THE FILMS OF TAIKA WAITITI

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Hello friends,

I wanted to take a moment out of my regularly scheduled self-promotion on this here web zone to share my infatuation with the films of this fine dishevelled gentleman, Taika Waititi (pronounced joyously: Ti-kuh Why-tee-tee).

The ability to balance comedy with emotional stakes is a constant in many of my favourite films — ie. films from filmmakers like Edgar Wright, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Noah Baumbach (when paired w/ Greta Gerwig), Billy Wilder, John Hughes, Charlie Chaplin, so I’m here to say that if you enjoy those folks you need to catch up with Taika Waititi at your earliest convenience.

The first film I saw from Waititi was the best damn film-going experience I’ve ever had…

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Halifax’s Outlier Film Festival, a festival dedicated to showcasing genre films, was screening WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014). I knew nothing about the film other than it was a vampire mockumentary from New Zealand, so I was surprised to see the Bus Stop Theatre packed to capacity (which was 60 people, for the small indy black box theatre).

The lights went dark and before long, all 60 of us were all cackling and knee-slapping in unison. 90 minutes later, the lights came back up and I was absolutely floored. I hadn’t been a part of a collective experience like that ever before, where every moment landed as intended, the highs & the lows, the emotional reality of something so silly as vampires living in a flat.

The second film was 2010’s BOY

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Again, I went in blind, avoiding reviews or trailers, and again, I was floored. The ability to balance comedy with drama has always been the way straight to my film-loving heart and BOY‘s coming of age story set in the beautiful New Zealand landscape showcased some incredibly impressive tonal gymnastics, and it was at this point that I was convinced that Taika Waititi was a filmmaker to pay attention to.

The third film, which sealed my love for Waititi, was 2016’s HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

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Unlike the previous two films, I couldn’t help myself from diving in and getting an early look at this film. The trailers looked incredible and the early buzz from critics was overwhelmingly positive. I was going into this one with the often-deadly “high hopes”. I’m happy to report that the film delivered as Waititi managed to draw me in with laughs, heart, and some solid action scenes (all while providing some subtle social commentary on institutional colonialism).

Comedy is super subjective, of course, but I think the key for comedy is sincerity, and that is something that I think is sorely missing in much of comedy today. Waititi’s characters have hopes & dreams that they strive for, and that is where I fall in love with his films.

SINCERITY > FLIPPANCY 👌

Up next, Waititi is directing THOR: RAGNAROK, which combines my fav Avengers, Thor & Hulk, and also apparently features a John Cena cameo, so I’m glad to hear that Marvel has been receiving my letters.

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That’s all for now. Check out some Waititi flicks and let me know what you think, yo. ❤

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TOP 10 OF 2014

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There was a whole lot to love this year in the cinema including him up there, Monsieur Gustav H., AKA Ralph “the incredible” Fiennes in Wes Anderson‘s GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, which just so happens to be my number one favourite film of 2014!

Go ahead, throw your hipster jokes in my direction, I don’t give one damn and / or shit, GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is straight-up magical (not to mention hilarious, and at times, oddly terrifying). Moving at the speed of a freight-train, anchored by Ralph Fiennes insanely, insanely entertaining and precise performance, this film just doesn’t stop with the magic. I know there’s a lot of people out there who just can’t do Wes Anderson, and I get it, I do, sometimes I also find his style overbears his substance, but GRAND BUDAPEST is the perfect marriage of the two and for me, feels like his best film yet.

Here is the remaining 9 films, in no particular order, that I loved oh-so dearly…

theguest
THE GUEST

nightcrawler
NIGHTCRAWLER

guardiansGUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

whiplashWHIPLASH

whatwedointheshadows
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

snowpiercer
SNOWPIERCER

frank
FRANK

onlyloversleftaliveONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

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CAST NO SHADOW

I think most of the films on my list have done their fair share of business (I’m looking at you, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY), so I’d like to encourage you to keep an eye out for CAST NO SHADOW, the Newfoundland feature film which cleaned up the awards at this year’s Atlantic Film Festival. It was honestly one of the best Canadian films I’ve ever seen. Head to their Facebook page and give ’em a like to keep track of their progress: https://www.facebook.com/castnoshadowmovie

WHAT I MISSED: INHERENT VICE, TWO DAYS ONE NIGHT, KUNG FU ELLIOT, DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, BORGMAN and a bunch of other stuff.

That’s it for 2014! It was a good one! Here’s hoping STAR WARS EP. 7 will be everything the child in me wants it to be and you’ll be seeing it on here next January.

Thanks for reading (er, looking at jpegs)!