New Year's Eve-January 6: Including Utu and Coraline

by Fiona Rae / 30 December, 2011


Hannah Montana – The Movie (TV2, 7.00pm). Hannah (Miley Cyrus) threatens the achy breaky heart of her dad (Billy Ray Cyrus) by being too much of a celeb, so it’s off to Tennessee and grandma for the brat. A long glittery TV episode for the girlies. (2009) 4

Dead Silence (Four, 8.30pm). A dull and predictable horror from the creators of Saw that pads down a familiar road that leads to … a town haunted by – in this case, the restless soul of an insane ventriloquist and her 101 evil puppets. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. (2006) 5

The Tree (Rialto, Sky 025, 8.30pm). Ignore the ridiculous tagline – “a family in mourning rediscover life with the help of a moreton bay fig” – and there’s a good little Aussie-French film in here. Eight-year-old Simone (Morgana Davis, who’s terrific) is convinced her dead father is speaking to her through the leaves of the huge tree next to their house. Mum (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who for some reason is French, has three other kids to look after as well and doesn’t quite know what to make of her daughter’s theory, but then the tree asserts itself … No, it’s not a horror, just a gentle drama that deals with grief in a quiet and understated way. Invercargill boy Marton Csokas also stars. (2010) 6

Hairspray (TV2, 9.10pm). Crazy dance fever in early 60s America that’s likeable for so many reasons, the chief one being John Travolta mercilessly sending himself up in a fat suit and flippy hair as the luscious and chubby Edna Turnblad. This remake of John Waters’s 1988 cult classic (which marked Divine’s swansong and turned Ricki Lake into a talkshow queen) stars Nikki Blonsky in the Ricki role of well-built teen Tracy Turnblad who just wants to dance and – wait a darned minute! – why shouldn’t we hang out with the coloured kids? (2007) 8

Utu (Maori, 9.30pm). Geoff Murphy scratched bravely away at a subject we didn’t talk about much in the 1980s – the Maori Land Wars, as we called them then, as if only Maori were involved. It’s a powerful story of terrible – and ultimately futile – acts of violence committed by Maori and Pakeha as they struggle to come to terms with each other. Everyone’s in this: Bruno Lawrence, Kelly Johnson, Ilona Rodgers, John Bach, Wi Kuki Kaa, Merata Mita, Martyn Sanderson, Sean Duffy, Ian Watkin – and Anzac Wallace, a trade union leader who had never acted before this. (1984) 7



Coraline (TV3, 7.00pm). Gloomy, weird part-stop-motion animation, part-3D, but all disturbing, this is almost a horror-cartoon film for kids – if they can take it. A not very nice film about a not very nice little girl to whom rather horrible things happen, and having parents in an alternative universe who want to sew buttons into her eye sockets is just the beginning. Fantastic to look at. (2009) 8

Armageddon (TV2, 7.30pm). A Texas-sized asteroid is going to completely munt the Earth in 18 days. Quick! Call an oil-driller named Harry! He’ll know what to do. He’s Bruce Willis. (1998) 6

Sunshine Cleaning (TV1, 8.30pm). Two sisters go into business scraping human body fluids off walls and scrubbing the mattresses of the forgotten. Sounds very jolly, and yet Kiwi director Christine Jeffs (Rain, Sylvia) turns the most moribund premise into a small and many-faceted gem that flips from hilarious to heartbreaking as we learn more about Rose and Norah (Amy Adams and Emily Blunt – both fantastic) and why they need to do this. Jeffs was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for this. (2008) 7

Hot Shots! (Four, 8.30pm). Watch the parody tonight and the real thing (Top Gun) on Thursday. So much more entertaining than Cruise and his cock-fighting in the cockpit. A young Charlie Sheen seems quite normal. (1991) 6

Die Hard 2 (TV3, 8.55pm). “Another basement, another elevator. How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?” That’s a good question, John McClane. Just lucky, I guess. (1990) 6


Management (TV2, 8.30pm). This romcom fits into the large subset of “embarrassment movies” and is basically a gender-reversal version of the execrable All About Steve, which played on TV3 a few weeks ago. Sandra Bullock’s goofball is now Steve Zahn’s cringe-making love-loser Mike, who runs his parents’ motel and takes a liking to Jennifer Aniston’s bottom. He becomes her personal stalker … and the whole thing spins off into that romcom vortex from whence there is no return. (2008) 6

Van Helsing (TV3, 8.30pm). Early adopter vampirophiles may have held out hope for this monster-mash actioner starring yummy Hugh Jackman as the freak-hunter Van Helsing. What? He’s going after Dracula, his three wives, Frankenstein and his creature, Igor, and the Wolf Man? Gee, I hope he’s eaten his Weet-Bix. Lots of computer-generated stuff but no heart through which to drive a stake and get it over with. (2004) 5


Team America: World Police (Four, 8.30pm). Thunderbirds meets a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. That’s what South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker had in mind when they dreamt up this marionette action spoof that set out to offend on a global level and succeeded pretty well. Sex, violence, anti-American sentiment, anti-everyone else sentiment? It’s all here. Love this: apparently White House adviser Matt Drudge (yeah, really) said he was horrified anyone would make comic fodder out of the “sacred war on terror”. I think that was the idea. Hilarious and crass in equal measure. (2004) 7


The Castle (TV1, 8.30pm). Simple family – genius movie. It’s going straight to the pool room! (1997) 8

The Green Mile (TV3, 8.30pm). Writer Stephen King and director Frank Darabont clearly have a thing about prison dramas: this is their second collaboration after The Shawshank Redemption (1994). In this one’s three hours you could march every one of Cold Mountain Correctional Facility’s wretched death row inmates down the Green Mile (so named because of the dark green lino tiles), strap them into Old Sparky and be home by teatime. This is a compelling 1930s story about a guard (Tom Hanks) and his new charge, a huge, gentle miracle-worker called John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), who doesn’t seem capable of committing the crime he has been found guilty of. And he has a pet mouse called Mr Jingles. Sounds a bit like Steinbeck’s novel. What was it called? Of Mouse and Man? (1999) 7


Top Gun (TV3, 8.30pm). Eighties macho flying fluff – Tom Cruise would have looked silly in a bigger plane. (1986) 5


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