Whale of a Tale Productions

A Post Production Company
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The Lovely Bones by Peter Jackson (2009)

Peter Jackson’s latest is a return to a Heavenly Creatures type of film, and while the reviews are pretty mixed, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the film. Sure some of the effects do look pretty digital, and the story is not at all complicated, but to me, it is well done, well acted, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and recommend it to anyone this Holiday season.

Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan) is a 14 year old girl living happily with her family in 1973, who we learn will soon be brutally murdered. Susie could not be a happier girl, living with her family, her accountant father Jack (Mark Wahlberg), her mother Abigail (Rachel Weisz), her younger sister Lindsey (Rose Mclver) and the youngest child Buckley (Christian Thomas Ashdale). Susie is smitten with an Indian boy from England Ray Singh (Reece Ritchie), and with some pushing from her Grandmother Lynn (Susuan Sarandon) and his like for her agrees to go meet him at the mall. Susie also takes a lot of photos with the 110 camera her parents gave her, going through 24 rolls in a short time, much to the chagrin of her parents who agree to develop only one a month, but she may have a photo of her killer in it.

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District 9 by Neill Blomkamp (2009)

I had been excited that Peter Jackson was producing the HALO film, even if Blomkamp hadn’t done any features before, and was depressed when that fell through, and am glad they decided they still wanted to work together and turn Blomkamp’s earlier short film into a feature length film. I must say I did really enjoy it. In fact it is one of the best Science Fiction films I have had the pleasure to watch in some time, even if I think it has some major writing flaws that could have easily been worked out to make the film stronger. Still the film looks great (for all the complaining I have heard about the RED it was pretty damn impressive here), had great acting, and a very good setup, and most impressively in a 30 million dollar film, the effects look amazing. In fact there was no point where I was pulled out of the film by an effects shot, they all were perfectly integrated into the film, and look fantastic, This looks like a documentary that features newly arrived aliens to Earth. This is really a must see, and it is too bad my wife Kelly can’t see it, because it is mostly handheld and would probably make her pretty darn sick. And this film is not just your standard brainless science fiction film, being set in South Africa, about racism and slums, it is a thinly veiled look at Apartheid, which Blomkamp grew up in, but it is also more than that. The film also shows corporations and their taking over military actions, without oversight, much like Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, which has done so much bad in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the government turns a blind eye. And I must say the film looks even better when compared to the recently released Avatar trailer by James Cameron. After all that hype to see a film that looks like a high end video game cutscene, and not even that impressive of one at that and yet cost $230 million to make, and then see District 9 which only cost $30 million and so far looks much more impressive is really heartening to someone who would love to make lower budget films.

Twenty something years in the past a large circular alien ship came to earth, and stopped over Johannesburg, South Africa, with a piece, thought to be the command module falling off, and no where to be found. After months of waiting they flew up to the floating ship and cut into it’s hull, finding a ship full of starved insect like aliens. The aliens were quickly houses in a government camp inside Johannesburg, called District 9, which quickly became a slum, ruled by violence, and Nigerian gangsters who trade for Alien weaponry (even though only aliens can use it) and eat aliens hoping to become like them, so they can use the weapons. A private paramilitary organization named the MNU or Multinational United is put in charge of the slum, and the decision to move the camp 200KM outsie Johannesburg to a new “camp” so the citizens can have their city back free of Aliens. To make it appear legal, MNU is sending in teams to get signatures saying that the Aliens, derogatorily called Prawns have legally agreed to it, though they are being forced to do it at gunpoint. Wikus can de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) a bit of a moron working for MNU is assigned to lead the operation to evict the aliens by his boss, his father in law, and he happily takes the position, going in with the paramilitary to force signatures from the Aliens so they can be forcibly moved to the internment camp of District 10.

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Once Were Warriors by Lee Tamahori (1994)

This film showing hard life and domestic violence in Maori culture blew me away when I first saw it, and it was equally as powerful seeing it again now. This adaption of Alan Duff’s bestselling novel is powerful and sad. It is difficult to believe that people live like this, even when you know they do. The cast is perfect, and we see from the brutality to the caring, even if the brother is given a short thrift in the film. This was certainly one of the best films of that year, and one of the best films ever made, a powerful film that is a must see, and if you have seen I would recommend going back and seeing it again, though don’t expect not to be moved.

This is the story of the Heke family, a family of Maori’s living in the slums of Aukland. The family is pretty disfunctional, with the father being the quick to fight and quick to party Jake (Temuera Morrison who went on to play Jango Fett in the Star Wars prequel films), his wife Beth (Rena Owen) who tries to do good, but also loves to party with the best of them, their estranged eldest son Nig (Julian Arahanga) who hates his father, and is ready to leave, the always getting into trouble second son Mark who calls himself Boogie (Taungaroa Emile) and the 13 year old Grace (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell) who is always writing stories and telling them to her 2 younger siblings, and is really the glue that holds the family together. Grace’s best friend is a homeless boy who lives in a burnt out car under an underpass, and who she always goes to read to because he can’t read. Nig leaves home to join a Maori street gang, who go for full body tattoos, and Boogie has a court date, and got picked up again by cops, so things aren’t looking good. Jake comes home with a bunch of fish, and wants to have a good time, but finally admits to his wife, that he has been fired, and she freaks out, so he goes to the bar and drinks with his group of buddies, then brings the whole gang back to his house for a party after getting into a major fight. The young kids try and sleep upstairs, as Boogie has a big day, but it is hard with all the noise. And when Beth pissed off Jake, he literally beats the living piss out of her, before forcibly taking her to bed.

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Black Sheep written and direct by Jonathan King (2006)

Wow, I am so glad my friend Lak lent this to me, I had been hearing that the boys from WETA wanted to do a zombie film, but this is oh so much better than it could have been. I mean Zombie Sheep, how can you beat that, especially with PEter Bluck’s gorgeous cinematography. Gore, Guts, great characters and a whole lot of fun. This movie has it all and is a must see!!!!

Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister) is returning home to the family sheep farm, though he is deathly afraid of sheep, but his psychologist thinks it will do him good. And he is planning on selling his share in the farm to his brother Angus (Peter Feeney), but Angus may not be up to anything good. Also sneaking into the farm are two environmentalist, the beautiful Experience (Danielle Mason) and Grant (Oliver Driver) who want to get evidence of Angus’s and Dr. Rush (Tandi Wright). The two do-gooders see them dumping some waste goods into a whole, and Grant runs out and grabs a canister, which has a strange sheep embryo in it. They run and get separated and Grant drops the canister and the disturbing embryo comes to life and bites him. Meanwhile Henry signs the deal with Angus, who is holding a business meeting to show off his super sheep, and sends Henry out with his old friend, the Ranch hand Tucker (Tammy Davis). While out the sheep start acting strange and attack them, and Tucker gets bit, but they also save Experience. ANd Angus runs into Grant who is looking more and more sheep like and who bites him.

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The World’s Fastest Indian by Roger Donaldson (2005)

I had wanted to see this film when it came out, but never bothered, but when it was in HD on HD NET I quickly TIVOed it, and am glad I did. This is an enjoyable film about the spirit of one man, well one Kiwi man, and his quest to get a land speed record, and even more interesting it is a true story. This is in fact a slow paced character piece on the man, and what better actor to play Burt Munro than Anthony Hopkins? None that I can think of. An enjoyable film about never giving up ones dreams.

THis is the story of Burt Munro (Anthony Hopkins) and old Kiwi with a 1929 Indian Motorcycle that he is constantly modifying. He lives in a shed, and doesn’t keep up his house or yard (much to the chagrin of his neighbors) and is always working on his bike to make it faster. His dream is to go to the US and Bonneville salt flats and compete in speed week and set a world record. To this end he makes his own pistons and self modified the bike.

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