Kiwi director Geoff Murphy started out self-funding his own spare-time productions on 16mm. Early efforts included action comedy Tankbusters and Uenuku, the first Maori-language film, followed by Wild Man (1977) starring Bruno Lawrence as one of a pair of conmen finding rich pickings in late 19th century gold mining communities, and Dagg Day Afternoon (1977), a zany vehicle for Wellington boot-wearing kiwi comic Fred ‘That’ll be the door!’ Dagg. Then came a real popular success – Goodbye Pork Pie (1981) sees a jilted husband hook up with a local nutball to drive from top to bottom of the country in a yellow mini to try and win her back, getting into many high- speed run-ins with the law and other New Zealanders along the way. Murphy’s follow up was even more off-the-wall, a western with Maori rebels led by Te Weke (an acting debut for former trade union leader Anzac Wallace), an ex-army corporal who swaps sides to exact revenge on the colonial government who have reneged on their land agreements and attacked villages. It’s chock full of action and gun battle scenes, shot in a fast-paced, wide-angle style for which the term ‘bravura’ could have been invented. But there’s more to it than straightforward white/black hat fare, as distrust ambiguous motives are felt and held by nearly all the characters. It’s a serious tale, but black humour seeps through, as does a hefty dose of violent slapstick – one memorable running gag sees settler Bruno Lawrence, descending into paranoid obsession after Te Weke kills his wife, trying to invent a Maori-stopping supergun by strapping first two, then four, then eight rifles together, with disastrous recoil results.Read More
Posts Tagged With 'Bruno Lawrence'
Roger Donaldson really hit his stride with this harrowing melodrama, in which a middle-aged car-obsessed father (played by cult NZ star, ex-Brightonian jazz drummer Bruno Lawrence) responds to his collapsing marriage by kidnapping his daughter and making for those photogenically remote landscapes. Smash Palace helped put NZ cinema firmly on the map and launched Donaldson into international league. After helming The Bounty (1984), a lavish telling of the naval chestnut with Mel Gibson as Mr Christian and Anthony Hopkins as Capt Bligh, came the likes of Cocktail, Species and, er, Cadillac Man.
ALSO WITH TERENCE ‘JASON’ DONOVAN
New Zealand maestro Geoff Murphy’s next film after mad Kiwi western Utu couldn’t have been more of a change of pace. Bruno Lawrence is a worker on a nebulously- defined ‘government scientific project’, which goes wrong and wipes out every living thing on Earth, except for (it seems) Lawrence. For the first half of the film, Lawrence wanders the deserted country, looting shops, pissing about with trains, berating cardboard cut- outs of historical figures, and slowly descending from anarchic delight into lonely depression. Then he discovers another, female, survivor, and the inevitable romance starts to develop, only to be stymied when a third, a massively-build Maori, turns up. The film then becomes a three-way emotional stand-off, before further scientific ‘events’ lead to an ambiguous, if not downright weird, ending.Read More
Peter Jackson’s blue-shirted zombie comedy Bad Taste (1987) was, surprisingly, not the first sicko splatter flick to stumble out of New Zealand. That honour goes to Davd Blyth’s no-budget gorefest, wherein a mad scientist hypnotises a young man to shoot his parents, and on his release, the kid goes after the old man in his zombie-ridden island laboratory. With plenty of flying gore played for shock/comic effect (including our old friend Bruno Lawrence as a hunchbacked zombie whose head explodes), it plays like a slightly more warped version of a Peter Jackson film. If such a thing is possible.Read More