I spent a year in New Zealand and made friends with people who love the same kind of pop culture I do. Naturally, they introduced me to the movies of their home country. Here are the ones I recommend to others:
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
A comedic romp and adventure through the bush of the Northern Island, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is about finding a family when the only one you’ve known unexpectedly keels over while hanging laundry. I had the honor of attending a screening that also had a Q&A with the director Taika Waititi and two main actors Sam Neill and Julian Dennison. Fun fact: the bunker that wasn’t dug yet was totally Julian’s idea. He was so proud of that.
What We Do In the Shadows
I actually saw this before I left for New Zealand solely because of its premise: a mockumentary on vampires. The fact that they lived in Wellington (of all places) was a side effect. Now that I’ve spent time in the featured city, I can say with great pride and conviction that the club they always want to get into is not that big of a deal. Drinks are cheaper at The Establishment in Courtney Place anyway.
Unlike the other two, Housebound doesn’t spend time focusing on its New Zealand setting. This is a horror movie that subverts standard tropes by making the main character a badass who fights back against the creepiness that is her childhood house. If you find me wearing a cheese grater as a gauntlet, know that this movie was my inspiration for that.
Missed Opportunity: Poi E: The Story of Our Song
I could have seen this movie for $10 at the local Reading Cinema. But someone (read: me) didn’t want to go alone. This is the story of the first Maori pop song Poi E which makes me feel warm inside even though I don’t speak or understand Maori. Go on, give it a listen. If you saw it, tell me how you felt about the film Poi E: The Story of Our Song.