The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From September 1

Head to the flicks to see a genie-in-a-bottle romance by 'Mad Max: Fury Road' filmmaker George Miller and the return of the 'Orphan' franchise.
Sarah Ward
Published on September 01, 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.



No one should need to cleanse their palates between Mad Max movies — well, maybe after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, depending on your mileage with it — but if anyone does, George Miller shouldn't be one of them. The Australian auteur gifted the world the hit dystopian franchise, has helmed and penned each and every chapter, and made Mad Max: Fury Road an astonishing piece of cinema that's one of the very best in every filmic category that applies. Still, between that kinetic, frenetic, rightly Oscar-winning movie and upcoming prequel Furiosa, Miller has opted to swish around romantic fantasy Three Thousand Years of Longing. He does love heightened drama and also myths, including in the series he's synonymous with. He adores chronicling yearnings and hearts' desires, too, whether surveying vengeance and survival, the motivations behind farm animals gone a-wandering in Babe: Pig in the City, the dreams of dancing penguins in Happy Feet, or love, happiness and connection here.

In other words, although adapted from AS Byatt's short story The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye, Three Thousand Years of Longing is unshakeably and inescapably a Miller movie — and it's as alive with his flair for the fantastical as most of his resume. It's a wonder for a range of reasons, one of which is simple: the last time that the writer/director made a movie that didn't connect to the Mad Max, Babe or Happy Feet franchises was three decades back. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that this tale about a narratologist (Tilda Swinton, Memoria) and the Djinn (Idris Elba, Beast) she uncorks from a bottle, and the chats they have about their histories as the latter tries to ensure the former makes her three wishes to truly set him free, is told with playfulness, inventiveness, flamboyance and a deep heart. Much of Miller's filmography is, but there's a sense with Three Thousand Years of Longing that he's been released, too — even if he loves his usual confines, as audiences do as well.

"My story is true," Swinton's Alithea Binnie announces at the get-go. "You're more likely to believe me, however, if I tell it as a fairy tale." Cue another Miller trademark, unpacking real emotions and woes within scenarios that are anything but standard — two people talking about their lives in a hotel is hardly fanciful, though. The tales that the Djinn relays, with debts clearly owed to One Thousand and One Nights, also dwell in the everyday; some just happened millennia ago. The Djinn loved the Queen of Sheba (model Aamito Lagum), but lost her to the envious King Solomon (Nicolas Mouawad, Mako). He then languished in the the Ottoman court, after young concubine Gulten (Ece Yüksel, Family Secrets) wished for the heart of Suleiman the Magnificent's (Lachy Hulme, Preacher) son Mustafa (singer Matteo Bocelli). And, in the 19th century, the Djinn fell for Zefir (Burcu Gölgedar, Between Two Dawns), the brilliantly smart but stifled wife of a Turkish merchant.

What spirits the Djinn's time-hopping memories beyond the ordinary and into the metaphysical, and Alithea's narrative as well, is the figure first seen billowing out of blue-and-white glass, then filling an entire suite, then slipping into white towelling. Something magical happens when you pop on a hotel bathrobe — that space and that cosy clothing are instantly transporting — and while Alithea resists the very idea of making wishes, she gets swept along by her new companion anyway. As a scholar of stories and the meanings they hold, she knows the warnings surrounding uttering hopes and having them granted. She also says she's content with her intellectual, independent and isolated-by-choice life, travelling the world to conferences like the one that's brought her to Turkey and then to the Istanbul bazaar where she spies the Djinn's misshapen home, even if her own backstory speaks of pain and self-protective mechanisms. And yet, "I want our solitudes to be together", she eventually declares, and with exactly the titular emotion.

Read our full review.



What's more believable — and plot twists follow: a pre-teen playing a 33-year-old woman pretending to be a nine-year-old orphan, with a hormone disorder explaining the character's eerily youthful appearance; or an adult playing a 31-year-old woman pretending to be a lost child returned at age nine, again with that medical condition making everyone else oblivious? For viewers of 2009's Orphan and its 13-years-later follow-up Orphan: First Kill, which is a prequel, neither are particularly credible to witness. But the first film delivered its age trickery as an off-kilter final-act reveal, as paired with a phenomenal performance by then 12-year-old Isabelle Fuhrman in the pivotal role. Audiences bought the big shift — or remembered it, at least — because Fuhrman was so creepy and so committed to the bit, and because it suited the OTT horror-thriller. This time, that wild revelation is old news, but that doesn't stop Orphan: First Kill from leaning on the same two key pillars: an out-there turn of events and fervent portrayals.

Fuhrman (The Novice) returns as Esther, the Estonian adult who posed as a parentless Russian girl in the initial feature. In Orphan: First Kill, she's introduced as Leena Klammer, the most dangerous resident at the Saarne Institute mental hospital. The prequel's first sighted kill comes early, as a means of escape. The second follows swiftly, because the film needs to get its central figure to the US. Fans of the previous picture will recall that Esther already had a troubled history when she was adopted and started wreaking the movie's main havoc, involving the family that brought her to America — and her time with that brood, aka wealthy Connecticut-based artist Allen Albright (Rossif Sutherland, Possessor), his gala-hosting wife Tricia (Julia Stiles, Hustlers) and their teen son Gunnar (Matthew Finlan, My Fake Boyfriend), is this flick's focus.

Like their counterparts in Orphan, the Albrights have suffered a loss and are struggling to move on. When Leena poses as their missing daughter Esther, Allen especially seems like his old self again. As also happened in Orphan, however, the pigtail- and ribbon-wearing new addition to their home doesn't settle in smoothly. Orphan: First Kill repeats the original movie's greatest hits, including the arty doting dad, the wary brother, taunts labelling Esther a freak and a thorny relationship with her mum. Also covered: suspicious external parties, bathroom tantrums, swearing to get attention and spying on her parents having sex. And yes, anyone who has seen Orphan knows how this all turns out, and that it leads to the above again in Orphan, too. Thankfully, that's only part of Orphan: First Kill's narrative.

Twists can be curious narrative tools; sometimes they're inspired, sometimes they're a crutch propping up a flimsy screenplay, and sometimes they seesaw between both. Orphan: First Kill tumbles gleefully into the latter category, thanks to a revelation midway that's patently ridiculous — although no more ridiculous than Orphan earning a follow-up in the first place — and also among the best things about the movie. It's a big risk, making a film that's initially so laughably formulaic that it just seems lazy, then letting a sudden switch completely change the game, the tone and the audience's perception of what's transpired so far. That proved a charm for the thoroughly unrelated Malignant in 2021, and it's a gamble that filmmaker William Brent Bell (The Boy and Brahms: The Boy II) and screenwriter David Coggeshall (Scream: The TV Series) take. Working with a story by David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It) and Alex Mace (who earned the same credit on the original), it's one of their savviest choices.

Read our full review.


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 June 2, June 9June 16, June 23 and June 30; and July 7, July 14, July 21 and July 28; and August 4, August 11, August 18 and August 25.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Mothering Sunday, Jurassic World Dominion, A Hero, Benediction, Lightyear, Men, Elvis, Lost Illusions, Nude Tuesday, Ali & Ava, Thor: Love and Thunder, Compartment No. 6, Sundown, The Gray Man, The Phantom of the Open, The Black Phone, Where the Crawdads Sing, Official Competition, The Forgiven, Full Time, Murder Party, Bullet Train, Nope, The Princess, 6 Festivals, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Crimes of the Future, Bosch & Rockit, Fire of Love, Beast, Blaze and Hit the Road.

Published on September 01, 2022 by Sarah Ward
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