The movie

TAKE (Director’s Guild Magazine)  December 2008


The lunch ritual for Mune and me goes like this – one will ask the other “How’s business?” – one, or both, will answer “Business is good” (or not, depending on mood or circumstances.) Whatever, we will now have a tax-free ‘business lunch’ – compliance is complete. On this particular day, downtown Wellington is unusually busy. We push eagerly through a gathering crowd. The monolithic Embassy cinema looms through hanging mist.


Courtenay Place is abuzz and I lose Mune, then immediately find him – we’re pulled into the vortex as a throng ensues. The word on the street says ‘There hasn’t been anything like it for years, maybe ten, maybe twenty, maybe never!’ A hush envelops the populous; common people consider pathetic lives, the lack of immediate guidance and confirmation causes panic. We overhear one woman gasp ‘If only there’d been advance word, someone might have rolled out the red carpet.’


An over-opinionated film critic is also overheard – ‘Who could have known that such an unknown would redefine the genre? No! Create a new genre! – tell it like it is; better, bigger, brighter than it has ever been!”


Then closer, quietly considered, an old guy mumbles, ‘It’s been said that some had abandoned all hope.’ He catches Mune’s eye and adds… ‘completely’.


Yet now here we are, by mere happenstance, no bus hoardings or endless TV publicity to sell us back our brains or tell us what to expect – a genuine spontaneous moment – the place of dreams, the place of bliss, the hallowed shrine.


We enter the mausoleum. The lights dim like a cloak closing over a small child’s head, like storm clouds over a harvest moon. Somewhere a door slams! The crypt is now secure.


Imagine the thrill. Curtains hang like aurora borealis, slowly part like the Red Sea – nearby a small boy child, maybe of Bethlehem significance, is being born – the rotation of the earth pauses, a heart-beat falters, all breath is held, eyes unblinking, jaws dropped, angels ahhh – beyond here must surely be the promised land… all for a mere $14.00! It doesn’t get better than this!


A single cello note takes the edges off our teeth, a child screams: within the Dolby surrounds is the violent slaughter of many animals – it sits perfectly as underscore – cutting through like finger nails down a blackboard.


Lunch is going particularly well – only the usual thorny issues are immediately present – we order more wine. We come here to moan, ‘not to praise,’ and moan and whinge we do. The discussion of ‘Story’ and ‘National Cinema’ always comes to the fore… it’s our favourite.


Who would imagine it would ever be allowed out of its cage, a tale to end all tales, a movie with the tenacity of a pit bull, so dangerous and vital; don’t let the kids near it – even from the safety of your seat it still might rip your face off.


From the sliding curtain-opening, we could see the vigor and the mud oozing from every frame; the mist dripping from rafters and the dank reaching up through our guts. Those hills, our distant hills, our land, our hope; it’s the truth found only of the bush; this has got to be the movie of the year, of the decade! Before this, nothing; after this? – well? – it’ll be hard to measure a film-making nation by any other. Before this everything is a ‘has-been,’ a mere copy of what has gone before. From this day forth you merely trifle with the form, even if you come close to this. This movie’s got legs – we see a bureaucrat run from the auditorium to call a special meeting.


We finally make it to the food part of lunch – wearing the weighty robe of wisdom and experience does piqué the appetite. We try using language learnt at the many Hollywood script courses, but nothing of theirs can describe it. We abandon it in pursuit of the perfect dream and gain acceptance when, in the real world, none exists. After all this is the dream factory and, though this movie only exists in our imagination, a mere description of what might be, we speak of truth… we order more plonk in celebration of our voice.


We finally conclude that it’s been a long time between drinks, real drinks that is, not this sugar-water and piss-weak, cloned Hollywood crap; in fact we’re talking the likes of ‘Ngati’ and ‘Out of the Blue.’ We sit in silence and contemplate the vastness of the void between these projects. We try to think of just one more to include, something to fill the gap, something to occupy the high ground, something to define an identity, our identity – but alas – nothing. We toast Bazza while below us the imaginary red carpet is loaded into trucks.