needful Things, as well as novella The Body and numerous short stories such as Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock.” (Catalogue)

Mary Queen of Scots
“Queen of France at sixteen, widowed at eighteen, Mary Stuart defies pressure to remarry and instead returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. By birth, she also has a rival claim to the throne of Elizabeth I, who rules as the Queen of England. Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion, and conspiracies within each court imperil both Queens, driving them apart, as each woman experiences the bitter cost of power.” (Catalogue)

Mortal engines
“Hundreds of years after our civilization was destroyed, a new world has emerged. A mysterious young woman named Hester Shaw leads a band of outcasts in the fight to stop London, now a giant predator city on wheels, from devouring everything its path.” (Catalogue)

The favourite
“Early eighteenth-century England is at war with the French. A frail Queen Anne occupies the throne, and her friend Lady Sarah tends to her ill health. When a new servant Abigail arrives, Sarah takes her under her wing, and Abigail sees a chance at a return to her aristocratic roots. As the politics of war become time-consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps in to fill in as the Queen’s companion. Their growing friendship gives her a chance to fulfill her ambitions, and no one will stand in her way.” (Catalogue)

The mule
“Earl Stone, a man in his 80’s who is broke, alone, and facing foreclosure of his business when he is offered a job that simply requires him to drive. Easy enough, but, unbeknownst to Earl, he’s just signed on as a drug courier for a Mexican cartel. He does well – so well, in fact, that his cargo increases exponentially, and Earl is assigned a handler. But he isn’t the only one keeping tabs on Earl; the mysterious new drug mule has also hit the radar of hard-charging DEA agent Colin Bates. And even as his money problems become a thing of the past, Earl’s past mistakes start to weigh heavily on him, and it’s uncertain if he’ll have time to right those wrongs before law enforcement, or the cartel’s enforcers, catch up to him.” (Catalogue)

Annihilation.
“Biologist and former soldier Lena is shocked when her missing husband comes home near death from a top-secret mission into The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone from which no one has ever returned. Now, Lena and her elite team must enter a beautiful, deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures, to discover how to stop the growing phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth.” (Catalogue)

Movie Nights @ Wadestown

Thursday Movie Nights are back and they’re at Wadestown Library; the nearest library to the CBD. They are every Thursday starting from the 6th June, and the theme of this month’s movies is ‘Night with the Stars’, showing movies starring some of the biggest names in the business.

Wadestown Library may be small but is the hub of a lovely community. It takes only 10~15 minutes by the #14 Bus from lower Lambton Quay or Molesworth Street. The movies start at 5:45pm every Thursday night and the seats are limited (about 15 seats available) so please contact us for more details on the screenings and to book your seat to avoid disappointment, at  Wadestown : 04 4735211.

Branch libraries at Karori, Newtown, Johnsonville and Tawa also show movies (once a month). Please contact them for further information on their screenings.

From thrillers to family dramas – latest DVD arrivals

Sudden closure of the central library is a shock for everyone but a lot of DVDs are still available throughout our branches and new DVDs keep coming. New additions in March/ April feature from new ‘Doctor Who’ to some of the film festival favourites such as ‘You Were Never Really Here’ and ‘Lean on Pete’. Check out also Robert Redford’s swan song ‘The Old Man and The Gun’.

She shears
“”In the gruelling world of competitive sheep shearing there is no women’s section. Women and men compete together. SHE SHEARS is the story of passion, purpose and determination and five women for whom shearing is not just a job”.–Production company website.” (Catalogue)

Beautiful boy
“A deeply moving portrait of a family’s unwavering love and commitment to each other in the face of their son’s addiction and his attempts at recovery. As David’s son repeatedly relapses, the family are faced with the harsh reality that addiction is a disease that does not discriminate and can hit any family at any time.” (Catalogue)

The old man & the gun
“At age 70, Forrest Tucker infamously made his escape from the tough San Quentin prison. Once he had gained his freedom, he embarked on a new set of heists that left investigators scratching their heads and the public fascinated by the story. This true story details Tucker’s life which includes a detective wrapped up in the case, and a female who takes a liking to Tucker despite the criminal path he’s on.” (Catalogue)

You were never really here
“A traumatized veteran, unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.” (Catalogue)

Custody
“A broken marriage leads to a bitter custody battle with an embattled son at the center, a domestic thriller that will keep audiences guessing and leave them with their hearts in their throats. Miriam and Antoine Besson have divorced, and Miriam is seeking sole custody of their son Julien to protect him from a father she claims is violent. Antoine pleads his case as a scorned dad whose son has been turned against him by his vindictive mother.” (Catalogue)

The Children Act.
“Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London ruling with wisdom and kindness over ethically complicated cases of family law. Fiona is tasked with ruling on the case of Adam, an exceptional boy who is refusing a life-saving blood transfusion. He is three months from his eighteenth birthday and legally still a child. Fiona visits Adam in the hospital and it has an extreme emotional impact on them both.” (Syndetics summary)

Puzzle
“A closely observed portrait of Agnes, who has reached her early 40s without ever venturing far from home, family or the tight-knit immigrant community in which she was raised by her widowed father. That begins to change in a quietly dramatic fashion when Agnes receives a jigsaw puzzle as a birthday gift and experiences the heady thrill of not only doing something she enjoys, but being very, very good at it.” (Catalogue)

The seagull
“One summer at a lakeside Russian estate, friends and family gather for a weekend in the countryside. While everyone is caught up in passionately loving someone who loves somebody else, a tragicomedy unfolds about art, fame, human folly, and the eternal desire to live a purposeful life.” (adapted from catalogue)

Together.
“A husband fights to be with his wife after she is hospitalised and taken to a nursing home.” (Catalogue)

Doctor Who [2005]. The complete eleventh series.
“The dazzling Thirteenth Doctor falls out of the sky just in time to thwart an alien huntsman who is stalking human prey. With little time to spare and the population of Sheffield (and Earth!) at risk, the Doctor recruits three new friends – gentle Ryan, no-nonsense Yasmin and Ryan’s step-grandfather Graham – who soon feel more like family than companions. Join the foursome in ten fresh enormously thrilling roller-coaster adventures across time and the universe.” (Catalogue)

Bumblebee
“Cybertron has fallen. When Optimus Prime sends Bumblebee to defend Earth, his journey to become a hero begins. Charlie Watson, a teenager trying to find her place in the world, discovers and repairs the battle-scarred robot, who’s disguised as a Volkswagen Beetle. As the Decepticons hunt down the surviving Autobots with the help of a secret agency led by Agent Burns, Bumblebee and Charlie team up to protect the world.” (Catalogue)

Lean on Pete
“Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson arrives in Portland, Oregon with his single father Ray, both of them eager for a fresh start after a series of hard knocks. While Ray descends into personal turmoil, Charley finds acceptance and camaraderie at a local racetrack where he lands a job caring for an aging Quarter Horse named Lean On Pete. The horse’s owner Del Montgomery and his jockey Bonnie help Charley fill the void of his father’s absence–until he discovers that Pete is bound for slaughter.” (Catalogue)

Recent DVDs from December & January

The Breaker Upperers DVD cover

December and January saw the addition of all these great DVDs including the 2nd season of the hugely popular The Crown; book adaptations with Crazy Rich Asians, Ladies In Black & On Chesil Beach; as well as an acclaimed documentary, cold case crime, some Sci-Fi adventure & a classic NZ comedy.

McQueen.
“A personal look at the extraordinary life, career, and artistry of Alexander McQueen. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, it is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary.” (Catalogue)

Ant-Man and the Wasp.
“Set after the events of Captain America: civil war, Ant-Man and the Wasp functions as an origin story. Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, sends Scott Lang on a mission to run down information about Pym’s earliest exploits. Most importantly, Pym wants to know whether his original superhero partner, The Wasp, is still alive. At the same time, Lang, the current Ant-Man, has to make the life balance between being a superhero and a dad work.” (Catalogue)

Unforgotten. Series 2
“When the remnants of a body are found hidden in a river, DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan are faced with an impossible investigation. There are four suspects – they are the pieces of the jigsaw Cassie and Sunny must solve. But the harder they try to put this picture together, the more blurred it becomes. It’s a case that will test their relationship in unexpected ways, and question their assumptions about the most damaged and destructive in society. When a victim becomes a criminal, is punishment the same as justice?” (Catalogue)

The Crown. The complete second season.
“As a new era begins, Queen Elizabeth struggles to navigate her while preserving both the monarchy and her marriage. Beginning with soldiers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces fighting an illegal war in Egypt, and ending with the downfall of her third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan after a devastating scandal, the second season bears witness to the end of the age of deference, and ushers in the revolutionary era of the 1960s. This drama follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.” (Catalogue)

Book Club.
“Four friends’ lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.” (Catalogue)

Crazy Rich Asians.
“A native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors.” (Catalogue)

Christopher Robin.
“The young boy, who loved taking adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a gang of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into that world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.” (Catalogue)

Ladies in Black.
“Set in the summer of 1959, when the impact of European migration and the rise of women’s liberation is about to change Australia forever, Lisa, aged sixteen, takes a holiday job at the prestigious Sydney department store, Goodes. There she meets the “ladies in black,” when she is assigned to assist sales ladies Patty and Fay. Beguiled and influenced by Magda, the vivacious manager of the high-fashion boutique Model Gowns, Lisa is awakened to a world of possibilities. As she grows from a bookish schoolgirl into a glamorous and positive young woman, the impact they have on each other will change all their lives.” (Catalogue)

The Breaker Upperers.
“Fifteen years ago, Mel and Jen discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical they became fast friends and formed’ The Breaker Upperers’, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now they’re in their late-thirties and business is booming.” (Catalogue)

On Chesil Beach.
“It is summer 1962, when we first encounter Florence and Edward, a young couple in their early twenties, on their wedding day. Now on their honeymoon, they are dining in their room at a stuffy, sedate hotel near Chesil beach in Dorset. From a series of flashbacks, we learn about the differences between them–their attitudes, temperaments and their drastically different backgrounds. Out on the beach on their fateful wedding day, one of them makes a major decision that will utterly change both of their lives forever.” (Catalogue)

Star Trek Discovery. Season one.
“An odyssey that unfolds a decade before the era of Star Trek: The Original Series. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green – The Walking Dead), formerly one of Starfleet’s most respected first officers – and now its first mutineer. A human raised as a Vulcan, Burnham learned early that “all life is born from chaos”. Her defiance of a direct order resulted in an all-out war with the Klingon Empire and she was sentenced to life in prison – until Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs – Harry Potter) recruits her aboard the U.S.S. Discovery. Joining her on this dramatic, epic journey are First Officer Saru (Doug Jones – The Shape of Water), Chief of Security Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif – Penny Dreadful), Chief Engineer Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp – Rent) and Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman – Longmire). Together, their powers of logic, science and compassion will meld on their quest for victory, survival and ultimately, peace in the universe.” (Catalogue)

Mandy.
“Red, a lumberjack living in the depths of the woods, has sequestered himself and his doting girlfriend, Mandy, from the world. Though Mandy is a gentle woman who spends most of her time immersed in a book, she finds herself in a life-threatening situation after being kidnapped by an ill-intentioned cult leader. When stripped from her home by a group of malicious cult members, Red sets out to avenge Mandy’s abrupt and inexplicable disappearance.” (Catalogue)

A Simple Favour.
“A mommy vlogger seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s sudden disappearance from their small town.” (Catalogue)

Staff Picks DVDs: Best of 2018

Some more of our favourite Films & TV Shows from last year. Hopefully you will something you missed the first time around.

Shinji’s Picks:
Faces places.
This is a celebration of people and places as well as creativity. A legend of French new wave cinema, 88 year old Agnes Varda teams up with a photographer and muralist JR, who is 55 years her junior, to hit the road on a tour of rural France. On the way, they learn the histories of communities, some of which are long abandoned, and of people they encounter, and bring new lives to them with gigantic mural photos. This odd couple makes a great team and their friendship, curiosity and vision make it wonderfully charming. Life is beautiful.

Leave no trace.
A remarkable new film from an American indie filmmaker Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone), ‘Leave No Trace’ is a subtle but powerful portrait of a post-traumatic-stress-disorder father and his teenage daughter, who cut themselves off from the world and have been living in the forests. Featuring the superb performances by Ben Forster and our very own Thomasin Mckenzie as the father and the daughter, Granik carefully presents just enough information and gracefully brings out deep emotions between them. This haunting tale will be remembered one of the best father-daughter relationship films in years to come.

The other side of hope
Seeing just one frame of a film, you can tell whose work it is. It doesn’t happen very often but Finnish veteran auteur Aki Kaurismaki is such a filmmaker. ‘The Other Side of Hope’, which nicely integrates stories of a Syrian refugee and a Finnish restaurateur, is his response to the humanitarian crisis in Europe. It treats the serious topic with warm humanism; it’s presented with his distinctive style; deadpan characters, droll humours, unique texture and hue based on blue, bluesy nostalgic rock played by old men etc. This is another memorable work but what is believed to be his final film. What a shame.

Sweet country.
The new Australian auteur Warwick Thornton’s marvellous ‘Sweet Country’ dominated the Australian Academy Awards (AACTA) of 2018, winning 6 awards including the best film, director, cinematography and actor. In the typical western-like setting, this manhunt drama exposes the dark side of Australian history; racism. It’s uneasy to watch at times but taking the majestic outback scenery as a part of narrative, it offers lyrical, mesmerising moments as well. Unique flash-forwards are also very effective. Poignant.

Lady Bird.
Actress-turned-writer/director Greta Gerwig’s first feature is a lovely adolescent tale.
With the mother-daughter relationship as its core, it’s about a17-year-old Christine ‘Lady Bird’ (dazzling Saoirse Ronan) who is eager for an escape to a big city after graduating from a Catholic school. Gerwig’s smart screenplay and unique aesthetic make it a charming, beautifully layered coming-of-age drama. It’s sweet, funny and affecting.

Blackkklansman.
Ironically the current state of the divided America seems to get Spike Lee; arguably the most important African-American filmmakers of our time, back in top form. This, his finest film in years, tells the incredible true story of the first black detective in the Colorado Spring, who infiltrated the KKK in the early 70s. This is heavy stuff and not surprisingly, it contains chilling moments, but Lee masterfully put them into a comedic narrative, and makes it a gripping yet entertaining drama. Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington shines as the detective. Invigorating.

Twin Peaks: a limited event series.
David Lynch’s ground-breaking series is back after 25 years’ absence, and it’s a much larger scaled extraordinary journey, which offers everything Lynch has made for cinema. At times it’s almost impossible to comprehend and mysteries bring more mysteries, but there are always humours. This nearly 1000-hours marathon epic can be challenging and demanding to consume, but gives you a joyous, rewarding watch. It’s another landmark work by this one-and-only filmmaker.

Neil J’s Picks:
Lucky.
Lucky was Harry Dean Stanton’s last work, it’s a wry and very deceptive piece. On the surface nothing that much happens it’s just a couple of days in the life of a fictional Harry Dean Stanton; true they are quirky, laconic and slightly strange days . However whilst the film is slender in narrative it is large in underlying meaning and through this strange domesticity of the main characters life the movie becomes a poignant meditation on life, memory, loss, accepting fate and coming to terms with one’s impending demise, all done in a light offbeat fashion. It is a truly marvellous performance by Harry Dean Stanton it might even just be his career best and all made the more remarkable since he was aware that this would probably be his last film. Which it turned out to be.

Lady Bird.

 

 

 

The death of Stalin.
Caustic, pitch black humour of the highest calibre is delivered in Armando Iannucci latest comedy. Set around the events and chaos surrounding the death of Stalin this star studded movie was so controversial that the Russian government banned it. Its wicked, hilarious, merciless and definitely not for the faint hearted. However if you enjoy satire of the very darkest and blackest in nature then this movie is a must watch. And the ever wonderful Jason Isaacs is mercurial as Field Marshal Zhukov.

Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.
The starting point and in a strange way the catalyst for all the action in the film are three billboards by a road put up by a grieving mother with messages demanding justice for her murdered daughter. This multi award winning movie is occasionally funny, but more often it’s a bleak, raw look at loss, grief and vengeance. It boasts several fantastic performances from the lead Frances McDormand as well as Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage and several other cast members. It doesn’t take the easy path plot wise and contains several unexpected twists and turns. All in all the plaudits that have been heaped on it are well deserved.

Faces places.

 

 

 

McQueen.
McQueen is a career spanning but intimate documentary exploring the life and work of the iconic British fashion designer Alexander McQueen. Mc Queen rose from humble beginnings to become the enfant terrible of the fashion world his initial rise was I through hard work, native ability, desire to shock and raw talent. ( Though he did get more formal training as he went along ). He was the bright burning super star of the fashion world creating his own fashion house and courting controversy everywhere he showed, His fashion work was often closely inter linked with his own inner demons which were eventually rise up and tragically destroy him. The documentary makes for a fascinating, riveting watch and is a real insight into what drove and created one of the most important and controversial fashion designers of our time.

She shears
It goes without saying that in some areas of New Zealand sheep searing is an obsession, but historically this obsession has always been a very male dominated one. She Sears is a fabulous compelling documentary about a very small group of women shearers trying to break that mould. However what really makes this film work is the fact that it transcends its subject matter the film is far more than just a look at female shearers, it’s more about the shearers as complex individuals, as fully rounded people who shear for a whole range of different reasons, their back stories, their motivations, their drivers both as shears and beyond and the reasons they do what they do. It’s a great watch, a really well-crafted film and like any good documentary less about shearing and more the individuals involved.

Mark’s Picks:
The Good Place. The complete first season.
What actually happens when you die? For Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) she finds the afterlife is a shiny happy friendly neighbourhood of frozen yogurt shops, amazingly accomplished people and pre-determined soulmates, all run by the super nice immortal architect Michael (Ted Danson). However the only problem is that she is the wrong Eleanor Shellstrop, and is in fact a very bad person, who scammed old people for a living and generally lived a completely reprehensible life. As she struggles to hide her true self from all around her and cope with her ‘soulmate’, university ethics professor Chidi, her true nature starts to affect the cosmic balance at play. Currently the funniest show on TV. Just genius.

Radius.
A man (Diego Klattenhoff, Homeland, The Blacklist) wakes from a car crash with no memory. Seeking help he soon discovers that anyone who comes within a certain radius of him instantly drops dead. Retreating to his home he attempts to avoid all contact until a woman (also suffering from amnesia) finds him. She is immune to what is happening and they soon realize that she can nullify the effect he has on others – but ONLY if she remains within 50 feet from him at all times. Together they attempt to get help and find out what has happened to them. The best indie Sci-Fi of the year proves that all you need is a really intriguing idea and a good script. Continue reading “Staff Picks DVDs: Best of 2018”

Staff Picks DVDs – Nov/Dec.

The last lot of Staff Pick DVDs for the year features a mix of Foreign films, indie Sci-Fi, new TV shows and a poignant tribute to actor Harry Dean Stanton.

Foxtrot.
Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz’s bold first feature Lebanon (2009) shocked the world, depicting warfare exclusively through the gunsight view from the tank. Eight years down the line, his new work appears slightly more conventional but equally impressive. A Tel Aviv couple are devastated to learn that their son, who is serving in the military, has been killed, but it turns out to be misinformation. Then, the story, which uniquely divided into three parts, unfolds with an unexpected twist. Without the scenes of conflicts or gun battles, Maoz deftly highlights the tragedy of war from the different angle. With a superb cinematography, it’s an immaculately crafted, flawless work. The only criticism may be the fact that the whole movie is too perfect and too structured. Nevertheless, it’s a remarkable achievement. (Shinji)

Radius.
A man (Diego Klattenhoff, Homeland, The Blacklist) wakes from a car crash with no memory. Seeking help he soon discovers that anyone who comes within a certain radius of him instantly drops dead. Retreating to his home he attempts to avoid all contact until a woman (also suffering from amnesia) finds him. She is immune to what is happening and they soon realize that she can nullify the effect he has on others – but ONLY if she remains within 50 feet from him at all times. Together they attempt to get help and find out what has happened to them. Tense and low key with minimal use of effects, this is another great indie Sci-Fi film that proves that all you need is a really intriguing idea and a good script. Klattenhoff excels at straight arrow good guys, and is perfectly cast. Has a nasty twist at the end that you may not see coming. Solidly entertaining. (Mark)

Captain Fantastic.
This film came out about 2 years ago and went around the film festival circuit winning great reviews all around. If you are anything like me, one look at the cover and the story line will have you interested, yet will fill you with hesitation, this movie screams hard hitting. Rest assured this film is hard hitting, and at times intense, filled with big emotions and questions about life, how we live it and we view and judge each other for the choices they make. Put aside your understandable hesitation and make the time to watch Captain Fantastic. You are bound to be blown away! (Jess)

Upgrade.
More indie Sc-Fi with ‘Upgrade’ a mix of cyberpunk tech stylings and action. Logan Marshall-Green (Quarry) is Grey, an analogue guy in a near-future digital world, a mechanic who fixes classic cars for rich clients while his wife works for an advanced Tech company. When his wife’s self-driving car malfunctions one day in a deserted part of town they are attacked, his wife is murdered and he ends up as a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. After a suicide attempt by overdosing on medication, he is visited by a famous young tech innovator who offers to illegally surgically implant his latest creation, an AI chip called STEM, into his spine and restore motor functions to his body. Healing faster than expected Grey is surprised to hear STEM speak into his mind. STEM says it can help identify his wife’s attackers, and using his new found ‘upgraded’ abilities he decides to take revenge…’Upgrade’ comes off as a more action orientated take on a Black Mirror episode, depicting a world of human-computer augmentation and ubiquitous police drones that doesn’t seem that far off, however like most things in a Black Mirror type world, there is a price for everything… (Mark)

Lucky.
His career spanned more than six decades. Harry Dean Stanton appeared in countless movies, but played a rare substantial role – probably the first time since the memorable ‘Paris, Texas’ – in his final movie ‘Lucky’. In fact, the whole movie pays tribute to Stanton, who was 90 years old when it was shot and died not long after. Following an old man Lucky (Stanton), who lives alone in a small desert town, it’s a subtle study of facing mortality. Although nothing much happens in the movie, Stanton still has a remarkable screen presence, exquisitely expressing the complexity of the character, from loneliness to stubbornness to tenderness. Some of the casts are played by Stanton’s real life friends including David Lynch, who is the best supporting actor here. Harry Dean Stanton wasn’t the biggest name in the industry, but no one was given as good a send-off in this wonderful fashion. Well-deserved. (Shinji)

Rick and Morty. Season 3.
Anarchic animated comedy from the creator of Community, that follows the adventures of an eccentric alcoholic scientist and his good-hearted but fretful grandson across an infinite number of realities, with the characters travelling to other planets and dimensions through portals and Rick’s flying car. Hilariously sick and depraved. (Mark)

Room / a film by Lenny Abrahamson.
The heart-breaking story of a young woman and her five year old son who are kept prisoner in a shed, and what happens to them when they are ultimately freed. (Belinda)

 

The Americans. The complete final season.
Things seem grim at the outset of the final season of ‘The Americans’ set in 1987, three years after the last season, and nine weeks before the pivotal Reagan-Gorbachev summit. Philip has quit intelligence work and is now full-time travel agent, while Elizabeth is still a zealous operative, fulfilling increasingly dangerous missions and training Paige to follow in her footsteps. The cracks in their marriage are becoming increasingly wider, and only worsen as Elizabeth is recruited for a secret Mission by the anti-Gorbachev Soviet Military, and then Philip is asked to return to intelligence work to monitor what she is doing. As the summit deadline approaches can they move past their increasingly separate ideologies to save their marriage and, as FBI Agent (and neighbour) Stan Beeman’s suspicions start to solidify, can they even save themselves? A lot of series fail in the last episodes, but ‘The Americans’ delivers a fitting wrap up for each of its characters, though perhaps not always what you expect, and ends on the same level of high quality that sustained its entire run. Recommended. (Mark)

November’s newest DVDs

This Is Us S2 DVD cover

New DVDs added in November include the sequel to drug war thriller Sicario; spy drama with Beirut; the real-life story of Mary Shelley, and the creation of her immortal monster, and the poignant drama of a woman in her eighties planning a gruelling climbing trip the Scottish Highlands. New TV includes the 2nd seasons of This is Us & The Expanse, and the gripping re-imagining of the iconic Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Sicario. Day of the soldado.
“In the drug war, there are no rules, and as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border, federal agent Matt Graver calls on the mysterious Alejandro, whose family was murdered by a cartel kingpin. Alejandro kidnaps the kingpins daughter to inflame the conflict. But when the girl is seen as collateral damage, her fate will come between the two men.” (Syndetics summary)

Mary Shelley.
“The real-life story of Mary Shelley, and the creation of her immortal monster, is nearly as fantastical as her fiction. Raised by a renowned philosopher father in eighteenth-century London, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin is a teenage dreamer determined to make her mark on the world, when she meets the dashing and brilliant poet Percy Shelley. So begins a torrid, bohemian love affair marked by both passion and personal tragedy that will transform Mary and fuel the writing of her Gothic masterwork, Frankenstein.” (Syndetics summary)

The spy who dumped me.
“Audrey and Morgan are two fairly ordinary 30-year-old women who live in Los Angeles. They are best friends, and they always stick together, so when Audrey discovers her ex-boyfriend is an international spy, Morgan joins her on an unlikely adventure. Together, the two of them must try to save him from assassins and help to save the world from a dangerous threat. As they travel around the globe with killers hot on their heels, they will discover hidden reserves of strength and cleverness that neither one of them knew they had.” (Syndetics summary)

Edie.
“Edith Moore (Edie) is a bitter, gruff woman in her eighties. In the months following her husband George’s death, Edie’s strained relationship with her daughter Nancy begins to worsen. The question over Edie’s future looms large; while Edie tries hard to convince Nancy she can manage fine by herself, Nancy is making plans for her mother to move into a retirement home. Edie feels like it is the beginning of the end. It seems she will die with all the regrets of her past intact and one regret haunts her most of all. When Edie was married, her father planned a climbing trip for them in the Scottish Highlands. Edie yearned to go, but her husband George, a difficult and controlling man, made her stay at home, nearly thirty years later, Edie decides to make the trip herself alone.” (Syndetics summary)

Picnic at Hanging Rock.
“A gripping re-imagining of the iconic Australian novel that plunges us into the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine’s Day, 1900. Exploring the event’s far-reaching impact on the students and staff of Appleyard College and its enigmatic headmistress, theories soon abound, paranoia sets in and long-held secrets surface, as the Rock exerts its strange power and the dark stain of the unsolved mystery continues to spread.” (Syndetics summary)

This is us. The complete second season.
“Chronicles the Pearson family across the decades, from Jack and Rebecca as young parents in the 1980s to their 37 year old kids Kevin, Kate and Randall searching for love and fulfilment in the present day. This grounded, life affirming drama reveals how the tiniest events in people’s lives impact who they become, and how the connections they share with each other can transcend time, distance, and even death.” (Syndetics summary)

The expanse. Season two.
“A police detective in the asteroid belt, the first officer of an interplanetary ice freighter and an earth-bound United Nations executive slowly discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the Earth’s rebellious colony on the asteroid belt.” (Syndetics summary)

Beirut.
“Caught in the crossfires of civil war, CIA operatives must send a former US diplomat to negotiate for the life of a friend he left behind.” (Syndetics summary)

Remembering Nicolas Roeg and Bernardo Bertolucci

The world has lost two of the outstanding filmmakers of our time; Nicolas Roeg and Bernardo Bertolucci.

Nicolas Roeg died on 23 November aged 90. He made his name as a cinematographer (Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, Francois Trufaut’s Fahrenheit 451 etc.) before turning into a director. In the 70s, he was the most acclaimed British auteur with a unique visionary style, leaving highly influential works such as Walkabout (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Man who Fell to Earth (1976).

 

 

 

 

One of the most provocative and influential directors of our time Bernardo Bertolucci died on 26 November aged 77. He was still in his 20s when The Conformist (1970) was hailed as a revolutionary work. He also worked outside of Italy, and enjoyed huge commercial successes with the controversial erotic drama The Last Tango in Paris (1972) and The Last Emperor (1987), which won 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture and the Best Director.

 

 

 

 

All covers are used with permission.

The Latest Books on Film and TV Series

Saturday Night at the Movies book cover

Check out some of these newly catalogued books on films and TV Series. They include the fascinating studies of popular TV series such as The Wire, and The Women Who Lived which tells stories about women in Doctor Who. Also, don’t miss the colourful book about the Wes Anderson’s latest work Isle of Dogs.

Syndetics book coverIsle of dogs / by Lauren Wilford and Ryan Stevenson ; foreword by Matt Zoller Seitz ; with an introduction by Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou.
Isle of Dogs is the only book to take readers behind the scenes of the beloved auteur’s newest stop-motion animated film. ​Through the course of several in-depth interviews with film critic Lauren Wilford, writer and director Wes Anderson shares the story behind Isle of Dogs‘s conception and production, and Anderson and his collaborators reveal entertaining anecdotes about the making of the film, their sources of inspiration, the ins and outs of stop-motion animation, and many other insights into their moviemaking process. Previously unpublished behind-the-scenes photographs, concept artwork, and hand-written notes and storyboards accompany the text.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWill & Grace & Jack & Karen : life — according to tv’s awesome foursome / Emma Lewis ; illustrations by Chantel de Sousa.
“A fun guide to the important things in life, according to TV’s Will, Grace, Jack & Karen. Featuring fun and colorful illustrations throughout, Will & Grace & Jack & Karen brings you the questionable wisdom of TV’s awesome foursome. Find out which character is your true spirit animal with our handy quiz; get through your day with Karen Walker’s guide to drinking, and improve your job prospects with career advice from Jack McFarland. Full of inspiration, trivia, and hilarious quotes, Will & Grace & Jack & Karen is here to help you discover the secrets to maintaining the lifelong bonds between friends who are more like family.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe women who lived : amazing tales for future Time Lords / Christel Dee & Simon Guerrier.
“From Sarah Jane Smith to Bill Potts, from Susan Foreman to the Thirteenth Doctor, women are the beating heart of Doctor Who. Whether they’re facing down Daleks or thwarting a Nestene invasion, these women don’t hang around waiting to be rescued – they roll their sleeves up and get stuck in. Scientists and soldiers, queens and canteen workers, they don’t let anything hold them back. Featuring historical women such as Agatha Christie and Queen Victoria alongside fan favourites like Rose Tyler and Missy, The Women Who Lived tells the stories of women throughout space and time. Beautifully illustrated by a team of all-female artists, this collection of inspirational tales celebrates the power of women to change the universe.”  (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll the pieces matter : the inside story of The Wire / Jonathan Abrams.All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of the Wire
“The definitive oral history of the iconic and beloved TV show The Wire, as told by the actors, writers, directors, and others involved in its creation. With unparalleled access to all the key actors and writers involved in its creation, Jonathan Abrams tells the astonishing, compelling, and complete account of The Wire, from its inception and creation through its end and powerful legacy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrasier : a cultural history / Joseph J. Darowski, Kate Darowski.
“For eleven seasons, radio psychiatrist Frasier Crane contended with his blue-collar ex-cop father Martin, English caretaker Daphne, coworker Roz, and his younger brother Niles. Looking at the world through Frasier’s aristocratic, witty lens, the show explored themes of love, loss, friendship, and what it might mean to live a full life. Both fans and critics loved Frasier, and the show’s 37 primetime Emmy wins are the most ever for a comedy series. In Frasier: A Cultural History, Joseph J. Darowski and Kate Darowski offer an engaging analysis of the long-running, award-winning show, offering insights into both the onscreen stories as well as the efforts behind the scenes to shape this modern classic.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverActing & auditioning for the 21st century : tips, trends, and techniques for film, stage, digital and new media / Stephanie Barton-Farcas.
Acting & Auditioning for the 21st Century covers acting and auditioning in relation to new media, blue and green screen technology, motion capture, web series, audiobook work, evolving livestreamed web series, and international acting and audio work. Readers are given a methodology for changing artistic technology and the global acting market, with chapters covering auditions of all kinds, contracts, the impact of new technology and issues relating to disabled actors, actors of colour and actors that are part of the LGBTQIA community.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSaturday night at the movies : the extraordinary partnerships behind cinema’s greatest scores / Jennifer Nelson.
“A powerful score can make a movie truly extraordinary. The alchemy between composer and director creates pure cinematic magic, with songs and melodies that are recognizable and memorable. So what is their secret? Saturday Night at the Movies goes behind the scenes to reveal 12 remarkable partnerships, and how they have created the music that has moved millions. Discover how these collaborations began and what makes them so effective: the dynamic personalities, the creative chemistry, the flashes of genius. Featuring such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann, Christopher Nolan and Hans Zimmer, and James Horner and James Cameron, this book explores the creation of film favorites such as Back to the Future, Fargo, Edward Scissorhands and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Staff Pick DVDs – Aug/Sep

A collection of new Staff Pick DVDs & TV Shows. From indie Sci-Fi, to Art intrigue, coming-of-age drama, and savage political satire.

Breath.
Australian writer Tim Winton is regarded by many as one of the finest writers in the world at this moment in time. His collection of coming of age short stories The Turning has already been adapted into a very fine celluloid feature. This latest film adaptation Breath is another coming of age story which was recently one of the highlights of the 2018 NZIFF and it has now been released on DVD. The book and film are about two teenagers on the cusp of adulthood learning about life, death and love through their shared passion for surfing and their occasionally troubled friendship. The surfing scenes are superbly done, and short of donning a wet suit and going out into the ocean yourself the experience and emotion of interacting with this primal force of nature is brilliantly portrayed and realised. The lead performances by the boy actors has a depth, maturity and believability than many actors strive for all their career and the cinematography is of the highest order. All in all it amounts to a thoughtful, nuanced and well-crafted movie. (Neil J)

Waru.
This is a New Zealand DVD. It is 8 (waru) stories that is told by 8 different Maori female directors. It is set in the same moment in time around the time of a Tangi of a young boy who was killed by a caregiver. Very different stories but connected and very poignant. Very sad and powerful. Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Chelsea Cohen, Paula Jones, Awanui Simich-Pene, and Josephine Stewart Te Whiu. All names to keep an eye out for. (Brigid)

Rampage.
In recent years Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has almost become his own movie genre. And Rampage is perhaps one of the finest examples of what he does best and why he is so popular. It’s a monster movie with The Rock playing a tough but kind wisecracking primatologist looking after his best mate who just happens to be an albino Gorilla recently infected by a dangerous pathogen. Its big, it’s silly, there’s lots of banging and smashing, it makes no sense at all but boy is it fun. If you are looking for a funny, action packed popcorn blockbuster that is just about pitch perfect then Rampage could be the ideal movie. (Neil J)

Peter Rabbit.
A lovely movie very loosely based on Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Old Macgregor dies and leaves his farm to a young great nephew (Domnall Gleeson- this Irish actor plays famous Englishman a lot) who finds out that not only has he inherited a farm but some very naughty and active mischievous rabbits. Lovely story told with both actors and animated cartoon characters. I found it funny in parts and enjoyed it. Very little kids might need parental guidance when watching it. Rose Byrne plays Beatrix Potter. Sam Neill is Old MacGregor. (Brigid)

Sweet country.
Set in the Outback in the 1920s, an aboriginal worker shot a white farmer. Although it was self-defence and the white farmer was a vicious racist, a massive manhunt was undertaken. This may sound like a typical western story, but this second feature by the Australian auteur Warwick Thornton, who impressed us with his debut Samson and Delilah; a compelling love story of the aboriginal teens, offers a much deeper, poignant drama exposing the dark side of the Australian history. It’s a harsh, devastating story with the colonialist psyche, but taking the majestic scenery as a part of narrative, Thornton manages to deliver lyrical, mesmerising moments. This is a remarkable work by a highly individual filmmaker, and although it doesn’t make you happy, it gives you a profound affection, which only great films can offer. (Shinji)

The death of Stalin.
Caustic, pitch black humour of the highest calibre is delivered in Armando Iannucci latest comedy. Set around the events and chaos surrounding the death of Stalin this star studded movie was so controversial that the Russian government banned it. Its wicked, hilarious, merciless and definitely not for the faint hearted. However if you enjoy satire of the very darkest and blackest in nature then this movie is a must watch. And the ever wonderful Jason Isaacs is mercurial as Field Marshal Zhukov. (Neil J)

Riviera. The complete season one.
There is a lot of money up on the screen in this Art based drama set amongst the Riviera’s rich set. After just a year of marriage to billionaire philanthropist, art collector, and Banker Constantine Clios (Anthony LaPaglia), the immaculate life of ex-Art Curator Georgina (Julia Stiles) is blown apart when her husband is killed in an explosion aboard the yacht of a Russian oligarch. Believing there to be more to the tragedy, she sets out to uncover what happened. Dark truths about Constantine’s dealings emerge, as she begins to realise who she was really married to, but just how far will she go to find out the truth… Stiles is excellent in this stylish but overblown drama. A good escapist watch, reminiscent somewhat of the potboiler novels that were popular in the 70s & 80s by writers such as Sidney Sheldon. (Mark)

The endless.
Two brothers return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group’s beliefs may be more sane than they once thought. Endless is an independent, science fiction, thriller, horror cross genre movie that has as its literary DNA the writings of H P Lovecraft. (Though the film has a contemporary American setting). It’s well-made, well filmed and obviously done on an independent film budget. What makes it really worth watching is the mind bending storyline that deals with concepts of time, memory and space in an often genuinely creepy fashion . This is very much an underground cult film but if you like thought provoking, original and clever movies of the cult variety then this movie comes highly recommended. (Neil J)

A quiet place.
This is a thriller set on earth after Aliens come through and destroy most of the humankind. The Aliens have acute hearing but no sight so the remaining Human kind have to live their lives in silence. The moment they make a sound the Aliens appear and eat them. The story revolves around a young family who have to carry on their lives out on a farm, around these devastating turn of events It is a really good thriller. Lots of suspenseful parts. It stars Husband and wife team Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as the screen couple. Brilliant story and great acting. Contains violence. This movie is classed as both a thriller and a horror. (Brigid)

Faces places.
From the opening credit, it’s a delightful affair. A legend of French new wave cinema, 88 year old Agnes Varda teams up with a photographer and muralist JR, who is 55 years her junior, hit the road on a tour of rural France. On the way, they learn the histories of communities, some of which are long abandoned, and of people they encounter, and bring new lives to them with gigantic mural photos. It’s a celebration of people and places as well as creativity. This odd couple makes a great team and their friendship, curiosity and vision make it wonderfully charming. At the end of the film, another French new wave giant Jean-Luc Godard makes a cameo in his peculiar way and adds the unique dimension and the depth. Young at heart. (Shinji)

The man who invented Christmas.
This is a movie about the life of Charles Dickens and the events leading up to the writing of A Christmas Carol. It showed well what 19th Century life in England was like. It had dark parts and gave a real insight into the workings of his mind. Creepy in parts. Good character acting although hard at times to work out when he was imagining and what was real. (Brigid)

Manifesto.
Transformed to a feature film from an art installation, German artist and filmmaker Julian Rosenfeldt’s Manifesto is an intelligent, elaborate work. All dialogues in the film are excerpted from published artistic and political manifestos such as communism, futurism, dadaism, situationism, and pop art, and these historical statements are delivered by the 13 fictional characters; from a homeless man to a choreographer to a punk rocker, all performed by Cate Blanchett who displays an astonishing virtuosity. It still gives an impression of the visual art rather than the feature film, but under Rosenfeldt, Berlin’s outstanding talents come together here, including Christoph Krauss who provides magnificent cinematography and two prominent musicians; Nils Frahm and Ben Lukas Boysen who create impressive soundtracks. Germany’s got talent. (Shinji)

Goodbye Christopher Robin.
This movie is the story of the life of A.A. Milne around the time of his writing Winnie the Pooh. It shows his life from coming home from the first world war with PTSD. And his writing block after seeing the horrors he had seen. The sanctuary he sought in the country with his wife and son Chris. It is a lovely movie but shows the reality he was living. Brilliant actor Domhall Gleeson plays A.A.Milne. The story goes through the life of the child Christopher. This movie showed the beautiful relationship between A.A. Milne and his son and the creation of Winnie and the other animals. A really good watch. (Brigid)