Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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Cinemaposter with Hec and Ricky, Image: Cineworld.com

4 stars

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a ‘majestical’ movie. Based on the novel Wild Pork and Watercress by Barry Crump, the movie is written and directed by Taika Waititi, known for films such as What We Do in the Shadows (2014) and the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok (2017). Like the novel itself, the film is divided into eleven chapters, and this New Zealand comedy is full of heart, laughs and beautiful landscapes.

Telling the story of how foster child Ricky (Julian Dennison) gets a rude awakening when he finds himself with a new foster family in the middle of the New Zealand bush, his wannabe gangster attitude is gradually broken down by the affectionate Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata), his new foster mum. However, Bella’s husband, Hec (Sam Neill), does not warm to Ricky, and remains distant and gruff. After a tragedy befalls them, an accident leaves Hec and Ricky stranded in the forest for weeks (accompanied with their dogs Tupac and Zag), and a misunderstanding, the two form a sort of friendship as they try to avoid the authorities which are hunting them.

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Ricky with mud on his face, Image: cubecinema.com

The film has a great soundtrack, and plenty of pop culture references. Its dialogue is quite quotable, as each character has their own repeated catchphrase which they repeat as they both conform to and defy their own stereotype. In particular, the child welfare worker Paula (Rachel House) repeats the phrase ‘no child left behind’, which alternately makes her look concerned and unhinged. Rhys Darby (famous for his role as band manager Murray in Flight of the Conchords) also makes an appearance as Psycho Sam, a government conspiracy theorist. Although more screen time could have been given to these characters, Waititi’s decision to focus on the relationship Hec and Ricky makes their appearance all the more surprising in the narrative. They also form a red thread which runs throughout the film and provide some comic relief to break up the narrative of Hec and Ricky in the forest.

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Rhys Darby as Psycho Sam, Image: standbyformindcontrol.com

The camera work in the film is interesting, with many helicopter- and panoramic shots. At times Waititi’s visual storytelling is reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s style, particularly when he shows montages of equipment or the passing of time. Hunt for the Wilderpeople also draws a lot of inspiration from American action movies, but transposes it, satirises it and places it in a comedy drama. The film even comes equipped with a car chase and a Lord of the Rings reference. 

Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s laughs are clever, the plot has some unexpected twists, and its emotions are genuine. This film is, fundamentally, a story about family, belonging, perceived masculinity, and how different individuals can come together to form deep personal connections.

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Top 5 Things to See and Do in Reykjavik

The capital of Iceland has many things to offer, and is the natural starting point for many visitors to the country. From cultural institutions to vintage shops, here is my list the top of 5 things to see and do in the Icelandic capital:

Hallgrímskirkja
This church is the tallest building in Iceland, with a tower that stands 73 meters tall. It’s pretty impressive, and almost impossible to photograph. We tried several times, but we eventually managed to capture both myself and the top of the tower by standing by the Leif Erikson statue (which predates the church). For 900 ISK you can access the top of the tower by lift, which gives spectacular panoramic views of Reykjavik.

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Hallgrimskirkja and statue of Leif Erikson. Image: Michelle Mackie

Harpa Concert Hall

Harpa Concert Hall opened its doors in 2011, and is placed right on the waterfront. It has won awards for its architecture, and it is worth seeing, if only for the windows. While we didn’t see any performances while we were there, the “How to Become Icelandic in 60 Minutes” comedy show looked delightful, and is a staple act at the Harpa.  

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Harpa Concert Hall viewed from the side. Image: Michelle Mackie

Sólfarið – The Sun Voyager

While you’re down by the Harpa, why not walk along to the The Sun Voyager, a sculptured dreamboat whose position offers a great view of the harbour area and Mount Esja. Designed by Jón Gunnar Árnason, it is an impressive sculpture which resembles a viking boat, but is, infact, an ode to the sun. It is said to represent hope, discovery, freedom, dreams and forward progress.

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The Sun Voyager. Image: Michelle Mackie

Lucky Records and 12 Tónar

105, Rauðarárstígur 10, Reykjavík, Iceland; Skólavörðustígur 15, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland.

Reykjavik has a great scene for music and record shops. Lucky Records and 12 Tónar are perhaps the best in the city, each with their individual vibe and speciality. While Lucky Records is the largest record shop in Iceland, 12 Tónar has been featured on The Guardian, and has its own independent record label. Icelandic musicians like Björk and Sigur Rós are, apparently, fans of the shop. Both shops sometimes host small concerts, and 12 Tónar will offer you a free espresso to accompany you while you peruse their two floors.

12 Tonar (top, Tripadvisor), and two interior shots of Lucky Records (Michelle Mackie)

Spúútnik Fatamarkadur – Vintage Clothes Shopping
Laugavegur 118, Reykjavík, Iceland.

We came across this shop almost by accident, and it was a great find. Go down the stairs, and you enter a room full of colourful clothes, hats, shoes, and various accessories. There is a wide range of different styles, and you can spend ages sifting through their various
racks and shelves. There is even a room at the back of the shop dedicated to men’s vintage clothes, and an excellent selection of pre-owned Icelandic jumpers. It is right next to a Red Cross second hand shop, which will give you even better prices than Fatamarkaðurinn.  It is also right down the road from The Icelandic Phallological Museum, if a visit to that should take your fancy.

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View going into the vintage shop. Image: The Reykjavik Grapevine