Hunt For the Wilderpeople

I’ve been trying to start this write-up for about five minutes now, and have spent that whole time just passionately soft-singing to myself: “Majestical / We are the Wilderpeople / Skux life.

Y’know what, large statement time: Taika Waititi could be my favorite filmmaker working today. This is because he regularly takes topics that are not inherently nice at all, and turns them into one of the funniest and sweetest things I have ever seen. If I were to tell you the premise and several subsequent developments of Hunt For the Wilderpeople, this movie would sound so dark and intense! But instead, somehow, we get the most kindhearted ride-or-die misfit buddy picture ever to come out of New Zealand. Likely the whole planet.

If you like any of the following things, this is the movie for you:

– What We Do In the Shadows
– found families
– sincerity
– laffs
– screen legend Sam Neill being upstaged by a 13-year-old Māori boy
– literacy
– a movie where female characters are allowed to be hilarious and odd and older than 35
– haikus
– badassery
– those parts of Moonrise Kingdom where an original choral song with bells would play over footage of trees
– footage of trees, especially ones in the New Zealand bush
– things that are good

I just really love this one very much, what can I say. It’s a triumph of weirdo heart. I can already tell it’s going into my small repertoire of under-the-radar gems I point-blank pitch to friends and occasional strangers. Only Lovers Left Alive. Over the Garden Wall. Hunt For the Wilderpeople.

Wonder Woman

I went to see this at 6:00pm on a bright June Saturday, and there were so many excited little girls in the audience with their parents, and I just started crying right then. I had a wonderful time.

There are things we know about superhero movies. There will be expense, there will be quips, there will be booming music, there will be falls that look like they would really hurt. The final battle will drag on for too long, but even though the movie could have stood to be an easy 30 minutes shorter, you still enjoyed yourself for the period of time you spent in this big grand world, rooting for our champion to save us.

And Wonder Woman is all of those things, no more no less. There’s really only one difference here: you spend that period of time in a big grand world rooting for a lady champion. And this is what kept me crying (for half an hour longer than I should have).

There was this one moment in the latter half of the movie, when Diana is urging a swift horse through a forest, off to save someone, silver sword on her back, and for a few beats some Howard Shore-style horns rise into the score. “She’s Arwen,” I whispered to myself through a fresh wave of tears. Because she’s all of them, she’s every sidelined female hero I’ve ever met, like they all run through her. A lineage, an ancestry. A matriarchy. Every glorious, valiant woman in someone else’s story, finally given her own forest to run through — and her own forest to save.

Save us, Wonder Woman.