TV Films

A Guide to the Week’s View­ing

New Zealand Listener - - CONTENTS - Ryan Holder


Moana Reo Māori (Movies Dis­ney, Sky 037, 6.30pm). Just in time for Māori Lan­guage Week, the first ever te reo ver­sion of a Dis­ney an­i­ma­tion comes to our shores. Orig­i­nal cast mem­bers Te­muera Mor­ri­son, Rachel House and Je­maine Cle­ment sim­ply re-voice their roles, but the new lead is young Jae­dyn Ran­dell, from Toko­roa. Piripi Tay­lor, from Māori TV’s Te Kāea, takes Dwayne John­son’s role of Maui. Even Dis­ney-fied, the ad­ven­tures of a Poly­ne­sian chief­tain’s daugh­ter who leaves her is­land to find the demigod Maui and bring life back to a dy­ing ocean, is stir­ring. (2017)

Billy T: Te Movie (Māori TV, 8.30pm). With Rose Matafeo win­ning the top prize at the Ed­in­burgh fringe fes­ti­val in Au­gust, now is a good time to re­visit the le­gacy of New Zealand com­edy leg­end Billy T James. This doc­u­men­tary, by Kiwi ac­tor-di­rec­tor Ian Mune ( What Be­comes of the Bro­ken Hearted), is a fine trib­ute to a per­former who strad­dled two cul­tures at a tur­bu­lent time in our history and brought tears of laugh­ter to the faces of a na­tion. (2011)

The Imag­i­nar­ium of Dr Par­nas­sus (Choice, 8.30pm). This is re­ally the imag­i­nar­ium of di­rec­tor Terry Gil­liam. Each time we en­ter it – pu­ta­tively for the pur­pose of col­lect­ing men’s souls to save the daugh­ter

(Lily Cole) of Dr Par­nas­sus (Christo­pher Plum­mer) from a deal with the devil (Tom Waits) – we catch a glimpse into one of the mad minds be­hind Monty Python. There’s no point in try­ing to ex­plain the plot; just sit back and en­joy the ride. Also star­ring Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Colin Far­rell, Jude Law, An­drew Garfield and Verne Troyer. (2009) ★★★

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (Movies Pre­miere, Sky 030, 8.30pm).

Did any­one see this Water­gate

biopic? Maybe it didn’t make much of a splash when it came out. Maybe we didn’t no­tice it next to the dis­tract­ing sight of the or­ange man. In any case, Mark Felt (Liam Nee­son) de­serves at­ten­tion. While the as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of the FBI, he leaked in­for­ma­tion to re­porters Bob Wood­ward (Ju­lian Mor­ris) and Carl Bern­stein, who broke the Water­gate story wide open. You can’t help but feel that the movie ar­rived a year early. Its tan­gled tale of pres­i­den­tial mis­chief, hush money and the FBI is de­press­ingly in vogue these days. (2017) ★★★

Bit­ter Har­vest (Rialto, Sky 039, 8.30pm). Many cre­ators of fiction have grap­pled with the ques­tion of how to por­tray evil on an unimag­in­able scale; oth­ers say it shouldn’t be done at all. Di­rec­tor Ge­orge Men­deluk ( Meat­balls III: Sum­mer Job) ap­pears to have no such scru­ples. In the Soviet Union in 1932-33, Joseph Stalin and the Com­mu­nist Party caused a famine that killed mil­lions of Ukraini­ans. Here, it is the back­drop for a ro­man­tic drama. At best, it raises aware­ness of the tragedy known as the Holodomor. Maybe read Blood­lands or Red Famine in­stead. (2017)

Les Misérables (Three, 11.00pm). The only half-de­cent movie that Three has pro­grammed this week and it’s on near mid­night. Mon dieu. (2012)


The Paci­fier (TVNZ 2, 7.30pm). A tough guy US Navy Seal (Vin Diesel) placed in charge of five un­ruly chil­dren is the set-up of a bad joke. Stretch the joke out for 95 min­utes and you’ve got a bad film. (2005) ★

Ba­bel (Māori TV, 8.30pm). An Amer­i­can cou­ple, Richard and Su­san Jones (Brad Pitt and

Cate Blanchett), go on hol­i­day. A Ja­panese teenager rebels against her fa­ther. Two Moroc­can boys take pot shots at cars with a ri­fle. A Mex­i­can nanny wor­ries she’ll miss her son’s wed­ding. These four strands are neatly brought to­gether when a bul­let crashes through a bus win­dow and into Su­san’s neck. Writer-di­rec­tor Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu ( The Revenant, Bird­man) is a ge­nius at con­struct­ing cul­tural con­flicts with­out he­roes or vil­lains. (2006)


The HeART of the Mat­ter

(Māori TV, 8.30pm). As yet an­other univer­sity arts course is sac­ri­ficed to the mar­ket gods, di­rec­tor Luit Bieringa’s doc­u­men­tary gives a hint of what might be be­ing lost. The free-spir­ited, mul­ti­cul­tural art par­adise it evokes was an ed­u­ca­tional ex­per­i­ment that came out of the post-war pe­riod. It was led by Gor­don Tovey and manned by such lu­mi­nar­ies as Ralph Hotere, Mar­i­lynn Webb and Paratene Matchitt. The doc­u­men­tary will also be a nos­tal­gia trip for many, with its grainy archival footage of bare feet and wooden schools. How­ever,

“It’s not sup­posed to be nos­tal­gic,” says Bieringa. It’s meant to be ac­tivist. And don’t those kids make your Na­tional Stan­dard art pieces look so … stan­dard? (2016)


Call Me By Your Name (Movies Ex­tra, Sky 031, 8.30pm). This com­ing-of-age story by di­rec­tor Luca Guadagnino ( I Am Love, A Big­ger Splash) is not like any other. It sent the crit­ics crazy. In north­ern Italy in 1983, 24-year-old grad­u­ate stu­dent Oliver (Ar­mie Ham­mer) stays for the sum­mer with a pro­fes­sor (Michael Stuhlbarg) and his 17-year-old son, Elio (Ti­mothée Cha­la­met). In the el­e­gantly fres­coed villa, a ro­mance blos­soms be­tween Oliver and Elio. (2017)


Ground­hog Day (TVNZ Duke, 7.30pm). Ground­hog Day, which turned 25 this year, is firmly in­stalled in film history. Di­rec­tor Harold Ramis ( Cad­dyshack, Ghost­busters) also gave it a place in the dic­tionary. Af­ter a day of mood­ily re­port­ing on the ground­hog fes­tiv­i­ties and re­tir­ing to bed early in Punx­sutawney, TV weath­er­man Phil Con­nors (Bill Mur­ray) wakes to the same song on the ra­dio, to the same man greet­ing him, and to the same fes­tiv­i­ties await­ing him. Then he wakes to it all over again. Over their tea leaves, mod­ern sages ru­mi­nate: it is pur­ga­tory de­scribed; it is rein­car­na­tion em­bod­ied; it is Ni­et­zsche fic­tion­alised. What­ever it is, you can trust love to break the spell. (1993) ★★★★

Old School (Māori TV, 8.30pm). The premise: three aim­less thirty-some­things (Luke Wil­son, Will Fer­rell and Vince Vaughn) turn a newly ac­quired house into a fra­ter­nity to stop the lo­cal col­lege dean (Jeremy Piven) from tak­ing it over. It’s as the promo says, “All the fun of col­lege, none of the ed­u­ca­tion”. So don’t ex­pect a smart com­edy. (2003)

Moana Reo Māori, Satur­day.

The Imag­i­nar­ium of Dr Par­nas­sus, Satur­day.

Bit­ter Har­vest, Satur­day.

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