Tag Archives: New Zealand

What we do in the shadows

Directors: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi; Main Cast: Jemaine Clement, Taika WaititiJonny BrughCori Gonzalez-Macuer;

what-we-do-in-the-shadows

Hilarious and very original mockumentary about vampires living as flatmates in modern day Wellington (New Zealand). The audience is introduced to each character with a mix of direct interviews and everyday life scenes and getting to know Viago (Waititi), Deacon (Brugh) and Vladislav (Clement) is funny and highly entertaining. They have problems that are typical when sharing a house: paying rent, keeping up with the chore wheel, overcome conflicts and getting invited into nightclubs; they also have others issues due to being centuries-old vampires: avoiding sunlight, getting fresh human blood, hitting a main artery and not being able to get a sense of their wardrobe without a reflection. In the interviews you get pearls like these:

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There’s also Petyr (Ben Fransham) as forth flatmate, he’s the oldest and most ghoulish vampire of the lot and has a tendency to turn his victims instead of killing them. This is the reason why Nick (Gonzales-Macuer) becomes a vampire and, being new-made, gets to be a guide to his brethren, helping them to overcome modern society’s obstacles. Along with his best friend Stu (Stu Rutherford), who is still human but very understanding, Nick manages to teach Decon, Vlad and Viago to use a computer and internet with pretty interesting results such as dark bidding on Ebay or a Skype conversation with a former minion. They finally have no problem enjoying the nightlife and entering bars and clubs, with their great surprise and delight. In return, they mentor Nick in all-things vampiry: eating in a proper way, fly and turning into a bat, hypnotizing people, dealing with werewolves and so on.

The story flows nicely, it’s engaging and amusing and it’s served well by the documentary style of shooting and editing. The cast is brilliant, especially Waititi and Clement who are also the dark minds behind this film. This movie is a breath of fresh air in this stale genre, it’s unusual and up to the mark with another unconventional take, although very different, on vampire tales: Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Diverting —8/10

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Top of the Lake (TV mini-series)

Main Cast:  Elisabeth MossThomas M. WrightPeter MullanDavid WenhamHolly Hunter;

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Forget New Zealand as beautiful Middle Earth, in this series you can see a very different aspect: grim, darker and rather misogynistic. It is a detective story written and directed (most of the episodes anyway) by Jane Campion, so we get: a female lead character, complex and multi-layered played brilliantly by Elisabeth Moss, and violence against women (both physical and psychological). It starts like a case of child rape in a small town: 12-year-old Tui is five month pregnant and tries to kill herself, Det. Robin Griffin is called in as expert in child abuse. She is being back in the area, visiting her sick mother, after many years of absence. After her first interview with Robin, Tui disappears  and no one knows what happened. We embark with Robin on a mission to find Tui and the truth, and in each episode we find out more about her past and the people of the town. The more interesting aspects are the dynamics among the characters and the different facets of misogyny (from demeaning comments to outright abuse) weaved in the everyday life of girls and women of this small community. The cast is outstanding: from Peter Mullan to David Wenham and Holly Hunter, they all give very convincing and enthralling performances. Very special kudos to Thomas Wright, who reminds me of a young Daniel Day-Lewis, and masterfully balances vulnerability with strength and desire to portrait his Johnno. The scenery is also used quite skillfully to set the mood of the story: alternatively bleak, peaceful, menacing, hopeless or foreboding; it can almost be considered a character in its own right. Being a rather gloomy tale I would not recommend it for a week-end of light entertainment but I do recommend you to watch it. Striking and unconventional —7.5/10

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