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Film Openings

Week of June 25, 2003

Whale Rider. Niko Caro. Much like Bend It Like Beckham or Real Women Have Curves, Niki Caro's sound, smart, sweet and significant crowd-pleaser (liberally adapted from the novel by Witi Ihimaera) takes an elegant approach to its feminist salvo. Our focal point is Paikea (wunderkind discovery Keisha Castle-Hughes), a preteen Maori girl named by her bohemian father, Porourangi (Hollywood staple Cliff Curtis), after the male ancestor who originated the Ngati Konohi tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, a thousand years prior, arriving astride a whale. Pai's being a girl doesn't please her sternly traditionalist, unrepentantly sexist grandfather Koro Apirana (terrific Rawiri Paratene), so she strives to earn his acceptance and respect -- and claim her tribal destiny -- helped along by her whip-smart grandmother Nanny Flowers (energetic Vicky Haughton) and noble uncle Rawiri (charming Grant Roa). Caro's desire to make men look silly wears thin, but otherwise she relates Maori sensibilities and culture with great affection and aplomb, delivering a film as important as, yet generally more audience-friendly than, 1997's Once Were Warriors. Opens Friday, June 27, at the Hi-Pointe. (Gregory Weinkauf)

28 Days Later. Danny Boyle. Opens Friday, June 27, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

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