The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas From September 10
Head to the flicks to see the return of 'Bill & Ted', an ultra-violent take on 'Home Alone' or a documentary about two Australian music icons.
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.
BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC
When it comes to goofy and sweet movie concepts handled with sincerity, the Bill & Ted franchise has always proven most triumphant. In 1989's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the big-screen comedy series introduced the world to Californian high schoolers Bill S Preston, Esq (Alex Winter) and Ted 'Theodore' Logan (Keanu Reeves), who are apparently destined to write the rock song that unites the universe — if they can first pass their history exam by travelling back in time in a phone booth to recruit famed past figures like Beethoven and Socrates to help, that is. The idea that Bill & Ted's affable, air guitar-playing slackers would become the world's salvation was a joke that the film itself was in on, and the movie struck the right balance of silliness, earnestness and affection as a result. So, the end product was joyous. And, it inspired two follow-ups: 1991's even loopier but still entertaining Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and now Bill & Ted Face the Music's affectionate dose of warm-hearted lunacy almost three decades later.
Bill (Winter) and Ted (Reeves) are back, obviously. They're older, definitely not wiser, and yet again take a few leaps through time. The fate of life as everyone knows it is still at stake. And, as always, the loveable pair's motto — "be excellent to each other" — is pivotal. Combine all of the above with marital malaise, chip-off-the-old-block daughters Theadora (Ready or Not's Samara Weaving) and Wilhelmina (Atypical's Brigette Lundy-Paine), multiple Bills and Teds, and a 77-minute deadline to write the tune the changes the future, and Face the Music saunters casually forward with a purposeful sense of familiarity. Thankfully, though, this film isn't merely trying to relive past glories. In fact, the very notion that some dreams don't come true sits at the core of this tender and loving movie. Naturally, it's a delight to see Winter and Reeves reprise their roles. They step back into Bill and Ted's shoes with ease, expertly conveying the characters' lingering immaturity, middle-aged malaise and ever-present kindness. They're also clearly having a blast as different versions of the duo, and their enthusiasm is infectious. But when Face the Music finds a plethora of ways to illustrate the merits of their characters' optimistic and warm mindset, it's at its best. Far from bogus, the heartfelt happiness it brings is 100-percent excellent.
Read our full review.
From its opening frames, Moroccan drama Adam is both tender and determined, with neither trait subsiding for a moment. Its focus: the unmarried but visibly pregnant Samia (Nisrin Erradi), who tries to find both work and a place to stay in Casablanca as the birth of her baby approaches. Met with the type of attitudes she's already running from, and demonstrating her society's overall disdain for births outside of wedlock, she's turned away at every single door — including, at first, by baker and bereaved single mother Abla (Lubna Azabal). But when the latter spies Samia sleeping on the street across from her home and shop that same evening, she gives her a bed for the night. It's just a once-off, Abla insists; however after Samia hits it off with Abla's pre-teen daughter Warda (Douae Belkhaouda), shows that she's experienced at making pastries (popular ones, too, as the store's customers attest) and starts to share her story with her initially begrudging host, that arrangement is extended.
If the above narrative sounds simple, that's because it is, with first-time feature filmmaker Maryam Touzani never resorting to needlessly complicating matters. There's enough that's complex about both Abla and Samia's situations as it is, including the way that they're treated by the world simply for existing and cycling through the usual life events that women face, that Adam really doesn't require any big twists or turns to heighten its emotional impact. A fine-tuned, observational, always heartfelt script, also by Touzani, helps considerably, as does the movie's naturalistic visual style — which suits a drama that makes clear the high stakes in play for its two characters, as well as the huge choices they're confronted with for their children, but allows its plot to unfurl in a low-key way. One playing resourceful but uncertain, the other stern and wounded, both Catch the Wind's Erradi and Mary Magdalene's Azabal turn in stellar performances, too. The film could easily watch the ebbs and flows of their relationship for far longer than its 98-minute running time, in fact. As a result of all of the above, add Adam to the ever-growing collection of features that thoughtfully, carefully and unwaveringly unpack the plights endured by women around the world.
SLIM & I
As documentary Slim & I conveys more than once, there's little in this life that's ever been more Australian than Slim Dusty. But, as the film's title also informs viewers, this survey of more than a half-century of Aussie country music stardom isn't just about the man known for 'A Pub with No Beer', 'Duncan' and 'G'day G'day', among other tracks. For all of those years, and spanning more than 100 albums and oh-so-much time on the road playing the country's outback towns, Joy McKean was by Slim's side — as a performer in her own right on tour with him at first, then as his wife, musical partner and driving force, as well as the person responsible for penning most of his tunes. Joy won the first ever Golden Guitar award for writing Slim's 'Lights on the Hill', and her lyrical impact has inspired as many Aussie performers as her husband. Indeed, to make that point plain, Slim & I assembles a lineup of talking heads that spans Paul Kelly, Keith Urban, Missy Higgins, Troy Cassar-Daley, Kasey Chambers and Bill Chambers.
As directed by Red Dog and The Go-Betweens: Right Here filmmaker Kriv Stenders — blending the unshakeable Australiana of the former with the music acumen of the latter — this affectionate doco also ensures that Joy herself does plenty of talking. Looking back on her life at the age of 90, she's sprightly, no-nonsense and generous as she chats through her and Slim's intertwined story, including the struggles as well as the highlights, and spanning both professional and personal details. An impressive treasure trove of archival footage is splashed across the screen to help, meaning that there's always a new and interesting piece of material to catch the audience's attention. It's all set to the obvious soundtrack, and the result is as loving, engaging, informative and well put-together as you'd expect from an endearing portrait of Aussie icons. While there's much about this celebratory effort that lingers, however, seeing Slim and Joy's commitment to taking their music to the country in action leaves a firm impression. It's never difficult to understand why this movie was screaming to be made, and why Joy deserves as much public acclaim as her husband, but watching the adoring response from the remote Indigenous communities they visited again and again isn't easily forgotten.
If, in Becky, its eponymous 13-year-old protagonist was to exclaim "keep the change, ya filthy animal" — or, to be precise, to play a videotape of a movie where a gangster utters those words — it wouldn't be surprising for a second. That doesn't happen but it easily could've, given that Becky (Ready Player One's Lulu Wilson) is charged with fending off the villains who've encroached upon her family's lake house. That said, she isn't home alone. Her widower father Jeff (Joel McHale) is onsite as well and, much to Becky's displeasure, he has invited along his new girlfriend Kayla (The Handmaid's Tale's Amanda Brugel) and her young son Ty (Random Acts of Violence's Isaiah Rockcliffe). Alas, after a knock at the door, a group of Nazi prison escapees led by the tattooed and menacing Dominick (Kevin James) also make their presence known. Searching for a hidden key on the secluded property, they quickly take Jeff, Kayla and Ty hostage, leaving Becky to fight back.
Like Kevin McCallister, Becky is eager to use every means at her disposal to mess with these interlopers — in a far more brutal and bloody fashion than this film's obvious predecessor, though. No one will be screening Becky to families at Christmas for decades and decades, that's for certain. Making their third feature after 2014's Cooties and 2017's Bushwick, filmmakers Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion don't ever pretend that they're in new territory here. Instead, they take their given concept, soak it in violence and embrace as much nasty carnage as they can fit in. The end result is repetitive, but it's also filled with a host of gorily entertaining and nicely choreographed B-movie moments. And although enlisting James to play wildly against type is blatantly supposed to be the big casting drawcard, it's Wilson who steals every scene as the calculating, clever, fierce and often fearsome teenage girl who won't let anyone — the dad she's initially angsty at, the future stepmother she doesn't want to give a chance or the very unpleasant men with equally unpleasant plans who spoil her weekend — get in her way.
AFTER WE COLLIDED
The worst movie of 2019 now has a sequel, and it's on track to claim that exact same title in 2020. Originally penned as Harry Styles fan fiction, the After series takes a leaf out of Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey's books by holding up a thoroughly toxic relationship as the ultimate in epic romances — this time focusing on the on-again, off-again exploits of two college students. In After, Tessa Young (Josephine Langford, the Wolf Creek TV series) and Hardin Scott (Hero Tiffin Fiennes, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) met, opposites attracted and a hot-and-heavy affair kicked off, although the rebellious Hardin sought after the virginal Tessa with shady intentions. Accordingly, when After We Collided meets back up with the duo, they're no longer seeing each other. But the brooding Hardin is still unhealthily obsessed, and the supposedly smart and conscientious but actually overtly insecure Tessa can't help but make reigniting their bond the latest entry on her lengthy (and expanding) list of bad decisions.
This time around, the plot uses Tessa's new internship as its reason for a fresh spate of terrible dialogue, as well as its source of drama. It's in publishing, in case 50 Shades didn't already spring to mind, and it's one of those fantasy jobs where the lowest person in the company's hierarchy gets their own office to sit around and read manuscripts in all day. Shameless and steamy wish fulfilment is exactly this franchise's aim, of course — but the big dream that author and After We Collided co-screenwriter Anna Todd pushes is constantly insulting, with the series repeatedly telling its audience that being loved by a moody, erratic bad boy, and taking the breakups, fights and stalking with the gifts and shower sex, is the ultimate fate. This sequel also throws a romantic rival into the mix, courtesy of Tessa's straight-laced colleague Trevor Matthews (Dylan Sprouse, twin brother of Riverdale's Cole Sprouse), and where that narrative strand goes proves as predictable as everything else in the film. Although he has Cruel Intentions on his resume, director Roger Kumble only adds superficial gloss and no signs of interest or excitement; however given that two more After books exist — After We Fell and After Ever Happy — it's highly likely two more movies will, too.
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, July 30, August 6, August 13, August 20 and August 27 — and our full reviews of The Personal History of David Copperfield, Waves, The King of Staten Island, Babyteeth, Deerskin, Peninsula, Tenet, Les Misérables and The New Mutants.
Published on September 10, 2020 by Sarah Ward