The best movies of 2023 (so far)
Are movies back? For the first time since the pandemic, it seems like the thrill of going to the multiplex has returned for longer than a fleeting moment. And it wasn’t all Barbenheimer – although a black-and-white biopic about the inventor of the atomic bomb and a feminist reimagining of a 60-year-old toy franchise becoming the biggest pop-culture crossover event of the summer is certainly a good sign for cinema’s resurgent health. It was also the year Across the Spider-Verse made comic book movies fresh again, Martin Scorsese dropped another masterpiece, an intercontinental romance made audiences swoon, and a dancing killer doll launched a million memes, while small-time charmers like Theater Camp, Scrapper and Rye Lane reasserted the vitality of indie filmmaking. Sure, the writer and actor strikes ground Hollywood to a halt for months, and the usual post-summer doldrums felt especially… doldrummy. But for the first time in years, there’s more than a handful of reasons to feel excited about the movies again. These are our picks of the year’s best so far. RECOMMENDED: 📺 The best TV and streaming shows of 2023 (so far)🔥 The 11 scariest horror movies of 2023😂 The best comedies of 2023 (so far)🎥 The 100 greatest movies ever made
The 100 best TV shows of all time you have to watch
It only took about 70 years, but television is finally getting some respect. In the decades leading up to this point, TV was largely considered among the lowest forms of entertainment. It was smeared as ‘the idiot box’, ‘the boob tube’. Edward R Murrow referred to it as ‘the opiate of the masses’, and Bruce Springsteen even wrote a song about the malaise of fruitless channel surfing. Was its poor reputation deserved? Certainly, the ratio of garbage to gold was high, and though it’s hard to quantify if it was worse than any other artistic medium, the fact that it was all being beamed directly into your living room made the dreck much harder to avoid. That’s all changed. Television is now the dominant medium in basically all of entertainment, to the degree that the only thing separating movies and TV is the screen you’re watching on. The shift in perception is widely credited to the arrival of The Sopranos, which completely reinvented the notion of what a TV show could do, and the advent of streaming has made it so that hundreds of new shows are now continually flipping the script every few years, if not months. But that doesn’t mean everything before 1999 is pure dross. Far from it: television has been popular since World War II, after all. And while this list is dominated by 21st century programs, there are hundreds of shows that deserve credit for pushing TV forward into its current golden age. Chiselling them down to a neat hundred is tough, so we elected to leave off tal
The best new horror movies of 2023 (so far)
Emerging from the pink-and-grey phenomenon that was Barbenheimer like a hand emerging from the ground, ace Aussie chiller Talk to Me is the latest in a broad array of horror movies to storm, creep and skulk into our cinemas this year. There have been atmospheric supernatural meditations (Enys Men), slowburn freak-outs (Infinity Pool, Knock at the Cabin), demonic deluges (Evil Dead Rise, The Boogeyman) and meme-worthy horror comedies with tongues in their cheek and menace in their hearts (M3GAN). Even a few of the non-horror films, Beau Is Afraid, Tár and Oppenheimer among them, have lent into the ghostly trappings of the genre. In short, we’ve never been too far from a satisfyingly upsetting night at the pictures so far in 2023. Not everything has landed, admittedly, with Scream VI showing its age, Insidious: The Red Door creaking on its hinges and Winnie the Pooh: Blood And Honey probably causing AA Milne to turn in his grave. But the good has firmly outweighed the bad, and gorehounds, Dead Heads and genre aficionados have had plenty of reasons to celebrate. RECOMMENDED: 💀 The 100 greatest horror films of all time🔥 The best movies of 2023 (so far)📺 The best TV shows of 2023 you need to stream
The ten best films to see at MQFF this year
The freshly installed Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) program director Cerise Howard unveiled a remarkable program of LGBTQIA+ magnificence at a special event hosted in the Melbourne Town Hall ballroom. From gloriously OTT opening night comedy I Love You, Beksman, set in the Philippines, to closing night’s bad boyfriend drama Solo, playing out in Montreal’s drag scene, there’s so much gold to see from November 9–19. That includes classic cuts in a retrospective sidebar that includes Ana Kokkinos’ adaptation of Christos Tsiolkas’ horny Melbourne odyssey Head On, French farce La Cage aux Folles, rebellious Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi’s ode to women who love football, Offside, and Al Pacino smouldering in leather in the late, great William Friedkin’s Cruising. Here are ten more top picks for the Melbourne Queer Film Festival. Love going to the cinema? Here's where to get cheap movie tickets in Melbourne.
The ten best films to see at MIFF this year
It's lights, camera and action for the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), and a stonking 267 films from 70 countries around the world awaits. Should you find yourself caught in a frenzied panic by the gargantuan program, we're here to steer you through the sea of films on offer (and that's not even getting started on the shorts, talks and virtual reality gems). Consider yourself a cinephile? Check out the best cinemas in Melbourne.
The best events to see at Rising festival
Melbourne’s sparkling cultural scene never sleeps, not even when the nights grow long and winter’s chill creeps into the corners of her famously graffitied laneways. But the Victorian capital’s nooks and crannies really come alive when the celebrated winter festival Rising lights up the CBD and surrounds once more. Transforming the city with a glimmering array of exciting, intriguing and inspiring events, from mesmerising artworks crafted in light to breathtaking live performances, it's an event that proves Melbourne is in many ways at its best during winter. Feeling the pinch? Here are some cheap hacks for Melbourne's winter culture.
Head to Melbourne to experience these cultural offerings at Rising 2023
Melbourne’s sparkling cultural scene never sleeps, not even when the nights grow long and winter’s chill creeps into the corners of her famously graffitied laneways. But the Victorian capital’s nooks and crannies really come alive when celebrated winter festival Rising lights up the CBD and surrounds once more. Transforming the city with a glimmering array of exciting, intriguing and inspiring events, from mesmerising artworks crafted in light to breathtaking live performances, it's an event that proves Melbourne is in many ways at its best during winter. Rising takes over Melbourne’s streets June 7-18. You can explore the program here.
Marvel at these amazing views of Sydney then and now
Phil Harvey, the founder of social media group Sydney Then and Now (STAN), has always been fascinated by the remarkable transformation of Sydney’s streetscapes. “I have had an interest in then and now photography for as long as I can remember,” he recalls. The law firm clerk’s very first attempt at creating a comparison between today and way back when was when he was 15 years old in 1980, using a snap of his family home in Drummoyne and finding an old sepia-coloured snap of it as it once was, with a noticeably different veranda out front. It sparked a lifelong interest, but it was only fairly recently that he kicked it up a gear. “One night, in 2013, I was looking for then and now photos of Sydney online and noticed that none were posted on Facebook,” he says. “I started creating a few myself by finding old photos in Trove, and then finding the matching view on Google Street View, then joining them together as one image.” Initially posting these composite shots to a Facebook page he co-admins, called Old Sydney Album, they soon proved so popular they deserved their own home on the social media site, and that was the birth of STAN. It has since branched out to Instagram and Twitter. Here are a few of our favourite posts from Sydney Then and Now's Instagram feed. Bennelong Point then and now This cracking aerial shot of the iconic Sydney Opera House mid-construction was shot circa 1965 shot from the Len Stone collection. A later shot of the completed building was taken by Bob P
The Demon Barber sets sights on Sydney: Sweeney Todd is coming to the Opera House this winter
“Can’t you think of nothin’ else? … What happened heaven knows how many years ago!” So sings the piemaker Mrs Lovett to the object of her twisted desires in Stephen Sondheim’s gothic horror musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Adapted from the original penny dreadful – cheap and nasty Victorian-era comics for the masses that dealt in wickedly wonderful grotesqueries – there’s an operatic scale to its comic horror. The Harbour city is due for a visit from the Demon Barber this winter, with the Sydney Opera House playing host to the long-awaited Sydney premiere of this co-production between the Victorian Opera and New Zealand Opera following critically acclaimed seasons in Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide. Time Out got the first word from opera star and spectacular soprano Antoinette Halloran and director Stuart Maunder ahead of the season’s dramatic opening on the Drama Theatre stage this July. Halloran chuckles with a mischievous glint in her eye when she reveals her backstory in the Sweeney Todd affair (though no one’s going to end up baked in a pie over it, or so we’re told). Photograph: State Opera South Australia | Antoinette Halloran at Mrs Lovett “So I was cast in the ensemble for Opera Australia’s first production as third woman from the left, and [director] Gale Edwards haaaaaated me,” Halloran hoots. “She stopped the whole cast and said, ‘You, little miss sweetie gorgeous up the back, you know you’re never going to have a career.’ The chorus ralli
The peculiar beauty of the world’s most remote cinemas
You know the feeling when you step out of a film screening and, for a brief moment, it seems like you’re stepping out of a fictional world and into real life? What if you could prolong that magical feeling for just a little bit longer? Cinemas don’t always need to be another part of the grey fabric of a city, they can also be in some genuinely cinematic – and properly remote – locations. Don’t believe us? Here are the world’s most isolated picture houses for film buffs and adventurers alike. RECOMMENDED:📽️ The 50 most beautiful cinemas in the world.
The must-see shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Paging McDreamy, we have a funny bone emergency. More than 600 comedians from every corner of Australia and across the globe are about to descend on the Victorian capital for the Southern Hemisphere’s largest LOLapalooza: the 36th Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF).Taswegian heroes Luke McGregor and Hannah Gadsby get the snort-laughing party started,hosting the Oxfam-supporting Gala and then the official Opening Night Comedy AllstarsSupershow, respectively, both at St Kilda’s Palais Theatre. There’s also a one-night-only encore of Rhys Nicholson’s Most Outstanding Show award-winner Rhys! Rhys! Rhys! from last year’s MICF. Here are our top shows to see at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, so book those seats – and stat! Can't get a hold of a babysitter but want to see some comedy? Make sure you check out the best kids' shows at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
The rainbow road to Qtopia Sydney begins at WorldPride
There’s a whole lot of queer history going on when proud ‘78er Robyn Kennedy, an activist and vice president of the board of InterPride, joins sporting hero and actor Ian Roberts in Green Park to talk with Time Out about their vision for Sydney’s first LGBTQIA+ museum, Qtopia Sydney. A dedicated space to celebrate community achievements in the face of often brutal resistance, the board is hoping to find the museum a permanent home in the old Darlinghurst cop shop, a historically significant site that was once a flashpoint for persecution. For now, folks can get a taste of what Qtopia Sydney will offer through a capsule exhibition presented inside the Bandstand in Green Park during Sydney WorldPride. “It’s almost like ground zero,” says Roberts. In 1995, the revered rugby league player became the first professional sportsperson in Australia to come out, and the first professional player in the code to come out worldwide. “It’s so central to gay life in Sydney.” Our present and future are always informed by what came before... Not far from the Cross and Oxford Street, this loaded place and the sandstone stretch of ‘The Wall’ – which cordons off the historic Darlinghurst Gaol site across the road, now the National Art School – has been a site where men could meet and hook up before (and also after) homosexuality was decriminalised in NSW in 1984. “It was also a place where the police came to intimidate, arrest and bash men,” adds Kennedy. She is the co-author, alongside Robyn Pl
Listings and reviews (149)
The Rocky Horror Show
It's official: The Rocky Horror Show is returning to the Athenaeum Theatre in 2024. The 50th anniversary tour will continue its celebration of the rock 'n' roll musical starring Jason Donovan as Frank-N-Furter and Joel Creasey as the Narrator from February 9 until March 10. You can book tickets online via the website here. You can read our review of the production from 2023 below. “It’s astounding; time is fleeting…” so go the opening lines of ‘Time Warp’, the instantly recognisable number from Richard O’Brien’s still exhilaratingly transgressive rock musical-turned-movie The Rocky Horror Show. My brain can’t quite compute that we’ve been jumping to the left and stepping to the right with our hands on our hips and our knees in tight for 50 years now – five of which spun out before I was even born. An entire half century has passed since newly engaged naïve young things Brad (a perma-perky Ethan Jones, fresh from 9 to 5 the Musical) and Janet (Deirdre Khoo, Once, adorable) bust a tire and tread unwittingly into dastardly Dr Frank-N-Furter’s creepy castle, burning bright in the velvet darkness. Former Neighbours star Jason Donovan pops the song’s pelvic thrust as he steps back into Frank’s high heels once more, plus a leather corset and stockings as the renegade Frank, the mad scientist from the planet Transexual who, in just seven days, can make himself a ma-aaaaaa-aaaaan. Here the marbled, Charles Atlas-like test tube perfection Rocky is portrayed with wide-eyed innocence
Hour of the Wolf
“City arts people. Gullible as fuck.” It’s hard not to chuckle, as a Melbourne-based critic, when listening to this acidic aside during a drug deal chat playing out in the carpeted and wood-panelled pub of Hope Hill, the ‘haunted’ town that houses Malthouse’s latest immersive theatre offering Hour of the Wolf.You may think that being made to do the heavy lifting – pursuing a story on foot, following loose threads that diverge – is a mug’s game. But suppose you dug the Southbank institution’s lockdown-interrupted blockbuster Because the Night, the more recent undersea antics of Love Lust Lost or were lucky enough to catch Sleep No More in NYC. In that case, you’re likely happily ‘gullible’.Corralled in hushed anticipation wearing the headsets that relay the narration, dread-filledscore and deftly woven actor’s dialogue – expertly stitched by composition and sound designerJethro Woodward – the audience emerges from the darkness behind a blast door into strobingblue light. Finding ourselves in this boozy den accompanied by a very on-the-snout rendition of Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’, murdered in slurring karaoke by Brooke Lee’s Janey,who has just returned from Italy with some startling news. Interrupting the shameless flirting of Kevin Hofbauer’s cocky Jason, his ensuing crankiness won’t stop his determination to drive Lucy Ansell’s Vick home, despite the inconvenient fact she lives with her boyfriend. Meanwhile, Jack Green’s Gareth has just popped a pill provided by a
Love Lust Lost
Anticipation rises as adventurous seafarers are shuttled past cabinets and into a pressurised vault, ready to be plunged twenty thousand leagues under the sea. Down, deep down to the E.V. Nautilus, a labyrinthian submarine crammed full of strange and unusual characters clutching secrets to their chest that are darker than the murky waters pressing on its barnacled hull. Or rather, opening night punters stand perfectly still in one of the many subdivided spaces that haunt the old bones of the Austral Theatre. Opened in 1921, it has transformed into a cinema, a supermarket, a roller skate rink, and, oh, the ignominy, a carpet warehouse. Now shuttered, it’s soon to be partly knocked down and will become, you guessed it, apartments. Immersive theatre experience Love Lust Lost is its last creative hurrah. And as anyone whose childhood was scarred by monsters made of tin foil and bubble wrap on low-budget sci-fi shows like Doctor Who will know, it only takes a dash of imagination to fool the mind and transport it to another world. So, yes, It did feel like my ears popped as we waited to board. There’s little left of the Austral’s former glory, broken up by too many partition walls and scorned by shabby stained office ceiling tiles that conceal much of what it once was, its grand old bones jut out here and there. Still, this dereliction actually works in favour of Broad Encounters (A Midnight Visit), specialising in free-flowing shows like the seminal Sleep No More or Malthouse Th
Moulin Rouge! The Musical
When the multiple Tony Award-winning Moulin Rouge! The Musical, adapted from the 2001 jukebox extravaganza film by Australian director Baz Luhrmann, first can-can-canned its way into Melbourne, we had barely staggered out of lockdown. Walking into the already-majestic Regent Theatre ablaze with the red light district glow of thousands of hand-painted bulbs, a dozen glittering chandeliers and spanned by great arched hearts felt like actual Absinthe fairy magic, drunkenly transporting us half the world away and back in time to the infamous Parisian club’s heyday. Returning to the Regent Theatre for this encore run, directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean locally from a book by John Logan, I wondered if the wow factor would still inspire awe. It sure does. Derek McLane’s dazzling scenic design, realised here by Isabel Hudson and illuminated by Gavin Swift following Justin Townsend’s creation, literally spills off stage and through the fourth wall, past a towering blue elephant and the club’s world-famous windmill commanding royal boxes on either side. Before the lights even go down, limbering dancers weave through the audience. Returning stars Alinta Chidzey and Des Flanagan impress all the more now they’ve lived so long in the roles of rags to riches courtesan Satine, the fake diamond of this financially struggling club, and her penniless, naïve would-be suitor Christian. As depicted by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in the movie, while the former handled the movie’s big musical num
The Royal Hotel
I’ve worked in pubs from Glasgow to London where the air of chaotic revelry could turn on a skipped heartbeat towards something darker. But something about transplanting this oncoming storm’s chill into the baking Australian outback exacerbates the risk tenfold in filmmaker Kitty Green’s gut-punch follow-up to The Assistant. Set in the Australian desert and loosely based on the hectic documentary Hotel Coolgardie, The Royal Hotel clearly traces a line of kangaroo-containing shockers from Ted Kotcheff’s seminal outback thriller Wake in Fright by way of Wolf Creek. This latest entry in movies that the Australian tourism board probably don’t want you to see casts The Assistant lead Julia Garner (Ozark) as Hanna alongside Jessica Henwick’s (Glass Onion) Liv as backpackers who, having burned through their money partying in Sydney, reluctantly leave the harbour behind to work in a remote mining town bar. Run by The Lord of the Rings star Hugo Weaving’s less than elven serene landlord Billy and his long-suffering partner and pub cook Carol (Ursula Yovich), they’re mostly good eggs, if a little gruff. However, some of the punters (not to mention the snakes in jars behind the bar) give Hanna the creeps – even if Liv’s a lot more ‘YOLO’ about it all. Anyone familiar with Snowtown actor Daniel Henshall will hear alarm bells ringing by dint of his menacing presence. Other folks occupying the bar stools from knock-off to closing time are less easy to read, like James Frecheville’s seem
For Love Nor Money
The fraught love triangle playing out in Dirt writer Angus Cameron’s latest knotty work, For Love Nor Money, is physically demarcated by the cool blue lines of three pale blue neon tubes arranged in a literal triangle. In the intimate space of the Trades Hall Meeting Room, this pointed arena serves to highlight not only the push and pull of three competing lovers and their conflicting agendas, but also suggests the chilly hue frosting the hearts of those who can manipulate another soul in their most unguarded, vulnerable and near-naked moments of longing. Not that anyone’s entirely innocent in this bracingly zippy work of tightly composed and delivered dialogue and non-linear noodling that constantly upends your assumptions of who’s after what, why and when. A dashingly handsome, top-knotted Alexander Lloyd plays open-hearted poet Liam. He’s dating emerging filmmaker Mel, depicted by a commanding Clarisse Bonello who has the air of a Margot Robbie or Greta Gerwig type in this contemporary riff on Harold Pinter’s classic text Betrayal. With her sights set firmly on kicking her career into high gear in Los Angeles, he worries about how realistic success is and how far their non-existent savings can stretch in a town littered with shattered dreams. Breaching this do-si-do of a tête-à-tête is a slippery Matthew Connell slickly and icily presenting political operative Ryan. Used to navigating backroom deals and plausibly deniable back-stabbing for both the (unnamed) Party and pers
There’s an air of anticipation as the voluminous velvet curtain is pulled back on the pop-up performance space that is the Meat Market’s transformation into the Blak Lodge for this year’s Melbourne Fringe, illuminated by a neon pink ‘Wominjeka’ (welcome, come in purpose) sign. We are the glorious fallen, and we’re here to bow down and confess at the altar of the deliciously queer and First Nations Deadly Sinners. A burlesque-style show brimming with fabulously gender-blurring drag and circus acts, it assembles a mighty ensemble of LGBTQIA+ Blak performers, each inhabiting one of the seven cardinal sins. We’re led into this sacrilegious spectacle by the deep-in-the-soul belly rumbling voice of Gudang, Meriam and Saibai Koedal comedian Jay Wymarra, dressed in black punctuated by a priest’s dog collar, as he sings a hymn-like call to pray for our sins. Inhabiting a much wickeder character who abuses his clerical power, he stops the show at one point to note that if a Blak person next to you laughs, it’s okay to join in. He’s relishing the opportunity to push the audience, even if his true jovial nature occasionally breaks free with a cheeky sparkle and a laugh that draws an open-hearted embrace. As our emcee for the eve, his baritone-glowing job is to usher in a magnificent array of proud performers that dazzle with erotically charged dance, death-defying stunts and fabulously outré comedy. Wiradjuri, Gamilaro “aggressively queer” trans star Kitty Obsidian lays down their life o
If watching an arts grant application’s arcane and inscrutable complexities in real-time – complete with the attached Excel budget spreadsheet – isn’t your idea of a gripping thriller, think again! Pony Cam, the absolute lunatic mayhem-makers behind the award-winning theatre show Grand Theft Theatre, are here to prove you will shriek, hide behind your fingers in excruciating anticipation and exasperatedly snort-laugh while figuring out if a risk assessment matrix is required, who has their RSA sorted, and if there is a way you can get a town mayor involved in a flyover. This is partly because the genius curtain pull of the five-star klaxon-sounding Burnout Paradise reveals just how ridiculously tortuous the hoops your average starving artist has to leap through while begging cap in hand for no-doubt meagre funds, all to provide our low-cost, high-thrills entertainment in a bewildering behemoth like the Melbourne Fringe Festival. It’s also because the cast of four most likely to have a heart attack before the end of the run – Claire Bird, Hugo Williams, Dominic Weintraub and William Strom – take it in turns to tackle this Sisyphean soul trap on the backs of four expensive-to-hire treadmills (they couldn’t afford eight to keep up with OK Go’s pop video masterclass for ‘Here It Goes Again’). But the internecine vagaries of navigating local government bureaucracy are the least of their collective worries. In under an hour, one of the most frenetically uproarious shows of glor
Unless you have the bank account of a Murdoch, Palmer or Reinhart, there’s a certain kind of dread most of us feel when an email/SMS arrives alerting us to a MyGov message. That creeping suspicion that the Australian Taxation Office wants an unreasonable whack of funds you might not have to hand. Which is why the biggest laugh of the night, when burlesque circus act Le Freak took to the Trades Hall ballroom stage, came when one of these instant anxiety-inducing missives popped up on the giant screen behind the performers, accompanied by the piercing strings shriek of a particular classic horror movie’s unforgettable score. It’s a neat audio-visual joke paired to perfection with a running gag about the oddly staccato music of Australian government bodies and the interminable wait to get through to an NDIS operator that also flashes up from time to time. Le Freak is a sharply fun show about the many banal ways starving artists and people with disabilities are failed in this country. Except queerer, with more puppet ferrets and walking on literal broken glass than usual. A mash-up of exploitation movies, cabaret, circus and the lycra-clad performative hijinks of wrestling, Le Freak is led by a revolving cavalcade of stars. The night we reviewed, the fabulous quartet included magnificently named drag clown Themme Fatale, a dab hand at remaining unpunctured by a bed of nails, and the wowzas sword-swallowing prowess of Elle Diablo. Former Paralympic swimmer turned prime hula ho
St Ali Italian Film Festival
They say the postman always rings twice, and that’s certainly true as the St. Ali Italian Film Festival scoots into town once more, ringing out la bella vita loud and proud across mutiple Sydney cinemas from September 19 to October 18. The month-long feast of Italian cinema wraps things up in mid-October with a retrospective screening of luminous dramedy The Postman (Il Postino), the final film of much-loved star Massimo Troisi, who tragically died just after wrapping the shoot and was posthumously nominated for an Oscar. He co-wrote this heart-soaring tale with director Michael Radford and plays Mario, a fisherman who longs for more from his sleepy island life. Becoming the temporary postie of exiled Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda (French star Philippe Noiret), the latter encourages him to embrace the arts, find happiness where he is and swing for the stars in wooing beautiful Beatrice (the mesmerising Maria Grazia Cucinotta). If you, too, crush on Troisi, you can go all out with the retro stream paying tribute to his life’s work. If, like roughly 90 per cent of the world, you cannot get enough of crime fiction, this year’s festival opens with Last Night of Amore, the latest thrill ride from The Informer writer/director Andrea Di Stefano (also an actor who intriguingly pops up as the priest in Life of Pi). It casts The Traitor lead Pierfrancesco Favino as a good cop on the eve of a quiet retirement who finds himself plunged into the darkest heart of Mian when his b
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
Our undying fascination with vampires stretches across millennia and continents. Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that every little detail in Bram Stoker’s epistolary novel Dracula would wind up, much like the Star Wars saga, expanded into its own universe. In the last year alone, we’ve hada comedy riff on the Bram Stoker legend in Renfield, and a sneaky Jonathan Harker name-drop on the list in The Invitation. Now The Last Voyage of the Demeter spins a short newspaper clipping and a captain’s log from a mid-novel chapter of Dracula into an Alien-like haunted house of jeopardy movie set at sea. Directed by Troll Hunter’s André Øvredal, it depicts the fateful voyage of The Demeter, captained by Game of Thrones actor Liam Cunningham’s Eliot. Aboard is a cargo of dirt-laden crates that have been all-too keenly offloaded by a group of villagers. It turns out they've been in thrall to the throat-biting monster that’s demanded regular sacrifices from their creepy castle-adjacent hamlet for centuries. Straight Outta Compton’s Dr Dre, Corey Hawkins, plays Clemens, a very different type of doctor. He makes poor life choices, talking his way onto the bat/man-smuggling ship after being professionally overlooked because of his skin colour. This social commentary is sadly anaemic, however.The presence of the always unnerving David Dastmalchian (The Boogeyman) as a fellow crewman should also have been a red flag for Clemens, as with the unexpected addition of The Nightingale star Aisling
St. Ali Italian Film Festival
They say the postman always rings twice, and that’s certainly true as the St. Ali Italian Film Festival scoots into town once more, ringing out la bella vita loud and proud. The month-long feast of Italian cinema wraps things up late in October with a retrospective screening of luminous dramedy The Postman (Il Postino), the final film of much-loved star Massimo Troisi, who tragically died just after wrapping the shoot and was posthumously nominated for an Oscar. He co-wrote this heart-soaring tale with director Michael Radford and plays Mario, a fisherman who longs for more from his sleepy island life. Becoming the temporary postie of exiled Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda (French star Philippe Noiret), the latter encourages him to embrace the arts, find happiness where he is and swing for the stars in wooing beautiful Beatrice (the mesmerising Maria Grazia Cucinotta). If you, too, crush on Troisi, you can go all out with the retro stream paying tribute to his life’s work. If, like roughly 90 per cent of the world, you cannot get enough of crime fiction, this year’s festival opens with Last Night of Amore, the latest thrill ride from The Informer writer/director Andrea Di Stefano (also an actor who intriguingly pops up as the priest in Life of Pi). It casts The Traitor lead Pierfrancesco Favino as a good cop on the eve of a quiet retirement who finds himself plunged into the darkest heart of Mian when his best friend and trusted colleague is discovered shot dead by t
What to see at the Korean Film Festival in Australia
For the uninitiated, the arrival of Bong Joon-ho’s deliriously twisted take on upstairs-downstairs rivalry, Parasite, was a revelation. Funny and terrifying in equal measure, it also works as a sharp social satire on a class war playing out within one very fancy home. A highlight of the 2019 Korean Film Festival in Australia (KOFFIA), it went on to gangbusters at the local box office and took over Hollywood too, securing no fewer than four Oscars, including Best Picture, adding to a haul that embraced both a Golden Globe and the Palme d’Or. But the truth is Korean cinema (and twisted TV shows like Squid Game) has been on fire for decades, with this legion of new fans joining an army of devotees. And what better way to get across the must-sees than by charging headlong into this year’s exciting KOFFIA line-up? The Melbourne showcase opens with the soaring historical epic The Night Owl, blending fact with fiction to conjure up a gripping crime thriller with a dash of Game of Thrones’ political intrigue. Filmmaker An Tae-jin spins a gripping yarn set in 17th-century Joseon, the last dynastic rule of Korea, positing what really caused the suspicious death of real-life Crown Prince Sohyeon (Kim Sung-cheol). Let’s just say he did not die of ‘malaria’, with The Night Owl having fun by creating a partially blind acupuncturist (Ryu Jun-yeol) who can see clearly after dark. Witnessing the truth, he must race against time to prove it as malevolent forces move against him. If you prefe
Will your local cinema still be there in a decade?
Like a man living in his own personal Aaron Sorkin movie, Vin Diesel threw aside his teleprompter at last week’s CineCon in Las Vegas to deliver a spontaneous cri de coeur about the value of cinemas. His audience was America’s movie theatre owners, there to scope out what much-needed ‘product’ Hollywood has for them in the year ahead. ‘You guys don’t give a shit about the teleprompter,’ he grinned. Instead, Diesel waxed lyrical about his upcoming Fast X blockbuster and his pet subject: family. Cinemas were part of his Fast family, he said. They were the reason his megabucks franchise has been a success, and he knew what they’d been going through since the pandemic. ‘I look out and see soldiers on the front lines,’ he told them. Five thousand miles away, his words would have been ringing painfully true. There, the acting CEO of England’s Tyneside Cinema, Simon Drysdale, has been emerging from the horrors of a redundancy round. Bankruptcy looms for Newcastle’s beloved cinema. A fundraiser has been launched in a bid to galvanise the locals. ‘We’ve got months to survive,’ Drysdale tells Time Out. ‘We’re 40 percent down on attendances from pre-pandemic and our costs are stratospheric. We were struggling pre-pandemic, but the situation is pretty dire now.’ Tyneside’s woes are a worryingly familiar story two years on from the pandemic. Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse, Los Angeles’ Cinerama Dome, and London’s multi-arts space Riverside Studios have all either gon
These are the biggest movies you can catch in Sydney right now
It’s been far too long since we sat in a dark movie theatre, losing popcorn to impossible crevices while smearing melted choc-tops liberally across our best out-of-the-house outfits. And we couldn’t be any happier for this gloriously cinematic mess. We're getting you ready to return to the movies by getting you up to scratch on the hottest new releases. Here are five of the biggest movies you can catch in Sydney’s cinemas right now. Recommended: The best cinemas in Sydney. No Time to Die OK, OK, we’re cheating a little because Daniel Craig’s final mission as Bond, James Bond doesn’t open until November 11, but tickets are already on sale and it’s all anyone is talking about already. Word to the wise, avoid the internet for the next few weeks if you don’t want any spoilers. But you can rest assured our reviewer LOVED 007’s swansong, hinting, “There are big, unprecedented storytelling decisions.” You can read the full review here Nitram The biggest Australian release of the year took home Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for star Caleb Landry-Jones. The controversial film is a powerful and remarkably sensitive reckoning with the days that led up to the Port Arthur massacre and that terrible day that led to a complete overhaul of Australian gun laws. Our reviewer said, “The film does not glorify his murderous act or even depict it. Nor does it name him. What it does, with bone-shuddering brilliance, is reinforce why those reforms were necessary.” You can read the full revi
Fully vaccinated? You could win a million dollars
Unlike some places overseas, including the US, there hasn’t been much of the carrot-reward approach to encouraging folks getting vaccinated in Australia, beyond the roadmap to unlocking. That changed dramatically over the weekend. A group of cashed-up philanthropists, including MYOB founder Craig Winkler, have tipped into a prize fund that’s been dubbed Million Dollar Vax. A lottery prize pot of $4.1 million is up for grabs for any Australian who has had at least one vaccination to date and has or will be double jabbed by December 13 and able to prove so with a vaccination certificate. Each day in October the pot will cough up $1,000 gift cards. But the main drawcard is a $1 million jackpot, to be drawn on November 5. Winkler says Million Dollar Vax, based on the American models, is more about rewarding folks who have already decided to get jabbed, rather than specifically encouraging them to do so. In a statement he clarified that: “That’s a decision you should make in consultation with a health professional. The promotion simply seeks to reward people who decide to be vaccinated now rather than waiting, so that we can reduce the community impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He also noted that the faster we get above 80 per cent vaccination rates across the nation, the sooner we can help states to unlock safely and all get back to some sort of normality in our lives. If you have already been double jabbed or are keen to do so, you can sign up for the lottery here. Want to save
STC has signed a game-changing deal with super-producer Michael Cassel
If you’re stupendously excited about the avalanche of massive main stage shows opening this summer, including not one but two dramatic big hitters from Sydney Theatre Company (STC) before the end of the year in Julius Caesar and Death of a Salesman, then you’re going to LOVE this news. The illustrious company has signed a ‘first look’ deal with super-producers Michael Cassel Group (MCG). What that means in practice is that MCG will have first dibs on transferring or remounting any show that STC creates with a view to touring it interstate or internationally. It’s the first time an agreement of this nature has been struck by a theatre company in Australia. And it’s already up and running. The current lockdown may have postponed a planned encore run of artistic director Kip Williams’ Oscar Wilde adaptation The Picture of Dorian Gray, the one-woman show starring an astounding Eryn Jean Norvill as all 26 characters, but MCG have snapped it up. That ensures audiences all over the country and overseas stand at chance at seeing it for themselves in the very near future. Reviewer Maxim Boon said of the star, “Norvill produces some of the most virtuosic theatre I have ever witnessed, on stage or screen,” and of Williams, “he has deftly explored an intersection between the cinematic and theatrical, creating productions on the bleeding edge of stagecraft that bridge the liminal space between these two modes of storytelling.” Speaking of the newly inked deal, Williams said, “I am so thri
Check out this really cool creative studio opening in the city
In exciting news for creative minds warming up for Sydney’s upcoming cultural unlock, Brand X have teamed up with City of Sydney to run a beautiful looking creative studio opening early next year. The City of Sydney Creatives Studios will include two large, double-height rehearsal spaces with sprung timber floors for performance artists, five soundproof recording studios for musos, production and editing suites for video whizzes, art studios and an honest to goodness apartment for artist in residence sojourns too. There will also be a café downstairs, and loads of offices, storage space and dressing rooms too. Creatives can register their interest here. “It has long been a priority to increase centrally located, affordable space for our artists and creatives,” lord mayor Clover Moore says. “This five-storey venue will accommodate creatives in the heart of the city, and help the sector’s recovery from the devastating effects of the pandemic. The spaces are designed for a variety of artistic disciplines and artists at different stages in their careers, and to encourage collaboration within our talented creative community.” Brand X director James Winter is psyched too. “We are energised at the prospect of delivering new, accessible opportunities for emerging and established artists to enable practice-based experimentation, creative development and production of new work.” Want to know more about arts venues reopening? Read the plan here.
'Hamilton', theatres, cinemas, art galleries and more are about to reopen in Sydney
Sydneysiders who have been fully vaccinated will be able to return to cinemas, theatres and live music venues, art galleries, museums and more once the state hits the 70 per cent double dose target. Once this key vaccination level is reached, NSW's lockdown will begin to lift from October 11. However, those who choose to remain unvaccinated will have to wait a little longer to re-join the city’s cultural life. Anyone deliberately dodging the jab without a medical excemption will not be allowed to enter any arts venue until December 1, when it’s expected NSW will have more than 90 per cent double dosed in the community at large. Even after that date, it will be up to individual venues if they are comfortable welcoming unvaccinated patrons. It’s incredible news for the arts community, with the majority of venues completely out of action for many, many months over the last year and a half, unlike hospo venues which have at least managed to struggle on with takeaway options. It means that the major shows that hedged their bets by announcing reopening dates and putting tickets on sale have been vindicated, including Broadway smashes Hamilton, Come From Away and Jagged Little Pill. The BridgeClimb has also announced that they are raring to get folks stomping all over the world-famous harbour edifice once more. Expect many more cultural events to unlock the doors in the coming weeks. There will still be 75 per cent capacity limits on entertainment venues and masks will be mandatory
Sydney businesses are already announcing when they'll be reopening next month
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been clear that NSW is preparing to reopen once the target of 70 per cent double vaccinated has been met, but there has been no official date put on that milestone. We’ll get there when we get there. That hasn’t stopped several of Sydney’s major attractions and hotels from declaring they are ready to roll in late October, with many predicting we’ll meet the official target on or around October 18. The big shows and destinations hedging their bets on this date include hit musical Come From Away, which is waiting in the wings at the Capitol Theatre and has started selling tickets from October 20. It's also the first major arts production in Australia to not only require theatregoers be fully vaccinated, but also its cast and crew. Producer Rodney Rigby said they were outing their faith in NSW residents getting double jabbed, allowing live performances to reboot. “Across the world, vaccination is proving to be an effective way of getting fans safely back into the theatre and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back soon.” The world-famous BridgeClimb across Sydney's iconic Coathanger has announced October 22 as the date it hopes to begin re-harnessing brave souls after the best views of the city. They’re hoping to coax back climbers by offering post-climb drinks vouchers for the Glenmore for the first 200 customers to book in. “It’s time for Sydneysiders to celebrate,” BridgeClimb CEO David Hammon said. “This is going to be a summer like no other f
'Come From Away' planning to reopen October 20, but only for fully vaccinated
The producers of Tony and Olivier award-winning musical Come From Away have announced the show will reopen to live audiences on October 20, assuming the roadmap to lifting lockdown once 70 per cent of adults over 16 are fully vaccinated remains on track. According to the NSW government’s roadmap as it stands, they’ll be able to welcome audiences back to the Capitol Theatre at 75 per cent capacity, with tickets already on sale now, through to November 28. However, the NSW government has not officially confirmed the date from which businesses can reopen, only that this date will be the first Monday after the 70 per cent vaccination target is reached. Rodney Rigby of Newtheatricals produces the show – set in the aftermath of 9/11 when flights from across the US were diverted to a tiny Canadian community – in collaboration with Junkyard Dog Productions. In a sign of the times, they have mandated that all audience members must be able to prove they are fully vaccinated in order to enter the Capitol. He said they wanted to lead by example. “Across the world, vaccination is proving to be an effective way of getting fans safely back into the theatre and we cannot wait to welcome audiences back soon.” The policy of all cast and crew being required to be vaccinated has been widely embraced on Broadway in New York and in London’s West End, and gives us an idea of how theatres are likely to work once they reopen. Previously, casts have protected themselves from possible infection by livi
Three major touring giants are offering a year of free gigs for the fully vaxxed
As Sydney gears up to unlock, three of Australia’s biggest live music tour promoters stand ready to unleash an avalanche of major stars returning to our harbourside city’s coolest venues. Massive names like Lorde, Snoop Dogg, Alanis Morissette, the Backstreet, the DMAs and the Kid Laroi. The thing is, though, if you want to be back in the presumably socially distant mosh when that happens, you’re gonna need to get double vaccinated. Frontier Touring, Live Nation and TEG has banded together to help the push for Australia to get jabbed, get back out there and get in amongst stadium rock one again. Favouring the carrot, rather than the stick, approach, they’ve launched a cool competition dubbed Vaxstage Pass. Open to all Aussie residents aged 18-plus, head over the Vaxstage Pass site to sign up. You’ll have to be fully vaxxed and able to prove so via the Medicare COVID-19 Digital Certificate, by the time the comp closes on November 30, and then share, in under 25 words, which live gig you’re most looking forward to. And the prize is pretty outstanding. Five winners will get double passes to each gig hosted by Frontier Touring, Live Nation or TEG for the whole of next year. Wowzas. Get jabbed, get in, get on it. Love live music? Stream a global gig featuring Kylie, Delta Goodrem, Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo, Billie Eilish and more.
5 big questions we have from the Matrix 4 trailer
Way back in 1998, a trippy dystopian movie about humanity being stuck unawares in an online world (no, not in an endless Zoom meeting) was shot almost entirely in Sydney’s Fox Studios. That film was The Matrix, and it would set the world on fire when it was released the following year. It pitted Keanu Reeves’ newly red-pill awoken saviour, computer hacker Neo, against malevolent machines personified by sharp-suited local hero and on-screen villain, Hugo Weaving, as the nihilistic Mr Smith. While two big screen sequels dropped in 2003 – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions – they never quite lived up to the hype, although the spectacular fight sequences boosted by slow-motion ‘bullet time’ ensured the trilogy’s place in the pantheon of sci-fi excellence. So let’s just say the first trailer drop for the long-awaited fourth installment, The Matrix Resurrections, just blew up the internet. So what did we learn? Well, as with most teaser trailers, not a whole lot. But questions, we have a few… Neo is back? Look, this is hardly revelatory, given we’ve known about Reeves’s involvement since the fourth live-action film was announced, but is this the flying, bullet-dodging, leather trenchcoat-clad demigod we know and love? In the trailer, we see Reeves as Thomas Anderson (his name in the ‘real’ world) in therapy with Neil Patrick Harris. But just to be clear, Neo very definitely died in a heroic sacrifice for all of humanity at the end of Revolutions. Or did he? The whole pr
"Vast amounts" of regional NSW will come out of lockdown on Saturday
"Vast amounts of the regions" will come out of lockdown on Saturday, September 11, the deputy premier John Barilaro has announced. Areas that have not recorded any cases for at least 14 days and are deemed low risk will enjoy new freedoms from 12:01am. However, significant restrictions will still remain in place, to balance both the economic and health concerns. Barilaro said that, “The mid-north coast, to the north coast, to the northwest, Aubrey to Riverina and the Murrumbidgee areas will open.” He then added that, “The southern part, southeast, the Illawarra Shoalhaven area, the Hunter region, Central Coast out to the Central West parts of the far west won’t open today.” He said that the decision on where would and would not open was based on health parameters and protecting regional NSW, acknowledging that it would be, “a bittersweet day for the regions.” However, he said that the partial unlock, “gives a level of hope and light at the end of this tunnel, the long winter, and it gives us an opportunity to come together and know that it is worth fighting for.” Barilaro stressed the continuing importance of vaccination statewide and cautioned that significant restrictions would remain in place in the areas opening up and that just one case could send those communities back into lockdown for 14 days. As of Saturday, the regional areas that do open would see hotels, cafes and restaurants, retail and workplaces reopen, but with capacity restrictions and the four square metre