February 2-8: Including Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Rain of the Children

by Diana Balham / 24 January, 2013
A nerd hero with surprising abilities and a powerful docu-drama.
The Dilemma
The Dilemma, Sunday


Rain of the Children (Maori, 8.30pm). The film Vincent Ward has called his most personal. In the 70s, Ward travelled into the Ureweras and met Puhi, an elderly Tuhoe woman. She lived in poverty with her schizophrenic son Niki and allowed Ward and his film crew to document her story. In this powerful docu-drama, Ward goes back to find out more about Puhi, who died in 1980. (2006) 4/5

Rambo (TV1, 10.30pm). Rock on, Sly! You don’t look silly at all. (2008) 2.5/5

Leaves of Grass (TV2, 11.00pm). You need to understand how ridiculed folk from Oklahoma (“Oakies”) are in the US, but you’ll get the central premise – identical twins, one an Ivy League classics professor and the other a small-town dope grower – if you followed Outrageous Fortune. Jethro and Van West, from Auckland’s Westie heart, are in the same vein. In both stories, the successful one got the hell out of Dodge some time ago but keeps getting lured back. It’s a great idea that doesn’t entirely work because you think it’s a comedy and then someone goes rogue in a particularly splattery way, but Edward Norton, as Bill and Brady Kincaid, puts everything into it. Tim Blake Nelson (the thick one from O Brother, Where Art Thou?) directs, with a Coen brothers manual in one hand. He studied classics at posh Brown University and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, so it’s a very personal project. (2009) 3/5

A Model Daughter (TV3, 11.25pm). If you can get past the fact that the grieving dad is played by Garry McDonald – who will always carry a tragically coiffured albatross called Norman Gunston around his neck – this fact-based Australian TV movie will tell you all you need to know about Caroline Byrne, a 24-year-old model whose death at notorious Sydney suicide spot the Gap was written off as just another jump until her father fought to bring the perpetrator to justice. (2010) 3/5


Tangled (TV2, 7.00pm). A feisty chick called Rapunzel is, er, stranded in paradise with 21m of hair to keep in peak condition in case a handsome prince comes along. Instead, she gets a thief who has a way with the ladies and together they slide down her tresses and have a Disney adventure. A fun, slick animation, but having a blonde Barbie-ish princess as the main character turned off a lot of small boys, despite Disney’s attempts to focus on the guy and his horse. (2010) 4/5

The Dilemma (TV3, 8.30pm). Whether to watch this – or something else. Director Ron Howard underestimated how much Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly could do with this yo-yoing pastiche of slapstick and black comedy about a guy who discovers his best bud’s wife is having an affair. (2010) 2.5/5

Good Night, and Good Luck
Good Night, and Good Luck, Sunday.

Good Night, and Good Luck (Maori, 8.30pm). George Clooney wrote and directed this fine drama about 1950s Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist spree and the broadcast journalist, Edward R Murrow (David Strathairn), who tried to bring him down. Clooney is Murrow’s producer, Fred Friendly, and McCarthy is played by himself, using news footage. With Robert Downey jnr, Patricia Clarkson and Frank Langella. (2005) 4/5

The Ghost Writer (Sky Movies Greats, Sky 022, 8.30pm). This seemingly straightforward thriller, about a ghostwriter who gets more than he bargained for when he assists with the memoirs of a former UK Prime Minister, has more strings attached than a concert harp. First, it’s based on the book by disillusioned BBC reporter Robert Harris (not the coffee-shop one) who supported Tony Blair until the Iraq War. There are glaring similarities between this film’s Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan) and Blair, and implied nods to Bill Clinton, Benazir Bhutto and a handful of First Ladies. The fact that director Roman Polanski was thrown into a Swiss prison before post-production was completed only adds to the intrigue. (The US authorities finally caught up with him to press charges relating to an alleged statutory rape in 1977.) Quipped Brosnan: “The movie’s in the can. He’s in the can.” But is it a good film? Well, yes, thanks largely to good work by Polanski, a decent screenplay (by Harris) and the charms and talents of Ewan McGregor as “the ghost”. Makes freelance writing look pretty exciting, all right. (2010) 4/5

The Waterboy (TV2, 9.00pm). Soggy, stupid Sandler. (1998) 2/5


Bob Marley – Freedom Road (Maori, 8.30pm). Let’s not forget that our Waitangi Day is also Bob Marley’s birthday: the Rasta man would have been 68 this time around. Here’s an infuriatingly short documentary about his life that includes never-seen footage of his early life and comment by people who knew him, including Mojo magazine editor Kris Needs and Jamaican-born actor and film-maker Esther Anderson, who was Marley’s long-term girlfriend. She went on to write, produce and direct Bob Marley: The Making of a Legend in 2011. Even better, try Kevin Macdonald’s 2012 doco Marley for the dope on this legend-making musician. (2007) 3/5

Resident Evil (Prime, 9.30pm). When good spellchecks go bad: a sea grit excrement, a diddly virus, a fetal piss-take. Baste on the mildly pustular video lame series, President Weevil is an action-pocked filler startling Killa Locowitch (The Fifth Elephant), Me Shell Rodriguez (The Past and the Spurious) and Eric Maybe Us (Gruel Inventions) in a bottle of food and weevil, vermin nurses commuter, the loving against the Unwed. Okay as video games-to-movies go, the thing that’s lost in translation is that this had its origins in a reality-avoidance vehicle for dark-loving geeks who revel in the destruction they can wreak themselves and who secretly admire the zombies they kill in the game. Toxic. (2002) 2.5/5


We’re Not Broke (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). A provocative documentary about a serious game of hide and seek: the US Government is trying – but not hard enough – to tie down over a trillion dollars sheltered from the tax department by multi-billion-dollar companies such as Exxon, Google and the Bank of America. Six fed-up citizens take their frustrations to the streets to get the word out. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. (2012) 3.5/5


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Friday

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Four, 8.30pm). Michael Cera – nerd hero – had us believing in Juno and he’s back with this endearing action-comedy-fantasy directed by Englishman Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) based on Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comic-book series. Cera is kind of like the german shepherd you wanted but the chihuahua you got: still a devoted pet, but you feel a bit embarrassed liking him. Here he’s a geek with surprising abilities when it comes to defeating the seven evil exes of the girl of his dreams (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Smart, funny and very underdog-affirming. (2010) 4/5
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