Movie Review – Take Home Pay

TL;DR – A look at what happens when the competing interests of money and family collide

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Take Home Pay. Image Credit: M2S1 Films.

Review

Today we get to dive back into the world of Pasifika Cinema as we explore a film that takes on themes like tradition v modernity, brother v brother, money v family, and honour v fun. However, all of this is tempered by a comedic style that is unique to this part of the world and a heart that just shines.

So to set the scene, Popo (Ronnie Taulafo) and Alama (Vito Vito) are brothers living in rural Samoa working for their father planting, harvesting, and selling taro. Alama dreams of ways to make things easier for his family, even if it does not always go right, and Popo just dreams of getting out of the country. Well that opportunity arrives when they need labourers in New Zealand and both Alama and Popo get the chance to earn some more money for home. They spend their days picking kiwifruit and all is going well until the day they have to leave and Popo runs off, with both his and all of Alama’s money.

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Movie Review – Mortal Engines

TL;DR – This is a visually impressive film, full of moments that make you go wow, but you can see that they have been held back by fitting the whole first book into the one  film   

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Mortal Engines. Image Credit: Universal

Review

The Mortal Engines series is one of those books that I have always been meaning to read but just have never gotten around to it. The idea where cities have become mobile and drive around hunting for prey is one of those conceptional ideas that is just genius, and I have a lot of friends that are super excited to see this world brought to life on the big screen. Add to this the fact that you have the minds behind The Lord of the Rings working to bring this to life and I have to say it definitely piqued my interest. Now that I have seen it, I can say I mostly enjoyed it, even if not everything worked.

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Movie Review – The Breaker Upperers

TL;DR – At times hilarious, at times incredible farcical, and at times a deeply moving look at the trials of friendship.

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a post-credit scene

The Breaker Upperers. Image Credit: Piki Films/Madman.

Review

For a long time, there has been this growing bubble of particular dry absurdist comedy coming out of New Zealand. You see it in the work of Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, Rhys Darby, Rachel House, and also some of Peter Jackson’s early films. These are films that mix comedy and emotional understanding in equal measures. Whenever one of these movies like Hunt for the Wilderpeople (see review) or Hibiscus & Ruthless (see review) make it across the ditch I always really look forward to seeing it. Well, today we get the chance to look at a new entry into this wonderful genre The Breaker Upperers, from the comedic team of Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek.

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Movie Review – Hibiscus and Ruthless

TL;DR – A beautiful, funny film of charting family expectations

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is a mid-credit sequence as the credits roll

Hibiscus & Ruthless. Image Credit: M2S1 Films.

Review

Families are complicated’, I think that is a phrase that just about anyone in the world can relate to. There is pressure to conform to your parents wants, and there is pressure to try and help the next generation succeed more than you did, and sometimes those two drives crash into each other in explosive fashion. Today we will be looking at a film that deals with just this very issue, as we explore this fascinating film from New Zealand from the same creative team behind Three Wise Cousins (see review). There will be laughter, there will be tears, and there will be bread rolls on people’s heads for some reason.

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Movie Review – Pork Pie

TL;DR – Some of the best car chases I have seen, but this is coupled with a story that just doesn’t work all that well

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Pork Pie. Image Credit: Studio Canal.

Review

So this is a bit of a perplexing film because there are some parts that really work, they pull you into this world, and you be sitting there having a ball watching it unfold. However, then the story, or lack of story, or some other factor rears its head and yanks you right out of the film. This creates a dissidence that on the one hand makes it difficult to review, but on the other makes the film interesting to dissect. So since I’m a cup half full kind of person, we will look at what worked before explore some of the film’s issues, however, before we dive into all that jazz, let’s set the scene.

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Movie Review – Hunt for the Wilderpeople

TL;DR – A beautifully filmed story, with real depth and heart, a great cast, and more so since the Lord of the Rings makes the most out of its New Zealand setting

Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars

Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Image Credit: Madman.

Review – Wow, people had recommended ‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ to me, but nothing prepared me for just how good it would be. It runs the gamut of emotions from humour to sadness, from absurdity to quiet contemplation, from grief to rejoicing. Wilderpeople tells the story of Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) who is a general problem child and on his last chance when he is sent out into the bush to live with Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill). Bella is a loving woman who takes an immediate shine to Ricky even though Paula (Rachel House) the social worker insists he is a problem case. Hec is a more gruff character that seems to more tolerate than actual like Ricky. It is within this framework that we get the motivation for act two and three when people are propelled forward and have to fight for what they believe in.

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Movie Review – Three Wise Cousins

TL;DR – It is a film that treads over very familiar ground, the ‘fish out of water’ scenario, however, it has a sense of humour and identity that elevates it above many of its contemporaries.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Three Wise Cousins. Image Credit: Madman.

Review

This is an interesting little film, I didn’t really know anything about it going in and had not seen a single trailer, so I was intrigued to see how it would end up. Three Wise Cousins tells the story of Adam (Neil Amituanai) who lives in suburban Auckland with his parents and is doing pretty much nothing other than playing his PlayStation and sleep. One day he stumbles across the woman of his dreams Mary (Gloria Ofa Blake) and overhears that she is only interested in island boys. So Adam decides to drop everything and visit his cousins Tavita (Fesuiai Viliamu) and Mose (Vito Vito) in Samoa to learn how to be an island boy so he can impress Mary. Of course, once Adam gets there he finds out it is more than he bargained on as Mose and Tavita play a kind of good cop, bad cop, to get Adam to … well then that is the crux of the film so I won’t spoil it here.

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