Kath’s Reviews: Film and Television

Kia ora!  I’m Kath, one of the branch librarians and I’m an avid film and television viewer.  I’m regularly diving deep into the excellent DVD collection we have in Wellington City Libraries, as well as content from Beamafilm and Kanopy — the two streaming platforms available to Wellington City Library customers.

In this new 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 the excellent viewing I’ve seen recently include:

Ghostbusters Afterlife (2021) DVD

DVD Cover of Ghostbusters: AfterlifeIntended to be a sequel to the original 1980’s films, Ghostbusters Afterlife certainly captures the flavour of action-packed comedy from the original 1984 movie, which I saw at the drive-in when I was 13 years old! 

Connected through the original by the character of Egon Spengler, his estranged daughter and her kids move to his old farmhouse after his death.  Egon’s grandaughter Phoebe (McKenna Grace) has inherited her grandfather’s scientific curiosity and stumbles into his plans to save the world from an occultist determined to bring back Sumerian God Gozer.  Between Phoebe, her brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and friend Podcast (Logan Kim), the race is on to work out the vintage Ghostbusters technology and save the world.  Also stars Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon, with cameos from most of the original 1984 Ghostbusters cast.

Best bit: Paul Rudd walking through the Walmart.  If you know Paul Rudd at all, you’ll know why this is the best scene.

Poppy (2021) DVD

This is a sweet new New Zealand film, the story of Poppy (Libby Hunsdale), a young woman with Down Syndrome who has the same hopes, dreams and ambitions of any young woman of her age.  She wants to get her drivers license, an apprenticeship as a mechanic and a sweet boyfriend.  However, her older brother Dave (Ari Boyland) is very protective of her and keeps her from the independence she seeks.  Poppy meets up with a former school friend, Luke (Seb Hunter) who needs his car repaired to enter the local burnout competition, a relationship that begins to open many doors of independence for Poppy.

Best bit: The burnout competition.  It’ll bring out the revhead in you.

Beaches (1988) DVD

The classic film from 1988 starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.  Sometimes you just need a good cleansing cry and this is the film to do it.  After a chance meeting as girls, polar opposites CC and Hilary strike up a friendship that is kept alive over the years by letter writing.  They meet again as young adults and have a fractious relationship until Hilary learns she has a terminal disease.   If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must see classic.

Best bit: Any time Bette Midler sings.

Sweet CountrySweet Country (2017) Beamafilm

I am a big fan of director Warwick Thornton’s work, so I was thrilled when this one came to Beamafilm.  Starring New Zealand’s own Sam Neill, along with Australian acting legend Bryan Brown, and new talent  Aboriginal actors Hamilton Morris and Natassia Gorey-Furber.  The story of Sam (Morris) and Lizzie (Gorey-Furber), who go on the run after Sam kills a white station owner in self defence, and are hunted by Sargeant Fletcher (Brown) and his team.  Sam Neill plays kindly preacher Fred, who tries to help the couple find justice in an unjust world.

Best bit: Every moment that Hamilton Morris is on screen.  He is absolutely magnetic.

Temple Grandin (2010) DVD

DVD cover of Temple GrandinThis is the biopic of American scientist and animal behaviourist Temple Grandin, who has also become an advocate for autistic people in more recent times.  Growing up in a culture that doesn’t understand her autism, Temple (played by Claire Danes) is determined to forge a path in university as a young scientist.  Bullied by her mostly male peers, teachers and employers, Temple uses her gift of engineering and understanding animal behaviour to prove her worth as a talented scientist.

Best bit: Any of the scenes with Temple finding solace with horses or cows.  If you have a tender spot for animals, you’ll love just how she finds peace in their company.

Sing. 2 (2021) DVD

DVD Cover of Sing 2All the team are back in this sequel to the 2016 film of the same name.  Matthew McConaughey voices Buster Moon, the talent spotting koala determined to put on the best shows possible.  He takes his diverse team of talent to the big smoke to lay on an extravaganza, only to have to promise to get reclusive star Clay Calloway (a lion voiced by Bono) to join the show.  Each of the Sing crew have their own adventures and troubles in the big city and all have to work on their confidence before such a big audience.  Except perhaps Gunter (a pig, voiced by Nick Kroll) who never seems to have that problem.  A perfect movie for the whole family, it’s funny and entertaining while also having some amazing music.

Best bit:  The show-stopper at the end of course!

Venom. Let there be Carnage (2021) DVD

Eddie Brock and his symbiote Venom (both Tom Hardy) are back in this sequel and both seem to be in a downward spiral until they meet serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson, who is super creepy in this role) and accidentally infect him with symbiotic DNA as well, which creates the titular villain, Carnage.  If you enjoyed the first film, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one, it’s full of all the same kind of action and humour with a little extra Carnage thrown in.

Best bit: Venom’s relationship with bodega owner Mrs Chen.

My name is Gulpilil : this is my story of my story (2021) DVD

DVD cover of My Name is GulpililAn autobiographical documentary of late Aboriginal talent, David Gulpilil, created soon after his diagnosis with terminal lung cancer.  Right from the opening sequence, you’re treated to some beautiful cinematography and the enthralling story of the phenomenal life of Mr Gulpilil, who passed away in 2021.  Never one to shy away from the difficult topics, Mr Gulpilil covers his life on screen and off, his traditional upbringing in Arnhem Land, his years of addiction and his difficult relationships professionally and personally.

Best bit: That opening sequence as Mr Gulpilil walks with the emu is breathtakingly beautiful.

If you’d like to know what’s in our collection, you can go to our new DVD’s here, or check out Beamafilm and Kanopy.

I’d also love to hear your recommendations of films, TV series or documentaries from our collection in the comments below.

Latest Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

The Bight Edge of the World cover

Read something great, intriguing, surprising or satisfying? Want to let other people know about it?

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Shelter in place / Roberts, Nora
“Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “One word, ‘Brilliant’. There is a reason why Nora Roberts is an international bestseller, her books just keep getting better and better.” (no rating, but I guess it would be high!)

Ascendant / Campbell, Jack
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A good entry in a good series, although you get more out of it if you’ve red the books that come before it. A more thoughtful approach to political issues than is usual for military science fiction.” (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tane’s war / Weir, Brendaniel
“One lifetime, two battles. It’s 1953 and Briar is a dreamer living with his father in Pukekohe. His behaviour sees him sent to a training farm to be “turned into a man”. But the plan backfires when his arrival awakens feelings in fellow shearer, Aussie. Tane is the farm foreman and his Maori heritage sets him apart. Briar and Aussie threaten the walls Tane has built around his own secret past; walls created in the trenches of WW1. Tane is confronted with a choice. He cannot change history but maybe he can help change the future.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was excellent. It was very cleverly constructed with different interweaving timeframes and connected characters… It was also a sad eye-opener of cruel homophobia. Luckily views in Aotearoa are more tolerant now… (review abridged)” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The boat runner : a novel / Murphy, Devin
“Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was an excellent read for all mature readers… As an avid reader of books in the War genre I think this novel is among the very best with many unexpected twists and turns.  It certainly is thrilling” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kompromat / Johnson, Stanley
Kompromat reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A different slant on political events made this book very entertaining but at times a bit confusing. It told a reasonably plausible story which while not deep was thought provoking. Bang up to date too!”. (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the bright edge of the world / Ivey, Eowyn
“Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was great.  Brought an era to life with a present day contrast to a colonial era.” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Introducing Kids Club

It’s a way for children to win prizes just by reviewing books!  Starting today (August 1st), Kids’ Club will replace BookBusters and BookSeekers, which means there will no longer be monthly book club meetings in the library.
Instead children can post their great reviews on the Kids’ Blog, for everyone to see and comment on. Best of all, they’ll earn prizes for their reviews, encouraging children to read and review more items.

Check out the club info here, or start reviewing books straight away here.

Kids’ Club is open to all 5-12 year olds that have a Wellington City Libraries’ membership.

New Zine Alert – Permanent Vacation!

Permanent Vacation Zine

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over.  Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

So begins Permanent Vacation, the latest project from Kerry Ann Lee and a whole swag of other Wellington zine scene veterans.  I’ve had this zine sitting on my desk for a couple of weeks now, and it’s quickly become my favourite new zine to flick through over my mid-afternoon coffee and chocolate shortbread from Nikau cafe.

Permanent Vacation is like a coffee table book in zine form – big and shiny, full of both style and substance – the kind of treat you want to keep on hand to curl up with at whim.  With beautiful photos from exciting places like Tokyo and Upper Hutt, travel writing from Milford Sound, art inspired by the TradeMe discussion forums, musings on punk music and vernacular architecture – Permanent Vacation will transport you to a pretty place from your office desk or armchair.

Hello Sandwich!

Hello Sandwich: Tokyo Guide by Ebony Bizys

When I found this zine it already had a “Librarian’s choice” sticker on it and it definitively deserves it!HelloSandwich1

This little zine is really informative, so if you are planning to go to Tokyo or you know someone heading in that direction, Hello Sandwich is “the guide” to read.

For every neighborhood that the zine covers there is a small map of the area as well as a concise description of where to go and why.

Also, if you do not know any Japanese do not panic because Hello Sandwich will provide you with a list of survival phrases.

This zine is super kawaii and really useful.

If you like the zine you will probably enjoy the blog too.

Carlita