Ten New Movies You Can Watch in September That Have Been Fast-Tracked From Cinemas to Streaming
Get comfy on the couch with Greta Gerwig's glorious 'Barbie' movie, an instant Aussie horror classic and Paul Mescal dancing in the desert.
September 15, 2023
Before the pandemic, when a new-release movie started playing in cinemas, audiences couldn't watch it on streaming, video on demand, DVD or blu-ray for a few months. But with the past few years forcing film industry to make quite a few changes — widespread movie theatre closures will do that, and so will plenty of people staying home because they aren't well — that's no longer always the case.
Maybe you haven't had time to make it to your local cinema lately. Perhaps you've been under the weather. Given the hefty amount of titles now releasing each week, maybe you simply missed something. Film distributors have been fast-tracking some of their new releases from cinemas to streaming recently — movies that might still be playing in theatres in some parts of the country, too. In preparation for your next couch session, here are ten that you can watch right now at home.
No one plays with a Barbie too hard when the Mattel product is fresh out of the box. As that new doll smell lingers, and the toy's synthetic limbs gleam and locks glisten, so does a child's sense of wonder. The more that the world-famous mass-produced figurine is trotted through DreamHouses, slipped into convertibles and decked out in different outfits, though — then given non-standard makeovers — the more that playing with the plastic fashion model becomes fantastical. Like globally beloved item, like live-action movie bearing its name. Barbie, the film, starts with glowing aesthetic perfection. It's almost instantly a pink-hued paradise for the eyes, and it's also a cleverly funny flick from its 2001: A Space Odyssey-riffing outset. The longer that it continues, however, the harder and wilder that Lady Bird and Little Women director Greta Gerwig goes, as does her Babylon and Amsterdam star lead-slash-producer Margot Robbie as Barbie.
In Barbie's Barbie Land, life is utopian. Robbie's Stereotypical Barbie and her fellow dolls (including The Gray Man's Ryan Gosling as Stereotypical Ken) genuinely believe that their rosy beachside suburban excellence is infectious, too. And, they're certain that this female-championing realm — and the Barbies being female champions of all skills, talents and appearances — has changed the real world inhabited by humans. But there's a Weird Barbie living in a misshapen abode. While she isn't Barbie's villain, not for a second, her nonconformist look and attitude says everything about Barbie at its most delightful. Sporting cropped hair, a scribbled-on face and legs akimbo, she's brought to life by Saturday Night Live great Kate McKinnon having a blast, and explained as the outcome of a kid somewhere playing too eagerly. Meet Gerwig's spirit animal; when she lets Weird Barbie's vibe rain down like a shower of glitter, covering everything and everyone in sight both in Barbie Land and in reality, the always-intelligent, amusing and dazzling Barbie is at its brightest and most brilliant.
TALK TO ME
An embalmed hand can't click its fingers, not even when it's the spirit-conducing appendage at the heart of Talk to Me. This is an absolute finger snap of a horror film, however, and a fist pump of a debut by Australian twins Danny and Michael Philippou. As RackaRacka, the Adelaide-born pair have racked up six-million-plus subscribers on YouTube via viral comedy, horror and action combos. As feature filmmakers, they're just as energetic, eager and assured, not to mention intense about giving their all. Talk to Me opens with a party that's soon blighted by both a stabbing and a suicide. It segues swiftly into a Sia sing-along, then the violent loss of one half of the Aussie coat of arms. A breakout hit at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, where it sparked a distribution bidding war won by indie favourite A24, it's constantly clicking, snapping and ensuring that viewers are paying attention — with terror-inducing imagery, a savvy sense of humour, both nerve and the keenness to unnerve, and a helluva scary-movie premise that's exceptionally well-executed.
The picture's outstretched mitt is the Philippous' Ouija board. That withered and scribbled-on paw is also a wildly unconventional way to get high. In a screenplay penned by Danny with fellow first-timer Bill Hinzman, but based on Bluey and Content executive producer Daley Pearson's short-film concept — yes, that Bluey — shaking hands with the distinctive meat hook is a party trick and dare as well. When the living are palm to palm with this dead duke, in flows a conjuring. A candle is lit, "talk to me" must be uttered, then "I let you in". Once heads are kicking back and the voices start, no one should grasp on for more than 90 seconds, as Hayley (Zoe Terakes, Nine Perfect Strangers) and Joss (Chris Alosio, Millie Lies Low) explain. But, as she navigates the anniversary of her mother's death, Mia (Sophie Wilde, The Portable Door) is up for going as far as she can. Here, being consumed by sinister spirits, not consuming booze, is an escape. That, and filming whatever twisted chaos happens when you connect with the otherworldly. It isn't all fun and frights and games, though; when her best friend Jade's (Alexandra Jensen, Joe vs Carole) 14-year-old brother Riley (Joe Bird, First Day) takes part, traumatic consequences spring.
THE NEW BOY
Warwick Thornton, Cate Blanchett, Deborah Mailman, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis: name a better Australian quintet. The director of Samson & Delilah and Sweet Country, the two-time Oscar-winner and recent Tár tour de force, the local screen mainstay, and the Bad Seeds bandmates and seasoned film composers all combine not for the ultimate Aussie dinner party, but for The New Boy. None are debuting in their jobs. All are exceptional. They're each made better, however, by the luminous and entrancing Aswan Reid. As well as playing the titular part, the 11-year-old first-time actor lives it among such a wealth of acclaimed and experienced talent — and he's such a find in such excellent company, while saying little in words but everything in every other way, that Thornton's third fictional feature owes him as much of a debt as its applauded and awarded household names.
There's a spark to Reid from the moment that he's first spied grappling with outback law enforcement under blazing rays as Cave and Ellis' (This Much I Know to Be True) latest rousing score plays. His sun-bleached hair couldn't be more fitting, or symbolic, but it's the confident way in which he holds himself as New Boy, plus the determined look on his face, that sears. Wily and wiry, the feature's eponymous figure is toppled by a boomerang, then bagged up and transported to the remote Catholic orphanage doted on by Sister Eileen (Blanchett, Nightmare Alley) in the 1940s. The cop doing the escorting notes that the kid is a bolter, but the nun is just as fast in her kindness. She sees what Thornton wants his audience to see: a boy that beams with his presence and through his sense of self, even though he's been snatched up, taken from his Country and forced into a Christian institution against his will. Sister Eileen is as drawn to him as the movie, but — and not just due to the red wine she likes sipping and the subterfuge she's keeping up about the resident father's absence — she isn't as certain about what to do.
RED WHITE & BRASS
Watch Red, White & Brass and you'll never see the pre-game or half-time entertainment at a big sporting match the same way again. Of course, if Rihanna, or Beyoncé with Destiny's Child, or a heap of hip hop and rap legends are taking to the stage at the Super Bowl, you won't question it — but if there's a community band on the turf, you might start wondering when they first picked up their instruments, why and if it was only four weeks ago to make it to this very gig. Are they just out there because they were that desperate to see their team play? And, because they missed out on expensive and instantly sold-out tickets? Were they so eager, in fact, that they bluffed their way into a gig by claiming to already be a musical group, then had to speedily do anything and everything to learn how to get melodic, and obviously not embarrass themselves, in a passion-fuelled whirlwind of pretence and practice?
A band solely forming to score access to a rugby game sounds like pure screenwriting confection. Often enough, though, when tales like that make it to the silver screen, it's because they're so wild that they can only be true. Such is the case with Red, White & Brass' premise, as it notes at the outset, with co-writer Halaifonua (Nua) Finau scripting the story with first-time feature director Damon Fepulea'i from his very own experiences. Back in 2011, New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup, which was a source of particular excitement to Aotearoa's Tongan population, and especially to avid aficionados at a Wellington church. The kind of fans that were showing their devotion by decking out their homes in the Tongan flag top to bottom, hitching the red-and-white cloth to every free space on their cars and carrying around the symbol on their phone cases, they were determined to see Tonga play France in their own home city, and willing to whatever it takes to do so — wholesomely, in the type of underdog story about fervour, ingenuity, self-belief and luck that engagingly makes for an easy and warm-hearted cinema crowd-pleaser.
Breaking down a classic tale best known as an opera, rebuilding it as a lovers-on-the-run drama set across the US–Mexico border and making every moment burst with emotion, Benjamin Millepied's Carmen is a movie that moves. While its director is a feature debutant, his background as a dancer and choreographer — he did both on Black Swan, the latter on Vox Lux as well, then designed the latest Dune films' sandwalk — perhaps means that the former New York City Ballet principal and Paris Opera Ballet Director of Dance was fated to helm rhythmic, fluid and rousing cinema. His loose take on Georges Bizet's singing-driven show and Prosper Mérimée's novella before it, plus Alexander Pushkin's poem The Gypsies that the first is thought to be based on, is evocative and sensual. It's sumptuous and a swirl of feelings, too, as aided in no small part by its penchant for dance. And, it pirouettes with swoon-inducing strength with help from its stunningly cast leads: Scream queen and In the Heights star Melissa Barrera, plus Normal People breakout and Aftersun Oscar-nominee Paul Mescal.
When Mescal earned the world's attention in streaming's initial Sally Rooney adaptation, he had viewers dreaming of fleeing somewhere — Ireland or anywhere — with him. Carmen's namesake (Barrera) absconds first, then has PTSD-afflicted Marine Aidan (Mescal) join her attempt to escape to Los Angeles. Carmen runs after her mother Zilah (flamenco dancer Marina Tamayo) greets the cartel with thunderous footwork, but can't stave off their violence. Aidan enters the story once Carmen is smuggled stateside, where he's a reluctant volunteer border guard in Texas alongside the trigger-happy Mike (Benedict Hardie, The Drover's Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson). As the picture's central pair soon hurtle towards California, to Zilah's lifelong friend Masilda's (Rossy de Palma, Parallel Mothers) bar, they try to fly to whatever safety and security they can find. That may be fleeting, however, and might also be in each other's arms.
HOW TO BLOW UP A PIPELINE
Every story is built upon cause and effect. One thing happens, then another as a result, and so a narrative springs. Inspired by Andreas Malm's non-fiction book of the same name, How to Blow Up a Pipeline isn't just strung together by causality — it's firmly, actively and overtly about starting points, consequences and the connections between. Here's one source for this impassioned tale about determined and drastic environmental activism: the warming world. Here's an originator for that, too: fossil fuels, humanity's reliance upon them and the profits reaped from that status quo. Now, a few outcomes: pollution, catastrophic weather changes, terminal illnesses, stolen and seized land, corporate interests prioritised over ecological necessities, and a growing group that's driven to act because existence is at stake. Turning a text subtitled Learning to Fight in a World on Fire into a fictional feature, How to Blow Up a Pipeline joins all of the above, stressing links like it is looping string from pin to pin, and clue to clue, on a detective's corkboard.
In his second feature after 2018's smart and effective camgirl horror Cam, writer/director Daniel Goldhaber isn't trying to be subtle about what dovetails in where. With co-screenwriters Jordan Sjol (a story editor on Cam) and Ariela Barer (also one of How to Blow Up a Pipeline's stars), he isn't attempting to rein in the film's agenda or complexity. This movie tells the tale that's right there in its name, as eight people from across America congregate in Texas' west with a plan — an octet of folks who mostly would've remained loosely connected, some strangers and others lovers and friends, if they weren't desperate to send a message that genuinely garners attention. Goldhaber's latest is explosive in its potency and thrills, and startling in its urgency, as it focuses on a decision of last resort, the preparation and the individual rationales before that. How to blow up hedging bets on-screen? That's also this tightly wound, instantly gripping, always rage-dripping picture.
Lean, mean and a Nazi-killing machine: that's Sisu and its handy-with-a-hunting-knife (and pickaxe) protagonist alike. This stunningly choreographed Finnish action film's title doesn't have a literal equivalent in English, but writer/director Jalmari Helander's (Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale) latest effort means stoic, tenacious, resolute, brave and gritty all in that four-letter term; again, both the movie and the man at its centre fit the description. Former soldier Aatami Korpi (Jorma Tommila, also Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale) has one aim. After he strikes gold and plenty of it in Lapland's far reaches, he's keen to cash in. For someone who has already lost everyone and everything to World War II, that requires transporting his haul; however, the year is 1944 and German troops still lurk even as the combat winds down. Accordingly, getting those gleaming nuggets from the wilderness to a bank means facing a greedy and unrelenting platoon led by Helldorf (Aksel Hennie, The Cloverfield Paradox), who can spy a payday and an exit strategy for himself.
Before anything yellow shimmers, Nazi-filled tanks are sighted, a single shot is fired or a blow swung, Sisu explains its moniker as "a white-knuckled form of courage and unimaginable determination". Text on-screen also advises that "sisu manifests itself when all hope is lost." As a film, Sisu may as well be shorthand for John Wick meets Inglourious Basterds meets Django, the iconic 1966 spaghetti western that Quentin Tarantino riffed on with Django Unchained, too — plus all of that meets the work of legendary spaghetti western director Sergio Leone as well. The carnage is that balletic. The Nazi offings are that brutal, roguish and inventive. And valuing deeds over dialogue as a lone figure dispatches with nefarious forces against an unforgiving landscape, and no matter what they throw at him, is firmly the setup.
INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY
Old hat, new whip. No, that isn't Dr Henry Walton 'Indiana' Jones' shopping list, but a description of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. While the fifth film about the eponymous archaeologist is as familiar as Indy films come, it's kept somewhat snapping by the returning Harrison Ford's on-screen partnership with Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge. When this 15-years-later sequel to 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins — swinging into cinemas after 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, too — Indy's trademark fedora and strip of leather have already enjoyed ample action. So has the George Lucas-created franchise's basic storyline. If you've seen one Indy outing in the past 42 years, you've seen the underlying mechanics of every other Indy outing. And yet, watching Ford flashing his crooked smile again, plus his bantering with Waller-Bridge, is almost enough to keep this new instalment from Logan and Ford v Ferrari filmmaker James Mangold whirring.
Across the quintet of Indy flicks — a number contractually locked in at the outset, even if it took almost half a century to notch them all up — a trinket always needs recovering. Whether it's a relic, stone, cup, carving or, as here, a device by Ancient Greek mathematician, philosopher and inventor Archimedes that might facilitate time travel, nefarious forces (typically Nazis) always want said item as well. Also, only antics that've influenced the likes of Tomb Raider, National Treasure and Jungle Cruise can ensure that whatever whatsit is at the heart of whichever picture stays out of the wrong hands. The object in question falls into those mitts at some point, of course. Indy goes globetrotting and cave diving to save it, and skeletons and creepy-crawlies tend to get in his way. Reliably, he has female company. Frequently, there's a young offsider tagging along. A constant: the whole escapade bounding to the tune of John Williams' rousing theme, which is now acoustically synonymous with adventure.
Teenagers are savage in The Boogeyman, specifically to Yellowjackets standout Sophie Thatcher, but none of them literally take a bite. Grief helps usher a stalking dark force to a distraught family's door; however, that malevolent presence obviously doesn't share The Babadook's moniker. What can and can't be seen haunts this dimly lit film from Host and Dashcam director Rob Savage, and yet this isn't Bird Box, which co-star Vivien Lyra Blair also appeared in. And a distressed man visits a psychiatrist to talk about his own losses, especially the otherworldly monster who he claims preyed upon his children, just as in Stephen King's 1973 short story also called The Boogeyman — but while this The Boogeyman is based on that The Boogeyman, which then made it into the author's 1978 Night Shift collection that gave rise to a packed closet full of fellow movie adaptations including Children of the Corn, Graveyard Shift and The Lawnmower Man, this flick uses the horror maestro's words as a mere beginning.
On the page and the screen alike, Lester Billings (David Dastmalchian, Boston Strangler) seeks therapist Will Harper's (Chris Messina, Air) assistance, reclining on his couch to relay a tragic tale. As the new patient talks, he isn't just shaken and shellshocked — he's a shadow of a person. He's perturbed by what loiters where light doesn't reach, in fact, and by what he's certain has been lurking in his own home. Here, he couldn't be more adamant that "the thing that comes for your kids when you're not paying attention" did come for his. And, the film Lester has chosen his audience carefully, because Will's wife recently died in a car accident, leaving his daughters Sadie (Thatcher) and Sawyer (Blair) still struggling to cope. On the day of this fateful session, the two girls have just returned to school for the first time, only for Sadie to sneak back when her so-called friends cruelly can't manage any sympathy.
MEG 2: THE TRENCH
Jaws, but bigger. Jurassic Park but sharks. Like a prehistoric underwater predator scooping up a heap of beachgoers in one hefty mouthful, describing what The Meg and its sequel Meg 2: The Trench are each aiming to be is easy. Ridiculous big-screen fun that sets Jason Statham (Fast X) against multiple megalodons, his scowl as shiny as their razor-sharp teeth: they're the type of waters that this creature-feature franchise also wants to paddle in. Since debuting in cinemas in 2018, all things The Meg have always had a seriousness problem, however. They're at their best when they're also at their silliest, but they're rarely as entertainingly ludicrous as they're desperate to be. This five-years-later follow-up might task Statham with shooting harpoons while riding a jet ski at a tourist-trap holiday destination called Fun Island — and also busting out the line "see ya later, chum", which lands with such a sense of self-satisfaction that it feels like the entire reason that the movie even exists — but such gleeful preposterousness is about as common as a herbivore with a meg's massive chompers.
Again based on one of author Steve Alten's books — he's penned seven so far, so more flicks are likely — Meg 2: The Trench doesn't just want to ape the Jurassic series. It does exactly that overtly and unsubtly from the outset, but this film is also happy to brazenly treat multiple movies from a few decades back as fuel for its choppy antics. When the feature starts, it's 65 million years ago, dinosaurs demonstrate the cretaceous period's food chain, then a megalodon shows who's boss from the water. Obviously, life will find a way to bring some of this sequence's non-meg critters into the present day. Next comes a dive in The Abyss' slipstream, before embracing being a Jaws clone again — even shouting out to Jaws 2 in dialogue — but with a Piranha vibe. Before it's all over, Meg 2: The Trench also flails in Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus' direction, just with a visibly larger budget.
Looking for more at-home viewing options? Take a look at our monthly streaming recommendations across new straight-to-digital films and TV shows — and fast-tracked highlights from January, February, March, April, May, June, July and August, too.
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