Thursday, March 03, 2005


(Dir Michael Hurst, with Cliff Curtis as Billy, Theresa Healey as Pauline, Kevin Smith as Max and Hori Ahipene as Potu; 2000)

Anyone who has spent any time at all in rural New Zealand will see a lot of home in this movie. It is set in a small town, where everyone has no work, has lost hope. Something is needed to bring some life to town. The celebration of its jubilee seems doomed when the organiser dies, thanks to being crushed by a bull she's extracting semen from and the only guy up for the job of replacing her refuses to have any booze at the biggest party this town has ever seen. So Billy, who everyone knows can't succeed, because he's never done anything with his life, Billy steps up to the plate and takes on organising.

While he's busy running round in circles getting nowhere, getting increasingly panicky over the lack of cash (he can only run to one beer per head, which is hardly an advance on his predecessor's effort), his wife Pauline is all a-twitter because her first and only love, former All Black Max, is coming to town. Its not till good old bro Potu sits Billy down and tells him that he's crap at doing things, but great at inspiring people to do, that things start to get cracking on the party front. There's some trick he plays with money I didn't fully get, but he's flush for a while until Pauline starts spending his stash on furniture. Billy puts about a million dollars worth of party things, including the biggest possible marquee, on tick and brings in a bunch of sulky white bikies as hired labour.

Of course, the party happens in good old kiwi style - a hangi, singing, a big punch up, a showdown over the girl. I don't think anyone would claim that this movie is of any great stature, but as a gentle homage to a very kiwi way of life, its just fine. And just for once, there was no attempt to buy into the New Zealand "cinema of unease" idea.


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