eagle vs shark
in one corner we have 'flight of the conchords' - a couple of new zealand blokes - bret mckenzie and jemaine clement - who decided to sing comedy songs. they called themselves "new zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo". bret mckenzie is actually a pretty accomplished musician in nz circles - playing in the black seeds and having his own music under the name 'video kid'. apparently he was also in lord of the rings. so you see he's served his time in nz creative circles. jemaine clement did all kinds of stuff - including the voice-over for the l&p ads about life in nz (unless you live in nz, you have no idea what i'm talking about). anyway, flight of the conchords suddenly became very popular - world-wide. first in the uk, where the bbc did a radio documentary thing in 2005 and then they also got a slot on hbo in the states. they played all kinds of festivals around the place, and then i saw them live in nz last year when they supported bic runga. very funny. from there they ended up getting a sitcom series on HBO. this series has just finished in the states and they have been given a second season. the first season screens in nz soon. if you've never seen flight of the conchords in action - watch this.
in the other corner we have taika waititi. taika is a general creative jack-of-all-trades. he got quite a few awards (including an academy award nomination) for a short film called 'two cars, one night'. i saw him speaking at last year's semi-permanent design conference. very funny. he met jemaine clement (the guy from flight of the conchords who wasn't in lord of the rings - as far as i know) at uni in wellington and they formed a comedy act called the 'humourbeasts'. they did a show where they reinterpreted the legends of māui (unless you live in nz you have no idea what i'm talking about). taika got together with an actor called loren horsley (she was sieglinda in 'xena: warrior princess').
out of this fertile comic milieu sprang the film 'eagle vs shark'. it was written by taika waititi and loren horsley and stars jemaine clement, loren horsley and taika waititi.
last night, emma and anna and i went to see it. anna said, "i don't normally like nz films, but this one looks quite funny." it is in the vein of napoleon dynamite - "small town nerd humour"? and a number of critics have compared it to that film, although i have no idea if taika waititi was influenced by napoleon when he wrote and filmed eagle vs shark in 2005. there is something distinctly new zealand about the characters which overseas viewers might not differentiate from napoleon.
anyway, eagle vs shark was tremendously funny and very very good, and i loved it. it didn't do very well in the states but it has debuted at 4 at the nz box office behind 'live free or die hard', 'the simpsons' and 'i now pronounce you chuck and larry'. it grossed NZ$113,999 in the first week on 27 screens, not bad when you consider that all the other films in the top 10 were on at least 40 screens. now why the heck are nz cinemas not getting behind this film? it makes me mad. honestly people, it is right up there and well worth watching. the actors were great (no weak performances), the storyline was amusing - heaps of great nz culture. it even has a little miss sunshine-esque little girl. it has poignant moments wrapped in the humour, and a great soundtrack by the phoenix foundation. new zealanders! australians! brits! peoples of the world! get to it!
watch the trailer.
on the headphones: 'to the sky' by maps, from the album 'we can create'.