Hell or High Water

A small town bank in West Texas is robbed. Two gunmen, only taking low denomination bills from the cash drawers. Then another bank, the same modus operandi. A third. The robbers taking only several thousand dollars each time, but leaving no evidence, no trail. On their trail, two lawmen, tracking them across the desert.

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Swiss Army Man

swiss-army-manHank (Paul Dano) is a man with no reason to live. Alone, stuck on a desert island with no hope of rescue, he is just about to end it all when a corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on the beach. It quickly turns out this is no ordinary corpse.

First off, the corpse’s chronic and apparently endless flatulence allows it to be used as a jetski. And can also be used to fire projectiles. Soon, more talents are revealed, such as the ability to store large quantities of drinking water and a head so hard it can be used for campground construction.

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople [Blu-Ray]

wilderpeopleTaika Waititi has been a talent constantly on the rise. First making his name as an actor, he then broke through as a director with the Oscar-nominated short film Two Cars, One Night before a sequence of feature films drew him further into the spotlight. As such, this may be his last New Zealand film for a while, as he has at time of writing been deep in directing Thor 3: Ragnarok. If this really is the send-off for his laid-back style of local filmmaking, it’s a hell of a way to finish.

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Blank Generation

A (post) punk romance from schlock director Ulli Lommel, this is one of his earliest efforts, perhaps his first or second, when he was still interested in art as opposed to exploitation. That said, it doesn’t make it any better or more coherent than his later efforts.

The movie is famous for two things: (1) it stars punk pioneer Richard Hell and features live footage of his band The Voidoids at what was arguably their peak – early 1978 and (2) Andy Warhol’s five minute cameo. And as an actor it must be said that Richard Hell makes a fine musician, a fact that even he agrees upon.

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The Fall [Series 1 & 2]

The-Fall12The Fall is a show that focuses on a serial killer who is committing sexually violent murders in Belfast. When he’s not killing young women he is a bereavement counselor, a husband, and a father.  Metro Police Superintendent Stella Gibson is a senior investigating officer who is sent to assist the Belfast police department as they’ve been unable to solve the case.  Being an outsider Stella faces a lot of hostility from the local detectives but she knows serials killers and is good at her job. The show essentially consists of the two hunting each other which makes for an interesting dynamic.

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Evan (Evil Dead‘s Lou Taylor Pucci) is having a terrible time. After his father dies, he drops out of college to look after his ailing mother. The day she, too, dies, he gets in a fight at the bar in which he works…and promptly loses his job. With no prospects, no family and the police after him, he decides on a whim to go to rural Italy for a fresh start.

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Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

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Loosely based on an urban legend linked to the 2001 death of Takako Konishi, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter tells the melancholy tale of 29-year-old Kumiko, a solitary introvert working as an Office Lady in Tokyo with an unhealthy obsession for the 1996 Coen Brothers film, Fargo.

Due to her non-conformist lifestyle in relation to homogeneous Japanese society – unmarried, no job ambition, lives alone with her pet rabbit Bunzo – she is routinely humiliated and viewed as an outcast by her co-workers, boss, and even her own mother. At the end of every monotonous workday, she returns home to a pot of noodles, Bunzo and her severely degraded Fargo VHS to watch and re-watch the scene wherein Steve Buscemi’s character buries a briefcase of cash in the snow.

Believing Fargo to be a true story, Kumiko makes meticulous efforts to map out the location of the money. Finally tired of her empty life in Tokyo, she absconds with the company credit card and hops on a flight to Minneapolis in search of her treasure.

She is ill-equipped for the harsh winter that greets her upon landing and wanders the highways encountering various characters who attempt to help this misguided Japanese tourist on her way to Fargo. After showing the DVD (her VCR eventually chewed the tape) to a kindly policeman he tries to explain that it’s a fictional film, to no avail. Kumiko hitches a taxi to her destination and wades headlong into a snowy forest-scape of oblivion.

Upon reading the synopsis for this film (and never having heard the urban legend it’s based on) I have to admit the premise sounded quite original. And indeed it is. With very little dialog, we essentially follow an uncommunicative Japanese woman on a bizarre little journey. The pace is painstakingly slow and the tone meditative, even mundane. Despite Kumiko’s apparent insanity, most of the time there’s not much action on-screen. But this approach fits the overall mood, Kumiko is downtrodden yet determined to reach her mythical fortune.

The last three-quarters of the film are particularly impressive visually with beautifully shot barren stretches of snow, ice and impenetrable forests which perfectly capture the atmosphere of Fargo. As does Kumiko’s oversized red hoodie she wears in very scene, no doubt a tribute to William H. Macy’s ubiquitous orange puffer jacket in the film.

For those interested in the real life case of Takako Konishi, Paul Berczeller’s short documentary This Is A True Story is compulsory viewing.


A short interview with lead actress Rinko Kikuchi and the director(s), a behind the scenes featurette which details the great lengths they went to cast the perfect rabbit in the role of Bunzo and a few deleted/alternate scenes, one of which is entitled ‘a grim ending’.

Little House on the Prairie Season Five

In season five the Ingalls move from Walnut Grove to Winoka where Mary teaches at a school for the blind. Charles and Caroline are now managing the Dakota Hotel to make ends meet. The Ingalls end up taking in an orphan named Albert who causes a bit of friction between Laura and her Pa as she feels left out. Fear not, the family return to Walnut Grove to find it neglected and try and restore it to its former glory.

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