A Guide to the Week’s Viewing
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 15
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)
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 16
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)
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 17
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)
WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 19
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)
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 21
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.