Site maintenance in progress

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Hello all!

While it will be clear to all visitors that the site isn’t being updated at the moment/any more, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still in my heart. So, in an attempt to finally rid myself of the curse of the Thesis theme and its difficult design idiom, as well as saving myself some money on things like podcast hosting and custom fonts, we are transitioning to a new theme – Salient.

I’m very fond of Salient, as we use it for the day job, and there should be an element of future-proofing involved in this change.

Searching for content and presentation of images should be improved too.

I only have about five minutes a day to make these improvements, so the site is likely to look like a building site for a wee while yet.

Thanks for visiting, I hope you’ll find something useful and fun here.

RN 4/2: Good in the mountains

By | Asides, Audio, Cinema, Rancho Notorious and Reviews | No Comments


Dan and Kailey are joined by Graeme Beasley from to talk about the Lance Armstrong biopic The Program as well as Graeme’s favourite sports movies of all time, Jackson Wood is on the line from Chicago where he’s on a movie-inspired road trip around the mid-West and our hosts enthuse about the new Paolo Sorrentino film Youth starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel.

Correction: the Boston Society of Film Critics did not snub Spotlight as it turns out (see below). That misunderstanding came about from taking a joke tweet seriously which is an occupational hazard in Film Twitter.

Show notes:

Sundance 2016 feature list (inc. Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople)

Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards for 2015 (evidently the ”41th Annual” which amuses Dan no end)

Boston Society of Film Critics awards for 2015

New York Film Critics Circle awards for 2015

Sight & Sound’s top 20 for 2015

New York Times critics pick their best of 2015

David Ehrlich’s video rundown of his 25 best of 2015

RNZ Widescreen: a week of updates

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This week at my new Radio New Zealand (sorry, RNZ) gig, we started posting some actual content.

First up we started our “Best of the web” feature, featuring links to interesting online articles about “what ‘cinematic’ means in relation to TV”, an essay about Spielberg and ‘fathers and sons’, and the origins of Del Toro’s Crimson Peak.

Then on Tuesday we posted our first video review: Cary Fukunaga’s new feature (made for Netflix), Beasts of No Nation.


It’s worth going to the actual page at RNZ because I add some extra links there but the video plays bigger here (at least until the RNZ redesign arrives).

On Wednesday, we learned of the death of critic Philip French and assembled links to some of the best articles about one of the greatest film critics ever.

On Friday, we posted our second video review: Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks.


Again, there are some links to extras on the page itself.

And this afternoon, I put up our “Best of the week” featuring a couple of articles about Daniel Craig as Bond, Andrew Todd on Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, just in time for Halloween, and a fascinating article on how to get silent film frame rates right in the digital age.

It was a very good year…

By | Asides | 4 Comments
The first of the cars I got to test drive for FishHead magazine, the $170,000 BMW M3.

The first of the cars I got to test drive for FishHead magazine, the $170,000 BMW M3.

It has been nearly four months since I posted something other than a podcast to this site and two years since I posted one of my “Best of the Year” film roundups. I haven’t seen enough this year to justify one of those but, seeing as the year is reaching its conclusion, I feel I ought to prove to myself that I can still produce a few words every now and then.

If all you knew of me was my output here at F&S then you could be forgiven for thinking that I had gone off the boil a bit. After all, the site became popular for my regular film reviews and the audio content that now dominates was simply an added bonus. I have taken to calling 2014 a sabbatical year, a palate cleanser, but that means that at some point I need to get back on the horse and start riding. I have every intention of doing that in 2015 but — if it proves anything like the last 12 months my wishes might not matter a damn.

So, what have I been up to? How do I justify calling 2014 a great year?

Read More

Delayed gratification

By | Asides | 14 Comments

Well, it has taken a while to sort out but I can finally make a few announcements.

Exactly a month ago, I had a big whine about the closure of the Capital Times and what it meant for print reviewing and for me specifically. It was a shock, of course, but the impact turned out to be pretty gratifying. The feedback from readers was terrifically rewarding (“You like me, you really like me”). Even the one negative commenter out of the 25 who wrote to me here demonstrated that he cared enough to contribute, even if he did think that reviewers “were going to way of the dodo”.

And there were some pretty good offers too. Some from print publications, some online, some even involved getting paid which was a bit of a novelty. Read More

Unwelcome changes

By | Asides | 31 Comments

Update: I have some confirmed circulation figures from the paper itself. Even more depressing.

We interrupt normal – slightly stuttery – programming to bring you news of some changes in the Wellington media scene that might have an impact on the content that you see here.

Pg1-iss3821-bigThe Capital Times newspaper will be ceasing publication on – I think – 10 April. The reviews that I re-publish here were all written for them and it is their Monday morning deadlines that I meet every week. Broader discussion of the impact on Wellington’s local media – it leaves only Fishhead as an independent print publication serving the city – and trends in traditional versus digital media in the struggle for advertising yadda yadda, will be better off elsewhere, but the impact on me personally? That belongs here.

The first question is simply “to be or not to be”. The Capital Times is a recognised Wellington media institution with a decent circulation and a large audience. I was told that they print over 15,000 20,000 copies each week and the readership is estimated at between 40,000 and as much as 60,000. That’s significant, and made it worthwhile for me to write for and for exhibitors and distributors to support me by giving me tickets, previews and screeners.

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