June 14, 2007

Eagle vs Shark.

Eagle vs Shark "Eagle vs Shark is nothing more and nothing less than a romantic, New Zealand variant of Napoleon Dynamite in which mockery of mental midgets is partially obscured by sympathy for their perfectly klutzy love," writes Nick Schager at Slant. "That Taika Waititi's film attempts to mitigate derision with something approaching sincere compassion gives it a small step up on its cult-fave ancestor, but any minor improvements made to the Napoleon Dynamite template are offset by its wholesale derivation."

Updated through 6/15.

"[T]he quirky indie is wrong for our time," protests Michael Joshua Rowin. "The insular arrested development peddled by these films signals the regression of their makers and target audience into the Never Neverland of self-deprecating navel-gazing and ridicule. A calamitous, unquirky universe exists too conspicuously inside and outside our selves, and beyond the suffocating confines of ironic amusement, for this film to be the least bit relevant or amusing." Also at indieWIRE, Brian Brooks profiles Loren Horsley.

"You can't see the forest for the twee in writer-director Taika Waititi's thicket of cutesy conceits, from the stunted supporting characters to the precious animated interludes," writes Jim Ridley in the Voice.

But not everyone's down on it. "Calling it a romantic comedy undermines its charm, because Eagle vs Shark has a goofy sweetness about it that's less interested in playing up the question of whether its two main characters will wind up together in the end than simply indulging the immediate fun of watching them interact," writes Eric Kohn in the New York Press.

"It's a perfectly cheerful time at the movies, without any hint of drama or surprise," adds Salon's Andrew O'Hehir.

In the Los Angeles Times, Jeff Goldsmith notes that Eagle and HBO's new series, Flight of the Conchords "both star Kiwi actor Jemaine Clement as an off-putting outsider," and explains how that came to be.

For Filmmaker, Nick Dawson talks with Waititi "about being nominated for an Oscar, a possible career as a fashion designer, and why a time machine would be useless to him."

Stephen Saito talks with Waititi and Horsley for Premiere.

Chris Willard reports on the NYC premiere for the Reeler.

Earlier: "Sundance. Eagle vs Shark."

Update: "Eagle vs Shark cannot quite escape the twin traps of forced whimsy and sticky sentimentality," writes AO Scott in the New York Times. "That it comes close is the result of Mr Waititi's dry, efficient direction and the devotion of Mr Clement and Ms Horsley, who believe absolutely in the integrity of their characters long after everyone else, in the movie or watching it, has grown tired of them."

Updates, 6/15: "There's an undercurrent of savagery to the love story of Lily and Jarrod," notes Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times. Regardless, "after a while you start feeling like they deserve each other and you deserve better."

Peter Smith at Nerve: "[Y]ou're expected to watch this poor girl get picked on by her boyfriend and then be happy for them both when he comes around. That's either cloying or mildly upsetting."

IndieWIRE interviews Waititi.

J├╝rgen Fauth notes that it "reeks of the Sundance workshop where it was conceived... which is to say it features a road trip, a quirky dysfunctional family, and a couple of awkward lovers who dress up in silly costumes.... Eagle vs Shark may sound entirely predictable, and it's true that it doesn't add much to the quirky romance sub-genre, but the film does have one major asset: Loren Horsley."

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Posted by dwhudson at June 14, 2007 7:06 AM