The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From November 4
Head to the flicks to see Marvel's latest superhero team-up, a big-screen prequel to 'The Sopranos' and a delicious culinary documentary.
November 04, 2021
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 releases, 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.
It's the only Marvel movie by an Oscar-winning director. Focusing on a superhero squad isn't new, even if everyone here is a Marvel Cinematic Universe newcomer, but it's the lone instalment in the franchise that's about a team led by women of colour. It's home to the MCU's only caped crusader who is deaf, and its first openly gay superhero — and it doesn't just mention his sexuality, but also shows his relationship. It happens to be the first Marvel flick with a sex scene, too. Eternals is also the only film in the hefty saga with a title describing how long the series will probably continue. And, it's the sole MCU entry that features two ex-Game of Thrones stars — Kit Harington and Richard Madden, two of the show's Winterfell-dwelling brothers — and tasks them both with loving a woman called Sersi. (The name isn't spelled the same way, but it'll still recalls Westeros.)
When you're 26 movies into a franchise, as the MCU now is, each new film is a case of spotting differences. All the above traits aid Eternals in standing out, especially the empathetic, naturalistic touch that Chloé Zhao brings to her first blockbuster (and first film since Nomadland and its historic Academy Award wins). There's a sense of beauty and weight rippling through almost every frame, as well as an appreciation for life's struggles. Its namesakes are immortal aliens sent to earth 7000 years ago to battle intergalactic beasts, and yet Eternals shows more affinity for everyday folks who don't don spandex or have superpowers than any Marvel flick yet. It's also largely gorgeous, due to its use of location shoots rather than constantly stacking CGI on CGI. But everything that sets the film apart from the rest of Marvel's saga remains perched atop a familiar formula.
Perhaps that's fitting; thematically, Eternals spends much of its lengthy 157 minutes contemplating set roles and expectations, and whether anyone can ever truly break free of either. Spying an overt statement in these parallels — between the movie's general adherence to the MCU template and the ideas bubbling within it — might be a little generous, though. Of late, Marvel likes giving its new instalments their own packaging, while keeping many of the same gears whirring inside. That's part of the comic book company-turned-filmmaking behemoth's current pattern, in fact. Still, even after Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals finds its own niche. It both intrigues and entertains, and it's ambitious — and it's often more than the sum of all those MCU firsts and onlys it's claimed.
As opening text explains, Eternals' central group were dispatched by a Celestial — a space god, really — called Arishem. With the monstrous Deviants, another alien race, wreaking havoc, the Eternals were tasked with fighting the good fight — and were forbidden to interfere otherwise, which is why they've been absent in the last 25 movies. But now, a new Deviant attacks Sersi (Gemma Chan, Raya and the Last Dragon), her human boyfriend Dane Whitman (Harington) and fellow Eternal Sprite (Lia McHugh, The Lodge). That gets the gang back together swiftly, including the flying, laser-eyed Ikaris (Madden), the maternal Ajak (Salma Hayek, The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard), Bollywood star Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani, The Lovebirds), the super-strong Gilgamesh (Don Lee, Ashfall), warrior Thena (Angelia Jolie, Those Who Wish Me Dead), the super-speedy Makkari (Lauren Ridloff, Sound of Metal), tech wiz Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry, Godzilla vs Kong) and the mind-manipulating Druig (Barry Keoghan, The Green Knight).
Read our full review.
THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK
So much about The Many Saints of Newark is a matter of when, not if: when familiar characters will show up looking younger, when well-known New Jersey locations will be sighted and when someone will eat ziti. This all occurs because it must; it wouldn't be a prequel to The Sopranos otherwise. Servicing fans is a key reason the movie exists, and it's far more resonant if you've already spent 86 episodes with Tony Soprano and his mafia and blood families while watching one of the best TV shows ever made. This is a film with a potent air of inevitability, clearly. Thankfully, that feeling reaches beyond all the obligatory nods and winks. That some things are unavoidable — that giving people what they want doesn't always turn out as planned, and that constantly seeking more will never fix all of life's woes, too — pulsates through this origin story like a thumping bass line. And yes, on that topic, Alabama 3's 'Woke Up This Morning' obviously gets a spin.
Penned by The Sopranos' creator David Chase and series alum Lawrence Konner, and helmed by veteran show director Alan Taylor, The Many Saints of Newark doesn't merely preach to existing devotees, even if they're the film's main audience. Marking the last of the big three 00s-era prestige US cable dramas to earn a movie spinoff — following El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie and Deadwood: The Movie — the feature is aware of its own genesis and of gangster genre staples in tandem. Casting Ray Liotta, who'll forever be associated with Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, was always going to show that. Travelling back to the 70s, when The Godfather franchise electrified cinema, does also. Indeed, The Many Saints of Newark plays like a hybrid of pop culture's three most influential and essential mob stories. A bold move, it also explains what works and what falters in a film that's powerful and engaging but firmly baked in a well-used oven.
The first detail that Sopranos fans should've picked up when this flick first got a title: in Italian, many saints translates as moltisanti. While The Many Saints of Newark spends time with young Tony as a pre-teen in the late 60s (played by feature first-timer William Ludwig) and a teen in the early 70s (when The Deuce's Michael Gandolfini, son of the late, great James Gandolfini, steps into the character's shoes), its protagonist is Dickie Moltisanti (Alessandro Nivola, The Art of Self-Defense). He's seen as an uncle and mentor by Tony, who'll eventually hold the same roles for Dickie's son. The Sopranos mainstay Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli, One Night in Miami) turns narrator here, in fact, offering knowing voiceover that occasionally channels the show's dark humour — calling out Christopher's death at Tony's hands, for instance.
Dickie was recalled with reverence in the series, yet threw a shadow over Tony's middle-aged mob-boss malaise — as seen in his duck obsession, panic attacks and reluctant chats with a psychiatrist. Here, Dickie falls into a similar pattern with his dad 'Hollywood' Dick (Liotta, No Sudden Move), who returns from Italy to subject his new, much-younger bride Giuseppina (Michela De Rossi, The Rats) to domestic violence. One of The Many Saints of Newark's finest traits is its layering, honing in on cycles that keep echoing through generations as it examines Dickie's role in turning Tony into the man viewers watched from 1999–2007. Its greatest stroke of casting plays with the same notion as well, and the younger Gandolfini is a soulful yet primal revelation. To call his performance lived-in is the epitome of an understatement, and it's never a gimmick.
Read our full review.
Call it the SNL effect: in two of their past three films, Julie Cohen and Betsy West have celebrated pioneering women who've been parodied on Saturday Night Live. They've referenced those famous skits in RBG and now Julia, in fact, including their subjects' reactions; Ruth Bader Ginsburg was seen howling with laughter when she first saw Kate McKinnon slip into her robes, and Julia Child reportedly played Dan Aykroyd's blood-soaked 1978 impersonation to friends at parties. Cohen and West clearly aren't basing their documentaries on their own sketch-comedy viewing, though. Instead, they've been eagerly unpacking exactly why a US Supreme Court Justice and a French cuisine-loving TV chef made such a strong impact, and not only in their own fields. Julia makes an exceptional companion piece with the Oscar-nominated RBG, unsurprisingly; call it a great doco double helping.
Julia arrives nearly two decades after its namesake's passing, and 12 years since Meryl Streep earned an Oscar nomination for mimicking Julia in Julie & Julia. If you've seen the latter but still wondered why Julie Powell (played by The Woman in the Window's Amy Adams) was so determined to work her way through Julia's most famous cookbook — first published in 1961, Mastering the Art of French Cooking completely changed America's perception of printed recipe collections — let this easy-to-consume doco fill in the gaps when it comes to the culinary wiz's mastery and achievements. Let it spark two instinctual, inescapable and overwhelming reactions, too: hunger, due to all the clips of Julia cooking and other lingering shots of food; and inspiration, because wanting to whip up the same dishes afterwards is equally understandable.
In their second film of 2021 — after My Name Is Pauli Murray, another portrait of a woman thoroughly deserving the spotlight — Cohen and West take a chronological approach to Julia's life. The two filmmakers like borrowing cues from their subjects, so here they go with a classic recipe that's been given slight tweaks, but always appreciates that magic can be made if you pair a tried-and-tested formula with outstanding technique. Julia's entire cooking career, including her leap to television in her 50s, stirred up the same idea. Her take on French dining was all about making delectable meals by sticking to the right steps, even while using supermarket-variety ingredients, after all. Julia boasts a delightful serving of archival footage, as well as lingering new food porn-esque sequences that double as how-tos (as deliciously lensed by cinematographer and fellow RBG alum Claudia Raschke), but it still embodies the same ethos.
Born to a well-off Pasadena family in 1912, Julia's early relationship with food is painted as functional: the household's cooks prepared the meals, and wanting to step into the kitchen herself was hardly a dream. In pre-World War II America, the expectation was that she'd simply marry and become a housewife, however, but a hunger for more out of life first took her to the Office of Strategic Services — the US organisation that gave way to the CIA — and overseas postings. While stationed in the Far East, she met State Department official Paul Child. After a berth in China, he was sent to France, where the acclaimed Cordon Bleu culinary school eventually beckoned for Julia. From there, she started her own cooking classes in Paris, co-penned the book that made her famous, turned a TV interview into a pitch for her own show and became an icon.
Read our full review.
When Interpol hunts down the world's most wanted international criminals, it issues red notices — and for anyone who isn't already aware of that fact, Red Notice starts by spelling out the details. If the film world circulated the same kinds of warnings about bland, cliched, charmless and tedious movies, this Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot-starring supposed action-comedy would earn several. That it bears far too much in common at times with two of its stars' most recent features — Johnson's likeable-enough Jungle Cruise and Reynolds' excruciatingly terrible The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard — says plenty about this by-the-numbers affair. If only they were the sole instances that it conjured up other movies; Reynolds does a Borat impression, whistles the Indiana Jones tune and verbally references Jurassic Park, and it's all as dated as it sounds.
Also tired and trying: Reynolds' performance in general, which is permanently stuck on the same kind of schtick at the heart of both Deadpool and Free Guy. This time, however, he's playing the globe's second-best art thief — and his character, Nolan Booth, desperately wants the top spot. But a couple of people stand in his way, which is where Red Notice's other big names come in. Firstly, FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson) interrupts Booth's latest heist, which involves tracking down three golden eggs that were once owned by Cleopatra (the third of which has never been found before). Secondly, the planet's number one art thief, The Bishop (Gadot, Wonder Woman 1984), is on the same hunt for the same $30 million payday. She's also constantly one step ahead of not just her professional competitor, but also the man pursuing both criminals.
Red Notice plays like the result of watching 80s and 90s hits, its three leads' filmographies and the National Treasure flicks, then throwing their basic ideas into a blender and pouring the jumbled mess onto the screen. It's Netflix's most expensive movie yet, and it's also shiny-coated garbage. That its opening scene involves a decoy egg doused in Coca-Cola to reveal an empty shell inside is far more telling than it's meant to be. Also landing with a thud: a dance between Hartley and The Bishop at an Eyes Wide Shut-styled party that's supposed to herald this as the next True Lies, but just makes viewers wish they were watching that instead. That's the thing with shovelling in reference after reference instead of penning a decent and coherent script, even when around half of those winks are done with writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber's (Central Intelligence, Skyscraper) tongue firmly in his cheek: constantly calling attention to better movies but failing to live up to them is like punching yourself the face.
They're three of the highest-profile names in blockbuster cinema, but Johnson, Reynolds and Gadot all sleepwalk through their parts here — not that the screenplay asks much more. Not a single gag lands, either, and neither does any tension, chemistry, timing or reason to care about its lead trio, their characters' globe-hopping quest and all the chaos they leave in their wake. Of course Nazis are involved, even though it's now 2021 and not 1981 when Raiders of the Lost Ark did the exact same thing. Of course the whole film looks like the dullest kind of CGI onslaught, with green screens standing in for Rome, Russia, London, Egypt and more. Of course it also plays like something an algorithm would spit out — and one that thinks Ed Sheeran is the height of stunt cameo casting after Game of Thrones already proved that idea oh-so wrong four years ago.
Red Notice screens in select Australian cinemas from Thursday, November 4, and streams via Netflix from Friday, November 12.
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 10, June 17 and June 24; July 1, July 8, July 15, July 22 and July 29; August 5, August 12, August 19 and August 26; September 2, September 9, September 16, September 23 and September 30; and October 7, October 14, October 21 and October 28.
For Sydney specifically, you can take a look at out our rundown of new films that released in Sydney cinemas when they reopened on October 11, and what opened on October 14, October 21 and October 28 as well.
You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Herself, Little Joe, Black Widow, The Sparks Brothers, Nine Days, Gunpowder Milkshake, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Old, Jungle Cruise, The Suicide Squad, Free Guy, Respect, The Night House, Candyman, Annette, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Streamline, Coming Home in the Dark, Pig, Big Deal, The Killing of Two Lovers, Nitram, Riders of Justice, The Alpinist, A Fire Inside, Lamb, The Last Duel, Malignant, The Harder They Fall, Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, Halloween Kills and Passing.
Top image: Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
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