Sunday, May 1, 2016

Weekly Goals 2-5-16

The A -Z is over, so we're back to regular programming over here at Fiction and Film.  I hope you all had a wonderful April and managed to meet your own goals.

I did Camp NaNo and wrote 40K on a new book.  They're not great words and I've made a lot of mistakes in those first 40K, so I'm now doing something I've never done before and am going back to fix the beginning of the book before I write on.  Usually I just leave myself notes, finish the book, then go back to revise six months later.  This time it feels important to actually make those changes before I move on.

Why?  Well, partly because just before I started work on this project I turned a new book in to my agent  and I'm pretty sure I'll get notes back from her soon.  So I may have to drop this project for a while and I always find it hard to pick up again if some time has passed since I looked at it.  Especially if it's all over the place because it took longer than expected to settle into the characters.

So we'll see how that goes.  So far I'm feeling good about what I'm doing, but let's see how I feel in a week.  I'm hoping I can fix everything that needs fixing in the next 10 days or so, but it may turn out to be a bigger job than I thought it would be.  Or it may not...

What are your goals for this week?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for: Z-Nail Gang

Z-Nail Gang (2014)
Director: Anton Steel
Writer: Anton Steel
Producer: Kylie Dellabarca
Stars: Paul Ballard, Paul Barrett, Geoffrey Dolan, Vanessa Rare, Erroll Shand

The first film from director Anton Steel is self-funded, made because of community support in the small town of Te Puke. Based on actual events from the Coromandel in the ‘80s, it follows a small community as they battle for their land.

Consumed by debt, surfer Dave has the rug pulled out from under him when a multi-national corporation shows up in town, intent on mining gold in the hills. Dave’s wife Mareeka isn’t as laid back as Dave, and won’t let the big baddies push them around. She gathers the community around her and pushes back, creating waves that threaten to tear the town, and her marriage, apart.

This is a good-hearted film that doesn’t ever quite hit its marks. The characters are stereotypes from the oddball townsfolk to the overeating cop to the farting Aussie prospectors.

Clearly a passion project, and made on the scent of an oily rag, this is true-blue, number 8 wire, kiwi filmmaking.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for… Well, nothing actually

Yes, that's right.  I was stymied by this one.  There are no New Zealand films that start with 'Y'.  At least, I can't think of one...  Not even a short!

I thought about cheating on my theme and writing about a TV show called Back of the Y, but you know... it would be cheating.  Then I thought maybe I could throw in a random film from somewhere else, like You've Got Mail, or Youth, or Yabba.  But... cheating.

So rather than cheat, I'll just write this random post about how there are no New Zealand films that start with Y.

Filmmakers, get onto that, okay?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for: Xposure

Xposure (2001)

Director: David Blyth
Writer: Ian Coughlan
Producer: Grant Bradley, Richard Stewart
Stars: Ron Silver, Alexandra Paul. Susan Pari, Paul Gittins, Tim Balme
I know...  It doesn't really start with X.  But early on the title was Xposure (at least, I believe so and I'm sticking to my story). Who knows when the grammar police took over and decided it had to be spelled the accurate way?

In this straight-to-video thriller, Ron Silver plays a former war correspondent and photo journalist. He’s jaded and disillusioned with the world and consigned to taking semi-nude photos for a men’s magazine. When one of his models is murdered, he’s the chief suspect. But a serial killer is on the loose. As he investigates who might have murdered the model, he becomes prey as well as suspect.

It’s gorgeously filmed by DOP Waka Attewell, but there is definitely a reason this one never hit a theatre near you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for: What We Do In The Shadows

What We Do In The Shadows (2014) 
Director: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Writer: Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement
Producer: Chelsea Winstanley, Taika Waititi, Emanuel Michael
Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh

Long-time friends and collaborators, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement have a ball in this outrageous mockumentary about vampire flatmates in Wellington.

Simple things like chores become a bigger deal when you’re immortal, and a bad flatmate isn’t just for a few months, but eternity. The central character is the film is Waititi’s Viago, a 369 year-old vampire who is the centre of the household in suburban Wellington.

Life gets turned upside-down when fledgling vampire, Nick, joins them in the flat. With Nick comes his human friend, Stu. The group has never had a human in the house, but agree that he is off-limits for snacking. Nick revels in his new status as vampire and shouts it out to everyone he knows, much to the consternation of the ones who prefer to lurk in the shadows…

This is a very funny film and one that has been very successful both in New Zealand and overseas. With vampire fatigue being a very real thing, it's nice to see an addition to the genre that doesn't take itself too seriously and considers the various downsides of immortality.  And did I mention the super-polite werewolves?  They're werewolves, not swearwolves....

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for: Vigil

Vigil (1984)
Director: Vincent Ward 
Writer: Vincent Ward, Graeme Tetley
Producer: John Maynard
Stars: Fiona Kay, Penelope Stewart, Bill Kerr, Frank Whitten

There is little dialogue in Vigil, giving the performers a presence reminiscent of those in silent films. Set on a remote sheep farm, the film explores the psyche of, Toss, a 12-year-old girl, in the aftermath of her father’s death. As her mother becomes involved with another man, Toss struggles to understand the strange new feelings swamping her.

This is one of the darkest coming-of-age stories ever told, the lines between sex and death blurred to a point they are barely recognizable. Stark cinematography captures the bleakness of the landscape that perfectly matches the fractured psyches of its inhabitants. Yet at the same time, the film has its own unique beauty, a kind of blasted poetry that will leave viewers rocked to the core.

Vincent Ward’s debut feature was the first New Zealand film selected to screen in competition at the prestigious Cannes film festival.

When I first saw this film, I was too young to fully understand or appreciate it.  I thought the landscapes were beautiful, but the themes and layers were beyond me and I was unused to films that told their stories in a wholly visual way.  Definitely a lesson to be learned there, that just because a film has a child protagonist, doesn't make it a suitable film for children.  Coming back to it as an adult was a wonderful experience, and I would now list this as one of my favorite kiwi films.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for: Utu-Redux

Utu Redux (2013)
Director: Geoff Murphy
Writer: Keith Aberdein, Geoff Murphy
Producer: Kerry Robins, Graeme Cowley, Don Blakeney
Stars: Anzac Wallace, Bruno Lawrence, Wi Kuki Kaa, Kelly Johnson, Tim Elliot, Tania Bristowe, Tim Elliot, Tania Bristowe, Ilona Rodgers, Martyn Sanderson

Geoff Murphy's original 1983 classic, digitally re-mastered and with some excised scenes added back in.

Meaning retribution, Utu takes an unflinching look at the British colonial presence in the country during the 1870s. Te Wheke, a scout and guide for the British army, comes across his village, wiped out in a massacre by the British. He deserts and vows to take revenge against his former employers. Joining a group of other, equally angry Maori, he sets in motion a brutal campaign of terror and murder. It begins with a single woman and the burning of her house and spreads far and wide from there.

As Te Wheke, Anzac Wallace gives an unforgettable performance, ably supported by Kiwi icon Bruno Lawrence. Utu has lost none of its power or relevance in the years since its initial release, and this version gives new life to a story that should never be forgotten.

On a recent visit to New Zealand, Quentin Tarantino named Utu as his favorite New Zealand film and it's not difficult to see why he might have been drawn to its brutal violence and the moral complexity that comes hand-in-hand with films dealing with colonialism (especially as a white person).