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Speaker: Festive Fare

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    Well I'll be - the director's cut. The late Lesley cheung? What happened to him?

    He committed suicide in 2003 -- think it was April Fools, just to give it that extra bitter edge.

    I saw Ashes of Time years ago (presume it's the same one - is it in the film festival again?). I confess I found it tedious.

    Fair enough, and Wong certainly is something of an acquired taste - and even in Hong Kong his films are more critical hits (and even then his record is a bit spotty) than boffo box office. But I wonder what the hell was going through the mind of whoever saw the elliptical, uber-stylized As Tears Go By and Days of Being Wild and thought "Yup, exactly the chap to do a star-studded martial arts flick".

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    He committed suicide in 2003 -- think it was April Fools, just to give it that extra bitter edge.

    Yeah, I caught up on that yesterday. Oddly, I know of someone else who chose that day to top himself.

    Fair enough, and Wong certainly is something of an acquired taste

    I loved Days of Being Wild, ChungKing Express & In the Mood for Love (yet to see 2046). Ashes of Time left me cold though - maybe more happens in the new cut? :)

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Venetia King,

    Ashes of Time left me cold though - maybe more happens in the new cut?

    I saw it on Sunday, haven't seen the original so don't know if more happens, but what did happen I found rather confusing. Each segment was prefaced with the name of a season, as though we were watching parts of a year in order, but the events seemed to move back and forth in time. I couldn't figure out what was going on; it's one of two screenings so far this festival that I needn't have bothered with. But you never know till you try, and it wasn't as tedious as last year's Matsugane Potshot Affair (which I chose because I loved Linda Linda Linda the year before).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 117 posts Report Reply

  • Just Milly,

    Long time reader, first time poster. I had lots to say about Mr Veitch, but others said it better so decided my first dipping of toes in the water would be about the ff.

    Off for the 2 weeks, I have 51 films to see. I have seen 19 thus far. My highlights have been Ashes of Time, simply beautiful, Wong Kar Wai is one of my favourite directors. Other highlights include -
    Man on Wire
    Stranded............
    Sukiyaki Western Django
    Up the Yangtze.
    My Winnipeg

    Having seen it, I would rather chew my right arm off than ever see Ira Sach's Married Life again. Ugh!

    Since Jul 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    this kind of tribal history is something we need more of, and the more and the sooner, the better. It’s still too easy to consign New Zealand history to a single story of colonial exploitation.

    Agreed, we need to do it before it's all been buried deeper. Looking forward to the new Ward film, long been fascinated with Rua Kenana and Tuhoe country. I'm currently a history undergrad and it keeps amazing me how much history we do have - so many stories to tell.

    I saw Vincent Ward's new film and was quite overwhelmed by it - it's really sad, really interesting and you are certainly right that as many of these stories must be recorded before the very last of them fade out.

    Ward's earlier film River Queen was criticised more here than in other countries and I wondered if it was because it touched on a painful and unresolved part of NZ's history. The criticisms were oddly petty and hugely beside the point of the film. One of the criticisms was, for instance that a character was named "Boy" - which was a perfectly acceptable name of the day - one of Canadian novelist's Robertson Davies's protaganists is named Boy. Another criticisms was that the characters' situations were left largely unresolved. Well, yes, kind of the whole point.

    There's a fascinating book The Fox Boy by Peter Walker that tells the true story of a Taranaki boy of five or six that was captured by the English and given to Prime Minister Fox and his wife to adopt. They educated him as an Englishman, but the Englishness didn't really stick, and he became a lawyer who fought against the Crown's interests.

    Walker's book was also criticised for "never quite resolving anything" but Walker's book told a true story, and true stories don't tend to have a tidy resolution after a story arc. Walker's book is fascinating, very well written and irrestistable if you have any interest in NZ's history, but hardly anyone read it.

    I was astonished Walker's book was damned with faint praise, criticised on points that seemed not valid to criticise, then seemed to sink from national consciousness. Ward's film River Queen seemed to suffer a similar fate, but I was among those who absolutely loved it, thought it had a fascinating story to tell and thought the inchoate, fragmentary, unresolved nature of the film worked well as it mirrors the history in that respect.

    Anne Salmond's book The Trial of the Cannibal Dog talks more about the Tahitian navigator Tupia that about Maori of the time, but she does mention some of Cook's encounters with Maori, and she talks about how most histories talk about indigenous people as though they were part of the flora or fauna to be described, without ever attempting to tell their stories. This is very true around the world, and it's interesting where fragments of human history from the indigenous point of view do survive. Ward's personal account of his friendship with Puhi and her son Niki is only a backdrop to the sad, sad story of the Tuhoe and the shameful past of the English wars, as my mother in law insisted on calling them.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    Walker's book is fascinating, very well written and irrestistable if you have any interest in NZ's history, but hardly anyone read it.

    Guilty! That one's been too far down the reading list....have to start a "must read over summer' pile. I was interested in Omai, who Cook took back to England and was celebrated in aristo circles, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and written about (poems to porn) extensively. Is Omai the same person as Tupia?

    Some years ago (when i had more time to wander & absorb) I visited some old whare in the East Cape area, a round house near Frasertown or somewhere not far from Wairoa, that looked very like Rua's roundhouse that got destroyed. Quite stunning. And isolated whare that were painted rather than carved, quite folk artish. Places like Lake Waikeremoana & various spots on the Cape are very affecting - on visceral/sensual/intuitive levels. I always feel like I could slip back in time there. Stumbled across other places that have some gathered intensity around, maybe, what has happened there. I once ran for my life in a bush reserve just off a highway, when overcome by irrational fear and later found it was the site of a massacre, I think around Te Kooti's bush fighting etc era in northern HB/ Tuhoe country.
    It totally fascinates me that, until the mid-late 19thC, there were two astonishingly different cultures here whose interactions were multifarious and that in the areas where Maori predominated, there was actually quite alot of Euro acceptance and willingness to live alongside each other. Until greed got in the way. I'd be v. interested to research journals of artists, photographers, wanderers - those Euro whose prime interest was not in acquiring land. Another on my to-do list is reading Maori newspapers, esp round Kingitanga.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    No, Tupaia and Omai were two different men, who shipped with Cook on his first and second voyages respectively. Tupaia died in Batavia en route home, but Omai made it back to Tahiti and died some time after.

    I bought a very interesting book by Nicholas Thomas on Cook's voyages and his interactions with the people he met at the airport last week. It goes into some detail about the politics of Tahiti at the time and the possible motivations of Tupaia and Omai. It has a lot to say about Cook's encounters with Maori too (which Tupia brokered - there was enough mutual intelligibility between Tahitian and Maori for them to understand each other well).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I bought a very interesting book by Nicholas Thomas on Cook's voyages and his interactions with the people he met at the airport last week.

    There were airports back then? And Cook was meeting people at them? It makes you wonder why he bothered sailing all that way.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I was interested in Omai, who Cook took back to England and was celebrated in aristo circles, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds and written about (poems to porn) extensively. Is Omai the same person as Tupia?

    Mai - dubbed Omai ("OhMy") coined by the English media of the time) was a young man who sailed to England on The Adventure , was feted by English society as you describe. The name Oh-My was created to market a musical stage show about Mai and Cook, and the name was considered cuter and catchier than just "Mai".

    Mai died a couple years after his return to Tahiti, as did the two young Maori boys whom Cook was going to take to England, and then return to NZ, but instead dumped in Tahiti, ostensibly under the protection of Mai, who had fallen out with the chief himself.

    Tupia was a bit older, much more learned and, when he sailed on __The Endeavour_ was instrumental in teaching Cook about the Tahitian navigation and geography and he proved to be a particulary valuable addition to the crew when he piloted them through the Society Islands. Tupia was also the artist of several sketches that had been attributed to Joseph Banks, and had acted as interpreter - both linguistic and cultural - for Cook thoughout their voyages. He died of scurvy/typhoid - along with half of Cook's men - when their ship was in Batavia.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I saw Vincent Ward's new film and was quite overwhelmed by it - it's really sad, really interesting and you are certainly right that as many of these stories must be recorded before the very last of them fade out.

    Paul Reynolds once described the Treaty claims process as "a story machine". Basically, in the course of collecting written and oral evidence to advance a claim, you get this hugely useful spin-off of people's stories going on the record.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22830 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    That book Discoveries (which I bought at the airport, not Cook, curses this is why I'm not a professional writer) which I mentioned has some of Tupaia's drawings in it. One of the things Nicholas Thomas stresses is that representational drawing was a complete novelty yet after watching Banks & co Tupaia took to it straight away.

    One of the strengths of the book is that it draws on oral histories from Tahiti and Hawaii etc to try and get some perspective from the other side as it were.

    Cook was bemused and discomfited as he discovered that the peoples of different islands knew each other's locations, were clearly related, and evidently could get around without a sextant or any other technological navigation aids.

    dyan correct me, but Tupaia was an actual chief, whereas (O)mai wasn't - it was just that when he was in England that he was treated as such, and did nothing to discourage the idea.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Cook was bemused and discomfited as he discovered that the peoples of different islands knew each other's locations, were clearly related, and evidently could get around without a sextant or any other technological navigation aids.

    And at a great rate of knots.

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4411 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    dyan correct me, but Tupaia was an actual chief, whereas (O)mai wasn't - it was just that when he was in England that he was treated as such, and did nothing to discourage the idea.

    Mai was indeed "a commoner" according to Anne Salmond's book The Trial of the Cannibal Dog .

    Leafing through her bookI can't quite find where Cook and his men first meet Tupia - but if I remember correctly he was not a chief either, but was as important as a chief - in some ways more important. He was regarded in his own country as a very learned man in spiritual beliefs as well as being an authority on all things practical, from sailing and navigation to natural history and botany. He was hugely respected but I don't think he was one of the chiefs.

    Cook's men disliked him very much as they felt he was insufferably proud and there was much ill will generated by his close friendships with Parkinson, Banks, Cook and other officers, as the english sailors were irked by their commanders behaving in such a deferential and respectful way to a Tahitian.

    Anne Salmond's book is by far the most fascinating (and meticulously researched) of all the many books on this subject I've read.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    I mean Tupaia, lazy typing here.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    As far as the Euro mindset goes, with regard to explorers, first settlers & wanderers - i hadn't realised how much it was conditioned by fantasy. Utopian literature was around - one I came across by a guy called Gabriel de Foigny "The Southern Land, Known" from 1676 was about an imaginary voyage to Terra Australis, which he conceived as "there, such qualities [of society] will be fully antipodal to European norms; an artificial perfection of the environment...complemented by human perfection." Plainly a fantasist, his Australians are physically and culturally identical, who know of no differences capable of arousing passion or causing conflict - they have achieved an ideal harmony.(!) They are also hermaphrodites.

    Omai - i kept wishing he had left a diary or something. It must have been mind blowing for him. Thanks for the extra on him, Dyan, and the Thomas book, Stephen.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Bob Munro,

    The Wellington artist Michel Tuffery, who has Tahitian ancestry, has been making for some years, artworks in his Cookie series exploring the First Contact between Europeans and the Pacific.

    Inspired by his reading of Anne Salmond's The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas Tuffery reinterprets historical events, offering a Pacific experience and voice. Salmond's work delves into the mindset of Cook and his men and in so doing she provides the opportunity for the Pacific to play a role in these explorers’ tales. The important role that both Tupaia and Mai played on Cook's voyages as well as the psychological impact the Pacific had on Cook is just beginning to be investigated. It is only in the last decade that the identity of the 'artist of the first mourner' has been revealed. Tupaia, a priest and navigator from Tahiti, befriended Cook, and was the first Pacific Island artist to use Western materials.

    We now assume that it was Tupaia who led Cook to map the Pacific, and it was Cook's relationships with both Tupaia and Mai that enabled him to broker the positive relationships with the Pacific peoples he encountered. In this exhibition we witness Tuffery's interpretations of the interactions between Pacific peoples, of the pacification of Captain Cook, and of the events that make up First Contact.

    Christchurch • Since Aug 2007 • 418 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    I see First Contact has been and gone at Pataka - botheration! I have seen some of Tuffery's corned beef bulls, but not paintings.

    i wonder if Tupaia drew or painted the Englishmen? Would be interesting to see what he made of them.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Bob - I saw that exhibition! And I did think of Tuffery's paintings when I was reading about Cook in Tahiti.

    Anne Salmonds is profusely thanked in Nicholas Thomas' book and her work (__Between Worlds__) cited as a source.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Shep Cheyenne,

    To me the most vivid works of Michael's are the ones as of Pacific peoples relationship to the sea. Huge canvases with people shoving whole fish, heads first in their mouths.
    Can't recall if it was his or his brothers but to me the coolest piece was the Fruit-bat burnt into the back of a skateboard.
    Free wine at gallery openings - good times.

    Since Oct 2007 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    .

    Jackie -- The Bridge can't be in NZ outside of a festival or academic context. I imagine it's for the obvious reasons but I can't seem to find any decisions on the Chief Censor's website. It is on DVD in Australia and Google video (of course)

    Thanks for that, David. I just watched it online. Interesting that there is no suicide barrier on that bridge. I read the original article "Jumpers" in the New Yorker that the film was kind of based on, and San Franciscans logic seems to be that it would spoil the aesthetic beauty of the bridge and that people would find somewhere else to jump from. I don't think anybody's jumped from our Harbour Bridge for years, and certainly not Grafton Bridge after they put the barriers up. I wonder why, with about two dozen people a year choosing the Golden Gate bridge as a way to end their lives, the authorities still won't do anything. There was research quoted in the article, also, that revealed that of the people who were prevented from killing themselves, 94% were still alive quite a number of years later. It was a film that brought up some interesting questions, certainly.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And on a more prosaic level, I really hope Bill Gosden is going to be up here and banging some heads together after this fiasco:

    Organisers of the Auckland International Film Festival have been left counting their losses because of a ticket-sales fiasco that has also left punters fuming.

    The festival finishes its 17-day run tomorrow having screened more than 150 separate programmes at more than 350 sessions.

    Screenings were spread across four city venues _ the Civic, the Academy, SkyCity's Queen St cinemas and the SkyCity Theatre in the Hobson St casino complex _ as well as, for the first time this year, the Lido in Epsom and the Bridgeway in Northcote.

    But the annual orgy of filmgoing has been marred by massive confusion over ticketing.

    Some patrons were told that sessions were sold out when they were not, and long queues for counter sales delayed starting times or meant that patrons missed the opening minutes of films.

    The problem arose because the festival was dealing for the first time with two ticketing systems.

    Ticketek has done festival ticketing in the past, but this year The Edge, which manages the Civic, required the festival to use its own newly established ticketing arm for that venue.

    Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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