Martin Blythe’s work as a publicist includes the Transformers and Shrek franchises. Long ago he directed cult car culture film Queen Street, before deciding filmmaking was far too egotistical an exercise. Kiwi-born Blythe went on to gain a PhD in film and TV, review films for The Listener, and write 1994 book Naming the Other: Images of the Māori in New Zealand Film and Television. He has been based in LA since 1984.
I road-showed the film through New Zealand secondary schools, using my teaching contacts. Not only did we make our money back, we met many inspiring English teachers and kids who loved the film. Most adults didn't approve. In fact many hated it. Martin Blythe, on Queen Street
Scriptwriter Philippa Boyens has described Alice Sebold's bestselling book The Lovely Bones as "brutal, surprising, gorgeous". A tale of murder and how the victim's family and friends try to deal with it, the story is told from the perspective of the victim — 14-year-old Susie Salmon. For the movie adaptation. Peter Jackson and his Weta FX team engaged in more Heavenly Creatures style world-building, rendering an afterlife for Susie that "alters and shifts" with her mood. Time praised the film's "gravity and grace", plus Saoirse Ronan's BAFTA-nominated performance as Susie.
Three friends cruise inner-city Auckland in a 1946 Ford pickup, as they cope with the changing dynamic of their friendship and encroaching demands of the adult world. In the tradition of American Graffiti it captures the hope promised by a night on the town and a reality that struggles to meet expectations — punctuated by hoons, officious cops and dodgy tow truck operators. Queen Street is a fascinating look at Kiwi car and street culture in the pre-boyracer era, and a snapshot of a downtown that has changed markedly since 1981 when the film screened on TV.