Mardi Gras Film Festival
Festival director Paul Struthers notes that this year has seen an increase in the number of lesbian and transgender-themed films programmed – a welcome development
Five five-star films you must see this month
You can tell it's Academy Awards season when the cinemas are crowded with high quality flicks, all hoping to capitalise on the free publicity. These five movies are Oscar hopefuls (with one deliriously weird exception) and all of them rate the maximum five stars from Time Out critics
Guides for Sydney movie lovers
Films in cinemas now in Sydney
Movie lists you'll love
Film events in Sydney
The best cinemas in Sydney
Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
Without doubt the grandest cinema in Sydney, Cremorne’s Art Deco picture palace is a stunning step back in time. Built in 1935 by George Kenworthy, the top theatrical architect of the period, today’s version is even glitzier than the original thanks to a $2.5-million restoration some years back by owner and local TV celeb Mike Walsh. Each of the six auditoria has its own colour scheme and decor, but the 744-seat Orpheum is the true star of the show. It even has a genuine Wurlitzer cinema organ, which rises out of a stage pit on weekend evenings complete with flashing lights and a grinning organist. Expect a mix of mainstream US, British and Australian fare, with some art-house, special presentations and the occasional cabaret show.
Ritz Cinema Randwick
With a distinctive Art Deco design restored to its former 1930s glory and an impressive sound system, the six-screen Ritz cinema is both a local landmark and an excellent venue for catching the latest mainstream releases. Signs explain the regulations – no alcohol, bare feet, smoking or skateboards – which make sense if you hit the place in the afternoon after school’s out. In the evening the place attracts a different crowd, including film geeks who seek out the Ritz for its great acoustics and old-fashioned flair. Upstairs the inimitable Bar Ritz boasts a marble bar and balcony – perfect for pre- and post-film drinks. Bus 372, 373, 376, 377.
Palace Norton Street Cinemas
Leichhardt's Palace Cinemas were fully refurbed in 2013 and now have eight auditoria, all licensed, and an impressive foyer with a lounge bar and café on site. Palace Norton Street plays host to some of the best annual film festivals such as the French, Spanish, Greek, German and Italian. It is also in close proximity to the eateries and vibrant culture of Norton Street.
Palace Verona Cinemas
Paddington’s intellectuals, gays and art-house crowds are always seen milling about the Palace Verona with glee. The four screens are on the small side, the seats are snug and the pre-show commercials... well, they tend to go on forever. But we're forgiving film lovers, especially since this oft-buzzing venue screens an expertly curated line-up of arthouse releases from name directors (Woody, the Coens, PT Anderson...), world movies, quirky Australian indies and special one-offs, like screenings of overseas stage productions and concerts. There's a licensed café, wine and espresso bar on the premises – good for a pre-movie drink, a post-movie chat or even just a day date, since you don't have to purchase a ticket to enjoy what they're pouring and brewing. And if you're a frequent moviegoer, you'll want to check out Palace's great-value membership schemes, which are more than worth the investment if you see flicks on the regular.
Named after the Australian film pioneer Charles Chauvel - of Jedda fame - this much-loved local cinema is part of the Palace cinema chain. Its proscenium arch brings true grandeur to the art of film and the staff really know their stuff. Screenings tend to be seriously arty and the place also holds Cinemateque screenings. Be sure to seek out the lovely upstairs bar. Bus 333, 352, 378, 380. Screens 2. Tickets $16.50; $9-$12.50 reductions; $8 Tue.
Upcoming film releases in Australia
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Valentine's Day at Fratelli Fresh
Spread the amore this Valentine’s Day with an intimate Italian meal for two at Fratelli Fresh. With seven venues around Sydney where you can get premium pasta, charcuterie, salads, Italian wine, pizze and antipasti, Fratelli Fresh brings an authentic touch of Italy to dining in Sydney – seemingly effortlessly. Italian food is, after all, the food of love. You can choose from Fratelli’s à la carte menu or chef’s Valentine’s Day specials. One item not to miss on February 14 is the new Vanilla Panna Cotta: vanilla bean panna cotta, raspberry caramel coulis and chocolate biscotti. Or perhaps you’re planning a surprise picnic in the park? Fratelli Fresh has gourmet hampers that can complete your picnic basket. If cooking at home, visit the retail sections at Fratelli Fresh in Alexandria, Potts Point or Walsh Bay for fresh produce: fruit and vegetables, baked bread, cured meats and more.
Valentine's Day at The Star
Whether you want a full five-course dinner or a simple heart-shaped pizza, there is something for all lovers at The Star this Valentine's Day. Black Bar and Grill will be doing a four-course menu of spanner crab, Saikou salmon with housemade gnocchi, striploin Wagyu steak, and chocolate ganache with raspberry, mint ice cream to finish ($175pp). Over at Sokyo as usual they will be dishing out super-fresh nigiri, sashimi and robata grill, alongside a special Valentine's Day dessert of rose jelly, coconut dacquoise and white chocolate with fresh berries ($18 for dessert). Balla are offering a five-course menu: scampi tartare and caviar; risotto with calamari, green pea and squid ink; kingfish with Ligurian olive salad and lemon burrata; and veal fillet wrapped in prosciutto with sage and porcini mushrooms. For dessert they will be doing a vanilla semifreddo with raspberries and dark chocolate, and you'll also get bubbles on arrival, all for $139pp ($195 with matching wines). Then down at Pizzaperta, for just $30 a couple, you'll get a heart-shaped Margarita pizza, two glasses of Chandon and a Nutella-filled Italian donut. All deals are available from 5.30pm on Tuesday February 14. Find out more about Valentine's Day at the Star.