The New Movies You Can Watch at Australian Cinemas This Week
Head to the flicks to see a powerful newspaper drama about bringing down Harvey Weinstein, an inspiring Australian documentary and Alejandro González Iñárritu's latest.
November 17, 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.
Questions flow freely in She Said, the powerful and methodical All the President's Men and Spotlight-style newspaper drama that tells the story behind the past decade's biggest entertainment story. On-screen, Zoe Kazan (Clickbait) and Carey Mulligan (The Dig) tend to be doing the asking, playing now Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. They query Harvey Weinstein's actions, including his treatment of women. They gently and respectfully press actors and Miramax employees about their traumatic dealings with the Hollywood honcho, and they politely see if some — if any — will go on the record about their experiences. And, they question Weinstein and others at his studio about accusations that'll lead to this famous headline: "Harvey Weinstein Paid Off Sexual Harassment Accusers for Decades".
As the entire world read at the time, those nine words were published on October 5, 2017, along with the distressing article that detailed some — but definitely not all — of Weinstein's behaviour. Everyone has witnessed the fallout, too, with Kantor and Twohey's story helping spark the #MeToo movement, electrifying the ongoing fight against sexual assault and gender inequality in the entertainment industry, and shining a spotlight on the gross misuses of authority that have long plagued Tinseltown. The piece also brought about Weinstein's swift downfall. As well as being sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York in 2020, he's currently standing trial for further charges in Los Angeles. Watching She Said, however, more questions spring for the audience. Here's the biggest heartbreaker: how easily could Kantor and Twohey's article never have come to fruition at all, leaving Weinstein free to continue his predatory harassment?
In a female-driven movie on- and off-screen — including director Maria Schrader (I'm Your Man), screenwriter Rebecca Lenkiewicz (Small Axe) and cinematographer Natasha Braier (Honey Boy) — She Said details all the moments where the pivotal piece of reporting could've been forced to take no for an answer, something that Weinstein wasn't known for. At the NYT, assistant managing editor Rebecca Corbett (Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects) and executive editor Dean Baquet (Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) are always supportive, starting when Kantor picks up the story, and continuing when she brings in Twohey fresh off an investigative article into Donald Trump's sexual misconduct. But, unsurprisingly, the women made victims by Weinstein are wary. Many also signed non-disclosure agreements. Kantor and Twohey's pitch: by speaking out and ideally going on the record, they can assist in ensuring that what they endured doesn't happen to anyone else.
Knowing the end result, and the whole reason that She Said exists, doesn't dampen the film's potency or tension. Instead, it heightens the appreciation for the bravery of those who spoke out — at first and afterwards — and the care with which Kantor and Twohey handled their task. The two reporters knew that they were asking women to revisit their darkest traumas, make their worst ordeals public and take on a man who'd been untouchable for decades (with the spate of NDAs and settlements with many of his targets to prove it). Even Rose McGowan (voiced by The Plot Against America's Keilly McQuail) is hesitant; she's mentioned but not quoted in the final piece. Persevering to bring Weinstein's crimes to attention, Kantor and Twohey keep digging, and keep trying to persuade their potential interviewees — and She Said doubles as a lesson in compassionately and respectfully doing just that.
Read our full review.
BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS
Everyone wants to be the person at the party that the dance floor revolves around, and life in general as well, or so Alejandro González Iñárritu contends in Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. In one of the film's many spectacularly shot scenes — with the dual Best Director Oscar-winning Birdman and The Revenant helmer benefiting from astonishing lensing by Armageddon Time cinematographer Darius Khondji — the camera swirls and twirls around Silverio Gama (Daniel Giménez Cacho, Memoria), the movie's protagonist, making him the only person that matters in a heaving crowd. Isolated vocals from David Bowie's 'Let's Dance' boom, and with all the more power without music behind them, echoing as if they're only singing to Silverio. Iñárritu is right: everyone does want a moment like this. Amid the intoxicating visuals and vibe, he's also right that such instances are fleeting. And, across his sprawling and surreal 159-minute flick, he's right that such basking glory and lose-yourself-to-dance bliss can never be as fulfilling as anyone wants.
That sequence comes partway through Bardo, one of several that stun through sheer beauty and atmosphere, and that Iñárritu layers with the disappointment of being himself. Everyone wants to be the filmmaker with all the fame and success, breaking records, winning prestigious awards and conquering Hollywood, he also contends. Alas, when you're this Mexican director, that isn't as joyous or uncomplicated an experience as it sounds. On-screen, his blatant alter ego is a feted documentarian rather than a helmer of prized fiction. He's a rare Latino recipient of a coveted accolade, one of Bardo's anchoring events. He's known to make ambitious works with hefty titles — False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths is both the IRL movie's subtitle and the name of Silverio's last project — and he's been largely based in the US for decades. Yes, parallels abound.
While dubbing Bardo as semi-autobiographical is one of the easiest ways to describe it, simplicity isn't one of its truths, even if the film champions the small things in life as existential essentials. Another easy way to outline Bardo: Silverio faces his choices, regrets and achievements as that shiny trophy looms, and ponders where his career has taken him, who it's made him and what that all means to him. From the filmmaker who first earned attention for telling narratives in a fractured, multi-part fashion (see: his debut Amores Perros, plus 21 Grams and Babel), and lately has loved roving and roaming cinematography that unfurls in the lengthiest of takes (see: Birdman and The Revenant), this was never going to be a straightforward affair, though. And so he weaves and wanders, and has the silver-haired Silverio do the same, while weighing up what's brought them both to this point.
Bardo opens by visibly recalling Birdman, with a bounding force casting a shadow upon an arid land, but it's an early glimpse at a house from above that encapsulates Iñárritu's approach best. The home initially resembles a miniature, which Silverio then flits through — and, given its lead often segues between places and times like he's stepping through a doorway, the movie functions in the same manner. Sometimes, he's in a hospital corridor as his wife Lucía (Griselda Siciliani, The People Upstairs) gives birth to a baby boy who whispers that the world is too broken for him to want to live in, and is then pushed back into the womb. Or, he's picturing how a big TV interview with a bitter ex-colleague could go wrong, or shrinking down to childhood size to chat with his deceased father. Sometimes, Silverio is in Los Angeles holding a bag of axolotls, or striding through Mexico City streets that are empty except for corpses.
Read our full review.
GREENHOUSE BY JOOST
When Joost Bakker helped pile 3000 kilograms of clothing waste in Melbourne's Federation Square in April 2022, all to draw attention to fast fashion, he viewed the project with his usual optimism. "Even if it's just one person who walks through that structure and gets inspired and comes up with a solution — that's what's so exciting," the renowned zero-waste campaigner noted. Those exact words could've been uttered about the venture at the centre of Greenhouse by Joost, too. A three-storey home made entirely out of recyclable materials that don't generate waste, and designed to operate as a closed food system with everything catered for onsite and not a scrap spared, it predates his spotlight on the textile industry. Clearly, it boasts the same sustainability focus. In fact, Bakker could've said the same thing about past pop-ups in the same spot over more than a decade, including fellow waste-free eateries also called Greenhouse since 2008. Scratch that — it isn't merely likely that the Dutch-born floral designer and activist could've expressed the same sentiments; it's certain he must've.
Eliminating waste is Bakker's passion. Not wasting any time trying to put that aim into action is just as much of an obsession. His work doesn't merely talk the talk but walks the walk, and attempts to help the world see how crucial it is to reduce humanity's impact upon the earth. The habitable Greenhouse is quite the undertaking, though, given its purpose: building an abode that two people can get shelter, food, water and energy from, all in one cosy and clever self-sustaining ecosystem. Chefs Jo Barrett and Matt Stone (ex-Oakridge Wines) agreed to do the residing, and to put Bakker's Future Food System to the test. They were named among the world's 50 best next-generation hospitality leaders in 2021 for their efforts, for what's a vital, pioneering and fascinating enterprise. It's no wonder that filmmakers Rhian Skirving (Matilda & Me) and Bruce Permezel (The Obesity Myth) — both directing, the former writing and the latter lensing — were driven to document it.
Shot since the conception and building stage, then chronicling the COVID-19 setbacks, the logistical and setup woes, and the daily reality of living in the structure, it's also no wonder that the resulting Melbourne International Film Festival Audience Award-winner makes such compelling viewing. Greenhouse by Joost is both a record and an aspirational tool: it shows what can and has been done and, as Bakker always hopes, it wants to get everyone watching following in his, Barrett and Stone's footsteps. Of course, for most, money will be a very real and practical obstacle. There's no doubting that Greenhouse stems from considerable resources, both in finances and time. But that's the thing with ambitions: they have us shooting for the stars, breaking our goals down into everyday pieces and finding ways to make even small parts of them happen. Evoking that exact response when it comes to making life's basics sustainable — what we eat and drink, where we stay and sleep, and how we power it all — is Bakker's aim, too.
With Bakker as the film's on-screen guide, Greenhouse by Joost does just that itself as well, stepping through the idea and the execution like it's laying out a roadmap for its audience to chart. Viewers won't walk out of the doco ready to move into their own such dwelling, but learning plenty about the ingenious design, the bits and pieces that go into it, and the work required — to get it up, ready and operating smoothly, and also to have it function as a small-scale restaurant — comes with simply watching. Although the cooking, serving, welcoming in eager diners and sharing the titular building comes later in the movie, obviously, it's a crucial piece of the project overall and of Skirving and Permezel's feature. How much more doable does just living in the Greenhouse and taking care of yourself seem compared to running it as a mini eatery? Oh-so-much. How much easier does putting some of its principles to use in your own home seem, too? The answer remains the same.
Read our full review.
MILLIE LIES LOW
A scene-stealer in 2018's The Breaker Upperers, Ana Scotney now leads the show in Millie Lies Low. She's just as magnetic. The New Zealand actor comes to the part via Wellington Paranormal, Shortland Street, Educators and Cousins — and the film first debuted at festivals before her role in God's Favourite Idiot — but it's an exceptional calling card. It isn't easy playing someone so committed to making such utterly questionable choices, yet remaining so charmingly relatable; however, that's Scotney's remit and achievement in this canny, savvy and amusing comedy. It also isn't easy to pull off the timing needed to highlight the hilarious side of Millie's hijinks, while ensuring that her woes, hopes and everything that's led her to lie low but lie about living it up remain understandable; consider her entire portrayal a masterclass in just that.
Scotney plays the film's eponymous Wellington university student, who panics aboard a plane bound for New York — where a prestigious architecture internship awaits — and has to disembark before her flight leaves. She says she isn't anxious. She also says it isn't an attack. And by the time she realises what she's done, she's alone in the airport, the aircraft has departed and her own face beams down at her from a digital billboard. Even getting that Big Apple opportunity had made her the toast of the town, and huge things were meant to await, hence the ads and publicity. Now, a new ticket costs $2000, which Millie doesn't have. Admitting that she hasn't gone at all — to her family, friends, teachers, school and the NZ capital at large — wouldn't cost her a thing, but it's a price she isn't willing to pay.
First, Millie endeavours to rustle up the cash from her best friend and classmate (Jillian Nguyen, Hungry Ghosts), and then her mother (Rachel House, Heartbreak High). Next, she hits up a quick-loan business (run by Cohen Holloway, The Power of the Dog) but is still left empty-handed. Millie's only solution, other than admitting the situation and facing the fallout: faking it till she makes it. As she searches for other ways to stump up the funds, she hides out in her hometown, telling everyone that she's actually already in NYC. To support her ruse, she posts elaborate faux Instagram snaps MacGyvered out of whatever she can find (big sacks of flour standing in for snow, for instance) and scours for every possible spot, building feature and poster that can even slightly double for New York.
There's a caper vibe to Millie's efforts skulking around Wellington while attempting to finance the ticket to her apparent dreams. Sometimes, she's holed up in a tent in her mum's backyard. Sometimes, she's putting on a disguise and showing up at parties in her old flat — eavesdropping on what her mates are saying in her absence, and spying on the boyfriend (Chris Alosio, Troppo) she's meant to be on a break from. While she's doing the latter, she's also reclaiming the car she sold pre-trip to use as loan collateral, because she's that determined to get to America and leave her nearest and dearest none the wiser. Making her feature debut, director and co-writer Michelle Savill has more than just a laugh and a lark in her sights, though, as entertaining as Millie Lies Low's namesake's antics are. There's a caper vibe to the picture of Millie's supposedly perfect existence that she's trying to push upon herself as much as her loved ones as well, like she's selling herself on an unwanted fantasy.
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 and November 10.
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, The Wonder, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Velvet Queen.
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