Thursday, October 07, 2010

Insatiable moon rising: film review

The Insatiable Moon is launched in New Zealand cinema’s today, while the UK premiere is in London screening at Cineworld, Haymarket on the 11th October at 7:30pm. (Tickets from the cinema.)  Do go and see it, it’s a grand mix of life, humour, spirituality and ethical dilemna.  (A list of New Zealand venues is here). Below is my Touchstone review (an interview with screenwriter Mike Riddell is here)

It has taken many a month for the moon to cast its golden glow on this Kiwi film. Mike Riddell, currently writer, and formerly Ponsonby Baptist church minister, wrote his first work of fiction in 1997.

Titled “The Insatiable Moon,” it introduces John, walking the streets of Ponsonby, with a commitment to bless every passing wall and bench and his friend Arthur, who believes he is the second son of God.  With their boarding house under threat from Ponsonby gentrification, Arthur senses a mission from God, first to save his psychiatric haven and second to shower his love on the Queen of Heaven.

Kiwi movies tend to be bred with a dark underbelly, from the haunted hills of “Vigil” to the secrets buried “In My Fathers Den.”  “The Insatiable Moon,” a film dealing with the clash between mental health and urban gentrification, has a similar potential. Happily, the movie demonstrates a simple commitment to bless contemporary life, infusing human pain and suffering with an earthy humour and gentle mystery.

The movie, directed by Mike’s wife Rosemary, includes a number of well-known Kiwi actors, including Rawiri Paratene (best known as Koro in “Whale Rider”) as Arthur and Sara Wiseman (Danielle in “Outrageous Fortune”) as Margaret the Queen of Heaven. However any Kiwi Oscars surely belong to Arthur’s boarding house companions, including Ian Mune, Lee Tuson and Rob McCully.

Two scenes – one pastoral, the other prophetic – remain etched in one’s memory long after the final credits roll. These scenes showcase Mike Riddell’s remarkable talent, the artist’s ability to sketch life, the mystic’s eye for the spiritual in the ordinary.

The first is the funeral of John (Mike Innes) and the pastoral drama created by the open mic and the pain of colliding narratives. It allows a superbly theological reflection on God and the suffering of being human. The scene is a must see for all those who stake allegiance to a God of love in a world of suffering.

The second is the public meeting, another collision of narratives, this time of developer with Ponsonby locals. Arthur’s entrance is superb, a powerful enactment full of strength, oratory and tenderness.  Another must see scene for all those who yearn for prophetic transformation in our urban communities today.

“The Insatiable Moon” debuted in July at the New Zealand Film Festival and becomes a general release at Rialto cinemas throughout New Zealand from October. Pleasingly, it gained commendation from the Mental Health Foundation. Less commendable is the efforts of the New Zealand Film Commission, who pulled their promised funding. This means that credits can only roll for the persistence of Mike and Rosemary and many other believers in the power of story and the potential of human creativity.

Nevertheless, “The Insatiable Moon”, casts a few shadows. Plot purists will point to a proliferation of characters that make for a slow paced beginning. Theologians will expect more evidence than a cold Kiwi pie as proof of resurrection. Ethicists will remain uneasy about the centrality of adultery for human transformation.

Gladly, such shadows seem to grow strangely dim in the light of the magic cast by “The Insatiable Moon” and it’s celebration of people, Ponsonby and human possibilities.

For another Kiwi take, go here.

Posted by steve at 06:20 AM


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    Pingback by Tweets that mention sustain:if:able kiwi » Insatiable moon rising: film review -- — October 7, 2010 @ 8:38 am

  2. Can’t wait to see it.

    Comment by Bill Kinnon — October 9, 2010 @ 8:46 am

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