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Sept 2003

KS Classifieds
#017 out now

Whale Rider

Drama/New Zealand/English/Maori (Japanese Subtitles)/105mins
Cast: Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Cliff Curtis
Director/Writer: Niki Caro. Japan Herald

The recent Lord of the Rings frenzy has done wonders for New Zealand tourism and has also beefed up the respect for the NZ film industry. However scenery, director and extras aside LOTR is all Hollywood. But it has opened the door wider for 100% pure Kiwi flicks like Whale Rider to gain more exposure.

Whale Rider is typical in many ways of a NZ film and is based on one legend of its original inhabitants, the Maori People. The title of the movie speaks for itself and unfortunately most of your premise will be realized. Being one step ahead while watching this movie is a definite downside. However, its heartstring pulling themes have been very appealing as it has won audience awards at the Sundance, Toronto and Rotterdam film festivals.

First time to screen Keisha Castle-Hughes plays Paikea, a strong willed pre-teen Maori girl. She is ambitious and innocently challenges the tight Maori belief in rigid male and female roles. The myth of Paikea's tribe is that the original chief of her people was brought to New Zealand by a rescuing whale. The birthright of the chief’s first-born son is to follow in this tradition, but the line is cut with the birth of Paikea.

Pai is symbolic of the struggle Maori values and people face in a modern and European dominated New Zealand. The ideal of the movie is that culture needs to adapt but not be lost or swallowed up.

A few of the actors are given sold platforms to develop from and its only international veteran Cliff Curtis (Three Kings, Blow) does a pitiful job as the chief’s son who fails his duties.

The scenery and cinematography are beautiful and the whales very real. Traditional Maori martial arts, buildings, music and protocols are dealt with gently and well presented to the uneducated. There are some humorous moments that could have been spanned out more cleverly.

It is considered an 'art house' movie although not absurd or dark and it is as they say in Japan a “hiyuuman dorama” (human drama). Being of Maori ancestry myself it gives me great satisfaction to see Maori on screen getting exposure in a more positive and intriguing light.

28 Days Later

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Alexander Delamere
Dir: Danny Boyle. Twentieth Century Fox

Director Danny Boyle of “Trainspotting” fame has received a great amount of positive vibes about his latest effort 28 Days Later, even though I struggled to get through it.

This film starts out like any great Science Fiction flick and sets the scene with a ruthless blood-borne virus escaping from a British research facility. This virus devastates within seconds and causes the victim to be locked in a murderous rage. The “rage” eventually sweeps over Paris and New York, killing many and turning most into murderous zombies. Within 28 days England has been virtually wiped out and that’s when we meet our first uninfected hero Jim (Cillian Murphy).

In an awfully dragged out scene he walks by many London landmarks and eventually he learns about the virus from an old newspaper that comes by like tumbleweed. He then meets some other uninfected survivors who have your standard array of desirable and annoying characteristics. Jim and the gang decide to head off to Manchester where they heard the British Army have set up a barricaded “safe zone”. But is it a set up? Are they really zombies?

I am not going to ruin it for you, and, you should check it out for yourself especially if you’re a Sci-fi fan. But be warned the conclusion is very standard.

Production wise, this flick runs like a film students $500 master-piece. But in all fairness, Boyle wanted this real documentary feel and so he shot it on video.

Although the script and characters lack depth the question of human instincts and corruptions loom over the viewers head. We are left wondering “what ifs” and “why dids” and “imagine if” at the end. Maybe some of you will doubt the logic and would have hoped for a loser loses all situation, but even though Trainspotting and Shallow Grave seem saturated in blackness, there was a winner…no matter the crap he went through to get there.

Film Reviews: Tinaka Stewart

Also playing

Nowhere in Africa

The likely choice for the “best foreign language ” Oscar, Nowhere In Africa is a warm and entertaining film. Taken from Stefanie Zweig's autobiographical bestseller about her life as a young Jewish girl whose parents fled to Kenya just before the Holocaust. It is a deep explo-ration into typical hurdles immigrants face and their relationship with their new home. Don’t be put off by the seemingly over emotional themes. Beautiful cinematography and strong leads make this the soft touch summer audiences have been waiting for.

Drama/Germany/German (Japanese Subtitles) /141mins
Cast: Merab Ninidze, Juliane Kohler, Mathias
Dir: Caroline Link. GAGA

Roman Holiday

A touch up version with better colour and sound of the Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy. This is the movie that made her famous and her role is all very delightful. Hepburn plays a modern princess who escapes while on tour in Rome. She just hates her tedious duties and wants to be normal and free. She meets a reporter (Gregory Peck) who hopes to scoop an exclusive from the princess, but falls in love instead. This is typical of the time but lets not be too cynical about gentle and puritanical romance-comedies of yesteryear.

Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck, Eddie Albert Dir: William Wyler. Paramount Home Entertainment Japan

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Dubbed as something special for summer audiences, TLEG is a production that revives some of the great literary heroes of the 19th century. Scotland Yard has recruited African Adventurer Allan Quatermain (Connery) to lead heroes of yesteryear like Tom Sawyer, Captain Nemo, A vampires and Dr Jekyll to battle the high tech
terror of the “the Fhantom”. Great actors, a burly Hollywood budget and a promising premise make this flick very enticing. But, beware of the over-the-top action scenes and a lot of noise.

Cast: Sean Connery, Nasseruddin Shah, Tony Curran
Dir: Stephen Norrington. Twentieth Century Fox

Death Watch

This is a fine yet macabre piece of production by writer-director Michael Basset. This limited budget horror has nine British soldiers caught behind enemy lines during World War 1. While seeking refuge in a complex network of German trenches they realise they are being hunted by something more evil than a German soldier. Due to budget constraints the movie relies on psychological ima-gery with an equally spooky soundtrack. However, timing is questionable and it lacks subtlety.

War/Horror/UK/Germany/English/French/94mins Cast: Jamie Bell, Lawrence Fox, Kris Marshall Writer-director: Michael J. Basset

Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

The closest thing we have to a female Bond is back with more moves, gadgets and attitude but less bust (not digitally enhanced this time). Lara Croft goes in search of Pandora’s Box, which she eventually loses and then chases it form left to right and from villain to villain. All baddies are stereotypical and the script is bad. But it’s still a cool adaptation of the very cool video game. Great destinations, lots of action, solid tunes and funky fashion make this worth watching on the big screen.

Cast: Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler, Djimon Hounson Dir: Jan de Bont
Tohotowa pPictures

Kirikou et la Sorciere

An enchanting French animation that has resurfaced as worldwide admiration for it has kept it afloat. Set in an imaginary Africa, a special but stubborn little child named Kirikou comes along with an array of sweet and obscure questions. He is very demanding and even as a foetus he commands his mother to give birth to him, and she does. Great ideals and characters with a groovy soundtrack provided by Pan-Afro Jazz singer Youssou N’dour. But beware Disney fans! The Lions don’t sing.

Family/France/French (Japanese subtitles) / 74mins
Voice: Antoinette Kellerman, Theo Sebeko
Dir: Michael Ocelot. Albatros Film


Stu (Colin Farrell) is a NY Publicist, who is married but is dying to have a relationship with a Manhattan waitress (Katie Holmes). In order to dodge tricky keitai bill questions from his wife, he uses a phone booth to call the waitress. However, someone is watching him and knows all about his so called affair. The watcher (Kiefer Sutherland) threatens him with his secret and since a murder recently took place at this phone booth and Stu being the likely suspect he bows at the barrel of the watchers gun.

Cast: Colin Farrell, Katie Holmes, Kiefer Sutherland/Forest Whitaker
Dir: Joel Schumacher. Twentieth Century Fox

Swept Away

Madonna plays a 40 year old rich, fat-phobic, bored wife who is hideously rude and always uses her mula and rank to constantly insult others. With this deep character development over now she goes on a private cruise around the glistening Mediterranean (in a bikini of course) with two other couples. She takes an instant dislike to the Italian Stallion first mate and he can’t stand her. Then… they are all stuck on a deserted Island and the tables turn on Maddy. She and the first mate play lots of “Comic” games and then the movie ends.

Cast: Madonna, Adriano Giannini, Elizabeth Banks Dir: Guy Ritche
Sony Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Extremely candid documentary based on the highs and lows of Hollywood producer, Robert Evans. He narrates this doco with reference to big names and movies. In all fairness though, professionally he has something to share, being responsible for classics like The Godfather and Rosemary’s Baby. The doco then takes us on his cliché tinsletown intox, detox, babes and scandal-plagued life tour. All in all it’s a mash of tabloids on film.

Cast: Robert Evans
Dir: Nannet Burstein, Brett Morgan. Amuse Pictures Inc.


Sgt Nathan West (Samuel L. Jackson) who is detested and feared is sent with elite Special Forces trainees to the jungle in Panama. They go missing during a routine military exercise and from here an intense psychological thriller unfolds.
Ex Army Ranger, Tom Hardy (John Travolta) must investigate the disappearance with only contradi-ctory testimonies and hearsay as his platform. This film moves fast and is edgy, although complex.

Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Taye Diggs
Dir: John McTiernan. Sony Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

Dog Soldiers

An ode to fang fans this summer, although this attempt to revive werewolf movies and feed them
to mainstream audiences in hopes they will cause
a wolf frenzy, bear fruitless. A British squad are sent on a mission in the Scottish Highlands but are confused when they come across bloody remains of a Special Ops Squad. What could possibly beat to a pulp a Special Ops Squad? A werewolf maybe? This flick is strictly for fang fans.

Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin Mckidd, Emma Cleasby
Dir: Neil Marshall. Xanadeux

Pirates of the Caribbean:
Curse of the Black pearl

This is typical of a summer release, but there is more to it than a big budget and good timing.
If you’re the type to be hooked by movie trailers then give in again. Pirates is a gorgeous movie with no leaf unturned. Thick accents, slimy characters, artistic combat scenes, scary ghosts, misty seas and all that is worthy of a fine pirates tale. See it! See it! And see it on the big screen!

Action, adventure, fantasy/143min/USA
Dir: Gore Verbinsky
Cast: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley


From the pages of KS Classifieds:
Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!


From the pages of KS Classifieds:
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Some of the news you won't see printed elsewhere, plus the best of the rest.


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Whale Rider, 28 Days Later and many more...


Randall Channel, Tea Master Budoka, TV celebrity and a Blues Brother.