Taika Tuesday: What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

by Cookie N Screen

Vampires. Man, they suck. By 2014, we’d certainly had our fill of them. They were just bloody everywhere. Horror films, romance films, Young Adult films, every single connotation of the fanged fiends had been portrayed on the big screen. We’d had enough. But, a plucky director from New Zealand had decided to do a mockumentary about blood-suckers in a flat share and, honestly, it is one of the most genius films you’ll ever watch.

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This mockumentary coming from the creators of ingenious film Eagle Vs Shark centres on a household of vampires who have allowed the crew to follow them around. There is Viago, the dandy nice vamp of the group. Deacon, the youngest and most rambunctious. Vlad, the seductive torturer. And Peter, the Nosferatu, 8000 years old. Like most people thrust together, the flatmates have issues living with enough but generally, they get along well. That is until Peter changes one of their victims into a vampire and the now modern and fanged Neil upsets the bat-nest. Can the vampires survive the night-time antics and shift in dynamics?

What We Do In The Shadows is one of the funniest films of 2014. The exuberance and intellect combine to drain us of laughter. Utilising the silliness that made Eagle Vs Shark such a delight and adding yet another layer of cleverness allows us to feast upon the jokes with great spirits too. Balancing the visual humour, the spark of humanity left in the vampires and the situations as the modern vampires unfold are hysterical, giving us a side of supernatural life that feels as fresh as a virgin. The aspects of the fanged life are wonderfully portrayed with this bout of glee such as drawing pictures of each other so they know what they look like (no reflection, you see.) You’ll be gutturally chortling and squealing with delight as the riotous movie hits you with joke after joke and is unrelenting in its comedy.

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Taika Waititi and Jermaine Clement, who write, direct and star, have created characters you invest in too. The tender Viago (Waititi) centres the film with his naivety and charm. Vlad (Clement) lost his grip on his powers after battles with the illusive Beast. Deacon is rambunctious and Neil is trying to assimilate to the blood sucking life. Played impeccably by the cast, the vampires are not only elating, but the showcase a terrific heart that, though dead to them, beats throughout the film. It’s jovial and you really invest in the characters which merges with the humour in a terrific feast of imaginative and surreal comedy.

The mockumentary works on every level and is wrapped up nicely within an hour and a half so the concept doesn’t stretch further, becoming dull. You’ll be swept up by the sharp yet daft wit presented here, leaving you with a (fanged) smile on your face, What We Do In The Shadows is jests with this Kiwi sub-culture and deliciously leaves you gagging for more treats. Feeling very Monty Python yet wholly original. The film is teeming with pop culture references, and a clash of the ancient and modern culture is smart, but most importantly funny.

Happy Taika Tuesday!
Thor: Ragnarok is out now!  

Taika Tuesday: Eagle vs Shark (2007)

New Zealand isn’t well known for breaking box office in any other country. In fact, name one film for me that came from New Zealand film industry. No, The Flight of the Concords was not a film. Brilliant, yes, but not a film. While we may have marveled at its scenery in Lord Of The Rings, we have never seen the heart and soul of the brilliant country. Well, my friends let me introduce you to Eagle Vs Shark. It’s not what you think; the love child of Sharktopus and Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus but it is in fact, the most genius romantic comedy to hit the face of the earth.

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Eagle Vs Shark tells the tale of awkward and shy Lily; an unassuming fast food employee who is madly in love with regular Jarrod. Unfortunately, Jarrod is everything you’d dislike in a person; a geeky self obsessed man who thinks he is better than he actually is. After Jarrod tells Lily to pass an invite for a “come dressed as your favourite animal” party (and yes that is the name of the party) to her more attractive college Jenny (who turns it down flat,) Lily comes along dressed as a shark. Much impressed by this but still 100% douche, Jarrod and Lily begin a relationship which takes Lily to Jarrod’s hometown, his bizarre loud family and a quest for Jarrod to beat his old high school bully. With a mixture of clay-motion metaphors, a kooky older brother and many hilarious scenes; Eagle Vs Shark goes past looks and into the soul of a person.

It is the answer to all our prayers. While Hollywood churns out beautiful people falling in love beautifully and unrealistically, New Zealand answer with a story about genuine characters that are chock full of quirks and realism. In fact, the film was based on actress Loren Horsley’s original character Lily and it works as her first outing on the big screen. Lily is an unsung hero that we all need; she is kind and generous if a bit dim and shy, very rarely getting angry. On paper, her love for Jarrod shouldn’t work but it does in heaps of laughter filled moments and clears awkwardness that we can relate to. (For example, the sex scene at the beginning takes longer to pop on a condom than it does to actually do the deed.) And Jermaine Clement is brilliant as the involved but tragic Jarrod who makes you really hate him one minute and then feel completely sorry for the next. With fantastic acting and sharp writing by director Taika Waititi, Eagle Vs Shark is a kooky romance that warms the coldest parts of your soul.

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There is also a mix of supporting characters that flesh out the romance in very different ways. From Jarrod’s withdrawn disappointed father to Lily’s loving brother, there is never a person who doesn’t belong in this natural tale. A particular highlight would be Jarrod’s sister, Nancy and her husband Doug as they try relentlessly to pawn off their “home” products all the way from garish tracksuits to questionable make up kits. Eagle Vs Shark is fresh and unique. Eagle Vs Shark boasts many layers that are subtly weaved between the comedy and has a pulse beating throughout it that is so strong, you can feel the rhythm.

Eagle Vs Shark may break my rule; that no film is without faults. Though there are some that may find the humour at a stretch boring because it is its own particular brand, Eagle Vs Shark is damn near a perfect love story. It is one that you see on the streets everyday and is not left to any stretch of the imagination to fathom out. Eagle Vs Shark has bite and soars just as high as the greats.

Happy Taika Tuesday! 
Thor: Ragnarok is out now! 

Phantom Thread – Brand New Trailer!


Yes, that’s right! It’s time to get completely excited!

Phantom Thread stgarrs Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps, and, of course, Daniel Day-Lewis! It revolves around 1950’s dressmaker who’s tailored life because disrupted by the love of a woman.

How bloody excited are you for this film? We’re absolutely stoked!

Phantom Thread is out 2nd February 2018! 

Journey’s End – Brand New Trailer!

War. Bloody war. Brutal, bloody, and unjust war.

We have a history of world changing battles that killed millions and left us shocked throughout the decades.

Every so often, we’ll get a brand new film that’ll teach us more about the horrors. This is the case for Journey’s End. 

Starring Asa Butterfield and Sam Claflin, Journey’s End revolves around the WW1 in 1919 France as a troop makes their way through No Man’s Land.

Powerful, poignant, it is vital to keep these stories alive in films. What do you think?

Journey’s End is out 2nd February 2018!

Taika Tuesday: Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

I’ll be candid:

I love Taika Waititi.

Long and lonely college nights were miraculously saved by countless re-watches of Flight of the Conchords, Boy, and Eagle vs Shark. That last one particularly more so than anything. The Kiwi directors staple for humanistic comedies with dry and surreal humour melded in one pot made my belly ache from sheer laughter. Two years ago, my admiration for the writer and director increases sevenfold as he mastered the funniest movie of recent years with mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. (sidebar: It’s actually an impeccable comedy and it’s on Netflix so I can wait if you haven’t watched it …)

Anyway, basically the director of Thor: Ragnorak could film a tin of bisgetti for two hours and I’d write an expose on why its the comedy triumph of our generation. He owns my soul, is what I am saying.

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Luckily, he hasn’t done that for is latest outing (literally) with Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Still, it is as every bit as glorious but with more profound imagery than you can shake a ruddy stick at.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople revolves around urban wild-child and orphan Ricky Baker who is carted off to the sticks to live with the kind but outrageous Aunt Bella and her gruff husband Uncle Vic. Despite initially bristled by the prospect, Ricky becomes accustomed to the new life-style and Bella’s warmth, learning to find a home in the hills and near the woods. However, when something unexpected happens, Ricky and Vic find themselves in the middle of the copious forest, with polar opposite personalities, having to survive off the land and whatever lays in their tracks. Though in pursuit is a hot-boiled social worker and a dim-witted police officer who believe Ricky has been kidnapped and a nationwide manhunt is soon underway.

The comedy in Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a lot more stripped back following on from the commercial and riotous success of What We Do in the Shadows. That doesn’t mean it’s a worse feature, it just means it’s different and that Waititi is such an acclaimed director that every feature that he does has unique facetes and levels, dashed with the best of humanity (even if they are there.)

What Wilderpeople does promote is a much more poignant core that is developed through the bond of foster father and son. The gruff Hec, played greatly by Sam Neil, has to grow with Ricky, and the repertoire and road through the valleys and mountains is delightful to watch.

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Julian Dennison and Sam Neil are this year’s greatest pairing. Dennison broods as the troubled Ricky Baker who, under his hooded layers, has a tenderness and sweetness about him. He is perhaps the greatest character of 2016. Funny, smart (in his own way,) and striving to find a place he belongs, Dennison makes this film a charming and loving journey for a young boy who has never had a family and extends his isolated circle to Vic and his wife Bella, opening up for the first time. It’s an endearing watch, especially when it is combined with Sam Neil’s hardened Hec who gradually softens to Ricky. The once-drifter, smoothed slightly by Bella, is Neil’s best work: A tough wilder-man who becomes allies with a rambunctious boy and beings to learn new tricks. It’s a fantastic and sweet watch.

Though coming into the third  half, there are a few pacing issues with the repetitiveness of near-capture then escape, and the pursuing child services employee/brute Paula and the dim-witted police officer Andy can get over-bearing (mind you, Paula, played superbly by Rachel House, has some of the funnier laugh out loud moments as she chants the mantra “no child left behind.”) Utilising the epic landscapes of New Zealand, Waititi carves out a spectacular indie romp that balances the witty banter of our lead characters with sentimentality.

Simply majestical.

Happy Taika Tuesday!
Thor: Ragnarok is out now! 

12 Strong – Brand New Trailer!

Chris Hemsworth is certainly the man of the moment with the impending release of the latest Thor movie. So naturally, with one movie on it’s way, we’re gonna get another trailer for the actors upcoming release.

This time it’s 12 Strong.

The film revolves around a US Special Forces team who are sent to Afghanistan to join forces with General Abdsul Rashid Dostum to fight against the Taliban.

Yeah, it definitely looks like your run of the mill army action flick. What do you think?

12 Strong is out 2018!