Movie award season has rolled around again, and tonight is the Golden Globes. It will be hosted by Ricky Gervais, so it's guaranteed to be a hoot. And of course, the nominees are all the usual suspects -- Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, George Clooney ... together with some interesting movies. A friend and I were chatting today about movies, and I said if I were to be asked to name my favorite movie of all time -- without even giving it much thought, just off the top of my head -- it would be a 2002 movie called "Whale Rider". And I can almost guarantee that most of you have either never heard of the movie, or have never seen it. It's an independent movie filmed in New Zealand, taken from the award winning book written by Witi Ihimaera. To quote some of the film critics: "This film is so stunningly beautiful to look at--and such an uplifting story--that you can understand why it has won so many audience awards at festivals all over the world."
"A film of elegant simplicity that seamlessly combines reality and mythology. It's also one of the year's most beautiful films."
Keisha Castle-Hughes, the young lady who played the lead role of Paikea "Pai" Apirana, was 11 years-old when she was cast in the movie. She had not had any previous acting experience, and went straight from her school room to the set of the movie. When "Whale Rider" was completed, the movie was nominated for several awards, including Keisha Castle-Hughes for an Acadamy Award for Best Actress. Her performance as Paikea was astonishing.
"My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the whale rider. I'm not a prophet, but I know that our people will keep going forward, all together, with all of their strength."
"Whale Rider" is billed as a family movie, but it is actually a bit edgy, and not at all "Disneyfied". It deals with several layers of issues with which I think people from all parts of the world can identify, and it deals with them in a humorous rather than a "preachy" manner. It's a visually beautiful movie, and I love the scene where the young men are learning the Maori Haka dance. If you're looking for something really different, something non-Hollywood -- that doesn't have Meryl Streep or George Clooney in it, although I do enjoy Meryl Streep and George Clooney too -- pick up "Whale Rider" at your video store, and be prepared for some movie magic.
I would be interested to know what is your all-time favorite movie -- just off the top of your head -- without really thinking about it. What springs to mind? I'm always looking for different movies to watch.