The summer release slate is an embarrassment of riches — with movies long-delayed by the pandemic finally reaching Australian shores.
We’re talking new features from the idiosyncratic brains of Joel Coen and Aaron Sorkin, franchise blockbusters like the new Matrix and Ghostbusters, plus movies that are already generating deserved Oscars buzz (we see you, Lady Gaga in House of Gucci).
And if you’re not able to venture out to a cinema, there’s a handful of streaming options to tide you over. We’ve got you.
Don’t Look Up
Starring: Leonard DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande
Director: Adam McKay (Vice; The Big Short; Anchorman)
Run time: 2h 18m
Noteworthy because: An epic cast takes on climate change, media and the end of the world.
See it with: Pretty much anyone on Earth.
Our reviewer Luke Goodsell says: An all-star Hollywood cast goes down swinging in Adam McKay’s scattershot funny but mostly sanctimonious disaster movie, which has its satirical sights set on everything from climate change denial to Trumpism to mass media delusion. DiCaprio and Lawrence are astronomers facing an uphill battle to convince the world it’s ending after they discover a comet on a collision course for Earth, tangling with an idiot President (Streep), bubbly talk show hosts (Blanchett, Perry), and the indifference of a populace more interested in celebrity gossip. McKay’s contempt for pop culture is frequently tiresome, as is his condescension toward the common folk he supposedly champions; he just doesn’t know how to let people enjoy things – even if it is their own destruction.
Likely to make you: Amused, angry, entertained, roll your eyes – something for everyone!
Watch it: Netflix.
Being the Ricardos
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Tony Hale, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy
Director: Aaron Sorkin (Molly’s Game; The Trial of the Chicago 7)
Run time: 2h 11m
Noteworthy because: Oscar buzz is high for Nicole Kidman as the Australian icon transforms into television legend Lucille Ball.
See it with: Family and friends.
Our reviewer Luke Goodsell says: Australia’s leading redhead meets TV’s most iconic ginger as Nicole Kidman takes on 50s small-screen superstar Lucille Ball, with an exuberant Javier Bardem by her side as Ball’s husband and co-star Desi Arnaz. Aaron Sorkin’s drama goes behind the scenes of I Love Lucy for an almost comically tumultuous week: one in which the star is accused of being a communist, battles conservative suits to include her just-announced pregnancy on the show, and struggles to hold her marriage together. If there’s one thing Sorkin knows it’s the inside of a TV writers’ room, and his third feature film in the director’s chair gives us a curious glimpse at the nuts and bolts of a hit production. Kidman isn’t a physical comedian like Ball, but her interpretation of the star’s interior life gives off dramatic sparks, while Bardem is effortlessly charming – and slippery – as the driven, larger-than-life Arnaz.
Likely to make you: Entertained, uplifted, thankful you’re not a woman in 50s America.
Watch it: Amazon Prime Video.
In cinemas from December 26:
West Side Story
Starring: Ansel Ensort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Rita Moreno, Mike Faist
Director: Steven Spielberg (Jaws; Saving Private Ryan)
Run time: 2h 36m
Noteworthy because: It’s Spielberg’s take on the classic 1957 musical, with a screenplay from Tony Kushner (Angels in America).
See it with: Your lover, your gang, street ballerinas.
Our reviewer Cassie Tongue says: The story, featuring rival gangs – the white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks – has not aged as well as its musical heartbeat. Enter Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, 64 years after the musical’s Broadway debut, to investigate and invigorate the material with an eye for communicating context and character. The result is a gorgeous, often disarmingly gritty film that offers the best and strongest view of a story that is slowly and rightfully fading from the cultural firmament.
Likely to make you: Tap your toes with musical delight — even as you dread what’s coming.
The Matrix Resurrections
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett Smith
Director: Lana Wachowski (The Matrix trilogy; Jupiter Ascending)
Run time: 1h 53m
Noteworthy because: It’s a return to one of the most beloved sci-fi worlds of the modern era.
See it with: Sci-fi fans, teens, stoners.
Our reviewer Luke Goodsell says: What if the Matrix films were, like, part of the matrix itself? The fourth movie in the iconic sci-fi series, written and directed by Lana Wachowski (minus her sibling Lilly), sees Keanu Reeves’s Neo now a game designer whose splintered reality leads him down a rabbit hole and to an all-new (or are they?) crew of humans battling a resurgent threat from humanity-enslaving machines. Guaranteed to fuel late night student philosophy debates and leave plenty of others scratching their heads, this ambitious sequel has lots of wild, dazzling ideas and a tender romance at its core, but the execution is often lacklustre.
Likely to make you: Intrigued, thrilled, confounded – usually at the same time.