THE FILMS OF TAIKA WAITITI
I wanted to take a moment out of my regularly scheduled self-promotion on this here web zone to share my infatuation with the films of this fine dishevelled gentleman, Taika Waititi (pronounced joyously: Ti-kuh Why-tee-tee).
The ability to balance comedy with emotional stakes is a constant in many of my favourite films — ie. films from filmmakers like Edgar Wright, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Noah Baumbach (when paired w/ Greta Gerwig), Billy Wilder, John Hughes, Charlie Chaplin, so I'm here to say that if you enjoy those folks you need to catch up with Taika Waititi at your earliest convenience.
The first film I saw from Waititi was the best damn film-going experience I've ever had...
Halifax's Outlier Film Festival, a festival dedicated to showcasing genre films, was screening WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014).I knew nothing about the film other than it was a vampire mockumentary from New Zealand, so I was surprised to see the Bus Stop Theatre packed to capacity (which was 60 people, for the small indy black box theatre).
The lights went dark and before long, all 60 of us were all cackling and knee-slapping in unison. 90 minutes later, the lights came back up and I was absolutely floored. I hadn't been a part of a collective experience like that ever before, where every moment landed as intended, the highs & the lows, the emotional reality of something so silly as vampires living in a flat.
The second film was 2010's BOY...
Again, I went in blind, avoiding reviews or trailers, and again, I was floored. The ability to balance comedy with drama has always been the way straight to my film-loving heart and BOY's coming of age story set in the beautiful New Zealand landscape showcased some incredibly impressive tonal gymnastics, and it was at this point that I was convinced that Taika Waititi was a filmmaker to pay attention to.
The third film, which sealed my love for Waititi, was 2016's HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE...
Unlike the previous two films, I couldn't help myself from diving in and getting an early look at this film. The trailers looked incredible and the early buzz from critics was overwhelmingly positive. I was going into this one with the often-deadly "high hopes". I'm happy to report that the film delivered as Waititi managed to draw me in with laughs, heart, and some solid action scenes (all while providing some subtle social commentary on institutional colonialism).
Comedy is super subjective, of course, but I think the key for comedy is sincerity, and that is something that I think is sorely missing in much of comedy today. Waititi's characters have hopes & dreams that they strive for, and that is where I fall in love with his films.
SINCERITY > FLIPPANCY 👌
Up next, Waititi is directing THOR: RAGNAROK, which combines my fav Avengers, Thor & Hulk, and also apparently features a John Cena cameo, so I'm glad to hear that Marvel has been receiving my letters.
That's all for now. Check out some Waititi flicks and let me know what you think, yo. <3