Francesca Rudkin

Francesca Rudkin

Over the last 15 years Francesca Rudkin has been working in the media as a film and music reviewer (NZ Herald, Breakfast TV), a television presenter and producer, and voice over artist. Recently, Francesca joined Rialto Channel as their resident blogger, allowing her to indulge in her love of world cinema. Her next challenge is to convince her young children that being a “Cinephile” is a legitimate profession.

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Francesca’s Picks for the Week 21st July

Posted on Monday 7/21/2014 July, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

No one has ever questioned Joaquin Phoenix’s ability as an actor. From his early role in the classic
Gladiator, to his portrayal of Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, to his most recent role in Spike Jonze’s fabulous Her, this thrice Oscar nominated actor is always brooding and impressive. However in 2010 many did question his sanity when he decided to retire from acting to become a very average hip hop artist, a venture captured in the documentary I’m Still Here. Turns out Phoenix was just acting, although this time, his performance left a bitter taste in some critic’s mouths. See what all the fuss was about on Wednesday in Rialto New Wave. Here are my picks for the week. 

I’m Still Here

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Antony Langdon & Carey Perloff
Directed by: Casey Affleck
Screening: Rialto New Wave, Wednesday 23rd July, 8.30pm                                                                                                    

So, as mentioned, in 2008 Joaquin Phoenix announced he was retiring from acting to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist. His brother-in-law, actor Casey Affleck, kindly offered to film Phoenix’s career transition that involved convincing Sean "Diddy" Combs to produce his debut album and behavior that would lead most people to believe the guy had completely lost the plot. Critics and audiences alike didn’t quite know how to react to this film when it was released in 2010, especially if it was in fact real. If Phoenix really was unraveling in this “portrait of an artist at a crossroads” it was deemed insensitive to be filming it. It wasn’t long before Affleck admitted his directing debut was fake – making I’m Still Here one of the most polarizing mockumentaries ever made.

In the House

Starring: Kristen Scott Thomas, Fabrice Luchini & Emmanuelle Seigner
Directed by: Francois Ozon
Screening: Rialto Selection, Monday 21st July, 8.30pm

Director Francois Ozon has come along way from his days as the enfant terrible of the French film industry in the 1990s, directing almost a film a year since his feature film debut in 1997. Ozon is widely known for Under the Sand starring Charlotte Rampling, the ensemble piece 8 Women, the kitsch comedy Potiche and recently In the House which won the International Critics' Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2012. Fabrice Luchini stars as Germain, a literature teacher who becomes infatuated with the work of one of his talented 16-year old students who writes about his sexual relationship with his best friend’s mother. Part black comedy, part social satire and part psychological drama In the House is a slightly uneven comedy but an entertaining romp all the same. 

Lola Versus
Greta Gerwig, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pulman and Debra Winger
Directed by: Daryl Wein
Screening: Rialto Selection, Saturday 19th July, 8.30pm

Another comedy about a young woman finding her feet in New York City, in Lola Versus Gerwig plays a 29 year old PHD student studying ‘silence in poetry’, who is ditched by her artist fiancée just before their wedding. She moves out of their lovely apartment and back into her tiny sublet, and flutters between friends and potential dates, caught up in her misery, until it all comes crashing down. Lola Versus is filled with characters with too much time to think about themselves, but Gerwig is always watchable, spitting out great lines like, “I’m slutty, but I’m a good person!”

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 14th July

Posted on Monday 7/14/2014 July, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin


K2 is the second highest and most dangerous mountain to climb in the world. As I discovered in the documentary The Summit, one of four who try to reach its summit will die in the attempt. I don’t expect to ever find myself in the “Death Zone” above 8,000 metres on the 8,611-metre peak, but those who have taken that risk fascinate me. The Summit is a breathtaking insight into the reality of mountain climbing and those willing to take it on, and it’s my first highlight this week.    

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 7th July

Posted on Monday 7/7/2014 July, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Brooklyn born and raised Jewish kid paralysed with polio as a child, Doc Pomus reinvented himself first as a blues player, and then as a songwriter, responsible for some of the greatest of the early rock and roll era. His life and incredible talent is showcased in the documentary Viva Las Vegas: The Improbable Rock ‘n’ Roll Life of Doc Pomus, which just happens to be one of my picks for the week.


Posted on Monday 6/30/2014 June, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

The best indie films and documentaries on TV this week.

This week on Rialto Channel, catch John Cusack in the period drama Shanghai, and reminisce about the rise and fall of British punk rockers The Clash.


Posted on Monday 6/23/2014 June, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Rialto Channel is unlocked to Sky subscribers, so enjoy taking a peek at what’s on offer; Rectify, What Maisie Knew and Dancing on the Edge.

Abigail Spencer talks about Rectify, Series 2

Posted on Friday 6/20/2014 June, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Rectify is the first Sundance Channel produced television series written and created by Ray McKinnon, an actor and writer known for roles in Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood. The series stars Aussie actor Aden Young (Mao’s Last Dancer) as Daniel Holden, released from prison, thanks to new DNA evidence discovered by his sister Amantha, after 19 years on death row for raping and murdering his girlfriend. Returning to his small Southern hometown, Daniel rediscovers a world far removed from the prison where he spent 23 hours a day in solitude.

Television, film and online actress, writer and producer Abigail Spencer (Oz The Great and Powerful) plays the role of Amantha, and on the eve of series two’s debut in the United States, she kindly took the time to chat about what we can expect from this new series, where the name Amantha comes from, and what’s she learnt from the shows creator and writer Ray McKinnon.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 16th June

Posted on Monday 6/16/2014 June, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) 2014 is only a month away, and while we wait with great anticipation to find out what this year’s programme has for us, it’s been announced New Zealand film The Dark Horsewill open NZIFF, in Auckland on 17 July at the Civic Theatre and Wellington on 25 July at the Embassy Theatre. Directed by Napier Robertson and staring Cliff Curtis, the film tells the story of Genesis Potini, the speed chess champion who passed on his gift to countless East Coast children. 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 9th June

Posted on Monday 6/9/2014 June, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Congratulations to all the winners announced recently at the Grand National Final of the Rialto Channel 48 Hour Film Competition. The competition kicked off on April 4th when over 700 teams were given a genre, a line of dialogue, a prop, a camera angle, a character, and 48 hours to complete a short film. The films were then judged at a regional level with the top films, along with Peter Jackson’s wildcard selections, judged by an international judging panel. 

This year there were 14 incredibly strong finalists up for Best Film, and the Grand National Champion award was taken out by team Lense Flare for their short Pants on Fire. The Runner Up award went to team Noise and Pictures for Rubble

You can catch these impressive shorts, as well as meet the talented teams behind them, when Rialto Channel screens 48 Hour Film Competition 2014 on Wednesday 25th June at 8pm.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 2nd June

Posted on Friday 5/30/2014 May, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

There are a few changes on Rialto Channel this June. Rialto World, which brings you the best in foreign film, will begin screening on Mondays at 8.30pm. On Tuesdays you can catch top international dramas and returning hits like acclaimed series Rectify, while on Wednesdays new series Rialto New Wave continues screening the work of first time feature film directors. Thursday evening remains dedicated to documentaries, and Saturdays are still the best place to see our finest independent premieres, with Rialto Selection. In another change, Sunday evening is now the best place to catch quality British drama, with Rialto British. Got all that? Now, here are my picks for the week

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 26th May

Posted on Tuesday 5/27/2014 May, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

The 2014 Cannes Film Festival wrapped up over the weekend with the Jane Campion led Jury announcing Nuri Bilge Ceylan's three-hour plus drama Winter Sleep as the winner of the Palme d'Or. The film beat out Xavier Dolan's Mommy, which settled for the Jury Prize, along with Jeal-Luc Godard's Goodbye to Language. The runner-up Grand Prix award went to Alice Rohrwacher's Italian-language film The Wonders. Here is a list of the winners:

Grand Prix: The Wonders, Director: Alice Rohrwacher
Prix de la Mise en Scene (best director): Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Prix du Scenario (best screenplay): Leviathan, Writers: Andrey Zvyaginstev and Oleg Negin
Camera d’Or (best first feature): Party Girl, Directors: Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger and Samuel Theis
Prix du Jury (jury prize): Mommy, Director: Xavier Dolan; and Goodbye to Language, Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Prix d’interpretation feminine (best actress): Julianne Moore, Maps to the Stars
Prix d’interpretation masculine (best actor): Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner

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