Thursday, December 13, 2007

Today is the end of another start of different era for Stefan Albinski golfer, tax guru and Austrac expert Ski of Champions ;-) Aha, the Marriott Hotel puts on a great Ritzy Christmas spread ...

If you thought Christmas get-togethers couldn't get any worse, you never went to one with Norman Mailer. As the season kicks off, Frances Wilson discovers why literature is full of tales of disastrous parties Parties: a literary survival guide

The World's Longest Literary Honeymoon A little Tax Help

Throughout history, taxes and all things associated with them have been universally loathed. In the Bible, Jesus was thought to be quite peculiar because he hung about with tax collectors. During the Middle Ages, the Hundred Years War was fought because of, amongst other things, excessive taxation. Taxes too helped bring about the American War of Independence: Great Britain was levying duties upon its colonies, and not allowing them a say in how those monies were spent, “no taxation without representation.” More recently, Margaret Thatcher lost her popularity because of a brouhaha over taxes, and in Australia John Howard once very nearly lost his job over the introduction of GST. We don’t like it, this legalised theft. We work hard for what little income we get, and resent any amount of it being taken away by the faceless boffins at the tax department. This attitude means we enjoy immensely any story in which Inland Revenue gets its comeuppance, and take great relish when the little person triumphs over horrid bureaucracy. Stories where taxmen are brought to their knees are usually inspiration for amazing deeds (how many revolutionaries have aped the Boston Tea Party?), and one might think such a tale, such a true story, that happened in our own New Zealand, could make a particularly juicy film. One might think that; one would be wrong.

We’re Here To Help has, at first glance, all the makings of a rollicking yarn. It’s Joe Public fighting Faceless Government Behemoth! It’s Chivalrous Man defending the honour of Beautiful Damsel! It’s quite literally David and Goliath, and, just like always, David emerges triumphant and justified, but there’s something lacking: “interest.” The synopses of the film describe it as a “saga of Kafkaesque and yet comedic proportions.” It’s not. Dave Henderson is treated execrably and is constantly frustrated by the IRD, but to describe his experience as Kafkaesque is not merely hyperbole but does a disservice to Franz Kafka himself. Others have compared We’re Here To Help to that classic of Australian film The Castle (1997). It’s not even close. The Castle was cleverly scripted, brilliantly cast, and delightfully acted. We’re Here To Help: not so much. The acting is rather stilted and the dialogue a little verbose. Erik Thompson (The Black Balloon, Beautiful, Somersault) has been well-cast, but only because he bears a passing resemblance to the real Dave Henderson. Michael Hurst (I’ll Make You Happy, Desperate Remedies, The Tattooist) doesn’t do quite as good an impression of Rodney Hide as he’d like to think, and succeeds only in looking like Michael Hurst in a fat suit and a bald wig. Worse still, the plot isn’t actually that appealing. WE’RE HERE TO HELP (NZ 2007)
DIRECTOR Jonathan Cullinane
WRITER Jonathan Cullinane
CAST Erik Thomson, Miriama Smith, Geoff Clendon, Jason Hoyte, John Leigh, Stephen Papps, Michael Hurst, Peter Elliott, Greg Johnson
NZ RATING PG Contains coarse language
NOTES Based on the book Be Very Afraid, by Dave Henderson

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