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.