Posts tagged “New Zealand

Heavenly Creatures / Rebranding Has Unforeseen Consequences


Heavenly Creatures  -  Front Blu-ray Cover (UK Release)It was the film that put Peter Jackson on the international film circuit.  It was the film that rocketed Kate Winslet to fame. It was the film based on a crime that shocked a nation.  Discover the grim and wonderful world of “Heavenly Creatures”.  Pauline is a student in New Zealand who has no affection for her family or her classmates, but when the beautiful and wealthy Juliet enrols at her school the pair become best friends.  Through their shared tastes in art, literature, and music they begin to build an elegant fantasy world.  However, when Juliet’s parents threaten to separate the girls, they make a ruthless pact to preserve their fairytale forever, whatever the cost…  Starring Academy-Award winner Kate Winslet (“Titanic”), Melanie Lynskey (“Two and a Half Men”, “Win Win”) and directed by Academy-Award winner Peter Jackson (“The Lord of the Rings” trilogy), “Heavenly Creatures” is a gripping and intelligent account of a friendship with a dark edge.

1994  –  Certificate: 18  –  New Zealand
Rating Details: Infrequent strong bloody violence
8 out of 10

About a year ago we ‘rebranded’ at work.  Out went all the stuffy, 20th Century imagery and in came a fun, cool, 21st Century, 20-teens look.  Our sturdy, reliable fleeces were ripped from our backs by ‘The Management’ and burnt in a huge pyre of green and black polyester.  In their place came thin, dark blue hoodies, with bits of trendy string and other things hanging from all over them; (remember the latter, they’re important later on).  Everyone over the age of 25 had to attend special training courses, to enable us to wear them without spontaneously going into either an 80’s training montage (a la “Rocky”), or out to hang around on street corners and mug old ladies.  I was told mine made me looked 20 years younger, (or as I suspect, just like an old bloke trying to look 20 years younger).  Now, let’s come back to the present day.  On Friday I was answering the call of nature.  In an effort to prevent one of the “bits of trendy string” ‘getting in the way’ so to speak, I undid the zip on my hoodle.  In doing so, a pocket thought it would be really fun and cool to throw my mobile phone into the toilet.  Our trusty fleeces had deeper pockets with zips on them; I’d never had a fleece pocket do that to me.  So there I was, urinating on my own mobile, casually wondering how long it could withstand being in the water and how exactly I was going to get it out in anything resembling a hygienic way.  Anyway, one rubber glove and several minutes later…  Although it had been switched on before it went swimming, it now wasn’t working.  It was well and truly dead, save for a couple of flickering, fading lights at the side that put me in mind of The Terminator’s eyes after it gets bashed to bits and dies, just before it comes alive again; although there was no sign of my phone rerouting itself to take advantage of an alternative power source.  My mobile is a Nokia 6300, the sort of phone that’s given to ‘top executives’ like myself, at least it was 7 years ago when I got it.  And despite its slick 90’s styling, it’s about as water-resistant as, well (as we’re on the subject anyway), a sheet of toilet paper.  I disassembled it, poured the urine/water mixture out of it and left it to dry.  At least it hadn’t exploded; if my life was a Hollywood action movie I’m pretty sure it would have done and I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with an exploding lavatory.  The next day I put all the bits back together again and switched it on.  Nothing happened.  I shook it, hit it, put it in the microwave oven for 30 seconds, (okay I lied about the microwave), but still it didn’t work.  I started trying to think of excuses I could use when fessing up at work that I’d broken it.  Who could I blame?  The hoddie designers?  The branding manager?  The chief executive?  Maybe I could just say it had broken of old age?  Then I had an “Independence Day” moment.  Do you know the bit in the film when the President of the United States is flying a jet fighter and fires a missile at one of the alien spaceships and it doesn’t work and he says something like, “I’m going to have one more try?”  Well I had much the same experience with my Nokia.  I pressed the on button, kept my finger on it for ages and suddenly it shook and spluttered into life.  Amazing.  Now I’ve just got to work out how to decontaminate it.  This movie doesn’t feature any of these things at all, not even a passing reference to them.

This film is based on the true-life story of two school-girls in the 50s who formed a very close relationship and ended up murdering one of the mothers.  It was the movie that bought Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson and Kate “the second most beautiful woman in the world” Winslet to public prominence.  After 20 minutes I really thought it was going to be rubbish, especially as I’m not a great fan of period dramas or real-life dramatisations, but then it suddenly got good.  It’s a hard film to pigeonhole, a genuine one-off. It’s really an adult fairytale, despite it closely following the story of the murder.  The music in the film works really well and it has one scene, near the end, that’s an authentically brilliant bit of intense cinema.  It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but it is probably one that everyone should see.  It also throws up a whole range of interesting questions, about the nature of their relationship, the reaction of their parents to it, their mental condition, their treatment at school, their relationship with their parents.  In many ways it’s a shame it’s based on a real story, as the fact that someone really was killed sort of makes it hard to form a detached opinion of everything.  I watched the shorter, original cut (as I have it on Blu-ray and it looked really nice); of course, being the sad, nerdy film person I am, I also own the extended version too, on DVD.

No cats or chainsaws and 1 decapitation, although the latter is off-screen.

Recommended for all film fans; and psycho school-girls.

Top badass moment?  Juliet walks into a French lesson at her posh new school and within 30 seconds tells the teacher she’s made a mistake.  Having myself once been teaching on a butterfly identification course and had someone in the group suddenly shout out I’d misidentified a butterfly on one of the slides I was showing, I can personally relate just how badass that is.  I’ve never run that training course since.  I hate butterflies now, they’re scum, only fit to be squashed.

Heavenly Creatures at IMDB (7.5/10)


Rain: 3.0 Stars


Rain  -  Front DVD Cover (UK)It’s the beginning of a long hot summer, and thirteen year old Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) and her family settle into their isolated cottage for what’s set to be another perfect holiday.  But for Janey this will be no ordinary holiday, it will change her life forever.  Every day she swims, fishes and cares for her brother Jim, while her mother Kate (Sarah Pierse) embarks on an affair with photographer Cody (Martin Csokas) and her father Ed (Alistair Browning) sits in the back yard, drinking whiskey and ignoring his family.  Every night their parents throw parties to disguise their growing marriage problems and surrounded by adults drinking and flirting, she soon discovers her own sexuality with severe consequences.  Rain is the provocative and moving debut feature film from acclaimed New Zealand director Christine Jeffs (Sylvia), set in the lush backdrop of New Zealand’s beautiful coastline.

2001  –  Certificate: 15  –  New Zealand

With all the rain most people seem to have been having recently in the UK, I thought I’d show a bit of solidarity with my sodden comrades and watch this film.  Cactus World itself seems to have avoided the worst of the weather and today is presently sitting at a comfortable cloudy but dry, 24°C.  (The latter’s in my lounge; I’ve no idea what the temperature is outside, but I don’t think it’s especially cold.)  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my neighbours too, for having their heating on so I don’t need to use mine.  I haven’t had it on at all today.  You know how hard it is to buy a Christmas present for someone who has everything?  Well I like to think of this as my Christmas present to the Earth, but it’s proving to be a bugger of a thing to wrap up.  The planet also has about a billion Christmas trees, which seems just a tad ostentatious even when compare with those people who cover their homes in sleigh-shaped lights and stuff, so I’ve not sure which one to put it under anyway.  Despite its name, it doesn’t rain in this film at all.  It does however, have a somewhat overcast vibe.

It’s time for another movie about a dysfunctional family.  Yeah!  This one’s set during a summer in the 1970s.  From the use of Sherbet’s “Howzat” as part of the soundtrack, I’d say around 1976.  (They don’t make songs like that anymore; thank goodness for punk.)  A 13-year-old girl realises her parents have a dysfunctional marriage and whilst watching their drinking, depression and adultery, tries to figure out how to model her own behaviour.  She spends most of the film trying to keep her (really very cute) younger brother happy and developing a crush on her mother’s lover.  Of course, you know it’s not going to end well and my crystal ball tells me she’s going to have some pretty bad hang-ups when she’s older.  Despite being made in a nice location in nice weather, the whole film has a slightly depressing and seedy 70s feel about it.  There was something quite sad (as in sad pathetic rather than sad miserable) about the party scenes, a lot of adults pretending to have fun rather than actually having any; I’m glad I didn’t get invited, I’d rather have gone to see a dentist.  The acting is good and the girl who plays the lead character Janey does a good job of playing a really quite complex character very well.  As for the adults, they were all pretty pitiful really.  They deserved one another.  A decent film worth a watch, but not one New Zealand Tourism is likely to make heavy use of.

Recommend for people who have some sort of nostalgic connection to the mid 70s.  Perverts!  You can get treatment for that sort of thing these days; I suggest you go get some.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  This is a toughy.  In fact I’m going to give up.  Janey may have done something, but I can’t for the life of me think what. I’m afraid all the adults were far too boring, useless and flawed to have a hope in hell of being badass.  Badass needs heroes and the strong, not contemptible weaklings!  

Rain at IMDB (6.8/10)