Category: Entertain

Movie Review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople

We spent a family night at the movies a couple of weeks back, seeing the latest New Zealand blockbuster, Hunt for the Wilderpeople. I thought we were the last people in the country to see it, because it’s already been playing cinemas for three months, so I was a little surprised to see the cinema was almost full.

Okay, so it only sat 70 people, but still …

Ricky Baker is a foster child, a kid who has grown up in the system and earned himself a reputation as a real bad egg. His placement with Aunt Bella is his last stop before juvie. So when the unthinkable happens he does what any normal teen would do: fakes his own death and runs off into the bush. Uncle Hector (aka Heck) is obliged to follow, because no responsible adult is going to leave a town kid lost in the bush. Especially not after he’s shown the level of bushcraft Ricky has shown.

One thing leads to another, and soon Ricky and Heck are on the run from the social worker, the police, the armed offenders squad (I suspect all of the armed offenders squad), intrepid hunters, a nutty conspiracy theorist, and some wild pigs.

It’s a toss-up as to who is the most dangerous, but I think Ricky wins. Or maybe the pigs.

Underneath the comedy and bluster and farce, Hunter for the Wilderpeople a tale of family. It’s based on a novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, and stars Sam Neill, Rhys Darby and Julian Dennison.

Those of us who were alive in the eighties and remember Crumpy’s TV ads for Toyota enjoyed the vintage Toyota ute in the film, and the cameo from Scotty, Crumpy’s townie offsider.

Yes, he’s looking a bit older 🙂

It is one of those movies where the extended trailer tells you most of the story. Here it is:

Yes, the New Zealand bush really looks like that.

Yes, the prison at the end of the movie is a real prison.

No, we don’t all have guns. Although if we were all going to meet pigs like that, we’d need them.

No, the New Zealand police don’t usually carry weapons.

Although some highway patrols do, in case they come across escaped sheep endangering traffic. I found this out on last week’s episode of Highway Patrol.

And with that, I think I’ve given you enough of a picture of the “real” New Zealand for one week.

Confessions of a Bookworm

(And why I adore John Cusack)

I have been a reader for a long time. The class bookworm (never meant as a compliment).

I was one of the first people in New Zealand to get a Kobo ereader, and I bought my first Kindle via mail order within weeks of Amazon announcing they now shipped to New Zealand. I love Goodreads: it’s where I first met people who had the same childhood stories I had, who didn’t think reading a book a week was a lot (hey, some of my Goodreads friends read a book a day and don’t consider themselves heavy readers).

In the years before the internet, I was the kid who read Nancy Drew novels at seven, the teen who read by torchlight under the bedcovers, and the adult who read everything I could lay my eyes on.

Sound familiar?

I was the child who was teased for using “big” words, who was asked if I’d swallowed a dictionary. For the record, apt is not a big word, and it’s officially at fifth-grade level in the US (a ten-year-old). So me using “apt” at fifteen shouldn’t have been worthy of comment.

This is why Con Air is one of my favourite movies (you didn’t see that one coming, did you?). There’s this scene where John Cusack’s character is describing an off-stage character to a DEA agent (played by Colm Meaney):

John Cusack: He’s known to be somewhat garrulous in the company of thieves.
Colm Meaney: Garrulous. What is garrulous?
John Cusack: That would be loquacious, verbose, effusive. How about chatty?
DEA agent: What’s with dictionary boy? [in demeaning tone]
John Cusack: I think thesaurus boy would be more appropriate.

You can watch it yourself: it starts at the 53 second mark in this video (note that Meaney’s character has a potty mouth, unlike Cusack’s character). And that’s why I adore John Cusack. Well, Vince Larkin. Yes, I know Cusack didn’t write the lines. But he delivered them like he could relate.

If I’d seen that movie when I was in high school, I would have had the perfect comeback to, “did you swallow a dictionary?”

No. A thesaurus.

Were you one of the weird bookworms?

On Art and Writing

https://www.dropbox.com/s/tbptzuz2sovlpo5/Screenshot%202016-03-15%2013.05.23.png?dl=0If a picture is worth a thousand words …

this blog post is roughly the length of War and Peace. Luckily, you don’t have to read that much. Instead, click here to watch this short timelapse video from Carla Klingenberg at Carla Grace Art (and then come back).

 Two things struck me as I watched Carla draw this wolf’s eye.

  1. Carla is incredibly talented.
  2. There are a lot of parallels between art and writing, or between art and music (and probably between art and a lot of other creative pursuits).

It doesn’t just happen.

Carla didn’t pick up a pencil or two and draw this. In the same way, musicians don’t just pick up an instrument and play like Bach (or Mozart or Louis Armstrong or Jimi Hendrix or whoever plays your kind of music).

And writers don’t pick up a pen (or a computer keyboard) and churn out Pride and Prejudice or War and Peace or Redeeming Love.

Working at this level takes talent, teaching, and practice. Lots of practice.

Carla has spent years perfecting her technique. I’m not going to produce what she produces overnight. But by watching and imitating her technique, at least I’d know I was on the right track (for example, I’d never have guessed that she used an eraser as much as she did. I’d have left that blank, drawn around it, not coloured and erased).

Here’s what Carla shows us we need to succeed in our artistic endeavours:

We need to have a plan

We can see from the start of the video that Carla isn’t starting with a blank sheet of paper:

  • She has a vision of what she wants to achieve
  • She’s starting with a plan, a structure, a frame to build on.
  • She’s sketched the basic outline
  • She’s assembled the tools she’s going to need to reach her vision.

We need to know the craft

We’re not born knowing how to do things like draw, play an instrument, or write—although we may well be born with some natural talent. But in order to produce art of this quality, Carla has undertaken some training (she’s an art school graduate), and that will have taught her various aspects of the artist’s craft. For example, who knew that part of the technique was rubbing out?

We need to practice the craft

I’m no expert on art, but it some of her first draft looks like smudge. Some looks like it’s caked on too thick. But the video shows us that a lot of that was deliberate. Carla was laying a foundation. She’s learned from experts, and she’s done enough practice to make it now look easy.

We need to edit

Carla spends a lot of time rubbing out what she doesn’t need, then adding the final touches. It’s like the grace notes in music, those tiny additional flourishes that set an outstanding musician apart from the rest of us. And we have to do the same in writing.

This, to me, was the real eye-opener. Without this editing stage, the end product wouldn’t have looked nearly as good. It requires as much talent and craft and practice required to finish the work as it did to begin.

Craft is even more important at this final editing stage: you have to know what you’re doing to polish it to get the right effect. Otherwise you might fail to touch up something that needs polishing, or delete something vital, or add something that’s not needed.

Lesson: editing is part of the creation process. And we need to learn to excel in this stage as much as—or even more—than any other.