Dan and Kailey are joined by film festival stalwart and emergency management specialist Rebecca Goodbehere to discuss the new Dwayne Johnson disaster movie San Andreas and the new Cameron Crowe disastrous movie Aloha. Plus the latest announcements from this year’s NZIFF and the usual mix of news and box office stats from around the world.
Dan and Kailey are joined by Mark Roulston to talk about his website Cinema Aotearoa and to review Dwayne Johnson in Hercules. Dan interviews Glenn Kenny about his new book, De Niro: Anatomy of an Actor.
Also featuring – to Dan’s chagrin – the return of the Two Word Review.
Still hovering around some local cinemas – and the longest-delayed of all my outstanding reviews – Still Mine is a surprisingly effective Canadian drama about an elderly man (James Cromwell, 73 but playing a fit 89) determined to build a new house for his wife (Geneviéve Bujold) before her memory deserts her completely. Cromwell gives his character a softness which belies the usual ornery old dude clichés, even if his stubborn refusal to submit to the building code is the device on which the story hinges. Contains lots of shots of Cromwell’s heroic profile staring off into the New Brunswick distance.
Older people are, paradoxically, the only growing segment of the film audience in New Zealand so there’s often high quality fare around the tempt them. One of the best is the documentary Ping Pong, about competitors (genuine competitors at that) in the World Over 80s Table Tennis Championship in Inner Mongolia. Like any good documentary it assembles a great cast of characters and like all good sports movies it makes full use of the built-in drama of a knock-out tournament. Not just about the restorative power of exercise, it’s also about friendship and adventure. Inspiring, so help me.
Speaking as someone whose taste for adventure doesn’t stretch much further than going to the dairy in the rain, the reckless self-endangerment represented by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg’s Kon-Tiki was a genuine eye-opener. The bones of the story are well-known enough to anyone who built balsa models of Heyerdahl’s raft at primary school in the 1970s but bear repeating here.
While researching native Tahitians in the late 1940s, Norwegian ethno-explorer Thor Heyerdahl posited a theory that the islands of Polynesia had originally been settled by sailors from South America (actually, bearing in mind the technology of the time they would have been more like the drifters from South America, but hey). Unable to persuade anyone in the scientific community, he was forced to experiment on himself. He went to Peru, built a raft, crewed it with other northern European adventurers and set off to find Polynesia.
With little or no experience, training or even aptitude, it was a giant leap of faith – Thor’s faith. Unable to steer, threatened by sharks and – for most of the time – without radio contact, it was a completely potty idea but an idea that transformed our knowledge of human development and changed history.
In Rønning and Sandberg’s film, Heyerdahl comes across as an obsessive and extremely difficult man, but the way they portray the adventure it becomes clear that there was really no other way. Heyerdahl’s faith wasn’t a million miles away from the totally blind faith of the first explorers who set out from Peru all those centuries ago. That obsession is also shared by the filmmakers who insisted on using a replica ocean-going raft (incidentally named Tangaroa) built by Heyerdahl’s grandson, and then chose to shoot on the open sea rather than in a tank.
No sounds like the kind of thing a toddler in the middle of a tantrum might say, while stomping around your lounge room at bedtime. At the cinema, though, the tantrum belongs to the corrupt dictatorship of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, forced through international pressure to let others play in his sandpit. In 1988 he announced a referendum that would demonstrate – by fair means or foul – that the people loved him, weren’t interested in democracy and that those who thought different were nothing but communists and terrorists.
15 years after he and his military junta overthrew the legitimate left-leaning government of Salvador Allende, the question in the referendum would be a simple one: “Yes” to keep the dictatorship and “No” for a return to free elections. No, Pablo Larraín’s brilliant movie, looks at the campaign from the perspective of an ad guy – a Mad Man – played by Gael García Bernal, who harnessed the latest corporate sales techniques and the power of television to change the direction of a nation.