Jo Jo Rabbit


Viewed – 17 May 2020. Online rental

A young boy living in World War II Germany idolises Adolf Hitler to the point of having an imaginary friend who bares more than a passing resemblance to the Fuhrer. With dreams of joining the German Army and hopes of becoming a Nazi, one day he finds all he loves thrown into question upon discovering a Jewish girl hiding in the walls of his house.

Directed by Taika Waititi (Thor Rsgnorok) who also takes on the role of Hitler, this irreverent and unusual approach to the WWII conflict boldly blends satire and surrealism with a profound commentary on the innocence of youth during war time. Coming off as a bit of comedy at first seems rather bad taste but as the story unfolds it became clear that the viewpoint is solely that of a ten year old boy, who’s young mind has been overloaded with propaganda. However the murkier aspects of the Nazi regime lurk in the background, and despite many an absurd moment, still manages to have an impact. This is down to solid performances across the board, especially Roman Griffin Davis as Jo Jo and Thomason McKenzie as Elsa, although support from Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell are also memorable.

Waititi manages the inconceivable by delivering a light tone to the war without ‘making light’ of the war, leading to many effectively poignant moments such as when Elsa remarks about her parents ‘my parents went to a place they can’t come back from.’. A sharply written, brilliantly performed and unique approach to a difficult subject.

Verdict: Essential.

What We Do In The Shadows


Viewed – 02 September 2016  Netflix

A satirical fly-on-the-wall documentary following the day to day activities of a group of flatmates … who just happen to be vampires.  It’s a good idea and one I sat down to with intrigue and curiosity.  An unseen film crew are given the opportunity to follow around these ‘creatures of the night’ as they go about their vampire ways, luring innocent humans to dinner parties only to kill and feed on them, or night clubbing only in clubs they get invited inside of and trying to avoid confrontations with the neighbourhood werewolves.

what-we-do-in-the-shadows

This New Zealand effort is cleverly observed, ticking all the vampire mythology boxes and with a group of interesting personalities with each vampire coming from different eras in history, I found myself really getting into this.  The story such as it is doesn’t really have much to it as far as an all that interesting series of situations and we’re basically just watching these creatures squabble, talk about their pasts and do vampire stuff like flying or turning into bats (in a stand out, funny fight scene).  It sits on an uneasy precipice between satire and all-out comedy, and although it leans more towards comedy, its not really that funny despite fairly sharp dialogue and decent performances.  However effects work including some slapstick gore and the aforementioned flying and transforming is done well, even if make-up effects are more miss than hit.

Overall this was a quirky idea that worked mainly down to it’s cast and less down to it’s structure or writing; like the maker’s had a great idea but were not entirely sure what to do with it.  That being said, this is worth seeing basically because it’s an original take on a very familiar subject.

Verdict:  3 /5