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Monthly Archives: January 2010

The World’s Fastest Indian

The Kiwis are an amazing bunch of creatives, and are certainly punching above their weight as far as film is concerned. The World’s Fastest Indian is a magnificently-crafted piece of cinema that showcases the country’s talent and attention to detail perfectly.

It’s the true story of Bert Munro from Invercargill, who has spent decades carefully modifying his 1920s Indian motorcycle, and in 1967 travels to Bonneville, Utah to run it on the salt flats in the annual Speed Week competition.

Anthony Hopkins gives a splendid performance with a surprisingly appropriate accent, not only for the character’s New Zealand origin but also his age and personality. And the precision of his performance is simply a footnote to the carefully composed script that really demonstrates the characteristic strengths of the New Zealand mind.

 
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Posted by on Saturday, 30 January 2010 in 2929 Productions, Film, New Zealand Film Commission

 

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Lucky Miles

If I told you I had watched a film based on trues stories about boat people entering Australia on the northwest coast, you’d probably yawn. I expected something more like a docudrama when I sat down to watch Lucky Miles, but was pleasantly surprised to encounter a comic drama set in the outback.

There is no sense of that superficial ocker-ness to this film, just a great story, impeccably filmed, and filled with dry, cackle-till-my-throat-hurts humour. Kenneth Moraleda gives an excellent performance as something of a straightman who balances the sardonic humour of the rest of the characters. He provides that balance between comedy and drama that Australian film makers have perfected.

This was a lucky find: I never heard about Lucky Miles when it was in cinema release, but wow! How do the greatest films always seem to miss out on media coverage? It’s a crying shame; find the DVD!

 

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Sherlock Holmes

Film interpretations of literary works are unfortunately subject to comparison with their wordy counterparts and generally make a poor comparison. Sherlock Holmes’ three writers deftly sidestep this risk by taking Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and situation and giving them a new plot. The result, I think, is a crime story that the master crime writer would have been proud of.

This film departs dramatically from the tradition of depicting Holmes as a Victorian aristocrat and instead shows him as a hero not unlike Spiderman or Mr Incredible, but with substantial flaws that both endear him and make him repugnant to a twenty-first century audience. Robert Downey Junior plays him admirably, but Jude Law’s Watson is the star performance here. Just as in Doyle’s novels, where Watson is the link between the reader and the aloof Holmes, Law’s Watson gives the audience a central character that makes the detached genius accessible.

This film is unmistakably a product of the twenty-first century, but it manages at the same time to illicit that same sense of intrigue from me that reading Doyle’s stories does. The makers of this film have been bold, even brazen, in their interpretation of Doyle’s characters and situations, but the gamble has paid off, and Sherlock Holmes is, as a result, the first film to do Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters justice.

 
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Posted by on Friday, 1 January 2010 in American Film, British Film, Film, German Film, Warner Brothers

 

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