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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From July 22

Head to the flicks to watch M Night Shyamalan's latest thriller, an entertaining Spanish comedy and the return of the 'GI Joe' franchise.
By Sarah Ward
July 22, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
July 22, 2021
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Something delightful has been happening in cinemas across the country. After periods spent empty during the pandemic, with projectors silent, theatres bare and the smell of popcorn fading, Australian picture palaces are back in business — at present, spanning both big chains and smaller independent sites in 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 releases, comedies, music documentaries, Studio 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.

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OLD

Ageing in a privilege. It's certainly better than the alternative. But what if life's physical ravages were condensed and accelerated? What if you were a six-year-old one moment, a teenager a few hours later and sporting middle-aged wrinkles the next morning? That's the premise of the insidious, moving, effective and also sometimes too neat Old, which boasts a sci-fi setup that could've come straight from The Twilight Zone, a chaotic mid-section reminiscent of Mother!'s immersive horrors, and a setting and character dynamics that nod to Lost. It slides in alongside recently unearthed George A Romero thriller The Amusement Park as well and, with M Night Shyamalan behind the lens, indulges the writer/director's love of high-concept plots with big twists. No one sees dead people and plants aren't the culprits — thankfully, in the latter case — however, surprise revelations remain part of this game. That said, unlike earlier in his career, when the filmmaker might've made the rapid passage of time the final big shock, Shyamalan isn't just about jolts and amazement here. Old has another sizeable reveal, naturally. Shyamalan is still the director behind The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, The Visit, Split, Glass and more, and he likes his bag of tricks. This time, though, he wants to play with and probe his scenario, and the emotions it inspires, rather than primarily tease his audience and keep them puzzling. 

That's what echoes as the about-to-separate Guy (Gael García Bernal, Ema) and Prisca (Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread) arrive at a luxe resort on a remote island with six-year-old Trent (Nolan River, Adverse) and 11-year-old Maddox (Alexa Swinton, Billions). Their kids have conflicting ideas about how to spend the getaway, but the hotel's manager (Gustaf Hammarsten, Kursk) tells the family about a secret beach, which they're soon heading to by mini-bus (driven by Shyamalan, in one of his regular cameos). Alas, with arrogant surgeon Charles (Rufus Sewell, The Father), his younger wife Chrystal (Abbey Lee, Lovecraft Country), their daughter Kara (debutant Kylie Begley) and his elderly mother Agnes (Kathleen Chalfant, The Affair) — and with famous rapper Mid-Sized Sedan (Aaron Pierre, The Underground Railroad), and couple Patricia (Nikki Amuka-Bird, The Personal History of David Copperfield) and Jarin (Ken Leung, a Lost alum) as well — Guy, Prisca, Trent and Maddox quickly discover that time ticks by at a much speedier pace on this supposedly idyllic patch of sand. The bulk of Old charts their reactions, plunging viewers into the confusion and heartbreak that results. Not only do the kids grow up fast (which is where Jojo Rabbit's Thomasin McKenzie, Jumanji: The Next Level's Alex Wolff and Babyteeth's Eliza Scanlen come in) in this vividly shot film, but any of the beachgoers' ailments are expedited, too.

Read our full review.

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ROSA'S WEDDING

The idea that a middle-aged woman might put her own interests first shouldn't be worthy of a movie. It should just be a given, as it is with men. But that still isn't the world we live in, so films like Rosa's Wedding keep offering cinematic slices of empowerment — here, in a feel-good, crowd-pleasing, but still smart and enjoyable way. This Spanish two-time Goya Award-winner gets savvy and playful with its title, too. Writer/director Icíar Bollaín (Yuli) and her coscribes Alicia Luna (Viva la vida) and Lina Badenes (also one of the feature's producers) know that mentioning matrimony usually brings a certain kind of rom-com to mind, because countless other flicks have gone down that path. And, there is indeed a ceremony in Rosa's Wedding. An extended family descends upon a scenic spot, relatives fuss and stress, and almost anything that can go wrong does, all in classic wedding movie style. The difference: 45-year-old Rosa (Candela Peña, Kiki, Love to Love), a constantly put-upon seamstress who is taken advantage of at her film industry job, always asked to watch her brother Armando's (Sergi López, Perfumes) young kids, tasked with keeping her widowed dad Antonio (Ramón Barea, Everybody Knows) company, and expected to always be at her daughter Lidia's (Paula Usero, Love in Difficult Times) beck and call, has decided to move back to the coastal town Benicassim that she grew up in to start her own dressmaking business. Also, to cement her commitment to her new future, she's also going to marry herself.

When they receive her wedding invite, Rosa's nearest and dearest are shocked and surprised to learn that she'll be walking down the aisle, but no one registers that she'll be the sole focus of the ceremony. Given how reliant they are on Rosa to run their errands and keep their messy lives in order — Armando is on the verge of divorce, Lidia has two newborns and an unhappy life in Manchester, and Rosa's sister Violeta (Nathalie Posa, Julieta) is an interpreter with a penchant for a drink — they couldn't fathom that she might be unhappy with the status quo anyway. Rosa's Wedding isn't subtle about how women of a certain age are thrust into set roles, even by those closest to them. It isn't big on nuance as it watches its titular figure claim her life back, either. But it's always spirited and astute regardless, not to mention likeable and engaging. And, there's also zero point in holding back when it comes to celebrating women breaking outdated and oppressive boundaries. Also, there's understatement in Peña's wonderful performance. It takes strength and courage for Rosa to first realise how miserable she is, then pledge to make a change, and finally to follow through. As shot in warm, naturalistic tones against its picturesque but never glossy backdrop, Rosa's new future isn't always assured, either, especially when everyone turns up for her big day and brings their baggage with them, and the misunderstandings and chaos only multiplies. 

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SNAKE EYES: GI JOE ORIGINS

Every film doesn't have to spawn a franchise, and most shouldn't; however, when a Hollywood studio teams up with a toy manufacturer to turn action figures into a movie, and then wants to keep using the latter to sell the former, apparently that stops being the case. That's why cinema audiences have been forced to suffer through the Transformers movies over the years, and why we also now have Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins, the latest addition that no one wanted to a dull saga that started with 2009's GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and then continued via 2013's GI Joe: Retaliation. Channing Tatum isn't part of the story this time around, with the focus shifting to the eponymous Snakes Eyes (Henry Golding, Monsoon). Before the character becomes a member of the GI Joe team, he's a man out to avenge the murder of his father (Steven Allerick, Westworld) from back when he was a kid. That quest first leads him into the employ of yakuza kingpin Kenta (Takehiro Hira, Girl/Haji), where he helps smuggle guns in giant dead fish. From there, he gets his shot with the Arashikage clan — a family-run enclave of Japanese powerbrokers that the ambitious Tommy (Andrew Koji, Warrior) thinks he'll lead next, is unsurprisingly wary of outsiders, but eventually and after much suspicion from head of security Akiko (Haruka Abe, Cruella) lets Snake Eyes undertake its secretive testing process to become a member. 

It's a credit to director Robert Schwentke (Insurgent and Allegiant), and to writers Evan Spiliotopoulos (The Unholy), Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse (Rebecca), that Snake Eyes isn't obsessed with obnoxiously stressing its franchise ties. It does all lead up to uttering a well-known GI Joe adversary's name, other recognisable characters such as Scarlett (Samara Weaving, Bill & Ted Face the Music) and Baroness (Úrsula Corberó, Money Heist) pop up, and nefarious terrorist organisation Cobra plays a part, but none of these links ever feel like the movie's primary purpose. Still, that half-heartedness speaks volumes about a movie that displays that trait again and again, is fine with remaining a generic Tokyo-set ninja revenge movie — complete with gratingly obvious shots of Mount Fuji, the Shibuya scramble crossing and Tokyo Tower — and also works giant snakes rendered in visually abhorrent CGI into the mix. The best element: Golding, who has never been less than charismatic in any of his on-screen roles (see also: Last Christmas, A Simple Favour and Crazy Rich Asians). He can't lift this formulaic franchise-extending slog, though, and neither can his rapport with both Koji and Abe, Schwentke's eye for his settings or the movie's often eye-catching costuming. The film's unenthused action scenes prove an apt weathervane, because they're by-the-numbers at best, even when The Raid's Iko Uwais is involved.

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If you're wondering what else is currently screening in cinemas — or has been lately — check out our rundown of new films released in Australia on January 1, January 7, January 14, January 21 and January 28; February 4, February 11, February 18 and February 25; March 4, March 11, March 18 and March 25; and April 1, April 8, April 15, April 22 and April 29; May 6, May 13, May 20 and May 27; June 3, June 10, June 17 and June 24; and July 1, July 8 and July 15.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Chaos Walking, Raya and the Last Dragon, Max Richter's Sleep, Judas and the Black Messiah, Girls Can't Surf, French Exit, Saint Maud, Godzilla vs Kong, The Painter and the Thief, Nobody, The Father, Willy's Wonderland, Collective, Voyagers, Gunda, Supernova, The Dissident, The United States vs Billie Holiday, First Cow, Wrath of Man, Locked Down, The Perfect Candidate, Those Who Wish Me Dead, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, Ema, A Quiet Place Part II, Cruella, My Name Is Gulpilil, Lapsis, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Fast and Furious 9, Valerie Taylor: Playing with Sharks, In the Heights, Herself, Little Joe, Black Widow, The Sparks Brothers, Nine Days, Gunpowder Milkshake and Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Published on July 22, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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