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Review: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa, Vampires Suck, The Other Guys and three more ...

By October 9, 2010October 10th, 2010No Comments

Water Whisperers posterMy big beef with most eco-documentaries is the lack of hope. Whether it’s Rob Stewart (Sharkwater), Franny Armstrong (The Age of Stupid) or even Leonardo DiCaprio (The 11th Hour) most of these films go to a lot of trouble to tell you what’s wrong with the plan­et but leave us feel­ing help­less and depressed.

That’s why I like Kathleen Gallagher’s work so much. Her film last year, Earth Whisperers/Papatunauku told ten stor­ies of people who were mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, inspir­ing change and show­ing us that there are solu­tions as well as prob­lems. This year she has repeated the ton­ic, focus­ing on our water­ways and our rela­tion­ship with the sea: Water Whisperers/Tangaroa.

In this beau­ti­fully pho­to­graphed film anoth­er ten stor­ies of envir­on­ment­al redemp­tion are told: from the Poor Knights Marine Reserve to the Hurunui and Rakaia Rivers, and includ­ing the won­der­ful Mike O’Donnell describ­ing how a tox­ic Coromandel water­way was res­cued from arsen­ic and efflu­ent pois­on­ing by sens­ible plant­ing and com­munity commitment.

I don’t often urge you to see any­thing from this pul­pit but I do recom­mend you see Water Whisperers dur­ing its brief stay in theatres. We’ll all be bet­ter off if you do.

Vampires Suck posterFrom the same mais­on du par­ody stable as Scary Movie and Meet the Spartans, Vampires Suck hon­ours its Twilight inspir­a­tion by going at an epic­ally slow pace, with plenty of long gaps between any­thing inter­est­ing. The only not­able per­form­ance is by Jenn Proske who imit­ates Kristen Stewart’s sim­per­ing and twitch­ing per­fectly (and like Stewart, plays that one note right the way through).

I coun­ted pre­cisely three laughs-out-loud dur­ing the 80 minutes of Vampires Suck which makes one laugh for $5.60 (or $3.63 on Cheap Tuesday). Only you can decide if that’s value for money.

The Other Guys posterAmazingly, three laughs was actu­ally one more than I man­aged dur­ing Will Ferrell’s The Other Guys. We’ve been hear­ing all week about how hard it is for Hollywood to green­light The Hobbit. Well, it can’t be that dif­fi­cult if back-of-an-envelope indul­gences like The Other Guys can get approved. This film reunites Will Ferrell with dir­ect­or Adam McKay (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers) and their rela­tion­ship now appears to be so effort­less that they don’t even both­er writ­ing a script.

Ferrell is a desk jockey detect­ive in a Manhattan police squad. He’s sup­posedly a forensic account­ant which explains his lack of street nouse but doesn’t explain why he isn’t in a spe­cial­ised unit. His part­ner is Mark Wahlberg, dis­graced after shoot­ing a base­ball star I hadn’t heard of.

When the careers of the department’s two rock star detect­ives (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) come to an untimely end (WARNING: if you buy a tick­et on the basis of the trail­er you should know that both those guys are gone after 10 minutes) Ferrell and Wahlberg have to make the step up and solve a mys­ter­i­ous and com­plic­ated crime involving British bil­lion­aire Steve Coogan.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'hoole posterThe best bits of Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’hoole can be found at either end. Don’t arrive late and miss a nicely done 3D Roadrunner car­toon, and keep your specs on for the beau­ti­ful clos­ing titles. In between you have an amaz­ingly well anim­ated adven­ture about a young owl (voiced by Jim Sturgess) who dis­cov­ers a fas­cist plot and flies across the sea to the mys­ter­i­ous Guardians (also owls) to find help.

Director Zack Snyder (Watchmen) is a bit of a one trick pony with his trade­mark digit­al slow motion pulled out far too often and the viol­ence (quite a lot, quite scary for young­uns I’ll bet) means Legend of the Guardians is more like 300 with owls than, say, Happy Feet which was made by the same anim­a­tion studio.

South Solitary posterIdiosyncratic Aussie act­ing legend Barry Otto plays an Echydna in Legend (along with a refresh­ingly dinkum voice cast) but you can see him in real life in a little indie called South Solitary. His daugh­ter Miranda (Eowyn in Lord of the Rings) plays his niece in this film and they both arrive on a remote island off the coast of Australia so he can super­vise the light­house there.

It’s set in the early 1920s and WWI casts a long shad­ow over all the inhab­it­ants not least assist­ant light­house keep­er Fleet (Marton Csokas) who dam­aged his leg, his psyche and, if his odd accent is any­thing to go by, his vocal chords.

Taciturn but chiv­al­rous, Fleet and Otto’s char­ac­ter (named Meredith) have to learn to get on with each oth­er when fate leaves them alone to cope with a hurricane.

Notwithstanding whatever it is that Csokas thinks he is doing with his accent, there’s an audi­ence some­where for this nice little film. Unfortunately the Paramount’s strategy of open­ing films under a cloak of invis­ib­il­ity might get in the way of that a bit.

Peaceful Times posterFinally, Peaceful Times is an iron­ic title for a fam­ily mem­oir (I’m guess­ing that it’s based on real­ity) about grow­ing up as East German refugees in a West Germany determ­ined to treat them as pro­vin­cial bump­kins. So obscure that it doesn’t even have an English lan­guage IMDb entry, Peaceful Times tries to bal­ance a com­ic tone with some dark psy­cho­lo­gic­al notes and doesn’t really suc­ceed at either.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 6 October, 2010 (except for everything from the Owls down, cut for space).