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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From April 1

Head to the flicks to watch a heartbreaking drama, an espionage thriller and the return of a beloved cartoon duo.
By Sarah Ward
April 01, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
April 01, 2021
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Something delightful has been 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 back in business — spanning 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, 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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NOBODY

As both a comedian and a dramatic actor, Bob Odenkirk has earned a lifetime's worth of well-deserved praise. Writing for Saturday Night Live and starring in Mr Show with Bob and David each sit on his resume, as does his pivotal part in Breaking Bad and lead role in the exceptional Better Call Saul. But in Nobody, Odenkirk highlights a facet of his work that's easy to overlook. Jumping into a new genre, he makes viewers realise a truth that cuts to the heart of his talents. Every actor wants to be the person that can't be replaced, and to turn in the type of performances that no one can emulate; however, only the very best, including Odenkirk, manage exactly that. A movie so forged from the John Wick mould that it's penned by the same screenwriter — and boasts the first film's co-director David Leitch (Atomic Blonde) as a producer, too — Nobody could've featured any existing action go-to. It could've been an easy knockoff of well-known hit, joining the swathe of direct-to-video and -streaming titles that use that very template. It could've given Bruce Willis his next role to sleepwalk through, added yet another Taken-style thriller to Liam Neeson's resume or proven one of Nicolas Cage's more straightforward vehicles of late. Thankfully, though, Nobody is all about the ever-watchable Odenkirk and his peerless and compelling ability to play slippery characters.

When Nobody begins, Hutch Mansell's (Odenkirk) life has become such a routine that his weeks all unfurl in the same fashion. Plodding through a sexless marriage to real estate agent Becca (Connie Nielsen, Wonder Woman 1984), and barely paid any notice by his teenage son Blake (Gage Munroe, Guest of Honour) and younger daughter Abby (debutant Paisley Cadorath), he catches public transport to his manufacturing company job every weekday, always puts the bins out too late for the garbage truck on Tuesday mornings, and usually earns little more than polite smiles from his family while he's cooking them breakfast that they fail to eat. Then, the Mansells' suburban home is randomly burgled. Hutch confronts the thieves in the act, has a chance to swing a golf club their way, yet holds back. But when Abby notices that her beloved cat bracelet is missing in the aftermath, he decides to take action — a choice that leads him to an unrelated bus filled with obnoxious guys hassling a female passenger, and eventually sees unhinged Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov, Leviathan) threatening everything that Hutch holds dear.

Read our full review.

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THE FATHER

Forgetting, fixating, flailing, fraying: that's The Father. Anthony's (Anthony Hopkins, Westworld) life is unravelling, with his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman, The Crown) springing the sudden news that she's about to move to Paris, and now insistent that he needs a new carer to replace the last home helper he's just scared off. He also can't find his watch, and time seems to jump suddenly. On some days, he has just trundled out of bed to greet the morning when Anne advises that dinner, not breakfast, is being served. When he brings up her French relocation again, she frostily and dismissively denies any knowledge. Sometimes another man (Mark Gatiss, Dracula) stalks around Anthony's London apartment, calling himself Anne's husband. Sometimes the flat isn't his own at all and, on occasion, both Anne (Olivia Williams, Victoria and Abdul) and her partner (Rufus Sewell, Judy) look completely different. Intermittently, Anthony either charms or spits cruel words at Laura (Imogen Poots, Black Christmas), the latest aide hired to oversee his days. She reminds him of another daughter, one he's sure he had — and preferred — but hasn't heard from for years. When he mentions his other offspring, however, everyone else goes silent. More than once, Anthony suspects that someone has pilfered his beloved timepiece, which just keeps disappearing.

Largely, The Father remains housebound. For the bulk of its 97 minutes, it focuses on the cardigan-wearing Anthony as he roams around the space he calls home. But this is a chaotic film, despite its visual polish, and that mess, confusion and upheaval is entirely by design. All the shifting and changing — big and small details alike, and faces and places, too — speak to the reason Anne keeps telling Anthony they need another set of hands around the house. His memory isn't what it used to be. In fact, it's getting much worse than that. Anthony knows that there's something funny going on, which is how he describes it when his sense of what's happening twists and morphs without warning, and The Father's audience are being immersed in that truth. Anthony has dementia, with conveying precisely how that feels for him the main aim of this six-time Oscar-nominated stage-to-screen adaptation. As overwhelming as The Father can be as it wades through Anthony and Anne's lives, its unflinching and unsparing approach is anchored in kindness and compassion, which novelist and playwright turned first-time director Florian Zeller has brought to the screen in a stunning fashion from Le Père, his own play.

Read our full review.

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THE COURIER

In 1960, in the thick of the Cold War, British businessman Greville Wynne was recruited by MI6. Chosen because he frequently travelled to Eastern Europe for work — and also because he wouldn't stand out in general — he was asked to visit Moscow numerous times, then return with information about the Soviet nuclear program as supplied by a contact within the Russian government. That's the true tale that The Courier explores, and it's an intriguinng one. Working together until around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, Wynne and Oleg Penkovsky, his source, helped change the course of history. And yet, in a film that looks backwards not just for its content but also in its old-school style, director Dominic Cooke (On Chesil Beach) and screenwriter Tom O'Connor (The Hitman's Bodyguard) seem to have taken the wrong cue from the story they're telling. As everything from years of Bond flicks to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Bridge of Spies have shown, Cold War spy movies have comprised their own genre for decades. The Courier knows this, and remains happy to blend in among its peers. It's solid but straightforward, always proving just engaging and rousing enough. It also boasts an excellent performance from Benedict Cumberbatch in his latest historical drama (see also: The Imitation Game and The Current War), but this espionage thriller still has less of an impact than it should.

Indeed, Cumberbatch's efforts as an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation rank among The Courier's biggest highlights, alongside the real-life details it delves into. He's calm, flattered and even a little perplexed in early scenes, as Wynne is asked by the CIA's Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan, I'm Your Woman) and MI6's Dickie Franks (Angus Wright, Official Secrets) to do his country and the world a favour. Soon, Cumberbatch is both confident and jumpy as Wynne travels back and forth, strikes up a genuine friendship with Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze, Homeland) and tries to keep the reality of his trips from his increasingly suspicious wife Sheila (Jessie Buckley, Misbehaviour). And, later, he's vulnerable but still determined. He takes the feature's biggest theme — loyalty — firmly to heart, and ensures that it seeps from his pores whether Wynne is in an easy, tricky or brutal scenario. It's still impossible not to notice how standard and risk-averse almost everything around Cumberbatch is, though; however, The Courier is never plodding. Still, there's a difference between skewing classic to do a narrative justice and boxing a true story into a template, with this film frequently leaning more towards the latter than the former.

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TOM & JERRY

Before Itchy and Scratchy started terrorising each other well beyond the bounds of normal cat and mouse antagonism, another feline and rodent pair got there first. Of course, The Simpsons' adversarial four-legged critters were designed to parody the characters created by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera more than 80 years ago, but they've long since supplanted Tom and Jerry as popular culture's go-to fighting animal duo. Perhaps the new Tom & Jerry movie is an attempt to push its titular creatures back to prominence. Perhaps it's just the latest effort to cash in on nostalgia while hoping that a new generation of children will be interested enough to warrant more big-screen outings, and therefore more chances to make some cash. Watching this all-ages-friendly hybrid of cartoon and live-action, it doesn't seem as if anyone involved knows quite why the film exists — not director Tom Story (Ride Along and Ride Along 2), who cares more about stressing the feature's hip hop soundtrack than paying much attention to its eponymous figures; not screenwriter Kevin Costello (Brigsby Bear), who pens a dull and derivative script about celebrity wedding chaos; and definitely not a cast that spans Chloë Grace Moretz (Shadow in the Cloud), Michael Peña (Fantasy Island), Rob Delaney (Catastrophe), Ken Jeong (Boss Level), Colin Jost (Saturday Night Live) and Pallavi Sharda (Retrograde), all of whom will forever have this misfire on their resumes.

The animated animal action starts with Tom's latest vendetta against his long-time rival Jerry, after the latter destroys the former's keyboard and his music stardom dreams along with it. In his quest for revenge, the cat follows the house-hunting mouse to his newest abode at Manhattan's upmarket Royal Gate hotel, where the pair soon wreak havoc. Story and Costello prefer to focus on the resourceful and human Kayla (Moretz) at almost every turn, though. After talking her way into a job onsite, she's soon given two important tasks. The first: help ensure that the nuptials of two nondescript celebs (Jost and Sharda) go smoothly, which of course doesn't happen. The second: track down Jerry, which involves hiring Tom to assist. Somehow, Tom & Jerry is both lazy and overcomplicated. It does the bare minimum with its flesh-and-blood and pixel characters alike, all while completely forgetting that viewers have always loved Tom and Jerry for its fast, smart and entertaining slapstick antics (and definitely not because one day the duo might become bit-players in yet another flick about bland wedding dramas). When the film starts with pigeons rapping A Tribe Called Quest's 'Can I Kick It?' in its entirety, it begs an obvious question: who is this for? No one that's brought this movie to fruition seems to know the answer there, either — and they certainly haven't expended any energy on trying to make the feature funny, because laughs are absent from start to finish.

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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; and March 4, March 11, March 18 and March 25.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Nomadland, Pieces of a Woman, The Dry, Promising Young Woman, Summerland, Ammonite, The Dig, The White Tiger, Only the Animals, Malcolm & Marie, News of the World, High Ground, Earwig and the Witch, The Nest, Assassins, Synchronic, Another Round, Minari, Firestarter — The Story of Bangarra, The Truffle Hunters, The Little Things, 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 and The Painter and the Thief.

Published on April 01, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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