The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas This Week
Head to the flicks to see a George Clooney and Julia Roberts team up in a rom-com, a spectacular David Bowie documentary, and a wild and hilarious slasher-comedy.
September 15, 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.
BODIES BODIES BODIES
The internet couldn't have stacked Bodies Bodies Bodies better if it tried, not that that's how the slasher-whodunnit-comedy came about. Pete Davidson (The Suicide Squad) waves a machete around, and his big dick energy, while literally boasting about how he looks like he fucks. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan Oscar-nominee Maria Bakalova plays the cautious outsider among rich-kid college grads, who plan to ride out a big storm with drinks and drugs (and drama) in one of their parents' mansions. The Hunger Games and The Hate U Give alum Amandla Stenberg leads the show as the gang's black sheep, turning up unannounced to zero fanfare from her supposed besties, while the rest of the cast spans Shiva Baby's Rachel Sennott, Generation's Chase Sui Wonders and Industry's Myha'la Herrold, plus Pushing Daisies and The Hobbit favourite Lee Pace as a two-decades-older interloper. And the Agatha Christie-but-Gen Z screenplay? It's drawn from a spec script by Kristen Roupenian, the writer of 2017 viral New Yorker short story Cat Person.
All of the above is a lot. Bodies Bodies Bodies is a lot — 100-percent on purpose. It's a puzzle about a party game, as savage a hangout film as they come, and a satire about Gen Z, for starters. It carves into toxic friendships, ignored class clashes, self-obsessed obliviousness, passive aggression and playing the victim. It skewers today's always-online world and the fact that everyone has a podcast — and lets psychological warfare and paranoia simmer, fester and explode. Want more? It serves up another reminder after The Resort, Palm Springs and co that kicking back isn't always cocktails and carefree days. It's an eat-the-rich affair alongside Squid Game and The White Lotus. Swirling that all together like its characters' self-medicating diets, this wildly entertaining horror flick is a phenomenal calling card for debut screenwriter Sarah DeLappe and Dutch filmmaker Halina Reijn (Instinct), too — and it's hilarious, ridiculous, brutal and satisfying. Forgetting how it ends is also utterly impossible.
The palatial compound where Bodies Bodies Bodies unfurls belongs to David's (Davidson) family, but it's hurricane-party central when the film begins. That said, no one — not David, his actor girlfriend Emma (Wonders), the no-nonsense Jordan (Herrold) or needy podcaster Alice (Sennott), and definitely not Greg (Pace), the latter's swipe-right older boyfriend of barely weeks — expects Sophie (Stenberg) to show as they're swigging tequila poolside. She hasn't responded to the group chat, despite claiming otherwise when she arrives. She certainly hasn't told them, not even her childhood ride-or-die David, that she's bringing her new girlfriend Bee (Bakalova) along. And Sophie hasn't prepared Bee for their attitudes, all entitlement, years of taken-for-granted comfort and just as much mouldering baggage, as conveyed in bickering that's barely disguised as banter.
When the weather turns bad as forecast, a game is soon afoot inside the sprawling abode. Sharing the movie's title, the fake murder-mystery lark is this crew's go-to — but, even with a hefty supply of glow sticks (handy in the inevitable power outage), it doesn't mix too well with booze, coke and Xanax. The essentials: pieces of paper, one crossed with a X; everyone picking a scrap, with whoever gets the marked sliver deemed the perpetrator; and switching off the lights while said killer offs their victim, which happens just by touching them. Then, it's time to guess who the culprit is. That's when the mood plummets quickly, because accusing your friends of being faux murderers by publicly checking off all their shady traits will do that. It gets worse, of course, when those bodies bodies bodies soon become literal and everyone's a suspect.
Read our full review.
Ground control to major masterpiece: Moonage Daydream, Brett Morgen's kaleidoscopic collage-style documentary about the one and only David Bowie, really makes the grade. Its protein pills? A dazzling dream of archival materials, each piece as essential and energising as the next, woven into an electrifying experience that eclipses the standard music doco format. Its helmet? The soothing-yet-mischievous tones of Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane/The Thin White Duke/Jareth the Goblin King himself, the only protective presence a film about Bowie could and should ever need and want. The songs that bop through viewers heads? An immense playlist covering the obvious — early hit 'Space Oddity', the hooky glam-rock titular track, Berlin-penned anthem 'Heroes', the seductive 80s sounds of 'Let's Dance' and the Pet Shop Boys-remixed 90s industrial gem 'Hallo Spaceboy', to name a few — as well as deeper cuts. The end result? Floating through a cinematic reverie in a most spectacular way.
When Bowie came to fame in the 60s, then kept reinventing himself from the 70s until his gone-too-soon death in 2016, the stars did look very different — he did, constantly. How do you capture that persistent shapeshifting, gender-bending, personal and creative experimentation, and all-round boundary-pushing in a single feature? How do you distill a chameleonic icon and musical pioneer into any one piece of art, even a movie that cherishes each of its 135 minutes? In the first film officially sanctioned by Bowie's family and estate, Morgen knows what everyone that's fallen under the legend's spell knows: that the man born David Jones, who'd be 75 as this doco hits screens if he was still alive, can, must and always has spoken for himself. The task, then, is the same as the director had with the also-excellent Cobain: Montage of Heck and Jane Goodall-focused Jane: getting to the essence of his subject and conveying what made him such a wonder by using the figure himself as a template.
Nothing about Bowie earns an easy description. Nothing about Bowie, other than his stardom, brilliance and impact, sat or even stood still for too long. Driven by themes and moods rather than a linear birth-to-death chronology, Moonage Daydream leaps forward with that same drive to ch-ch-change, the same yearning to keep playing and unpacking, and the same quest for artistry as well. Taking its aesthetic approach from its centre of attention means peppering in psychedelic pops, bursts of colour, neon hues, and mirrored and tiled images — because it really means making a movie that washes over all who behold its dance, magic, dance. That's the reaction that Bowie always sparked, enchanting and entrancing for more than half a century. In successfully aping that feat, Morgen's film is as immersive as an art installation. Exhibition David Bowie Is has already toured the world, including a 2015 stint Down Under in Melbourne; Moonage Daydream sits partway between that and a Bowie concert.
This gift of sound and vision is as glorious as that gig-meets-art concept sounds — and yes, live footage beams and gleams throughout the documentary. Among the snippets of interviews, smattering of music videos, melange of clips from cinema touchstones that reverberate on Bowie's wavelength in one way or another, and scenes from his own acting career on-screen and onstage, how could it not? During his five years, fittingly, spent making Moonage Daydream, Morgen had access to the original concert masters, from which he spliced together his own mixes using alternative angles. Zooming back to the androgynous space-alien Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars tour is exhilarating, including when the feature's eponymous song explodes. Jumps to the 90s, to the Outside and Earthling tours, resonate with awe of a more grounded but no less vibrant kind. The Serious Moonlight segments, hailing from the 80s and all about pale suits and glistening blonde hair, see Bowie relaxing into entertainer mode — and, amid discussions about his wariness about making upbeat tunes, mastering that like everything else.
Read our full review.
TICKET TO PARADISE
Here we go again indeed: with the George Clooney- and Julia Roberts-starring Ticket to Paradise, a heavy been-there-done-that air sweeps through, thick with the Queensland-standing-in-for-Bali breeze. The film's big-name stars have bounced off each other in Ocean's Eleven, Ocean's Twelve and Money Monster before now. Director Ol Parker has already sent multiple groups of famous faces to far-flung places — far-flung from the UK or the US, that is — as the writer of the Best Exotic Marigold flicks and helmer of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Enough destination wedding rom-coms exist that one of the undersung better ones, with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, is even called Destination Wedding. And, there's plenty of romantic comedies about trying to foil nuptials, too, with My Best Friend's Wedding and Runaway Bride on Roberts' resume since the 90s.
Hurriedly throw all of the above into a suitcase — because your twentysomething daughter has suddenly announced she's marrying a seaweed farmer she just met in Indonesia, if you're Clooney and Roberts' long-divorced couple here — and that's firmly Ticket to Paradise. As The Lost City already was earlier in 2022, it too is a star-driven throwback, endeavouring to make the kind of easy, glossy, screwball banter-filled popcorn fare that doesn't reach screens with frequency lately. It isn't as entertaining as that flick, and it certainly isn't winking, nodding and having fun with its formula; sticking dispiritingly to the basics is all that's on Parker's itinerary with his first-timer co-scribe Daniel Pipski. But alongside picturesque vistas, Ticket to Paradise shares something crucial with The Lost City: it gets a whole lot of mileage out of its stars' charisma.
A quarter-century back, David (Clooney, The Midnight Sky) and Georgia (Roberts, Gaslit) were the instantly besotted couple impulsively tying the knot (if Ticket to Paradise is successful enough to spawn more movies, a prequel about the pair's younger years will likely be on the list). Alas, when this film begins, they can't stand to be anywhere near each other — room, city or state — after splitting two decades back. With their only child Lily (Kaitlyn Dever, Dopesick) graduating from college, they're forced to play faux nice for a few hours, but squabble over the armrest, then get publicly competitive about who loves their daughter more. This wouldn't be a rom-com led by Clooney and Roberts if schoolyard teasing logic didn't apply, though: they fight because sparks still fly deep down. And they keep verbally sparring when Lily announces a month later that she's met Bali local Gede (Maxime Bouttier, Unknown) on a getaway before she's supposed to put her law degree to its intended use, and that she'll be hitched within days.
If another template that Ticket to Paradise happily follows is to be believed, parents don't respond well to their kids plunging into matrimony, especially without notice. David and Georgia are no different, desperately wanting to stop Lily from repeating their own mistakes and willing to zip halfway around the world to do so — hence the feature's airfare moniker. They attempt to unite over sabotaging the wedding, but old habits die hard amid tussling with biting dolphins, stealing rings and putting up with Paul (Lucas Bravo, Emily in Paris), Georgia's younger, deeply infatuated boyfriend. Amid drunken beer pong matches and daggy dances to 90s tracks, plus getting stuck in the Balinese jungle overnight as well, older feelings die harder still, of course — and a ticket to surprises or fresh material, this clearly isn't.
Read our full review.
"It's a shock to the system. It's a change to the everyday, regular routine. It's where the unhappy gene comes out — and it's a sign of the times today." That's the gloriously candid and empathetic Sandra Pankhurst on trauma, a topic she has literally made her business. Later in Clean, the documentary that tells her tale, she describes herself as a "busy nose and a voyeur"; however, that's not what saw her set up Melbourne's Specialised Trauma Cleaning. For three decades now, her company has assisted with "all the shitty jobs that no one really wants to do," as she characterises it: crime-scene cleanups, including after homicides, suicides and overdoses; deceased estates, such as bodies found some time after their passing; and homes in squalor, to name a few examples. As she explains in the film, Pankhurst is eager to provide such cleaning services because everyone deserves that help — and because we're all just a couple of unfortunate turns away from needing it.
The 2008 movie Sunshine Cleaning starring Amy Adams (Dear Evan Hansen) and Emily Blunt (Jungle Cruise) fictionalised the trauma-cleaning realm; if that's your touchstone at the outset of Clean, prepare for far less gloss, for starters. Prepare for much more than a look at a fascinating but largely ignored industry, too, because filmmaker Lachlan Mcleod (Big in Japan) is as rightly interested in Pankhurst as he is in her line of work. Everything she says hangs in the air with meaning, even as it all bounces lightly from her lips ("life can be very fragile", "every dog has its day, and a mongrel has two" and "life dishes you out a good story and then life dishes you out a shit one" are some such utterances). Everything feels matter of fact and yet also immensely caring through her eyes, regardless of the situation that her Frankston-headquartered employees are attending to.
Sometimes, STC does confront harrowing and grimy messes that could be ripped straight out of a crime drama, but ensuring that the families don't have to swab up themselves after a gory incident is a point of pride. Sometimes, it aids people with disability or illness by playing housekeeper when they can't, or sorts through a lifetime of possessions when someone has turned to hoarding. There's no judgement directed anyone's way, not by Pankhurst or the crew of committed cleaners who've formed a family-like bond under her watch. It takes a particular sort of person to do this gig, everyone notes, and the group is as sensitive and considerate as their boss because most have experienced their own hardships. They can also see what she sees: "everyone's got trauma; it's not the demographic, it's the circumstance".
Pankhurst's company and tale isn't new to the public eye, thanks to Sarah Krasnostein's award-winning 2018 book The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay and Disaster — and both there and here, the role she has played and the fortitude she has displayed while sifting through her own personal traumas earns merited attention. Mcleod keeps his focus on STC for the film's first third, aided by Pankhurst's frank insights, but the many layers to the business, its workers and its clients are paralleled in her own multifaceted story. Clean takes her lead, though; never within its frames does Pankhurst offer up a simple assessment of herself, other than saying she'd liked to be remembered "as a kind human being — nothing more, nothing less". As a transgender woman who was adopted at birth, grew up in an abusive household, married and had a family, performed as a drag queen, undertook sex work, survived rape and drugs, transitioned, and became one of Australia's first female funeral directors, nothing about her can be deduced to a few mere words.
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 June 2, June 9, June 16, June 23 and June 30; and July 7, July 14, July 21 and July 28; August 4, August 11, August 18 and August 25; and September 1 and September 8.
You can also read our full reviews of a heap of recent movies, such as Mothering Sunday, Jurassic World Dominion, A Hero, Benediction, Lightyear, Men, Elvis, Lost Illusions, Nude Tuesday, Ali & Ava, Thor: Love and Thunder, Compartment No. 6, Sundown, The Gray Man, The Phantom of the Open, The Black Phone, Where the Crawdads Sing, Official Competition, The Forgiven, Full Time, Murder Party, 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 and Flux Gourmet.
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