Fans of New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi will describe his films as if they were beaming rays of sunshine, providing so much happiness and warmth.
His work has won over audiences everywhere, and his witty humour and indie stylings have led him all the way to the top. Marvel Studios hired him to helm the third instalment of the Thor films - Thor: Ragnarok - of which many argue is the best one of the series; perhaps even one of the best offerings of the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. He injected the world of Thor with so much fun, energy and spirit, without ever having to sacrifice his own style and direction.
Many filmmakers would have taken the job and crafted a film which conformed to the tone of its predecessors. Bizarrely, Waititi approached the material as if he were making an indie, just with millions at his disposal. The heart of an indie filmmaker radiates from the film’s core, and the film feels like a young boy kicking back and having fun with the most expensive toys money can buy. The fact that he managed to make such a high-concept venture feel uniquely his is so wonderful, and it’s likely to open up further opportunities for humble filmmakers. After great success, one would expect him to continue up the ladder and secure even bigger budgets for increasingly ambitious projects. Not Taika Waititi.
His directorial feature-debut - Eagle vs Shark - was released in 2007, the same year which he began working on episodes of hit show Flight of the Conchords, both of which starred the brilliant Jemaine Clement. Early on, there was evidence of a sensational sense of humour, which he wholeheartedly reinforced with his 2010 film Boy. This remains his best work, and currently stands as one of the very best indie-comedies of the decade so far. Waititi exhibited an unparalleled charm on and off screen, and he continued to impress more and more audiences with subsequent efforts What We Do in the Shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
Official Competition jury Member Taika Waititi attends the Award Ceremony during the 75th Venice Film Festival at Sala Grande on September 8, 2018 in Venice, Italy.
Waititi’s success rate over the course of the current decade couldn’t be clearer, making it even more admirable that he has decided to continue making the sorts of films he would have made ten years ago. Jojo Rabbit certainly doesn’t sound like a high-budget project, nor does it sound like a conventional comedy. Its synopsis describes a film that perhaps only he could execute; A second world-war satire about a young boy confiding in his imaginary friend to shield him from loneliness. Sounds quirky and lovely, but this is in fact a dark-comedy. His imaginary friend resembles an incredibly inaccurate vision of Adolf Hitler, and will be played by Waititi. This is definitely a risky road to take after a $180 million blockbuster.
This would sound like such a poorly-advised project from anyone other than Taika Waititi. He has a great sense of humour, and most audiences are ready to trust him, alongside an impressive cast featuring the likes of Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant. Jojo Rabbit looks all set for release in 2019, and it has already become one of the most insanely promising cinematic proposals of the incoming year. Waititi is a director who defies expectation, but raises them with every feature he helms.
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