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Eye of the Taika - a new book on the films and comedy of Taika Waititi

12 Dec 2021

Taika Waititi's films take three of the New Zealand Box Office Top 10 Films, including the top two Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy. Taika's unique style of film-making has also made him one of the most in-demand film directors internationally. His second Marvel Comics movie Thor: Love and Thunder is out next year… Video, Audio

Sunday 12 December 2021

Available Audio (8)

12:16  Eye of the Taika - a new book on the films and comedy of Taika Waititi

Dr Matthew Bannister

Dr Matthew Bannister Photo: supplied

Taika Waititi's films take three of the New Zealand Box Office Top 10 Films, including the top two Hunt for the Wilderpeople and Boy.

Taika's unique style of film-making has also made him one of the most in-demand film directors internationally.  His second Marvel Comics movie Thor: Love and Thunder is out next year, and there's a huge sense of anticipation over a new Star Wars film that Taiki is both writing and directing.

Dr Matthew Bannister from Wintec reckons the time is right for an academic book about the filmmaker and his contribution to movies, particularly the Kiwi film industry.

Eye of the Taika - New Zealand Comedy and the Films of Taika Waititi is the result.

Matthew tells Lynn Freeman that the idea for the book came to him while at the cinema watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople in 2016.  The reaction of the audience was extraordinary, he says.

Eye of the Taika: New Zealand Comedy and the Films of Taika Waititi is published by Wayne State University Press of Detroit, Michigan.


12:30  The Birds of Ray Ching

Ex-pat Kiwi Ray Ching is regarded as one of the world's greatest living painters of birds.  His latest book is filled with paintings and drawing he's made of the manu of his homeland over the past six decades.

But Ray Ching: New Zealand Bird Paintings is more than a series of stunning pictures. Ray also pays his tribute to the many species of birds long extinct here, as well as the chances of current birds surviving.

Ray lives in Wiltshire now, and paints his work in a studio filled with taxidermy and pieces of paper.

Working with Ray on this big book has been his long time friend and agent, Jonathan Gooderham, and author Geoff Norman.

Lynn Freeman speaks with Jonathan and Geoff, and first asks Jonathan about a photo in the book of Ray's workspace.

Ray Ching: New Zealand Bird Paintings  is published by Potton & Burton.

12:45  Julie Graham and the Queens of Mystery

British actress Julie Graham - star of many TV shows including The Bletchley Circle, William & Mary and Shetland - was quick to produce a drama filmed on smartphones during the UK's extended lockdown last year.

It's called Dun Breedin and it deals with something Julie cares deeply about - mid-life women and the extra challenges they face, including dealing with ungrateful children!

Julie's also about to star in a second series of the Queens of Mystery whodunnits, where three crime-writing aunts help their police officer niece Matilda to solve tricky cases.

And in her spare time she's recently wrapped up filming a seventh series of another hugely popular crime show, Shetland, in Scotland.

Lynn Freeman first talked to Julie Graham about Queens of Mystery, a show that offered actresses like her in their 50s some rare good roles.

Series One of Queens of Mystery is streaming now on Acorn TV and Series Two isn't far away.



1:10 At The Movies


Dune Photo: supplied

Simon Morris reviews sci-fi blockbuster Dune, a Disney animated feature Encanto and a quirky biopic on Amazon Prime, The electrical world of Louis Wain, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.


1:32 The multi-skilled Hannah Tasker-Poland

Hannah Tasker-Poland may well be the most multi-skilled artist we've had on Standing Room Only over the past 20 years.

Based in Tāmaki Makaurau, Hannah's a dancer - though she prefers "movement alchemist"!  She's a choreographer, a performance, movement and burlesque artist, an actor, and a body paint and prosthetics artist.

She's also the Director of arts company projectMUSE, where she acts as a stunt performer, artist, life model, producer and tutor. 

Right now though, thanks to the lockdowns wrecking her scheduled arts projects, Hannah's working on a building site.

But soon she'll be returning to burlesque for Auckland's annual Splore Performance Festival in February.

Lynn Freeman was curious about Hannah's building site job.


1:50 Brother and sister team Rebecca and Daniel Nash 

Sister and brother Rebecca and Daniel Nash have collaborated on a new book that celebrates the power of imagination and the beauty of our native birds.

Their grandfather is respected painter and printmaker Stanley Palmer, so creativity is very much in the family DNA.

Rebecca is a poet who teaches creative writing.   She wrote Wilbur's Walk after her partner's sudden death and when her daughter was a toddler.  She often walked around the Lyttleton bays with her little girl, whose reaction to the world around her was often surprising.

Her brother Dan would join them on those walks, and he was the natural choice to illustrate Wilbur's Walk with his dreamlike and surreal pictures. 

Lynn Freeman talks with Rebecca and Dan, who remember growing up in a family that celebrated creativity.

Wilbur's Walk is published by Mary Egan Publishing.


2:06 The Laugh Track - Annie Whittle

Annie Whittle

Annie Whittle Photo: Reuben Looi

Annie Whittle has had a dazzling career, and one that's been garlanded with copious awards already.   She started out as a cabaret singer, before surprising herself by turning into a pop star.

She then surprised everyone else by showing an unexpected talent for comedy, more than holding her own in that otherwise blokey sketch show A week of it.  Since then  she's become one of our finest straight actors - on TV, on stage and on film - notably as Sir Anthony Hopkins' better half in The world's fastest Indian and in a heart-breaking turn in Bellbird.

Early next year, Annie will be back on stage in the Tony-nominated play Grand Horizons.  And we're delighted she's agreed to be our last guest on the Laugh Track this year.

Annie Whittle's choices include The Goon Show,  Catherine Tate, Victor Borge and from the Internet "Information Hotline" with Rachel Harper.

2:26  Susan McConachy, Palmerston North arts advocate

Since arriving in Palmerston North in the 1970s, Susan McConachy has taught hundreds of locals to play the piano, encouraged people facing all kinds of obstacles to get involved in the arts, and helped to save the city's much-loved, historic Regent Theatre, 

Susan's a formidable fundraiser, spearheading a campaign that raised well over $1.7 million for the Regent on Broadway's extensive renovations as well as its prized Steinway grand piano.

This dedicated arts advocate and educator is one of the region's 2021 Civic Award winners.

Susan tells Lynn Freeman she still loves teaching the piano.

2:37   Christopher Parker's The Lighthouse

Christopher Parker

Christopher Parker Photo: supplied

No caption

Photo: supplied

18-year-old Amy is mourning her mother's death when we meet her in The Lighthouse, the debut novel by Takapuna-based Christopher Parker.

Her father Kevin is desperate to help her, but fears that their relationship is broken beyond repair because he was away from home so much when Amy was growing up.

He takes her to the seaside town of Seabook on America's West Coast, where the big tourist attraction is an historic lighthouse.

There Amy meets a troubled young man called Ryan who's unintentionally about to cause his father a whole lot of grief.

Christopher Parker tells Lynn Freeman that it was seeing a lighthouse in the distance while walking along Takapuna Beach that was the starting point for the novel.

The Lighthouse by Christopher Parker is published by Beacon Press.


2:48  Sci-fi author Bryan Walpert and the matter of time

Bryan Walpert

Bryan Walpert Photo: supplied

No caption

Photo: supplied

Time spent at the Centre of Time at the University of Sydney helped writer Bryan Walpert get his head around the logistics of time travel for his new novel Entanglement.

Bryan is a Professor in Creative Writing at Massey University, Auckland, with a novella, a short story collection, four books of poetry and two of literary criticism to his name.

Entanglement though is rather different.  For a start it has three different time strands. 

There's a time traveller who's landed in the 1970s from the future, in a desperate bid to save his twin brother's life.   But his memory is impaired, and he has few clues to work with.  

There's a novelist who's firmly in 2011 in Sydney, who finds love while researching at the Centre of Time.

And in 2019, an obsessive writer is trying, and failing, to come to terms with his marriage ending.

Lynn Freeman talks with Bryan Walpert about the joys and pitfalls in writing about time travel.

Entanglement by Bryan Walpert is published by Mākaro Press.


3:06 Drama at 3 -  Newly Wed and Cabbages

Two plays in today's Classic Drama spot:  Newly wed by Sarah Laing, and Cabbages by Kay Corns.


Artist: Erika Eigen
Song: I want to marry a lighthouse keeper
Composer:  Eigen
Album: A Clockwork Orange
Label:  Warners
Played at: 12.12

Artist: The Fireman (Paul McCartney)
Song: Light from your lighthouse
Composer:  McCartney
Album: Electric arguments
Label:  ATO
Played at: 12.29

Artist: Jill Scott
Song: Lighthouse
Composer: Colson-Ellis
Album: Woman
Label: Atlantic
Played at: 12.58

Artist: The Roots
Song: Lighthouse
Composer: Jenkins-Trotter
Album: Undun
Label:  Defjam
Played at: 1.07

Artist: Tanya Donnelly
Song: To the Lighthouse
Composer: Donnelly
Album: This Hungry Life
Label:  Eleventhirty
Played at:  1.44

Artist: Lighthouse Family
Song:  High
Composer: Baiyewu-Tucker
Album: Postcards from heaven
Label: Polydor
Played at: 1.58

Artist: Conrad Veidt
Song: Where the lighthouse shines across the bay
Composer: Gray-Leigh
Album: Square deal
Label: HMV
Played at: 2.05

Artist: Mary Black
Song: Lighthouse light
Composer:  Cavanaugh
Album: Stories from the Steeples
Label: Planet
Played at: 2.58

Artist: Ocie Smith
Song:  Lighthouse
Composer: Udall-Goodman
Album: Poetry in Motion
Label: Cadence
Played at: 3.05

Artist: Arcade Fire
Song: The well and the lighthouse
Composer: Arcade Fire
Album: Neon Bible
Label: Spunk
Played at: 3.58