New Zealand films – 5 of the best  

New Zealand has a longstanding tradition of producing some of cinema's most memorable movies. How many of these have you seen? More to the point, how well do they match with your own favourites?
Bad Taste (1987)
Peter Jackson has become universally-known as the director of special effects-laden but character-driven classics such as King Kong, and The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. But his first ever outing was a low budget science-fiction movie. Bad Taste was produced, written and directed by Jackson, and he also created the film's memorably gory special effects. The wacky plot pits humans against the aliens who have popped down to earth to harvest people as fast food. Absurdly gory tongue-in-cheek effects litter the film. Filmed in Jackson's Pukerua Bay hometown, it has become a cult classic.
Sione's Wedding (2006)
Bad behaviour around impending nuptials is not a particularly original concept, but Chris Graham's over-the-top comedy has enough priceless moments to raise it above the normal multiplex fodder. Along the way to Sione's marriage the protagonists find themselves facing various debacles, least of all the fact they have all been banned from attending for numerous indiscretions. The movie is co-written by and stars Oscar Kightley, whose claim to fame is his membership of comedy group 'Naked Samoans'.
Once Were Warriors (1994)
Director Lee Tamahori's unflinching portrayal of dysfunctional Maori family life and domestic violence is an unforgettable experience. Starring Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison, Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell and Julian Arahanga, the story tracks the fortunes of the Heke family in urban Auckland, exposing how the heavily-tattooed and extremely violent Jake (Temuera Morrison) drunkenly abuses his wife, while never losing his love for her either.
Smash Palace (1982)
Although director Roger Donaldson is more familiar for multiplex-fare such as the Tom Cruise vehicle Cocktail, this earlier 18-rated film was far edgier. Al Shaw (Bruno Lawrence) is a huge motor racing fan, his life revolving round his back country junkyard (the 'smash palace' of the title). His wife Jacqui (Anna Maria Monticelli) doesn't appreciate her position in his list of priorities. So when Al discovers her infidelity,he takes daughter Georgie (Greer Robson) and heads off into the bush on a journey of discovery.
Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Another earlier outing from director Peter Jackson, this drama focuses on the relationship between two friends, Pauline (Melanie Lynskey) and Juliet (Kate Winslett). When they find themselves out for revenge, their intense friendship spirals into dark and bloodstained depths.