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Movie Review – Billy T: Te Movie

Like Mike
Like Mike

It’s amazing to think that Billy T died over 20 years ago and that a whole two generations have been born since, of which there are massive amounts of people who only know of the man through highlight reels and reruns. Being 10 when he died, even I can’t say I saw his best stuff with my own eyes when it first hit our screens, but I was old enough to know we lost a great entertainer when he passed away at such a young age. So, being the powerhouse he was, it was only a matter of time before his life story was going to be put into film form, but I thought it might be a narrative film rather than a documentary. However, when I heard that ‘Billy T: Te Movie’ was coming out from New Zealand director Ian Mune, in documentary form, I was excited that the story of this man who I knew little about, was finally being brought to life on the big screen.

“Celebrates the life of the legendary Billy T James, New Zealand's best-loved entertainer. The film explores Billy's extraordinary talent as musician, singer, comedian, actor, writer and artist . . . it even attempts to uncover the source of his trademark giggle. With humour and love, the film tells of Billy's meteoric rise to national fame and his tragic downfall into ill-health and financial collapse. Featuring digitally re-mastered footage of Billy's performances and never-seen-before archival images, Billy T's story is set alongside interviews with his family, friends and colleagues. Audiences will leave with laughter in their hearts and tears in their eyes.”

This was an interesting documentary, as it had a few elements that you don’t normally see in such films and even a couple of re-enactments that just didn’t seem to make sense. If they had used them all through the film then I could understand, but to use two short ones near the beginning and then drop the use of them entirely from then on, just didn’t sit well with me as both a film maker and viewer. But, despite that, this was a nicely made film and really did deliver a good level of production values. As it was nearing the end though, I did have in my mind that it wasn’t being emotional enough to really hook me into what I knew was coming. However, when it did come, it was handled brilliantly and hit me very quickly, and I must say that was masterfully done! I really enjoyed this film, and really hope people get out there to see it, as I think there are still a lot of younger people out there who have no idea how talented this man was!

8.5 out of 10 from me.

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