The flicks

Look no fur­ther than HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOP­LE for movie of the year, and Gosling and Crowe prove THE NICE GUYS don’t al­ways fin­ish last — al­though they come pretty close

Sunday Territorian - - FRONTIER / MOVIES -


Di­rec­tor: Taika Waititi ( Star­ring: Sam Neill, Ju­lian Den­ni­son, Rima Te Wi­ata, Rhys Darby, Taika Waititi Rat­ing: ****1/2 There is a rare strain of comedy movie that wields a light com­mon touch with in­tensely ir­re­sistible power.

An au­di­ence can im­me­di­ately sense magic is afoot, and hap­pily locks in for the long haul, no ques­tions asked.

The Aus­tralian grass­roots hits The Cas­tle and Kenny are the best lo­calised ex­am­ples of this unique ef­fect, and they now have com­pany from across the Tas­man in the unas­sum­ing, yet ut­terly charm­ing, form of Hunt for the Wilderpeop­le.

Al­ready a mon­ster hit at home in New Zealand, this de­cep­tively quaint feel-good comedy-ad­ven­ture in­stantly finds an ar­rest­ing sto­ry­telling groove that can­not help but win you over. It is, with­out doubt, one of the best films that will be re­leased in 2016.

This is the story of a 13-year-old force of na­ture named Ricky Baker (Ju­lian Den­ni­son). This laid-back lump of a lad has had a dif­fi­cult up­bring­ing to say the least, hav­ing been bounced from in­sti­tu­tional care fa­cil­i­ties to fos­ter homes and back again for much of his life.

As the film be­gins, Ricky has been given one last shot at liv­ing in a car­ing house­hold en­vi­ron­ment on a re­mote North Is­land farm. If he stuffs it up, this good-na­tured bad boy is guar­an­teed to be placed in ju­ve­nile de­ten­tion un­til he turns 18.

It ini­tially looks as if fate has fi­nally cut Ricky some slack. The coun­try way of life seems to agree with the for­mer city slicker.

How­ever, fate was just trick­ing lit­tle Ricky into a false sense of se­cu­rity.

For rea­sons best not re­vealed here, Ricky and his prin­ci­pal guardian, a grouchy old coot named Hec (Sam Neill), are forced to go bush and live off the land.

The author­i­ties do not take kindly to news of the duo’s sud­den dis­ap­pear­ance, and a marathon man­hunt be­gins to bring the fledg­ling fugi­tives back to po­lite so­ci­ety.

Thanks to some well-placed twists, turns and de­tours, the epic jour­ney of Hec and Ricky will have view­ers of all ages both lean­ing for­ward in­tently and laugh­ing heartily from go to whoa.

While the pair con­tin­u­ally cross paths with a strange ar­ray of ec­cen­tric friends and foes, it is the ever-evolv­ing bond be­tween young Ricky and old Hec that truly lifts Hunt for the Wilderpeop­le to such a high stan­dard.

For this, all plau­dits must go to the two lead ac­tors. Den­ni­son isn’t chim­ing in with a typ­i­cal ‘child-star’ per­for­mance in any shape or form. The kid has a unique sense of tim­ing, great screen pres­ence and a shrewd sense of when a scene is his for the tak­ing.

An ex­pe­ri­enced hand like Neill knows bet­ter than to get in the way of such a raw talent seiz­ing the mo­ment so per­fectly, but still finds a way to leave his own in­deli­ble mark on events. SHERPA (M) A sober­ing doco about the af­ter­math of the avalanche on Mount Ever­est that claimed the lives of 16 Sherpa guides. The crew were on the spot when it hap­pened, and care­fully doc­u­mented the fall-out as Sherpas took an un­precen­dented stand against for­eign em­ploy­ers to de­mand safer work­ing con­di­tions. X-MEN: APOCA­LYPSE (M) Pos­si­bly the dullest of­fer­ing in the X-Men se­ries this sees the supreme de­ity Apoca­lypse awake from a 5500-year slum­ber to find a world he is less than pleased with. Queue a bat­tle be­tween him and the anti-Apoca­lypse crew in­clud­ing Pro­fes­sor X, Ma­gento and Raven/Mys­tique. WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT (M) A blend of light comedy and in­tel­li­gent drama, this fol­lows news pro­ducer Kay Baker (Tina Fey) as she takes a job no one else wants cov­er­ing the war in Afghanista­n with US troops. It’s not a war movie, but does an ex­cel­lent job of depict­ing the bonds that form be­tween those cov­er­ing and caught up in the con­flict. BAD NEIGH­BOURS 2 (MA15+) One of the bet­ter comedy se­quels of re­cent times, this sees Mac and Kelly wait­ing out a 30day cool­ing off pe­riod on the sale of their house... which is fine un­til a fe­male soror­ity led by a party queen moves in next door. En­ter old frat-house fren­emy Teddy (Zac Efron). FLORENCE FOS­TER JENK­INS (PG) This true(ish) story fol­lows the priv­i­leged life of Florence Fos­ter Jenk­ins and her re­peated stage per­for­mances where she took dread­ful lib­er­ties with the finest op­eras. Jenk­ins did not let a lack of talent de­ter her, and Meryl Streep’s en­dear­ing em­pa­thy for the char­ac­ter is ex­cel­lent. MOTHER’S DAY (M) A big, fat blob of sticky, sit-commy gloop sup­pos­edly cel­e­brat­ing the fem­i­nine side of good par­ent­ing. By the same film­maker, this fol­lows in the foot­steps of and If you liked them, you’ll like this. CAP­TAIN AMER­ICA: CIVIL WAR (M) As deep or as mean­ing­less as you want it to be, this is a blast from start to fin­ish as Cap­tain Amer­ica and his team take on Iron Man and his gang, all over a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion on global de­fence pol­icy. Kind of.

Ju­lian Den­ni­son and Sam Neill in a scene from New Zealand film

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