Our Kanopy and Beamafilm streaming platforms have a great selection of FREE content from Aotearoa and the Pacific. It’s always good to see our own cultures represented on the screen, so while we are still spending a lot of time at home grab the opportunity to watch some gems that have a Māori and Pasifika kaupapa!
This blog only highlights a small selection of films including emotional movies, documentaries, and a feel good gem about musicians and finding yourself. You will find more if you search ‘Māori’, ‘New Zealand’, or a specific Pasifika country within Kanopy or Beamafilm.
Go ahead and immerse yourself in the stories of Aotearoa and the Pacific!
The Orator is a beautiful and emotional movie that was written and directed by Samoan film-maker Tusi Tamasese and shot entirely in Samoan on location in Samoa itself. Saili’s story is one of love and challenges as he learns he must stand tall, despite his small stature, to become a hero. Highly recommended.
You can also watch Tamasese’s other feature film, One Thousand Ropes, on Kanopy.
Kuo Hina E Hiapo: The Mulberry is White and Ready for Harvest
Length: 28 minutes
Directors: Joseph Ostraff, Melinda Ostraff
Tapa cloth is a true artistic treasure of the Pacific. In Tonga it is called ngatu and this short documentary illustrates ngatu’s symbolic importance and collaborative production. Beautiful and fascinating!
Merata Mita was the first Māori woman to write and direct a dramatic movie when she brought out Mauri in 1988. Set on the East Coast, Mauri stars Anzac Wallace (Utu) and activist Eva Rickard. This is a landmark film from a landmark Māori film maker.
You can also watch Ngati on Kanopy, another ground-breaking film from a Māori film maker, this time Barry Barclay.
Eight female Māori directors give us eight connected stories, each taking place at the same moment in time during the tangi of a small boy called Waru. This is a very moving and challenging film with all eight stories subtly linked while following different female characters. All must come to terms with Waru’s death and try to find a way forward within their community.
A tangi is at the heart of Waru. If you want to learn about Māori protocols surrounding tangi, or other Māori topics, our Māori Information Resources page is an excellent place to start.
The Rain of the Children
Length: 102 minutes
Director: Vincent Ward
I love this film. Vincent Ward’s beautiful dramatic documentary explores the life of Tuhoe woman Puhi and her relationship to Rua Kenana and the community at Maungapohatu. Ward looks at the curse Puhi believed she lived under in an incredibly moving way, and the result is a jewel of a film.
You can also watch Vincent Ward’s first film about Puhi, In Spring One Plants Alone, on Kanopy.
Length: 107 minutes
Director: Toa Fraser
Woo hoo! Revenge and action abound in Toa Fraser’s movie starring James Rolleston and Lawrence Makoare. You gotta love the use of mau rākau – a traditional Māori martial art – and a script in te reo Māori!
My whānau love this heartfelt film about a musician and his reggae band on a road trip of music and self discovery. Francis Kora is wonderful as Danny who is unsettled, and then opened up to his culture, when Tau (Matariki Whatarau) joins the band. Music, landscape, laughs and love – beautiful and simple.
The band in The Pa Boys sets out from Wellington where Danny lives. If you love the music scene in Wellington you can learn more about it on our dedicated Wellington Music page.
If you are looking for some scares and chills to take your mind off the real world, then consider these five horror features on Beamafilm. From classic early black and white German cinema, to a Chinese epic, and an Australian contemporary film, there’s lots to sink your teeth into!
(Not a library member yet? No worries! Simply sign up here and then check out Beamafilm and Kanopy, our fantastic film streaming services.)
The Cabinet of Dr Caligari
Length: 75 minutes
Director: Robert Wiene
As the Beamafilm synopsis describes: “Two men on a park bench discuss the story of Cesare, a sleep-walking circus performer under the control of the murderous Dr. Caligari. But all, of course, is not quite as it seems.” Often cited as the first true horror film, this is the quintessential example of 1920s German Expressionism in its use of symbolism, and symbolic acting. This black and white silent classic uses non-realistic sets, costume and makeup to portray the characters’ emotional states, exploring mental illness and madness.
Combined Search: Did you know that the script for The Cabinet of Dr Caligari was based on the wartime experiences of writers Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer? Learn more about this fascinating film via our eLibrary Combined Search!
Nine years before Bela Lugosi’s legendary portrayal of Dracula, Max Schreck starred as the Dracula-inspired Count Orlok in the German Expressionist film Nosferatu. Although the filmmaker’s tried to avoid copyright infringement, it was close enough to the source material for Bram Stoker’s widow to sue and have the original prints destroyed. It is also known for the addition to the vampire mythos that sunlight is lethal to vampires. This 1922 black and white classic of silent cinema is a masterpiece of atmosphere, and its influence can still be seen in popular culture nearly 100 years later.
Overdrive: Nosferatu may be one of the first works to be influenced by Stoker’s Dracula, but it’s definitely not the only one! Explore Dracula, Dracula’s Guest, Anno Dracula and more via Overdrive and Libby.
Director Fritz Lang’s other classic film (the first being Metropolis, which is also available on Beamafilm), and his personal favourite, M deals with the unpleasant subject matter of a child killer in Germany 1931. The title “M” is short for mörder, the German word meaning murderer. Beautifully shot in black and white with sound, and once again part of the German Expressionist movement, this is regarded as one of Lang’s finest films, and one of the best German films ever made. It features one of Peter Lorre’s most famous roles before he fled Germany and went on to achieve international fame in Hollywood in films such as Casablanca.
Mango Languages: Did you know that director Fritz Lang made films in both Weimar Germany and also as part of the Hollywood system? Check out his German language productions (without the need of subtitles!) with a little help from Mango Languages.
Not strictly a horror film, although you will find it under that category on Beamafilm, this is also an action/mystery/historical film with horror and supernatural elements. Set in 689 A.D in China, Detective Dee is called back from exile to investigate a series of fiery deaths. Featuring lots of acrobatic fighting, lavish sets, and special effects, it was so popular it has since spawned two prequels. This will appeal to anyone who is a fan of Netflix’s Korean series, Kingdom.
Dragonsource: Did you know that our eLibrary includes Dragonsource, a database with hundreds of Chinese language magazines in both simplified and traditional Chinese?
This Australian contemporary film is about a solo mother struggling to raise her son on her own. One day she finds a disturbing storybook called “Mister Babadook”, only the story and the monster within seem to want to come out of the page. The title, Babadook is an anagram of ‘A bad book’. Debut director Jennifer Kent has created a powerful film that explores the monster that is depression and loneliness.
RBdigital: Want to know more about the latest horror films? Check out magazines such as Empire, Hollywood Reporter and Total Film via RBdigital!
Travelling introduces you to new places, new people and new cultures. However, as the world has gone into lockdown and travelling is at a standstill the only way to travel safely is vicariously through film. Thanks to the magic of film you can be transferred to somewhere outside of your bubble. Here are some films that incorporate travel and discovery that take you to France, Turkey, Spain, China, Australia and America. These films can be accessed on our wonderful streaming services Beamafilm and Kanopy!
Length: 89 minutes
Directors: Agnès Varda and JR
This film is simply wonderful and is a real joy to watch. It follows the iconic film director Agnès Varda as she teams up with artist JR. They go to rural parts of France in a photobooth van and take photos of locals to print off on a massive scale to paste onto the side of buildings. They travel to small villages which is great to see as they go to places that you wouldn’t think to visit. Every local they meet is friendly and has a story to tell. It makes you appreciate the importance of listening and learning from people.
Agnès says, she wants “to meet new faces and photograph them so they don’t fall down the holes in my memory” which I can relate to as I take photos of everything as a reminder. There is a joyful playfulness to this film but there is also melancholy as Agnès wonders “if everyone that she meets will be the last”. This film celebrates and embraces life as they both marvel and wonder at every aspect and it makes you realise you need to appreciate life.
Beamafilm: Find out more about the artist JR by watching Inside Out The Peoples Art Project.
CIA World Factbook: Find out facts about France with the CIA World Factbook! This provides data and information on different countries so you can find out about key demographics, government, economy and more.
Lynda.com: If you want to improve your photography skills then there are heaps of useful photography tutorials on Lynda.com.
This sweet and charming documentary transports you to Istanbul where there are an incredible number of stray cats roaming the streets which has been the case since the Ottoman Empire! One person in the documentary states that “without the cat Istanbul would lose a part of it’s soul” and throughout the film you can see how much of an impact the cats have on everyone. The people who take care of the cats show incredible displays of kindness, such as a café owner who donates all his tips to look after the cat who frequents his café. It’s amazing to see how cats can change and enhance people’s lives as one man states that the cats that he looks after helped him to recover from his nervous breakdown. I especially like how the camera shows you Istanbul from the cats’ point of view as they explore and wander through the city.
PressReader: Want to know more about cats? Then you should check out the magazine Modern Cat that is available for you to read on PressReader!
Mango Languages: Did you know that the title of the film Kedi is Turkish for cat? Learn some more Turkish words by heading to Mango Languages.
The Trip To Spain
Length: 108 minutes
Director: Michael Winterbottom
This is the third installment of The Trip as comedians Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan play fictional versions of themselves and on this occasion, they take an adventure around Spain. Steve wants to follow in the footsteps of Laurie Lee and Cervantes and their route is heavily influenced by these writers. They drive around the country and this allows us to soak up the exquisite scenery, especially Malaga’s amazing coastline road. The impressions are non-stop as they compete to be the best Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Michael Caine, Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Roger Moore in a variety of fancy restaurants. If you are familiar with The Trip and The Trip to Italy then you’ll know what to expect but I still enjoy spending time with these two as their often cutting exchanges and quick-witted banter is fun to watch.
OverDrive: If you’re looking for new recipes to try out at home during lockdown, then check out this awesome Spanish cookbook eBook.
OverDrive: Want to read As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee that inspired the trip? Well you’re in luck as it’s available as an eBook here.
OverDrive: The other book that was mentioned a lot in The Trip To Spain is Don Quixote and this can also be borrowed from our extensive eBook collection.
Length: 96 minutes
Director: Philippe Muyl
In fast-moving, business-focused Beijing two parents Chongyi and Qianying are busy trying to make a career and don’t have enough time for their child Renxing who is glued to her iPad. The parents both have work trips at the same time, so Qianying entrusts Renxing to be looked after by her grandfather, who has previously lost her whilst under his care. Renxing and her grandfather are off on their travels to visit his village along with his bird, a nightingale. At first Renxing acts up, but they soon bond after getting lost in a luscious bamboo forest. Rural China’s scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. This film is extremely cute and lovely and the grandfather and granddaughter are engaging characters who have a beautiful rapport as they learn much from each during their journey.
Dragonsource: Take a look at Dragonsource for Chinese language magazines in both simplified and traditional Chinese for online reading.
The Australian countryside is shot stunningly in this film that is all about the bond between man and his dog. A dog gets sold to a farmer, Tom, who is told that the dog is pure kelpie but is actually part dingo. By day, Dusty becomes a trusty and reliable sheep dog but at night he does like to terrorise the sheep when his natural dingo traits come out. This causes tension on the farm as some people want Dusty dead whilst Tom has grown incredibly fond of him. The film shows how much humans and dogs can be attached to each other due to friendship and gives an insight into life in the Australian countryside.
OverDrive eAudiobooks: Want to know how to make your dog happy? Then listen to Cesar Milan’s Guide to a Happy Dog here.
Length: 79 minutes
Director: Alex Simmons
This silly comedy follows David and Flula as they go on what would have been David’s honeymoon hike. David has been dumped by his fiancé so his incredibly happy and enthusiastic German friend Flula decides to join the hike to cheer him up. Flula is a character that you’ll either love or hate–I love his eccentricities, strange logic and how excitable he is. David provides narration of journal entries from American pioneer explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and the comparison of Meriwether to Flula is a running joke. This is a sweet bromance film that is lots of fun. Their hike into the wilderness is incredibly shot and will make you yearn for an outdoor excursion which hopefully we can do again sometime soon!
OverDrive: This film is all about friendship and David and Flula are best friends in real life. If you want to carry on the theme of friendship with humour thrown in then take a look at these eBooks.
One of my favourite things to do on my Friday shift at the library is to pick through the DVDs before closing time and grab a film I’ve been meaning to see but have never had the time to check out before. While I can’t stroll through the aisles of Arapaki for the time being, exploring Kanopy and Beamafilm has been scratching that itch for me.
As someone who’s always learning more about the history of film-making and storytelling, I tend to gravitate toward strange, high-concept films and subjects; legacy directors who gained and spent multiple ‘blank checks’ over their careers to make their passion projects, festival films with off-kilter premises that become critical darlings, and weird thrillers that expand what kind of stories you can tell on a budget. These recommendations might not be what you would call ‘comfort viewing’, but I hope they can expand your film-viewing horizons as they have mine. Enjoy!
Swiss Army Man
Length: 98 mins
Directors: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
A critical darling at Sundance the year of its release, Swiss Army Man follows Hank (Paul Dano) as a man trying to get back to civilization with the aid of a talking, farting corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). It’s every bit as weird as it sounds, but Dano and Radcliffe’s performances buoy the film as the friendship blossoms between the two men and they help one another discover how to be human again, although it applies to one of them a bit more literally. The physical comedy is also a treat to watch, as Radcliffe forgoes the use of a dummy to do all of the corpse’s stiff, action-figure-like stunts himself. It’s a charming, bizarre, and surprisingly moving movie about how to come back from a period of self-isolation, make lasting connections with people, and rediscover how to live in the world again.
PressReader and RBdigital: If watching Hank and Manny’s trek through the California pines has you missing the joys of trekking the wilderness, both PressReader and RBdigital provide online access to hundreds of magazines including many on mountaineering, tramping, and more.
Overdrive: You’ll never have a better excuse to reread the series that gave Daniel Radcliffe his first big acting break; that’s why Overdrive has made the first Harry Potter book available for free in both ebook and audiobook form in multiple languages.
Length: 91 mins
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Director Denis Villeneuve is more associated with his recent expansive science-fiction films such as Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 and the upcoming Dune adaptation, but there was a time where he worked on smaller thrillers, including the critically-beloved but little-seen film Enemy. Based off the novel The Double by José Saramago, Jake Gyllenhaal plays Adam Bell, a history professor who discovers an actor in a local film that appears to be his exact double. His actor doppelganger soon discovers Adam as well, as do each of the men’s wives. As their lives begin to intertwine, each one threatens to undo the existence of the other until the film crescendos into one of the freakiest endings to a movie I’ve ever seen.
Kanopy: Can’t get enough of Gyllenhaal? Kanopy also has his early hit Donnie Darko in both the theatrical and director’s cut.
Overdrive: Want to see what inspired Enemy? You can check out the works of Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese writer José Saramago on Overdrive.
Shin Godzilla (Shin Gojira)
Length: 120 mins
Director: Hideaki Anno
Taking a break from the reboot of his groundbreaking giant robot series Neon Genesis Evangelion, director Hideaki Anno revitalizes the Godzilla brand with Shin Godzilla, taking a more esoteric, body-horror approach to the classic kaiju (‘strange beast’). A huge hit in Japan and winner of seven Japanese Academy Prize awards, many Godzilla fans hold this as one of the best of the series. If you need to convince your housemates who aren’t as versed in genre films to check this out, the interesting twist to this iteration is that the human focus is on the government officials trying to react in real-time to Godzilla’s sudden appearance, rather than the military or a lone hero. What better film to watch now than one about a bureaucracy responding to a sudden evolving threat and using clever infrastructure solutions to mitigate harm and protect their citizens? These days, that’s a story I can get behind.
If you’ve seen and loved the Safdie brothers’ newest film Uncut Gems, it’s well worth your time to check out Good Time, their previous film from 2017. Robert Pattinson plays Constantine, a small-time crook who has to break his brother out of prison while avoiding the police and struggling to pay off a bail bondsman after a bank heist gone wrong. Flat-out from minute one, Constantine races the underbelly of New York City, churning through one unsuspecting ally after another in his desperate quest to reunite with the only family he has left. Robert Pattinson brings a raw and pitiable emotional depth to Constantine, and the Safdie brothers’ trademark use of first-time actors gives their version of New York a rough and lived-in feel.
Werner Herzog is a director I’ve always wanted to check out but was only familiar with from terrible impersonations and his surprisingly frequent cameos in primetime cartoons. Lo and Behold is a great contemporary introduction to one of cinema’s most celebrated directorial voices (and what a voice!), following Herzog’s attempt to examine the history of the Internet, from its humble origins in American university campuses to its future potential for self-awareness. Herzog tracks down original Internet Protocol engineer Robert Kahn, hacker Kevin Mitnick, and a community of people in rehab for ‘internet addiction’, among others, to examine the transformative power the Internet affords us a species, while also looking at its precarity as a construct and how our reliance on it can be socially damaging. As more and more of us have to rely on streaming, social media and web conferencing to get by, Herzog invites us to consider just how valuable the internet is to us.
Cast your mind back to 2010, the heyday of street artists who turned the world into their canvas with their bold and politically loaded art and began to find mainstream success in gallery shows. A typical biopic this is not; Exit Through the Gift Shop follows not Banksy himself, but his filmmaker friend turned disciple Thierry Guetta, who first becomes embroiled in the street art community as a documentarian before deciding to become a street artist himself. Complicating matters is the long-standing accusation that this film was made as a hoax, as Thierry’s rocketing to success as a street artist can come off to some as too staged and polished for a real-life subject, a claim that has been repeatedly denied by the film-makers. Regardless of its veracity, after rewatching this in lockdown, I’m never going to take the streets for granted again.
We’ve all seen them: photos of deserted highways stretching through the country, not a car or truck in sight. While this emptiness is a testament to the great work being done to stop COVID-19, it can be hard not to imagine a time when you can once again venture out and re-discover the rest of the country.
But now there’s no need to wait! Thanks to the magic of our eLibrary you can join us on a road trip across Aotearoa, from classic sites on State Highway One to secret spots known only to the wisest, most road-wily librarians. So grab your road atlas, double-check your internet connection and prepare for an epic (virtual) road trip. Read on to begin!
It may be the first day of your road trip north, but you can’t help having a quick look around the capital. So fire up your new electric car (click here for charging stations), grab your thermette and see what you can find!
Glamorous Histories: Did you know that the site of Wellington’s Central Library was once home to Carmen Rupe’s Balcony strip club–and the legendary Red Mole theatre troupe? Discover more via Wellington City Recollect.
A City of Film: Wellington was chosen as a UNESCO City of Film in 2019, but it’s not just blockbusters that give the city it’s cinematic reputation. The 2013 documentary Gardening With Soul won Best Documentary at the New Zealand Film Awards and is set in Island Bay–watch it now via Beamafilm.
Kapiti Coast (State Highway 1)
Okay, now it’s really time to go. Luckily the traffic out of Wellington isn’t too bad, and you get a smooth run past Pukerua Bay and all the way up the Kapiti Coast–nice one! Your first destination is Whanganui, but there’s plenty to see before then!
Range on the Right: The Tararua Range may look like an impenetrable wall of mountains and bush, but don’t be fooled–up to 150,000 people a year explore its slopes! For more info check out Wilderness, New Zealand’s most popular tramping magazine–and available at RBdigital.
Desirable Island: While adverts promoting Kapiti Island highlight its role as a bird sanctuary, the island has another, more strategic history–discover it via the Roadside Stories audio guides, accessible through Digital NZ and our eLibrary.
Well done, you’ve reached the first stop on your trip. Time for a quick coffee and a snack somewhere–raspberry and lime Fruju, anyone? You park by the river and watch it slide by. What’s waiting for you upstream?
Te Awa Tupua: The Whanganui River has its own legal identity, with all the rights, duties and liabilities of a person! Learn more via NZ Geographic (or explore He Whiritaunoka through the Waitangi Tribunal).
Moturoa: Did you know that in 1868 there were rumours of abandoning Whanganui after Riwha Titokowaru’s victory at the Battle of Moturoa? Find out more in James Belich’s I Shall Not Die–described as “a riveting piece of historical writing.”
Forgotten World Highway (State Highway 43)
You continue on around the coast, stopping for a Fanta and a bag of Fruit Bursts in Stratford before turning onto State Highway 43–aka the Forgotten World Highway. It doesn’t take long for things to get a bit bumpy, and the Fanta suddenly seems like a mistake. But never fear, Taupō isn’t far off!
Turning Green: If you’re feeling a bit car sick by now, distractions can help. And luckily BorrowBox has a range of fantastic audiobooks to help you out–including great local content!
Breakaways: 1989 was a tough year for a lot of New Zealand, not least the people of Whangamomona. So what did they do? Formed their own republic, of course! Past presidents have included Sir Murt Kennard and Billy Gumboot the Goat. Learn more about Billy’s reign thanks to the library’s combined search.
You made it to Taumarunui without being sick–an achievement! You celebrate with a suitably greasy lunch, then continue on to your destination of Taupō. Just enough time for a swim before dinner–congratulations!
Beauty and Fear: Whether you want to experience terror or awe while you’re in nature, Taupō has you covered. If you just want to read about terror or awe, then Pressreader has you sorted, too–with NZ Adventure Magazine.
New Boots: Have you read New Boots in New Zealand yet? It tells the story of Gillian Orrell’s quest to walk all of New Zealand’s Great Walks–including the Tongariro Northern Circuit! Have a read of it via Overdrive.
How do you mark ANZAC Day in a time of social distancing? It’s a question that had to be tackled during the 1919 Spanish flu pandemic, with marches postponed and commemorations held privately at gravesides. The approach this year will be different again. Virtual dawn services are being held across the country; cut-out poppies will adorn windows; the Royal New Zealand Ballet will give a special performance of Dear Horizon.
“25 April is an innovative feature documentary created to bring the story of the New Zealand experience at Gallipoli (Turkey) to life for a modern audience through a re-imagined world. Using graphic novel-like animation, 25 April brings First World War experiences out of the usual black-and-white archive pictures and into vibrant, dynamic color. Weaving together animated ‘interviews’ based on the diaries, letters and memoirs of six people who were actually there, the film tells the compelling and heart-wrenching tale of war, friendship, loss and redemption using the words of those who experienced it.”
The Colour of War: The Anzacs
Length: 135 minutes
Features: Russell Crowe
“This is the story of Australia and New Zealand at war as never seen before. For the first time, only original colour footage is used to paint a vividly detailed picture of these closely allied nations, from the build up to World War Two to the end of the Vietnam conflict.”
Paris 1919: Negotiating Peace After WWI
Length: 95 minutes
Director: Paul Cowan
“For six months in 1919, Paris was the capital of the world. The last shots had just been fired in the most devastating war of all time – and the old global order lay in tatters. Delegations from over 30 nations urgently descended upon Paris for the most ambitious peace talks in history. Paris 1919 takes us inside this singular event with a vivid sense of character and narrative.”
Almost Sunrise: Two Iraq Veterans Confront their PTSD on a Cross-Country Journey
Length: 98 minutes
Director: Michael Collins
“This moving documentary follows two Iraq veterans, Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, both tormented by depression for years after they returned home and pushed to the edge of suicide. The two embark on an extraordinary journey – a 2,700 mile walk across the country from Wisconsin to California, in order to reflect on their haunting experiences of war and to ultimately, save themselves.”
The Ottoman Empire: WWI (Lecture Series)
Length: 31 minutes
Features: Kenneth W. Harl
“Though it entered the First World War enthusiastically, the Ottoman Empire was not prepared for total war. In this lecture, focus on the empire’s offensives against the Russian Caucasus Army and the Suez Canal, as well as its struggle against an impending British invasion in the Dardanelles.”
Wellington City Libraries’ film streaming services Beamafilm and Kanopy have a range of must-see international movies to get you through lockdown. Included is the Criterion Collection, which includes titles like Summer with Monika–a lovely early Bergman film with some memorable, historically famous scenes. There are also other contemporary and classic films from around the globe, from 2016’s Julieta to the cult classic Funeral Parade of Roses–and many more, including titles previously unavailable on DVD!
Summer with Monika
Length: 96 minutes
Director: Ingmar Bergman
A girl (Andersson) and boy (Lars Ekborg) from working-class families in Stockholm run away from home to spend a secluded, romantic summer at the beach, far from parents and responsibilities. Inevitably, it is not long before the pair are forced to return to reality. The version initially released in the U.S. was reedited by its distributor into something more salacious, but the original Summer with Monika (Sommaren med Monika), presented here, is a work of stunning maturity and one of Bergman’s most important films. (Kanopy)
Mango Languages: Kanopy has a great range of films by Ingmar Bergman–but to watch them without subtitles you’re going to need to brush up on your Swedish! Get started with Mango Languages.
Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave – the birthplace of his first life… (Kanopy)
Lynda.com: Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul has described how for Uncle Boonme he tried to replicate the style of old Thai TV shows, where the “monsters were always in the dark to hide the cheaply made costumes. Their eyes were red lights so that the audience could spot them.” Begin your own adventure into special effects design with Lynda.com!
Funeral Parade of Roses
Length: 106 minutes
Director: Toshio Matsumoto
Director Toshio Matsumoto’s shattering, kaleidoscopic masterpiece is one of the most subversive and intoxicating films of the late 1960s: a headlong dive into a dazzling, unseen Tokyo night-world of drag queen bars and fabulous divas, fueled by booze, drugs, fuzz guitars, performance art and black mascara. No less than Stanley Kubrick cited the film as a direct influence on his own dystopian classic A Clockwork Orange. (Kanopy)
Archives of Sexuality and Gender: There are several reviews of Funeral Parade of Roses in the Archives of Sexuality and Gender–with a variety of different opinions on the film! Have a read via our eLibrary.
Length: 95 minutes
Director: Pedro Almodovar
In this powerful and thrilling family drama from contemporary auteur Pedro Almodovar, a chance encounter causes a woman (Emma Suarez) to reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding the disappearance of her daughter. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Nominated for Best Film Not in the English Language at the BAFTA Awards. Winner of Best Lead Actress (Emma Suarez) and nominated for Best Director and Best Film at the Goya Awards. (Kanopy)
Overdrive: Did you know that Julieta is based on several short stories from Alice Munro? Have a read of Munro’s work via Overdrive–part of our eLibrary!
Eat Drink Man Woman
Length: 124 minutes
Director: Ang Lee
A gastronomic delight from Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain), Eat Drink Man Woman is a classic tale of simmering frustrations and relationship woes as semi-retired Master Chef Chu (Sihung Lung) shares his culinary skills and tends to his three unmarried daughters’ respective emotional journeys. (Beamafilm)
Gale Intereactive: Science: Did you know that Ang Lee’s wife Jane Lin is a microbiologist and university professor? (She also supported Lee before he was able to find work as a director.) Begin your own quest into science with Gale Interactive: Science–and check out the great 3D models, including one of the human body!
Tall as the Baobab Tree
Length: 82 minutes
Director: Jeremy Teicher
Coumba and her little sister Debo are the first to leave their family’s remote African village, where meals are prepared over open fires and water is drawn from wells, to attend school in the bustling city. But when an accident suddenly threatens their family’s survival, their father decides to sell 11-year-old Debo into an arranged marriage. Torn between loyalty to her elders and her dreams for the future, Coumba hatches a secret plan to rescue her young sister from a fate she did not choose. (Beamafilm)
Combined Search: Tall as the Baobab Tree is the first film to be performed in the Pulaar language–spoken by almost a quarter of Senegal’s population. To learn more about Senegal’s language, culture and history, try a combine search of our eLibrary.
If like me you are curious about the world AND an information junkie who loves non-fiction with a strong narrative then this selection of documentary movies is for you. Without hesitation I can say that documentaries are my favourite genre of movie and the best will resonate in my mind for days, months, and years to come. Documentaries help us understand our natural and human world at the same time as entertaining and informing us. I will never forget the first time I saw Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line in 1989 and became aware of the power of documentary as compelling storytelling with a deeper social commentary. This personal selection below only touches the surface of the many amazing documentaries that can be found on Beamafilm and Kanopy, but I hope it provides a taste of the range and depth on offer.
I love this film. The gentle story of Herbert Vogel, a postal worker, and Dorothy Vogel, a librarian, who built an important contemporary art collection from their modest and fascinating one bedroom New York apartment is truly beautiful. Its exploration of what compelled Herb and Dorothy to start collecting Minimalist and Conceptual art, with very modest means, until they had one of the most important modern art collections contained in their one bedroom New York apartment is charming and insightful. A testament to art and Herb and Dorothy’s personalities and relationship, this is a documentary that I highly recommend.
Oxford Art Online: Learn more about Minimalist and Conceptual art with encyclopaedia-style articles on the visual arts, including more than 21,000 biographies of artists and craftsmen, and over 5,000 searchable art images, drawings and maps. Content covers painting, sculpture, graphic arts, architecture, photography and more.
Length: 74 minutes
Director: Jennifer Peedom
Wow! This visually stunning documentary about the lure of mountains for humans is breathtaking. Willem Dafoe has the perfect voice to narrate and the soundtrack is by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and includes works works by Chopin, Grieg, Vivaldi, and Beethoven. The grandeur of the mountains is matched by the majesty of the music and the story it tells is simple and beautiful. Why we climb and go into the wilderness, and the beauty of our world’s mountains, has never been shown in a more elegant and compelling way.
PressReader and RBdigital: Both PressReader and RBdigital provide online access to hundreds of magazines including many on mountaineering, tramping, photography and more. If you enjoyed Mountain, you will find more to whet your outdoors appetite here.
Length: 33 minutes
Director: Linda Booker
Although a short documentary, Straws packs a punch in its informative exploration of plastic pollution in our oceans. By showing how individuals, groups, and businesses around the globe are reducing plastic straw use through education, collaboration, policy development and utilisation of non-plastic alternatives, Straws helps us understand the impact of one plastic product on our environment. This optimistic and engaging documentary shows that small changes can make a difference.
Dancer is a fascinating character study of a virtuoso ballet dancer that demonstrates how wealth and success might not be enough to satisfy our quest for personal and professional identity. At 19, Ukrainian Sergei Polunin became the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever principal dancer. However after two years, and at the height of his success, Sergei resolved to stop dancing. Filled with amazing footage of classical and contemporary dance (including his viral performance to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”), this is a beautiful and melancholic exploration of how growing from a child prodigy through to a successful artist does not guarantee happiness.
Naxos Video Library: If you love ballet, then this is for you: watch the world’s greatest opera houses, ballet companies, orchestras and artists perform on demand!
My kids grew up with Studio Ghibli movies and at 19 and 21 they still regularly watch and rewatch the magical films that have come out of the mind of Hayao Miyazaki and his team. The fantastical and beautiful animation of films such as Spirited Away, My Neighbour Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Howl’s Moving Castle are captivating and gorgeous. This beautiful documentary looks at how Miyazaki and Ghibli became successful and asks what could come next for these talented film makers. Recommended for anyone who has enjoyed a Studio Ghibli movie or loves animation.
Mango Languages: Have you ever wanted to watch and enjoy Studio Ghibli movies in their original Japanese? You can start learning Japanese today with Mango Languages–available through our website and FREE with your library card.
I can’t get by without a daily dose of music, so during the lockdown I’ve been using PressReader and RBdigital to keep up with the latest releases. I’ve also been checking out some music documentaries on our online streaming services Beamafilm and Kanopy–old favourites I enjoy seeing again, plus some new ones. Below are six fantastic music documentaries from the last few years, including Academy Award-winners and local gems–enjoy!
Searching for Sugar Man
Length: 86 minutes
Director: Malik Bendjelloul
In the late 60s, a musician was discovered in a Detroit bar by two celebrated producers who were struck by his soulful melodies and prophetic lyrics. They recorded an album that they believed was going to secure his reputation as one of the greatest recording artists of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity. Two South African fans then set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Academy Awards winner for Best Documentary.
Naxos Jazz Library: Did you know that Rodriguez opened the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2013? Discover more great jazz resources via the Naxos Jazz Library–including over 200,000 tracks.
20 Feet From Stardom
Length: 91 minutes
Director: Morgan Neville
This great documentary shines the spotlight on the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.
Lynda.com: Did you know that Lynda has courses on how to sing? Start practicing now via our eLibrary.
The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble
Length: 96 minutes
Director: Morgan Neville
Spanning the globe, this is the celebratory story of the renowned international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The feature-length documentary follows this group of diverse instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers as they explore the power of music to preserve tradition, shape cultural evolution and inspire hope.
Press Reader: Press Reader has a range of great music magazines from around the world, including BBC Music Magazine and more.
Liam Gallagher: As it Was
Length: 85 minutes
Directors: Gavin Fitzgerald and Charlie Lightening
Liam Gallagher went from the dizzying heights of his champagne supernova years in Oasis to living on the edge, ostracised and lost in the musical wilderness of booze, notoriety and bitter legal battles. Starting again alone, stripped bare and with nowhere to hide, this intimate doco sees Liam risks everything to make the greatest rock’n’roll comeback of all time.
RBdigital: Want to read more about Oasis and Liam Gallagher in Rolling Stone? You can–right here in RBdigital!
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer
Length: 88 minutes
Directors: Mike Lerner and Maxim Pozdorovkin
On Feb. 21, 2012, members of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot, donning their colorful trademark balaclavas, or ski masks, participated in a 40-second “punk prayer protest” on the altar of Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral before being detained. Arrested and tried for trespassing, wearing “inappropriate” sleeveless dresses and disrupting social order, Nadia, Masha and Katia were accused of religious hatred in a trial that reverberated around the world and transformed the face of Russian society. An official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, where it received the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit.
Combined search: Wellington City Libraries’ eLibrary has some great articles, videos, audio and biographies on Pussy Riot–have a search right here!
The Chills: The Triumph & Tragedy of Martin Phillipps
Length: 95 minutes
Directors: Julia Parnell and Rob Curry
Martin Phillipps came tantalizingly close to conquering the international musical world with his band The Chills, but instead fell into decades of debt and addiction in his hometown of Dunedin, New Zealand. At 54, he’s been given a dire medical prognosis, forcing him to face his demons and realise his musical ambitions before it’s too late.
Wellington Music at WCL: With interviews, reviews, archives and a gig guide, our specialist music page has got your local music needs covered.
“There’s only one sure thing in this life, Blondini, and that’s doubt. I think.” — Bruno Lawrence in Goodbye Pork Pie
One of the best things you can do during tough times is to sit down and lose yourself in a great comedy film. In my view watching comedy films is good for you, and our free library movie streaming services Beamafilm and Kanopy have some absolute comic gold. I’ve picked just a few of my favourites and tried my best to make the selection as broad as possible to suit every taste and tickle a wide variety of different funny bones.
The choices range from from Howard Hawks’ sassy, wise-cracking masterpiece His Girl Friday to Juzo Itami’s off beat but fabulous “ramen western” Tampopo–not to mention the opportunity to watch Geoff Murphy’s seminal Kiwi comedy classic Goodbye Pork Pie. I hope you enjoy my picks and are inspired to explore our extensive movie catalogue further. Enjoy!
Juzo Itami’s “ramen western” is a totally unique, wryly funny Japanese comedy revolving round food and relationships. It will simultaneously make you laugh and your mouth water and perhaps even tempt you into the kitchen. It is often described as the best movie about food ever! The plot is simple: a pair of truck drivers befriend the widowed owner of a noodle restaurant, and the narrative is interwoven with other stories about food on various levels. This delicious comedy is sweet, surreal and unlike any other.
Overdrive: Hungry after watching Tampopo? Check out the great selection of cookbooks available on Overdrive.
Borrowbox: Borrowbox also has cookbooks available as eBooks–especially Australian titles. Enjoy!
Length: 111 minutes
Director: Jacques Tati
Another truly unique comic masterpiece, this time about the central character’s struggle to understand the French fascination with modern architecture and the modern world. This multi-award-winning film features the recurring Tati character of Mr Hulot: in this particular film he is a slightly lost soul bemused by the vagrancies of the modern world. Tati elevates sight comedy to unexpected and unpredictable heights–to, as some people have commented, almost philosophical levels. It also sports a huge supporting cast of dogs which Tati found in the local dog pound. After the film ended, he had become so attached to the dogs he refused to return them there, instead finding homes for them by advertising in a local newspaper: “good homes required for film stars”. This side-story reflects well the film’s quirky, warm-hearted and synchronous nature.
RBdigital: Monsieur Hulot may have struggled with modern architecture, but you don’t have to! Browse contemporary architecture and design magazines (including Architectural Digest and Interior) via RBdigital.
Mango Languages: Did you know that two versions of Mon Oncle were filmed at the same time–one with the dialogue in French, the other in English! (They also swapped out the street signs in the background.) Understand both versions with the help of Mango Languages.
This classic silent movie from the birth of cinema is often cited as one of the best movies ever made. Buster Keaton–“the comic who never smiles”–stars as a locomotive driver during the America Civil War. It’s a physical comedy, but a strong case could be made that this film is in fact the birth of the action movie. The startling, breath-taking, real-life stunts and action-driven plot insures that it rattles along at a breakneck pace, adding strength to such a claim.
Proquest Research Library: Did you know that in the real-life events that inspired The General, it’s the Union army rather than the Confederates that conduct the raid? Learn more at the Proquest Research Library.
Gale in Context: Biography: Roger Ebert has called Buster Keaton “the greatest actor-director in the history of the movies”, but how exactly did he get the name Buster? Find out at Gale in Context: Biography!
His Girl Friday
Length: 92 minutes
Director: Howard Hawks
His Girl Friday is a masterclass in wise-cracking, sassy, super-fast, ultra-sharp comic dialogue. Made during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the virtuosic comic performances from leads Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell combine with the fabulously taut script to make this screwball comedy funny to this day. The overlapping jokes, dialogue and comic moments come so thick and fast you really need to watch it twice to pick up on everything that’s going on.
DigitalNZ: Before he appeared onscreen, Carey Grant worked in vaudeville–but have you ever wondered about vaudeville in New Zealand? Check out DigitalNZ to see some fantastic local vaudeville posters, reviews and more.
Haynes Manuals AllAccess: Did you know that one of Carey Grant’s first cars was a 1927 Packard Sport Phaeton? He probably didn’t do his own repairs, but if he did he could have used our Haynes Manuals AllAccess database!
Even if this seminal Kiwi classic comedy has dated somewhat, it is still an essential watch for anyone interested in NZ film. Shot in 1979 on a tiny budget, the film is a time capsule of certain aspects of NZ life in the early 1980s. The film’s comedy is energetic, frenetic, frantic, sarcastic and very Kiwi. The film’s fast-moving plot involves two loser heroes who race across the New Zealand landscape in a yellow mini, getting into all sorts of scrapes and escapades along the way.
Naxos Jazz Library: As well as being a director, Geoff Murphy was also known for playing a mean jazz trumpet. Listen to streaming audio of classic jazz via our fantastic jazz database!
BWB Books Treaty of Waitangi Collection: Geoff Murphy’s third film, Utu, is partly based on the life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki. Read more about Te Kooti in Judith Binney’s Redemption Songs: A Life of Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki, available now via our BWB books collection.
Steeped in the vibe that is New York in the early part of the 21st century, this is a tale of New York youngsters, their lives, loves and relationships as seen through the eyes of a struggling dancer. Greta Gerwig’s portrayal of the endearing, loopy, slightly maddening and very endearing central character Frances Ha steals the show. It is a touching, fresh, gentle and friendly observational comedy that uses New York as a kind of side character and is a really enjoyable way to spend a night, afternoon or morning in.
Naxos Video Library: Did you know that the Naxos Video Library contains live recordings of a range of dance productions? (As well as theatre, opera, jazz and more!)
Combined search: Frances Ha has been described as “mumblecore”–but what exactly is this genre? Search across our eResources to find a range of explanations.