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By Concrete Playground
February 23, 2021
By Concrete Playground
February 23, 2021


Choc tops, popcorn and surround sound await.

After a year of streaming flicks on our laptops and phones, it's time to put bums back on seats at actual cinemas. Excitingly, you can do that at IRL film festivals, pop-up cinemas and even car park rooftops across Melbourne. There are lots of places to catch a film in Melbourne RN. We've rounded up a few of our faves right here. Order an extra large popcorn and get ready for some serious viewing.

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    When Peninsula Hot Springs unveiled its revamped facilities in 2018, the acclaimed Fingal spot added something extra exciting — especially if you’re keen to pair your soak with some entertainment. At the Mornington Peninsula getaway’s outdoor Bath House Amphitheatre, you can now not only relax in the 39-degree geothermal pool in the evening air, but also direct your eyes at a movie on the big screen while you’re there.

    The Peninsula Hot Springs bathe-in cinema is all about getting blissful in warm water while watching movies that explore themes of connection, nature and laughter. A different film plays every Friday night in February, as well as on Sunday, February 14 as well — and, for its 2021 run, the site is doing something different with its lineup.

    Even better — catching a flick is included in the regular Bath House bathing price, which’ll set you back $45 per person.

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    Love & Neon: The Cinema of Wong Kar-Wai

    It’s impossible to watch a movie directed by Wong Kar-Wai and mistake it for the work of another filmmaker. As he has kept proving over his 32-year career to-date, his work is just that distinctive. And while the opposite isn’t true, either — no one will ever confuse a movie helmed by someone else for one of Wong’s efforts — his influence on cinema and his peers is evident in every neon-hued tale of yearning, every mesmerising and aching love story that says as much through its imagery as it does with dialogue, and plenty of martial arts fare as well.

    Wong makes films to luxuriate in — to truly feast your eyes upon — and, unsurprisingly, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Sydney Film Festival want to celebrate that fact, and his work. Accordingly, they’re teaming up to present touring program Love & Neon: The Cinema of Wong Kar-Wai. It showcases 11 of the filmmaker’s titles, surveying his entire career, and will screen in Melbourne from Thursday, February 11–Saturday, February 27. And, it’ll mark ACMI’s big reopening as the first physical film season at the revamped Federation Square venue.

    In the Mood for Love is on the bill, of course, but it isn’t the only movie worth checking out on the silver screen. You can also see his debut feature As Tears Go By; Chungking Express, which is inspired by a Haruki Murakami short story; and the touching Happy Together — plus the rebellious Days of Being Wild, the gorgeous 2046, and Wong’s first English-language film My Blueberry Nights. Or, there’s also his two martial arts epics: Ashes of Time: Redux and The Grandmaster.

    You’ll be watching restored versions of most of the above, too, including glorious 4K restorations.

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    Pentridge Open-Air Cinema

    What’s better than a new place to watch movies on a big screen in Melbourne? A brand new 15-screen cinema that’ll also have its own outdoor cinema, too. That’s the case at Pentridge Cinema, which will launch for indoor screenings in the former Coburg prison site on Friday, December 11 — and will unveil its sibling venue, Pentridge Open-Air Cinema, on Boxing Day.

    At the latter, you’ll sit outside on a deck chair in the grassy courtyard, stare up at a big screen, soak in the summer evening air, be surrounded by the revamped precinct’s 1850s-era walls and— in line with the times — social distance as well. Movies will screen every night through until Sunday, March 28, with gates opening at 7.30pm and films starting at around 8.45pm.

    As for what you’ll be watching, 55 flicks are on the program, spanning new and retro titles. It all kicks off with the obvious — The Shawshank Redemption — and yes, as we predicted, other prison flicks like Chopper, The Great Escape, The Rock and Cool Hand Luke are on the bill.

    So are fellow classics like Goodfellas, Lost in Translation, Labyrinth, Romeo + Juliet, Clueless and Jurassic Park — and, for something more recent, Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace.

    Palace will run a pop-up bar outdoors each night, selling snacks and drinks. You can BYO picnic if you’d rather, but not booze. On Saturday and Sunday nights, there’ll also be ticketed ‘Aperol Sundown Sessions’, which include two spritzes, a meal and live music before the movie.

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    Jewish International Film Festival 2021

    Each week, Australia’s cinemas deliver plenty of excuses to spend time in a darkened theatre with your eyes glued to the big screen. But when the Jewish International Film Festival returns for 2021 — after sitting out last year due to the pandemic — it’ll serve up even more reasons to spend a night or several at the flicks, especially if you’re keen to explore a top-notch program of movies and television shows with ties to Jewish culture.

    A hefty lineup spanning 29 features, 19 documentaries and episodes from three TV series is on the bill when the festival hits Melbourne between Wednesday, February 17–Tuesday, March 16 — running at the Classic and Lido cinemas. JIFF 2021 will open with Incitement, which won Best Film at the Ophir Awards (aka Israel’s version of the Oscars), and steps into a young Orthodox law student’s attempt to assassinate the Israeli Prime Minister in 1995. At the other end of the fest, it’ll close with the first two episodes from the third season of Shtisel, starring Unorthodox breakout Shira Haas as the member of a Haredi family in Jerusalem.

    Also on offer: Haas again, this time as a teenager with a degenerative health condition in Asia; coming-of-age comedy Shiva Baby, focusing on a college student dealing with dramas at the titular event; and When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, about a Jewish family fleeing Berlin in the 30s. Or, you can check out Ruth – Justice Ginsburg In Her Own Words, the latest documentary about the late, great Supreme Court Justice; Alan Pakula: Going for Truth, which pays tribute to the director of To Kill a Mockingbird, Sophie’s Choice, All the President’s Men and more; and The Last Vermeer, with Dracula‘s Claes Bang as an army officer investigating paintings taken by the Nazis and Aussie star Guy Pearce playing a Dutch art dealer.

    Top image: Shtisel, Ohad Romano.

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    Topless Cinema

    Movie-loving Melburnians have a new place to get their flicks fix — for six Thursday evenings during MPavilion‘s current season, that is. The event announced last year that it was turning CBD car park Parkade into its hub to start 2021, and now it’s unleashing a series of film screenings there as well. Even better: they’re all free.

    On February 4, 11 and 18, and again on March 4, 11 and 25, the Little Collins Street spot will be setting up a big screen, showing recent and classic movies, and also serving drinks from the onsite bar. Each session kicks off at 8pm, and you’ll be heading up to level seven for this collaboration between MPavilion and Rooftop Cinema, which has been dubbed Topless Cinema.

    As for what you’ll be watching, the season starts with the delightful Jacques Tati comedy Playtime, then swoons over The Love Witch in the lead up to Valentine’s Day. February’s sessions close with award-winning Aussie drama Babyteeth, while March’s begin with Tim Burton’s gorgeous Edward Scissorhands. And, there’s also Agnes Varda’s masterful Cleo From 5 to 7, plus documentary Rams, about industrial designer Dieter Rams.

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    Ocean Film Festival World Tour 2021

    There’s something oh-so-relaxing about staring at the sea, even if you’re feasting your eyes on the water via the big screen. That’s the concept behind the Ocean Film Festival Australia. You can’t always spend all your time at the beach, by the river or in a pool — but you can spend an evening peering at the next best thing in a cinema.

    On select dates in March, the festival will unleash a cinematic feast of water-focused wonders onto the silver screen at various venues around Melbourne. Head to the Astor Theatre at 7.15pm on Wednesday, March 10 and Thursday, March 11, and to Crown Melbourne at 6.30pm and 6.45pm on Wednesday, March 17.

    Film-wise, viewers will spend time both above and below the ocean’s surface thanks to a compilation of shorts from around the world. Expect to chase big waves, explore a range of sea life and get a hefty ocean rush, plus a heap of other sea adventures.

    The program is united by a love of the ocean, an appreciation of the creatures who dwell in its waters and a curiosity to explore the substance that comprises more than two-thirds of the earth. It’s the next best thing to diving in, all without getting wet.

    Image: Travis Burke.



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