Category Archives: silver screen


When I was a kid we didn’t have tv. Yes, I did have a pet dinosaur. Somehow my parents discovered the local museum (and when I say ‘local’, I mean a 45 minute drive away, in part over unsealed roads) ran sessions comprised of 16mm movies – documentaries – in the museum basement. It was not unlike sitting in Tutankhamen’s private theatre, if King Tut had used those finger removing folding wooden chairs, later to be used by the Spanish Inquisition to such good effect.

I fell in love with the images (typically of New Zealand) from the National Film Unit, the national pride invoked by vivaciously positive sounding voice-overs, the haw-haw jokes, and the unique music – it was unlike anything heard or used in another context before of since. Add in the torture seats, the screechy-scratchy sounds of the chairs on the hard floor, the smells of mothballs and the flickering lights on the screen – plus, of course the thrill of being out with Mum and Dad past our bedtime – all set to be a thrilling experience. So, yeah, had the pet dinosaur, but also had an experience that probably couldn’t be re-created for our young’uns. They probably aren’t going to be uplifted by scenes of mountain buttercups fluttering in the breeze, blue skies in the Southern Alps, or majestic waterfalls. You can see how, when Peter Jackson bought out the National Film Unit, all that footage found its way into the Lord of the Rings, fantastic, even if they had to toss in a couple of hobbits and some other stuff. Gotta pay the bills I s’pose.

When I found the clip above I was reminded of the documentaries clattering away in the basement of the Wanganui Museum. It’s worth viewing just for the terrific production values alone, and of course, somehow the EU food hygiene requirements hadn’t been brought into play at that point. I imagine no-one died from eating lutfisk. I don’t imagine many of the people actually producing the lutfisk were later served such delicacies in the manner shown in the film… Culture. This is culture, that is culture, this is all culture.

spin cycle

Very nice work (romance genre) from the Auckland 48 Hours 2008. Producers Adam Lound and Sarah Woodward, direction by Gareth Van Niekerk and Adam Lound. I haven’t seen the 2008 winner, it must be pretty spectacular to have beaten this effort. For those unfamiliar with the 48 Hours frenzy, it’s an opportunity for people in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch to lose a weekend – not in the usual sex’n’drugs’n’rock’n’roll kind of way – but in the create, create, create kind of way. It’s a time for people to stop talking about movies just long enough to DO IT. The results, from a critical perspective, are often highly variable; but are always highly valuable from learning and creative perspectives. Congrats to all who participated, it’s a huge effort. Thanks, Nich, for the nudge.

and life was never the same again…

Things just got better and better and better. Hoo-rah! Twenty years later (and 20 minutes into the future) I’m still lusting after Theora Jones 🙂

Indiana Jones – the adventures continue

I was very happy to learn today that Mrs Jones’s little boy, Indiana, is still continuing to have adventures – this latest the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The trailer for this latest film looks good, and it’s fun looking over the trailers for the previous adventures. A few years back I was going through a bit of a tough patch and it was the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark in which Indie comes eye to eyes with the nice cobras that was a complete inspiration to me. ‘Go ahead, I’ll even give you the first bite. But you better make it a good one, because you’ll not get a second.’ It’s a great movie, and it even has a guy who went on to become a dwarf with an ax here in Middle earth. I still like the Indiana Jones stories – ripping yarns direct from Boy’s Own – from the best story tellers of our time.

surreal event of the day

Sin CityToday I had a new experience – a first. While lounging around in my dentist’s surgery, enjoying the full application of technology to sorting out my aberrant tooth, I was able to watch a movie. How cool is that?

Unfortunately they didn’t have any KennyG videos, or Marathon Man – so I was happy to accept Sin City. I hadn’t seen it on the big screen and it had been strongly recommended to me. The sound was delivered via very nice, battery powered headphones, which unfortunately flat lined after about 45 minutes into the movie. That’s ok, I’ll see the rest next week :} oh endless joy.

It was, however, more than slightly Clockwork Orange (or Monty Python) -ish to be reclining watching a movie in which sex and violence take a forefront in the storyline, whilst two women yabber away oblivious to the spectacle taking place above their heads. It occurred to me that this is possibly where Michaelangelo was going with the Sistine Chapel ceiling – no-one below could work out what was going on, but he was entertained anyway. I barely managed to suppress the giggles at the thought.

Now, if only there’d been some nitrous oxide or other substances I’m sure the whole scenario is something Hunter S Thompson would’ve enjoyed…

drawing closer – the movie

Drawing Closer - How big do you think Heaven is?Late last year Marica and I were lucky enough to go to Austin, Texas to (amongst other things) help out with the filming of the movie Drawing Closer, with our good buddy, Trevor Romain. We got to hang out with the cast and crew – hey, we were part of the crew, and even got credits to prove it. Nice.

The premier screens tomorrow, February 8, 7:00pm, Highland Galaxy Theatre, Austin. Be there or wish you were there. Greetings to Carl, Trevor, and the cast and crew – congratulations on a job very well done.

movie one

I’ve spent most of this afternoon working on creating a small video of my Mum. Here’s a teeny tiny excerpt – the the video is still something of a work in progress. But, as usual, Mum’s got an opinion, and advice. She’s a happening thing. Here’s the information I wrote at Ruth Gedye (recorded 5 May 2007) is 90 years old. She’s learnt a thing or two raising six children while working as a farmer’s wife and later as a cooking demonstrator. In this video Ruth shares some advice on raising good kids, good pigs, and good gardens. At 90 Ruth still drives her own car and runs a small and profitable business on the side. She’s a great role model.

There’s got to be more to life than fighting for fish heads!

Buy Seagull Flying Above the Clouds at AllPosters.comHave you ever enjoyed a book, a movie, and the sound track to the movie – only to find you’re perhaps the only person in the world who did enjoy the any part of the package? No? For me, I loved Jonathan Livingston Seagull – the book, the movie, the sound track. Perhaps I didn’t read the deep and meaningful stuff into it and just enjoyed the story – you get that when you’re unsophisticated. Or maybe you think there isn’t more to life than fighting for fish heads.

But there is. There’s the latest The Bird and I – #43 – IATB at the Movies. It just gets better and better.

Perfect speed isn’t moving fast at all; perfect speed is being there.

Zhou Yu’s Train

View Zhou Yu\'s Train product details at AmazonThere’s something other-worldly about trains. Humanity has had a love affair with them as a character in stories probably since Stephenson’s Rocket. In my mind, they’re something akin to Charon, the boat man who said nothing, but ferried fee paying shades across the Styx. Trains – not those nasty commuters – are about little deaths, grieving, farewells, lost loves, running down the platform, rain, fear, and fogged up glass. The beautiful cinematography in Zhou Yu’s Train manages to capture much of the romance of train travel – trains are threaded through the story as the heroine, Zhou Yu searches for perfect love. It’s only when Zhou Yu switches from trains to other forms of transport that things change. She has a lover in a distant town – a poet – and the film makes full use of poetic scenes, music and script to continually reinforce this theme. And we get to see snippets of post-Deng China – becoming ever more prosperous, travel is suddenly an option, and the girls who paint vases have enough money, and enough time, to make use of trains to frequently visit distant lovers. And the back streets of Zhongyang? Surprisingly clean – almost the Switzerland of Asia. Not the China I remember, but I liked it anyway.

This is not the easiest film to follow – the Mandarin dialogue at times was difficult so the subtitles were an unfortunate essentential – but it’s worth the effort. You do have to pay attention – not only do the subtitles flit past, but the story flashes scenes past – not unlike the view from an express window – you capture the big picture, the detail is torn away from you, little better than a glance. The storyline is put together rather like the broad stokes of the more rustic styled silk embroidery – sweeping, back and forth – difficult to follow, but eventually it comes together and you realise everything in the big picture is connected – right place, right time – not unlike the trains themselves. Sit back, let the ride take you.

memoirs of a geisha

View product details of Memoirs of a Geisha (Widescreen 2-Disc Special Edition) at AmazonToday’s movie (loving these long weekends) is Memoirs of a Geisha. Apparently the film caused controversy when it was made because of the casting of three Chinese actors in lead roles. The acting was for the most part sensitive and scaled to suit, although at times I felt the actors seemed ‘busted’ for acting, looking around, oh dear, and then carried on. I guess there’s a challenge in acting Japanese while speaking in English.

I’m unsure if the movie is accurate to the book, and equally uncertain if the book is accurate and faithful to the realities of life in those times – or whether the real story was a western perspective of how geisha life might’ve been. I suspect a more accurate picture might be built up by reading the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.

View product details on Memoirs of a Geisha at AmazonVisually the movie is delicious, but, mostly, I loved the restrained John Williams sound track, with Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Itzhak Perlman on violin, and Pro Musica Nipponia Ensemble convincingly presenting a soundscape to enhance the rich imagery. I thought it was interesting that in the scenes with western music I was reaching for the volume control, whereas previously the music was so complementary I hadn’t needed to adjust the volume. I was struck that Williams had composed music to set the actors, rather than the usual approach where the composer writes for the overall scene. With, or perhaps even better without the movie, the music is fascinating and beautiful.