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Sandy’s Film Reviews

About me: John OShea at the Onslow College Film Club helped open my eyes to quality movies in the early 60s. Since then I was a regular at the Auckland Film Festival and later the Wellington Film Festival from 1983. My taste is very wide; currently documentaries (truth is very edgy), including blues music & other popular genres. Great films seen include the Iranian film The Separation and Marcel Ophuls Memory of Justice...and many more!
My website: Takaro.

529 Films have been rated or reviewed by Sandy.

Sleeping with the EnemySleeping with the Enemy (1991)
3 stars (Good Enough) Tragic story, convincingly told.
Sense of an Ending, TheSense of an Ending, The (2017)
4 stars (Very Good) Great films have a rhythm; this doesn't. Maybe because it's based on a novel. But it's subtle & well–acted and unusual. Recommended.
DVD $29.95
Salesman, TheSalesman, The (Forusande‎) (2016)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Ideally watch Miller's Death of a Salesman first. Fine acting, great direction & complex urban sets. Similarity of Iranian lives to those in the West ridicules Trump's evil policy. Europe's silence on US plans show Western weakness & hatred of diversit
DVD $29.95
Alone in BerlinAlone in Berlin (2017)
3 stars (Good Enough) Fine acting but lacks pace. Typical bilious green interiors, though the city where the film is made is Cologne, not Berlin; and may even lack urgency for that.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
BeirutBeirut (The Negotiator) (2018)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A brilliantly complex thriller, filmed in Tangier. Very well–acted, with a great plot & terrific script. Very clever. Well worth watching more than once. Exceptional!
DVD $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
WhitneyWhitney (2018)
4 stars (Very Good) Despite being the child of a very talented family, the vulnerability of being black in the late 20thC is very evident, and especially the unending pressure of male egos & greed. A "must see" for all gospel enthusiasts. Some excellent interviews.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
Certain WomenCertain Women (2016)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Quiet, surrealistic & rather boring! Poorly shot & extremely basic.
Wife, TheWife, The (2017)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding! A great film that really needed to be made...think Rodin. Wonderful acting & direction.
DVD $34.95
Sorrow and the Pity, TheSorrow and the Pity, The (1969)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Dated style compared with Marcel's later movies. Long b&w interviews. The stuff of history, but not movies.
A Star is BornA Star is Born (2018)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) A fantastic, but uplifting tale! Captures the compatible stress of a performing duo. Moving.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Lo And Behold: Reveries of the Connected WorldLo And Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (2016)
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding discussion on the future, not the history. Great wisdom of Herzog's questions & some amazing responses! Unmissable extras (3); the first is best. All are of interest, though there is some overlap. All deal with important issues.
Juliet, NakedJuliet, Naked (2018)
2 stars (Good Try) Rather weak plot & unimpressive characters; not as entertaining as expected.
DVD $29.95
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to PowerAn Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (An Inconvenient Truth 2) (2017)
4 stars (Very Good) Valuable on Paris Accords & NZ betrayal. Causes have leaders like Martin Luther King and Gore leads education on climate change, hence focus. Different in style from his 2006 lecture. Gore would have been a much better President than Bush, Obama or Trump.
DVD $25 $18.75, $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
Free State of JonesFree State of Jones (2016)
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding in every aspect.Heartbreaking cruelty that underpins today's USA."Mississippi Goddam", as Nina Simone sang. Matthew McConaughey is powerful, convincing and even brilliant in lead role. Shines light on vital little–known events, good extras
ThelmaThelma (2017)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A powerful & truly scary fantasy of truly Nordic taste. Fine acting & tight script. Complex amalgam of fundamentalism. sibling rivalry, "science' & sex! Gradually becomes increasingly riveting, like a rope around the neck. Very fine music.
DVD $29.95
DamageDamage (1992)
4 stars (Very Good) Stunning acting by all. Very much the life of the British Upper Class consisting only of superficialities. Helps to explain how they failed to organize Brexit! Sexually explicit, definitely an R16 or R18. Entertaining!
Ma MereMa Mere (My Mother) (2004)
1 star (Turkey) C–grade movie with no redeeming features – i've no idea why Huppert wastes her skills on such rubbish!
Daughters of the DustDaughters of the Dust (1991)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) For African–American history this movie is unhelpful. There's no plot, no character development and no way to determine relationships. The dialect is hard to follow without subtitles. With a lot of ads up–front, this DVD is a challenge!
NerudaNeruda (2016)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) What is about the Andes that, to the east (dry) side all the movies are great fun (Argentina), but only a few miles west (Chile, wet) they tend to be dull & overly complex? Neruda is considered a figure of mythic status here. Other reviewers disagree.
DVD $29.95
BoundBound (1996)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Fiendishly clever! Comedic crime/sex thriller. Somewhat stylish. No "shrinking Violets" here! Excellent.
DVD $24.95
Housekeeper, TheHousekeeper, The (Une Femme de Menage) (2002)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Not in the same class as Berri's earlier movies. Slow & predictable. The beach is in Brittany (hence cold), just past Carnac & thus likely Le Pouldu, more convincingly portrayed in "M. Hulot's Holiday". No reasons for the splits shown are suggested.
Fish TankFish Tank (2009)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Gripping & informative. Kate Jarvis' performance is really moving, a tribute to her & the the director. We need to see more of these realistic movies.
DVD $20 $10
Swimming PoolSwimming Pool (2003)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Very good; great acting. Great Luberon setting. Lightweight & diverting.
DVD $15 $7.50
A Simple FavourA Simple Favour (2018)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Totally brilliant entertainment; stylish, witty, smart & very funny at every level. A spoof the on American upper–middle class and a genuine thriller as well. The two lead women are outstanding!
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95, $54.95
Other Side of Hope, TheOther Side of Hope, The (2017)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Very sad if you know the reality. No–one smiles in this and Syrians are treated icily by the bureaucracy – better by (most) ordinary folk. But the Finns are bizarre! Another indulgent, uninformative, unlovable Finnish film.
DVD $29.95
Notes on BlindnessNotes on Blindness (2016)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Patchy drama on Hull's blindness (Prof Religious Educ) & family. Neglects deafness cf Oliver Sacks' essay Mysteries of the Deaf (NYRB 1986). No music in Hull's world (Wikipedia). Fun extras eg Imogen's "Radio H' c.f. real Imogen in The Guardian
DVD $24.95
MudMud (2012)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Nuanced film about living on the Arkansas R. Terrific acting. Good script. Subplots: loyalty of the boys to each other, strangers, parents & between men & women generally. Trust is a limited commodity here. This is no B–grade movie, very fine.
DVD $15 $7.50 | Blu-Ray $25 $18.75
Touch of Evil, ATouch of Evil, A (1958)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Brilliant Orson Welles' B–movie. Terrific fun & very good.
DVD $20 $15
Midnight CowboyMidnight Cowboy (1969)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) All–time classic thriller!
DVD $15 $11.25
Story of India with Michael Wood, The (TV Series)Story of India with Michael Wood, The (TV Series) (2007)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning photography & well–constructed clear story of the subcontinent's complex history from earliest times. Really terrific; fascinating, beautiful & up–to–date. A must–see for anyone who cares about our world today.
AquariusAquarius (2016)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Long, slow,witty & very original. Not everyone's cup of tea; gutsy portrait of a brave lively widow fighting against developers to keep her lovely home. Stunningly nuanced acting of Sonia Braga. Sophisticated intergenerational story, but v. modern.
DVD $24.95
Post, ThePost, The (2017)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Not better than'The Most Dangerous Man in America:Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009)' which poignantly reveals the courage & loneliness of this great man and is a real doco. "The Post' is noisy; linotype machines & printers are nostalgic.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
My Life Without MeMy Life Without Me (2003)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Intensely sad, beautiful film written, shot, & directed by talented Spanish director Isabel Coixet (see Extras) in Canada. Lovely portrait of very poor young people who truly love one another. Great international cast & soundtrack. Highly recommended!
DVD $24.95
Ginger & RosaGinger & Rosa (Ginger and Rosa) (2012)
5 stars (Exceptional) Unusual but realistic. An economical drama about growing up in the 60s. A different age & engaged teenagers. Intense. Possibly somewhat autobiographical. Fantastic electricity between the girls. All acting outstanding, hence a flop in the USA. Great!
DVD $34.95
Female Brain, TheFemale Brain, The (2017)
1 star (Turkey) Pathetic! At best like an an extended TED talk; at worst...just awful! Boring, silly & to be avoided at all costs.
DVD $34.95
TimbuktuTimbuktu (2014)
4 stars (Very Good) Searingly beautiful, quiet & cruel. The tragedy of a a small, devote & articulate Muslim population under the yoke of arbitrary Sharia law imposed by a foreign Tuareg militia. Unforgettable scenes with a surrealistic quality. We failed these people.
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr StoryBombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (2017)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Remarkable film made by enthusiasts free of mainstream studios. Terrific rare footage integrated with fine original music. A fascinating & tragic story of a fiercely independent woman remembered for her stunning looks rather than her brilliant mind.
DVD $24.95
Where Am I Going?Where Am I Going? (Quo vado?) (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Genuinely very funny from the first moment. Thereafter humour without pause, Italian–style! Very up–to–date & rather relevant even here. Terrific!
DVD $29.95
Classic Albums - CreamClassic Albums - Cream (Disraeli Gears) (2005)
5 stars (Exceptional) Not a concert, but rather about the structure & origin of some of Cream's most famous songs. Very informative & intelligent analysis; you will learn many unexpected things. Great insights; a very intelligent documentary.
Silent Witness (TV Series)Silent Witness (TV Series) (1996)
5 stars (Exceptional) Intelligent, articulate and each story totally different.
Ismael's GhostsIsmael's Ghosts (2017)
1 star (Turkey) Indulgent & incomprehensible romance spread out over 2 hours. No intrinsic value.
DVD $24.95
Whitney: Can I Be MeWhitney: Can I Be Me (2017)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Thoughtful, intelligent & balanced. Intimate portrait of a meteoric rise from poverty in NJ, driven by an ambitious mum. She used drugs from age 10. Her humility & frustations are clear. The real bodyguard explains how few black stars have happy lives.
DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $24.95
Light Between Oceans, TheLight Between Oceans, The (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Beautifully filmed – captures the feeling of the area. intercut shots of Australia & Otago divert; the light is very different there. Alicia Vikander is wonderful but the movie is let down by a creaky script.Interesting extras. Recomended overall.
DVD $20 $15, $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
In the Shadow of WomenIn the Shadow of Women (L'ombre des femmes) (2015)
1 star (Turkey) Rather disjointed & amateurish. Motives of the guy remain opaque. Nice in b&w.
DVD $34.95
Angel HeartAngel Heart (1987)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Set in Harlem & Louisiana 1955 this top thriller is well–acted, witty & violent. About as good as Hollywood gets. Based on US novel "Fallen Angel". Rourke and Lisa Bonet are terrific but unfortunately their key scene was cut in this DvD. Cult movie.
DVD $20 $10
Labyrinth of LiesLabyrinth of Lies (2014)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Long & complex. First German trial of its war criminals in 1958; courage of prosecuters & media well shown. Such people created a new state.But tension is not maintained. Ophul's The Memory of Justice (1976) is far greater; but at 4.6 hours, gruelling.
DVD $29.95
Film Stars Don't Die in LiverpoolFilm Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017)
2 stars (Good Try) Well enough done, but weaker than I'd hoped; structural weaknesses.
DVD $39.95
Bookshop, TheBookshop, The (2017)
5 stars (Exceptional) Lovely story; very witty script. Miraculous acting & great cinematography. Directed by Spanish isabel Coixet, one of the world's greatest directors today. Watch her other movies too; but you will love this, its really perfect!
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
Letters From BaghdadLetters From Baghdad (2016)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Unique portrait of Bell in the Middle East 1913–26 through letters and photos. Memorable footage of Baghdad. Activities of UK & USA are marred by broken promises. Gertrude’s spirit, political skills, loves and formation of the Baghdad Museum shown. Super!
Red SparrowRed Sparrow (2018)
2 stars (Good Try) Not an enjoyable or interesting film. Choppy, no connection with the cold characters. Shows the naked power of the Russian State. Long, complex but weakly plotted. Ludicrously filmed in London where the cityscape is vastly different from Moskva.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95, $49.95
Citizen Jane: Battle for the CityCitizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016)
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliantly relevant to NZ doco on this brave woman who stood up against those who would recreate NYC as a giant slum motorway – and won. NYC today is her creation. Familiars of NYC appreciate Jane Jacobs. Vivid footage of street life not in her book.
Lady BirdLady Bird (Ladybird) (2017)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Terribly disappointing. Really boring!
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Game NightGame Night (2018)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Very silly, very American, very funny & rather clever!
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
Edge of Heaven, The Edge of Heaven, The (Auf der anderen Seite) (2007)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Thought\–provoking & mainly very well–acted but the plot structure ultimately lacked substance, I thought.
DVD $29.95
PhoenixPhoenix (2014)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Disappointing Holocaust movie. Nina Hoss is good; but forget the "plot"!
DVD $29.95
In the HouseIn the House (2012)
4 stars (Very Good) Very amusing family farce. Brilliant witty script by Ozon, as always. Top intelligent entertainment. Has spine as well as humour; leaves one thinking. Excellent!
Woman With the Five Elephants, TheWoman With the Five Elephants, The (2009)
5 stars (Exceptional) An intense, complex, & intimate portrait of a brave, kind and intelligent Ukrainian expatriate. Extremely informative on language, translation, & history. Her return to Kiev after 65 years with her granddaughter is intensely moving. Very fine.
ManipulationManipulation (2011)
2 stars (Good Try) Choppy & incoherent thriller at least exposes extreme 'armed neutrality' of Switzerland which has deterred any external attacks for 200 years, but created a rather strange society. Either fails to develop characters or maybe they are mere functionaries.
DVD $29.95
YellaYella (2007)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Very unusual, but manipulative. Fine acting by Nina Hoss, let down by a weak plot. Awful men. A drama for accountants!
Odyssey, TheOdyssey, The (L'odyssée) (2016)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Cousteau's family adventures. Characters true to life, on meeting Cousteau I recognized the ruthless driver behind 60 years of ocean exploration & transition from technocrat to conservationist. No–one has done more for the world's oceans.
DVD $29.95
La La LandLa La Land (2016)Aro Favourite
1 star (Turkey) Very weak peaen to Hollywood. Brickbats would be better. Long & boring; only jazz towards the end prevents it dying in the roadway.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
Landfill HarmonicLandfill Harmonic (2015)
5 stars (Exceptional) Inspirational doco. If you only see one film this year this should be it. Remarkable story of how music & creative drive changed the lives of some of the poorest children in the world and gave them memories that money couldn't buy. Marvellous!
DunkirkDunkirk (2017)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Spectacular, well–made. Realistic, despite the container crane in the background. Everything is nicely painted, but a great war movie despite. Polish troops get no mention, or 30,000 French soldiers left behind. Many more vessels were used than shown–861.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95, $59.95
AlliedAllied (2016)
1 star (Turkey) Brad Pitt is stiff & mummified; the plot is unconvincing. A "turkey".
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95, $49.95
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, MissouriThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Extremely good. Guaranteed entertainment! US small–town life, replete with prejudice & violence. Trump territory, but the movie has subtlety. Frances McDormand as Mildred Hayes is terrific.
DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $29.95 $20
Long Day's Journey Into NightLong Day's Journey Into Night (1962)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Fine new print of this long, brilliant & cruel film of one of America's greatest plays. Standard of acting, especially by Katharine Hepburn, sets a standard never surpassed. Powerful, intense & realistic. One of the greatest movies ever made.
Florida Project, TheFlorida Project, The (2017)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) The children, Moonee, Scooty & Jancey are quite marvelous & despite being the offspring of 'white trash' living on the margin, their escapades and acting quite capture the heart. Many adults show complex kindnesses, too.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Molly's GameMolly's Game (2017)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Gripping thriller, not a moment wasted. Outstanding acting, direction & script. Vivid picture of a woman trying to succeed in a man's world where all that counts is "winning". A great film, best of 2018 so far.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Testament of YouthTestament of Youth (2015)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Realistic portrayal of the great British Pacifist by Alicia Vikander. A very moving story of WW1; the battlefields & the nursing stations. The agony of women at war is brilliantly played by Vikander and well worth seeing for that alone.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
House of PleasuresHouse of Pleasures (House of Tolerance) (2011)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Crudely 19thC despite machine–wrapped King–size fags, only available 1920 on. Women are slaves, like most such today. Startling end makes one realise this story is not really past, but contemporary. DVD Black & White & Sex is far more informative.
DVD $34.95 $19.95
Soundbreaking (TV Series)Soundbreaking (TV Series) (Soundbreaking: Stories from the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music) (2016)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Fascinating technical PBS Grammy–Award winning PBS doco on the background to the making of popular music. Covers 100 years, but is right up–to–date. Focuses on the most innovative singers, producers & bands. Amazing footage. 425 mins
Tulip FeverTulip Fever (2017)
1 star (Turkey) Facile costume–drama filmed in a most irritating style. Historically ridiculous. Hollywood trash. Even Judi Dench makes a fool of herself!
DVD $29.95
Red ObsessionRed Obsession (2013)
3 stars (Good Enough) Explains why classe Bordeaux unaffordable but a status symbol in China. Empty bottles with famous labels are refilled. Shots of Bordeaux vineyards & interviews with few winemakers esp Moueix. Judges as promoters. 1855 classification made them millions.
Once Upon a Time - French CinemaOnce Upon a Time - French Cinema (2009)
2 stars (Good Try) Documentary on Godard's Contempt, starring Brigitte Bardot in the 50s, & Carne's Les Enfants du Paradis, in German–occupied Paris in 1943. Lacks theme and only for fans. Lots of talking heads & some footage but fails to fit them into a historic context.
DVD $29.95
A United KingdomA United Kingdom (2016)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Marvellous true tale of love & courage brilliantly directed by Africa's first great female filmmaker. Fascinating slice of history, superbly acted. Moving, gracious & passionate; how Botswana came to be. Reveals Britain's role in the rise of apartheid.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
20th Century Women20th Century Women (2017)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Unusual & intelligent. Progressive in many ways, contrasting with the compartmentalisation of character in most American movies. Somehow unresolved; the 'happy ever after' ending was a mistake: better short & less biographical.
DVD $34.95
High FidelityHigh Fidelity (2000)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A real fun movie; a great comedy with brilliant characters, very well acted & directed. Shop "assistants" are hilarious! Don't miss the deleted scenes and other extras. Plenty of impoortant ideas as well as laughs.
DVD $15 $7.50
Willow CreekWillow Creek (2013)
3 stars (Good Enough) Banal lead characters suggest a possibly dull film & then, just as you relax, the horror kicks in! Clever
DVD $29.95
GirlhoodGirlhood (2014)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Unique, complex view of black teenage life in the banlieues. A powerful story carried by great young women backed by a memorable soundtrack. One's heart bleeds for their longing to have an existence independent of men, sex, drugs and menial work.
DVD $20 $10, $29.95
Night MovesNight Moves (1975)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) No–nonsense thriller very well done. Gene Hackman has always been a subtle actor. Swift pace maintained throughout with never a moment's boredom. Good script.
God Bless AmericaGod Bless America (2011)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Excellent black comedy on Trump's Amerika. Great travesty of rubbishy US & radio "shows" thrown in for good measure. Extremely entertaining; the girl Roxy (Tara Barr) is a delight! Seriously fun movie! Good on "marriage", too.
Cry, The Beloved CountryCry, The Beloved Country (1951)
2 stars (Good Try) Compared with Alan Paton's moving novel, the movie has always seemed like a faded print, especially now that the soundtrack is almost unintelligible. Worth watching for those interested in Africa's past but not recommended without equivocation.
DVD $14.95
Before SunriseBefore Sunrise (1995)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A lovely film, intelligent, witty and compassionate. Along with its successor, BEFORE SUNSET, provides a realistic portrayal of human relations. Spontaneous dialogue added by the two young actors enriches the script and adds credibility.
DVD $15 $11.25, $25 $12.50
Tears for SaleTears for Sale (Charleston and Vendetta) (2008)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) It checked no boxes for me! This silly, Serbian fairytale is just that!
Before SunsetBefore Sunset (2004)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Very likeable. A fine film, interesting, dense, realistic & witty; unexpected. A great screenplay with real, spontaneous exchanges & a great story; very convincing. Intense dialogue.
DVD $20 $15
Kim Cattrall - Sexual IntelligenceKim Cattrall - Sexual Intelligence (2005)
1 star (Turkey) Overall sensible & faintly informative, but multiple "talking heads" providing various views don't add up to an "intelligent" movie. Even less intelligent were Kim's random appearances for continuity.
DVD $14.95
What Happened, Miss Simone?What Happened, Miss Simone? (2015)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding & intense with real depth, like the music itself. A powerful film, but upsetting in many ways. Outstanding rare footage of many concerts enriched by piercing commentaries by her daughter and Stokely Carmichael's widow, Abazza. Great extras.
Black & White & SexBlack & White & Sex (2012)
4 stars (Very Good) About people rather than sex, but specific exchanges occur between the Interviewer (Winter) & the women. Demonstrates the revolution in the "world's oldest industry"since legalisation. All the women are likeable, interesting, intelligent and often funn
DVD $34.95
Dreamers, TheDreamers, The (2003)
2 stars (Good Try) Well–made & well–acted but but "plot" is almost non–existent. Trivialises important political events. Much running in and out of well–painted doors.
Fistful of Dollars, AFistful of Dollars, A (1964)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Beautiful print of the great classic–even has a jester! A sort of western "ballet" – or maybe chess? Defines "cool". As fresh as in 1964. They sadly don't make these anymore, as we live in a world where violence triumphs over wit.
DVD $15 $11.25
Rewind This!Rewind This! (2013)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) A bit rough & one rather tired of the innumerable nutty interviewees. However, a valuable record of a world now almost gone
Professor Marston and the Wonder WomenProfessor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
3 stars (Good Enough) Fascinating true story of Marston & his wife and lover. Rather convincing; especially that the two women lived together for 38 years after Marston died. Well–told but slightly let down by stiff acting. Interesting & worthwhile.
DVD $34.95
Charles Bradley: Soul of AmericaCharles Bradley: Soul of America (2012)
4 stars (Very Good) Emotional & intimate portrait of this humble man; unstructured & spontaneous. Also a moving account of the misery of poor blacks living in the world's richest country. I was lucky to see him alive in WLG and in life he was just as shown here.
DVD $29.95
Last Shop StandingLast Shop Standing (2012)
5 stars (Exceptional) Talking heads identify greedy behaviour of Record Co's for demise of the shops, along with corruption of charts. From 2015 UK supermarkets promoted CDs. But now Record Shop Day everywhere a success & rebirth of vinyl guarantees a future for UK stores.
DVD $34.95
A Cure for WellnessA Cure for Wellness (2016)Aro Favourite
1 star (Turkey) Absolute rubbish! No redeeming features. best watched after a meal of steamed eels & followed by a sauna & a visit to the dentist! Indulgent fantasy that has nothing to do with Kafka's terrific ideas & humour. Avoid!
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
RosenstrasseRosenstrasse (2003)
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning! Believable characters, great acting, terrific lighting. Up–to–date & sophisticated. An agonizing story, brilliantly portrayed. Very informative & highly recommended.
DVD $15 $7.50
Blue JasmineBlue Jasmine (2013)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) Usual lightweight American junk food; watchable & forgettable. Similar European movies have more substance. Waste of time.
DVD $20 $10, $34.95 $19.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Smiles of a Summer NightSmiles of a Summer Night (Sommarnattens Leende) (1955)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Bergman's genius astounds, as ever. Made 70 years ago but still fresh & witty. His interest in the workings of women's hearts is strongly evident. Old Mrs. Armfeldt is very funny. Every frame beautifully composed, lit & memorable. Good extras
Made in DagenhamMade in Dagenham (2010)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Very good
DVD $25 $18.75
Double Hour, TheDouble Hour, The (La Doppia Ora) (2009)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Fiendishly complex, economical, top–grade unpredictable thriller. Sex scenes; no violence. Recommended
DVD $34.95
Perfect StrangersPerfect Strangers (Perfetti sconosciuti) (2016)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Entertaining & witty account of a "party game" that is definitely high risk!
DVD $29.95
I Need That Record!I Need That Record! (The Death (or Possible Survival) of the Independent Record Store) (2010)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Bravely advocates benefit of independent retail c.f. soulless chains, commercial radio & the internet. NZ lucky that Real Groovy, Southbound, Slow Boat & others stand fast & now the tide is turning! Amoeba Records, SF has a million titles instore.
DVD $19.95
Janis: Little Girl BlueJanis: Little Girl Blue (2015)
4 stars (Very Good) Berg crams a lot into this powerful movie. Altho' a huge Janis fan I didn't like it at first; 2nd time was much better. Terrific extras. Gracious Laura Joplin adds a lot; cared–for letters show Janis was always loved.
Thank You For SmokingThank You For Smoking (2005)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Extremely entertaining and worth seeing
Sound It OutSound It Out (2011)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Appealing! I'd not noticed that purchases were so male dominated before. I liked that that the owner knew the tastes of 17 customers well enough to set discs aside for them. Colin Morris did the same for me & introduced me to wonderful new music.
DenialDenial (2016)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Intelligent & gripping portrayal of the importance of historians in telling the truth, as relevant to NZ today as for one of the greatest crimes of the 20thC, the Nazi Holocaust. Terrific performances esp.by Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall & Rachel Weisz
East to WestEast to West (2011)
5 stars (Exceptional) Although produced in the UK, this series is narrated by mainly Turkish specialists. It provides an excellent counterpoint to our hideously eurocentric education in world history. Visually spectacular, accurate and interestingly presented.
Henry The 4th Henry The 4th (Henri 4, Henry of Navarre) (2010)
2 stars (Good Try) Overly–long & complex melodrama reveals little of the real forces behind change & stasis in Henri's time. Very bloody & sexual in places but the whole epic drags on without much character development. No convincing meaningful structure is imposed.
DVD $34.95
Hell or High WaterHell or High Water (2016)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Very amusing; great soundtrack. Witty dialogue & realistic characters, for a change. Trump's America.
DVD $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
August: Osage CountyAugust: Osage County (2013)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Terrific – better than you'd even guess!
DVD $14.95
iZombie (TV Series)iZombie (TV Series) (2015)
3 stars (Good Enough) Very funny spoof on the current fad for TV pathology–room dramas. Rose McIver is terrific! Great fun – recommended.
DVD $29.95, $34.95, $39.95
BlueBlue (2017)
4 stars (Very Good) Beautiful, highly relevant and right up–to–date. Visually stunning & very informative, Australian documentary–making at its best. A must for anyone who cares about the planet.
DVD $24.95
No Ordinary SheilaNo Ordinary Sheila (2017)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Very interesting and moving especially if you are interested in NZ art & literature. The best NZ film of 2017 – completely unique. Destined to become a classic.
DVD $24.95 $19.95
VenusVenus (2006)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliance of the 5 main actors is matched only by the wit of the script. Wonderful portrait of vivacious old age intertwined with gauche youth, outstandingly played by Jodie Whittaker in her first film. Funny, but with the humour coloured by loss
DVD $39.95
KediKedi (2016)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Great camera work & editing produce a unique film exposing the love that people of Islam have for domestic animals & birds. Humility & gentleness of ordinary Turks is an antidote to the hatred of the West for a world of which they know nothing.
DVD $29.95
My Cousin RachelMy Cousin Rachel (2017)
2 stars (Good Try) Proves that books rarely translate into good films. Best efforts by actors, costume & set designers can't move it. Creative direction would set the film in the present day. But then the story, written in 1950, would have seemed even more ridiculous!
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Country Doctor, TheCountry Doctor, The (Irreplaceable) (2016)
3 stars (Good Enough) An unusual, interesting film – obviously of interest to doctors & lovers of the French countryside & village life – but not without a more serious, psychological side as well. One joy – women are nowhere patronised.
DVD $29.95
Berlin SyndromeBerlin Syndrome (2017)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Realistic suspenseful and fearful story. Well–structured & convincing with very strong characters and never a dull moment. Horror film with a totally believable plot – doubly scary. Just as gripping on a second viewing.
DVD $34.95
MustangMustang (2015)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Near Rize wealthy GRANDPARENTS struggle with 5 lively teenagers & decide to marry them off. Unmentioned is success of arranged marriages & property deals that enable them. Girls get educated to reduce their dowry (Ergüven?). Facile but entertaining.
DVD $29.95
Me, Them & LaraMe, Them & Lara (2009)
4 stars (Very Good) Very funny & topical comedy takes "the Mickey' out of wealthy middle–aged Catholic western Europeans in favour of those dreaded immigrants from Eastern Europe & Africa! Youth & the aged come out rather well, too. Guaranteed fun & surprises!
La Nostra VitaLa Nostra Vita (Our Life) (2010)
3 stars (Good Enough) Lots of Italian family life; realistic plot & workplace; well–acted & great camera work.
All Governments LieAll Governments Lie (All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception and the Spirit of I. F. Stone) (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Powerful up–to–date account of the role of the media in facilitating our acceptance of government lies, prevalent in NZ as elsewhere. Shows how a tiny handful of truly independent journalists like I.F. Stone contribute to society, unlike corporations.
DVD $29.95
Manet: The Man Who Invented Modern ArtManet: The Man Who Invented Modern Art (2011)
2 stars (Good Try) Disappointing c.f. incisive analysis of Goya by Hughes or the romantic picture of the late Renoir, both at Arovideo. This blustering presentation ignores influences on Manet or of his work on Impressionism. Millet is unmentioned. Manet paints in a vacuum.
Limits of Control, TheLimits of Control, The (2009)
3 stars (Good Enough) Stylish 'action movie in drag' i.e. without action. Slow & repetitive pace is intended – see Extras. Jarmusch wanted to ‘reference dreams that you are not sure you had’. I think he does this successfully – the slow pace being the pace of dreams.
Rosalie BlumRosalie Blum (2016)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Delightful & intriguing story, neither overly light or heavy. Much humour balanced by a sad undertow.Terrific acting, especially by Alice Isaaz as Aude. Excellent performances by all the girls & the pets! Recommended.
DVD $29.95
I Am Not Your NegroI Am Not Your Negro (2016)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Hard–hitting, brilliant integration of familiar & unfamiliar footage with Baldwin's profound analysis of America's racial divide. Very relevant today.
DVD $24.95
Farthest, TheFarthest, The (2017)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunningly engaging & unexpectedly moving. Perhaps the greatest technical feat of the 20thC. Presented by those who crafted & programmed Voyager I. You don't need to be passionate about space to love this movie. It's breathtaking!
DVD $39.95
Lady MacbethLady Macbeth (2016)
2 stars (Good Try) Sex scenes do not a movie make. Not engaging.
DVD $29.95
FrantzFrantz (2016)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunningly well–made, full of tension & surprises. This is no ordinary "war movie". It's exceptionally beautiful, mostly in b&w and the acting is beyond outstanding, especially the subtlety of Paula Beer. Deeply moving. One of the best movies of 2016.
DVD $24.95
It Comes at NightIt Comes at Night (2017)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Horror films shouldn't be boring. This one is. Very little happens, all of it slowly! The take–home message is that, if you have a dog, keep it on a lead.
DVD $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
Sophie Scholl: The Final DaysSophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Filmed with great integrity. Julia Jentsch plays Sophie as low–key, but very strong. Extra interviews with living family members & Mohr's son shed more light on the times & reveal how progressive the Scholl family is. Real footage of trial horrifying.
Viceroy's HouseViceroy's House (2017)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) 106 mins long.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
Devil's Candy, TheDevil's Candy, The (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Very scary & convincing. Clever, subtle, well–made & well–acted. Unfocused tension from the first moment. I especially liked the Devil Incarnate as an Art Dealer & his side–kick. Not recommended for children or teenagers. Artists, yes!
DVD $34.95
Their FinestTheir Finest (2017)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Intense, moving, complex & poignant drama brilliantly acted by Gemma Arterton & Bill Nighy. A film within a film on the making of a 'politically correct' movie about Dunkirk during WW2 when women came to the fore in many roles. 117 minutes, recommended.
DVD $39.95 $20 | Blu-Ray $44.95
Jasper JonesJasper Jones (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Apart from the outstanding performances of all the young stars, it's the great karri trees of remote SW Australia which make this gem shine. Pacey & complex plot flawed only by the Aussie list into melodrama at times. Strongly recommended.
DVD $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
ColossalColossal (2017)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Not in the same class as Timecrimes, but still witty & unexpected. Convincing New Hampshire small–town losers with big houses & small brains. Beautiful Anne Hathaway carries the show. Lots of fun, recommended.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $49.95
Promise, ThePromise, The (2016)
2 stars (Good Try) Melodramatic style & contrived romance muddy what could have been, for $90m, a great historical epic. Spanish landscapes, architecture & costumes are realistic but the one scene that could have provided some explanation of these tragic events was deleted.
DVD $34.95
Nina's JourneyNina's Journey (2006)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Riveting true story of the only 2 who survived of 400,000 in the Warsaw Ghetto. Polish actress Grochowska stars but the movie also says how Jews were killed by some Poles as well as Nazis (called "Aryans" here). Intrepid women dominate this fine movie.
DVD $19.95 $14.95
Her Whole Life AheadHer Whole Life Ahead (Tutta La Vita Davanti) (2008)
4 stars (Very Good) Smart, funny & moving. This laugh–out–loud comedy also manages to say something worthwhile about the plight of graduates today & questions the wider purposes of higher education.
DVD $169.95
BelleBelle (2013)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Outstanding cast; important & perhaps partly true story. Covers the period ten years after Cook & Banks were first in NZ, with Cook recording positive comments about Maori & Banks busy spreading venereal diseases in Tahiti – an age of contradictions.
DVD $20 $15 | Blu-Ray $19.95
Basic InstinctBasic Instinct (1992)
3 stars (Good Enough) Facile plot & unlikeable characters but entertaining enough.
DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
UnfaithfulUnfaithful (2002)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) The marriage is never deeply explored, just skated around. We are to believe that Diane Lane is motivated by sexual desire alone (possible) but that such nuclear suburban families might be unworkable is not considered. Characters are shallow.
Blu-Ray $19.95
Ghost in the ShellGhost in the Shell (2017)
1 star (Turkey) Technically impressive & well–acted by Scarlett & Juliette. Unfortunately the silly plot doesn't match the production. Not recommended.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95, $49.95
Brief EncounterBrief Encounter (1946)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Not dated, thanks to the cracking script full of wit, eg preview of "Flames of Passion" followed by an pram ad! Impressive acting & quality of reprocessed film & sound plus train punctuality before Thatcher's privatisation.
Cranes are Flying, TheCranes are Flying, The (Letyat Zhuravli) (1957)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Beautiful print & fine acting, especially by Veronica, Feodor & Grandma. Complex Soviet anti–war film with amazing hand–held camera–work, never bettered. Slightly stilted plot & fine clothes for USSR in 1945 remind us that this classic is 60 years old
A Decade Under the InfluenceA Decade Under the Influence (2003)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Comprehensive, but basically just "talking heads" (directors) interspersed with brief clips. Deals with style rather than substance of Hollywood movies of the era. Credit given to the "60s" avant–garde from France & Italy (but not Germany or Britain).
DVD $29.95
LovingLoving (2016)
5 stars (Exceptional) Low–key, slow–burning drama–doco on race law in US not long ago. Packs a helluva punch because of its gentle style. Bravery of Mrs Loving stays in the heart due to Ruth Negga's gritty performance. A tribute to humble folk facing the hangover of slavery.
DVD $34.95
RoninRonin (1997)
3 stars (Good Enough) Well–plotted action thriller with enough car chases to satisfy the French for the last 20 years! Stars the towns of Nice, Arles & Paris. Most of the sites are fun to visit.
Blu-Ray $29.95
Marie-Jo and her Two LovesMarie-Jo and her Two Loves (2002)
3 stars (Good Enough) A middle–aged woman is equally in love with two similar–aged men. But in real life, love is never quite equal. She leaves her husband for the exotic mariner – then returns. So? Great acting & Mediterranean scenery do not compensate for a weak plot.
Marius et JeannetteMarius et Jeannette (1997)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) What a joy! A subtle & funny plunge into believable working–class lives instead of yet another exploration of the indiscreet charms of the bourgeoisie. Extremely likeable.
ElleElle (2016)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Vicious look at aspects of middle–class French life – apparently the preoccupation of French filmmakers since Godard. Tiresome compared with, say The Separation (Iran). Best part of the DVD are the extras – as always truth outshines fantasy.
Captain PhillipsCaptain Phillips (2013)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Surprisingly good & realistic. Even Tom Hanks is excellent. An good adventure movie portrayal close to the truth.
DVD $15 $7.50, $39.95, $44.95
Dinner Game, TheDinner Game, The (1998)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Exceptionally funny movie that takes the mickey out of the middle class, especially those that look down on the humble. Shakespearean in the inevitability of it's comic structure it will surely leave your sides aching with laughter. A classic!
DVD $24.95 $19.95
Fish Called Wanda, AFish Called Wanda, A (1988)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Rather silly fun.
National Theatre: 50 Years on StageNational Theatre: 50 Years on Stage (2015)
4 stars (Very Good) Very interesting & diverse. Many great actors strut their stuff. Well worth seeing.
London: The Modern BabylonLondon: The Modern Babylon (2012)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Paean to London's diversity & resilience through the 20thC set against brilliantly chosen popular songs. Not strictly a documentary but a rich portrait. Powerful social comments along with the funny & familiar. No grist to the anti–immigration mill here
Magnificent Tati, TheMagnificent Tati, The (2009)
3 stars (Good Enough) Review by a director who was no fan at first – see Extra. Tati is revered in France as a mime artist & bridge with silent era greats. Lovely reprocessed classics, esp. M. Hulot's Holiday, which I've seen 20+ times. Repeat viewings reveal more nuances.
DVD $34.95 $19.95
Hidden FiguresHidden Figures (2016)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning – full of unknown facts. The US Space Program was built on the genius of black women mathematicians discriminated against by colour (1961) & gender. Their courage & determination shines esp. in extra interviews of the actual women. A great movie.
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
RenoirRenoir (2012)
4 stars (Very Good) Beautiful & interesting drama–doco on the two Renoirs, painter & filmmaker son; how they both exploited women in similar ways. Idyllic landscape, but at the heart a sharp edge which erodes this Eden.
SambaSamba (2014)
4 stars (Very Good) Very moving & topical; well–made. Light–hearted but very sensitive. Charlotte Gainsbourg & Omar Sy are terrific actors giving outstanding nuanced performances. A gem!
NikitaNikita (La Femme Nikita) (1990)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Classic French action thriller with subtlety. Has stood the test of time very well and apart from the absence of computers & smartphones could have been made yesterday! Besson was a great Director.
DVD $19.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95 $15
HelveticaHelvetica (2006)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Extremely interesting & well–made film on the role of typefaces in design & communication. Fascinating visuals, good discussion of the modernist/post–modernist split & the way forward. Essential viewing for those interested in design & communication.
Closet, TheCloset, The (Le Placard) (2001)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Limp & silly compared with Veber's previous brilliant comedies.
DVD $12 $6, $19.95
This Film is Not Yet RatedThis Film is Not Yet Rated (2006)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Gripping look at the secret group of "ordinary parents" & clergy who classify US movies, ignoring gratuitous violence but cutting explicit sex scenes, esp. if homosexual or black. Favours industry ahead of independents. Ignores porn. Topical.
LaggiesLaggies (2014)
4 stars (Very Good) Initial reaction of watching a chick–flick about the privileged girls of Seattle changed as the subtlety of Keira's acting kicked in & I realized this was in fact a meditation on how people decide on directions in life, dressed up as social comedy.
DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
Open Your EyesOpen Your Eyes (Abre Los Ojos) (1997)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Shallow unlikeable characters & silly plot based on movies like Groundhog Day & Beauty and the Beast. Beautiful actresses & lots of sex do not necessarily guarantee a good movie. But I usually agree with GenXGirl, so maybe I wasn't in the mood!
Your Sister's SisterYour Sister's Sister (2011)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstandingly beautiful Seattle–based film with very crisp dialogue & a tight plot, exceptional acting by all, especially the great Emily Blunt. Nuanced and realistic. Delightful & memorable – recommended
DVD $29.95 $14.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95 $19.95
JulietaJulieta (2016)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Almadovar signature camerawork, design & colours. But the skills are not matched by the weak plot. Should we merely conclude that fishermen's wives must stay at home? Not showing Julieta's meeting with her adult daughter is unsatisfying.
Just a SighJust a Sigh (2013)
4 stars (Very Good) Intense, complex & nuanced account of strangers meeting by chance in Paris. Convincing, every second interesting & often unpredictable. Outstanding acting by all – doesn't flag for a second. Charm of the city omnipresent in every scene – delightful.
RosettaRosetta (1999)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Unforgettable portrait of the struggle to survive of unskilled youth in Europe; set in Liege, Belgium. Brilliant unsmiling performance by young Emilie Dequenne. Extra interview with Directors worthwhile. Extra film The Promise incl. even better.
EllesElles (2011)
4 stars (Very Good) Shows how a curious reporter can identify with her subjects. Stunning acting, but it glamorizes the lives of student prostitutes. Reality is grimmer. Read Moravia's "The Women of Rome" for better insights or even "The World of Suzie Wong"
DVD $29.95
13 Tzameti13 Tzameti (2005)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) A no thrills low–budget thriller with a really dumb plot and no more tension than a perished elastic band. Another French triumph of style over substance. Easy to remember – very little happens!
DVD $20
Brokenwood Mysteries, The (TV Series)Brokenwood Mysteries, The (TV Series) (2014-2017)
3 stars (Good Enough) Creaky, but quite enjoyable. Pity we generally can't move away from cinema cliches. Perhaps the lead detective could have been a Trekka fan instead of of a Holden buff? Thus the series could have shifted towards a Rowan Atkinson approach...
DVD $29.95, $34.95, $34.95, $34.95
Magnum P.I. (TV Series)Magnum P.I. (TV Series) (1980)
1 star (Turkey) Pretty rubbishy. even compared with today's "Hawaii Five–0"!
DVD $39.95, $39.95, $39.95, $39.95
Sophie's ChoiceSophie's Choice (1982)
5 stars (Exceptional) A great holocaust story. Excellent & heart–rending
DVD $14.95
AccattoneAccattone (1961)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Accompanying 1961 interviews "Comizi d'amore" with men, women, young, old, throughout Italy on what they think about sex, marriage, fidelity etc is quite entertaining & shows a society outwardly far more progressive than America. Quite surprising!
BaadAsssss CinemaBaadAsssss Cinema (2002)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Unexpectedly funny & informative; well worthy watching. Great interviews with black stars – let alone Tarantino – who also has much to say! Excellent extras. Female stars are similarly exploited financially by Hollywood– see NZ Herald A34 24/08/17
Green Wing (TV Series)Green Wing (TV Series) (2004)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Funniest British comedy in years – a terrific spoof on the prolix hospital dramas of modern times. Totally over–the–top; worth seeing for Tasmin Grieg (Black Books – the girlfriend) alone. Strongly recommended.
Burden of DreamsBurden of Dreams (1982)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding documentary on the greatest project of Herzog. More interesting than Fitzcarraldo itself, with him saying how much he hates the jungle. Surely a love/hate relationship revealing the complexity which makes him such an amazing filmmaker
Fire at SeaFire at Sea (Fuocoammare) (2016)
1 star (Turkey) Superficial treatment of a modern crisis – not nearly as good as the moving Lampedusa in Winter on the same topic.
Adult Life SkillsAdult Life Skills (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Terrific film with remarkable Jodie Whittaker playing a young alienated woman 5 years younger than herself. Funny but movingly insightful portrait of a girl in no hurry to grow up & a refreshing antidote to the sad, cynical girls more prevalent today.
DVD $24.95
Bodyguard, TheBodyguard, The (1992)
4 stars (Very Good) A stylish thriller that is mostly believable and stands the test of time. Costner & Houston are excellent. Great music; enjoyable film.
DVD $19.95
JackieJackie (2016)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Chilean Director Larrain weaves a complex structure around a great performance by Natalie Portman of this traumatic week in the life of the private & enigmatic Jackie Kennedy 55 years ago. A sensitive & perceptive film with a great sound track.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
In the Heat of the NightIn the Heat of the Night (1967)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding film won 5 Oscars in 1967. Stunning performances by Sidney Poitier & Rod Steiger have never been surpassed. Memorable title song written by Quincy Jones sung by Ray Charles. Gripping plot with nasty characters who'd be Trump supporters today.
LolitaLolita (1962)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Dated. Fine acting by all, but the tension that should hold this famous story of sexual obsession is lacking. Perhaps Kubrick is not strong on complexity. One of his weaker films.
DVD $15 $7.50, $39.95
One DayOne Day (2011)
3 stars (Good Enough) Beautiful Anne Hathaway carries the movie; Jim Sturgess is an unfunny Hugh Grant–type. Dissonance between the strength of the two characters weakens the film along with the sentimental plot. Screenwriter can't distinguish love & sex. Easy watching.
DVD $15 $7.50, $39.95
LoulouLoulou (1980)
4 stars (Very Good) Disturbing, but very brilliant!
I, Daniel BlakeI, Daniel Blake (2016)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Too few stars available! Should have been on TVNZ already, this gritty moving portrayal of the Kafkaesque "social welfare" system is totally relevant to NZ today. Neither left–wing nor pessimistic, it should be seen by parliamentarians and everyone else
DVD $39.95 $19.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95 $24.95
Impressionists, The (TV Mini-series)Impressionists, The (TV Mini-series) (2006)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Interesting, beautiful & moving. Doco–drama of the lives of the revolutionary artists, their circle and their work. Actual paintings could have been better reproduced but the famous scenes are well shown in real life. Lovers of all art should see it!
Inspector Soneri: Fog and CrimesInspector Soneri: Fog and Crimes (Nebbie e delitti) (2005)
5 stars (Exceptional) Subtle & intelligent police thriller in 12 separate hourly episodes on 6 discs, best watched in sequence. Each seems better than the last. Better than similar programs because of great acting & gripping plots. Perfect for winter watching!
DVD $34.95, $34.95, $44.95
Last Station, TheLast Station, The (2009)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Romantic without being idealistic thanks to American author & performance by British actors in tidy Germany. Unique Russian spirit, intense religious sensibility & turbulent feeling of this period only 7 years before the Revolution dissipated.
DVD $15 $7.50
GloriaGloria (2013)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Unsatisfying, but not without merit. A dash of Argentine humour might have helped!
DVD $19.95
Sunset SongSunset Song (2015)
4 stars (Very Good) Beautifully filmed & well–acted story of hard life on a Scottish farm in the years before & during WW1. A film for adults, not families. Agyness Deyn is very good and withstands the cruelty of her family with courage. Recommended.
DVD $29.95
99 Homes99 Homes (2014)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Horrific doco–drama on the realities of the property crisis for many American families. Hateful at first glance, but the gripping story soon cuts in. Trashy style absolutely convincing. Excellent film with interesting extras. Not for the faint–hearted!
DVD $29.95 $19.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95 $15
PolicemanPoliceman (2011)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Unless you happen to be deeply interested in the range of Chinese tee shirts & singlets available in Israel, or the high frequency of showers taken by young people in this water–poor country, then give this amateurish rubbish a miss!
DVD $34.95
Bridget Jones's BabyBridget Jones's Baby (2016)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) After a slightly creaky start quickly accelerates into the funniest & best of the entire series. Make sure that you watch right to the very end & check–out the extras, too. Recommended.
DVD $20 $15, $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Beloved SistersBeloved Sisters (2014)
4 stars (Very Good) Excellent Bavarian film contrasting with fantasy romances by Jane Austen. Characters are creative & passionate as Caroline, Charlotte & Schiller were in real life. Watch twice to appreciate an accurate portrayal of these times.
DVD $29.95
Goya: Crazy Like a GeniusGoya: Crazy Like a Genius (2002)
5 stars (Exceptional) Hughes, the greatest art critic of modern times, immediately involves you in this paean to his beloved genius – the great Spanish artist, Goya. His work is brought to life & right up to date with modern events. An outstanding documentary of wide interest.
Girl on the Train, TheGirl on the Train, The (2016)
4 stars (Very Good) Without Emily Blunt's intense performance this would be just another story of competitive urban housewives. She raises it far above this level and you will not soon forget this story. Hawkins' strong plot & Director Taylor's style mesh well.
DVD $20 $15, $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Wait, TheWait, The (L'attesa) (2015)
1 star (Turkey) A triumph of style over substance. Beautiful women hang about in a palazzo near Ragusa, southern Sicily waiting for something that will never happen. Save your money & visit this lovely town. The movie is tiresome and its religious innuendos gross!
DVD $29.95
Unknown Woman, TheUnknown Woman, The (La Sconosciuta) (2006)
4 stars (Very Good) Violent & upsetting, but recommended. Russian Kseniya Rappoport is terrific. She arrives in Italy, rents an apartment and becomes a servant for gold dealers, caring for their small child. Her past of prostitution and poverty returns to exploit her.
VictoriaVictoria (2015)Aro Favourite
1 star (Turkey) Underwhelming naive "thriller" about young thugs & a lonely girl over one night in Berlin. No redeeming features. If a "stunt", not an amusing one.
DVD $29.95
Last Train to FreoLast Train to Freo (2006)
5 stars (Exceptional) Gripping and unexpected!
DVD $34.95
Secret Life of Words, TheSecret Life of Words, The (2005)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A remarkable film that gets to you in a devastating way. The story of Hannah is the story of the millions that have been forgotten. Subtle and brilliant; very unusual – nothing else like it!
DVD $29.95
Sessions at West 54th, Best Of (Vol. 1)Sessions at West 54th, Best Of (Vol. 1) (1997)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) Hangover from 90's replete with checked/striped shirts, prolific instruments but mostly little innovation. Not comparable to NPR's superb Tiny Desk concerts today. Reminds us that the 60's, 70's, & 2000's were the peaks of creativity in pop music
Marat / SadeMarat / Sade (1967)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Few films can compare with this masterpiece by Brook & the RSC. Even after a dozen viewings it still packs an unrivaled intellectual punch. Profound & timeless, as relevant today as when it was made. One of the greatest theatrical productions ever made.
Time CrimesTime Crimes (Los Cronocrímenes) (2007)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Very clever indeed. You'll need all your grey cells to follow the intricacies of this suburban thriller which poses moral as well as dramatic challenges. You need to work hard to stay abreast of the complex plot. Very unusual – terrific!
DVD $20 $15, $30 $22.50
Keeper of Lost Causes, TheKeeper of Lost Causes, The (Kvinden i buret) (2013)
4 stars (Very Good) Scandinavian noir that is seriously black. No wisecracking American toughs with silly pistols here! Edge of the seat gripping right through, with plenty of surprises. Not a soft one for Sunday nights! Recommended.
DVD $29.95
IdaIda (2013)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Intense, quiet b&w exploration of agonizing internal issues faced by many Polish women as late as 1960's with lives ruined by WW2, Holocaust & Russians. Stunning photography and acting. Subtitles too fast but the main story is clear. Highly recommended
DVD $20 $15
Struggle No MoreStruggle No More (2006)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Unique story of a quirky but exceptionally talented NZ band. Thanks to Costa Botes for this very well–produced, structured and recorded film. I'm lucky to have heard Bill Lake since 1968. Excellent commentaries. Highly recommended!
DVD $39.95
Bill Wyman's Blues OdysseyBill Wyman's Blues Odyssey (2002)
1 star (Turkey) Poorly edited single CD of part of the original 2 CD set. Wyman's recollections of black blues singers that influenced him. Poor sound. Not comparable with Scorsese's history of the blues, but original 2 CD set well reviewed elsewhere.
Whiskey Tango FoxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016)
3 stars (Good Enough) Crass but convincing. Shot in Albuquerque because 15 years of "pacification" make it impossible to shoot a movie like this in Kabul. Local characters one–dimensional except for Fahim who is (a) real & (b) still there. Entertaining but uninformative.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Broken Circle Breakdown, TheBroken Circle Breakdown, The (2013)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Unexpected tragic events undermine these apparently easy–going alternative lives. Like The Separation (Iran), it dives deep into the courage & shared beliefs important in relationships. Recommended. The hens & jackdaws perform especially well.
Folies BergèreFolies Bergère (Paris Follies) (2014)
2 stars (Good Try) Not a gripping tale, with well over half of the film redundant to the theme. Although well over 50, I've had much more fun in Paris than shown here!
DVD $29.95
45 Years45 Years (2015)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Tom Courtenay is as great as ever & Charlotte Rampling, with her understated half–smiles fading as the film goes on, is even better. Movie says important things about marriage & how two people may see things differently. Very subtle
DVD $29.95 $24.95
Sarah's KeySarah's Key (2010)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Complex & harrowing. Events portrayed represent some of the darkest days of the République Français but a very fine film. Worth watching extras to see the enormous care taken to recreate the many scenes. Well–acted & brilliantly directed.
Blu-Ray $29.95
Beware of Mr. BakerBeware of Mr. Baker (2012)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Ginger Baker is not admirable; very self–centered but happy to use others. Unacceptable attitude to loyal wives and loving children. Great footage from little–known performances and personal interviews. Lacks analysis of his technique. But recommended.
Girl by the Lake, TheGirl by the Lake, The (La ragazza del lago) (2007)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Smart complex densely plotted–a psychological thriller & a subtle portrait of a flawed community. Clues visible in the photos in the Incident Room of damage wrought by heavy Allied bombing of this beautiful ski resort of Moggia Udine. Terrific!
DVD $169.95
A Most Wanted ManA Most Wanted Man (2014)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A masterpiece! Very tense throughout, great characters brilliantly acted. Uncertainty keeps you on the edge of your couch. Intelligently deals with great issues of today. Incomplete without the excellent le Carre interview (extra).
DVD $34.95 $14.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95 $19.95
Mavis!Mavis! (2015)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Insightful doco on the great gospel & blues singer over 60 years. Good new footage and accurate accounts of the influence of her father "Pops", Dylan, Curtis Mayfield & Stax Records. Includes her visit to dying Levon Helm & great kindness.
DVD $19.95
Meddler, TheMeddler, The (2015)
4 stars (Very Good) Smart chick–flick – very LA! Very well acted esp. by Susan Sarandon & with great chickens. Excellent extras. Recommended
DVD $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
Lou Reed's BerlinLou Reed's Berlin (2007)
1 star (Turkey) This macho presentation of adventures in Berlin in 1973 by Schnabel/Reed lacks courage & insight, not to speak of chord progression. It contrasts unfavorably with the innovative music of the era like Laura Nyro's Christmas & the Beads of Sweat (1970).
DVD $29.95
BoomerangBoomerang (2015)
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding & memorable. Intense & fast–paced, with a terrific cast and script, and lots of surprises. The heart of the film is full of love. Great characters & excellent production values. Best film of 2017 so far – French cinema at it's finest!
DVD $24.95
SelmaSelma (2014)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) SELMA movingly tells the true story of how King and others confronted racism & won in Alabama. It's complex vital history well–acted with great music. Watch it to see how the darkest deeds of Trump can be reversed. Extras are a must–see.
DVD $20 $10
Steamboat Bill JrSteamboat Bill Jr (1928)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Beautifully restored classic comedy. Not Keaton's greatest, but has everything–action, romance, floods & villains. Music has been added. Outstanding extras include history of exploitation of the Mississippi, and demo of how the stunts were done.
DVD $29.95 $19.95
PricelessPriceless (2006)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Entertaining. Audrey is at her most beguiling. I especially like where she teaches the subtle but slightly poker–faced Moroccan/French Elmaleh how to turn on the charm! Wittier and more fun than many recent French comedies. Well–paced.
DVD $20 $15
Queen of the DesertQueen of the Desert (2015)
2 stars (Good Try) The spirit of inquiry & complexity of the time eludes this film which degrades to a series of failed romances. Kidman acts well but is far too tall & beautiful to be Gertrude Bell. Moroccan scenery fails to capture the period. Read her books instead!
Nine Hundred Nights - Big Brother and the Holding CompanyNine Hundred Nights - Big Brother and the Holding Company (2001)
4 stars (Very Good) A vital piece in history of Rock. Shots back to 1963 but most 65–69. Rewrites Janis' story as part of a group who cared for and launched her career. The ruthless ambition of Janis is exposed but seen to be inevitable. Extra interviews a must–see.
DVD $39.95
BrooklynBrooklyn (2015)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) A relaxing film for a Saturday night; well enough acted and not dull. Denouement about conflicting loyalties interesting; most would put familiarity of home first, but the sheer nastiness of European village life in the 1950s clinches the decision.
DVD $14.95 | Blu-Ray $19.95 $10
Lou Reed - Rock and Roll HeartLou Reed - Rock and Roll Heart (1998)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliant on songwriting. Consists of images/performances imposed over a long 1998 interview mostly with the musician. A revelation, which we never had with Dylan. Packed with great music and interesting insights. A truly great Rock N' Roll movie.
DVD $14.95 $11.20
CalendarCalendar (1993)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Tiresome! I visited Armenian churches with an informative FEMALE guide, so found this home movie dull, self–centered and superficial. Armenia is a fascinating country with interesting people; it's the oldest Christian country.
DVD $15 $7.50, $29.95
Bobby Womack - Jazz ChannelBobby Womack - Jazz Channel (2000)
5 stars (Exceptional) Womack's fierce energy shines right thru this SOUL concert. Great 5.1 DTS audio hidden under "Supplementary". Maestro band and backing singers really rockin' after Cooke's "A Change is Going to Come". Wait for Rossy's sax solo; DVD has great atmo
Wild TalesWild Tales (Relatos Salvajes) (2014)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Very funny distinctively Argentine humour throughout. One has a love/hate sympathy for all main protagonists and thus the film is more than a series of gags. Darin is as ever terrific as "Everyman", but the wedding is rightly the climax.
Gone GirlGone Girl (2014)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Gripping US thriller with as many twists & turns as a python. Rosamund Pike is outstanding and certainly has us guessing to the very end.
DVD $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
Cadillac RecordsCadillac Records (2008)
5 stars (Exceptional) Great mocumentary on the huge achievement of Chess Records in recording the explosion of Chicago blues 1950–1969 led by Muddy Waters and other exceptional stars. All roles in the movie are played by contemporary musicians & actors, remarkably well.
Blu-Ray $19.95
TannaTanna (2015)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstandingly acting by local villagers of a true story of the recent past. Wonderfully conveying the beauty of Tanna and its people, this unique film rightly deserves to be a global hit.
DVD $24.95 $19.95
Brassed OffBrassed Off (1997)
3 stars (Good Enough) Entertaining, moving, and...? Ultimately empty.
Very Long Engagement, AVery Long Engagement, A (Long dimanche de fiançailles, Un) (2004)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) I found it very long and very shallow. The bicycle skids are particularly unconvincing. Maybe Tautou's least interesting film to date.
DVD $20 $15, $25 $18.75
Good Night, and Good LuckGood Night, and Good Luck (2004)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A very penetrating and interesting look at the rise of CBS News and the persecution of independent thought in America by Congress in the 1950s. Essential viewing in the Trump era – and enjoyable!
DVD $20 $15
Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby (TV Series) - Series 1Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby (TV Series) - Series 1 (2005)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A great NZ TV comedy of which there are now none! Funny & interesting caricatured characters.
DVD $30 $22.50
Orator, TheOrator, The (O le tulafale) (2011)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Extraordinary insight into Samoan village life & customs. Very well made. See it!
DVD $39.95 $29.95
CrumbCrumb (1994)Aro Favourite
1 star (Turkey) Disappointingly shallow documentary on the brilliant satirical cartoonist; a major figure in the 1970s. Instead of delving into his creative imagination it focuses on trivia. A similarly–styled film would have presented Salvador Dali as a madman.
DVD $19.95
Pure Formality, APure Formality, A (Una pura formalità) (1996)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A terrific thriller. Polanski is brilliant as an interrogator; Depardieu equally brilliant as the "victim". Recommended
Latcho DromLatcho Drom (1993)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Most friends hold this fanciful travelogue of gypsy migration and music from India to Spain in high esteem. Personally I found it slipshod in content and sometimes irritating in style – but that's just me. Perhaps you should watch it; it's famous!
DVD $30 $15
Time Will Tell - Bob Marley (1991)
3 stars (Good Enough) Interesting, choppy documentary now wholly superseded by the wonderful, reprocessed Marley (2012). Much of the footage is the same, just in worse shape and less well integrated. Wellington Film Festival 1994.
Padre PadronePadre Padrone (1977)
4 stars (Very Good) An outstanding classic Italian film; one of the best. The first from the famous Taviani brothers. Recommended.
DVD $20 $10
Even Cowgirls Get the BluesEven Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)
1 star (Turkey) Complete rubbish, in my opinion! Dumb & stupid. Avoid. Wellington Film Festival 1994.
DVD $15 $11.25
NakedNaked (1993)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) An outstanding performance by Thewlis worth seeing for that alone. It's tough, showing aspects of British life that you'll never see on TV. Outstandingly realistic and yet horrifying; it's an important film. Wellington Film Festival 1994.
DVD $25 $18.75 | Poster (F) $7.95
Bhaji On the BeachBhaji On the Beach (1993)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Humorous insight into the varied lives of ordinary South Asian women in Britain. A good illustration of how hateful & inappropriate today's anti–immigrant prejudice is. No other film like it – worth seeing. Wellington Film Festival 1994
Last Picture Show, TheLast Picture Show, The (1971)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A very great b&w movie; one of the last. Remains forever in one's mind – a gentle but incisive portrait of a a place and time.
American GraffitiAmerican Graffiti (1973)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Seemed very funny back in 1973. Certainly a great soundtrack; worth watching to remember a lost, innocent world. Well, American innocence, of a sort!
DVD $15 $11.25
Heavenly CreaturesHeavenly Creatures (1994)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Extremely well acted. Great tension, capturing the distorted dreams of youth, but sensitively avoiding exaggerated interpretations. Yes, Jackson's best film – see it!
TwistTwist (How Rock 'n' Roll Got its Soul) (1992)
4 stars (Very Good) Helpfully exposes a cause of the current obesity "epidemic"– lack of dancing and dance music Impressive performances by ordinary folk including the middle–aged performing Rock 'N Roll, the Twist, the Watusi etc is amusing, uplifting & sobering.
DVD $14.95
Navigator, TheNavigator, The (1924)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Surrealistic comedy, often regarded as Buster Keaton's greatest work. Strongly recommended! Wellington Film Festival 1993.
Our Hospitality / Sherlock Jr.Our Hospitality / Sherlock Jr. (1923)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Sherlock Jr is a terrific comedy; brilliantly acted. Wellington film Festival 1993.
General, TheGeneral, The (1926)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Generally regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever made – the chase scene alone is one of the most famous in cinema history; often imitated, but never bettered! Wellington Film Festival 1993.
Werner Herzog Documentaries and Shorts - Part 6Werner Herzog Documentaries and Shorts - Part 6 (Wodaabe: Herdsmen of the Sun; Lessons of Darkness; Bells From the Deep; Portrait Werner Herzog) (1986-1993)
5 stars (Exceptional) "Lessons of Darkness" is a devastating memorial to the first Iraq War. It is a vision of hell – but all true. It's also a very interesting documentary. 1993 Wellington Film Festival
Joni Mitchell - Woman of Heart and Mind Joni Mitchell - Woman of Heart and Mind (2003)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) A really special film about a very special person. Takes you behind the facade of the music. Great sound quality. The song 'Clouds' is pure magic! Highly recommended. Don't miss the great extras.
DVD $19.95
Prime Suspect (TV Series)Prime Suspect (TV Series) (1991-2003)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Breakthrough British TV crime drama that set the standard. Seven stories (series), each 3.5 hrs long. Absolutely gripping. Star–studded cast incl. Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson, Ralph Fiennes & Zoe Wanamaker. Complex, gritty & tackles sexism in the Police.
Passe ton Bac d'abordPasse ton Bac d'abord (Graduate First) (1979)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Teenagers mess around in a dull northern town. Nothing interesting in this film, unlike Pialat's brilliant later work in A Nos Amours (Bonnaire) and Police (Marceau). In these, the electricity between fine actors & director makes great movies.
Chimes at MidnightChimes at Midnight (1965)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Greatest–ever Shakespeare movie. Falstaff is created from 5 different plays and is a new work. Filmed in Spain on a tiny budget, with realistic battle scenes & Welles' acting a revelation! Fine new copy of one of the great films of all time.
He Loves Me, He Loves Me NotHe Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (A la Folie pas du Tout) (2002)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Very funny thriller with a dark side brilliantly played by Audrey Tautou in her prime. Recommended. Make sure you also watch the interesting & amusing extra features!
SuffragetteSuffragette (2015)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Deeply moving, beautifully filmed, outstandingly acted and directed. Fast–paced & gripping: "Action, not words". Devastating portrayal of the lives of the poorest workers in the East End of London. Recommended.
DVD $19.95 | Blu-Ray $24.95
Certified CopyCertified Copy (2010)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Pretentious pseudo–portrait of an "intellectual" middle–aged couple, described as "unconvincing and uninteresting" & a "misfire" by Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. I'd go further – it's a pointless parody with no redeeming features. Avoid.
DVD $34.95 $24.95
DivaDiva (1982)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Stylish romantic funny thriller with great characters. Terrific fine new print; time has left no mark on this great movie. Don't miss seeing it – there are a hundred scenes which you won't ever forget. Truly outstanding!
Tais Toi!Tais Toi! (Ruby and Quentin) (2003)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Exceptionally funny – guaranteed to lighten your evening! My favourite scenes are with the prison psychologist. Probably the funniest film in ten years. Recommended for all.
DVD $19.95
TsotsiTsotsi (2005)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) South Africa today – the poor and the rich. Gripping and somewhat scary; outstanding acting and plot. Highly recommended for those with strong nerves.
DVD $25 $18.75
Girl Who Played with Fire, TheGirl Who Played with Fire, The (2009)
4 stars (Very Good) The least satisfying of the trilogy. But you have to watch it anyway!
DVD $24.95, $29.95, $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, TheGirl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, The (2009)
4 stars (Very Good) A thriller with unexpected twists. Recommended to see after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire
DVD $14.95, $19.95, $29.95 | Blu-Ray $10
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, TheGirl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (2009)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) A top thriller for the 21st C. Very well–acted, especially by legendary Noomi Rapace. Gripping, and well worth watching more than once, but contains graphic sexual violence. Already a classic.
DVD $10 $5, $14.95, $19.95, $29.95
Shetland (TV Series)Shetland (TV Series) (2013)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding. A densely–plotted policier in a beautiful landscape that will have you guessing to the last. Excellent acting by entire cast. An order–of–magnitude above the grubby American "action series" dominating TV today. Highly recommended.
DVD $25 $18.75, $29.95
Betty BlueBetty Blue (1986)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) French cinema at its best – romance, idealism, humour & tragedy. Terrific acting and direction. Memorable characters. Not a dull moment in 3 hours. Beautifully lit, coloured and paced. Great to have the director's cut reprocessed. Highly recommended.
Far from MenFar from Men (2014)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Most rate it high but the plot's weak – the Battle of Algiers is vastly better. This new slow western–style movie was made in a Moroccan desert not as empty as it seemed – with plantations and dense sheep tracks. But Viggo was good and it's worth seeing
DVD $20 $10, $29.95
Girl in the Book, TheGirl in the Book, The (2015)
1 star (Turkey) Indicts publishing. Sexually abused at 15 by a famous writer, Alice can no longer write, and trapped as a publisher's assistant/editor. About 20 flips from present to past overlay faux complexity on a weak script in the usual Hollywood style.
DVD $24.95
Wide Sargasso SeaWide Sargasso Sea (1993)
4 stars (Very Good) Interesting, complex and unusual. Based on an ambitious prequel to Jane Eyre, a young creole woman in 1840s Jamaica marries a newly–arrived Englishman to avoid losing her property. Love arises, but she is hiding a secret, and her mother's tragedy recurs.
Ain't in It for My Health: A Film About Levon HelmAin't in It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm (2010)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Depressing portrait of the star of "The Last Waltz" in his last days; sick, bitter, poverty–stricken and with his voice broken. Shows that musicians not only need talent, but legal contracts to ensure that it is rewarded.
Kindnapping Mr. HeinekenKindnapping Mr. Heineken (2014)
2 stars (Good Try) Basically boring!
Lover, TheLover, The (1992)
4 stars (Very Good) Sensuous film based Duras' youth in Vietnam. The truth of the affair was humdrum. Perhaps this doesn't matter if movies are about fantasies? Films like India Song that Duras directed herself are better, but this beautiful production is pretty slick.
Servant, TheServant, The (1963)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Provocative work of genius from Losey, Pinter & Bogarde. It's about class & sex, with gay undertones (IMBd). Terrific cinematography recently enhanced for DVD by French TV. Screened 1 week in NZ when released; few ever saw this timeless movie.
Remembering OtisRemembering Otis (1967)
4 stars (Very Good) Ancient footage of Otis and Sam & Dave's incredible moves overwhelming the almost all–white young fans (in ties) in Europe (1960s), plus Monterey (1967) tracks in colour. Booker T & the MGs lay down great tracks. Exposes the raw intensity of Soul.
Lorna's SilenceLorna's Silence (Le Silence de Lorna) (2007)
4 stars (Very Good) Subtle picture of young migrants trying to establish themselves in EU. Brilliant but restrained acting by Albanian actress Arta Dobroshi and subtle plot and production by the Dardennes, allowing spontaneous performances. Unexpected twists. Recommended
DVD $29.95 $19.95
Etta James - Burnin' Down the House (2001)
5 stars (Exceptional) 64–year–old Etta and her Roots Band recorded at the House of Blues, LA. Her voice progressively strengthens from old favourites like I'd Rather Go Blind & At Last (1961) to the final Sugar On the Floor. Highly recommended, superb sound mix.
Bletchley Circle, The (TV Series)Bletchley Circle, The (TV Series) (2012)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Edge–of–seat tension. Very intelligent thriller set in the 1950s with all–female heroes. Convincingly realistic; superb acting & props. Don't miss the interviews with actors, director etc
DVD $15 $7.50, $15 $11.25
White MaterialWhite Material (2009)
4 stars (Very Good) Subtle, beautiful & scary. Complex flashbacks. Not for the faint–hearted. Like most contemporary French cinema it sadly lacks any profound insights.
DVD $34.95
Rosemary & Thyme (TV Series)Rosemary & Thyme (TV Series) (2003)
1 star (Turkey) Script too weak to be carried by Felicity Kendal alone – Pam Ferris is disappointing. Dated.
IndochineIndochine (1992)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Very beautiful & moving story of the twilight of French occupation of Vietnam focusing on Deneuve as the owner of a rubber plantation. Well worth seeing. Wellington Film Festival 1993.
ZentropaZentropa (Europa) (1991)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Gruelling black–and white "journey" through postwar Germany. Impressively upsetting, it's neither travelogue nor documentary. Wellington Film Festival 1992.
DVD $30 $15
Raise the Red LanternRaise the Red Lantern (1991)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Chilling, beautifully–filmed portrait on the life of a 4th wife to a tyrannical lord in 1920s China. A sad film of past times in China. Worth seeing. Wellington Film Festival 1992.
VHS $15
Night On EarthNight On Earth (1991)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Tiresome Finnish film about what 5 taxi–drivers have to say. Real conversations in Wellington are more interesting. Avoid. Wellington Film Festival 1992.
DVD $19.95
Il PostinoIl Postino (Postman, The) (1994)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Great Italian movie set on Capri in 1952. Shy Troisi brings mail to the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda exiled in a mansion far above the fishing village. They become friends, and Troisi gains confidence. Great acting, lovely characters; recommended.
MediterraneoMediterraneo (1991)
4 stars (Very Good) Wonderfully funny romantic comedy about a small squad of Italian soldiers posted to the small magical Greek island of Meghisti, and how they "go native". Basically a true story; filled with love, light & colour. Wellington Film Festival 1992.
Celine & Julie Go BoatingCeline & Julie Go Boating (Celine et Julie vont en bateau) (1974)
5 stars (Exceptional) Wonderful nouvelle vague movie by the great Jacques Rivette. Slow–moving and intense. Brilliant acting by the young Bulle Ogier. Very fine.
White Fang (1991)
2 stars (Good Try) Spectacular but unconvincing.
White Countess, TheWhite Countess, The (2005)
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliantly evocative tale of the little–known "White Russian" emigres in Shanghai before WW2. Beautiful and very spectacular; superb acting.
DVD $15 $11.25
JawsJaws (1975)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Very entertaining & scary despite no CGI & an rather unconvincing model shark!
DVD $15 $11.25, $19.95
Blue Water, White DeathBlue Water, White Death (1971)
4 stars (Very Good) A great early film on sharks – beautiful & spectacular
DVD $29.95
Time of the GypsiesTime of the Gypsies (1990)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Disappointingly uninformative
DVD $35
Good, the Bad and the Ugly, TheGood, the Bad and the Ugly, The (1967)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A classic, must–see cool & funny Western!
DVD $20 $15
Through a Glass DarklyThrough a Glass Darkly (1961)
4 stars (Very Good) One of Bergman's greatest films
Breaking the WavesBreaking the Waves (1996)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A brilliantly–acted and produced film with a devastating punch. Profound...remains long in the memory. One of my ten best films of all time. Warning: very upsetting.
DVD $20 $10
Smash PalaceSmash Palace (1981)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) Certainly Bruno Lawrence's finest hour. Worth watching if you have spare time & an interest in Horopito! Crass, but not boring.
Scarecrow, TheScarecrow, The (1982)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A good story turned into a good film thriller. Makes "The Brokenwood Mysteries" look pretty dull! Are we going forwards or backwards in NZ film?
Midsomer Murders (TV Series)Midsomer Murders (TV Series) (1997-2003)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) John Nettles is better than his successor, and less dull.
DVD $24.95, $24.95, $24.95, $24.95
Broadchurch - Series 1 (TV Series)Broadchurch - Series 1 (TV Series) (2013)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Pretty gripping, but don't watch it all at once!
DVD $30 $22.50
David Attenborough's Conquest of the SkiesDavid Attenborough's Conquest of the Skies (2015)
4 stars (Very Good) Much more informative than the usual Attenborough ritual of the "change of seasons" & predation etc. Definitely worth watching. Visually stunning; incredible camera–work. Not boring.
Secret in Their EyesSecret in Their Eyes (2015)
3 stars (Good Enough) OK, but the original Argentinian version is far more gripping
DVD $39.95 $19.95 | Blu-Ray $49.95 $19.95
Blues Film Collection, TheBlues Film Collection, The (Soul of a Man, Red, White and Blues, Feel Like Going Home, Godfathers and Sons, Piano Blues, The Road to Memphis, Warming by the Devil's Fire) (2003)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Splendid, with much priceless remastered footage of the legends. Generally extremely interesting and great to watch if you care about popular music. Basically pure gold!
DVD $60
The Blues: Piano BluesThe Blues: Piano Blues (2003)
2 stars (Good Try) Uninformative mish–mash of jazz & blues. No deconstruction of blues piano rhythms & role of the piano in bands. Eastwood puts words in the mouths of his guests. Otis Spann clips with Willie Dixon on bass are highlights; Brubeck too.
DVD $19.95
L'Enfance-NueL'Enfance-Nue (Naked Childhood) (1968)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Before the tsunami of romcoms swept serious movies from French screens, Pialat made devastatingly tight, lightly–scripted films often not using professional casts, as here. Film is about how foster children and their carers cope. Good extra material
Three Ages, TheThree Ages, The (1923)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Best viewed in the dark, Keaton's film is packed with great gags, not dated over 93 years. Only the technology has changed. His humour is parody, rather than the usual slapstick. Arovideo should buy the new complete DVD set of this comic genius.
DVD $29.95
Peter Beard: Scrapbooks from Africa and BeyondPeter Beard: Scrapbooks from Africa and Beyond (1998)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) As a long–term fan of his early African work, I found this film to be pretentious and exploitative & a sad reflection of his later work. I kept wanting to ask what he'd done to improve the lives of Kenyans. His world view is awfully narrow.
Joni Mitchell - Shadows and LightJoni Mitchell - Shadows and Light (1980)
2 stars (Good Try) Strangely dated. Pictorial version of part of the "Hissing of Summer Lawns" somehow takes away the magic, rather than adding anything. Joni lacks charisma on set.
DVD $39.95
The Blues: Red White and BluesThe Blues: Red White and Blues (2003)
5 stars (Exceptional) British blues from Alexis Korner & John Mayall on. Great interviews beautifully intercut; Clapton to Winwood & many more. Outstanding summary by BB King – if the Brits hadn't re–imported blues to White America, then this "race music" might now be dead.
DVD $19.95
Hunt for Red OctoberHunt for Red October (1990)
4 stars (Very Good) Gripping!
DVD $15 $11.25, $14.95
Jurassic ParkJurassic Park (1993)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A must–see; if scientific fantasy e.g. the mosquitoes in amber which provided the DNA are all males – which don't feed; and much more...
DVD $19.95, $39.95 | Blu-Ray $19.95, $24.95
Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It, TheStrange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It, The (1977)
1 star (Turkey) Terribly dated and poorly produced; not much fun.
Dear DiaryDear Diary (Caro Diario) (1992)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) There are some great Italian comedies about but this is not one of them. Very disappointing!
The Blues: Godfathers and SonsThe Blues: Godfathers and Sons (2003)
5 stars (Exceptional) Great doco on Chicago blues as seen through the eyes of Marshall Chess & rapper Chuck D. Marshall enthusiastically introduces great videos of the blues masters, while Chuck D. researches his own music's roots. Brilliantly conceived & edited.
DVD $19.95
Search for Robert Johnson (1992)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Excellent BBC 4 doco filmed in 1990 on the mysterious Robert Johnson. Narrated and music of John Hammond Jr. Contributes to the myth (read Schroeder's book online). Much also discovered since – see DiGiacomo's article in Vanity Fair (2008 online).
Drugstore CowboyDrugstore Cowboy (1989)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Wellington Film Festival 1990. Punchy realistic thriller about the adventures of a gang of junkies in Portland, Oregon. Worth seeing; even memorable. Acting of a high standard.
Berkeley in the SixtiesBerkeley in the Sixties (1990)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) 1990 Wellington Film Festival. Interesting but not profound.
Monsieur HireMonsieur Hire (1988)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A disturbing and memorable film. Worth seeing, unlike the French froth that prevails today.
Roger and MeRoger and Me (1990)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Moore's best film on GM's exploitation of this community, which remains grim to this day. Blows the silly myth of corporate responsibility to pieces! Moore's genius is his combination of truth–telling and humour. A must–see doco.
DVD $12 $6, $15 $11.25
SweetieSweetie (1989)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Irritatingly facile!
DVD $20 $15
Circus BoysCircus Boys (1989)
3 stars (Good Enough) Wellington Film Festival 1990. Part dream, part social commentary. Worth seeing.
Trop Belle Pour ToiTrop Belle Pour Toi (Too Beautiful For You) (1989)
3 stars (Good Enough) Amusing but forgettable
Her Very Best - Dusty SpringfieldHer Very Best - Dusty Springfield (2003)
2 stars (Good Try) Good sound & intelligent commentary. However, stilted performances of great songs do her no credit. I found her blonde wigs especially annoying! Her eye colour appears to change as well. Not all wine ages well! Her tragic life is not explored.
The Blues: The Road to MemphisThe Blues: The Road to Memphis (2003)
3 stars (Good Enough) Never clarifies importance of Memphis. Focus on Gordon, BB King & Rush allows nothing on the non–commercial blues. Unique styles of nearby Mississippi, shown by Scorcese, pass unmentioned. Importance of soul over blues in Memphis is ignored.
DVD $19.95
The Blues: Warming by the Devil's FireThe Blues: Warming by the Devil's Fire (2003)
3 stars (Good Enough) Great archival footage esp. of little–known female blues artists. But the dramatized story of 11–yr old Burnett's visit to Mississippi – which frames the movie & the archival footage – is a bit creaky.
DVD $19.95
Fireflies In The GardenFireflies In The Garden (2008)
1 star (Turkey) Avoid. American fascination with middle–class families is reflected in this dull biopic of the Director's past. Clumsy flash–backs add complexity to a story that has no dramatic interest. Talented actors and many $$$ were wasted on this B–grade "drama"
DVD $19.95 $14.95
Man for All Seasons, AMan for All Seasons, A (1966)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A very fine historical drama.
DVD $14.95 | Blu-Ray $19.95
Band's Visit, The Band's Visit, The (Bikur Ha-Tizmoret) (2007)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) All true, and exceptionally moving. It should be compulsory viewing in the Middle East today. Courage, gentleness and humour are in the movie and its real characters.
DVD $29.95
Bourne Identity, The (Mini-series)Bourne Identity, The (Mini-series) (1988)
2 stars (Good Try) A major feature is that this thoroughly modern "agent" chooses train travel, for security & speed! We should do likewise.
DVD $15 $11.25
Lewis (TV Series)Lewis (TV Series) (2007)
1 star (Turkey) A bit dull.
DVD $24.95, $24.95, $24.95
Death in Paradise (TV Series)Death in Paradise (TV Series) (2011)
5 stars (Exceptional) Great fun in a lovely setting. Well acted & scripted; repetitive so avoid seeing more than a few episodes at one time. Nevertheless, a favourite!
DVD $29.95 $19.95, $39.95 $29.95, $39.95 $29.95
Slumdog MillionaireSlumdog Millionaire (2008)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Very engaging & spectacular.
DVD $14.95
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, TheBest Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2011)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A lot of fun & terrific acting.
DVD $14.95
Last Tango in Halifax (TV Series)Last Tango in Halifax (TV Series) (2012)
1 star (Turkey) "Late–life', indeed! Turgid & clunky.
DVD $29.95
Bones (TV Series)Bones (TV Series) (2005)
4 stars (Very Good) Addictive!
DVD $15 $11.25, $49.95, $59.95, $59.95
Endeavour (TV Series)Endeavour (TV Series) (2012)
4 stars (Very Good) Very engaging and well–done.
DVD $25
Madam Secretary (TV Series)Madam Secretary (TV Series) (2014)
4 stars (Very Good) Convincing fantasy of decision–making at the State Department. Or maybe it's really this arbitrary? Enjoyable watching, nonetheless.
DVD $15 $11.25, $54.95, $54.95, $54.95
Les Enfants Du ParadisLes Enfants Du Paradis (Children of Paradise) (1945)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) A marvel; highly recommended. The subtle skills of Jean–Louis Barrault in mime always delight and do not fade.
DVD $14.95
Mr. Hulot's HolidayMr. Hulot's Holiday (Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot) (1953)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A very funny classic. Softer than its American contemporaries. Much loved, especially in France.
DVD $20 $10, $39.95 $29.95
La StradaLa Strada (The Road) (1955)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) My favourite Fellini movie with a moving performance by his wife. Very different in pace & focus than his later fantasies; this is more inwardly–focussed. An all–time classic of the cinema.
FlowingFlowing (Nagareru ) (1956)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A valuable glimpse of Japan's hidden society. Recommended.
Seventh Seal, TheSeventh Seal, The (1957)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) One of the greatest films ever made. A must–see. Totally memorable!
Virgin Spring, TheVirgin Spring, The (1960)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) One of the great films of all time. See it while you still can!
Leopard, TheLeopard, The (Il Gattopardo) (1963)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Certainly classic – but hard work – even if you read the famous novel first! Complex & rich.
DVD $29.95 $24.95, $35 $26.25
Fellini's 8 1/2Fellini's 8 1/2 (1963)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Highly recommended all–time classic. Nothing like this made today.
DVD $10, $30 $22.50
WeekendWeekend (1967)
3 stars (Good Enough) Spectacular, but facile. If interested in "Nouvelle Vague", better to see Marguerite Duras' wonderful slow movies like "India Song". Nothing happens – but you can never forget them! The triumph of style. Her many books are even better!
Elvira MadiganElvira Madigan (1967)
3 stars (Good Enough) Defined romance for the 1960s. Very beautiful but no edge.
Claire's KneeClaire's Knee (1970)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) A good movie for insomniacs!
Ma Nuit Chez MaudMa Nuit Chez Maud (1969)
1 star (Turkey) "Wordy philosophizing" is an accurate description!
YeelenYeelen (Brightness) (1987)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Tiresome & pretentious! Good scenery
Time for Drunken Horses, ATime for Drunken Horses, A (2001)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) A somewhat tiresome romanticization of the lives of children under harsh conditions. One learns nothing from this.
TangerinesTangerines (2013)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Powerful because its true; shows gentle people at the heart of a savage guerrilla war avoiding fashionable polarized viewpoints and humanely caring for victims from both sides. A message for those in Syria and those outside who foment conflict.
DVD $29.95 $19.95
The Blues: The Soul of a ManThe Blues: The Soul of a Man (2003)
5 stars (Exceptional) Visionary assessment of blues by a great film–maker. Newly–discovered amateur footage of Lenoir compensates for none of Blind Willie & Skip James at their peak; sensitively covered by substitute musicians. Great soundtrack. Lots of new information.
DVD $19.95
Catherine the GreatCatherine the Great (2005)
3 stars (Good Enough) BBC doco–drama on the brainy Prussian who created the Russian Empire today advanced by Putin. Catherine also founded the Hermitage art gallery. Worth watching to find why parochial Muscovites today rule the world's largest country.
DVD $20 $15
Cane ToadsCane Toads (An Unnatural History) (1988)
3 stars (Good Enough) Not as good as the quirky Aussie doco on the same topic, but better on why these beasts were foolishly introduced. Comparisons with the NZ–born Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke–Petersen very appropriate!
Natural History of the ChickenNatural History of the Chicken (2000)
4 stars (Very Good) Very funny pseudo–documentary on how Middle–Class Americans view their pet chooks. More about human foibles than the birds themselves. Well worth viewing!
The Blues: Feel Like Going HomeThe Blues: Feel Like Going Home (2003)
5 stars (Exceptional) Great documentary on blues origins. Scorcese focuses on Son House, Muddy Waters & Hooker; plus Robert Johnson, Otha Turner & their African roots. Old–style blues of Mississippi small–holders differed from Delta cotton–field blues, which migrated north.
DVD $19.95
Of Time and the CityOf Time and the City (2008)
4 stars (Very Good) A deeply personal meditation on life in working–class Catholic Liverpool from pre–WW2 to modern times. Moving contemporary footage informed by Terence Davies' thoughts & favourite poetry & music. A unique film. Don't miss the extra interview with him.
Long Day Closes, TheLong Day Closes, The (1992)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Working–class Catholic boyhood on a Liverpool estate based on Terence Davies' memories. Quiet & reflective; every shot perfectly composed. Dark houses & warm patterns captured, along with family life and song. About youth and dreams, unique and special.
DVD $39.95 $29.95
My Brilliant CareerMy Brilliant Career (1979)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Very entertaining and well–acted.
DVD $29.95, $34.95
GallipoliGallipoli (1981)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Best classic film on Gallipoli except for the Turkish version
Breaker MorantBreaker Morant (1979)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A very moving and outstandingly–acted story about ethics in war. An important film
DVD $20 $15
Where the Green Ants DreamWhere the Green Ants Dream (1984)
4 stars (Very Good) A visually stunning and gritty alternative view of Australia by one of the world's greatest directors. It was reviled in Australia, but is recommended viewing.
Crocodile DundeeCrocodile Dundee (1986)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Very silly. But the Americans come off worst!
Piano, ThePiano, The (1993)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A powerful film set in NZ which American reviewers ignored. One described it as being "about mud" – which in a sense it is. It takes us back to early settlement. Great cinematography, good story. Drama, rather than entertainment, but a "must–see".
DVD $14.95 | Blu-Ray $19.95
BabeBabe (1995)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Amazingly funny and moving. Perfect for all ages. See it!
DVD $10, $19.95 | Blu-Ray $19.95
Castle, TheCastle, The (1997)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Funniest and most characteristic Australian film ever. Made on a tiny budget and carried by an uplifting story and great acting. A gem!
DVD $19.95 $14.95
La SpagnolaLa Spagnola (2001)
4 stars (Very Good) Very unusual. Excellent acting, brilliant dresses. An unfamiliar Australia
DVD $25 $12.50
Endurance, TheEndurance, The (2001)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) An incredible story well–told and with the original 1914 footage. Beautiful and moving
Sapphires, TheSapphires, The (2012)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) A nice story unconvincingly recreated. Good music.
Blu-Ray $39.95
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (TV Series)Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries (TV Series) (2012)
3 stars (Good Enough) Stylish and engaging.
DVD $49.95, $49.95 | Blu-Ray $59.95, $59.95
A Place to Call Home (TV Series)A Place to Call Home (TV Series) (2013)
3 stars (Good Enough) Certainly not Downton Abbey, but simpler and equally gripping wealthy family drama. Well–acted and scripted. Excellent dog. Most servants invisible, especially grooms.
DVD $39.95, $39.95, $39.95, $39.95
Davy Crockett - King of the Wild FrontierDavy Crockett - King of the Wild Frontier (1954)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Very silly!
Lone Ranger, TheLone Ranger, The (1956)
1 star (Turkey) You need a tough stomach to swallow this nonsense!
DVD $14.95
3:10 to Yuma3:10 to Yuma (1957)
2 stars (Good Try) I tried to like this. But the book is much better, as are all books by Elmore Leonard, likely the greatest American crime–writer ever!
DVD $44.95
Alamo, The (1960)
2 stars (Good Try) Ancient fairy–tales! Very dusty.
DVD $15 $11.25
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, TheMan Who Shot Liberty Valance, The (1962)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Slow. But only one bad guy gets shot, and the music is great! Classic.
DVD $15 $11.25
For a Few Dollars MoreFor a Few Dollars More (1965)
4 stars (Very Good) Very entertaining and gripping!
Banksy Does New YorkBanksy Does New York (2014)
3 stars (Good Enough) Interesting, but not gripping or informative
DVD $24.95
A Hard Day's NightA Hard Day's Night (1964)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) The best Beatles film
DVD $15 $11.25, $20 $15
Help!Help! (1965)
1 star (Turkey) Dated
VHS $10
All You Need is Love (TV Series)All You Need is Love (TV Series) (1977)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A wonderful history of popular music. Highly recommended, but not quite as good or focussed as the History of Rock n'Roll.
DVD $44.95
History of Rock 'n' Roll, The (TV Series)History of Rock 'n' Roll, The (TV Series) (1995)
5 stars (Exceptional) The best overall history of rock n'roll. Classic performances framed by really intelligent commentary by the musicians and others. A treasure forever.
I Just Wasn't Made for These TimesI Just Wasn't Made for These Times (1995)
2 stars (Good Try) Interesting for Wilson fans. But it may put you off this strange genius!
HairHair (1979)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Pop as opera. Meatloaf did it far better! Only watch this if you are interested in music history. It was all the rage in the 60s
DVD $10
Taking WoodstockTaking Woodstock (2009)
1 star (Turkey) Tepid it is. Don't waste your time. Very boring!
DVD $12 $6
Old Grey Whistle Test, The (TV Series)Old Grey Whistle Test, The (TV Series) (2001)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding live recordings from the BBC, often the best by the artist. My standout favourite – Meatloaf! Overall a great potted history of rock n'roll. Tiresomely complex DVD navigation tools. Don't give up – there is lots of great extra stuff there!
RayRay (2004)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Great film on a great singer, amazingly well–played by Janie Foxx. Conveys the pain of performance at this level. Watch out for 14–year–old Quincy Jones hustling on the street and offering good advice, as always.
DVD $20 $10
Only the Strong SurviveOnly the Strong Survive (2002)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A must–see for soul music fans. Many terrific tracks, especially by Sam Moore. Film has a very good vibe.
DVD $24.95
Last Waltz, TheLast Waltz, The (1976)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) The absolute greatest of all rock films because of the superb set, cinematography and sound. Stunning music; great interviews – we owe Scorsese heaps for recording this great concert for generations of fans. Just splendid!
DVD $10, $25 $18.75
Complete Monterey Pop Festival, TheComplete Monterey Pop Festival, The (Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, Shake! Otis at Monterey) (1968-1997)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Monterey Pop – more interesting and edgy than Woodstock. Fewer helicopters, too! A must for fans of rock n' roll.
Gimme ShelterGimme Shelter (1970)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) More about how not to organize a concert than about music. Interesting that the Stones were too greedy to perform at Fillmore West, so well organised by Bill Graham.
WoodstockWoodstock (1970)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Stoned film–makers bring us the most famous concert of all time. See it!
Shine A Light Shine A Light (2006)
3 stars (Good Enough) Scorsese has done better work. More "light" is shed on the band by Keith Richards' book LIFE. Richards' book nicely illustrates the Middle Class origins of the Stones in contrast to Working Class roots of The Beatles! Don't bust yourself to see this.
DVD $19.95
Neil Young - JourneysNeil Young - Journeys (2011)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Outstanding performances and a great sound–track. However the exploration of his home town drags. No wonder he left!
DVD $30 $22.50
Standing in the Shadows of MotownStanding in the Shadows of Motown (2002)
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding documentary about the white jazz band behind all those Motown hits. The movie is a revelation. Leaving out greedy Berry Gordy and substituting contemporary singers for favourite Motown stars was a stroke of genius!
Wolf Hall (TV Series)Wolf Hall (TV Series) (2015)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Slow and complex. Brilliantly acted and scripted. Scenes slightly choppy in places, but overall a great film and essential viewing for anyone interested in English history. Mark Rylance is superb as the gifted Thomas Cromwell – a name not to be forgotten.
DVD $30 $22.50
No Direction Home: Bob DylanNo Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) A must for everyone interested in contemporary music.
DVD $10
I'm Not ThereI'm Not There (2007)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Brilliant and amusing; opaque in places – just like Dylan's lyrics. Worthwhile just to see Cate Blanchett brilliantly playing Dylan. You are strongly advised to see NO DIRECTION HOME first to get the most out of this unusual biopic
DVD $20 $15
Begin AgainBegin Again (2013)
3 stars (Good Enough) A funny, feel–good movie to chase away the blues! Pacy & well–directed.
DVD $19.95 $14.95 | Blu-Ray $19.95
American Folk Blues Festival, TheAmerican Folk Blues Festival, The (1962-1966)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning b&w footage of the greatest blues artists in their heyday. A must for any blues fan or others interested black music. It's all solid performance; brief comments on the significance of the musicians & their performances would be a bonus.
This Ain't No Mouse Music!This Ain't No Mouse Music! (2013)
4 stars (Very Good) Interesting doco on Strachwitz & his valuable work releasing American roots music for the masses. Film dodges the issue of how Strachwitz made money to invest in re–releasing this music. There is a nasty feeling that the musicians got no return.
Muscle ShoalsMuscle Shoals (2013)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Great movie about producing music in the rural south. As with Standing in the Shadows of Motown, unknown white session musicians helped the great black singers to make hits. How Etta James & Aretha Franklin's songs were created is especially interesting.
DVD $29.95
What No One KnowsWhat No One Knows (Det som ingen ved) (2008)
4 stars (Very Good) Densely–plotted gripping action thriller that fails to fully engage, because no characters except Thomas are developed. Worth watching for its claustrophobic post–Snowden style, but forgettable.
DVD $29.95
Sex, Lies and VideotapeSex, Lies and Videotape (1989)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) This clever film was a ground–breaker in suggesting that people might be more honest with strangers than with loved ones, for fear of having to be accountable for their actions. Amusing, sophisticated and erotic.
Seacoal (1985)
5 stars (Exceptional) Unique and special film about the harsh realities of working–class life north of Newcastle. Documents an extinct industry – collecting coal from beaches to sell that was washed overboard from passing colliers. A fine film..
Distant Voices, Still LivesDistant Voices, Still Lives (1988)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Lyrical portrait of working–class family life in 1940s Liverpool, made from Davies' memories and stuffed with period detail. Perfectly detailed in every respect, this is a truly great British movie. Brilliant and very moving. Critics Prize Cannes etc
In Fading LightIn Fading Light (1989)
5 stars (Exceptional) Magical movie on being a girl on a trawler in the North Sea. Best film I have seen about the lives of fisher–folk. Captures an English lifestyle and culture that was exterminated when foreign trawlers were given the industry by Thatcher.
Battle of Algiers, TheBattle of Algiers, The (1965)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Among my TEN most–viewed. Indicts colonialism & French treatment of Arabs. Banned in France for showing how military attacks provoke civil reaction. Unmatched portrait of Casbahs, making a case for such houses for extended families everywhere, incl. NZ.
DVD $20 $10
Bagdad CafeBagdad Cafe (1988)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A cheerful lightweight film, carried by excellent acting, especially by Jack Palance. Sadly, the copycat desert "Baghdad Cafe", operated by a Bedouin family on the highway south of Palmyra, Syria, is probably no more. It, too, was a friendly place
HanussenHanussen (1988)
2 stars (Good Try) The great actor Klaus–Maria Brandauer doesn't reach the power of MEPHISTO, his best–ever performance. Perhaps he was let down by the weak plot?
Unbearable Lightness of Being, TheUnbearable Lightness of Being, The (1988)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Forget the film and read the book. Like most movies based on novels this doesn't work.
DVD $25 $18.75
Cannibal ToursCannibal Tours (1988)
3 stars (Good Enough) A sharply–focussed documentary by the great Denis O'Rourke on the impact of western tourism on New Guinea tribes in the Sepik River. The real cannibals have gobbled up the local culture, leaving only the bare bones for imagination [Steve Seid]. See it!
Poster (VG) $12.95
Jean De FloretteJean De Florette (1986)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Great acting & great scenery. And a good story too.
DVD $20 $15
Manon Des SourcesManon Des Sources (1986)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A visual feast – especially Emmanuelle Beart! – and very enjoyable. No need to watch the first installment in this saga Jean de Florette first – but it's best to. Guaranteed to warm your heart on a cold night
No Time for Tears (1981)
4 stars (Very Good) A powerful and moving performance by Marie Colbin
ViridianaViridiana (1961)
4 stars (Very Good) Intense and worthwhile
Experience Preferred, but Not EssentialExperience Preferred, but Not Essential (1983)
3 stars (Good Enough) Enjoyable but forgettable
Mrs. SoffelMrs. Soffel (1984)
1 star (Turkey) Very disappointing considering the talent involved.
DVD $20 $15
Ballad of NarayamaBallad of Narayama (1983)
4 stars (Very Good) Provides moving insights into Japanese life in years gone by. Grim, but uplifting. Remains in the memory
VertigoVertigo (1958)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Fears generated by watching this movie haunted my youth. Seriously scary – but not suitable for kids. Its slow pace is part of its strength. Your imagination screams out for the worst to happen – don't worry, it will – in good Hichcockian time!
DVD $10, $20 $15
Seven Samurai, TheSeven Samurai, The (1954)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) Rather a lot of fighting in a fantasy world!
Woman of the DunesWoman of the Dunes (1964)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Claustrophobic movie of a classic Japanese novel. Nothing like it in any other language/culture. Well–made and timeless.
DVD $25 $18.75, $29.95 $22.45
DeparturesDepartures (2008)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Provides unusual but interesting insights into Japanese life (well, death, actually!) without parallel in the repressed West. An interesting and moving film
DVD $34.95 $19.95
Taxing Woman, A (1987)
4 stars (Very Good) Underpinning the laughs is –from a Japanese point of view – the incomprehensible sight of a WOMAN leading a police team to investigate MALE crooks. A must–see film for people who have visited Japan, and great fun for everyone else. Strongly recommended.
Adventures of Milo and OtisAdventures of Milo and Otis (1989)
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning film based on two incredibly well–trained animals who escape to see the world. And they do! One of the best kids' films I know, and also highly recommended for adults. Like most Japanese products, production values are very high.
DVD $10
HamletHamlet (1964)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Highly recommended!
War and PeaceWar and Peace (1965)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliant spectacle, 6.5 hours in length. Quite gruelling. Ideally watched in a single sitting, with pre–prepared snacks and short breaks every 2 hours. A great introduction to the grand sweep of Russia and its history! Terrific!
Dersu UzalaDersu Uzala (1975)
5 stars (Exceptional) A visionary film by the great Japanese director of indigenous Siberian people's lives and beliefs. Incredible photography and a gripping story. An outstanding film!
StalkerStalker (1979)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) A forbidding, futuristic film, well worth seeing. It's almost a video version of "1984" – grimmer – and Russian. Stunning visuals are a must–see, especially for SF enthusiasts and others. It packs a punch!
Russian ArkRussian Ark (2002)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Tiresome! You need a lot of energy to sit m through this video!
Pussy Riot: A Punk PrayerPussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013)
4 stars (Very Good) Brave women facing a broken judicial system and compliant Church. I think the Orthodox Church comes out of this even worse than Putin.The country that most needs a Revolution is still Russia! The film is entertaining and informative.
WadjdaWadjda (2012)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Simple film about young women's lives and opportunities in one of Islam's most repressive states. Next they will have women's football teams, as in Egypt! Well worth seeing, even if you just want to be entertained.
DVD $20 $10
In My Father's DenIn My Father's Den (2004)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Tense & beautiful. By far the best NZ movie I have ever seen. Complex plot, thankfully free of the racial and social fantasies that corrupt most NZ films. Strongly recommended– for adults.
Marley and MeMarley and Me (2008)
1 star (Turkey) Nothing to do with Bob Marley! DVD needs removal to another category e.g. "silly American comedy/romance"
DVD $19.95
Bob Marley - Legend, The Very Best ofBob Marley - Legend, The Very Best of (1995)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Not "definitive" compared with 2012 documentary MARLEY, which has more and better–processed music. OK if you want to listen to music, but as a "bio", it's pretty inadequate.
MarleyMarley (2012)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) By far the best film on Bob Marley's life and music.Jamaica is captured well, along with lesser–known aspects of his life and music. Includes rare tracks not easily available elsewhere. Soundtrack quality is high as most tracks have been re–mastered.
DVD $25 $12.50
Harder They Come, TheHarder They Come, The (1972)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A lovely simple film with a GREAT soundtrack. Strongly recommended
DVD $15 $7.50
A Love Song for Bobby LongA Love Song for Bobby Long (2004)
4 stars (Very Good) Great acting, good script and good music. Memorable scenes of New Orleans just before destruction by Hurricane Katrina. Funny, gripping and moving; easy viewing. American literary quotes will amuse aficionados but do not intrude.
KesKes (1969)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Uplifting and a must if you like kids and birds!
Trial, TheTrial, The (1962)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) The film is a work of genius.
Werner Herzog CollectionWerner Herzog Collection (Signs of Life, Even Dwarfs Started Small, Kaspar Hauser, Stroszek, Heart of Glass, Where the Green Ants Dream.) (1968-1982)
4 stars (Very Good) "Where the Green Ants Dream" is an amazing picture of Australia. Worth seeing for that alone.
DVD $69.95
Monsieur BatignoleMonsieur Batignole (2002)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) A rather nasty film!
Even Dwarfs Started SmallEven Dwarfs Started Small (1970)
2 stars (Good Try) Weird and unsettling. Maybe clever but rather cruel.
DVD $25 $18.75
Fear Eats the SoulFear Eats the Soul (1973)
4 stars (Very Good) Memorable, complex and likely to be relevant to Germany today.
StroszekStroszek (1976)
3 stars (Good Enough) "Delightful" is not how I'd describe this dark film. Not one of Herzog's best works.
Heart of GlassHeart of Glass (1976)
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning and intense. A masterwork. Gruelling, but certainly one of the world's greatest films
DVD $24.95
Tin Drum, TheTin Drum, The (1979)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Unforgettable, and now with an additional edge now that we finally know where author Gunter Grass' sympathies really lay.
Nasty Girl, TheNasty Girl, The (1990)
5 stars (Exceptional) Goes straight to the heart of German post–war guilt. But it's a comedy!
Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, TheBoy in the Striped Pyjamas, The (2008)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A moving portrayal of life at Auschwitz for the "ordinary" Germans who ran the place. A valuable film.
DVD $19.95 $14.95
Europa, EuropaEuropa, Europa (1991)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Gruelling reality.
Aguirre, Wrath of GodAguirre, Wrath of God (1972)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) One of the great films of all time; a vision of the heart of South America when the Spaniards arrived. A work of genius.
DVD $20 $10
Lessons of Darkness / Fata MorganaLessons of Darkness / Fata Morgana (1992/1969)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) "Lessons of Darkness" is a bleak memorial to the first Iraq War. It is a vision of hell – but all true. "Fata Morgana" is quite different – a surrealist vision of the Sahara desert. Beautiful & scary.
Edukators, TheEdukators, The (The Educators) (2004)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Stupidly superficial
DVD $24.95 $19.95
Hannah ArendtHannah Arendt (2012)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Not perfect or entirely accurate, but an important and moving portrayal of an important awareness of the nature of the Holocaust and of war crimes
DVD $20 $15, $29.95 $22.45
BarbaraBarbara (2012)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Moving without being profound. Stylish
Lives of Others, TheLives of Others, The (2006)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliant psychological drama
Cowboy Junkies - Long Journey Home Cowboy Junkies - Long Journey Home (2004)
4 stars (Very Good) A great band! Very interesting interpretations.
Last Train HomeLast Train Home (2009)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Heartbreaking, but not nearly as good as Jeans Blue.
DVD $35 $26.25
Ice Road Truckers (TV Series) Ice Road Truckers (TV Series) (2007)
1 star (Turkey) Rubbish!
DVD $49.95, $49.95, $49.95
Cave of Forgotten DreamsCave of Forgotten Dreams (2010)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A great introduction to the oldest human art yet known. Very interesting, especially the alternative theory as to who these paintings were meant for. A vital art doco, without compare
Monsieur LazharMonsieur Lazhar (2011)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Good but rather slow. Gives an idea of what migrant teachers in Europe will now have to face.
DVD $29.95 | Blu-Ray $34.95
Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, TheYoung and Prodigious T.S. Spivet, The (2013)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning, intriguing, funny and interesting. Highly recommended for adults and kids over 12, say. Unless they're prodigious! The Smithsonian staff are treated a bit harshly compared with the freewheeling country folk. Very imaginative!
Inspector Rex (TV Series)Inspector Rex (TV Series) (1994-2004)
3 stars (Good Enough) Excellent for adults & kids aged 8–12. Good plots.
DVD $39.95, $49.95, $49.95, $49.95
TangoTango (1998)
1 star (Turkey) See Blood Wedding instead!
DVD $20 $10
Motorcycle DiariesMotorcycle Diaries (Diarios de Motocicleta) (2004)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Terrific scenery – a great introduction to the continent. I knew too little to judge whether it was historically accurate, but its definitely fun!
DVD $15 $7.50
House of GamesHouse of Games (1987)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Very, very clever Seattle–based thriller with a very smart heroine. What a breath of fresh air! But you need to watch the double–double crosses very carefully! Perfect for lovers of card games ...and more.
DVD $20 $15
Nine QueensNine Queens (Nueve Reinas) (2000)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Gripping, funny, brilliantly plotted and and acted...what more could you want? A very fine movie.
DVD $20 $15
Secret in Their Eyes, TheSecret in Their Eyes, The (El Secreto de sus Ojos) (2009)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding complex crime drama, brilliantly acted. Leaves Hollywood in the dust!
MedianerasMedianeras (Sidewalls) (2011)
3 stars (Good Enough) Lightweight and funny romantic comedy. But like many Argentinian films, its refreshingly different
DVD $29.95
Cinema ParadisoCinema Paradiso (1990)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Nice enough, but no longer gripping. Probably too sentimental
DVD $19.95 $14.95
Pather PanchaliPather Panchali (1955)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Slow, but famous.
Salaam Bombay!Salaam Bombay! (1988)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) The best film on India that I have seen
DVD $20 $10
Runner, TheRunner, The (1984)
4 stars (Very Good) Pictures the sparse reality of poor children in the Middle East. The courage of the kids and the landscapes make this an uplifting film.
A SeparationA Separation (2011)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) An outstanding and profound film on honesty. Could have been made anywhere, but totally memorable. A really great film, the best I saw in 2011
DVD $20 $10, $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
In This WorldIn This World (2002)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Somewhat contrived; but moving in a sentimental way
Journey of HopeJourney of Hope (1991)
5 stars (Exceptional) Heartrendingly relevant to today's world
Clockwork Orange, AClockwork Orange, A (1971)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) One of the great movies of all time, but not for the faint–hearted
DVD $25 $18.75
Cars That Ate Paris, TheCars That Ate Paris, The (1974)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Funny and spectacular. Well worth seeing!
Caretaker, TheCaretaker, The (1963)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A milestone in movie history; superb acting and camera work. A powerful plot
Knife in the WaterKnife in the Water (1962)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Terrific! For me its chilling suspense makes it Polanski's greatest film. Good to see it out on DVD. For years it was an unseen gem.
French Connection, TheFrench Connection, The (1971)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Pretty gripping for 1971!
Blu-Ray $44.95
BullittBullitt (1968)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A good action movie
Thomas Crown Affair, TheThomas Crown Affair, The (1968)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Much more gripping than its age suggests. Well–acted, with an interesting plot
City of GodCity of God (Cidade de Deus) (2002)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Powerful and violent, like the slum it portrays. Brilliantly filmed, perhaps Brazil's greatest film to date
DVD $20 $15
Bus 174Bus 174 (2002)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) The only rivets are in the bus. Overrated.
DVD $24.95
PixotePixote (1981)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Deservedly R18. Extremely upsetting and squalid. Its a cruel story
Black OrpheusBlack Orpheus (1959)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A truly great movie
Pink Panther, ThePink Panther, The (1964)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) Very tiresome by modern standards. Try OSS 117 Lost in Rio instead
DVD $15 $11.25
Carry On DoctorCarry On Doctor (1968)
1 star (Turkey) Hideously dated chauvinistic rubbish best avoided in favour of the newer and vastly funnier The Green Wing
Fearless Vampire Killers, TheFearless Vampire Killers, The (1967)
4 stars (Very Good) All–time classic for those that don't take vampires too seriously!
Barry McKenzie Holds His OwnBarry McKenzie Holds His Own (1974)
3 stars (Good Enough) Unseriously vulgar!
DVD $39.95
Adventures of Barry McKenzie, TheAdventures of Barry McKenzie, The (1972)
4 stars (Very Good) Top–class Australian vulgarity. Dated, but a must–see! I especially liked the streets of Paris (now thankfully cleaned up).
Fawlty Towers (TV Series)Fawlty Towers (TV Series) (1975)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) The funniest British comedy in 25 years. A real must–see! My personal favourite: "The Germans" . Hysterical!
Red Dwarf (TV Series) - Series 1Red Dwarf (TV Series) - Series 1 (1988)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Very silly fun!
DVD $299.95 $199.95
Icicle Thief, TheIcicle Thief, The (1989)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Extremely funny. The blending in of advertisements takes the Mickey out of the agony of TV viewing. Very creative
OSS 117: Lost in RioOSS 117: Lost in Rio (2009)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Silly nonsense but fun!
Whale RiderWhale Rider (2003)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Well worth seeing and well acted, except for the rather stiff whales!
DVD $20 $15, $29.95
Grand Budapest Hotel, TheGrand Budapest Hotel, The (2014)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Brilliantly made and very entertaining but somehow lacks heart
DVD $39.95 | Blu-Ray $44.95
What We Do in the ShadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows (2014)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Surrealistic zero–budget fun from Hawker St, Wellington. Very likable; very kiwi. Excellent! Very much more creative than the new flag designs, and very much cheaper. Great for a Saturday night
DVD $14.95 | Blu-Ray $24.95
What We Did on Our HolidayWhat We Did on Our Holiday (2014)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Immensely entertaining & strongly recommended!
DVD $39.95
MarshlandMarshland (2014)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Quite gripping; interesting landscapes and people different from city folk. Slow, but inexorable
DVD $29.95
FitzcarraldoFitzcarraldo (1982)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Visually stunning, involving much cruelty in the making. Best viewed with Les Blank's documentary. The sight of the great Herzog declaiming against a backdrop of rain–forest that he "hates the forest" is memorable and thought–provoking.
First ContactFirst Contact (1984)
5 stars (Exceptional) A unique film of great interest showing the first contact of modern & stone–age societies ever. Documentary film at it's peak! Even funny in parts – "we thought they were Gods, but slept with them and realized they were...just men".
MephistoMephisto (1981)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A very fine film on how easily art is corrupted. Unforgettable!
Blood WeddingBlood Wedding (1981)
5 stars (Exceptional) Yes, mesmerizing! Must–see for lovers of flamenco, Spain, or dance. Has terrific power
Coup de TorchonCoup de Torchon (Clean Slate) (1981)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A classic black comedy. Recommended
DVD $19.95
Out of the BlueOut of the Blue (1980)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Hauntingly good
FridaFrida (2002)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) A tiresome film on a tiresome woman. The Trotsky affair is sheer fantasy!
DVD $34.95 $26.20
Camille ClaudelCamille Claudel (1988)
1 star (Turkey) Depressing, but interesting if you are interested in the "achievements" of male artists
DVD $24.95
20 Feet From Stardom20 Feet From Stardom (Twenty Feet From Stardom) (2013)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Great music and moving and unexpected stories – what more can you want? A must for anyone interested in popular music
DVD $30 $22.50
Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, TheThree Burials of Melquiades Estrada, The (2005)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) Requires endurance
Aura, TheAura, The (2005)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Truly exceptional & unusual film –moving & gripping. One of the best of the last decade. Better than good!
DVD $19.95 $14.95
Valet, TheValet, The (La Doublure) (2006)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunningly funny and entertaining!
DVD $19.95
La Danse: The Paris Opera BalletLa Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet (2009)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Highly recommended; fascinating
DVD $34.95 $29.95
National GalleryNational Gallery (2014)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) A must–see if you are interested in art and the goings–on behind the scenes at museums. The conservators come out well; the managers badly. As with all Wiseman films, all the characters speak for themselves. Sadly, this may be the last. Don't miss it!
DVD $29.95 $19.95
Travelling BirdsTravelling Birds (Winged Migration) (2002)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Gobsmackingly good! A must–see on migration.
DVD $20 $15
Salt of the Earth, TheSalt of the Earth, The (2014)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding and very interesting. Guaranteed to widen your horizons and deepen your knowledge. Possibly the best movie ever made on photography. Only Wim Wenders could have pulled off the tricks to make it work so well.
DVD $29.95
An Inconvenient TruthAn Inconvenient Truth (2006)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) A must–see, even 20 years later. Al Gore couldn't have done more to sound the alarm–bells that we must now confront. Essential viewing for the politically–minded.
DVD $20 $15
Host, TheHost, The (Gwoemul) (2006)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Extremely funny! The Americans are sadly convincing. Song's family are well–acted and quite moving. The monster (Weta Workshop) isn't too scary. I've seen this three times, and enjoy it more everytime. Its humble Korean spirit is quite moving.
DVD $29.95 $19.95
À Nos AmoursÀ Nos Amours (To Our Loves) (1983)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning film, brilliantly directed. Sandrine Bonnaire is unforgettable. A truly great French movie
White Masai, TheWhite Masai, The (Die Weisse Massai) (2005)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Overrated. Has unhealthy exploitative overtones.
WaterWater (2005)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Very moving and memorable. A must–see for anyone interesting in India. Outstanding!
DVD $20 $10, $34.95
Hard CandyHard Candy (2005)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) A stunning performance by Ellen Page. A moral fable, easy on the eye, and gripping. All men should see this one!
Ten CanoesTen Canoes (2006)Aro Favourite
1 star (Turkey) Hypnotically dull! Avoid.
DVD $15 $7.50, $20 $10, $29.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95

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