A freelance writer and copywriter for over fifteen years, Helene has written for publications and brands all over the world and couldn’t imagine herself in any other job. A shameless film freak, her first onscreen experience involved a trip to Avondale’s Hollywood Theatre at the age of five to see Yul Brynner in The Ultimate Warrior and she hasn’t looked back since. A big fan of documentaries, she has interviewed subjects as diverse as Henry Rollins, Jimmy Choo and Beyonce Knowles, and also has her own beauty blog - which can be found at www.mshelene.com - for the purpose of raving about red lipstick, big hair and other essential indulgences.

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Film Fess by Helene Ravlich

25 Latest News Articles

On Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia

Posted on Wednesday 7/15/2015 July, 2015 by Rialto Admin

He’s not one for sitting on fences, and the documentary GORE VIDAL: THE UNITED STATES OF AMNESIA is an unashamedly opinionated film about a shamelessly honest man and brilliant commentator.

Nicholas Wrathall’s admiring portrait of Vidal, who died in 2012 at 86, is a great introduction to his opinions for anyone wanting to know more, as well as a brilliant watch for fans (of which there are many).

IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY? – Gondry on Chomsky, with interesting results

Posted on Tuesday 7/7/2015 July, 2015 by Rialto Admin

This week’s subject - IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY? – was one of those cinematic outings that definitely fell outside my usually realm of viewing. It is a 2013 French animated documentary film by the amazing Michel Gondry about the philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky, someone whose work I have read over the years in passing but never been all that taken by. It’s true the man has been lauded as a genius, but just not the kind of genius that catches my eye.



THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI – a look at the man and the motivations beyond the ring

Posted on Tuesday 6/30/2015 June, 2015 by Rialto Admin

It has been over 30 years since boxer – and living legend – Muhammad Ali first entered a boxing ring, but the immense frisson of excitement that greets his name has never waned. I personally have been a fan of the boxer (and the man) since I was a small child, encouraged by a boxing-mad dad who coincidentally was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at around the same time as Ali. I have never failed to follow his every move, but tonight’s documentary THE TRIALS OF MUHAMMAD ALI uncovered another side of the man for me altogether.

Violet & Daisy – a film of two halves

Posted on Tuesday 6/23/2015 June, 2015 by Rialto Admin

Critically and publicly panned, the flirtatious and fun-looking VIOLET & DAISY could have been so much more. It is filled with so much joy and (that word again) fun – for a flick centred around a pair of violent little minxes – but unfortunately nails itself to the cross due to some cliché-ridden character errors and a little overcooking.

The Motel Life, a quiet masterpiece that ticks all the boxes

Posted on Monday 6/15/2015 June, 2015 by Rialto Admin

Before watching the film THE MOTEL LIFE, I did a little digging on its making – in particular the motives of actor Stephen Dorff to get it made and play one of the key leads, a role even he thought he wasn’t qualified to fill.

Way back in deepest 2010, qualified Hollywood Hunk Stephen Dorff found himself on the industry’s mega hot list after starring in Sofia Coppola’s quietly beautiful ‘Somewhere’, a drama about a Hollywood actor and his lonely daughter. Dorff said that he recalls a stream of offers at the time from a fickle business that he’s been navigating since he was 12. As he sifted through the stack of scripts that he’d been sent, he finally came across what he was looking for. “What the fuck is this doing at the bottom of my pile?” Dorff recalls asking his agent. The movie in question was THE MOTEL LIFE, and what a joy it turned out to be.

SPINNING PLATES – one hell of a culinary journey

Posted on Wednesday 6/10/2015 June, 2015 by Rialto Admin

“Spinning Plates is a foodie phantasmagoria and something more. ...an involving look at personal dramas that go well beyond the kitchen.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

This last weekend saw the Lewisham Awards take place at Auckland’s Shed 10, the night when the best of the city’s hospitality scene is honoured by its peers. Peer recognition is probably the most valuable accolade in any industry, but probably no more so than in hospitality where every man and his pup is a restaurant reviewer thanks to the internet and a location can be damned by a disgruntled customer on Zomato.

The event is also one hell of a knees up by all accounts, and one that brings the industry together to pat each other on the back for staying alive in one of the toughest businesses out there.

Which brings me to my subject this week, Joseph Levy's documentary about what it takes to keep a dining destination afloat –SPINNING PLATES. The fairly straightforward documentary takes a look at three very different restaurants and their respective owners, exploring their personal challenges and the strong ties between food and community.

A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING and my top coming-of-age flicks

Posted on Tuesday 6/2/2015 June, 2015 by Rialto Admin

Tonight’s film is the really rather lovely, high watchable and brilliantly acted A BIRDER'S GUIDE TO EVERYTHING. It’s a must see/don’t miss due to all of the above, but also because it’s yet another wonderful example of the coming-of-age film.

It’s the story of super shy, bird-watching enthusiast David (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee of ParaNorman fame), who is struggling to cope with his father’s impending remarriage (to the nurse who tended to David’s dying mother no less) when he stumbles across a duck that had been presumed extinct. Assembling a ragtag gang of mates, he and the group of fellow teens goes off on a quest for proof with the help of a birding expert, played by the legendary Sir Ben Kingsley. It is a beautiful meditation on grief and letting go, and apart from a few classic coming-of-age clichés - that are handled well - it’s a near flawless watch.

Watching it lead me to think about the genre, which has been around for years and although almost done to death really shines when it’s executed well. In no particular order my top five coming-of-age films are…

Both heartbreaking and uplifting: 20 FEET FROM STARDOM

Posted on Tuesday 4/28/2015 April, 2015 by Rialto Admin

The sad, beautiful and at times goddamn depressing in its beauty 20 FEET FROM STARDOM is one of those movies that I had numerous recommendations for before I actually got the chance to see it. I stupidly missed it at the New Zealand International Film Festival but managed to get a chance a few months later, and re-watching it for my Rialto Channel blog made me fall in love with it all over again.

The documentary has the multi million dollar music machine as its gaudy set piece, but at its centre are a cast of truly extraordinary, relative unknowns. It is most definitely true that when it comes to the stars of this movie it isn’t about the ‘stars’ at all, as millions of people know their voices, but virtually no one knows their names.

Despite the fact that it’s been on release for just over a year now, I have seen the truly wonderful Pulp: A Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets multiple times, and it just does keep getting better. And yep sure, I’m a Pulp fan, but the stellar documentary is not just for fans at all, it’s just a hugely entertaining, fast paced romp all round. And despite having some brilliant footage of the band on stage – including 51-year-old frontman Jarvis Cocker in full, orgasmic throttle - it is not merely a concert movie, but rather a chronicle of the group’s history as well as a brilliant character study of their hometown of Sheffield itself.

Music documentary blog III: Muscle Shoals and The Great Hip Hop Hoax

Posted on Thursday 4/16/2015 April, 2015 by Rialto Admin

“In Muscle Shoals, Alabama, music runs through the hills, the river, and the spirit of the people. It is a place where, even before the Civil Rights Movement really took shape, the colour of your skin didn't matter inside the studio…” 

So reads publicity surrounding the beautiful, informative and at times heart wrenching documentary Muscle Shoals, about the town of the same name and its importance in American (or perhaps global) music history.

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