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 27th October

Posted on Friday 10/24/2014 October, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

It’s hard to believe that November is here, but it is, and with it comes a whole new selection of films and television series to choose from. Rialto Documentary presents a month of cyber stories, documentaries that closely examine the complications and consequences of being online. Sundance Channel’s brand new television series The Red Road, staring Martin Henderson and Game of Thrones Jason Momoa, kicks off on Tuesday evenings. And Ant Timpson’s Rialto Incredible Strange series continues to challenge and disturb us on Friday evenings.


Here are my picks for the week:

The Queen of Versailles

Starring: David & Jackie Siegel
Directed by: Lauren Greenfield
Screening: Rialto Documentary, Thursday 30th October, 8.30pm 

Filmmaker Lauren Greenfield hit the jackpot when she got permission from resort time-share mogul David Siegel and his wife, former beauty queen Jackie Siegel, to follow construction of their 90,000-square-foot mega-mansion, known as Versailles. David, his blond bombshell wife and eight kids, and their extravagant lifestyle, make for compelling viewing. An interesting twist is provided by the global financial crisis, which Greenfield couldn’t have predicted when she began shooting in 2007. When the real estate market collapsed the Siegel’s time-share empire crumbled, and the construction of Versailles was halted. What happened next was a “riches to rags story” as Greenfield discovered her film wasn’t so much an exploration of the relationship between the American dream and owning a house, as an allegory about the over-reaching of America - albeit at the top end of the scale! 

Breathe In 

Directed by: Drake Doremus
Starring: Guy Pearce and Felicity Jones
Screening: Rialto Selection, Saturday 1st November, 8.30pm 

Director Drake Doremus re-unites with his Like Crazy actress Felicity Jones in this low-key, but engaging family drama. Like his previous films Douchebag and Like Crazy, Breathe In screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The film tells the story of a Keith (Pearce), a teacher whose music career was cut short by the arrival of a baby 17 years earlier. Living in upstate New York, Keith’s life is thrown into disarray when a disarmingly talented pianist Sophie (Jones), a British exchange student, comes to live with them for a semester. Just like they did for Like Crazy, Doremus and his co-screenwriter Ben York Jones wrote outlines for each scene, allowing the actors to come up with the dialogue through weeks of rehearsals. Even though there’s a dreamy aspect to the cinematography, the narrative flows naturally and is entirely plausible. It’s not quite as captivating as Like Crazy, but the nuanced performances are worthy of a look. 

The Comedy 

Starring: Rick Alverson
Directed by: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim & James Murphy
Screening: Rialto Incredibly Strange, Friday 31st October, 8.30pm 

If you can get past the opening sequence where a bunch of half naked, paunchy, drunk guys in their mid-thirties dance around a living room in slow motion spitting their drinks at each other, then there’s a small chance you ‘ll get through this experimental comedy written by Rick Alverson, and staring comedy duo Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. Heidecker plays Swanson, an aging hipster who lives on a boat and is waiting for his wealthy father to die. Possibly one of the most unlikeable characters you’ll see on screen, Swanson spends his days pushing the limits of acceptable behavior, offending and abusing as many people as he can, and in the process, challenging the audience to see just how much of this loathsome character we can endure. Shot in a naturalistic, documentary style, The Comedy is a dark and excruciating comedy about modern day malaise that will conjure up a variety of emotions in you. Just as Swanson tries to get a reaction from those he offends around him, The Comedy works very hard to get a reaction from us. The fact this film got a steady walk out rate at it’s first Sundance Film Festival screening means it’s probably succeeded.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 20th October

Posted on Monday 10/20/2014 October, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Director Harmony Korine made a name for himself by scripting Kids and directing Gummo, and after 16 years of making shorts and the occasional feature film, he’s back with one of the most polarizing films of 2013; Spring Breakers. The critics had a ball with this film calling it everything from “detestable piece of gutter trash masquerading as some kind of abstract piece of pop art” to “the most unforgettable movie of the year so far”. You’ll either love it or hate it, but you have to admire Korine, Spring Breakers is an ambitious and audacious film and it’s my first pick of the week. 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 13th October

Posted on Monday 10/13/2014 October, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

This week Ant Timpson’s Rialto Incredibly Strange series kicks off on Friday evening with the Indonesian martial arts film The Raid 2. Like it’s predecessor, the film was written and directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans. Evans began his career producing web videos teaching people the Welsh language but when the martial arts fan was offered the opportunity to head to Jakarta to work on a documentary about Indonesian culture he snapped it up. Evans then moved permanently to Indonesia and what followed was martial arts film Merantau and thenThe Raid, a film that launched him onto the international scene as an action director to watch. The Raid 2 is my first pick of the week.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 6th October

Posted on Monday 10/6/2014 October, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

It’s a good month to polish up on your Italian, as on every Monday and Tuesday evening throughout October, Rialto Channel will be screening Italian films. There’s a wonderful collection of stories to enjoy, such as the historical drama Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy that tells the story of the tragic Piazza Fontana bombing in Milan 1969. It’s my first pick of the week . 

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 29th September

Posted on Monday 9/29/2014 September, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

I’ve picked an eclectic mix of films to highlight this week on Rialto Channel. There’s a romantic comedy from Danish award winning director Susanne Bier, a quirky morbid, black comedy staring Matt Lucas, and a documentary about the lead singer of metal band Tool’s foray into wine making. Surely, there’s something here for everyone.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 22nd September

Posted on Monday 9/22/2014 September, 2014 by Melanie Curry-Irons

Lasse Hallström is a Swedish filmmaker international well known for his films My Life as a Dog (1985), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993) and The Cider House Rules (1999). More recently though, the Oscar nominated director has been working on films that offer pleasant and predictable escapism such as the Nicholas Sparks’ adaptations Safe Haven and Dear John, as well as The Hundred Foot Journey. While there is nothing wrong with this lighter style of filmmaking, it’s nice to see him deal with grittier material again in The Hypnotist, the first Swedish language film he’s made in 25 years.

HIGHLIGHTS: Francesca’s Picks for the Week 15th September

Posted on Monday 9/15/2014 September, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Actor Shia LeBeouf is a bit of an oddball. A precociously talented child actor (Holes, Disturbia and Constantine), these days the Transformers actor is more well known for his behavior off the screen rather than on it. Plagiarizing other people’s work, wearing a paper bag over his head proclaiming he is no longer famous, and getting arrested for trespassing, misdemeanor drunk driving, and disturbing a Broadway show are just a few of the headlines he’s had to deal with over the last few years. But the thing is, no matter how much of a troubled brat he is, he can act, something he proves in the crazy genre bending The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman.

Here are my picks for the week:

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 8th September

Posted on Monday 9/8/2014 September, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Danish romantic comedy film directed by Susanne Bier and starring Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm.

It’s Scandinavian month here on Rialto Channel. Not only is Rialto World screening a film from Scandinavia every Monday night (such as Love is All You Need and Le Havre ), but on Tuesday night, you can also catch series one of Morden: Camilla Lackberg’s Fjallbacka Murders. This month expect comedy, drama and plenty of Scandi-noir!

Here are my highlights for the week.


Posted on Tuesday 9/2/2014 September, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Camilla Lackberg is a popular Swedish crime writer whose books, set in the tiny west coast fishing village of Fjällbacka, have sold over 10 million books in 55 countries. Lackberg attended the Auckland Writers Festival in May, and shared with the audience the story of how she began her crime-writing career - at the tender age of four years old. The story she wrote began with Santa and Mrs. Claus happily holding hands, and ended with Mrs. Claus lying on the ground, beaten to death, blood running from her Santa hat.

From that grisly start, Lackberg has gone on to become one of Sweden’s most profitable authors selling more books than Stieg Larsson, author of the Millennium Trilogy. Her novels center around writer and amateur sleuth Erica Falck and her husband Patrick Hedström, a local cop who together solve a series of grim murders that take place in picturesque Fjällbacka.

Not surprisingly, these novels have now been turned into a series of feature film length television movies that kick off on Rialto Channel tonight (Tuesday 2ndSeptember, 8.30pm), and they’re a must see for murder–mystery fans.

Camilla Lackberg kindly took the time to have a quick chat about CAMILLA LACKBERG’S FJALLBACKA MURDERS.

Francesca’s Picks for the Week 1st September

Posted on Tuesday 9/2/2014 September, 2014 by Francesca Rudkin

Actresses have for years lamented the lack of quality lead roles for women in Hollywood. While it’s been an issue for dramatic roles, the documentary genre has had little problem finding complex, fascinating woman living interesting lives. In fact, it’s where we find some of the most intriguing female characters on screen today. Rialto Channel celebrates some of these women this September with a selection of female skewed documentaries about women who live, or lived, a different kind of life. Kicking the series off this Thursday is the stunning and thought provoking The World Before Her. 
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