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harry potter and the order of the phoenix

Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Bra Boys

By Cinema and Reviews

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix posterThe world of Harry Potter takes on an Orwellian tone in The Order of the Phoenix, epis­ode 5 in the Hogwarts soap, which sees the magic bur­eau­cracy in London des­per­ate to keep a lid on the news of Voldemort’s return.

If that last sen­tence did­n’t mean very much to you then you will have a hard time enjoy­ing the latest Harry Potter as very few efforts have been made to appeal to the tiny minor­ity of us who haven’t read the books or seen the films. I should­n’t really com­plain too much – the Star Trek uni­verse is one that has always appealed to me and there­fore I get pleas­ure immers­ing myself in it. It’s no dif­fer­ent here, except this time I am not in the club.

For an out­sider, though, this Harry Potter is not a hugely enjoy­able exper­i­ence. The young act­ors, des­pite lots of prac­tice by now, haven’t got any bet­ter (poor Rupert Grint as Harry gets found out every time they point the cam­era at him). Daniel Radcliffe as Harry does­n’t seem to be able to carry the weight of the emo­tion or the action and Harry him­self still seems like a bit of a wimp to be honest.

Which brings us to the story-telling, sup­posedly the series’ strength. Generally, screen­writers will tell you that intro­du­cing a new char­ac­ter half way through a film purely to solve a prob­lem for the hero two scenes later is pretty poor form. Maybe it’s a weak­ness from the books, or a gen­er­al dif­fi­culty with epis­od­ic fic­tion, either way its ter­ribly unsat­is­fy­ing for a neutral.

Bra Boys posterThe pic­tur­esque sea­side sub­urb of Maroubra in Sydney’s inner city is the set­ting for the com­pel­ling doc­u­ment­ary Bra Boys, nar­rated by Russell Crowe.

Nestled between the sewage farm and Australia’s biggest pris­on, Maroubra was settled as state hous­ing in the early 20th cen­tury, repla­cing the loc­al tent slums. Despite the idyll­ic beach­front set­ting Maroubra is more South Central LA than Oriental Bay and, like any kids in the ‘Hood, the only way out is usu­ally via a cas­ket, a pris­on van or sport. Two of the four cent­ral char­ac­ters, the Abberton broth­ers, made it as pro surfers (eld­est Sunny is the writer and dir­ect­or) and some of the lun­at­ic surf­ing foot­age is pretty exciting.

But Bra Boys is more than a surf movie: in its 90 minutes it veers from social his­tory to fam­ily drama and then finally to polit­ic­al com­ment­ary, and the Boys’ story jus­ti­fies every twist and turn. It gave me a lot to think about.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times, Wednesday 18 July, 2007. The Bra Boys review was cut for space reas­ons which is a shame as I think its worth seeing.