Malfred Signal leaves her life of stifling gentility, as an art teacher in a South Island private girls school, and decides to live out her dream: painting alone in the remote North. One ... See full summary »
Puhi was chosen at age 12 by the great Tuhoe prophet Rua Kenana to marry his son, Whatu, and goes on to have an extraordinary life of hardship and wonder showing her fortitude through life ... See full summary »
Fantastic improbabilities, happenstance and the undying bridge of love are part of this romantic fantasy about an Inuit who crosses years, oceans and the ravages of WWII to find his ... See full summary »
Jason Scott Lee,
An intimate story set during the 1860s in which a young Irish woman Sarah and her family find themselves on both sides of the turbulent wars between British and Maori during the British colonization of New Zealand.
Filmed over 18 months, this moving documentary tells the story of Puhi, an elderly woman charged with caring for her adult son, Niki, who suffers from schizophrenia, in the isolated area of... See full summary »
Al Shaw's life revolves around motor racing and his back country junkyard, the "Smash Palace". His French wife, Jacqui, doesn't appreciate the lack of attention due to Al's obsession with ... See full summary »
Anna Maria Monticelli,
SPOILER: I don't know when I've seen a film that was so beautiful and yet so utterly baffling. It's not like any other movie you'll ever see. Every single image is stark and brutal--the director, Vincent Ward, is trying to enter a primitive painting and make drama out of it. And he has a perfect setting--a sheep farm in New Zealand--that comes from Thomas Hardy's accounts, in which nature wages an unending, unfathomable conspiracy against the characters. It's in the actual story Ward tells that he gets into trouble. His 12-year-old heroine, Toss (Fiona Kay) witnesses her farmer father's death from an accidental fall (as he tries to rescue a sheep) and the camera sits on her impassive face for the first of several eternities. Her restless mother (Penelope Stewart) seizes the opportunity to put the farm up for sale. Her dotty grandfather (Bill Kerr) is like every dotty grandfather in the movies--he putters around, muttering feisty-old-goat aphorisms and tinkering with whimsical machines--and quickly becomes insufferable. Ethan, (Frank Whidden) the hunter who carried the father's corpse back to the farm, shows up again looking to replace the father. Toss and her mother are both attracted and repelled by him.
In one remarkable sequence, we see Toss experimenting with Ethan's gun. She looks through the gun sights and begins tracking Ethan through the house, as if she were ambushing James Bond. When Ethan sees her, he steps boldly toward her and removes the sight, which she had taken off the gun and is holding to her eye like a telescope. We are in D.H. Lawrence sexual-awakening territory now, but the combination of Lawrence and Hardy doesn't ignite the way it should--the director's austere manner (keeping everything at a distance) begins to seem remote and rather obscure. The scenes don't follow from each other; each one goes off on its own, and the characters shift attitudes and allegiances to no clear purpose. The performers start doing a lot of staring and squinting into the camera (for LONG periods) only Stewart makes any impression, as she's the only one who actually engages with the person she's speaking to (and the only one who seems to have any grasp on reality.) The last fourth of the movie is unspeakably depressing. We finally realize that this is the kind of film where explanations and logic are left out, and the resultant confusion is presented as "depth". Fascinating and infuriating, in just about equal measure.
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