The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From November 10
Head to the flicks to see the long-awaited sequel to 'Black Panther' and a stunning nature documentary.
November 10, 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 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.
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever isn't the movie it was initially going to be, the sequel to 2018's electrifying and dynamic Black Panther that anyone behind it originally wanted it to be, or the chapter in the sprawling Marvel Cinematic Universe that it first aimed to be — this, the world already knows. The reason why is equally familiar, after Chadwick Boseman died from colon cancer in 2020 aged 43. At its best, this direct followup to the MCU's debut trip to its powerful African nation doesn't just know this, too, but scorches that awareness deep into its frames. King T'Challa's death starts the feature, a loss that filmmaking trickery doesn't reverse, no matter how meaningless mortality frequently proves when on-screen resurrections are usually a matter of mere plot twists. Wakanda Forever begins with heartbreak and pain, in fact, and with facing the hard truth that life ends and, in ways both big and small, that nothing is ever the same.
Your typical franchise entry about quick-quipping costumed crusaders courageously protecting the planet, this clearly isn't. Directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler (Creed) like its predecessor — co-scripting again with Joe Robert Cole (All Day and a Night) — Wakanda Forever is about grief, expected futures that can no longer be and having to move forward anyway. That applies in front of and behind the lens; as ruminating so heavily on loss underscores, the movie has a built-in justification for not matching the initial flick. The Boseman-sized hole at Wakanda Forever's centre is gaping, unsurprisingly, even in a feature that's a loving homage to him, and his charm and gravitas-filled take on the titular character. Also, that vast void isn't one this film can fill. Amid overtly reckoning with absence, Coogler still has a top-notch cast — returnees Letitia Wright, Angela Bassett, Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o and Winston Duke, plus new addition Tenoch Huerta, most notably — drawing eyeballs towards his vibrant imagery, but his picture is also burdened with MCU bloat and mechanics, and infuriating bet-hedging.
The emotional tributes to T'Challa and Boseman hit swiftly, after the former's tech-wiz sister Shuri (Wright, Death on the Nile) agonises over not being able to save him. In a swirl of song, dance, colour, movement, rhythm and feeling on par with the first instalment, but also solemn, Wakanda erupts in mourning, and the film makes plain that the Black Panther audiences knew is gone forever. A year later, sorrow lingers, but global courtesy wanes — now that the world knows about the previously secret country and its metal vibranium, everyone wants a piece. Such searching incites a new threat to the planet, courtesy of Mesoamerican underwater kingdom Talokan and its leader-slash-deity Namor (Huerta, Narcos: Mexico). The Atlantis-esque ocean realm has vibranium as well, and it's not keen on anywhere else but Wakanda doing the same. If Queen Ramonda (Bassett, Gunpowder Milkshake), Shuri and their compatriots don't join Namor to fight back, Namor will wage war against them instead.
Given Coogler and Cole's basic premise, bringing back Okoye (Gurira, The Walking Dead), head of the Wakanda's formidable Dora Milaje warriors, is obviously easy. The same applies to fellow soldier Ayo (Florence Kasumba, Tatort), and to introducing Aneka (Michaela Coel, I May Destroy You). Straight-talking tribal leader M'Baku (Duke, Nine Days) makes a seamless comeback and, although she's working in a school in Haiti, former spy Nakia (Nyong'o, The 355) does the same. Even excusing seeing CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman, Breeders) again is straightforward enough, but keeping overarching Marvel saga cogs turning means a pointless reappearance for another character familiar from the broader series but new to Black Panther movies. And, it results in the clunkiest of kickoffs for "young, gifted and Black" college student Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne, Judas and the Black Messiah), the star of upcoming MCU Disney+ TV show Ironheart, who is needlessly shoehorned in on the big-screen.
Read our full review.
THE VELVET QUEEN
"If nothing came, we just hadn't looked properly." Partway through The Velvet Queen, writer Sylvain Tesson utters these lyrical words about a specific and patient quest; however, they echo far further than the task at hand. This absorbing documentary tracks his efforts with wildlife photographer Vincent Munier to see a snow leopard — one of the most rare and elusive big cats there is — but much in the entrancing film relates to life in general. Indeed, while the animals that roam the Tibetan plateau earns this flick's focus, as does the sweeping landscape itself, Munier and his fellow co-director and feature first-timer Marie Amiguet have made a movie about existence first and foremost. When you peer at nature, you should see the world, as well as humanity's place in it. You should feel the planet's history, and the impact that's being made on its future, too. Sensing exactly that with this engrossing picture comes easily — and so does playing a ravishing big-screen game of Where's Wally?.
No one wears red-and-white striped jumpers within The Velvet Queen's frames, of course. The Consolations of the Forest author Tesson and world-renowned shutterbug Munier dress to blend in, trying to camouflage into their sometimes-dusty, sometimes-snowy, always-rocky surroundings, but they aren't the ones that the film endeavours to spy. The creatures that inhabit Tibet's craggy peaks have evolved to blend in, so attempting to see many of them is an act of persistence and deep observation — and locking eyes on the snow leopard takes that experience to another level. Sometimes, pure movement gives away a critter's presence. On one occasion, looking back through images of a perched falcon offers unexpected rewards. As lensed by Amiguet (La vallée des loups), Munier and assistant director Léo-Pol Jacquot, The Velvet Queen draws upon hidden cameras, too, but so much of Tesson and Munier's mission is about sitting, watching and accepting that everything happens in its own time.
Letting what comes come — and acknowledging that some things simply won't ever occur at all — isn't an easy truth to grapple with. Nonetheless, it's also one of this contemplative feature's achievements, even though it's a type of detective story through and through. Tesson and Munier follow clues to search for the snow leopard, moving positions and setting up blinds wherever they think will score them their sought-after footage. In the process, they learn a lesson as all sleuths do. As they face the possibility that they might not be successful, which Tesson's perceptively navel-gazing narration explains, The Velvet Queen becomes a mindfulness course in filmic form. It has something astonishing that all the Calm, Headspace and similar apps in the world don't, though: the film's on-the-ground recordings (well, 5000-metres-up recordings), which show why finding peace with life's ebbs and flows is all that we can really hope for.
Accompanied by a stirring score from Australian icons and lifelong bandmates Warren Ellis and Nick Cave — their latest contribution to cinema on a resume that includes The Proposition, The Road, Hell or High Water and Wind River before it — it's no wonder that The Velvet Queen's philosophising voiceover also notes that "waiting was a prayer". It's similarly unsurprising that Tesson penned a book, The Art of Patience: Seeking the Snow Leopard in Tibet, based on the trip captured in the documentary. In fact, if you're the kind of person who keeps their peepers peeled for feline life in any new neighbourhood you visit, or even if you're just strolling around your own, this feature firmly understands. More than that, it one-ups you, while also connecting with the act of scouring and seeking as much as the potential joys of getting what you wish for.
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 August 4, August 11, August 18 and August 25; September 1, September 8, September 15, September 22 and September 29; October 6, October 13, October 20 and October 27; and November 3.
You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Bullet Train, Nope, The Princess, 6 Festivals, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, Crimes of the Future, Bosch & Rockit, Fire of Love, Beast, Blaze, Hit the Road, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Orphan: First Kill, The Quiet Girl, Flux Gourmet, Bodies Bodies Bodies, Moonage Daydream, Ticket to Paradise, Clean, You Won't Be Alone, See How They Run, Smile, On the Count of Three, The Humans, Don't Worry Darling, Amsterdam, The Stranger, Halloween Ends, The Night of the 12th, Muru, Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, Black Adam, Barbarian, Decision to Leave, The Good Nurse, Bros, The Woman King, Sissy, Armageddon Time and The Wonder.
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