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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas This Week

Head to the flicks to see an absurd comedy about a must-own jacket — or a crocodile-fuelled Australian creature feature.
By Sarah Ward
August 06, 2020
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The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas This Week

Head to the flicks to see an absurd comedy about a must-own jacket — or a crocodile-fuelled Australian creature feature.
By Sarah Ward
August 06, 2020
  shares

Something delightful is happening in cinemas across the country. After months spent empty, with projectors silent, theatres bare and the smell of popcorn fading, Australian picture palaces are starting to reopen — spanning both big chains and smaller independent sites in Sydney and Brisbane (and, until the newly reinstated stay-at-home orders, Melbourne as well).

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 over the past three months, 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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BLACK WATER: ABYSS

It's a small detail, but a noticeable one: when Black Water: Abyss starts with a prelude that leaves two tourists (Louis Toshio Okada and Rumi Kikuchi) to the mercy of a snapping source of horror, it tells the audience that it's set in 'northern Australia'. That kind of description may be broadly accurate, and also intended with international audiences in mind (aka folks who mightn't have heard of Queensland or the Northern Territory), but it's also oh-so generic. Unsurprisingly, that's not the only by-the-numbers element of this 13-years-later sequel to Andrew Traucki's 2007 killer croc flick Black Water — even with the established creature feature director (see also: The Reef and The Jungle) returning for another bite of both the franchise and the subgenre. Alas, that screenwriters John Ridley and Sarah Smith have a hefty list of episodic TV credits to their names (including Stingers, Blue Heelers, All Saints, Sea Patrol, McLeod's Daughters, Rescue Special Ops, Wanted, Neighbours and Wentworth) definitely shows.

After that scene-setting opening, another five people venture into the path of the film's ravenous reptile. This time around, the sharp-toothed critter dwells in a cave system rather than an outback swamp, hence the Abyss part of the movie's moniker. Teaming up with local Cash (Anthony J Sharpe), the adventurous Eric (Luke Mitchell) and Yolanda (Amali Golden) are eager to descend into the underground depths; however their respective partners Jennifer (Jessica McNamee) and Viktor (Benjamin Hoetjes) aren't as excited. Naturally, even before this immensely disposable and predictable flick unleashes its splashing beastie, the audience knows that the former should've listened to the latter. While one-note backstories involving cancer, pregnancy and infidelity are introduced to try to ramp up the non-croc drama, Black Water: Abyss really only cares about letting a crocodile in a cave do exactly what a crocodile in a cave is going to do. Traucki is a fine director of horror-themed, animal-based action and suspense, and the movie's effectively tense creature scenes are by far its best — crocs are innately terrifying, after all — but this film still remains content to tread water in an already busy genre.

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DEERSKIN

How far would you go for the perfect piece of clothing? And can one ideal fashion item completely change your life? They're two completely relatable questions that Oscar-winning The Artist star Jean Dujardin faces in Deerskin, after his character Georges — an aspiring filmmaker — takes a strong liking to a fringed deerskin jacket that he just can't live without. And, we mean strong. Obsessed, fanatical and passionate, even. In the way that anyone can, but that vain, middle-aged, just-divorced men are stereotypically known to, Georges is certain that this one luxurious object is perfect for him. It doesn't matter that said coat costs nearly €8000, a price tag that most would stumble over. Similarly irrelevant: that the jacket looks just a tad too small while he's wearing it. Instead, how it makes Georges feel is far more important than any logical drawbacks — to him, at least. Also pivotal is the fact that it catches the attention of a small-town barmaid (Portrait of a Lady on Fire's Adele Haenel).

The latest film by the inimitable Quentin Dupieux (also known, in his electronic music guise, as Mr Oizo), Deerskin is the writer/director's latest movie to fixate on an inanimate object. If you saw the French filmmaker's 2010 cult hit Rubber, then you'll know just what kind of weirdness, ridiculousness and just all-round offbeat antics you're in for. That said, a few things particularly stand out in this, which might be his most accessible film. The deadpan performances, including from a fantastic Dujardin, are a delight. The commentary about consumerism and male egos proves as funny as it is astute — and even though it's also rather obvious, it's always entertaining. Indeed, the fact that the movie well and truly knows that it's stretching a thin basic idea to an absurdist extent means that everything is a joke, and the film is all the better for it. And then there's the visual symbolism and the editing, which both follow their own rhythm as much as anything Dupieux has ever made.

Read our full review.

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WE'LL END UP TOGETHER

In We'll End Up Together's best section, a group of mostly forty-something French friends go dancing at a nightclub in Cap Ferret on the Atlantic coast. They drink, naturally. They let loose verbally and physically. Worries are shed, if only for one night; strained friendships are repaired, even if cracks will resurface the next day; and long-held and -denied feelings bob up again and again. With neon lights flashing, a retro pop soundtrack thumping, and stars Marion Cotillard and Pascal Arbillot both proving lively and dynamic, the scenes provide a loose, energetic yet still emotion-riddled and thoughtful portrait of this posse of pals. Watching it, it's easy to see why actor-turned-filmmaker Guillaume Canet wanted to return to the group — the same characters and actors, with an addition here and an absence there, who also sat at the centre of his The Big Chill-style hit 2010 drama Little White Lies.

Time has passed on-screen as well as off-, of course, with this glossily shot sequel exploring how the years have taken their toll on the gang and their relationships with each other. Restaurateur Max (François Cluzet) hasn't really heard from everyone else after both a falling out and the end of his marriage, so he's surprised when they all turn up as his sprawling holiday home for his 60th birthday — and his shock sets an awkward tone that takes time to overcome. In a screenplay that is rather fond of both mid-life cliches and tension-sparking theatrics, narrative developments keep piling up as the group (which also includes folks played by Gilles Lellouche, Laurent Lafitte, Benoit Magimel and Clementine Beart) while away sunny but not summery days drinking wine, interrogating their bonds, sifting through their troubles and reminiscing by the sea. Indeed, Canet and his co-screenwriter Rodolphe Lauga go too heavy on plot twists, especially in the movie's second half. They also lean firmly into its characters' visibly privileged lives, which, while filled with problems, still scream of a certain level of comfort. But when We'll End Up Together lets its cast bounce off each other and flesh out its characters in the process, it's a far more palatable affair.

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If you're wondering what else is currently screening in cinemas, check out our rundown of new films released in Australia on July 2, July 9, July 16, July 23 and July 30 — and our full reviews of The Personal History of David Copperfield, Waves, The King of Staten Island and Babyteeth.

Published on August 06, 2020 by Sarah Ward

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