FILM REVIEW: 'Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon and other stories'

Hunt charms...

> Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon and other stories
4 stars (out of 5)

Director: Tim RoseCast: Sam Hunt, Brian Edwards, Colin Hogg, Robin White, Gary McCormick, Karyn Hay, C. K. Stead, Noel Crombie, David Kilgour, Dick Frizzell
Rating: (M) Festival screenings

Sam Hunt has been New Zealand's best known and most flamboyant poet for almost 40 years now.

A wailing figure with his stove-pipe jeans, open shirt and greying curls, he has been an impersonator's dream, someone we observe with nervous delight. Plus, he has written some fine poetry.

Sam Hunt: Purple Balloon and other stories (International Film Festival) has a tossed-together feel about it. With some archival footage, the talking heads of Hunt's intimates explaining his appeal and the man himself polishing his mythology it easily could have been indigestible.

Instead it charms with its casualness. People keep asking "are you filming now?" and somehow it becomes endearing.

Hunt is clearly not telling us everything and we like him for it. It feels very "in the moment".

If they had filmed him at another time he would have told a different set of stories, because he is not a honed media performer trotting out the same highly polished anecdotes whenever the record button is pushed.

The other delight is how incredibly consistent he has been. The only changes between then and now seems to be more lines and a shift from beer to wine.

Best thing: The nostalgia of it all. The stories of Hunt's family background show clearly we were not a simpler people back then, we just refused to go on about things.

Worst thing: It tries a little too earnestly to mimic Hunt's frayed-at-the-edges charm when a more linear approach would have helped the audience.

See it with: A Kiwi. In a strange way this is the male counterpoint to the Topp Twins movie. At one point Hunt even introduces himself and Gary McCormick as the Bottom Twins.

See it at Rialto, Dunedin, on Wednesday August 4 at 6pm, or Thursday August 5 at 11.30am.

- Christine Powley.


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