Films from the Big Apple

I’m staying! You hear that, New York? THE FROG IS STAYING!

― Kermit the Frog, The Muppets Take Manhattan

We recently did a small blog on books set in New York City – but as well as fiction, New York City is one of the most filmed locations on the planet.  The city was first committed to celluloid in 1901 just a few years after the birth of cinema. It’s a vibrant, unique, melting pot, and its multi-cultural population coupled with its iconic skyscrapers and historic monuments  make it a perfect setting for so many tales.

The films stretch from the Jazz Singer (the world’s first talkie) to films that are regarded as all-time classic films such as Citizen Kane,  and The Godfather. There are also legions of films that are loved for different reasons such as  Escape from New York, The Muppets Take Manhattan and Crocodile Dundee. The good news is that many of these iconic New York films are available to borrow from our extensive DVD collection – for our small selection read on – and enjoy.


Frances Ha
“A story that follows a New York woman (who doesn’t really have an apartment), apprentices for a dance company (though she’s not really a dancer), and throws herself headlong into her dreams, even as their possibility dwindles.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The warriors
“The Warriors are a street gang from Coney Island, trapped in the Bronx when a city-wide truce explodes. What follows is non-stop suspense and violent action as they try to get through 28 miles of “enemy territory” with 100,000 gang members after them!” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s [videorecording]
“An eccentric New York City playgirl is determined to marry a Brazilian millionaire, but her next-door neighbour, a writer, changes her plans.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

3 Spike Lee joints [videorecording].
“Do the right thing” – Traces the course of a single day on a block in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn. It’s the hottest day of the year, a scorching 24-hour period that will change the lives of its residents forever. Also included in this collection “Jungle fever”and “Clockers”  (Adapted from Catalogue)

King Kong [videorecording].
“An expedition exploring a remote island capture a gigantic ape and bring him back to New York for exhibition. A beautiful actress who accompanies them is menaced, when the monster’s love for her causes him to break out” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ghostbusters ; plus, Ghostbusters II. [videorecording] The original “Ghostbusters” and its sequel teamed comedians Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis with director Ivan Reitman, to tell the story of a trio of paranormal investigators who must save the world from the evil clutches of the supernatural.

Taxi driver [videorecording] “Vietnam vet Travis Bickle works as a loner night-shift cabbie in New York. Roving the streets, he kills time by keeping a diary, popping pills and hanging out in porn theatres. A series of frustrations and his encounters with a 14-year-old prostitute compel him to clean up the sordid milieu in which he operates.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Once upon a time in America [videorecording]
” Spanning four decades, the film tells the story of David “Noodles” Aaronson (Robert De Niro) and his Jewish pals, chronicling their childhoods on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1920s, through their gangster careers in the 1930s, and culminating in Noodles’ 1968 return to New York from self-imposed exile, at which time he learns the truth about the fate of his friends and again confronts the nightmare of his past.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New DVDs at Te Awe

Here are some new movies & TV Shows recently added to our collection and available at our CBD Te Awe Library and selected Branch locations.

New Movies:
Photograph
“A struggling street photographer in Mumbai, pressured to marry by his grandmother, convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée. The pair develop a connection that transforms them in ways they could not expect.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Why didn’t they ask Evans?
“During a round of golf on a cliff-top course in Wales, Bobby Jones discovers a man lying gravely injured on the rocks below. His last words, “Why didn’t they ask Evans?,” leads Bobby and his friend on a quest to find out what happened to the man.” (Catalogue)

 

 

A White, White Day
“The powerful new film by Hlynur Plmason centres on a grieving police officer in rural Iceland (Ingvar E. Sigursson) who turns his vengeful sights on a neighbour he suspects may have had an affair with his now-deceased wife.” (Catalogue)

 

 

New TV Shows:
Shakespeare & Hathaway : private investigators. Season one.
“Private inspector Frank Hathaway has always worked alone. But Frank isn’t doing so well. He’s out of shape and low on cash. Frank needs a partner. Frank needs ex-hairdresser and people-person Lu. He just doesn’t know it yet. The two eventually join forces and form a highly unlikely and hugely entertaining detecting duo. Frank and Lu quickly discover that all is not as peaceful as it seems in their pretty theatre town. The mayor is murdered, vengeful lovers stalk the streets and a magician’s trick fatally misfires. Welcome to Stratford-upon-Avon, where low life criminals get caught up in deliciously high drama.” (Catalogue)

Ray Donovan. Season seven.
“While Ray makes progress in therapy, there are dangers from the past that require the Ray Donovan of old. Between NYC mayor Ed Feratti, an unrelenting NYPD officer hunting for the truth and clients old and new, Ray struggles to find the balance between fixing for clients and fixing himself. And when Feratti’s corruption brings a piece of Mickey’s past back to New York, Ray is forced to seek answers to long-buried questions.” (Catalogue)

 

Occupied. Series 3.
“A new parliamentary election is due, and the campaign reignites old conflicts between the Norwegians. Seeing himself as the liberator of Norway, interim Prime Minister Jesper Berg is confident of winning the election. But the public is divided. Who are the real liberation heroes? How should traitors be treated? How will relations with Russia develop? And has Russia actually withdrawn from Norway? To complicate matters, Jesper is confronted by a group of young eco-scientists desperate to remind him of his original reason for entering into politics: His deep commitment to clean energy. Ambassador to Norway, Sidorova is torn between her wish to start a new life in Norway and her loyalty to Russia. Security Services Director Hans Martin Djupvik investigates the assassination of former Prime Minister Anita Rygh. And Bente takes her daughter to Moscow to escape the prosecution of traitors.” (Catalogue)

Homecoming. Season one.
“Good intentions. Erratic bosses. Mounting paranoia. Unforeseen consequences spiralling out of control. Heidi (Julia Roberts) works at Homecoming, a facility helping soldiers transition to civilian life. Years later she has started a new life, when the Department of Defense questions why she left Homecoming. Heidi soon realises there’s a whole other story behind the one she’s been telling herself.” (Catalogue)

 

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Season two.
“In the second season after tracking a potentially suspicious shipment of illegal arms in the Venezuelan jungle, CIA Officer Jack Ryan heads down to South America to investigate. As Jack’s investigation threatens to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy, the President of Venezuela launches a counter-attack that hits home for Jack, leading him and his fellow operatives on a global mission spanning the United States, UK, Russia, and Venezuela to unravel the President’s nefarious plot.” (Catalogue)

His dark materials. The complete first season.
“A young girl is destined to liberate her world from the grip of the Magisterium, which represses people’s ties to magic and their animal spirits known as daemons.” (Catalogue)

 

 

The boys. Season 1.
“The Boys is an irreverent take on what happens when superheroes – as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and as revered as gods – abuse their superpowers rather than use them for good. It is the powerless against the superpowerful as The Boys embark on a heroic quest to expose the truth about “The Seven” and their formidable Vought backing.” (Catalogue)

 

Belgravia. Season one.
“On the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, two young lovers forge a legacy that will create scandal for generations to come. Years later, when the humble Trenchards (Tamsin Greig and Philip Gleinster) move to Belgravia, they find themselves mixing with the venerated Brockenhursts (Harriet Walter and Tom Wilkinson). The families share a history that threatens inheritances and reputations and there are those who would do anything to ensure secrets remain buried. Pride and loyalty will be tested as forbidden love blossoms amongst the rivalry and lives hang in the balance.” (Catalogue)

Good girls. Season two.
“Good Girls Season 2 opens with Beth (Christina Hendricks) dealing with her failed plan to get Rio (Manny Montana) arrested, while evidence about their crimes end up on Agent Turner’s (James Lesure) desk. Throughout the season, Ruby (Retta) and Beth deal with the new status of their relationships with their husbands Stan (Reno Wilson) and Dean (Matthew Lillard), now aware of their secret criminal life; meanwhile, Annie (Mae Whitman) and her daughter have a hard time getting along. However, with the threat of a conviction looming over them, they can’t afford to make any mistakes with any of their activities.” (Catalogue)

Striking out. Complete series one & two.
“Tara Rafferty is a high-flying solicitor living an apparently charmed existence with her good-looking law-partner fiancé Eric. But when she discovers Eric is cheating on her with a colleague, she decides to go it alone and start her own law firm.” (Catalogue)

 

 

New Amsterdam. Season two
“Inspired by the oldest public hospital in America, this unique medical drama follows the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin, the institution’s newest medical director, who sets out to tear up the bureaucracy and provide exceptional care. How can he help? Not taking “no” for an answer. Dr. Goodwin must disrupt the status quo and prove he will stop at nothing to breathe new life into this understaffed, underfunded, and underappreciated hospital.” (Catalogue)

Elementary. The final season
“Having lied and confessed to a murder he did not commit in order to protect Watson, Holmes moves back home to London in order to avoid jail time, so Watson follows.” (Catalogue)

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on…”

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

― William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Ever since the Bard put quill to parchment he has inspired artists from every artistic sphere and from every point in time.  The richness, complexity and universality of his characters, coupled with the variety of locations and plots, give rise to an almost endless resource of inspiration to draw from.

The fictional world is no exception, just recently Maggie O’Farrell’s remarkable, extraordinary and profound novel about the death of Shakespeare’s son Hamnet was released. There is a rich seam of other novels that are connected to Shakespeare or his works in some way or another. From Margaret Atwood’s Hag-seed,  to Jane Smiley’s re-imagining of King Lear A thousand Acres.

So we thought it would be an interesting idea to highlight just a few of the books and films that we like  that draw direct inspiration from the bard’s works. Enjoy!


Hamnet / O’Farrell, Maggie
“Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hag-seed : The tempest retold / Atwood, Margaret
It’s got a thunderstorm in it. And revenge. Definitely revenge.’ Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he’s staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.” (Catalogue)

Miranda and Caliban / Carey, Jacqueline
“A lovely girl grows up in isolation where her father, a powerful magus, has spirited them to in order to keep them safe.We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows listeners the other side of the coin-the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Another radical re imagining of the Tempest is the fifties science fiction classic film Forbidden Planet available as part of our essential viewing collection. 

Forbidden planet [videorecording]
” A dutiful robot named Robby speaks 188 languages. An underground lair offers evidence of an advanced civilization. But among Altair-4’s many wonders, none is greater or more deadly than the human mind.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo
” Set in the 1970s in a run-down, rainy industrial town, Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth centers around a police force struggling to shed an incessant drug problem. Duncan, chief of police, is idealistic and visionary, a dream to the townspeople but a nightmare for criminals. The drug trade is ruled by two drug lords, one of who is a  master of manipulation named Hecate has connections with the highest in power, and plans to use them to get his way. ” (Catalogue)

Macbeth
“This visually stunning film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s famous play, which focuses on a Scottish lord named Macbeth (Michael Fassbender) and his power-hungry wife (Marion Cotillard). After Macbeth hears a prophecy that he will become the king of Scotland, he becomes fixated on taking throne and decides to murder the current king to do so. Elizabeth Debicki, Sean Harris, David Thewlis, and Jack Reynor co-star. Directed by Justin Kurzel .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A thousand acres : a novel / Smiley, Jane
“This powerful twentieth-century reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear centers on a wealthy Iowa farmer who decides to divide his farm among his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will, which sets in motion a chain of events that brings dark truths to light. Ambitiously conceived and stunningly written, A Thousand Acres spins the most fundamental themes of truth, justice, love, and pride into a universally acclaimed masterpiece.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

There is also Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s classic retelling of King Lear set in 16th century  Ran. 


Ran [videorecording]
“In 16th century Japan, an aging ruler attempts to divide his kingdom among his three sons, who turn against each other and betray their father, triggering events that ultimately shatter the kingdom, destroy the family, and drive their father insane.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Or  how about Gnomeo & Juliet  for a fun lighthearted, irreverent  introduction to the  Bard’s work ?


Gnomeo & Juliet [videorecording]
“Caught up in a feud between neighbors, Gnomeo and Juliet must overcome as many obstacles as their namesakes. But with flamboyant pink flamingoes and epic lawnmower races, can this young couple find lasting happiness?” (Catalogue)

And finally in this very small selection of Shakespeare inspired books and films how about Star Wars retold in a Shakespearean style ?

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars : verily, a new hope / Doescher, Ian
“Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ” (Catalogue)

New DVDs for December

New DVDs for December include the new Fast & furious spin off; the true life story of famed Manchester United goalkeeper Bert Trautmann; a hit Amazon Prime show starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, based on the Book by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman; a remake of the classic Lion King story; and the critically acclaimed mini-series Chernobyl.

Fast & furious. Hobbs & Shaw
“Ever since hulking lawman Hobbs, a loyal agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service, and lawless outcast Shaw, a former British military elite operative, first faced off, the duo have swapped smack talk and body blows as they’ve tried to take each other down. But when anarchist Brixton gains control of an insidious bio-threat that could alter humanity forever, these two sworn enemies will have to partner up to bring down the only guy who might be badder than themselves.” (Summary, Catalogue)

The keeper
“While visiting a PoW camp near Manchester at the end of WWII, Margaret Friar, the daughter of the manager of the local football team, notices young German soldier Bert Trautmann. Her father is so taken by Bert’s prowess as a goal-keeper that he gets him out of the camp to play for his local team. Margaret and Bert’s love blossoms despite local hostility and resentment of the German PoWs. In the meantime, Bert’s heroics in goal are noticed by Manchester’s City Football Club. Rather than going back to Germany like nearly all the other camp inmates, Bert marries Margaret and signs for Man City.” (adapted Summary from Catalogue)

Good omens
“Aziraphale is a fussy angel. Crowley is a loose-living demon. They’ve both been on Earth for over 6,000 years. During that time they’ve grown quite fond of it, and, against all odds, each other. But there’s a problem – the Antichrist has arrived here on Earth, which means the world they have become too fond of will end in flames, if they don’t manage to save it. This wildly imaginative and gloriously funny drama follows Aziraphale and Crowley as they join forces in an attempt to find an 11-year-old Antichrist (and his dog) and avert the Apocalypse. Armageddon is coming – but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.” (Product description, Amazon.co.uk)

Late night
“After almost 30 years, legendary talk-show host Katherine Newbury suspects she may soon be losing her spot on late-night television unless she makes a game-changing transformation. Making gender equality her goal, she impulsively hires Molly Patel, a chemical plant efficiency expert, as the first and only female on her writing staff. Molly urges her to make the show more contemporary, authentic, and personal, a move that could make Molly’s career or send her back to the chemical plant for good.” (summary from Catalogue)

Garage sale mystery. Murder in D minor.
“Jennifer Shannon has a gift for finding rare treasures hidden in garage sales that she can resell at her consignment store, Rags to Riches. But her keen eye for finding valuables also gets her involved in the criminal investigations that happen at the very second-hand sales she frequents. In “Murder in D Minor”, Jennifer wins the bid on a vintage self-playing piano at an estate auction. The piano was owned by the late Carl Deats and Jennifer discovers that this wealthy philanthropist has a dark history.” (Catalogue)

The lion king
“After the murder of his father, a young lion prince flees his kingdom only to learn the true meaning of responsibility and bravery.” (Catalogue)

Chernobyl : a 5-part miniseries.
“Jared Harris (The Crown, Mad Men), Stellan Skarsgård (Breaking the Waves, Good Will Hunting) and Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves, Apple Tree Yard) star in Chernobyl, the critically acclaimed five-part mini-series. On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukrainian SSR suffered a massive explosion that released radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and as far as Scandinavia and Western Europe. Dramatising the true story of the 1986 nuclear accident, one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history, Chernobyl shines a light on the brave men and women who fought an unprecedented war against an invisible enemy, and who suffered and sacrificed, saving millions of lives, often at the cost of their own.” (Product Description, Amazon.co.uk)

Little Woods
“Ollie is barely getting by in Little Woods, an economically depressed fracking boomtown in North Dakota. She has left her days of illegally running prescription pills over the Canadian border behind, eying a potential new job that would finally break her out of the small town. But when her mother dies, she is reunited with her estranged sister Deb, who faces a mounting crisis: the combined effect of an unplanned pregnancy and a deadbeat ex.” (Catalogue)

High life
“Monte and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to deep space. The crew, death row inmates led by a doctor with sinister motives, has vanished. As the mystery of what happened onboard the ship is unraveled, father and daughter must rely on each other to survive as they hurtle toward the oblivion of a black hole.” (Summary from Catalogue)

Game of thrones. Season 8.
“The final season depicts the culmination of the series’ two primary conflicts: the great battle at Winterfell against the Army of the Dead, and the final battle in King’s Landing for control of the Iron Throne.” (Mightyape.co.nz)

The farewell.
“In this funny, uplifting tale based on an actual lie, Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi (Awkwafina) reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding.” (adapted from Description, mightyape.co.nz)

From blockbusters to local documentaries: new DVDs

Check out some of these new arrival DVDs, from our favourite film festival documentaries (Yellow is forbidden and Celia) to blockbuster movies such as Rocketman and Avengers: Endgame. New series of some of the beloved TV shows (Outlander, Shetland etc.) have also arrived.

Yellow is forbidden : a film about Guo Pei
“Recognition from Paris’s Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture is considered the apex of the fashion industry, and Chinese designer Guo Pei is determined to reach it. A brave designer chases the dream – to be crowned haute couture. But she comes from China, the land of knock offs and production lines. Will her Cinderella story end at the Met Ball?” (Catalogue)

Celia
“Celia Lashlie was a fearless, impassioned and charismatic advocate for the at-risk and vulnerable. In this documentary, she lays it all out in an honest and heartfelt way that inspires us all to make a difference in our own lives and to the communities that surround us. The film’s director and producer, former TV current affairs journalist Amanda Millar followed Lashlie’s career over 15 years and captured the crusader as she confronted bureaucracy and challenged the establishment. When Lashlie received a terminal cancer diagnosis in late 2014, she invited Millar to film the final year of her life so that her uncompleted work could continue after her death. The end came much sooner than expected. Celia Lashlie’s final interview, filmed just two days before she died, provides the heart of this inspiring portrait.” (Catalogue)

Avengers. Endgame
“The grave course of events set in motion by Thanos that wiped out half the universe and fractured their ranks compels the remaining to take one final stand in the grand conclusion to twenty-two films.” (Catalogue)

Godzilla. II, King of the monsters
“The new story follows the heroic efforts of the crypto-zoological agency Monarch as its members face off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah. When these ancient super-species, thought to be mere myths, rise again, they all vie for supremacy, leaving humanity’s very existence hanging in the balance.” (Catalogue)

Top end wedding.
“Successful Sydney lawyer Lauren and her fiance Ned are engaged and in love, they have just ten days to pull off their dream Top End Wedding. First through, they need to track down Lauren’s mother, who has gone AWOL somewhere in the Northern Territory.” (Catalogue)

Once upon a time in London
“For the first time ever, the violent reign of two of London’s most notorious gangsters, Jack Spot’ Comer and Billy Hill, is grippingly brought to life in ONCE UPON A TIME IN LONDON – charting the epic rise and legendary fall of a criminal empire that lasted for three decades and paved the way for the notorious Kray twins to exert their dominance over the London’s gangland realm.” (Catalogue)

The kindergarten teacher
“Stuck in an unsatisfying marriage and with teenage children who ignore her, 40-year-old Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) treads water by teaching kindergarten with quiet dispassion. One day everything changes when Lisa discovers that Jimmy, a five-year-old boy in her class, may be a gifted poet and sees him as a ticket out of her mundane life. When Lisa presents some of Jimmy’s work at her poetry class as her own work, and receives praise from her teacher (Gael Garcia Bernal), her desire to mentor the child genius grows. As fascination turns into obsession, Lisa spirals downward on a dangerous and desperate path to channel her unfulfilled creative dreams into the protegee.” (Catalogue)

Brown boys
“”Brown Boys is a comedic coming of age film about six Samoan men in South Auckland. Their world is changing and they must move past the stage of going out, drinking and womanising.This is a story of brotherhood, growing up and love. The Brown Boys spend their weekends drinking, partying and chasing girls. Peter the Player, Kiligi the Bad Influence, Magele the Tough Guy, Luka the Drunken Master, Siaki the Weird Guy and Mickey the Baby – they are family by blood and by choice.When one of the boys expresses a desire to settle down, it causes reactions among the group that could rupture their bonds of friendship and family forever”–https://www.mightyape.com.au.” (Catalogue)

Gloria Bell
“Gloria is a free-spirited divorcee who spends her days at a straight-laced office job and her nights on the dance floor, joyfully letting loose at clubs around Los Angeles. After meeting Arnold on a night out, she finds herself thrust into an unexpected new romance, filled with both the joys of budding love and the complications of dating, identity, and family.” (Catalogue)

Outlander. Season four.
“Season Four continues the story of Claire and Jamie Fraser as they try to make a home for themselves in colonial America. The Frasers in North Carolina are at another turning point in history, the edge of the American Revolution. Along the way, the Frasers cross paths with notorious pirate Stephen Bonnet in a fateful meeting that will haunt the family. Meanwhile, Brianna and Roger grow closer in the twentieth century but make a shocking discovery that has them following in Claire’s footsteps.” (Catalogue)

Lost in space. The complete first season.
“Set thirty years in the future, this epic reimagining of the original family space adventure finds the Robinsons torn off course en route to what they hoped would be a fresh start on a distant space colony. Against all odds, but with endless hope and extensive training, the family bands together to survive on a dangerous alien planet.” (Catalogue)

The hummingbird project.
“Cousins from New York, Vincent and Anton, are players in the high-stakes game of High-Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream? To build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions. But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point with their quixotic adventure.” (Catalogue)

Westwood : Punk. Icon. Activist.
“With exclusive, unprecedented access, this is the first film to encompass the remarkable story of Vivienne’s life, her fashion, her personality, her activism and her cultural importance. Since igniting the punk movement with ex-partner and Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren, Dame Vivienne Westwood has been redefining British fashion for over 40 years, and is responsible for creating many of the most distinctive looks of our time.” (Catalogue)

American gods. Season 2.
“This is the story of the traditional gods of mythological roots, steadily losing believers to an up start pantheon of gods that reflect modern society’s obsession with money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs.” (Catalogue)

Rocketman
“Discover how a shy, small-town boy becomes one of the most iconic figures in rock and roll-the international superstar Elton John. As he blazes a trail to the top, Elton creates a larger-than-life persona, while battling his own personal demons and the challenges the world throws at him.” (Catalogue)

Shetland. Series 4.
“Follows DI Jimmy Perez and his DS, “Tosh” MacIntosh, as they investigate how the cold case of a teenager’s murder is linked to their current investigation of a journalist’s murder.” (Catalogue)

Wire in the blood. Season one.
“Robson Green and Hermione Norris (‘Cold Feet’) star in this 3 part television drama adapted from 2 best selling novels by Val McDermid. In ‘The Mermaids Singing’, considered quirky and eccentric, Tony Hill (Green) is asked by Carol Jordan (Norris) to help her track down the serial killer of young men in and around Bradford. In ‘Shadows Rising’ another multiple killer is stalking teenage girls. Whilst in ‘Justice Painted Blind’ an 11-year-old girl is abducted and a young woman is strangled. Hill and Jordan investigate all of these crimes.” (adapted from amazon.co.uk)

Staff Pick DVDs: July Part Two

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staff Pick DVDs: July Part One

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


Unforgotten. Series 3.
When human remains are found on the central reservation of a motorway near London, DCI Cassie Stuart (Nicola Walker), DI Suni Khan (Sanjeev Bhaskar) and their team of detectives are assigned the case. A doctor, a television presenter, a failing salesman, and an artist are a close-knit group of old school friends who hold the key to what happened. (Mark)

First man
First Man is a film centred round the build up to the Apollo moon landings and in particular Neil Armstrong. It is a film that both aims to show simultaneously how we touched the stars through these missions and also be a close examination of Armstrong’s personal life. These two cleverly interwoven threads show that his domestic life and his historic role as first man on the moon are in fact part of the same thing. (Neil J)

Wildlife
“I feel like I need to wake up, but I don’t know what from or to”, a housewife named Jeanette, played by Carey Mulligan who is the anchor of the film, tells her son. The actor Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine, There Will Be Blood) has turned director, and his debut feature ‘Wildlife’ is a quiet portrait of the painful process of an idyllic young family gradually falling apart. (Shinji)

Broken
This is based on an early Maori story from the 1800’s when a young girl was murdered by a marauding tribe. The girl always carried the gospel of Luke with her and the book was stolen by the murderer, who read it and was then filled with remorse. Our story starts in present day New Zealand with an ex-gang leader who has pulled out to raise his daughter after the death of his wife. (Brigid)

Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a marvellously sensitive portrait of teenage-hood, self-discovery, friendship and family. Saoirse Ronan performs excellently in the lead role of a disaffected high-schooler who dreams of going to college in New York. One of the greatest coming of age films to be made, whilst never falling into the traps and tropes of the genre. The dialogue is true; believable, relatable and piercing. (Joseph)

Counterpart. Season one.
Howard Silk is a low-level bureaucrat in a Berlin-based UN agency called the Office of Interchange, where he works exchanging coded call-and-response messages with another agent. However one day all this changes, as he is drafted into an urgent meeting… and finds himself face to face with his double. The ‘other’ Howard now needs this worlds Howard to help with a new mission. (Mark)

The breaker upperers
This is a funny New Zealand movie starring Madeleine Sami and Jackie Van Beek. It is set in Auckland and features many cameos of famous New Zealand actors. The two ladies in question discover they are being two timed by a man, but instead of getting bitter they become friends and set up a company which helps people break up with each other. Great for a laugh. (Brigid)

Vice
If there was ever a movie award for the most perfectly named film then Vice must be a strong candidate to take that prize. It is the story of the unassuming Vice president Dick Cheney and his terrifying and amoral pursuit of power, money and influence ably assisted by his wife Lynne Cheney (the Lady Macbeth of the piece). It is described as a comedy and if you like the darkest type of satire that holds but for many people it will watch as a shocking indictment of American politics. (Neil J)

Summer 1993
Watching the Catalan writer-director Carla Simon’s debut feature ‘Summer 1993’ is like watching the most exquisite home video; very personal yet universal. Based on Simon’s childhood experience, it follows 6-year-old Frida who is moved from Barcelona to Catalan countryside to live with her aunt and uncle after her mother’s death. Avoiding dramatization, it’s a sensitively crafted, beautiful filmic memoir. (Shinji)

Searching
After David Kim’s (John Cho) 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a local investigation is opened. 37 hours later and without a single lead, David decides to search the one place no one has looked yet…online. A thriller told exclusively via screen shots seems like a total bore, but this hyper-modern thriller utilises character dialogue recorded through webcams, apps, security camera footage, as well as key moments portrayed through YouTube clips to generate as much suspense as a traditional narrative. (Mark)

Finding your feet
Great movie with a superb cast including Celia Imrie, Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Joanna Lumley. When Lady Sandra Abbot discovers that her husband has been having a long term affair with her best friend she leaves and renews her friendship with her sister (Celia Imrie). These two make an unlikely pair and with time, love and lots of laughs Lady Sandra starts to discover herself and life and love again. It is a funny movie but does have some sad and poignant moments in it. (Brigid)

Ryuichi Sakamoto : CODA
How do great artists face their own mortality? These huge questions rather than a career overview is what you get in this poignant documentary about the iconic Japanese musician, Ryuichi Sakamoto. This film is almost a meditation on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s current creativity, a powerful and moving piece delivered in a gentle and sad way. (Neil J)

Lean on Pete
This film is about a 15-year-old boy, Charlie, who lives in poverty and runs away with a racehorse he takes care of to save it from the slaughterhouse. Blending a human-animal special bond story with a road movie and a coming of age tale, the movie shows a harsh slice of America; a dysfunctional family, poverty, placelessness etc., and a lot of events – mostly unfortunate, tormenting ones – unfold. (Shinji)

Sorry to bother you
This is an unusual story set in an alternative reality version of Oakland, where a poor but ambitious salesman starts working as a telemarketer. Cassius Green finds he has a real gift for sales and has a meteoric rise in the company. However, Cassius discovers his workplace is not what he thinks it is when he accidentally enters the wrong door. A very unusual story. (Brigid)

Frances Ha
Greta Gerwig stars as the loveable and exasperating Frances as she rambles through New York, facing technical homelessness and creative frustration. A tale of optimism in the face of adversity. The black and white cinematography is virtuosic and deeply satisfying. (Joseph)

The guilty
Alarm dispatcher and sidelined police officer, Asger Holm (Jakob Cedergren) answers an emergency call from a woman, that he soon ascertains has been kidnapped. When the call is suddenly disconnected, the search for the woman begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to save the endangered woman, but soon realises that there is more to the situation that first appears. (Mark)

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)

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)