Movie Reviews: Operation 8 and Last Paradise

By Russell Baillie

Add a comment
The film-makers of Operation 8 let you form your own impressions. Photo / Supplied
The film-makers of Operation 8 let you form your own impressions. Photo / Supplied

Operation 8 review

The trial from the protracted case resulting from the "anti-terror" raids of October 2007 was to have started this week. But yet another legal hurdle has meant the arrested 18's day in court is still to come. Had the case gone ahead, it may have helped spur interest in Operation 8, a doco which lets those initially accused of being homegrown terrorists have their say - about how the indignity and fear of that initial raid by 300 police, mostly in Ruatoki deep in Tuhoe territory, has become four years of hardship and harassment as the case has slipped further off the public radar.

But this clear-eyed, involving film stands on its own merits and deserves to be seen and debated.

It could have so easily become just a litany of complaints and activist political slogans to be endured rather than engaged by. While the police case - one which the Solicitor General declined to prosecute under 2002's post-9/11 Terrorism Suppression Act - is mainly represented by the post-raid press conferences of then Commissioner Howard Broad.

But directors Wright and King-Jones have assembled their material to flow effortlessly as a good yarn while making various cohesive arguments about issues surrounding the case.

They also let you form your own impressions of some of the 18 - ranging from the familiar moko of Tame Iti to Wellington defendant Urs, a Swiss activist anarchist clarinettist, whose woodwind stylings are clearly a danger to any decent society.

It also brings in the insights of various sympathetic academics, legal brains, veteran protestors and former police officers (including Ross Meurant) to discuss the case in a wider context and ponder the motivations behind the police actions and the interception warrants which preceded the raids.

Its cameras do spend a little long following repeated protest marches. But the footage of shady men in suits filming the marchers and, when the camera is turned on them, donning balaclavas and scooting away is priceless and adds neatly to this film's justified paranoid streak.

Of course, from where most of us sit, many of those arrested - rightly or wrongly - have some funny ideas about how The World Should Be. But what this doco says, articulately and credibly, is funny ideas shouldn't get your door kicked in and you stuck in a legal mire for four years.

Last Paradise review

Local DIY eco-adventure sports doco Last Paradise starts out as a personal history of Taranaki-based Clive Neeson, his family and his surfie/skiing mates' adventures which he faithfully captured on film over the years. He thought there might be a movie in that footage. He was right.

But it's also a bit of a rant supported by like-minded talking heads. Neeson narrates, attempting to join some disparate dots between those totems of good ol' Kiwi ingenuity - Lord Ernest Rutherford and Sir William Hamilton of jetboat fame - slaloming between hopes for fusion technology, our adventure tourism industry, big wave surfing, bungy jumping, global warming and increasingly bad weather.

That comes with a fair amount of baby boomer nostalgia (cue Cat Stevens song) and pronouncements that's it up to future generations to look after the place.

Yes, it can go on a bit. But you can't help but admire Neeson's many years of adrenalin-capturing camerawork, though it's not all his own footage, with extras including spectacular shots from Off the Edge, the hit local 1976 doco of two American ski bums hang-gliding the Tasman glacier.

And even if its attempt to make the film say something important about the state of the planet isn't particularly convincing, as a passionate valentine to the combined glories of surf, snow and gravity it's still compelling.

Operation 8

Stars: 5/5
Directors: Errol Wright and Abi King-Jones
Rating: Exempt Running time: 110 mins
Verdict: Best NZ "terrorist" film since Sleeping Dogs. And it's real

Last Paradise

Stars: 3.5.5
Director: Clive Neeson
Rating: Exempt
Running time: 100 mins
Verdict: Epic adventure home movie, with a message

- TimeOut

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 19 Sep 2014 04:36:24 Processing Time: 1024ms