Lately, my Instagram has been inundated with scenic landscapes and random bird life, tracking my travels around New Zealand. For anyone who missed it, I am currently backpacking New Zealand.
I have seen so many incredible things. I have done so many incredible things. And as I write this now, I am only seven days in. The things I have experienced have been amazing. I abseiled down a waterfall 80m underground. I learned the famous war dance known as the Haka and performed it (terribly). I saw ancient Maori carvings in a secluded rain forest. These experiences have been second to none.
As the title suggests however, among these adventures, there came a change of perspective. It was a perspective I had often wondered about. It was a mindset that I thought, deep down, I possessed. As it turns out, I very much do.
We were invited into the home of a modern Maori family. It was phenomenal. We travelled up the long driveway, past the deer, past the cows and past the goat that eats your clothes (real thing). The bus came to a halt and we were greeted by Nadine Toe Toe with an energetic ‘Kia ora’, the response to which, was of course, a dynamic group ‘Kia ora’. Nadine welcomed us to their lodge and by extension, their whanau.
We had mere minutes to kill before we were launched into activities. First, we played stick games, designed to teach Maori children to learn without knowing it. Sneaky. Next came our feeble attempt at the Haka. Difficult to follow and blissfully hilarious. We even had the family laughing at our less that scary faces. Later we were taught to make bracelets out of flax and were fed hangi (a beautiful meal cooked underground of all places).
The following day, we were up at 7am. We got on the bus and went to school. More specifically, the Galatea Primary school in Murupara. We were directed to a small classroom, a fair distance from the front entrance. The children stood up from their seats and performed a traditional welcome song in our honour. Soon, we sat down around miniature tables and started drawing.
Once our time was up, we left the school (though not before high-fiving everyone in sight). Back on the bus, we were told about the cultural impact we have as tourists on the little town of Murupara. Murupara is/was regarded as a gang town. What was stressed, was the importance of these young children, meeting people from outside of their small town. What was stressed was the hope that can be generated from meeting someone from the other side of the world.
In the town of Murupara, everyone is family. But not just family, whanau. Whanau meaning ‘family that I choose’. This message really hit home for me. Some people have so little and yet they share everything they have.
I’d like the world to be a little more like this, a little more amazing. Murupara is a town I will never, for as long as I live, forget.
Let’s talk about Wonder Woman.
It needn’t be said, I have seen Wonder Woman. It needn’t be said, I loved it. My four crumpled cinema tickets can attest to that. Isreali actress Gal Gadot stars in the first feature rendition of the DC’s iconic character.
Leaving the screen, there were few women with dry eyes. There’s a very particular reason for this. It’s not because they thought it was sad, nor because, as a gentleman candidly stated to his girlfriend, they were being ‘overemotional’. No. In fact, it was something vastly different, something that dawned on the minds of every woman simultaneously before the end credits rolled.
To those who don’t understand, we cried because, in our eyes, Wonder Woman could legitimately be the movie to launch a revolution. A revolution against female stereotypes. A revolution against the double standards. A revolution against the misogynistic perspective of Hollywood.
Let me throw some statistics your way:
Now, I am not saying I want Patty Jenkins to be nominated for an Oscar (though I would find that delightful), what is important is the spotlight the film has shone on women in the industry. From the powerful and intriguing characters on camera to the talented individuals behind it.
I want to be a superhero like Patty Jenkins whose film garnered over $100 million in its opening weekend making it the most successful film ever directed by a woman. The magnitude of this milestone is astonishing and it’s something that will hopefully, pave the way for new female directors.
The film is exhilarating and poignant. It says ‘women are powerful and brilliant and hey, they can make great movies’.
I truly hope this was a mere taste of the creative genius of Patty Jenkins (a Wonder Woman in her own right).
Title: Saban’s Power Rangers (aka. “Gay Propaganda = 1 Lesbian” – Russia, 2K17)
Release: March, 2017
Nostalgia is officially in full swing. Due to this, I imagine I will find it difficult to maintain composure and fair-mindedness while reviewing this film (Ohmygosh it was so great beyond belief so good amazing). Darn, there goes my grammar.
Me and four kids found a spaceship buried underground. I’m pretty sure I’m a superhero.
In the town of Angel Grove, the lives of five teenagers are about to change. A lot. When teenagers Jason, Billy, Kimberly, Trini and Zack discover a spaceship buried under a gold mine, they are gifted with the skills of the Rangers and tasked with defeating the villainous Rita Repulsa. Yes, it sounds dorky, but it is awesome.
When it was first announced that Saban and Lionsgate were in cahoots to create the film in mid-2014, there was a lot of scepticism. Particularly from me. I think we can all agree that the base material for this project can be described in an array of ways; cheesy, ridiculous and pretty dumb being among them. Yet it’s cult following remains prominent today. Well, sort of… What the hell is Super Megaforce? Regardless, translating the power rangers to the big screen for a modern audience was a big ask.
The film is not just your run of the mill action flick. It addresses real issues. Billy Cranston, the blue ranger deals with autism. Trini, the yellow ranger deals with labels. Zack, the black ranger deals with being the sole caretaker for his sick mother. Heavy stuff for this mere ‘franchise window dressing’. The film handles the issues directly and carefully decorating the main characters as beautifully flawed, real people.
Can we talk about Rita? I’ll admit. I was doubtful about the casting of Elizabeth Banks, if only due to the fact that she seems like a delightful human being. By gosh, the lady can act. Banks shone as the villain, a role that was ultimately perfect for her. Sure, Repulsa’s plan was a little awry but she’s been at the bottom of the ocean since dinosaur times. That’s a perfectly satisfying reason to have lacking preparation for her Angel Grove takeover.
It’s morphin’ time.”
Director Dean Israelite gives the rangers a contemporary makeover combined, in suitable distribution, with subtle (and not so subtle) nods to its source material, creating a film what will no doubt usher in an abundance of new era Power Rangers fanatics, all while satisfying the nostalgia-hungry children of the 90s (like me).
Verdict: Return to Angel Grove and go see this movie.
Embrace the chaos.” she said. She stood up and nodded her head in my direction. Then she left.
Three days ago, I sat in a busy coffeehouse, quietly sipping my americano at the table in the corner. It was noisy but I was terribly engrossed in the latest of my literature obsessions (Agatha Christie for anyone who cares). A woman with golden rimmed spectacles, perhaps fifty maybe sixty years of age, wandered over; an Earl Grey in one hand, a beige handbag and a copy of ‘1984’ in the other. She asked, very politely to sit at my table. I quickly moved my backpack off the chair and let her sit.
It wasn’t long before she asked my name. A reciprocation of the question followed by a few comments about the temperamental Auckland weather and we were both engrossed in conversation.(It is rare for me to select human interaction over that of fiction but there you have it).
We spoke about a lot. The current political climate of the United States. The sad reality behind the lack of ocean conservation. She told me that she found it refreshing to see a young person reading a book. I told her it was novel to be in a city where people aren’t afraid to strike up a conversation with one another (what, being English and by nature, inherently awkward in every possible situation).
It was nice. She surprised me when she asked what my aspirations were. I told her of course. Screenwriting, I said. I’d like to write films and television. Now, when I tell someone that I want to write films, I get one of two reactions (that I’d normally describe using the wackiest of gifs I can find on the internet but won’t on this particular occasion). It’s either a sincere, ‘that’s so cool’ or ‘wow, what and interesting career’. Or it’s a sarcastic, ‘that’s so cool’ or ‘wow, what an interesting career’. I get it.
The spectacled woman was the former. She asked about what I was working on and I kid you not, seem sincerely interested in my response. I told her my ideas. I told her my ambitions. I told her that it was difficult. I told her that my head was filled with ideas but no practical way to make them a reality. It’s chaos, she said. I responded. Absolute chaos.
Before long, she’d had her last sip of coffee. She leaned forward.
“Can I give you some advice?” she asked.
“Please.” I said (anything that might help me navigate through life is welcome).
“Embrace the chaos. Before you know it, it will make sense.”
She stood up and nodded her head in my direction. Then she left.
Cryptic. Come to think of it, this had been a really bizarre encounter. I’m not sure I completely understand now and yet, it may be the most crucial thing anyone has ever said to me.
I guess we shall have to wait and see.
The whole country is watching as police close in on the blondini mini.
Title: Pork Pie (aka. #BlondiniGang)
Release: February 2017
A consistently amusing remake of the original kiwi classic Goodbye Pork Pie, sees the talents of Dean O’Gorman, James Rollerston and Ashleigh Cummings gliding onto the big screen and into our hearts. Three distinct and colourful personalities caught in the centre of an accidental police chase can surely only lead to chaos. Have no fear, for that it does.
The film follows Jon (O’Gorman), a neurotic almost-author seeking to get back a girl he wronged. Seeking a ride to Invercargill, he meets Luke (Rollerston) an adept boy-racer who picks him up in a stolen yellow mini, just as in Geoff Murphy’s 1981 hit. Later they encounter Keira (Cummings) a passionate animal rights activist who quits her job at a drive-through burger joint to join the two.
In a film with few characters, chemistry is of the utmost importance. With an straight-forward love interest blossoming between Luke and Keira and a wonderful friendship (or, let’s be honest, bromance) between Luke and Jon flourishing towards the end, Pork Pie seizes beautiful moments and encases them in humour and sadness to create a thoroughly entertaining film.
I’m taking this bloody car to Invercargill.
The action sequences are the pinnacle of excitement throughout the film. The stakes are high and the adventures ceases when, and only when the credits roll. With an unrelenting and addictive momentum, Pork Pie is a truly entertaining motion picture. This is a winner for New Zealand film.
Verdict: While updated for the audience of 2017, Pork Pie does not fail to capture the spark that made the original such a success. A must-see for all of New Zealand and beyond.
This is Rogue One.
– Bodhi Rook
Title: Rogue One (aka. Jyn Erso and the Rogues *squeals*)
Release: December 2016
It’s fair to say, the Star Wars legacy is thriving. Rogue One, the highly anticipated prequel (and sequel I guess), takes place right before A New Hope.
This is the tale of the rebel spies who succeeded in capturing the plans to the formidable Death Star allowing the events of the Original Trilogy to unfold (and making the Episode IV rolling credits that little bit more magical).
Lead by Jyn Erso, the ‘reckless, aggressive and undiciplined’ daughter of Galen Erso, a scientist for the Galactic Empire, the Rogue One team
WARNING: May contain spoilers.
Title: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (aka. Snakes in a Teapot)
Release: November 2016
Yesterday, a wizard entered New York with a case. A case full of magical creatures. And unfortunately, some have escaped.
– Porpentina Goldstein
For this classic adventure, we travel to New York in the 1920s alongside Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his mysterious suitcase of Fantastic Beasts. Roll credits. (I need to stop watching CinemaSins) On his first day in the Big Apple, Scamander meets Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), a witch and former auror for the Magical Congress of the United States of America and inadvertently switches suitcases with Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a no-maj or muggle who accidentally releases some of Scamander’s creatures risking the exposure of the magical community.
Redmayne’s performance as the timid and compassionate Newt is compelling enough to keep you engrossed in the movie. He cares so intensely about his creatures and every moment one is in peril, you feel it, even all the way at the back of the cinema. Fresh off an award-nominated role in Inherent Vice, Waterston’s Tina complimented Redmanye beautifully. Initially determined to regain position within MACUSA, Tina’s motivation soon changes and she finds herself helping Newt for reasons different from when she started.
I don’t think I’m dreaming.
– Jacob Kowalski
A stand out performance came from Fogel’s Kowalski as the humorous sidekick of Newt Scamander. As a no-maj, Kowalski’s lack of understanding of the magical world make for an entertaining watch. Secretly an idealist, Kowalski becomes a part of the community and commits to helping his new friends, despite being completely normal. There’s hope for us all.
Though a different tale and a different time, the underlying magic of the Harry Potter universe remains the same.
Verdict: Is there anything Eddie Redmayne can’t do?
Title: Doctor Strange (aka. Marvel’s Kaleidoscope)
Release: October 2016
Might I offer you some advice? Forget everything that you think you know.
– Baron Mordo
Doctor Strange is somewhat of an enigma in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In comparison to the likes of Tony Stark and Steve Rodgers, the acclaimed neurosurgeon Stephen Strange has had much less, shall we say screen time.
In the MCU’s 14th big screen endeavour, we are exposed to an array of new concepts; the magical arts, the mirror dimension and of course the blisteringly candid, (gem of the Earth) Wong.
Benedict Cumberbatch brings to life the charismatic but avoidably arrogant, Stephen Strange, an incredibly talented neurosurgeon who loses the use of his most valuable utensil, his hands. Cumberbatch’s excellent portrayal humanises a character which would typically be shunned from the audience’s empathy. A cocky scientist who drives recklessly, dismisses any opinions who are not his own and takes Rachel McAdams for granted. Who would root for him? This makes Strange’s arc from ‘contemptible doctor’ to fully fledged Marvel Superhero so compelling. It also does not hurt to look at Benedict’s beautiful face.
If we can take a moment… Tilda Swinton. *Thinks in awe, about Tilda Swinton for a solid three minutes.*
Heroes like the Avengers protect the world from physical dangers. We safeguard it against more mystical threats.
Doctor Strange perfectly fulfils the requirements of an MCU movie. It is a stand alone film that introduced us to a unique and underrated character as well as providing the exhilarating fight sequences and stimulating character development we expect.
All is building to The Avengers: Infinity War and Doctor Strange’s contribution was not only important but incredibly entertaining.
Verdict: The visual effects create an incredibly complex creation defying the laws of physics in tremendous fashion. WARNING: Do not watch while on drugs!