Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Gordonia: Movie Review

Gordonia: Movie Review

Rating: 7/10
Cast: Graham Gordon
Director: Tom Reilly
A doco about one man's fight to keep a little part of West Auckland free from the red tape of district councils.
Shot over a seven year period, Gordonia focuses on Graham Gordon and his fight against the Waitakere District Council and their push to try and get him to clean up what's called in TV archive reporting, a hippy haven.
Graham's land is littered with cars and transients and offers a respite to those who can't find the peace they need elsewhere.
But, perhaps inevitably with that kind of description, you can see how that may cause clashes - and Gordon's accused of breaching environment court acts as well as various district council pushes.
So it all comes to a head - with council members and the police moving onto his land to clear it up - and clashes are on the cards.
Gordonia is an intriguing look at bureaucracy and how it's affected one life - and indirectly many more.
Tom Reilly's film making's non-intrusive and documents the human face of legislation very well - it's a sly eye onto how lives are irrevocably changed by people sat behind desks.
But it's also maddening at times because with continual no-shows from the district council for interview, he's left only to onscreen captions to give their point of view - and that's frustrating because there's never a 100% rational debate (which maybe there never will be.)
However, it's Reilly's access to his subject and the people who live on the land (whom Gordon wryly notes "most of them are a bit different" before Reilly cuts to a guy with a mullet smashing a car with a hammer) which gives this doco a human face and an easy accessibility.
Yet it's Gordon who's the hero of this - a man so apparently baffled by the council's refusal to grant permits or to submit to reasonable requests that he's probably likely to be cheered on by many who've suffered at the hands of a faceless office worker and the brutality of bureaucracy.
He's got an overt humanity and ease of character - he's the kind of guy who when the pressure's on in court turns to his friend and remarks on the tie he's wearing rather than the possibility of facing jail.

Gordonia is a real slice of West Auckland and equally an insight into office life and district plan politics - whether any of it changes when we become the Super city remains to be seen.

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