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

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.


Music documentary month blog II: Made in America and Mama Africa

Posted on Thursday 4/9/2015 April, 2015 by Rialto Admin


In the music world the word ‘legend’ gets bandied about a lot – there’s the ‘living legend’, the just plain old ‘legend’, the ‘major legend’ and of course, the ‘legendary song’. The title is not always justified, but is most definitely when it comes to the names Jay-Z and Miriam Makeba.

Music doco month: Mistaken Strangers and Artifact

Posted on Tuesday 3/31/2015 March, 2015 by Rialto Admin


Being a fanatically bonkers music fan since pretty much as long as I can remember and working as a music journalist for about 14 years earlier in my career, I love a damn good music doco. Needless to say, I have been looking forward to Rialto Channel’s music documentary-focused month with bated breath, and was rather stoked to be given the chance to talk about them each week.

The Brats – a little bit silly, a whole lot funny

Posted on Wednesday 3/25/2015 March, 2015 by Rialto Admin


A little like French pop music, French popular comedies can go either way. Both are usually sweet, sexy and a little bit quirky and The Brats - AKA Les Gamins – is no different.

At the film’s centre is Thomas, a wannabe musician in his early 30s who is played by French YouTube sensation Max Boublil, a bit of a hipster who also co-wrote the script. His character unexpectedly becomes close buddies with his future father-in-law (played by veteran comic Alain Chabat), who has quite a different take on marriage than the average bride’s dad and therein lies the fun.

Tim’s Vermeer – and what makes a great artist as great artist, tools, skill or good luck?

Posted on Wednesday 3/18/2015 March, 2015 by Rialto Admin


Penn & Teller-related or not, Tim’s Vermeer is a fascinating tale. At its heart is the work of Johannes Vermeer, who was accepted into his local Dutch painters’ guild in 1653, at age 21, with no recorded training as an apprentice or prior profile as an artist. The young buck promptly began painting masterful, singular, uncannily realistic pictures of light-filled rooms and ethereal young women, which were celebrated somewhat at the time but after his death, at 43, he and his work slipped into obscurity for two centuries.

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