Sep 042016


With the Blockbuster season all-but over, typically the Australian Spring months offer up less anticipated, but usually more interesting films. Typically, they include a higher volume of smaller productions (no box-office giants to compete with), and higher-quality international films and documentaries. This year we are privileged to have new films from Paul Verhoeven, David Mackenzie, Amma Assante, Mel Gibson, Andrea Arnold and Denis Villeneuve, amongst others. We’ve picked 12 we’re particularly looking forward to seeing, check them out after the jump.



Girl Asleep – Sep 8

Winner of the $100K CinefestOZ Film Prize Girl Asleep finally gets a cinema release after delighting audiences (myself included) at film festivals both nationally and internationally. Based on the acclaimed Windmill Theatre production of the same name, Girl Asleep is a fantastical coming of age story which is best described as Wes Anderson meets Hans Christian Andersen, with a delightful and unmistakable Australian flavour. Fantastic music, wonderful, slightly off-kilter production design, and strong performances make this a memorable viewing experience. This film is one of the best I saw at Sydney Film Festival and I hope people get out and see it upon its release. [Sam]


Pete’s Dragon – Sep 15

Not sure anyone was expected a re-imagining of the cherished Disney family film to be so good – but apparently it is wonderful. Especially in the wake of this dire Blockbuster season, where it has emerged as one of the strongest. The adventure of an orphaned boy and his best friend – a dragon named Elliot – has captured the heart of many grown-up international cinephiles, and is directed by David Lowery (a curious choice following Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) and stars Oakes Fegley (as Pete), Bryce Dallas Howard and Robert Redford. We can’t wait. [Andy]


The Red Turtle – Sep 22

Few things make me cry, but the simple and powerful beauty of this near-silent animated film saw the tears flowing. The film follows a young man who is shipwrecked on a deserted island and, without much of a choice, learns to live with his situation. The Red Turtle is quite simply a story about the circle of life – the good, the mundane, and the utterly heart-breaking. The gorgeous animation and incredible sound design transport you to the island; and in many ways the lack of dialogue means there are no distractions – you really are fully immersed in the world. Incredibly, this is the feature-film début from Michaël Dudok de Wit, a co-production between Wild Bunch and Japanese animation house, Studio Ghibli. [Sam]


Also releasing in September – Sunset Song, Blood Father, Don’t Breathe, The Infiltrator, Nerve, Mechanic: Resurrection, Sully, Captain Fantastic, Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie, One More Time With Feeling, The Queen of Ireland, The Secret Life of Pets, Blair Witch, Bridget Jones’s Baby, The Confirmation, Spin Out, Yoga Hosers, Early Winter, The Beatles Live: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, Snowden, Storks, Life, Animated and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children



Left to right: Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher, Judd Lormand plays Local Deputy and Jason Douglas plays Sheriff in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back – Oct 20

There was a lot of skepticism around the first Jack Reacher film – notably the casting of Tom Cruise to play the eponymous hero of Lee Child’s best-selling novels (hey, he owned the rights) – but director Christopher McQuarrie (who went on to direct the great Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation) created an absolute cracker of an action film. This time around Reacher must uncover the truth behind a major government conspiracy in order to clear his name. Hollywood vet Edward Zwick (Glory, Blood Diamond) is in the director’s chair this time, and while the absence of McQuarrie might prove to be a substantial loss, we remain optimistic. [Andy]


The Neon Demon – Oct 20

Love him or hate him, you’ll always have a strong opinion after watching a film by Nicolas Winding Refn (The Pusher Trilogy, Drive, Only God Forgives). I have purposefully stayed away from reading too much about this film, but it is safe say that the reactions have been very diverse. Rotten Tomatoes has the film sitting on 51% (which is Rotten according to the site’s metric), and post-viewing tweets from various film nerds around the globe have made for rather amusing reading. Melbourne-based film critic Cam Williams says that the film is, “like getting mauled by a diamond encrusted hyena”. Awesome, I’m in. With Winding Refn’s signature coldly beautiful aesthetic, and a seductive score from Cliff Martinez, this film is sure to be quite the cinema experience.  [Sam]


Elle – Oct 27

Legendary Danish filmmaker Paul Verhoeven’s (Robocop, Total Recall, Showgirls) first feature film in ten years, following the wonderful Black Book, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to universal acclaim. Verhoeven is known for his confronting and transgressive portrayals of sex and violence and depictions of social satire, and the suitably dark Elle tells the story of a businesswoman, Michèle (the inimitable Isabelle Huppert – one of the world’s finest actors), who is raped in her home by an unknown assailant and decides to stalk him back. [Andy]


Hell or High Water – Oct 27

Texas brothers, Toby (Chris Pine),and Tanner (Ben Foster), come together after years divided to rob branches of the bank threatening to foreclose on their family land. But, they find their brief sense of justice challenged by a world-weary Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) on the eve of retirement. David Mackenzie’s last film, Starred Up, was a tremendously well-acted, hard-hitting prison drama, and this time has tried his hand with a heist-Western. I believe all of the cast are great – and the reviews have been very positive. [Andy]


Also releasing in October – Deepwater Horizon, Francofonia, Gambit, The Girl on the Train, The Handmaiden, Inferno, Julieta, Masterminds, Jasing Great, Cafe Society, Keeping Up With the Joneses, Kevin Hart: What Now?, Ouija: Origin of Evil, The Neon Demon, Doctor Strange, Robinson Crusoe: The Wild Life




American Honey – Nov 3

Andrea Arnold’s American Honey received an extremely good reception at this year’s Cannes Film Festival (where it won the Prix du Jury, or third prize), and I have been holding out for an opportunity to see it since. The film centres around Star (Sasha Lane), a teenage girl who joins a travelling magazine sales crew and gets caught up in all the crazy antics which are part of life on the road. Arnold’s Fish Tank is one of the best films about life as a teenage girl that I have ever seen, so I have high hopes that she’s done something wonderful again with American Honey. [Sam]


Hacksaw Ridge – Nov 3

Mel Gibson’s long-anticipated return to directing – his first since Apocalypto (2005) – is to bring the incredible true story of Desmond T. Doss to the big screen. Doss (portrayed by Andrew Garfield), was an American Army Medic serving during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII who became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Gibson’s cinema has been violent and confronting – so the battle sequences are going to be tough to stomach – and also visually breathtaking. Having had the opportunity to spend some time on set of this production I could tell there was a serious passion for this project – a desire to faithfully tell Doss’s story – and I think it is going to be a tremendous film. [Andy]


Arrival – Nov 10

Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners, Sicario) is one of the best and most exciting filmmakers working today. Aside from a comedy, he’s done just about everything (and his Untitled Blade Runner Sequel is filming now). His latest dropped out of nowhere, a sci-fi drama telling the story of a linguist (played by Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications, when mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe. Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner co-star and Villeneuve has a crack tech team in Johann Johansson (composer), Bradford Young (DP) and Joe Walker (editor). [Andy]


A United Kingdom – Nov 10

A United Kingdom is director Amma Asante’s follow-up to 2013’s wonderful and criminally underseen Belle (a rare period drama about a woman of colour in the upper classes), and the opening night film for this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Based on a true story, the film centres around the relationship of  Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), King of Bechuanaland (modern Botswana), and Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), the London office worker he married in 1947. They faced tremendous opposition from both their families and the British and South African governments. [Sam]


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – Nov 17

All this film had to do to get my attention was play a few bars from the distinctive Harry Potter theme song – the moment it did, I knew I would be seeing it at the cinema. Inspired the book of the same name (which is a textbook referred to in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’), the film sees wizard Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) travel to a America with a number of dangerous magical creatures, that somehow escape soon after his arrival into the country. The film is directed by David Yates, who directed instalments 5, 6, 7 (i), and 7 (ii) of the Harry Potter film series. [Sam]


Also releasing in November – The Accountant, Denial, A Few Less Men, Nocturnal Animals, I, Daniel Blake, Morgan, War on Everyone, Bad Santa 2, The Founder, Rings