The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From June 30

Head to the flicks to see a phenomenal British social-realist romance.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 30, 2022

Something delightful has been happening in cinemas in some parts of the country. After numerous periods spent empty during the pandemic, with projectors silent, theatres bare and the smell of popcorn fading, picture palaces in many Australian regions are back in business — including both big chains and smaller independent sites in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

During COVID-19 lockdowns, no one was short on things to watch, of course. In fact, you probably feel like you've streamed every movie ever made, including new releasesStudio Ghibli's animated fare and Nicolas Cage-starring flicks. But, even if you've spent all your time of late glued to your small screen, we're betting you just can't wait to sit in a darkened room and soak up the splendour of the bigger version. Thankfully, plenty of new films are hitting cinemas so that you can do just that — and we've rounded up, watched and reviewed everything on offer this week.



All plot, all the time: that's how some filmmakers craft movies. Every scene leads to the next, then to the next and so on, connecting the story dots so that event A plus event B (plus event C, event D, event E and more) neatly equals wherever the narrative eventually ends up. Clio Barnard is not one of those writers or directors. Every scene always leads to the next in every film that tells any tale, no matter who's spinning it, but much of what happens in the Dark River and The Selfish Giant helmer's movies doesn't change, shift or drive the plot at all. Indeed, her features often have storylines that seem straightforward, as the tender and tremendous Ali & Ava does. But that uncomplicated appearance — including here, where a man and a woman meet, sparks fly, but complications arise — couldn't be more deceptive.

In Ali & Ava, that man and woman are indeed Ali (Adeel Akhtar, Killing Eve) and Ava (Claire Rushbrook, Ammonite), both residents of Bradford in Barnard's native West Yorkshire. He's a working-class landlord — a kind and affable one, noticeably — from a British Pakistani family, and was once an EDM DJ. She's an Irish-born teacher's assistant at the school where one of Ali's tenants' children attends. Frequently, he's on drop-off and pick-up duty, because he is that helpful to his renters. So, when the skies open one day during his school run, Ali offers Ava a ride home rather than seeing her walk to the bus in the pouring rain. They chat, click, laugh, bond over a shared passion for music and slowly let their guards down. But what would a romance be, especially an on-screen one, if the path to love truly was effortlessly smooth?

With a lyrical social-realist bent that'd do Ken Loach, living patron saint of British lyrical social-realist filmmaking, proud — see: Loach's I, Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You for his two most recent examples — Barnard unpacks everything that roughs up Ali and Ava's tentative courtship. But there's another English director who springs to mind, too, thanks to the way that Ali & Ava can turn from poignant to portentous in a second: This Is England and The Virtues' Shane Meadows. His work finds bliss and joy in ordinary, everyday moments, and also violence and menace as well. One can become the other so quickly that, if it didn't all feel so genuine and authentic, a case of whiplash might be the end result. All three filmmakers possess a commitment to detailing lives that aren't typically fodder for celluloid dreams; all three, including Barnard with The Selfish Giant and now Ali & Ava, make features in the vein that are potent, perceptive, dripping with empathy and as emotionally raw as films come.

Ali, friend to everyone, is troubled by more than just regret about no longer hitting the decks. He has a wife, Runa (Ellora Torchia, Midsommar), who no longer loves him or wants to be with him. But he's too proud to tell his family, so they still live together while she keeps studying. That brings judgement his way, with his sister Usma (Krupa Pattani, Ron's Gone Wrong) vocal in her disapproval about his growing closeness with Ava. It makes Ava apprehensive as well, unsurprisingly. She already has enough of her own worries as it is, caring for her five kids — some of which have had kids of their own — as a single mother. One, her son Callum (Shaun Thomas, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children), remains affected by his father's death a year earlier, and also his parents' breakup before that. He's far from welcoming to Ali as a result, terrifyingly so, hating even the idea of him as his mother's potential friend.

Read our full review.



In his 2017 feature debut, French writer/director Bertrand Mandico took to the sea, following five teens who were punished for a crime by being sent to a mysterious island. Sensual and lurid at every turn, The Wild Boys was never as straightforward as any description might intimate, however — and it proved both a tempest of influences as varied as Jean Cocteau, John Carpenter and David Lynch, and an onslaught of surreal and subversive experimentation several times over. Much of the same traits shine through in the filmmaker's second feature After Blue (Dirty Paradise), including an erotic tone that's even more pivotal than the movie's narrative. Mandico makes features about bodies and flesh, about landscapes filled with the odd and alluring, and where feeling like you've tumbled into a dream most wonderful and strange is the instant response.

Tinted pink, teeming with glitter, scored by synth, as psychedelic as bathing in acid and gleefully queer, the fantastical realm that fills After Blue's frames is the titular planet, where humanity have fled after ruining earth. As teenager Roxy (debutant Paula-Luna Breitenfelder), who is nicknamed Toxic by her peers, tells the camera, only ovary-bearers can survive here — with men dying out thanks to their hair growing internally. In this brave new world, nationalities cling together in sparse communities, with roving around frowned upon. But that's what Roxy and her hairdresser mother Zora (Elina Löwensohn, Mandico's frequent star) are forced to do when the former meets and saves a criminal called Kate Bush (Agata Buzek, High Life), who she finds buried in sand, and are then tasked by their fellow French denizens with tracking her down and dispensing with her to fix that mistake.

If Dune met The Love Witch, the resulting film still wouldn't be as seductive, kaleidoscopic and phantasmagorical as After Blue — a picture that, as The Wild Boys also proved, has to be seen to be truly understood. Obviously, that's accurate of every movie; again, though, Mandico couldn't be more disinterested in making features that can be neatly summarised or unpacked. He isn't fond of holding back, either, and so After Blue dives straight into its maximalist adventure quest, ramping every sight, sound and performance up to levels that'd do This Is Spinal Tap proud. His latest release isn't a mockumentary, but an exercise in excess over and over that's turned up far past 11. Guns are named after designer brands like Gucci and Chanel; Kate Bush sports a third eye between her legs that sparks stirrings in Roxy; pleasure bots are the only masculine presence sighted, and even then they're forbidden; cigarettes wriggle like insects; and goo drips and oozes whenever it can, for instance.

As well as pre-empting the current Stranger Things-inspired Kate Bush mania by almost a year (After Blue first premiered at the Locarno Film Festival in August 2021), Mandico doesn't make brief features. With a sizeable array of shorts to his name dating back to 1998's Le cavalier bleu, he seizes his opportunities when he's playing with long-form flicks. That gives After Blue more than two hours to luxuriate in its look, sound and vibe — a 70s-meets-80s sci-fi/western heaven — but also makes its narrative feel slight. Of course, the tale itself isn't the main attraction, but the style-over-story focus also doesn't scuttle into the background. But whenever the plot lags or zips by, aka Mandico's two pacing struggles, tentacles slide into view, nipples shoot metallic balls, a line of dialogue becomes a hilariously absurd gift, and either cinematographer Pascale Granel (Simple Passion) or composer Pierre Desprats (Olga), or both, deliver a piece of sound and/or vision that's trippy and sublime.


If you're wondering what else is currently screening in Australian cinemas — or has been lately — check out our rundown of new films released in Australia on March 3, March 10, March 17, March 24 and March 31; April 7, April 14, April 21 and April 28; and May 5, May 12, May 19 and May 26; and June 2, June 9June 16 and June 23.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as The Batman, Blind Ambition, Bergman Island, Wash My Soul in the River's Flow, The Souvenir: Part IIDog, Anonymous Club, X, River, Nowhere Special, RRRMorbius, The Duke, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Fantastic Beasts and the Secrets of Dumbledore, Ambulance, Memoria, The Lost City, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Happening, The Good Boss, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, The Northman, Ithaka, After Yang, Downton Abbey: A New Era, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, Petite Maman, The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly JohnsonDoctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Firestarter, Operation Mincemeat, To Chiara, This Much I Know to Be True, The Innocents, Top Gun: Maverick, The Bob's Burgers Movie, Ablaze, Hatching, Mothering Sunday, Jurassic World Dominion, A Hero, Benediction, Lightyear, Men, Elvis, Lost Illusions and Nude Tuesday.

Published on June 30, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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