top of page

Stan’s Stuff - I went to the movies

I went to the movies

I have been marooned in Brisbane for nine months now. Separated away from my wife (Pauline the editor of this paper) by my responsibilities for my hospitalised son and his family. For various reasons I faced New Year’s day on my own. “What will I do to mark this special day?” I wondered. I decided to go to the pictures. It was a good decision.

I went to see ‘A man called Otto’ starring Tom Hanks. Some personal background here is appropriate. I have grown averse to American movies. I am tired of seeing the ultra-rich bed-hopping and drinking themselves to oblivion. And I haven’t cottoned on to the Marvel genre. However, my appreciation of Tom Hank’s previous movies prompted me to hope this movie would be okay. It was better than that!

Set in a working class neighbourhood, the story is actually predictable. However it is charming. To my relief that main character didn’t get himself blind drunk half-way through, or sleep with anyone (a usual context in many US movies). And to my surprise, the irrepressible female lead is rather like my wonderful daughter-in-law. As with many movies now, the visuals spliced into the rolling credits were a delight.

A strange thing happened when the movie ended. No one clapped. I have experienced this at the end of other stirring movies. We (the theatre was 25% full) just sat there. There was no talking and no one hurried to leave. I think the feeling was, “We are touched by the honesty and decency of these people and we don’t want to leave a world like that.” Do yourself a favour and go and see it!

Over these last nine months in Brisbane caring for my son and his family has been confined to certain times each day. In between those periods, I have had more time to watch TV than at any other time in my life. I have searched for movies on NetFlicks. You may be interested in what I have found.

Being fed up with the fare that has been coming out of the US and Britain, I turned to other countries. I knew that Bollywood (Indian) was twice as big as Hollywood. The song and dance spectaculars that I had seen in Indian restaurants did not appeal. “Surely there must be more,” I thought. And there was. Here are three that are worth a look. They are all on Netflix NZ and all have English subtitles.

Pad Man. Based on a true story, it tells of a man who developed and distributed low-cost sanitary pads for women. An amazing story of a man who had no knowledge or background in this subject but who, after years of dogged persistence, succeeded in making low-cost sanitary pads available across India. For his work he was honoured by the Indian government and he spoke at the United Nations. The telling of this story is both amusing, shocking and moving. It gives insights into life and prejudice in rural India.

Dhanak. This story is about a sister (11 years) and her blind brother 7 (years). It is a mixture of fantasy and reality. In some ways it reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. The film was shot in the Indian desert state of Rajasthan. Without permission or supervision, this orphaned duo sets out to find means for an operation to restore the boy’s sight. The people they meet on this marathon journey range from quirky and amusing to sinister. While clearly fictitious, it does provide insight into some aspects of contemporary Indian life. Like many Indian movies, it is rather long and I watched it in two sittings. The story could be syrupy. It is not. There is plenty of grit.

Lagaan: Once upon a time in India. This fictitious movie tells how a cricket match saved a village. It shows the British rulers as the Indians see them and pointedly raises issues of social justice. This story is beautifully filmed and very long – over three hours. I watched it in three sittings - some romance with occasional singing and dancing, but not too much.

Now for something completely different. If blood sawn-up bodies fascinate you, look no further than the Scandinavian films. It seems strange to me that countries which are rated the ‘happiest’ on earth produce these movies. Maybe the darkness of the Nordic climate causes them to long for bright colours – like, for instance, bloody films. Here is a series (I seldom watch series) that absolutely trapped me.

Trapped. Made by the Icelandic film industry (Iceland has a population of 376,000) this is a series of six episodes. Set in a small costal town temporarily isolated from the rest of the country by exceptionally heavy snow falls, the story revolves around a cut up body and sundry other murders. The characters are believable. The lead actors depict the local police working doggedly without guns to solve the interrelated murders. Mesmerising! Good luck with turning this series off.

Well this is my debut as a reviewer. Happy viewing and happy New Year.

Stan Stewart

Caption - A scene from 'Dhanak.'

NOTE: ‘A man called Otto’ is showing at the Mercury Bay Twin Cinemas in Lee Street, Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula’s only movie theatre and a very good one my wife tells me.


Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page