• 'What We Do in the Shadows' (SBS Movies)Source: SBS Movies
What We Do In The Shadows is on SBS, so why not use it as an excuse to take a long bath in New Zealand cinema until your accent starts to shift?
By
Jeremy Cassar

2 Dec 2016 - 3:13 PM  UPDATED 2 Dec 2016 - 5:52 PM

Devout Movie marathon runners are known to look for new and specific ways to maintain the pulse of the process.

Think 'films that have 'that' as their titles' third word', then narrowing down a list to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, She's all that and x.

For the remainder of the population, movie marathon's are simpler: 70s and 80s Scorsese, Nicholas Cage-starring films; anything featuring the Rat Pack, or for kids of the 80's: Brat Pack, or rat pack; Romantic comedies; every version of Scarface; or even simpler, merely a run of Star Wars in the order they were produced (and God intended).

Or, as we prescribe for this upcoming weekend, a Marathon of kiwi movies.

Let's go.

What We Do In The Shadows (2013)

It’s rather ironic that it took a mockumentary—a trend that colonised comedy during the noughties and eventually grew tired—is here to signify the end of another trend in the vampire film.

Until the cycle of fads once again return vampires to the height of the zeitgeist, this Sundance-premiering film is partly from the mind of part of Flight Of The Conchords (Jermaine Clement) and its satirical bent creates a fitting send off for the sub-sub-genre.

You can say goodbye (for now) with What We Do In The Shadows this evening, or the following day on On Demand, where the remaining four films in our marathon are already waiting. 

Boy (2010)

Clement’s co-star/writer/director, Taika Waititi also heads up this coming of age film-come-festival darling-come highest grossing local film at the NZ box office.

Capturing the 80s in a way few have since they ended, Boy introduces us to an 11-year-old lead who obsesses over Michael Jackson as much as his absentee father. While meeting Michael and becoming the King of Pop’s mate would have made for great entertainment, the boy’s prayers are heard and his father returns.

In a nutshell, this is a film about that return. And any synopsis would suggest the film is an indistinct kitchen sink drama, as opposed to the vivid and assured piece of cinema that it is.

The Orator (2011)

Amazingly, it was only five years ago that Samoa debuted its first ever feature film. The Orator is the first feature to see a Samoan story told in Samoa and shot on native soil, so it was as important in representing Samoan culture as it was in keeping audiences entertained.

The Orator focuses on the life of a modest villager who works as a farmer (played by a real life famer and dwarf Fa'afiaula Sagote, and tries to regain his father’s position of authority in the tribe despite accusations of uselessness or cowardice.

This one-of-a-kind experience was New Zealand’s first entry into the Academy Award category for Best Foreign Film, and its startling production values and moving story were both noted by notable critics.

Dark Horse (2014)

Forget everything about Dark Horse for a moment except for the fact that Cliff Curtis is in the lead role. Curtis is well known as ‘that guy’ who you can cast in any nationality, whether it be the Columbian Pablo Escobar alongside Johnny Depp in Blow, an Arab in The Insider and Three Kings, Latino in Training Day, American in Live Free or Die Hard, and whatever he was in The Last Airbender.

Here, he plays a genius chess player with a genius name— Genesis Potini, who just happens to suffer from that confounding disorder we know as Bipolar. Based on a true story, Dark Horse is a rare film that tackles mental illness while never wavering on the entertainment front.

While we believe Dark Horse should have raised northern hemisphere eyebrows (as it did with festival reviews from U.S. critics), awareness of the film has been largely confined to below the equator.

Luckily, we live below the equator.

The Dead Lands (2014)

A tribal drama of mythic proportions that explores a teenage boy’s adventure through to manhood; a journey that comes in the form of seeking vengeance for the destruction of his town and subsequent murder of his father.

An unlikely hero if there ever was one, the boy, named Hongi, joins forces with a man who may or may not be real—The Warrior—and the two set off on a journey to The Dead Lands, where they must face, amongst other woes, the brutal villain Mehe (Raukura Turei).

This is an immersive, powerful film and a unique interpretation of the revenge plot.

There you go. Five films for a weekend of New Zealand quality, which is the next best thing to going there. Start with What We Do In The Shadows this Saturday at 8:30pm on SBS.  

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