June movie guide: Guy Pearce stars in NZ film, Will Smith is back, and Garfield

Will Smith, Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe ... and Garfield ... headline this month's movies on the big screen.

Will Smith, Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe ... and Garfield ... headline this month's movies on the big screen. PHoto: TND

When Australian actor Guy Pearce was handed the script to play a British preacher who gets caught up in the 1830s Māori wars in The Convert, he says he found it “very raw, moving, and fascinating”.

“It was just very emotional, and I could really see myself as that character,” he tells New Zealand’s NZME Radio.

Best known for more than 400 episodes of Neighbours, L.A. Confidential, Memento, and The Time Machine, alongside his breakout role in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Pearce, 56, says working with NZ director Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors) was inspirational.

The story goes that when Thomas Munro (Pearce) arrives in the tiny coastal settlement of Epworth in 1830, he finds discontent, suspicion and friction.

After saving the life of a chief’s daughter, Rangimai (Tioreore Ngatai-Melbourne, Hunt for the Wilderpeople), Munro is thrust into political intrigue during the devastating Musket Wars between Māori tribes.

Tamahori portrays Māori communities and culture in the early days of colonialism while weaving in Munro’s past which intrudes on the bloody conflict surrounding him.

Filmed in widescreen on location including Whatipu Beach, and making its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival late last year, an early review said: “The Convert delivers gripping drama and extraordinary action.”

For Pearce, the crux of the story was around his character.

“We’re finding a character who’s been traumatised and is looking to find himself and in discovering this other culture, he is allowed to then find himself and he therefore owes this other culture.

“His life was the crux of the story,” he says.

Changing pace, we also see the return of Oscar bad boy, Will Smith, to the big screen, after his infamous on-stage slap to host Chris Rock during the 2022 Academy Awards.

His self-imposed exile – nor his 10-year ban from attending Academy events – didn’t stop him making movies, and he’s back with a fast-paced action thriller in the Bad Boys trilogy alongside funnyman Martin Lawrence.

And if animation is where you’re at, look no further than The Garfield Movie – voiced by Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt, or Inside Out 2 – which premiered in Sydney with Amy Poehler on the red carpet.

The Garfield Movie, May 30

Garfield, the world-famous, Monday-hating, lasagna-loving indoor cat, is about to have a wild outdoor adventure. Once voiced by Bill Murray, director Mark Dindal turned to the Jurassic Park action actor because he’s got “a natural, sarcastic sort of laziness” about his voice which works for the character.

Unsung Hero, May 30

This biopic follows David Smallbone as he moves his family from Australia to the US for a better life. The couple’s seven children then become some of the most successful acts in contemporary Christian music.

Little Richard: I Am Everything, June 2

A one of a kind rock ‘n’ roll icon who shaped the world of music, this documentary tells the story of the black queer origins of rock n’ roll, “exploding the whitewashed canon of American pop music to reveal the innovator – the originator – Richard Penniman”.

Using archival footage, interviews with family, musicians, and black and queer scholars, the film reveals how Little Richard created an art form for ultimate self-expression.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die, June 6

Starring Smith and Martin Lawrence as “Miami’s finest”, and Vanessa Hudgens, the Bad Boys trilogy continues with a mix of action and outrageous comedy but this time these two are on the run.

The Watchers, June 6

The Watchers follows Mina, a 28-year-old artist who gets stranded in an expansive, untouched forest in western Ireland.

Directed by daughter of M Night Shyamalan (Knock at the Cabin, The Sixth Sense), Ishana makes her directorial debut with this supernatural horror flick starring Dakota Fanning.

She plays Mina, an artist stranded in an Irish forest with three strangers, they’re stalked by mysterious creatures each night.

“Prepare to be captivated by the unknown,” says the official synopsis.

Inside Out 2, June 13

Disney and Pixar’s sequel introduces a new emotion – anxiety. Don’t worry, it’s been promoted as the feel-good, feel everything movie.

The Exorcism, June 13

Russell Crowe has made another film about possession. No, he’s not reprising his role as Father Gabriele Amorth in The Pope’s Exorcist, nor riding around on a moped through the cobbled streets of Rome.

This time he plays a troubled actor who begins to unravel on set while shooting a horror film. His estranged daughter wonders if he’s slipping back into his past addictions, but if the trailer is anything to go by, it looks like he’s got the devil inside.

Despicable Me 4, June 20

Steve Carell (The Office) once again voices Gru, the beloved former supervillain, with perfect timing.

A Quiet Place: Day One, June 27

This is a spin-off prequel to the first two films, and will chronicle the beginning of the invasion by terrifying alien creatures with an acute sense of hearing.

Emily Blunt isn’t in it (although she’s shown in the opening), and it features a brand-new cast of characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Joseph Quinn, Alex Wolff, Djimon Hounsou and Denis O’Hare.

Topics: Movies
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