Stumped for something to watch this weekend? Here are some DVDS and Blu-Rays that our library staff have enjoyed watching recently, featuring a range of new arrivals and deep-cut classics from the collection.
Lady Marian Fitzswalter: Why, you speak treason! Robin Hood : Fluently. – The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938
We recently had the great pleasure of doing a launch event with the fabulous H.G. Parry for her new book The Magician’s Daughter. You can view a recording of that event at the end of this piece.
During that conversation, the subject of the Robin Hood legend came up as a continuing inspiration for writers, especially film and television directors. So, we thought what better excuse do we need to look at some of the versions, some of which are available to borrow.
Since the birth of film each age has created its own celluloid version of the Robin Hood myth. The idea of robbing from the rich to give to the poor has had universal appeal for a very long time. The first version we are going to look at is the The Adventures of Robin Hood from 1938. This swaggering swashbuckling version which some people regard as the best Robin Hood movie of them all starred Errol Flynn as Robin Hood in his most acclaimed role. The supporting cast is pretty stellar too, featuring superstars of the era like Olivia De Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains.
The 1973 Animated Walt Disney version featured characters recycled from The Jungle Book, the songs are fabulous and the whole venture is great family fun.
The definitive 1980’s version of the myth was the British television series called Robin of Sherwood, starring Michael Praed and later Jason Connery as Robin. Robin Hood was obviously a family affair in the Connery household, as Jason’s father Sean played several different roles in several adaptations of the myth. The series looks fabulous despite being filmed on a shoestring budget, allegedly the Sherriff of Nottingham’s gold regalia was made from spray painted biscuits! The series was hugely popular at the time and became the template for many of the later adaptations.
In the 90’s, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and another stellar cast of the time: including Alan Rickman, Mike McShane and Sean Connery. The single from the soundtrack, (Everything I Do) I Do It for You by Bryan Adams, hit the number one slot globally, was the best-selling single of that year, and one of the best-selling singles of all time.
The 2010 Ridley Scott directed Robin Hood, film starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, is a much grittier and more visceral affair.
Other recently acquired Fantasy and Science fiction titles that caught our attention are listed below. The magician’s daughter / Parry, H. G.
“It is 1912, and for the last seventy years magic has all but disappeared from the world. Yet magic is all Biddy has ever known. Orphaned as a baby, Biddy grew up on Hy-Brasil, a legendary island off the coast of Ireland hidden by magic and glimpsed by rare travelers who return with stories of wild black rabbits and a lone magician in a castle. To Biddy, the island is her home, a place of ancient trees and sea-salt air and mysteries, and the magician, Rowan, is her guardian. She loves both, but as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she is stifled by her solitude and frustrated by Rowan’s refusal to let her leave…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The crane husband / Barnhill, Kelly Regan
” A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small Midwestern family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mother, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries. For six years, it’s been just the three of them–her mother has brought home guests at times, but none have ever stayed. Yet when her mother brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air, the girl is powerless to prevent her mom letting the intruder into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, her mother abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi : a novel / Chakraborty, S. A.
“Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural. But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Our share of night : a novel / Enriquez, Mariana
“In 1981, a young father and son set out on a road trip across Argentina, devastated by the mysterious death of the wife and mother they both loved. United in grief, the pair travels to her family home near Iguazú Falls, where they must confront the horrific legacy she has bequeathed. For the woman they are grieving came from a family like no other–a centuries-old secret society called the Order that pursues eternal life through ghastly rituals. For Gaspar, the son, this cult is his destiny. As Gaspar grows up he must learn to harness his developing supernatural powers, while struggling to understand what kind of man his mother wanted him to be…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The foxglove king / Whitten, Hannah
“When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city. Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The scarlet circus / Yolen, Jane
“A rakish fairy meets the real Juliet behind Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. A jewelry artist travels to the past to meet a successful silver-smith. The addled crew of a ship at sea discovers a mysterious merman. More than one ignored princess finds her match in the most unlikely men. From ecstasy to tragedy, with love blossoming shyly, love at first sight, and even love borne of practical necessity–beloved fantasist Jane Yolen’s newest collection celebrates romance in all its glory.”–Publisher marketing” (Catalogue)
Godkiller / Kaner, Hannah
“You are not welcome here, godkiller. Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins. Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour. Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning — something is rotting at the heart of the kingdom, and only they can be the ones to stop it.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.
The destroyer of worlds : a return to Lovecraft country / Ruff, Matt
“Summer, 1957. Atticus Turner and his father, Montrose, travel to North Carolina, where they plan to mark the centennial of their ancestor’s escape from slavery by retracing the route he took into the Great Dismal Swamp. But an encounter with an old nemesis turns their historical reenactment into a real life-and-death pursuit. Yet these troubles are soon eclipsed by the return of Caleb Braithwhite. Stripped of his magic and banished from Chicago at the end of Lovecraft Country, he’s found a way back into power and is ready to pick up where he left off. But first he has a score to settle…” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Kia ora! I’m Kath, one of the Community Librarians and I’m an avid film and television viewer. I’m regularly diving deep into the excellent DVD collection we have at Wellington City Libraries, as well as content from Beamafilm and Kanopy — the two streaming platforms available to Wellington City Libraries customers.
In this series of posts, I’m hoping to share some of the gems I come across each month with Pōneke film and television enthusiasts! Some of those I’ve watched recently include:
Moonage Daydream (DVD) This gorgeous documentary is narrated by Bowie himself, taken from archival footage and recordings. Covering his professional life from his early days as a teenage saxophone player through to his final magnificent work Black Star, released on his birthday in 2016, two days before he passed. The viewer is given an insight into his life, philosophy and incredible artistic talent. I’ve been a fan since my teenage years and had a good cry by the end, I only wish there would be more of his work come to light in the future.
Best bit: snippets of unseen interviews with Bowie himself.
The Lost City (DVD) A delightfully silly movie. Think Romancing the Stone starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, but a modern version. Sandra Bullock is at her comedy best, and Channing Tatum is a perfect partner for this duo adventure-comedy. I found myself absolutely guffawing with laughter in some parts and there’s just enough heart to the story to keep you invested. Daniel Radcliffe has lots of fun chewing the scenery as the villain, and Brad Pitt has a cameo as the cheesiest character ever.
Best bit: Look for the wheelbarrow and Brad Pitt’s hair.
Nude Tuesday: A Comedy in Gibberish (DVD) Another fun, silly film, but one done very cleverly. This New Zealand film was created with gibberish dialogue which was then subtitled by British comedian Julia Davis. I’ll watch anything with Jemaine Clement in it, but I can assure you the whole cast does a fantastic job in this film. Couple Bruno and Laura find themselves in a retreat to attempt to save their marriage, and of course the “guru” leading the retreat is Jemaine Clement as Bjorg. Lots of laughs and a story that has heart. I loved how beautifully the nude scenes were handled in this film, there was something magical about them after all the silliness of the first two thirds of the film.
Best Bit: ICY POOL!
Good Luck to You Leo Grande (DVD)
An intimate film that feels like a stage play. Emma Thompson plays Nancy, a widowed school teacher who is looking for intimacy, adventure and sex. She hires sex worker Leo Grande, whom she meets in a hotel room. Nancy is nervous, but Leo knows how to put people at ease. This film explores womanhood, pleasure, regret, secrets, family and so much more. Both Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack give fantastic performances and it’s a refreshing perspective we don’t often see in film.
Best bit: How can anyone go past Emma Thompson? She’s one of the best in the business! Mind you, Daryl McCormack is talented and also very easy on the eyes.
Gloriavale: New Zealand’s Secret Cult (DVD) This is a sensitively made documentary into the Gloriavale community and how those in power have treated the vulnerable members of the sect. Told from the perspective of those who have left the community and the people in the regular world who are supporting the leavers, this documentary film is bringing the injustices of the organisation into light. It is compelling viewing and many of the participants are telling their stories for the first time.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (DVD)
What can I say about this movie? Let’s start with it being the best film I’ve seen in quite some years. It’s currently sweeping all of the awards in Hollywood for it’s cast, directors and the film itself. Beautifully acted, lots of twists and turns and what you think is an absurd storyline all comes together beautifully and breathlessly. The entire cast is incredible, the martial arts scenes are mind blowing and there is a deep heart to the story. Do not miss this film.
Best Bit: Ke Huy Quan’s fight scene with the bum bag. Or perhaps Raccacoonie. Or the googly eyes. Or hotdog fingers. Wait, maybe the fight with the tiny dog. Oh don’t make me choose!
What have you been watching from our collection of late? Recommend a documentary or film for us in the comments below.
Kia ora film aficionados! Are you the kind of person who hurries to IMDB after watching a movie? Does the Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival feature heavily in your calendar? If so, this list might be to your liking!
This month, we have stories about iconic filmmakers, including Aotearoa’s own Gaylene Preston, a recipe book inspired by the world of Studio Ghibli, a deep dive into censorship in Thai cinema history and a cinema inspired travel guide.
Cinematic Places (Inspired Traveller’s Guide) / Baxter, Sarah “Cinematic Places is a guide to 25 essential cinematic destinations around the world, spanning different decades, directors and movie genres. Go beyond the big screen and explore the real places that inspired some of the greatest films of all time – brought to life through comprehensively researched text and stunning hand-drawn artwork.” (Catalogue)
Gaylene’s take : her life in New Zealand film / Preston, Gaylene “Gaylene Preston has always sought out the stories that have not yet been told, and in this book she reveals the challenges and sometimes heartbreak that have come with that ambition. In both wide lens and close-up, she writes of formative experiences: her childhood in Greymouth in the 1950s, working in a psychiatric institution near Cambridge, England in the 70s, interviewing her tight-lipped father about his life in the war, and a mysterious story of her great-grandfather chiselling a biblical text off a gravestone in the dead of night. Along the way she takes us behind the scenes and into the shadows of some of the most enduring popular classics of New Zealand popular cinema.” (Catalogue)
Studio Ghibli : the unofficial cookbook / Vo, Minh-Tri “Create delicious dishes from My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, and more with this cookbook inspired by the stunning worlds of Studio Ghibli! Whether they offer a moment of family bonding, comfort in difficult situations, or pesky temptations, the kitchen scenes are always of central importance in Studio Ghibli films. Now, with Studio Ghibli: The Unofficial Cookbook, you can recreate more than twenty of these movie-inspired recipes in your own home!”–provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Thai Cinema Uncensored / Hunt,Matthew “In this first full-length study on the topic, Matthew Hunt–with access to rare and controversial films–provides a history of film censorship in Thailand.” (Catalogue)
But Have You Read the Book? : 52 Literary Gems That Inspired Our Favorite Films / Lopez, Kristen “For film buffs and literature lovers alike, Turner Classic Movies presents an essential guide to 52 cinema classics and the literary works that served as their inspiration. “I love that movie!” “But have you read the book?”. Within these pages, Turner Classic Movies offers an endlessly fascinating look at 52 beloved screen adaptations and the great reads that inspired them. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Number one is walking : my life in the movies and other diversions / Martin, Steve “Number One Is Walking is Steve Martin’s cinematic legacy-an illustrated memoir of his legendary acting career, with stories from his most popular films and artwork by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss. Steve Martin has never written about his career in the movies before. In Number One Is Walking, he shares anecdotes from the sets of his beloved films-Father of the Bride, Roxanne, The Jerk, Three Amigos, and many more-bringing readers directly into his world.”– Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
All about me! : my remarkable life in show business / Brooks, Mel “The legendary comedian, actor, and film producer and director traces his rise from a Depression-era kid in Brooklyn to his stellar film career, offering insight into the inspiration for his ideas and the many close friendships and collaborations behind his success.” (Catalogue)
Christmas Unwrapped: This is a gentle story of a young journalist Charity, desperately trying to get her big break in Journalism. It comes in the form of having to write the story about a young man in the city who every year becomes the city’s Father Christmas by giving. Covering this story changes Charity’s life. Also stars Cheryl Ladd as the hard-bitten news Editor. This is a lovely gentle story great to watch whilst wrapping presents and decorating trees.
The Christmas Setup: This is a gentle Christmas romance. This is about a corporate lawyer Hugo who goes home for 2 weeks for Christmas to help his mum (Fran Drescher – The Nanny fame) celebrate Christmas and raise funds for the town.
Christmas at Maple Creek: A romance author Diana, goes back to the place of her childhood to help her get over writer’s block and enjoy Christmas there again. Diana finds more there than she bargains for Maple Creek needs her help.
No Time like Christmas: Emma finds her university boyfriend’s watch that she had given him, in a vintage shop just before she heads home to Vermont to celebrate Christmas. Things are not all as she expects.
Christmas Lost and Found: New York city event planner Whitney goes back to Chicago to spend her Christmas with her grandma. Whitney is gifted all the special Christmas ornaments that she collected with her grandma as a child but accidently lost them. Over the next week she must find them.
Dolly Parton’s Christmas of many colors : circle of love
This is a lovely DVD taken from the life of Dolly Parton. Dolly puts in a guest appearance and narrates it. Set in the Tennessee mountains Dolly is growing up with her family in the 1950’s. Dolly has 7 siblings and there is not a lot of money to spare. It is a story about how the children try and find money to help their dad give their mum the one present he has always wanted to – a Wedding ring. Everything goes well until disaster happens. How they cope is part of the lovely movie. Jennifer Nettles plays her mum, Rick Schroder plays her dad and Gerald McRaney plays the Preacher Grandfather. You do not need to like Dolly Parton’s music to enjoy this movie. Great time to enjoy it before the new Dolly movie comes out.
Neil J.s Pick:
Star Trek. IV, The voyage home
So, in the midst of a plethora of new Star Trek series and continued rumours about a Quentin Tarantino directed Star Trek movie, I decided to go back to the eighties in a big way and rewatch Star Trek Four The Voyage Home. The one with the whales where the crew travel back in time to 1986 (which was at that point the present day). It remains fabulous fun, the comic timing gags both visual and, in the script, still land perfectly. The strange thing is it has now become (mostly in a good way) as much about the period in time that it was made, as any future. Eighties styles, attitudes and preoccupations dominate. In a similar fashion to the way the fifties science fiction film Forbidden Planet reflects American society at that point in time.
C.B. Strike. Lethal white The latestseason of the J.K Rowling’s Strike series (written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) has just debuted in the UK, with an adaption of the 5th novel, Troubled Blood. This DVD, an adaption of the 3rd novel Lethal White, is so far the only season released in NZ. In case you are unfamiliar with the book series, Cormoran Strike (played by Tom Burke) is a permanently dishevelled London based Private Investigator, who seems to exist entirely on pub crisps, Indian takeaways and beer, and is almost perpetually grumpy due to the complexities of his exacting business, his prosthetic leg, and his complicated personal history as the illegitimate son of a famous rock star. Robin Ellacott (played by Holliday Grainger) is a Temp agency receptionist, with a traumatic past and a keen investigative talent who, by the time of this series, has become his business partner. This instalment in the series begins when Billy Knight, a young man with a history of mental illness claims to have witnessed a child’s murder and the burial of the body in the woods some years before and asks Strike to investigate. Despite being set in contemporary London, and being occasionally quite gritty, ‘Strike’ is in a lot of ways an old fashioned show with little digital flash. The long cases essentially involve lots of plodding work, reinterviewing people, research, and conversations, and so are somewhat difficult to condense into the TV format. It’s all carried, really, by the two leads who are both excellent, and one of the most accurate transfers from page to screen of any adaptation. They both seem to perfectly embody the characters in the books, and the series is just as much about their complicated lives and growing personal & professional bonds, as it is about the cases they solve.
Logan Roy, the aging CEO of the massive media conglomerate Waystar-RoyCo, has a health scare following his announcement that he will delay his abdication from the company. This leads to a succession panic among his children: the troubled golden child Kendall, the manipulative only-daughter Shiv, and pathologically immature Roman. Combining the cinema vérité of The Thick of It with the prestige TV character psychology of The Sopranos, Succession will leaving you reeling for the first couple episodes, as your mind adjusts both to the exorbitant opulence in which the characters live and its deft tonal balancing act of drama and comedy. But after settling into its groove (and experiencing it’s absolute sledgehammer of a first season finale), I’m fully willing to declare that it’s the worthy (ahem) successor to its prestige TV forebears like The Sopranos, Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Set during a massive class action lawsuit of an agricultural giant, unscrupulous ‘bagman’ lawyer Michael Clayton (George Clooney) finds himself embroiled in a corporate conspiracy after his legal wunderkind colleague has a crisis of conscience about his company’s ethics and goes into hiding. The directorial debut of writer Tony Gilroy (Andor), this is top-to-bottom a superbly crafted, dark-but-never-morose legal thriller with a sincere humanity at its core; no wonder it was nominated for almost every major Academy Award (it only won Best Supporting Actress for Tilda Swinton).
Robot & Frank
Set in a near-ish future, the titular Frank is a retired jewel thief who lives alone, until his son buys him a helper robot to assist him with his daily tasks. Frank initially dislikes the robot’s presence, until he realises that the robot can be taught to steal. The robot happily obliges, glad that he has given Frank a task to keep him active, and an unlikely friendship (and crime wave) ensues. A quiet adult drama about ageing and losing touch with family that just happens to be a heist caper with a robot in it, Robot & Frank is an absolute charmer and a criminally slept-on movie overall.
‘Do the Right Thing’ from3 Spike Lee joints Set in Bed-Stuy and told across one of the hottest days of the year, Do the Right Thing follows the residents of a Brooklyn community as a political firestorm begins to kindle around the local pizza joint. Do the Right Thing is considered Spike Lee’s magnum opus, and I’m inclined to agree; every member of its large ensemble cast has incredible depth and range, the radiant orange lighting really sells the setting of the heat wave, and the themes of racial tension, restorative justice, and economic precarity still haven’t lost their relevance in 2022. A masterpiece all around.
Superman I, Superman II, Superman III, and Superman VI: The Quest for Peace fromThe Superman motion picture anthology : 1978-2006 Despite being a fan of Superman, I’d never actually gone back and watched the original Christopher Reeve movies. While they are definitely mired in 70s/80s cheesiness, the films work on the innate sincerity of the character, and I was delighted throughout the whole quadrilogy. The acting is all top-notch across the board as well, especially Reeve as Superman and Clark Kent (two very distinctive performances that he pivots between expertly), Margot Kidder as cynical reporter Lois Lane, who makes easy work of being won over by Superman’s inherent charm and goodness, and Gene Hackman gives appropriate maniacal bravado to Superman’s criminal nemesis Lex Luthor.
A documentary where Ralph Hotere (an NZ artist) quietly works, and his friends talk. Merata makes Hotere’s art feel mysterious while keeping the tone relaxing and convivial. The intense jazzy editing and quotes are cool.
Immensely comforting movie. Funny scenes, great soundtrack, and the 2000s Auckland setting is beautiful.
A gruff old man takes a young boy to see his mother. Deadpan and slow but also had me laughing a whole lot. Summer is the best season and I like when people in movies get along for no reason.