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Joanna Hunkin: Time for a little reflection

opinion Joanna Hunkin

By Joanna Hunkin ONE News Entertainment Reporter

Published: 5:21AM Wednesday December 21, 2011 Source: ONE News

I know, I know, it's a terrible cliche. But really, where did the year go? This time next week, Christmas will be done and dusted for another year.

So before we pack it in, pop the bubbles and check out completely, it's time for a little reflection. 

One of the most common questions I get asked as an entertainment reporter is: "What famous people have you met? And what are they like?"

So let's start there. 2011 saw me come face to face with a host of famous names: Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Dave Grohl and most recently, Robin Williams.

Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl was undoubtedly the most interesting of the lot. He was relaxed, friendly and generally just a really good dude.

He was here raising money for Christchurch - the band paid their own expenses to come and play the Auckland Town Hall in March, which raised more than $350,000. 

That in itself speaks volumes about the kind of guy Grohl is. He did a live cross with us backstage from the Town Hall and had to hang about while we waited for the cue to go live.

Most celebs wait with their entourage before an interview - shielded from the media until the last possible moment.

But not Dave. He came over about 10 minutes beforehand, did his best news anchor impersonation, asked questions about what we did and generally interacted like a normal human being.

That might not sound like much of a feat but in the weird world of entertainment it's a rarity.

Reese Witherspoon  was friendly enough in the moments before our interview - joking that I looked like her. But as soon as the cameras were rolling, she was all business.

It's not that she was cold but any spontaneity or normal conversation went out the door. She was there to talk about a movie - and nothing was going to draw her away from that task.

Sarah Jessica Parker was the opposite. While she was very polite upon our meeting, there was a distinct disconnect between myself and the star. She delivered long rambling responses to my questions that actually bore no relation to what I had asked. It was an awkward and uncomfortable interview in person - but strangely, magically, looked great on camera.

When I watched the tapes back, I couldn't believe how charismatic and bright she seemed. She has a presence on camera that is totally lacking in the flesh.

Then there was Robin Williams , who sat like a naughty school boy next to Happy Feet director George Miller. He sat quietly while George gave his answers, before offering his own thoughts.

At least, that's what happened for the first two minutes. After that, he clearly forgot his good behaviour bond and began slipping into funny voices and making ever so slightly lewd references.

It culminated in a crowning two-minute monologue about his new wife - part of which was in Spanish - which left the room full of publicists, camera crew and assistants in fits of laughter.

Of course, not everyone I meet is an A-lister. In fact, the best interviews rarely are.

One of my favourite stories I've covered this year was that of David Dallas . The rising rap star who decided to put his money where his mouth is, move to New York and release his album online for free.

I first met David in May as he was about to release his second album, The Rose Tint. I was expecting a hip hop big baller who talked a big game. Instead, I met a thoughtful, slightly reserved rapper who's obsessed with tennis (big fan of Djokovic) and owns no discernible bling.

Last month I revisited Dallas at his pop up store , where he was releasing a deluxe edition of his album - in response to overwhelming demand from fans who wanted a physical record they could buy. The album debuted at #3 on the NZ album charts - an astounding feat given the album had already been available online, for free, for six months.

Dallas is part of a wider trend we saw in 2011 of excellent Kiwi music. As the year draws to a close and I begin to compile my "best of 2011" lists, I've realised most of the top contenders are homegrown: Gin Wigmore, Bic Runga, Liam Finn, Kimbra etcetera.

The same can't be said, however, for New Zealand cinema. Or filmmaking in general. It's been a lacklustre year at the box office - revenue is down below 2009 levels - despite the rising cost of ticket prices and proliferation of 3D films.

Things started well enough with the King's Speech but soon descended into an underwhelming line up of generic superhero pap.

The final instalment of Harry Potter was a fitting end for the super franchise and provided one of the few cinematic highlights of the year. It earned one of the few five-star ratings I passed out this year, alongside Mike Leigh's Another Year and TT3D.

It's only now as Hollywood gears up for another awards season, we're seeing anything of note hit cinemas.

If you get bored of the beach this summer, keep your eyes peeled for Martin Scorsese's delightful fantasy tale Hugo. It's a visual delight and one of Scorsese's most accessible films to date. Although be warned, despite its young lead this isn't really a family affair.

Meryl Streep is also sensational as an aged Margaret Thatcher in the Iron Lady - a story that is as much about growing old as it is about the infamous politician.

The much anticipated Tin Tin will also hit theatres on Boxing Day - and is well worth the wait. And Robert Downey Jnr makes a welcome return in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows.

So that's it! Roll on 2012 and hopefully a better line up of films and more great Kiwi music.