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 Books on Movies

New books on movies and TV programmes feature intriguing inside stories, including the relationship between James Dean and the photographer Dennis Stock, and Star Trek’s 50 year history. Movie guides such as The Film Buff’s Bucket List give movie lovers a delightful read. Check them out!

Syndetics book coverJames Dean / Dennis Stock ; introduction by Joe Hyams.
“Magnum photographer Dennis Stock met James Dean at the Château Marmont in Hollywood in 1954, and they became fast friends. Stock captured Dean’s essence in a stunning series of images of the actor in the midst of family and friends, as well as alone, sleeping, lost in thought, in the frozen fields of Indiana, and on a rainy day in Manhattan. It was an extraordinary collaboration between two people in full command of their respective talents. Dennis Stock: James Dean reintroduces these iconic photographs with Dennis Stock’s original accompanying text and a later introduction by Joe Hyams.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary) Also, check out the recent movie Life.

Syndetics book coverYoung Orson : the years of luck and genius on the path to Citizen Kane / Patrick McGilligan.
“On the centennial of his birth, the defining wunderkind of modern entertainment gets his due in a groundbreaking new biography of his early years–from his first forays in theater and radio to the inspiration and making of Citizen Kane. In this magisterial biography, Patrick McGilligan brings young Orson into focus as never before. Filled with intriguing new insights and startling revelations–including the surprising true origin and meaning of “Rosebud”–Young Orson is a fascinating look at the creative development and influences that shaped this legendary artistic genius.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe autobiography of James T. Kirk : the story of Starfleet’s greatest captain / by James T. Kirk ; edited by David A. Goodman.
The Autobiography of James T. Kirk chronicles the greatest Starfleet captain’s life (2233-2371), in his own words. From his birth on the U.S.S. Kelvin, his youth spent on Tarsus IV, his time in the Starfleet Academy, his meteoric rise through the ranks of Starfleet, and his illustrious career at the helm of the Enterprise, this in-world memoir uncovers Captain Kirk in a way Star Trek fans have never seen. Excerpts from his personal correspondence, captain’s logs, and more give Kirk’s personal narrative further depth.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSharon Tate : a life / Ed Sanders ; illustrations by Rick Veitch.
“Ed Sanders gave readers their clearest insight yet into the disturbing world of Charles Manson and his followers when he published The Family in 1971. Continuing that journalistic tradition, Sanders presents the most thorough look ever into the heartbreaking story of Sharon Tate, the iconic actress who found love, fame, and ultimately tragedy during her all-too-brief life. Sharon Tate: A Life traces Sharon’s path from beauty queen to budding young actress: her early love affairs, her romance with and marriage to director Roman Polanski, and the excitement of the glamorous life she had always sought–all set against the background of the turbulent 1960s.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe caped crusade : Batman and the rise of nerd culture / Glen Weldon.
“A witty, intelligent cultural history from book critic Glen Weldon explains Batman’s rises and falls throughout the ages and what his story tells us about ourselves. Since his creation, Batman has been many things: a two-fisted detective; a planet-hopping gadabout; a campy Pop-art sensation; a pointy-eared master spy; and a grim and gritty ninja of the urban night. In The Caped Crusade, with humour and insight, Glen Weldon, book critic and author of Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, lays out Batman’s seventy-eight-year cultural history and shows how he has helped make us who we are today and why his legacy remains so strong.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJames Bond : the legacy / John Cork & Bruce Scivally.
“When Dr. No was released in 1962, it had an immediate and lasting impact on film audiences. The character of Bond became an icon of masculine cool and an international idol who would ride the cultural zeitgeist for the next 40 years.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat the eye hears : a history of tap dancing / Brian Seibert.
“Magisterial, revelatory, and-most suitably-entertaining, What the Eye Hears offers an authoritative account of the great American art of tap dancing. Brian Seibert, a dance critic for The New York Times , begins by exploring tap’s origins as a hybrid of the jig and clog dancing from the British Isles and dances brought from Africa by slaves. He tracks tap’s transfer to the stage through blackface minstrelsy and charts its growth as a cousin to jazz in the vaudeville circuits and nightclubs of the early twentieth century.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSet phasers to stun : 50 years of Star Trek / Marcus Berkmann.
“Forty-seven years after NBC killed it off, Star Trek celebrates its half-century in a state of rude health. Boldly going where several other people have been before, Marcus Berkmann tells the story of this sturdy science fiction vehicle from its first five-year mission (rudely curtailed to three), through the dark years of the 1970s, the triumphant film series and The Next Generation, to the current ‘reboot’ films, with a younger cast taking on the characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and co. With wit, insight and a huge pile of DVDs, he seeks to answer all the important questions. Why did Kirk’s shirt always get torn when he had a fist fight? What’s the most number of times Uhura said ‘Hailing frequencies open, sir’ in a single episode? (Seven.) And what’s the worst imaginable insult in Klingon? (Your mother has a smooth forehead.)” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReel history : the world according to the movies / Alex von Tunzelmann.
“From ancient Egypt to the Tudors to the Nazis, the film industry has often defined how we think of the past. But how much of what you see on the screen is true? And does it really matter if filmmakers just make it all up? Picking her way through Hollywood’s version of events, acclaimed historian Alex von Tunzelmann sorts the fact from the fiction. Along the way, we meet all our favorite historical characters, on screen and in real life: from Cleopatra to Elizabeth I, from Spartacus to Abraham Lincoln, and from Attila the Hun to Nelson Mandela.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMovie freak : my life watching movies / Owen Gleiberman.
“Owen Gleiberman has spent his life watching movies-first at the drive-in, where his parents took him to see wildly inappropriate adult fare like Rosemary’s Baby when he was a wide-eyed 9 year old, then as a possessed cinemaniac who became a film critic right out of college. In Movie Freak, his enthrallingly candid, funny, and eye-opening memoir, Gleiberman captures what it’s like to live life through the movies, existing in thrall to a virtual reality that becomes, over time, more real than reality itself. For Gleiberman, the moving image has a talismanic power, but it also represents a kind of sweet sickness, a magnificent obsession that both consumes and propels him.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe film buff’s bucket list : the 50 movies of the 2000s to see before you die / Chris Stuckmann.
“Theaters around the world are dominated by comic book heroes, ice princesses, apocalyptic love-struck teens, and whatever masterpiece Pixar is rolling out. It’s clear that cinema is as healthy as ever. But which films are the best of the best? What are the top movies since 2000 to see before you die? Chris Stuckmann, one of YouTube’s most popular film reviewers (70+ million views) gives us his best of the best! In his book debut, Stuckmann delivers his list of the very best 50 Movies since 2000 – with that style and punch that YouTube viewers have come to love. These are the films you must see before you die.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe ultimate binge-watching guide / Chris Roberts.
“Watching a smartly written, well-acted, top-tier TV series is like immersing yourself in a great novel. It’s addictive. And more and more people are gobbling up shows in big bites–sometimes bingeing on an entire season in a weekend. From classics like Seinfeld and Twin Peaks, to Breaking Bad and Sherlock, to Denmark’s Borgen and France’s Les Revenants, here are 100 of the very best, all worth spending hours of time on the couch. In addition to insightful, informative, and spoiler-free overviews of storylines, themes, and characters, you’ll get enough recommendations, trivia, and teasers to make you want to catch the shows you haven’t yet seen–and revisit the ones you have!” (Syndetics summary)

TV series exclusives: The WCL Ratings Project #12

With this month’s update of new DVDs enabled by our Ratings Project we have the 3rd season of popular Australian historical drama ‘A Place To Call Home’; the last of our seasons of quirky US crime show ‘Psych’; the sequel to the health documentary ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’; the latest season of ‘Parenthood’; and the last 2 seasons of the ever popular Brenda Blethyn as DCI Stanhope in ‘Vera’…

Cover imageA place to call home. Season 3.
“A Place to Call Home is a sweeping romantic drama set in 1950s rural Australia following the lives of nurse Sarah Adams and the Blighs, a wealthy and complicated Pastoralist family living in Inverness, New South Wales. As Australia faces internal and external threats to its way of life so too do the people of Inverness, and previous alliances and relationships are tested: Sarah’s dilemma between her feelings for George and her duty to her husband Rene is exacerbated by a heart breaking secret; James and Olivia’s relationship is under pressure by the desire for physical fulfilment, while the true parentage of Baby George is threatened with exposure; Elizabeth Bligh’s decision to leave Ash Park to explore a life of her own proves more difficult than she thought and the difference between Anna and Gino’s fairytale romance and the reality of married life threatens to tear them apart. This DVD set contains all 10 episodes of series 3 and a bonus alternative series two finale…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imagePsych. The complete sixth season.
“The world’s most dynamic and oddball, detective duo get more than they bargained for when they take on con-artists, masked vigilantes and Darth Vader collectibles in the wild sixth season of Psych. Fake “psychic detective” Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his best bud, Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill), go undercover, behind the scenes and over the top to solve some of the most off the wall crimes imaginable. But how long can these super sleuths keep their psychic secret safe? Guest starring William Shatner, Cary Elwes, Molly Ringwald and Danny Glover, relive the laughs, thrills and mind-boggling mysteries uninterrupted and back-to-back in all 16 episodes of the totally unique and unpredictable series that will keep you guessing just whodunit…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageVera. Series five.
“Mulit-award winning actress Brenda Blethyn returns as DCI Stanhope in the critically acclaimed crime drama, Vera. The indomitable DCI Vera Stanhope returns to face a number of daunting cases. Aided by troubled new recruit DS Aiden Healy (Kenny Doughty), they investigate a deadly blaze at a coastal caravan park, unearth a thirty-year-old mystery in an old mining community, delve into the tragic last months of a young man found floating in a farm slurry pit and uncover a life of secrets and lies when a well-loved family man plummets to his death from a multi-storey car park. Each enthralling episode is set against the breathtaking Northumberland countryside and is enhanced by the captivating performance of Brenda Blethyn as this shambolic yet brilliant detective…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageRectify. Season three.
“In season three of Rectify, once again a convicted murderer, Daniel (Aden Young, Mao’s Last Dancer) must cope with probation officer meetings, while Janet (J. Smith Cameron, True Blood) prepares for his looming banishment and Amantha (Abigail Spencer, True Detective) tries to build a life around something other than her brother’s innocence. Even DA Sondra Person (Sharon Conley, The Good Lie) harbors lingering doubts about Daniel’s guilt – until George Melton’s corpse turns up, raising new and troubling questions about the night Hanna died. Ultimately, Daniel takes his first tentative steps towards fully embracing his complicated new freedom, leaving in his wake a family struggling to find their way forward and a community that still wonders if justice was truly served…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe Moodys.
“From the creators of the AFI award-winning Review with Myles Barlow and following the success of A Moody Christmas, this new series sees Dan (Ian Meadows) and Cora (Jane Harber) return home to Australia to set up house together. Now they are back Down Under, everything in their lives is topsy turvy. As they struggle to make ends meet, the Moody family home is up for sale; Sean’s funeral fireworks business is going great guns’ literally; Maree and Kevin test the freewheeling lifestyle of the grey nomads; Bridget and Roger find out if there’s friendship after divorce; and Uncle Terry is in a tangled love affair with Yvonne (Sacha Horler), a one-woman force of nature…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageFat, sick & nearly dead. 2.
“The second documentary reconnects Joe with his followers from the first film to catch viewers up on how the impact of juicing has changed their lives. With help from friends, family and the medical community, he not only shows viewers were he is now, but also continues to educate viewers about the critical role that family and community support play in maintaining this healthy lifestyle…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageParenthood. Season 5.
“As Kristina and Adam reevaluate their lives after her fight against cancer, Sarah finds a career she loves and a possible new romance. Crosby and Jasmine adapt to life as a family with an infant in the house, while Camille and Zeek decide what their “Act 3″ is going to be now that they have an empty nest. And though most challenges bring the relations closer together, Joel and Julia find their marriage crumbling apart in ways they never expected…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imagePsych. The complete seventh season.
“Killer secrets are kept, broken and dramatically revealed in the seventh sensational season of Psych. Its business as unusual for “psychic” crime fighter Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and best pal Burton “Gus” Guster (Dule Hill) as they track down Bigfoot, go undercover as wacky radio DJs, and solve the ultimate murder mystery. And, Gus finally gets the girl. Catch every episode back-to-back and uninterrupted of the laugh-out-loud whodunit series…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover iamgeVera. Series six.
Set amid the wild beauty of the Northumberland landscape, DCI Vera Stanhope investigates chilling crimes only she can solve. In the sixth series, Vera and her team are called into action to tackle a number of challenging cases; from unravelling the mystery of a woman found murdered on the bleak Northumberland moors (Dark Road), piecing together the tragic downfall of a young man whose body is discovered hidden in a cave (Tuesdays Child), solving a mysterious double murder in a remote country house (The Moth Catcher), to delving into a dark secret at the heart of a struggling fishing community (The Sea Glass), each enthralling story is enhanced by captivating performances, beautifully shot landscapes and high production values…” (From Syndetics summary)

Staff Picks DVDs – March/April

Some Staff picks of some of the DVDs that were released over the last couple of months. Lots of French stuff for some reason. Anyway we hope you enjoy these…

Cover imageA girl walks home alone at night.
Receiving a fervent reception at Sundance film festival in 2014, the Iranian-American filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ is a scintillating work. Shot in California, but set in a fictional Iranian town and spoken Farsi, it’s often described as ‘the Iranian feminist vampire western’. In the black-and-white, early Jim Jarmusch-like milieu, the beautiful girl with her chador (fabulous presence by Arash Marandi) skateboards at night for the mission of punishing men who abuse women. After she meets the nice boy it becomes more like a boy-meets-girl story but the question, whether she kisses or kills him, remains until the end. Obviously Amirpour is a cinephile. Taking cinematic essences from the likes of David Lynch, Tarantino, Wong Kar-wai, Sergio Leone and Jarmusch, she brilliantly displays her own aesthetic. This is a fresh addition to the history of vampire films. (Shinji)

Cover imageMr. Robot. Season 1.
Winning a Golden Globe for best drama series and named Best Show of The Year by Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly & TV Guide (US), ‘Mr. Robot’ stars Rami Malek as Elliot a socially-awkward cyber-security engineer by day and vigilante hacker by night, who finds himself approached by the enigmatic ‘Mr. Robot’ (Christian Slater), the mysterious head of an underground hacker collective who want to bring down the major corporation that Elliot’s company provides security for. However Elliot is also a very troubled young man with a ‘history’ of breakdowns, is currently undergoing court-mandated therapy, & has recently stopped taking his medication. Substituting his meds with morphine & pills from his drug dealer with benefits, he is growing even more paranoid about the world around him and beginning to wonder if what he thinks is happening is actually real or all just in his mind… While pulling together a bunch of influences from Fight Club & Taxi Driver, to Dexter & The Matrix, ‘Mr. Robot’ pushes zeitgeist buttons on everything from wealth inequality, the power & control of corporations, social media, data breaches & hackers in new & interesting ways. The cast is uniformly excellent, especially Malek & Slater. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageThe voices.
I saw a movie called ‘The Voices’ recently that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a black comedy/thriller starring Ryan Reynolds about a man suffering from severe hallucinations who, through some unexpected twists, becomes a serial killer. A very unusual look into the mind of a killer with mental health issues. (Ingrid)

Cover imageEden.
Loosely based on the experience of the director Mia Hansen-Love’s brother, who was the leading DJ of the French house music movement, Eden shows an intriguing insight into the rave culture. Following the DJ Paul for two decades from the early 90s, music is the driving force but it also tells of the painful fact that we can only grow up by failing or losing. Drifty yet stylish, Hansen-Love (Father of My Children, Goodbye First Love) subtly presents us a naïve period of life that everyone goes through; innocent but avoiding facing reality; always wanting more but not knowing what to do, and leaves us in a melancholy mood. Captivating. (Shinji)

Cover imageThe connection.
This 70s French crime drama works as a counterpart to William Friedkin’s classic The French Connection. Jean Dujardin (The Artist, The Wolf of Wall Street) is Pierre Michel, a crusading magistrate reassigned to a Marseille Police department, the city that in the 70’s and early 80’s was the major port for shipments of heroin moving overseas, specifically New York City. Michel attempts to disrupt the organization (a group of Italians, Corsicans, and French who were dubbed ‘The French Connection’), and becomes obsessed with bringing down its leader (in this film) a charismatic gangster called Zampa ( Gilles Lellouche). Gritty & stylish. (Mark)

Cover imageRango.
This isn’t a new film, but I watched ‘Rango’ over the weekend and absolutely loved it!
It’s an animation/comedy/adventure about a wannabe-hero chameleon (voiced by Johnny Depp) that gets stranded in the desert and accidentally ends up as the new sheriff in a town called ‘Dirt’. It was such a laugh and had some great adult jokes throughout it, so it would appeal to a wide range of ages and would be perfect for family movie night. The animation was amazing, and the movie also broke the fourth wall with ‘Rango’ himself addressing the audience at times, which I found really interesting. (Ingrid)

Cover imageGirlhood.
The up-and-coming French female director Celine Sciamma’s previous work Tomboy, which centres a 10-year-old girl who is confused with her gender, was a little gem, and she is back with a 15-year-old girl. Girlhood tells a story about a black teen girl and her ‘co-gangs’ who come from the lower class of society, and their day by day survivals in the violence abounding environment. It’s a kind of often-told coming of age tale, but exhilarating performances by non-professional casts and graceful camera work prove Sciamma’s exceptional talent as a director. Rihanna’s ‘Diamonds’ is effectively used here. The scene that the four girls are singing and dancing with the song in the hotel room is gorgeous to watch, and makes this movie even more memorable. (Shinji)

Cover imageThe returned. Series two.
The enigmatic French ‘supernatural’ series returns for a second season. Some time has passed since the events of the first season’s finale, and the mountain town is now partially flooded. Most of the population has fled and the army has arrived to investigate what’s going on, while the Returned (and a few living allies) are living in a suburb cut off from the rest of the town by floodwaters. A second batch of older ‘Returned’ have begun to appear, some of whom are directly linked to the original town’s flooding 35 years ago, revealing more secrets about the connections between the characters and the mysterious young boy Victor. While the first episodes of Season 1 hooked you immediately, Season 2 initially seems to be going nowhere with a lots of new characters and nothing much happening, but it’s worth persevering as the last 4 episodes bring plenty of intriguing flashbacks to 35 years ago and brings everything to a conclusion…or does it? (Mark)

TV series exclusives: The WCL Ratings Project #11

With this month’s update of new DVDs enabled by our Ratings Project we have the final Season’s of ‘Warehouse 13’, ‘Psych’ & ‘Covert Affairs’; historical drama with ‘Home Fires’ & the return of the ladies from ‘The Paradise’; and plenty of criminal behaviour with seasons 3 & 4 of ‘DCI Banks’, new ITV drama ‘Chasing Shadows’, & the latest Australian crime series with Rebecca Gibney.

Cover imagePsych. The eighth & final season.
“Case-cracking “psychic” detective Shawn Spencer and his best friend Burton “Gus” Guster have their hands full getting to the bottom of crime-filled conundrums around Santa Barbara. From a prestigious paranormal police consultant convention to zombie nightmares, Shawn and Gus need all the help they can get as new hijinks and tests arise for your favorite sleuths in this eighth and final season of Psych. Witness every episode back-to-back and uninterrupted of the final hilarious season featuring a gaggle of guest stars including Mira Sorvino, Tom Arnold, Loretta Devine, and Bruce Campbell.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageA Moody Christmas.
“From the creators of the AFI award-winning Review with Myles Barlow comes A MOODY CHRISTMAS a comedy series that follows the Moody family as they come together to share the universally celebrated holiday. Stuffed full of fun, fights, bad gifts, boring uncles, overbearing in-laws, shocking family secrets and bizarre eccentricities…any family who has experienced the melting pot of Christmas Day will relate! While in theory Christmas is a time for family to share and celebrate, in practice its often a day spent with relatives you hardly know, where dirty laundry is aired, family rifts resurface, strangers are forced to act like family, and celebratory drinks can disintegrate into drunken rows and it all happens at the Moodys!…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageCovert affairs. Season four.
“Danger, scandal and smoking guns are no match for resourceful CIA operative Annie Walker, who proves herself as astute as ever in season four of Covert Affairs. When Annie and Auggie, her blind lover and colleague, mix business with pleasure on a trip to Colombia, they ruffle the feathers of local CIA station chief Calder Michaels, whose seemingly fleeting allegiance has major implications for the future of the Domestic Protection Division. Complicating matters, Arthur reveals a “covert affair” of his own, while Henry’s ulterior motives are brought to light. Venture across South America, Europe, and Asia with Annie in all 16 thrilling episodes, back-to-back and uninterrupted.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageCovert affairs. Season five.
“It’s been several months since the team took down Henry in Hong Kong, and change is afoot. Auggie is back at the DPD, Arthur is offered a job in the private sector working for McQuaid Security, and Joan is returning from maternity leave to find that she’s been passed over for the job of DCS in favor of Calder. And after mysteriously going off the grid for months, Annie has resurfaced, anxious to get back to work at the CIA and harboring a secret that could jeopardize everything. Sent to Chicago to investigate a purported terror plot, she soon discovers that the threat is very real, and much greater than anyone has anticipated.” (Product description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageThe syndicate. Series 3.
“All six episodes of the third series of this BBC drama written by Kay Mellor. In this series, the syndicate belongs to the staff working at Hazelwood Manor, a run-down stately home owned by Lord and Lady Hazelwood. When the workers, mother and daughter maids Dawn and Amy Stevenson, cook Julie Travers and her manageress daughter Sarah, gardener Godfrey Watson and handyman Sean McGary, find out that they have won 14 million pounds on the lottery, the tables are turned as the employees suddenly have more money than their employers. Will the members of the syndicate pool their money to save the manor or will other aspirations split the group?” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe Paradise. Series two.
“The ladies of The Paradise are back. The popular series, adapted from the much-loved classic French novel by Emile Zola, follows the smart, ambitious and big-hearted Denise Lovett played by Joanna Vanderham, who arrives in the city to find work. The second series sees The Paradise reopen its doors a year after the dramatic events of Series 1. We see old and new faces battling for control of the business alongside the complicated love triangle of Moray, Denise and Catherine…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageWinter. Season 1; + The killing field.
“Detective Sergeant Eve Winter (Rebecca Gibney) is in charge of the task force investigating the murder of 23-year-old mother Karly Johansson in a picturesque fishing town south of Sydney. Eve goes head to head with Jake Harris (Matt Nable), an agent with the Federal police who is investigating the attempted homicide of wild child, Kings Cross girl Indiana Hope, as she suspects the two cases are linked. Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Lachlan McKenzie (Peter O’Brien) is running a parallel investigation into his own case – school Counsellor Janet Pagent was found murdered in the same location eight years ago. What is the connection between Indiana and Karly? And how are these two connected to Lachlan’s cold case?” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageChasing shadows.
Chasing Shadows is a thrilling, new four-part ITV drama, set in a missing persons unit that hunts serial killers. Reece Shearsmith plays DS Sean Stone and his partner, Ruth Hattersley is played by Alex Kingston, whilst Noel Clarke takes on the role of DI Carl Prior. Sean’s new caseload is overwhelming – up to 300,000 people go missing in the UK each year–but his brilliant mind turns out to be perfectly adapted to his new role. Sean spots patterns that lead to victims… and their killers. Ruth is the analyst from the Missing Persons Bureau tasked with working alongside Sean. She puts people first, but Sean pushes even her patience to breaking point. DI Prior has ambitions and a clear plan for rising up the ranks. But all this is jeopardised when DS Stone becomes his responsibility.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageWarehouse 13. Season five.
“Warehouse 13 may be closing its doors but our team is going out with a bang as they tackle earth-shattering missions with supernatural artifacts, wild paranormal activity and history-changing time travel. But whatever the future holds for the team, one thing is certain: they’ll always be family.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageDCI Banks. Series 3.
“Stephen Tompkinson returns as the tenacious and stubborn Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks in three gripping crime stories based on the novels by award winning writer Peter Robinson. WEDNESDAY’S CHILD: When a mother reports her child as having been abducted by a man and a woman masquerading as social workers. Banks is drawn into a strange and unsettling search for the missing young boy. PIECE OF MY HEART: Following the death of a journalist, Banks and his team discover connections to a suspicious death in the eighties involving the surviving members of a pop band. BAD BOY: A terrible chain of events is set in motion when an old neighbour of Banks’ finds a loaded gun in her daughter’s bedroom.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageDCI Banks. Series 4.
“English detective, DCI Alan Banks, returns in this fourth series of the popular crime drama based on Peter Robinson’s novels with three new, original stories set against the striking backdrop of rural and urban Yorkshire. In What Will Survive, DCI Banks struggles to cope with the sudden death of his mother, as he investigates the murder of a young Estonian woman and the disappearance of her drug-dependent sister. During the second story, Buried, Banks must navigate difficult emotional territory when the body of an eminent lawyer is washed up in an underground river and he suspects a member of her grieving family is responsible for her death. In Ghosts, when the body of a university student is found dumped in a ravine, his friends claim he was a model undergraduate. But officers Annie and Ken soon discover that he had a double life manufacturing ecstasy. Helen’s world is turned upside down when she realises her former lover, an undercover police officer, is following their main suspect…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageHome fires. Series one.
“Acclaimed actresses Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond lead an impressive ensemble cast in a new six-part drama for ITV. Home Fires follows a group of inspirational women in a rural Cheshire community where the shadow of World War II is casting a dark cloud over their lives. The isolated village couldn’t feel further away from the impending bloodshed and battlefields and yet it is not immune from the effects of war. As the conflict takes hold, and separates the women from their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers, the women find themselves under increasing and extraordinary pressures in a rapidly fragmenting world.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

New books on Movies & TV shows

New books on movies and TV shows include very popular Star Wars and Back to the future. Two books about James Bond and Woody Allen offer intriguing reads. If you are a fan of TV shows you won’t be disappointed. Check out comprehensive studies on Mad Men, Poldark and others.

Syndetics book coverThe art of Star Wars the force awakens / written by Phil Szostak ; foreword by Rick Carter.
“Step inside the Lucasfilm art departments for the creation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Exclusive interviews with the entire creative team impart fascinating insights in bringing director J.J. Abrams’s vision to life; unused “blue sky” concept art offers glimpses into roads not traveled. Bursting with hundreds of stunning works of art, including production paintings, concept sketches, storyboards, blueprints, and matte paintings, this visual feast will delight Star Wars fans and cineastes for decades to come.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBond by design / written by Meg Simmonds.
Bond By Design gives an exclusive tour through EON Productions’ James Bond archives – a treasure trove of set, storyboard, vehicle, gadget and costume designs, many of which have never been published before. The book provides a unique, spectacular and fascinating insight into the longest-running film franchise of all time. It reveals the craft behind the creation of famous sets, such as Stromberg’s Atlantis base in The Spy Who Loved Me and Drax’s shuttle launch site in Moonraker, as well as technical drawings of Bond’s gadget-laden Aston Martin DB5. Includes two exclusive, full-colour prints of Bond film designs.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBond vs. Bond : the many faces of 007 / Paul Simpson.
“Who is your favorite Bond? Whether you love Sean Connery, Roger Moore, or even Timothy Dalton, you are going to love Bond vs. Bond . A fully comprehensive guide, Bond vs. Bond compares and contrasts all of the various ways Ian Fleming’s iconic British Secret Service agent, code name 007, has been interpreted through the years, from the books and movies to the guns and gadgets. Spanning from Fleming’s 1953 book Casino Royale to Sam Mendes’ 2012 film Skyfall, Bond vs. Bond features every incarnation of 007. This is definitely a book that no Bond fan should be without!” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBack to the Future : the ultimate visual history / written by Michael Klastorin.
“Great Scott! Go Back to the Future with Doc Brown and Marty McFly in this visually stunning look at the creation of one of the most beloved movie trilogies of all time. Few films have made an impact on popular culture like the Back to the Future trilogy. This deluxe, officially licensed book goes behind the scenes to tell the complete story of the making of these hugely popular movies and how the adventures of Marty McFly and Doc Brown became an international phenomenon. Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is a stunning journey into the creation of this beloved time-traveling saga.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWoody Allen : a retrospective / Tom Shone.
“Woody Allen is a uniquely innovative performer, writer and director with nearly fifty movies to his credit, from cult slapstick films and romantic comedies to introspective character studies and crime thrillers. In this timely retrospective, Tom Shone reviews Woody Allen’s entire career, providing incisive commentary on his films and shedding light on this uniquely self-deprecating filmmaker, with the help of comments contributed by Allen himself. This is a fitting tribute to one of the masters of modern cinema, published to mark Woody Allen’s eightieth birthday.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWoody : the biography / David Evanier.
“In the first biography of Allen in over twenty years, David Evanier writes about Allen’s private life as well as his very public career. In fresh interviews with collaborators, boyhood pals, family and friends, Evanier fills in fascinating details about where Woody came from, how he got his start, and how he has been able to be moral in his business dealings and make exactly the movies that interest him most with the people who interest him most, from Diane Keaton to Cate Blanchett to Michael Caine. Woody is the biography of an artist who has never lost his passion, talent and capacity to break new artistic ground, who has always been swept up in the creative act of becoming.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe big bad book of Bill Murray : a critical appreciation of the world’s finest actor / by Robert Schnakenberg.
“The man. The movies. The life. The legend. He’s played a deranged groundskeeper, a bellowing lounge singer, a paranormal exterminator, and a grouchy weatherman. He is William James “Bill” Murray, America’s greatest national treasure. Part biography, part critical appreciation, part love letter, and all fun, this enormous full-color volume, packed with color film stills and behind-the-scenes photography, chronicles every Murray performance in loving detail, recounting all the milestones, legendary “Murray stories,” and controversies in the life of this enigmatic performer.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMad men carousel : the complete critical companion / Matt Zoller Seitz ; foreword by Megan Abbott ; illustrations by Max Dalton ; poems by Martha Orton ; with contributions by Deborah Lipp and Roberta Lipp.
Mad Men Carousel is an episode-by-episode guide to all seven seasons of AMC’s Mad Men. This book collects TV and movie critic Matt Zoller Seitz’s celebrated Mad Men recaps –as featured on New York magazine’s Vulture blog–for the first time, including never-before-published essays on the show’s first three seasons. Seitz’s writing digs deep into the show’s themes, performances, and filmmaking, examining complex and sometimes confounding aspects of the series.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world of Poldark / Emma Marriott.
“Emma Marriott’s The World of Poldark explores the characters, the compelling stories and the era that Winston Graham – and the television series – set out to recreate, the England that Ross Poldark returned to from the American War of Independence. England, and especially Cornwall, was then marked by social unrest and a deep division between rich and poor. It was a place of tin mines and shipwrecks, of new money versus old, of harsh justice and great kindness. And, above all, it was a place that inspired Winston Graham’s beloved novels. The World of Poldark is the ultimate guide to the popular series.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDownton Abbey : a celebration / by Jessica Fellowes ; foreword by Julian Fellowes.
“Downton Abbey set a new standard, and it’s probable that in 20 or 50 years critics will look back and say that this was period drama at its very best, often imitated but never bettered. Alongside are in-depth interviews with the cast, who have worked on the show for six years and know it so well, as well as a complete episode guide for the first five seasons and a teaser for the sixth. Packed full of stunning location shots and stills from all six seasons of the show including exclusive behind-the-scenes photography, this celebratory book is the ultimate gift for Downton Abbey fans the world over.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe world of Vikings / by Justin Pollard ; foreword by Michael Hirst.
“MGM’s hit show Vikings on the History Channel has drawn millions of viewers into the fascinating and bloody world of legendary Norse hero Ragnar Lothbrok, who led Viking warriors to the British Isles and France. Covering the first three seasons of the series, this official companion book delves into the real history as well as the behind-the-scenes stories. This spectacular package is a must for fans of the show and history buffs alike.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBehind the illusion : unlocking the 9 types of magic / Darcy Oake.
“Darcy, a thrilling Canadian illusionist, won the coveted People’s Choice Award in Seattle and performed at the Magic Castle in Hollywood before he was legally of age. Aged 26, he dazzled the nation as a finalist on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent and on ITV special Edge of Reality. In Behind the Illusion, magician Darcy Oake takes you through the nine traditionally accepted forms of magic. He reveals the origins and science behind various illusions, and explains why there is a difference between what the eye sees and what is actually happening on stage; as well as giving famous examples from history, and his own personal twists on them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar trek costumes : five decades of fashion from the final frontier / Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann ; introduction by Robert Blackman.
“This deluxe book showcases the unique costumes of the Star Trek saga, taking in fifty years of iconic and hugely influential designs. Drawing on the entire franchise, including all twelve films and six TV series, Star Trek: Costumes explores the creation of some of the most memorable garb in the galaxy, telling the complete story of how Star Trek’s outlandishly chic wardrobe has been expanded in increasingly thrilling ways throughout the years. Star Trek: Costumes is the ultimate way to experience the incredible fashions of the Final Frontier.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThunderbirds : the vault / Marcus Hearn.
“On 30th September 1965, International Rescue successfully completed their first assignment, and the Tracy brothers imprinted themselves on a generation of captivated children. Thirty-two episodes, many repeats, sixty territories, two feature films, three albums, numerous comics, books, toys, videos and DVDs and five decades later, Thunderbirds are still saving the world from the brink of peril. Thunderbirds: The Vault will be the first ever lavishly illustrated, definitive, beautifully packaged, presentation hardback telling the story of this enduring cult phenomenon.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInvestigating Murdoch mysteries : the official companion to the series / Michelle Ricci with Mir Bahmanyar.
“Based on Maureen Jennings’ award-winning novels, at the end of the Victorian era, Toronto-based police detective William Murdoch uses radical forensic techniques, including fingerprinting and trace evidence, to solve some of the city’s most gruesome murders. This companion looks at every aspect of all 8 seasons of the show, from the regular characters and their relationships, to the history of the period, including figures Murdoch encounters, the forensic and scientific advances he utilises, and Murdoch’s most notable cases.” (Syndetics summary)

Staff Pick DVDs: The Best of 2015

We’ve got a great range of picks from our staff, from docos to dramas, TV shows to true stories. Enjoy our favourites from 2015!

Shinji’s picks:
Cover imageWinter sleep.
The winner of Cannes’ Palme D’or in 2014, Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep is a 3 hours 16 minutes-long haunting chamber drama. Inspired by Chekov’s short stories, heavy dialogue drives the movie, but Ceylan’s rigorous direction together with superb acting by all actors never fails to keep you riveted. Once a professional photographer, Ceylan sets up a desolate but stunningly beautiful milieu, and the whole movie is like an amazing mix of Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman. A masterful work.

Cover imageInherent vice.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s (Magnolia, The Master) conjuring hands make this first ever edition of Thomas Pynchon’s novel a visually dazzling, playful off-beat comedy. Set in the hippie culture of LA in 1970, it’s a rather confusing story as a lot of bizarre characters come and go. However, with an impeccable camera movement, Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the drug addled detective, is wonderfully amusing, and the soundtrack (Can, Neil Young etc.) and the narration by Joanna Newsom will help it gain ‘cult’ status.

Cover imageThe salt of the earth : a journey with Sebastião Salgado.
Brazilian photographer Sebastiano Salgado has travelled around the world, often in remote, life-is-severely-harsh areas, and witnessed some of the darkest moments of human history; exploitation of labour, starvation, exodus, genocide and so on. His photographs are truly remarkable and even rather disturbing images such as dead bodies on the road show some kind of dignity. Also a conservationist, Salgado has embarked on restoring the forest in Brazil. This extraordinary person’s life and work are reconstructed by Vim Wenders and Sebastiano’s son Julian, in a sensitive, aesthetic way. It’s a visually stunning, compelling portrait.

Cover imageAmy.
She just wanted to be loved by someone she loved but her wish was never fulfilled. A story about someone who died at the age of 27 is naturally sad and this well-constructed documentary gets more painful to watch towards the end. However, the music holds us and in fact, Amy Winehouse was a genius singer. There are some intriguing performances here, notably the cover of her idol Donny Hathaway’s We’re Still Friends (previously unreleased). Hathaway also died young (jumped off from the 15th floor. He was 33) but he achieved something remarkable, whereas the albums Amy left barely show her potential. If she could remain performing in a small jazz club, her life might have not turned out this way. We all may wonder.

Mark’s picks:
Cover imageNightcrawler.
Jake Gyllenhaal as a sociopathic loner who discovers his true calling as a freelance hawker of footage of car accidents & violent crimes to sleazy local news shows to boost their ratings. A cadaverous Gyllenhaal is all bulging eyes & homespun philosophies as he manipulates everyone around him. A scabrous look at the moral corruption that pervades the media world we live in.

StaffPicksDVDs7Humans.
2016 was a good year for intelligent Sci-Fi (Ex-Machina, Coherence) but ‘Humans’ gets the nod, as its longer form gives it more time to explore the issues at play. The Hawkins family acquires a new ‘Synthetic’ helper, who slowly begins to exhibit some odd behaviour. Meanwhile a police unit responsible for robot related crime is tracking a group of ‘free’ robots. Works its central plot around the larger impact of robots upon society as a whole – as people begin to feel displaced. Recommended if you enjoyed the recent Charlie Brooker series Black Mirror.

Cover imageLove & mercy.
Excellent music biopic from director Bill Pohlad on famed ‘Beach Boys’ vocalist Brian Wilson, presented in a parallel narrative covering two specific time periods in Wilson’s life. In the mid-60s young Brian (Paul Dano) begins a slow mental collapse as the voices and sounds in his head begin to take over his life & destroy his creativity. Meanwhile in the 1980s old Brian (John Cusack) is alone and isolated from his family, under the control & guardianship of his corrupt therapist Dr. Landy (played by Paul Giamatti). A fascinating and highly enjoyable film, and a unique way to approach a music biography.

Cover imageMarshland.
Excellent Spanish thriller set in Spain’s deep south in 1980s. The Fascist government has recently been replaced by a new democracy and two ideologically opposed detectives are sent to a small town to investigate the disappearance of two teenage girls. Full of brooding suspense and atmosphere, with amazing cinematography of the rural region. Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoyed the first season of True Detective.

Cover imageThe affair. Season one.
An affair between a blue collar teacher & a working class waitress, told from both points of view. With superb acting from the two leads (Domenic West, & Ruth Wilson), ‘The Affair’ is an adult drama that deals with the pressures of marriage and responsibility, as well as the cost of desire and betrayal.

Maxine’s picks:
Cover imageGrantchester. Series 1.
Being a girly romantic I really liked the DVD series 1 of Grantchester with the murder solving vicar played by the drop dead gorgeous James Norton and Robson Green as the detective.

Cover imageNoble.
As for films I loved the true one about an Irish woman who went to Vietnam to save orphaned kids.

Not yet on DVD in NZ:
I also liked the latest James Bond’s Spectre and of course Star wars!!!

Janice’s picks:
Cover imageWoman in gold.
A must see, Helen Mirren is amazing!

Cover imageLast cab to Darwin.
Never too late to start living!

Cover imageA royal night out.
Easy going interesting movie. Did the Queen actually have a night out on the town in her younger years??

Katie’s Pick:
Cover imageCinderella.
This is Cinderella as you have never seen it before. The story of Walt Disney’s “Cinderella” is different from its predecessor. Directed by award winning actor, Kenneth Branagh, This version follows the fortunes of young Ella (Lily James). After Ella’s father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her ugly-in-nature daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drisella (Sophie McShera), and is forced to become their servant, disrespected, covered in ashes and spitefully renamed Cinderella. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella will not give in to despair nor despise those who mistreat her, and she continues to remain positive, determined to honour her mother’s dying words and to “have courage and be kind.” Ella’s fortunes seem to turn for the better in the form of a dashing stranger named Kit aka The Prince (Richard Madden) and a quirky fairy godmother, (brilliantly played by Helena Bonham Carter) that will change Ella’s life for the better. Overall a fantastic film that can be enjoyed by all ages. Rating: 9/10.

Pru’s pick:
Cover imagePaddington.
The grandkids and I have just watched Paddington. We are aged from 4 up. It was lots of fun and we all loved it.

Brigid’s picks:
Cover imageOutlander. The complete first season.

Cover imageHector and the search for happiness.

Cover imageThe longest ride.

Cover imageThe equalizer.

Cover imageMan up.

Not yet on DVD in NZ:
Star Wars: the Force Awakens

Monty’s picks:
Cover imageThe jinx : the life and deaths of Robert Durst.

Cover imageParticlefever.

Cover imageInherent vice.

Cover imageSilicon Valley.

Jay’s Picks:
Cover imageEx_machina.

Cover imageThe Martian.

Not yet on DVD in NZ:
Phoenix
Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Trumbo
Merchants of Doubt

Raissa’s picks:
Cover imageEx_machina.

BestOf2014DVDs5Going clear : Scientology and the prison of belief.

Cover imageThe Martian.

Not yet on DVD in NZ:
Victoria
The End of the Tour
The Big Short

Jessica’s picks:
Cover image

Not yet on DVD in NZ:
Star Wars: the Force Awakens
Mistress America

Bridget’s pick:
Cover imageMad Max. Fury road.

Ingrid’s pick:
Cover imageEx_machina.

Neil’s pick:
Not yet on DVD in NZ:
Fargo – Season 2

Staff Picks DVDs for December

Have a browse of some new Staff Pick DVDs for the end of the year. Watch out for our picks for the Best Library DVDs of 2015 in January!

Cover imageRevenge. The complete fourth and final season.
Emily Thorne’s, (aka Amanda Clarke) cycle of revenge is coming to an end or is it? Season four of Revenge opens six months after the events of the season three finale. Emily is living in Grayson Manor and Victoria is committed to a mental hospital desperately trying to escape. For the past three years, Emily has worked to take down all of the people that played a part in framing her father. She has finally taken down the Grayson’s only to discover that her father is alive. The problem is that Victoria gets to him first and takes her own revenge by feeding him lies about Emily and leaving him in the dark that she is actually his daughter. The question on everyone’s lips is: Will father and daughter reunite? Will David finally see through Victoria’s lies? Can Emily’s soul be saved? and where has David been most of Emily’s life? Watch the gripping and final conclusion to this amazing series, where Victoria and Emily embark on the mother of epic showdowns where countless lives are ruined and destroyed and that finally ends in a bloodbath, where only one victor will remain standing. Overall I thought Season Four was a good finish to the series. I think people who are a fan of the show will be happy with the overall conclusion. (Katie)

StaffPicksDVDs7Bosch. Season one.
One of the original Amazon series pilots that debuted in 2014 was this adaptation of Michael Connelly’s popular series of crime novels featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch. The show adapted Bosch’s character somewhat, and also takes the unusual approach of merging plots from 3 separate Connelly novels (City of Bones, Echo Park, and The Concrete Blonde) into one narrative which, as you might expect, feels a bit forced at times. The first few episodes are pretty rough and some characters aren’t how you imagine them from the books. But it settles down a bit after that and delivers a solid procedural as Bosch (Titus Welliver) investigates the discovery in the woods of the bones of a small boy who was horribly abused and beaten. Meanwhile, creepy serial killer Raynard Waits uses his supposed knowledge of the crime to his own advantage…Unfortunately not as great as it could have been but still worth a watch if you are a fan of the books. The series was renewed for a second season, which will take inspiration from Connelly’s novels Trunk Music, The Drop, and The Last Coyote. (Mark)

Cover imageSan Andreas.
This is an action movie starring The Rock, (Dwayne Johnson). The story is about The Rock who is an ex-army helicopter pilot who has separated from his wife and family. They struggled after the loss of another daughter. The wife has a new partner. Their other daughter has gone up to San Francisco when a huge earthquake hits. A 9.plus. Lots of shaking and special effects. The race is on for Dwayne and his ex-wife to race up and find their daughter from Los Angeles to San Francisco, whilst battling earth’s shakes, Tsunamis. This is a movie where you need to forget reality to watch. The plot does have some resemblance to 2012. Really good though if you enjoy disaster movies and like Dwayne Johnson. (Brigid)

Cover imageKingsman. The secret service.
We recently watched ‘The Kingsman’ with Samuel L Jackson and a very thin Colin Firth. It is a good spoof of the Bond movies. Fantastic scene at the end. Anyone in customer service would probably like some chips for difficult customers. (Pru)

Cover image’71.
Gripping UK thriller set in the time of the ‘Troubles’ in Ireland. The story begins with young British soldier Gary Hook training with his platoon, about to be sent into the ‘deteriorating’ situation in Belfast. Almost as soon as he enters the fray, however, he is separated from his unit during a Belfast riot. Unarmed and injured in hostile territory, he’s got to survive the night and find a way back to his HQ. Those hostile to the British are pursuing him, those sympathetic to his cause are scared to help him because of reprisals, and certain forces on his side are playing both ends against the middle. Who can he trust & how will he survive the night. A gritty, tense, extremely exciting thriller. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageOutlander. Season one, Volume two.
This is the 2nd part of the first series which makes up the entire book of Cross stitch or ‘Outlander’. Diana Gabaldon (author was involved in this series). It is true to the book. The story of Clare and Jaimie’s love and marriage carry on. Clare learns that the expectations on her in the 1740’s marriage are very different from the 1940’s. The series starts with Jamie looking at his life and love for Clare and he soon realises that They need to treat each other differently than his own parents treated each other. Both of them face different consequences of living in a country which is occupied by the British and live through horrific torture common of the time. Jamie has a great sacrifice to make to save Clare. There are some very brutal scenes including rape scenes. Not for the faint hearted and definitely an R.18. Some very dark and haunting parts. Also available in a Complete First Season edition. The second series is out in 2016. (Brigid)

Cover imageLove & mercy.
Excellent music biopic from director Bill Pohlad on famed ‘Beach Boys’ vocalist Brian Wilson, one of the most iconic and apocryphal figures in 20th century popular music scripted by Oren Moverman, who had previously found success with the impressionistic Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There. The film, deriving its title from a 1988 song by Wilson, is presented in a parallel narrative covering two specific time periods in Wilson’s life: the 1960s and the 1980s. In the mid-60s young Brian (Paul Dano) begins a slow mental collapse as the voices and sounds in his head begin to take over his life & destroy his creativity. Meanwhile in the 1980s old Brian (John Cusack) is alone and isolated from his family, under the control & guardianship of his corrupt therapist Dr. Landy (played by Paul Giamatti). But he then meets a woman (Elizabeth Banks) at a used car dealership who begins to change his life. The more knowledge you have of The Beach Boys and Wilson the more you will enjoy this film, but its structure is deliberately set up so that even if you know little about the man or his music it’s still a fascinating and highly enjoyable film, and a unique way to approach this type of story. (Mark)

Cover imageDeathgasm.
Deathgasm is a newly-released kiwi heavy metal comedy-horror directed by Jason Lei Howden. The story centres on teenage metalhead Brodie and his misfit mates who unintentionally summon an ancient demon after discovering a satantic riff from hell! Chaos ensues and with the help of his bandmates and love interest Medina, Brodie must defeat the evil and end the demonic zombie apocalypse. Can he win the girl? Will they even survive?? Jam-packed full of great laughs and a fantastic soundtrack featuring Wellington’s own ‘Bulletbelt’, ‘Razorwyre’ and ‘Beastwars’ – this hilarious splatter-fest is awesome fun and well worth checking out! (Theresa)

Cover imageMarshland.
Excellent Spanish thriller directed by Alberto Rodríguez, that won ten Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor (Javier Gutiérrez). Set in Spain’s deep south in 1980, as the Fascist government has recently been replaced by a new democracy, two ideologically opposed detectives are sent to a small town to investigate the disappearance of two teenage girls during the town’s annual festivities. With the discovery of more missing girls the film soon evokes comparison to the Korean classic Memories of Murder & also to Season 1 of True Detective, though the film began shooting at the same time as that show. Full of brooding suspense and atmosphere with amazing cinematography of the rural region – including some amazing aerial shots that show the scope of the natural environment. Definitely recommended to anyone who enjoyed the first season of ‘True Detective’. (Mark)

Cover imageInside out.
Produced by Pixar and released by Walt Disney Pictures. ‘Inside Out’ is set in the mind of a young girl, Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias), where five personified emotions—Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), and Disgust (Mindy Kaling)—try to lead her through life as her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) move the family to a new city. Overall a cute movie that provides a very funny interpretation of what happens in the human mind when emotions set in, what roles each our emotions play in our personalities, how we communicate and form relationships with people. Some very funny moments in the film, especially when Anger loses his temper, Disgust’s sarcastic and cynical behaviour and finding what role, (Spoiler: Very important role), Sadness plays. Rated: 8/10. (Katie)

Cover imageEx_machina.
Intelligent sci-fi flick which marks the directorial debut by 28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go, and Sunshine writer Alex Garland, Young programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) wins a competition at his bosses company to take part in the experiment. When he arrives at the remote facility he meets Nathan (Oscar Isaac), the eccentric tech genius behind the world biggest search engine. He learns that Nathan’s next project is the creation of an Artificial intelligence, and that he has been brought there to evaluate the human qualities of a female A.I called ‘Ava’ (Alicia Vikander). The scenes shift from room to room as the tension ratchets up between the characters, even though they are never all together in the same place. Intelligent & tense, exploring similar themes to other recent UK shows such as Black Mirror & Humans.(Mark)

Cover imageNot suitable for children.
This is a darkly funny story about a young Australian man in his 20’sish who is busy living the party/ music lifestyle when he discovers that he has testicular cancer. He cannot store his fertility so has a month to find someone willing to have a child with him. Here comes the soul-searching challenge for him. It is a very unusual story. In parts it was very funny and thought provoking. New Zealand has one of the highest rates of testicular cancer in the world. But Testicular cancer is also one of the more survivable cancers. This movie is worth a watch. Contains sex scenes. (Brigid)

Cover imageThe affair. Season one.
A man (Domenic West) and a woman (Ruth Wilson) are being separately interviewed in a police interrogation room. Someone is dead, though no details are given. Slowly the policeman draws from them the details of how they first met and began an affair some years previously… Noah (West) is an ostensibly happily married man with a wife (Maura Tierney) & 4 children, a blue collar New York city schoolteacher who has published one novel some years previously to little acclaim. However he is stuck on his second book and resents the wealth of his in-laws who support his lifestyle and children. While vising at their house in the resort town of Montauk on Long Island, he meets waitress Alison (Wilson) who is stuck in a disintegrating marriage to Cole (Joshua Jackson), the leading son of a prominent local family, and locked in an endless cycle of grief over the loss of a child. The story of ‘The Affair’ is told separately, complete with deliberately distinct memory biases, from Noah’s and Alison’s perspective – with the ensuing police investigation explored in brief future scenes at the end of most episodes. With superb acting from the two leads, ‘The Affair’ is an adult drama that deals with the pressures of marriage and responsibility, and the cost of desire and betrayal. Season Two will expand the shows ‘perspectives’ to include those of the betrayed spouses Tierney & Jackson. Recommended. (Mark)

Cover imageThe Fisher king.
The DVD that I recently watched was an old one of Robin Williams’s called ‘The Fisher King’. Great, funny and poignant. (Maxine)

Cover imageMan up.
This is the latest from Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, Paul, Hector & the search for Happiness) fame. It is a comedy. Story is about Jack who is in his 40’s recently divorced has a date with a young woman whom he thinks has been arranged for him by a match-maker friend. The woman he meets (36 year old Nancy) ends up there by a big mix-up. But pretends to be who he thinks she is. This is a really funny relationship comedy. Worth a watch. (Brigid)

TV series exclusives: The WCL Ratings Project #10

With this month’s update of new DVDs enabled by our Ratings Project we have the latest season’s of dramas ‘The Good Wife’, ‘House of Cards’, and turn-of-the-century Toronto ‘Murdoch mysteries’; as well as two adaptations of novels by popular romance novelist Rosamunde Pilcher.

Cover imageThe good wife. The sixth season.
“Alicia Florrick ( Julianna Margulies) stood by her husband (Chris Noth) on his tumultuous path to the governor’s office, but now she’s entering the world of politics on her own terms by running for state’s attorney. As Election Day approaches, Alicia must balance the demands of her firm and campaign as she supports her partner Cary (Matt Czuchry) during shocking developments that could end his career… and life as he knows it. Julianna Margulies returns in the role that earned her two Primetime Emmy Awards*, and stars with Archie Panjabi, Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming and a roster of stellar guests in Season Six of the gripping series that is critically lauded as “…TV’s best drama” (Slate)…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageMurdoch mysteries. Complete series 8.
“In Season 8 of this delightful detective show, joy and heartbreak await Detective William Murdoch and his friends in turn-of-the-century Toronto. After his brutal beating by the dockyard gang, Inspector Brackenreid’s future remains uncertain. Constable Crabtree faces life-altering changes, including a new romance, while Dr. Emily Grace and Dr. Julia Ogden join the women’s suffrage movement. And in the show’s 100th episode, wedding bells ring as Murdoch and Julia finally walk down the aisle. Along the way, Murdoch encounters notables like W.C. Fields, Thomas Edison, and President Theodore Roosevelt. Guest stars include Peter Keleghan (The Newsroom), Patrick McKenna (The Red Green Show), and Peter Outerbridge (Orphan Black), the original Detective Murdoch from the TV movies that preceded the series…” (Product description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageHouse of cards. The complete third season.
“All 13 episodes from the third season of the award-winning political drama starring Kevin Spacey. Based on the novel by Michael Dobbs and the subsequent BBC adaptation of the book, the show follows Francis Underwood (Spacey), a politician whose sense of ambition is matched and encouraged by his wife Claire (Robin Wright). Armed with an arsenal of political secrets to equal anyone in Washington, Francis is more than willing to scheme and blackmail his way to the top. In this season, Francis’s approval ratings plummet, a devastating hurricane hits the East Coast and Claire makes plans to run for Ambassador to the U.N…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe other wife.
“Rupert Everett and John Hannah star in this two-part drama based on the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher. When Rebecca Kendall (Natalia Worner) waves goodbye to her husband Robert (Hannah) as he departs on one of his regular business trips to Canada she feels a twinge of uneasiness for the first time. What Rebecca does not know is that her devoted husband has been leading a double life for the last five years with another wife and child in Canada. When Robert’s plane crashes en route back to England both of his families seek comfort in the fact that their finances were well protected. As Robert’s brother Martin (Everett) reveals however, his late brother had invested all of his money into a Canadian goldmine, there is very little left for the wives to fight over…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageUnknown heart.
“Carolina Vera and Gedeon Burkhard star in Giles Foster’s adaptation of the novel by Rosamunde Pilcher. When Elizabeth Lancaster (Vera), a terminally ill 40-year-old heiress to her family’s cider farm, gets a phone call from the hospital with the news of the heart transplant she has been waiting for, she feels like all her dreams have come true. After the operation Elizabeth is unable to connect to her family and instead finds herself drawn to a place she has never known: the home of the woman whose heart now beats in her chest. As she meets her donor’s widow, Andrew Shaw (Burkhard) she immediately feels an unexplainable connection and the tormented pair begin a passionate affair. Will their love be enough to keep them together or will more hearts be broken along the way?…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

Staff Picks DVDs – September/October

A great selection of recent material has been highlighted by our staff this time around, including fantastic TV shows and film festival favourites.

Cover imageInherent vice.
Thomas Pynchon’s novel is adapted to the big screen for the first time by Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, The Master). It will surely excite some people, and the result is a quirky, plot-careless affair but a visually dazzling, playful off-beat comedy. Set in the hippie culture LA in 1970, it’s a rather confusing detective story as a lot of bizarre characters come and go. However, Joaquin Phoenix, who plays the drug addled yet wonderfully amusing detective, is leading the charge all the way, and masterful camera movements with fabulous close-ups make it a great pleasure to watch. The soundtrack (Can, Neil Young etc.), which well represents the milieu of the era, and the narration by Joanna Newsom, who also appears in the film, will help it gain ‘cult’ status. A conjuring work. (Shinji)

Cover imageThe spoils of Babylon.
So bad it’s good! An A-grade cast presents a B-grade ‘Dallas-meets-Thunderbirds’ production that is a real hoot. It’s tacky, it’s totally unrealistic and completely unbelievable. If you love backgrounds on a loop, and mannequin acting you’ll love this forbidden love story. (Belinda)

Cover imageThe guest.
From the writer/director team that created the hugely entertaining You’re Next, comes this homage to 80s slasher flicks. Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey), sporting a perfect American accent, plays ex-soldier David. One day he knocks at the door of the Peterson family and informs the mother that he was a close friend of the son she recently lost in combat. Still traumatised by grief she willingly invites him in. Soon he is sleeping in her dead son’s room and gradually begins to insinuate himself into the lives of her husband, younger son and daughter Anna (Maika Monroe, It Follows). Soon things begin to go right for the family as David charms everyone with his polite manners & helpful attitude, but as some sudden deaths plague the small town Anna begins to suspect that there may be more to David than it appears…Chilly yet also deliberately cheesy in parts it’s a great take off of 80s ‘straight-to-video’ schlockers with an over the top last third & a John Carpenter Halloween homage finale, complete with dry ice & cheesy synth music. (Mark)

Cover ImageNoble.
This is an amazing true story of an Irish lady who grew up in the slums of Ireland. A drunken father, a mother who died young with several siblings, all put away into homes. In her later years heads off to Vietnam and helps the children with no homes or families, to give them a better life. Her dream is to succeed and prove to the authorities that she can and will. (Janice)

Cover imageMammon. The complete season one.
While it is stated as being ‘Season One’, this is in fact a self contained 6 episode mini-series. Beginning at the height of the financial crisis, doggedly ethical journalist Peter Verås (Jon Øigarden) discovers a complex financial fraud implicating Norway’s elite politicians & businessmen, with his own brother at the centre. Refusing to compromise Peter publishes the story, with the outcome culminating in his brothers suicide. Ostracised by his peers he is relegated to the sports desk, his reputation & career shattered. However fast-forward 5 years later, and he receives a mysterious briefcase on the anniversary of his brothers death that propels him into a labyrinthine conspiracy of which his brothers suicide was just one facet…Complex (perhaps overly so), it tries a bit too hard at times to be a Norwegian take on the ‘Millennium’ trilogy, and throws a lot of plot elements into the mix (not all of which are believable), but it is none-the-less another exciting & entertaining entry in the Scandi-Noir cannon. (Mark)

Cover imageZ nation. Season 1.
Fun with zombies! Three years after a zombie apocalypse has killed off most of the Earth’s population a rag-tag group of survivors have a mission to get Murphy, a convict who survived eight zombie bites after being injected with an experimental vaccine, from New York to the last known medical lab in California. Let’s just say the trip doesn’t go smoothly. Once the story is established, it starts to get very funny and we’re introduced to a variety of zombie types. A bit b-grade in parts, but it’s funny so who cares, and it’s faster moving than the Walking Dead. (Belinda)

Cover imageWhile we’re young.
Another charming art-oriented comedy by Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha, The Squid and the Whale) centres a middle-aged documentary filmmaker (played by Ben Stiller) whose career and marriage are at a dead end. He and his wife (Naomi Watts) seem to regain their buoyancy and mojo after befriending young artistic couple (Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried) but their close friendship soon sours. The middle-age anxiety, longing for youth and the generation gap are depicted comically, and at times it’s like a Woody Allen movie. However, cynical and sensitive Baumbach subtly contrasts the fearlessness of youth with the wisdom of age, leaving a bittersweet aroma. With the ingenious script and the wonderful ensemble cast, it’s a lovely chamber work. (Shinji)

Cover imageThe longest ride.
This is the movie of the book by Nicholas Sparks. It is a lovely story of a young man Luke (this is Scott Eastwood – Clint’s son) whose passion is rodeo and staying on the bull the longest. He meets a lovely young woman Sophia and starts a romance. At the same time their paths are crossed by an elderly man Ira in a rest home (played by the delightful Alan Alda of MASH fame). Their ups and downs of romance are intertwined with the story of the elderly gentleman’s life with his wife. Also intertwined is the Rodeo rides and art galleries. Conflict between careers. There are some good twists and it is a delightful story. A chick flick to be enjoyed by males too. The library also has the book and Audio book. (Brigid)

StaffPicksDVDs7Humans.
A remake of the Scandinavian series ‘Real Humans’ sees a parallel future where household robots (Synths) have become the new must have gadget for menial tasks & caregiver roles. After his busy wife begins to spend more time at work, Joe Hawkins decides to buy a synth (Gemma Chan) to help around the house, and give him more time to spend with her when she is home. However his wife Laura (Katherine Parkinson) soon feels displaced, as the new synth becomes an integral part of the family, especially for their youngest child who names her Anita, after a friend who moved away. However, unbeknownst to the Hawkins family, Anita is not a ‘normal’ synth at all, and slowly she begins to exhibit some odd behaviour. Meanwhile a police unit responsible for robot related crime is tracking a group of ‘free’ robots…’Humans’ works its central plot around the larger impact of robots upon society as a whole – as people begin to feel angry at their futures, displaced at jobs and in the home – and while it features some tropes of the SF genre that will be familiar to anyone who has seen Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica, or Ex Machina to name a few influences, it is still a very entertaining series that raises some interesting issues around the insidiousness of technological advancements. Some critics say that it is not as good as the Swedish original (as yet not released in this country), but it’s definitely recommended if you enjoyed the recent Charlie Brooker series Black Mirror, as it explores similar themes.
(Mark)

 

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