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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From August 5

Head to the flicks to watch a supervillain sequel and a sweet French comedy about growing prize-winning roses.
By Sarah Ward
August 05, 2021
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By Sarah Ward
August 05, 2021
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Something delightful has been happening in cinemas across the country. After periods spent empty during the pandemic, with projectors silent, theatres bare and the smell of popcorn fading, Australian picture palaces are back in business — at present, spanning both big chains and smaller independent sites in 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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THE SUICIDE SQUAD

New decade, new director, new word in the title — and a mostly new cast, too. That's The Suicide Squad, the DC Extended Universe's new effort to keep viewers immersed in its sprawling superhero franchise, which keeps coming second in hearts, minds and box-office success to Marvel's counterpart. Revisiting a concept last seen in 2016's Suicide Squad, the new flick also tries to blast its unloved precursor's memory from everyone's brains. That three-letter addition to the title? It doesn't just ignore The Social Network's quote about the English language's most-used term, but also attempts to establish this film as the definitive vision of its ragtag supervillain crew. To help, Guardians of the Galaxy filmmaker James Gunn joins the fold, his Troma-honed penchant for horror, comedy and gore is let loose, and a devil-may-care attitude is thrust to the fore. But when your main aim is to one-up the derided last feature with basically the same name, hitting your target is easy — and fulfilling that mission, even with irreverence and flair, isn't the same as making a great or especially memorable movie. Indeed, a film can be funny and lively, use its main faces well, have a few nice moments with its supporting cast and improve on its predecessor, and yet still fall into a routine, unsuccessfully wade into murky politics, never capitalise upon its premise or promise, keep rehashing the same things, and just be average, too — and right now, that film is The Suicide Squad.

Mischief abounds from the outset — mood-wise, at least — including when no-nonsense black-ops agent Amanda Waller (Viola Davis, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) teams up Suicide Squad's Rick Flag (Joel Kinnaman, The Secrets We Keep), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney, Honest Thief) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie, Dreamland) with a few new felons for a trip to the fictional Corto Maltese. Because this movie has that extra word in its title, it soon switches to another troupe reluctantly led by mercenary Bloodsport (Idris Elba, Concrete Cowboy), with fellow trained killer Peacemaker (John Cena, Fast and Furious 9) and the aforementioned Polka-Dot Man (David Dastmalchian, Bird Box), Ratcatcher 2 (Daniela Melchior, Valor da Vida) and King Shark (Sylvester Stallone, Rambo: Last Blood) also present. Their task: to sneak into a tower on the South American island. Under the guidance of The Thinker (Peter Capaldi, The Personal History of David Copperfield), alien experiment Project Starfish has been underway there for decades (and yes, Gunn makes time for a butthole joke). In this movie about cartoonish incarcerated killers doing the US government's dirty work, Waller has charged her recruits to destroy the secret test, all to ensure it isn't used by the violent faction that's just taken over Corto Maltese via a bloody coup. The end result is silly and goofy, fittingly — and yet, even when a supersized space starfish gets stompy (think: SpongeBob SquarePants' best bud Patrick if he grew up and got power-hungry), this sequel-slash-do-over is never as gleefully absurd as it should be. Again and again, even when Gunn's gambit works in the moment, that's how The Suicide Squad keeps playing out. 

Read our full review.

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THE ROSE MAKER

The scent of popcorn lingers in the air, and long-standing venues tend to have a particular aroma, but cinema isn't generally an olfactory medium. Smell-O-Vision pops up every now and then, using scratch-and-sniff cards to emit particular tangs tied to specific films; however, any whiffs tickling your nose while you're watching a movie usually have nothing to do what's on-screen. One of the joys of The Rose Maker is that it makes its audience feel like they're smelling the rows and bouquets of roses they're seeing, even though they obviously can't. Filmmaker Pierre Pinaud (On Air) arranges many of his frames with colourful blossoms, with his array of woody perennials in a rainbow's worth of hues basically becoming flower porn. The more these vibrant sights appear, the more your brain fills in the gaps — but that isn't this kind-hearted comedy's only source of charm. Based on the flicks releasing in Australian cinemas of late, the current state of French cinema is sweet, both scent- and sentiment-wise. Let's call it the fragrant French film universe: the realm in which The Rose Maker, which focuses on growing standout roses, and Perfumes, about a perfume-industry veteran with a particularly fine-tuned sense of smell, can co-exist. The two recent movies don't overlap in their narratives (although a pivotal plot point in the former could easily see one character step right into the latter), but as well as flowers and and scents, they do also share an underlying warmth, an interest in how the senses can bring people together platonically and professionally, and a blend of sincerity and insight layered over otherwise formulaic storylines.

In The Rose Maker, Eve Vernet (Catherine Frot, The Midwife) has devoted her life to creating glorious new rose hybrids — and, ideally for her reputation and her business' bank balance, winning awards for them as well. Her dad did the same, and she's carried on the family trade in the 15 years since his death, even though it's becoming increasingly harder in the face of big, slick outfits that have hundreds of workers, spit out new varieties with frequency and don't care about the longevity of their creations. Indeed, when she's beaten at a prestigious annual rose contest by Lamarzelle (Vincent Dedienne, A Good Man), the owner of one such competitor, Eve fears for her future. Vernet Roses is already struggling financially and can't afford workers, and sales are down. Then her long-standing assistant Véra (Olivia Côte, Antoinette in the Cévennes) comes up with the idea of obtaining help through a rehabilitation program, which sees ex-thief Fred (Manel Foulgoc, Poètes), 50-year-old Samir (Fatsah Bouyahmed, Invisibles) and the highly strung Nadège (Marie Petiot, Hippocrate) begin to learn the rose game. Eve is initially skeptical, but more than roses start blossoming as she enlists her new offsiders' assistance with creating a particular hybrid to win next year's prize. There isn't much in the way of narrative surprises here, but the screenplay co-written by Pinaud, fellow filmmaker Philippe Le Guay (Normandy Nude) and three other scribes smartly uses its familiar plot to interrogate the tiers of French society. And, not only the always-excellent Frot but also relative newcomer Foulgoc turn in textured and moving performances.

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SOME KIND OF HEAVEN

If you didn't know that Some Kind of Heaven was a documentary, you might think that it was a skit from I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. The same kind of social awkwardness that makes the Netflix sketch comedy such an equally savage and hilarious watch is present in this factual look at the retirement community also dubbed "god's waiting room": The Villages, Florida, the world's largest master-planned, age-restricted locale of its kind, and home to more than 120,000 people. This is a place for folks aged over 55 to live in multiple senses of the world. Couples tend to move there, then sign up for some of the thousands of activities and clubs that get them out dancing, kayaking, cheerleading, swimming and more. If a resident happens to be on their own — usually after their partner's passing — they can get involved in the local singles club, too. Around since the early 80s, and also described as "Disney World for retirees", this community is meant to be a dream. It was specifically designed to resemble the kinds of small towns its inhabitants likely grew up in, right down to the shop-filled main street and the large town square, and locals aren't ever meant to want to leave. But as Some Kind of Heaven follows four folks who've made The Villages their home — including one ex-Californian import that's just squatting — it demonstrates the reality that lingers behind the busy facade and glossy sales pitch. Requiem for a Dream's Darren Aronofsky is one of the doco's producers and, while Mother!-style horrors never quite pop up, this isn't a portrait of bliss by any means.

Many of The Villages' residents are clearly happy. In his first feature-lengthy documentary, filmmaker Lance Oppenheim trains his gaze at people who aren't likely to appear in any of the community's brochures, however. Every shot lensed by cinematographer David Bolen (1BR) and boxed into the film's square frame is scenic and striking — Some Kind of Heaven sports an exquisite eye for visual composition — but much of what the movie depicts feels like stepping into a surreal alternative realm. (In one sequence, the camera meets a room filled with women called Elaine, all of whom introduce themselves one after one — and it's a scene that could've come straight out of any one of David Lynch's visions of suburban horror.) Approaching their 47-year wedding anniversary, Reggie and Anne think they've found the place for them. That's what they're both saying, at least, but The Villages means different things for each of them. Reggie has used the move to embrace his love of drugs and doing whatever he wants, and Anne has once again been forced to stand by his side, including when he's sent to court and admonished for his rudeness while representing himself. Then there's Barbara, a widow from Boston who didn't ever plan to live in Florida alone. She still works full-time, a rarity among her fellow residents, and she yearns for the company she thinks a margarita-loving golf cart salesman might bring. Rounding out the interviewees is the sleazy Dennis, an 81-year-old living in his van until he can find an attractive and rich woman to marry. Some Kind of Heaven doesn't judge him, or anyone else in its frames, but it lets these stories speak volumes about a place positioned as a fantasy land and yet really just bringing out the chaotic teenager inside everyone.

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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 March 4, March 11, March 18 and March 25; and April 1, April 8, April 15, April 22 and April 29; May 6, May 13, May 20 and May 27; June 3, June 10, June 17 and June 24; and July 1, July 8, July 15, July 22 and July 29.

You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as 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, The Painter and the Thief, Nobody, The Father, Willy's Wonderland, Collective, Voyagers, Gunda, Supernova, The Dissident, The United States vs Billie Holiday, First Cow, Wrath of Man, Locked Down, The Perfect Candidate, Those Who Wish Me Dead, Spiral: From the Book of Saw, Ema, A Quiet Place Part II, Cruella, My Name Is Gulpilil, Lapsis, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Fast and Furious 9, Valerie Taylor: Playing with Sharks, In the Heights, Herself, Little Joe, Black Widow, The Sparks Brothers, Nine Days, Gunpowder Milkshake, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Old and Jungle Cruise.

Published on August 05, 2021 by Sarah Ward

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