As a self-proclaimed super patriot and an avid film goer, there has for a long time been something lacking in NZ humour. We just don’t know how to laugh at ourselves. Across the ditch they found their satirical voice decades ago, but over here it seems we are reluctant to accept or even acknowledge our humorous side.
Instead, we attempt to adapt other countries comic methods to try and find our madness “what would they find funny?” instead of “what makes me laugh?”. The result is cacophony of mismatched moments, off the mark timing and dialogue that is so far from reality it feels like it was written by an English student in which English is a second language (this goes for Drama too).
There has recently been a bright glimmer of hope, a small group of entertainers and creatives who have broken free from the restraints of kiwi social stigma and recognised the fact that we, the humble neighbours of Australia, are funny, we are odd and we have our own voice.
The Olympian who carries the flag in this group is Taika Waititi.
“What about Flight of the Concords?” I hear you cry. Yes they are certainly in the leading group, but they went in a different direction. They are the masters of the fish out of water. They found their local voice and planted it on the other side of the world, shook it up and the results were genius.
Taika instead has planted his stories deep within the New Zealand landscape. Not only has he recognised value in the humble New Zealander as a person worth characterising, he uses humour to find the humanity. On top of that he uses our past and intricacies to create a true feeling of nostalgia. No cringe inducing level of “Kiwiana” desperately forcing buzzy bees, jandals and other plastic cultural iconography wrapped around a story written for colonial motherland. He lets the stories and diversity of our past and present provide an entertaining mirror for US to look at and believe it or not, a majority of these stories translate anywhere.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based on the one of New Zealand’s most iconic yarns written by one of this country's most prolific novelists, Barry Crump.
Of course there has been a lot of adaptations made to the screenplay to bring it to a more modern time. It tells the story of a young heavyset Maori boy Ricky (Julian Dennison) and his relationship with his adopted Uncle Hec (Sam Neill).
Ricky is dropped of by child-services to his new adopted home on a remote farm and is forced to adapt into his new surroundings and make sense of his new care givers, the enthusiastically tactless Auntie Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and rugged, introverted, man of the land Uncle Hec.
His initial reluctance to conform provides some of the best comic moments in the film as Ricky tries desperately to run away on several occasions, only to be lured back the next morning by Uncles Bacon and Eggs and Aunties persistence.
Eventually a strong bond is formed between all three and while the love of Bella borders on nauseating and Hec’s connection, though reluctant, is there through the twinkle in the eye and a wry smile, played wonderfully by the seasoned Sam Neill.
After the happy family triangle is brought to a tragic end, child services is forced to play their hand and attempt to claim Ricky back to be subjected to the system of juvenile detention. Instead Ricky and Uncle Hec “Go bush” to save Ricky form the tragic consequences of the youth prison Ricky refuses to go back to.
With the obsessed child services worker (Rachel House) and her seemingly unaware sidekick (Oscar Kightly) constantly on their tale, the Ricky and Hec’s bond grows throughout the film with some great gags build around miscommunication.
Eventually the chase goes from search and rescue to manhunt due to some misleading evidence unknowingly left and verbalised by Ricky. When Hec becomes the subject of character misdirection the local law enforcement ups the anti in what could be described as a “Smokey and the Bandit” or “Blues Brothers” track down (but with 1 percent of the budget)
Taika draws once again from his own experiences and solutes iconic films such as 'Sleeping Dogs”' and 'Good Bye Pork Pie' with musical notes, editing, pacing and shots drawn form classic 70s and 80s film techniques.
The acting is stellar from Neil as the grizzled “Crump” style Uncle Hec, Dennison as the misguided and once poorly influenced Ricky and Rima Te Wiata as the wonderfully warm overly loving and patient to a fault Aunty Bella.
The only performance gripes i have are in the supporting department. Rachel House dials up the obsession “No child left behind” a little too much, but is equalised somewhat by the more subdued Kightly. Our duo encounter a hunting party of 3 several times in the feature and they are just a little too confrontational and goofy in their intentions. Finally there’s a cameo from Rhys Darby as conspiracy hermit “Psycho Sam”. For me he just went too far and… well… Rhys Darbyish
The pacing suffered somewhat too, halfway through the second act things became a little cartoony and loose. There were a lot of “spot the kiwi pop culture” references which to be honest I enjoyed, but it didn’t play a great deal into the films story.
This doesn't however take away from the fact that this is an entertaining and heartfelt cinematic yarn. Not as much heat or sincerity as 'Boy' but worth a watch all the same.
You can really see a pattern in Waititi’s humour and story devices. With the right backing and financial support he’ll only grow with opportunities that will be presented to him. Now he's squeezed his way into the Hollywood system with Marvel's 'Thor 3' we’ll all get to see if I'm right.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
To this day I still remember my introduction to Sepultura - camped out in the granny flat bedroom of long-time friend Kerry - a live version of their cover of Motörhead's Orgasmatron, and from there it continues to this day
The 4-piece genre-melders Hellions are getting ready for their biggest Australian headline show yet. The tour will be taking place this May and stopping off in all the major cities; Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
It howls. It's grindingly beautiful. It's dangerously sentient. It’s The Sisters of Mercy returning to Australia and New Zealand this October and November. Due to demand, The Sisters Of Mercy will be adding Perth, Adelaide and Auckland to their tour in 2019.
Who Loves NZ The Most? Following a Sold-Out Winter Tour in 2018, Kiwi icon's The Jordan Luck Band today announce their massive 19 date New Zealand Winter(ish) Tour. Trekking the whole country; the massive NZ tour begins the last weekend of April with shows through to late June 2019.
Psychedelic heavyweight Earthless have announce their supporting acts for their Australia/New Zealand tour. The support line up is heady and heavy, meaning that each show is going to be stuffed with rock n roll greatness.
Due to incredible demand, internationally renowned award-winning musician, comedian, actor, writer and composer TIM MINCHIN has today announced a third and final Auckland show as part of his Australasian tour of his live show BACK.
Legendary, GRAMMY-award winning band FLEETWOOD MAC today announced an Australian and New Zealand tour, set to kick off on August 9 with two shows in Auckland on September 16 and 19, along with a welcome return to Dunedin on September 21.
California’s radical sons, The Growlers arrive in the country this week for the start of the Australian leg of their mammoth worldwide ‘Beach Goth’ tour. In what is guaranteed to be a rollicking, majestic wave of movements all around our golden coast,
Timaru’s iconic Soundshell in Caroline Bay will host two of the most well-known bands in New Zealand in a one-day entertainment extravaganza this January. Katchafire and The Black Seeds will headline the R18+ event at the Soundshell on Saturday, January 26, 2019. They’ll be joined by The Butlers.
In true kiwi summer tour tradition Marlon Williams will now take The Tūrangawaewae Tour to a further six markets this February making it a total of 12 shows - Marlon’s most comprehensive New Zealand tour ever!
On the heels of releasing several collaborative hit tracks this year, five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson returns with a brand new single of his own ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus.
George Ezra toured the world nonstop for more than two years following the release of his debut LP Wanted On Voyage, finally making it to Aotearoa for one of the standout sets of this year’s Auckland City Limits.
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.
The critically acclaimed, award-winning comedian and actor, Catherine Tate, is bringing The Catherine Tate Show - Live to New Zealand for the first time, with shows in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch commencing November 28, 2018.
It has been announced overnight that Last Tapes Theatre Company's original production Valerie has been selected for a month-long season in the prestigious Summerhall programme at Edinburgh Festival Fringe this August.