Nine New Movies You Can Watch in July That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Get comfy on the couch with Nicolas Cage playing Dracula, mind-bending body horror starring Alexander Skarsgård and a couple of stellar Australian films.
July 21, 2023
Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures will do that, and so will plenty of people staying home because they aren't well — that's no longer always the case.
Maybe you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Perhaps you've been under the weather. Given the hefty amount of titles now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here are nine that you can watch right now at home.
When Ivan Sen sent a police detective chasing a murdered girl and a missing woman in the Australian outback in 2013's Mystery Road and its 2016 sequel Goldstone, he saw the country's dusty, rust-hued expanse in sun-bleached and eye-scorching colour. In the process, the writer, director, co-producer, cinematographer, editor and composer used his first two Aussie noir films and their immaculately shot sights to call attention to how the nation treats people of colour — historically since its colonial days and still now well over two centuries later. Seven years after the last Jay Swan movie, following a period that's seen that character make the leap to the small screen in three television seasons, Sen is back with a disappearance, a cop, all that inimitable terrain and the crimes against its Indigenous inhabitants that nothing can hide. Amid evident similarities, there's a plethora of differences between the Mystery Road franchise and Limbo; however, one of its simplest is also one of its most glaring and powerful: shooting Australia's ochre-toned landscape in black and white.
Limbo's setting: Coober Pedy in reality, but the fictional locale that shares its name on-screen. It unmistakably sports an otherworldly topography dotted by dugouts to avoid the baking heat, and hasn't been able to overcome the murder of a local Indigenous girl two decades earlier. The title is symbolic several times over, including to the visiting Travis Hurley (Simon Baker, Blaze), whose first task upon arrival is checking into his subterranean hotel, rolling up his sleeves and indulging his heroin addiction. Later, he'll be told that he looks more like a drug dealer than a police officer — but, long before then, it's obvious that his line of work and the sorrows he surveys along the way have kept him hovering in a void. While he'll also unburden a few biographical details about mistakes made and regrets held before the film comes to an end, this tattooed cop with wings inked onto his back is already in limbo before he's literally in Limbo.
It's a bloody glorious setup: Nicolas Cage, actor of a million unmissable facial expressions, star of almost every movie he's asked to be in (or so it can seem) and wannabe bloodsucker in 1988's must-be-seen-to-be-believed Vampire's Kiss, playing the dark one, the lord of death, the one and only Dracula. In Renfield, that stellar idea makes for frequently bloody viewing — cartoonishly, befitting an OTT horror-comedy with Nicolas Cage as Dracula. And the pièce de résistance that is Cage getting his fangs out as the Bram Stoker-created character, who was inspired by the IRL 15th-century Wallachian prince Vlad the Impaler? It is indeed glorious. The Transylvanian is the latest part he was born for, after stepping into his own shoes in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, getting revenge over a pet pig in Pig, milking alpacas in Color Out of Space and screaming while dousing himself in vodka in Mandy (and, well, most things on his four-decade resume).
Some movies have learned a simple truth, however: that putting Nicolas Cage in front of a camera and letting him unleash whatever version of Cage the film needs isn't always enough. That disappointment is usually on everything but Cage (see: his entrancing work in the otherwise average-if-lucky Willy's Wonderland, where he wordlessly battled demonic animatronics and made viewers wish he was around in the silent era), but Renfield has pre-emptively staked that lesson through its own heart. As the title makes plain, Cage's Dracula isn't the lead character. Instead, the long-suffering, insect-eating servant played by the feature's other welcome Nic, The Great's Nicholas Hoult, is in the sunlight. Accordingly, The Lego Batman Movie and Robot Chicken director Chris McKay doesn't even try to get his feature by on the Cageness of it all alone. That's a miscalculation. In fact, it's up there with the flick's Robert Montague Renfield pledging allegiance to the vampire that started all vampire obsessions. Renfield is at full power when Cage is front and centre, and feels like its blood is slowly being drained when he's out of the frame.
Making his latest body-horror spectacle an eat-the-rich sci-fi satire as well, Brandon Cronenberg couldn't have given Infinity Pool a better title. Teardowns of the wealthy and entitled now seem to flow on forever, glistening endlessly against the film and television horizon; however, the characters in this particularly savage addition to the genre might wish they were in The White Lotus or Succession instead. In those two hits, having more money than sense doesn't mean witnessing your own bloody execution but still living to tell the tale. It doesn't see anyone caught up in cloning at its most vicious and macabre, either. And, it doesn't involve dipping into a purgatory that sports the Antiviral and Possessor filmmaker's penchant for futuristic corporeal terrors, as clearly influenced by his father David Cronenberg (see: Crimes of the Future, Videodrome and The Fly), while also creating a surreal hellscape that'd do Twin Peaks great David Lynch, Climax's Gaspar Noe and The Neon Demon's Nicolas Winding Refn proud.
Succession veteran Alexander Skarsgård plunges into Infinity Pool's torments playing another member of the one percent, this time solely by marriage. "Where are we?", author James Foster asks his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman, Dopesick) while surveying the gleaming surfaces, palatial villas and scenic beaches on the fictional island nation of Li Tolqa — a question that keeps silently pulsating throughout the movie, and also comes tinged with the reality that James once knew a life far more routine than this cashed-up extravagance. Cronenberg lets his query linger from the get-go, with help from returning Possessor cinematographer Karim Hussain. Within minutes, the feature visually inverts its stroll through its lavish setting, the camera circling and lurching. As rafters spin into view, then tumble into the pristine sky, no one in this film's frames is in Kansas anymore. Then, when fellow guest Gabi (Mia Goth, Pearl) gets James and Em into a tragic accident, which is followed by arrests, death sentences and a wild get-out-of-jail-free situation, no one is anywhere they want to be, either.
If you don't believe that Fast X will be one of the Fast and Furious franchise's last films, which you shouldn't, then it's time to face a different realisation. Now 22 years old, this family-, street racing- and Corona-loving "cult with cars" saga — its own words in this latest instalment — might one day feature every actor ever in its always-expanding cast. Dying back in 2013 hasn't stopped Paul Walker from regularly appearing a decade on. He's the first of the core F&F crew to be seen in Fast X, in fact, thanks to a flashback to 2011's Fast Five that explains why the series' flamboyant new villain has beef with the usual Vin Diesel (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3)-led faces. Playing said antagonist is Jason Momoa (Dune), who adds another high-profile name to a roster that also gains Brie Larson (Ms Marvel), Rita Moreno (West Side Story), Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad), Alan Ritchson (Reacher) and Walker's daughter Meadow this time around. It's no wonder that this 11th flick in the franchise (yes spinoff Hobbs & Shaw counts) clocks in at an anything-but-swift 141 minutes.
It's also hardly surprising that living on-screen life a quarter mile at a time now seems more like a variety show than a movie, at least where all that recognisable talent is involved. There are so many people to stuff into Fast X that most merely get wheeled out for their big moment or, if they're lucky, a couple. Some bring comedy (the long-running double act that is End of the Road's Ludacris and Morbius' Tyrese Gibson), others steely glares and frenetic fight scenes (The School for Good and Evil and Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves' always-welcome Charlize Theron and Michelle Rodriguez, respectively), or just reasons to keep bringing up Walker's retired Brian O'Conner (which is where Who Invited Charlie?'s Jordana Brewster still fits in). When more than a few actors pop up, it feels purely obligatory, like the F&F realm just can't exist now without a glimpse of Jason Statham's (Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre) scowl or getting Helen Mirren (Shazam! Fury of the Gods) going cockney.
YOU HURT MY FEELINGS
When Seinfeld was the world's biggest sitcom, the show about nothing was also about everything. Its quartet of yada, yada, yada-ing New Yorkers was oh-so-specific, too, but also relatable. It's no wonder that the 90s hit made a star out of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who ensured that Elaine Benes was a work of comedic genius — with a Best Supporting Actress Emmy and six other nominations to show for it — and someone who could've walked straight in off the street. In razor-sharp political farce Veep, the actor did much the same to ample accolades. Making a Vice President in a gleeful satire feel real is no mean feat. But Louis-Dreyfus is at her best, and a true sensation, whenever she's in leading-lady mode in front of writer/director Nicole Holofcener's lens. That's only happened twice so far; however, both 2013's Enough Said and now 2023's You Hurt My Feelings are as excellent as engaging, lived-in and astute character-led dramedies come.
Holofcener's preferred type of tales rarely get a silver-screen run in these days of blockbuster franchises, endless sequels and remakes, and ever-sprawling cinematic universes. That battle earns an in-script parallel in You Hurt My Feelings, with novelist Beth (Louis-Dreyfus, You People) also struggling. Her first book, a memoir about her childhood with an emotionally abusive dad, didn't notch up the sales she would've liked. At lunches between Beth, her sister Sarah (Michaela Watkins, The Dropout) and their mother Georgia (Jeannie Berlin, Hunters), the latter still protests about how it was marketed. And, when she finally submits a draft of her next tome after toiling for years, Beth's editor (LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Grey's Anatomy) isn't as enthused. None of these situations give the movie its name, though, which stems from Beth's therapist husband Don (Tobias Menzies, This Way Up) and his opinion. When she overhears him tell her brother-in-law Mark (Arian Moayed, Succession) that he isn't that fussed about the new text, it's shattering, especially when he's been nothing but her heartiest cheerleader otherwise.
If war is hell, then military boot camp is purgatory. So told Full Metal Jacket, with Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece making that observation echo and pierce with the relentlessness of machine-gun fire. Now, The Inspection stresses the same point nearing four decades later, plunging into the story of a gay Black man enlisting, then navigating the nightmare that is basic training. This too is a clear-eyed step inside the United States Marine Corps, but drawn from first-time fictional feature filmmaker Elegance Bratton's own experiences. New Yorker Ellis French (Jeremy Pope, One Night in Miami) is the Pier Kids documentarian's on-screen alter ego — an out queer man who has spent a decade from his teens to his mid-20s homeless after being kicked out by his ashamed mother Inez (Gabrielle Union, Strange World), and pledges his post 9/11 freedom away for a place to fit in, even if that means descending into a world of institutional homophobia and racism.
It would've been easy for Bratton to just sear and scorch in The Inspection; his film is set in 2005, "don't ask, don't tell" was still the US military forces' policy and discrimination against anyone who isn't a straight white man is horrendously brutal. Life being moulded into naval-infantry soldiers is savage anyway; "our job is not to make Marines, it's to make monsters," says Leland Laws (Bokeem Woodbine, Wu-Tang: An American Saga), Ellis' commanding officer and chief state-sanctioned tormentor. And yet, crafting a film that's as haunting as it is because it's supremely personal, Bratton never shies away from Ellis' embrace of the Marines in his quest to work out how he can be himself. There's nothing simple about someone signing up for such heartbreaking anguish because that's the only option that they can imagine, but this stunning movie is anything but simple.
On the silver screen, Australia's golden landscape is frequently the place where pain dwells. Even when spinning fiction, films such as Mystery Road, Goldstone, Sweet Country, High Ground, The Furnace and The Survival of Kindness scorch reality's horrors and heartbreaks into celluloid with ample help from an ochre-hued backdrop that can only belong to the land Down Under. In Sweet As, the red earth of Western Australia's Pilbara region similarly couldn't be more pivotal; however, this coming-of-age drama from first-time feature director and writer Jub Clerc (The Heights) — who previously contributed segments to anthology movies The Turning and Dark Whispers: Volume 1, draws upon her own adolescent experiences for her full-length debut, and crafts the first WA flick that's helmed and penned by an Indigenous female filmmaker — deploys its patch of Aussie soil as a place where teenagers find themselves.
Murra (Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Firebite) is one of Sweet As' adolescents learning to be shutterbugs, albeit not by choice. With her mother Grace (Ngaire Pigram, also a Firebite alum) grappling with addiction, the 16-year-old is traversing a path to child services' care when her police-officer uncle Ian (Mark Coles Smith, Mystery Road: Origin) enrols her on a trip that she doesn't initially want to take. With youth workers Mitch (Tasma Walton, How to Please a Woman) and Fernando (Carlos Sanson Jr, Bump) as their guides and chaperones, Murra, Kylie (newcomer Mikayla Levy), Elvis (Pedrea Jackson, Robbie Hood) and Sean (fellow first-timer Andrew Wallace) are soon hurtling into the outback on a minibus with cameras in their hands — to snap the sights away from their ordinary lives, and also step beyond everything that they know, form new friendships, gain a different perspective and gaze as intently at themselves as they do at the earth from behind a lens.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 3
Bickering and bantering. Battling all over space. Blasting retro tunes. That's Guardians of the Galaxy's holy trinity, no matter where its ragtag crew happens to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Since 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1, Peter Quill aka Star-Lord (Chris Pratt, The Super Mario Bros Movie) and his pals have offered the MCU something shinier than the gold-hued Adam Warlock (Will Poulter, Dopesick): a reprieve from the ever-sprawling franchise's standard self-seriousness. Friends but really family, because Vin Diesel is involved, this superhero team got gleefully goofy in their initial big-screen outing, 2017 sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and 2022's straight-to-streaming The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. They've popped up elsewhere across the comic-book film saga plying a sense of silliness, too. Welcomely, even when they're slipping into Avengers and Thor flicks, they've always felt like their own distinctive group surfing their own humorous but heartfelt wavelength, a power that isn't generally shared across Marvel's output.
Arriving to close out the Guardians' standalone trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 zooms into the movie series' fifth phase with a difference: it's still a quippy comedy, but it's as much a drama and a tragedy as well. Like most on-screen GotG storylines, it's also heist caper — and as plenty of caped-crusader flicks are, within the MCU or not, it's an origin story. The more that a James Gunn-written and -directed Guardians film gets cosy within the usual Marvel template, however, the more that his branch of Marvel's pop-culture behemoth embraces its own personality. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 couldn't cling tighter to its needle drops, of course, which leap to the 90s and 00s this time and hit with all the subtlety of a Zune player being thrown at the audience. It also stuffs out its duration and over-packs its plot. But, the obligatory post-credits sting aside, this farewell to part of the MCU always feels like a zippy, self-contained Guardians of the Galaxy movie — including when it's also a touching dive into Rocket's (Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley) history — rather than a placeholder for more and more future franchise instalments.
Living with your choices, and facing the fact that you can't always take back mistakes and fix traumas, fittingly sits at the heart of The Flash's narrative. While the Barry Allen (Ezra Miller, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore) that audiences have also seen in Suicide Squad, Justice League and Shazam! enters The Flash calling himself "the janitor of the Justice League", answering Alfred's (Jeremy Irons, House of Gucci) calls to clean up Batman's (Ben Affleck, Air) chaos offers a handy distraction from his family situation. Understandably, he's still grief-stricken over his mother's (Maribel Verdú, Raymond & Ray) murder. He's also struggling to prove that his incarcerated father (Ron Livingston, A Million Little Things) wasn't the killer. Cue messing with the space-time continuum, using his super speed to dash backwards to stop his mum from dying — and, as Bruce Wayne warns, cuing the butterfly effect.
Back to the Future devotees know what follows when someone tinkers with the past. The Flash director Andy Muschietti (IT, IT: Chapter Two) and screenwriter Christina Hodson (Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)) count on viewers being familiar with the consequences, and with the Michael J Fox-starring 80s classic. Amid navigating various iterations of its protagonist and, as revealed in its trailers, getting Michael Keaton (Morbius) back in the cape and cowl as the Dark Knight three decades after the last Tim Burton-helmed Batman flick — plus finding time for Supergirl (Sasha Calle, The Young and the Restless) — this DCEU entry splashes around its broader pop-culture nods with gusto. Given that was Gunn's tactic in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy movies, right down to also mentioning Kevin Bacon and Footloose, perhaps Barry might have a DCU future after all? Whatever happens, The Flash's riffing on and namechecking other beloved films isn't its best trait. There are multiples of much in this movie, which includes multiple ways to slather on fan service.
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows — and fast-tracked highlights from January, February, March, April, May and June, too. You can also peruse our best new films, new TV shows, returning TV shows and straight-to-streaming movies of 2023 so far
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