jamie goode's wine blog: NZ (1) and some films

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NZ (1) and some films

My first experience of New Zealand was not a good one. I arrived in Auckland airport around an hour ago (1pm local time), in persistent, heavy rain, temperatures of 12 C, and leaden grey skies.

I wasnít even meant to be in Auckland. The journey so far has been a disaster. My Singapore Air flight was supposed to bring me in to Christchurch, from where I had a six hour gap (which would have given me a chance to head into town) before an internal flight to Dunedin. However, a three hour delay leaving London meant that the 1 hour connection in Singapore was missed, hence the detour to Auckland.

But itís not turned out too badly. Through a combination of internal flights Iím going to be able to get into Dunedin just an hour late, and with just one extra payment of NZ$65, which is much better than Iíd expected when we were stuck on the runway at Heathrow. Still, by the time I get there, Iíll have been on four planes without so much as an hourís gap between any of them.

As usual, Iíve watched my fair quota of rubbish films. No Reservations is a really limp rom-com starring Catherine Zeta-Jones as a high-end chef. Itís got the sort of formulaic plot thatís typical of this genre, and I canít believe I watched it till the end. (Why did I watch it in the first place? The food theme probably drew my attention.)

In a similar genre, but better because of some strong dialogue and sharp writing (although still flirting with the Ďwhy on earth did I watch that?í category), was Knocked up. A high-flying girl has a bizarre one night stand with a total loser resulting in a child, and then, implausibly, they get together, work out their differences, and Öyou can guess what happens next.

Much more highly commended come another pair of films, neither of which have anything to do with Hollywood.

Eden is a German film (subtitled), again with a top chef as a theme. But where No Reservations is formulaic and shallow, Eden is clever, quirky and deep. Part drama, part black comedy, it tells the story of an elite chef and his platonic relationship with a sweet married woman, Eden, who finds his food utterly irresistible, even though she can resist his enormous, lardy body. The ending is a bit hollywoodish, I suppose, but I really enjoyed the central focus on food, and the way it is portrayed as having the potential to be a compelling force that binds two people together.

Moving continents, Brenda Blethyn delivers a really impressive, but painful-to-watch performance in Clubland. In this Australian film, sheís the source of much of the dysfunction in her family, where she just canít seem to let her 21 year old son Tim live his own life.

Blethynís character is a hideous, pitiful individual, but she sort-of redeems herself in the filmís happy-ish ending. The happy ending in question does seem rather out of place, and smacks of amateurish, clumsy writing. Loose writing has been the bane of several of the Aussie films Iíve seen, just as it is with many British films. But Iíd rather have averagely written interesting films than tight skilled writing applied to predictable Hollywood pap.



At 6:05 AM, Anonymous Grant said...


C'mon, you have to at least admit that Knocked Up was funny! Kind of low brow funny, but funny nonetheless. Perhaps I related to it better because I lived in a house like that once...

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous St.Helier said...

Jamie, how can you c==say that your first impression of NZ was bad, when the root of your delays and problems were in the UK. It seems that once you arrived in NZ, all sorts of solutions were presented. OK - it was raining (guess what? it rains in NZ!!!) And if in fact you did arrive at 1pm (local time) in fact, the temparature was closer to 18/20 degrC (I know, I live here, and you were/are probably suffering from jet-lag). SO, please, now you are in Dunedin, find a local restaurant serving NZ lamb; buy yourself a Central Otago Pinot Noir, and chill-out. Who knows, you may never go home !!!!!

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Keith Prothero said...

Jamie---you continue to amaze me.The last thing I would do after such a horrendous jouney,is do a long blog on crappy films!!
Still I hope the rest of the trip is great.

At 7:24 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

st helier, you are of course quite right - but the pilot did say the local temperature was 12 as we were landing - this seemed implausibly low, I admit. Your advice is good.

grant, did you really live in a house like that? How horrible!

At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Grant said...


A long time ago....I once came home from my part-time night job to find that an impromptu party had taken off..with 200 people in the back yard, a bon-fire lit on a disused lounge chair that the dog had been sleeping on, and a couple of guys with an amp and two guitars belting out John Mellencamp songs (don't ask me, not very anarchic, I know). That was just one night...despite the craziness, some great memories nonetheless. We were all young once!


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