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Sandy’s Film Reviews

31 Films have been rated or reviewed by Sandy.

Hitsville: The Making of MotownHitsville: The Making of Motown (2019)
4 stars (Very Good) After STANDING IN THE SHADOWS OF MOTOWN this is hard work knowing how Gordy exploits his musicians & stars. I watched HITSVILLE 3 times to fairly judge Gordy, ruthless in business, but one of few blacks to run a record co. The DVDS complement each other.
ColetteColette (2018)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Witty script exploited by the passionate & intelligent acting of Knightley, perfectly suited to the role. It's really about trust. Complaints that the movie is not in French are silly, vs. acceptance of Irish films in English, not Gaelic.
DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $29.95
Things to ComeThings to Come (L'avenir) (2016)
1 star (Turkey) I find Isabelle Huppert dully bourgeoise among French actresses. As usual, she dominates, with her rapid movements & staccato speech, which is hard to follow on the inadequate subtitles unless you are fluent in French. Not interesting.
DVD $25 $18.75
FriskyFrisky (2015)
1 star (Turkey) Maybe the worst SF movie ever made. Only the scenery impresses, with lots of Mexican labor to keep those nice NZ kauri houses immaculate. Unwatchable trivia.
DVD $19.95 $10
BaitBait (2019)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Unusual. Fascinating EXTRAS such as long interview w/Mark Kermode where Jenkin explains his techniques, motives & that most of the 'actors' are his relatives!! WW1 vintage films included incl. promo for the Great Western Railway & other poetic snippets.
RosieRosie (2018)
3 stars (Good Enough) Heartbreaking – but realistic & relevant to NZ today. Courage of all in the face of knock–backs is moving. I wondered whether the bureaucracy could get away with this exploitation of the homeless in the absence of cell phones? Hand–held camera work.
DVD $29.95
NomadlandNomadland (2020)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Stunning! Frances McDormand is just amazingly convincing & the real homeless folk filmed have much of interest to say. Amazon takes a well–deserved heavy hit & worth watching just to see how these folk are exploited. Plot moves along at a good clip.
DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $29.95
AmmoniteAmmonite (2020)
4 stars (Very Good) Kate & Saoirse are, as usual, marvelous but the plot is rather slow–moving, a bit like the geological processes themselves. These are unexplained because they were not understood until the later time of the great Charles Lyell.
DVD $19.95
SummerlandSummerland (2019)
5 stars (Exceptional) Outstanding performance by Atherton & a great plot; a truly lovely DVD. Disagree strongly with cynical EMPIRE review.
DVD $29.95
Promising Young WomanPromising Young Woman (2020)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) Brilliant performance by Carey Mulligan even though the events depicted are sordid, if real. A wonderful film, not just for women, but for everyone.
DVD $34.95
Marriage StoryMarriage Story (2019)Aro Favourite
2 stars (Good Try) Wooden acting & predictable script, this Netflix rom–com is narcissistic & parochial. Covers no new ground nor offers any insights except maybe that marriage is stupid. Only Laura Dern's character says anything interesting, but with faux passion.
Under the Same MoonUnder the Same Moon (La Misma Luna) (2007)
4 stars (Very Good) A terrific film full of raw courage, tragedy & humour. A fabulous Mexican film full of love and totally relevant to today's US exploitation of Latin labor.
Reader, TheReader, The (2008)
5 stars (Exceptional) Profound. Kate Winslet & Ralph Fiennes are exceptional. The screenplay by top writer David Hare is powerful. But do Michael's weakness at Hanna's trial suggest that such is widespread in Germany, where appearances count for all? Yes.
DVD $20 $15
David Crosby: Remember My NameDavid Crosby: Remember My Name (2019)
5 stars (Exceptional) The most intimate portrait of any popular musician I have ever seen. Raw in places, but Crosby was always known as "difficult". It's very honest, but he doesn't hide his talent – or love of women. He's now 76. Watch Laurel Canyon first.
DVD $24.95
Jeune FemmeJeune Femme (Montparnasse Bienvenüe) (2017)
1 star (Turkey) Very French, even the irritating background "music'. Perhaps made just to 'showcase' a new young star? The cat, however, is impressively docile. Consists of serial vignettes. Moving extra 'Body' captures the loneliness of the mother.
PersepolisPersepolis (2007)Aro Favourite
5 stars (Exceptional) See Teheran in the last days of the Shah & the rise of the Islamic Republic through the eyes of a child (Satrapi). Both funny/sad, great graphics, very realistic. Learn more of this outstanding Director in her interview w/Rosamund Pike, RADIOACTIVE extra.
RadioactiveRadioactive (2019)
4 stars (Very Good) Rosamund Pike carries this great story. In the EXTRAS her interview with Marjane casts much light on the movie. Her performance, melodramatic in places and elsewhere naïve for such a brilliant woman successfully merges her passion with realism.
DVD $24.95
Assistant, TheAssistant, The (2019)Aro Favourite
3 stars (Good Enough) Shows the viciously degrading exploitation of dedicated young women staff by many men. For me, a bit too realistic to be interesting. Certainly well shows the inefficiency and aggressive nature of open–plan offices, if nothing else.
Laurel CanyonLaurel Canyon (2020)
5 stars (Exceptional) Rare footage, tightly edited. Dense account of a decade of great music. Well told by Diltz and another photographer, onlookers of the scene. How living there affected Joni Mitchell. Not nostalgia, but a structured analysis.
DVD $29.95
Souvenir, TheSouvenir, The (2019)Recommended
2 stars (Good Try) Sunderland (UK), the town where most people voted for BREXIT because they didn't like Polish migrants. So Nissan moved it's European plant to Poland – surprise! But I found this a weird and dissatisfying film.
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The BandOnce Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band (2019)
3 stars (Good Enough) Older Robertson looks back. Robbie's fantasies about what was not so smooth. Ronnie Hawkins is good. The Band is impressive after BIG PINK but for me the magic of THE LAST WALTZ is not recaptured.
DVD $19.95
Last Black Man in San Francisco, TheLast Black Man in San Francisco, The (2019)Recommended
3 stars (Good Enough) Interestingly different, with a rather distinctive humour. A harsh and true criticism of the gentrification of the heart of the residential district of SF so that most ordinary people cannot live there anymore. A lesson for South Auckland?
Eyes of Orson Welles, TheEyes of Orson Welles, The (2018)
5 stars (Exceptional) A stunning Irish paean to the genius & courage of Welles across many fields. Utterly unique. Welles as an artist is a revelation. Sensitive dialogue – I especially liked his 3rd daughter – the "rocker chick". Not to be missed!
Sea FeverSea Fever (2019)
3 stars (Good Enough) Scarily realistic sci–fi made by Scandinavian filmmakers on a traditional Irish fishing vessel with a bright young PhD student on board. A whispery soundtrack makes it hard to follow despite some subtitles.
DVD $24.95
Hermitage: The Power of ArtHermitage: The Power of Art (Ermitage. Il potere dell'arte) (2019)
5 stars (Exceptional) Great cinematography & excellent commentary. Deeply informative & spectacular not only about the Hermitage but also the history of St Petersburg and what makes it so special.rnTerrific – not boring.
DVD $29.95
Booksellers, TheBooksellers, The (2019)
3 stars (Good Enough) For aficionados, a record of a lost world–thanks to the internet. Unlike the great US & UK docos on vinyl stores struggling on, this is humorless. Substandard cinematography. Simple explanations of why some books have value and others not would help.
DVD $29.95
Mother is Wrong (TV Mini-series)Mother is Wrong (TV Mini-series) (Maman a tort) (2018)
5 stars (Exceptional) Very excellent & gripping policier but all characters realistic & likeable. V. intense & complex, but heartbreaking. Spectacularly shot in Le Havre, which adds a special quality. English subtitles a bit fast. Terrific!
DVD $34.95
Insult, TheInsult, The (2017)Recommended
1 star (Turkey) A tiresome movie. Avoid.
DVD $29.95
WavesWaves (2006)Recommended
4 stars (Very Good) Unique film about Chinese teenage girls gradually adapting to life at HVHS (mostly) & our very different culture. Very realistic; captures the true character of the students and their adaptive strategies. Highly recommended & moving.
DVD $19.95 $14.95
BarakaBaraka (1993)Aro Favourite
4 stars (Very Good) Visually stunning, no dialogue; overwhelming as to world population size.
ProximaProxima (2019)Recommended
5 stars (Exceptional) Far more substantial than "Gravity", Eva Green and her screen daughter Stella both act with power and sensitivity. This is a stunning film and very moving.
DVD $29.95

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