Nude Tuesday, The Gray Man and more Mystery Road: what’s new to streaming in Australia this July
The Gray Man
Film, US, 2022 – out 22 July
It seems like just yesterday that Ryan Gosling was a king of popular culture. But nothing ages faster than the zeitgeist, and old mate Gossa (to coin a nickname) hasn’t had a film out since 2018’s First Man. Rather than returning with the sort of cool, edgy flicks he was making a decade ago (Drive and Only God Forgives) the star has gone the other way, teaming up with blockbuster directors the Russo brothers to play a CIA mercenary with not one, but two silly sounding names: Court Gentry, and his codename Sierra Six. Oh and he’s also The Gray Man.
Court Gentry AKA Sierra Six AKA The Gray Man AKA Gossa becomes an extremely wanted man, with many assassins on his tail, when he accidentally discovers some very dark secrets, because something something, international intrigue, cover-up, something something; it all sounds very familiar. Chris Evans plays the leader of the manhunt out to get him, with a fondness for abandoning an idiom halfway through its recitation. “If you wanna make an omelette,” he says, “you gotta kill some people.”
My Name is Gulpilil
Film, Australia, 2021 – out 3 July
Making a film that does justice to David Gulpilil is, to put it lightly, no easy task, but Molly Reynolds did a superb job with this profoundly moving tribute to the late and great Yolŋu actor, capturing some of his final days living in Murray Bridge, South Australia with his carer Mary. Terribly ill from lung cancer, but still quite lucid, Gulpilil introduces the film as “my story of my story”, setting the context for a documentary that captures his personal life in addition to his life in film.
Scenes from Gulpilil’s extraordinary career are beautifully integrated by editor Tania M Nehme, making them feel like coils of memories, the subject’s psyche written in celluloid. A bunch of other excellent, Indigenous-oriented Australian films also arrive on Netflix on 3 July including Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, The Final Quarter, Jasper Jones, Samson & Delilah and Gurrumul.
Honorable mentions: Stranger Things 4: Volume 2 (TV, 1 July), How to Change Your Mind (TV, 12 July), Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight (TV, 14 July), Resident Evil (TV, 14 July), Persuasion (film, 15 July), The Most Hated Man on the Internet (TV, 27 July).
Film, New Zealand/Australia, 2022 – out 7 July
Director Armagan Ballantyne’s offbeat comedy about a married couple (Damon Herriman and Jackie van Beek) who go to a hippyish resort run by a horny quasi-guru (Jemaine Clement) is convinced that it’s absolutely hilarious – mostly because the characters speak a language consisting entirely of gibberish. The film is a bit of a one trick pony, lacking visual craft and wit, though the latter depends partly on which version you watch. There are three: one subtitled by Julia Davis (which was the version released theatrically), one subtitled by Celia Pacquola and Ronny Chieng (this one exclusive to Stan) and the sans subtitles.
The gibberish gimmick gives the film some novelty, though it’s not enough to sustain a runtime spotted with other supposed hilarities such as people panting like animals and touching each other’s private parts. The cast do a fine job keeping a straight face and delivering genuine emotion, even though everybody’s taking the piss.
The Undeclared War
TV, UK, 2022 – out 1 July
Director and co-writer Peter Kosminsky bases his new drama in a near-future UK where Boris Johnson has been replaced by the country’s first prime minister of colour, and is beset by cyber attacks on the eve of the next general election. The government turn to, of all people, Simon Pegg, who heads a team of computer geeks trying to foil the online espionage.
Seated at a long table, Pegg tells the prime minister that cyber attacks are “very, very dangerous, and before you know it, we’re into a cycle of escalation and a catastrophic loss of life.” Another cheerful scenario to add to the shitfuckery of modern existence.
Honourable mentions: Raised by Refugees (TV, 1 July), Insidious (film, 4 July), The NIght We Called it A Day (film, 5 July), I, Tonya (film, 6 July), The Hateful Eight (film, 6 July), Sicario: Day Of The Soldado (film, 8 July), A Simple Favour (film, 22 July), Let Me In (film 23 July), Muriel’s Wedding (film, 23 July), Breath (film 27, July), The Resort (TV, 29 July), The Crazies (film, 31 July).
Mystery Road: Origin
TV, Australia, 2022 – out 3 July
Having now clocked up two feature films and three TV seasons, the latest Mystery Road series – directed by Dylan River – shows there’s still plenty of juice left in the tank. Mark Coles Smith plays a much younger version of Jay Swan, the Akubra-wearing detective who was memorably, and until now seemingly inimitably, played by Aaron Pedersen. Freshly minted as a detective, Swan investigates a case involving weird robberies conducted by thieves wearing Ned Kelly-esque masks made of faux leather. River and the screenwriters do a great job keeping the drama engrossing across the show’s six hour-ish running time, making it feel more like one very long film than a series of episodes.
Film, Australia, 2022 – out 13 July
Sherpa and Mountain director Jennifer Peedom’s ambitious documentary pairs majestic photography with extensive, almost biblicalesque narration from Willem Dafoe, who provides a running commentary on the historical, social and environmental significance of rivers, building a case that they’re core to human and planetary experience. The film is striking in both visual and verbocentric terms, with a sometimes gasp-inducing sense of wonder and largesse.
Honourable mentions: Miss You Already (film, 1 July), Small Axe (TV, 3 July), Looking Black (TV, 5 July), Ablaze (film, 6 July), Carbon: The Unauthorised Biography (film, 12 July), Shaun Micaleff’s Mad as As Hell (TV, 20 July), Aftertaste (TV, 20 July), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (film, 29 July).
SBS on Demand
Film, France, 2019 – out now
This truly bizarre film from writer/director Quentin Dupieux is about a man who really, really likes his new jacket – so much so that he decides nobody else in the world should be allowed to wear any jacket of any kind. Georges (Jean Dujardin, most famous for starring in The Artist) purchases said jacket from a man who throws in a free camcorder, which the protagonist uses to launch his, erm, film-making career. The film he starts working on consists entirely of footage of other people taking off their jackets.
Deerskin’s second half ratchets up the intensity, with George taking a leaf out of the book of the horrible, camera-wielding villain from Michael Powell’s 1960 classic Peeping Tom. It’s not just weird but witty and original, playing with notions of characterisation and villainy. In one shot, Dupieux blurs out Dujardin in the foreground of the image, and focuses on the jacket, resting against a chair, in the background – as if the jacket were an actual actor.
TV, Australia, 2022 – out 4 July
Shot in Alice Springs and the East MacDonnell Ranges and told in English and Arrernte, this four-part crime drama stars Rarriwuy Hick as a detective reluctantly sent to her home community to investigate a suspicious car accident. She has complicated feelings about the locals, and vice versa, experiencing animosity related to her past and as a police officer representing white people’s law. The dramatic structure of True Colours is a little boilerplate, and the police procedural elements overly familiar – but its exploration of community tensions and aspects of broader Indigenous culture are compelling.
Honourable mentions: Memoria (film, out now), The Last Wave (film, 1 July), Gosford Park (film, 1 July), Malcolm X (film, 1 July), Jasper Jones (film, 5 July), The Darkside (film, 7 July), Indivisible: Healing Hate (TV, 18 July), Too Close (TV, 27 July).
Amazon Prime Video
The Terminal List
TV, US, 2022 – out 1 July
In this military thriller, Chris Pratt – who always struck me as being a few eggs short of a dozen – plays a US navy Seal who leads a platoon on a mission that goes terribly wrong, leaving him with headaches, paranoia and confusion. With lots of shots of the actor looking bothered and wigged-out, with a sad squint in his eyes, this show – based on Jack Carr’s novel of the same name – wasn’t for me. Particularly with its fondness for rah-rah military dialogue such as “bravo”, “maintain comms” and “this motherfucker is ours!” But if you like that kind of dialogue (sickos, the lot of you), maybe you’ll appreciate it more.
Honourable mentions: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (film, 1 July), Robocop (film, 1 July), 21 Jump Street (film, 1 July), American Made (film, 1 July), Lady Bird (film, 1 July), Get Out (film, 1 July), Warriors on the Field (film, 8 July), Belfast (film, 11 July), A Simple Favour (film, 12 July), Don’t Make Me Go (film, 15 July), Anything’s Possible (film, 22 July), Paper Girls (TV, 29 July).
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Film, US, 2021 – out 17 July
If you haven’t seen the original Venom, don’t bother and skip straight to its sly and sharp sequel. Let There Be Carnage takes a Jekyll and Hyde view of superhero (or super antihero) shenanigans, Tom Hardy playing a journalist who is attached, like most journalists, to a creepy symbiotic alien. “You live in my body, you live by my rules,” he says to his titular frenemy – but extraterrestrial parasites just don’t listen to reason.
The film’s conventional narrative aspects detail the emergence of a villain who can manipulate sound energy by screaming (Naomie Harris) and a serial killer (Woody Harrelson) who invites Brock to his execution. But it’s the unconventional, (split) personality elements that make this sequel sizzle. I love the scene in which Venom, separated from his host, visits a nightclub and takes to the stage, giving a moving speech calling for an end to animosity against aliens.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Film, China/Taiwan/Hong Kong/US, 2000 – out 8 July
Who could forget that gravity-defying treetop fight scene, with Chow Yun-fat and Zhang Ziyi clanging their swords and balancing on swinging bamboo stalks? This graceful moment epitomises the craft of Ang Lee’s action hit, epic in scope and elegant in execution, revolving around Qing dynasty warriors and the theft of a powerful legendary sword. Lee memorably described the film as “Sense and Sensibility, with martial arts.”
Honourable mentions: Mystic River (film, 1 July), Child’s Play (film, 2 July), Midsommar (film, 3 July), The Larry Sanders Show seasons 1-6 (TV, 6 July), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (film, 8 July), her (film, 10 July), Newsradio season 1-5 (TV, 13 July), What We Do in the Shadows season 4 (TV, 13 July), Dunkirk (film, 14 July), Call Me By Your Name (film, 16 July), Venom: Let There Be Carnage (film, 17 July), Avatar: The Last Airbender seasons 103 (TV, 19 July), Doctor Who season 1-12 (TV, 21 July), Hey Arnold! season 1-2 (TV, 25 July), Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (TV, 28 July), Magic Mike (film, 30 July).
Film, US, 2022 – out 1 July
Umpteen narratives since time immemorial have depicted princesses as helpless damsels in distress, destined to be rescued by male heroes. Le-Van Kiet’s medieval action-comedy looks to transcend and take the piss out of this archaic tradition, with the titular character (Joey King) raising hell and kicking arse – or, more precisely, kicking a bloke out of a very high window on her castle. Fingers crossed that Kiet takes this high-potential premise to interesting places.
Honourable mentions: A Cure for Wellness (film, 1 July), The Old Man (TV, 13 July), The Bob’s Burger Movie (film, 13 July), A Time to Kill (film, 15 July), Not Okay (film, 29 July)
The Secrets She Keeps, season two
TV, Australia, 2022 – out 12 July
The first season of The Secrets She Keeps was, generally speaking, a decently made and psychologically tense drama, with an annoying tendency to indulge in the kind of heavy handedness befitting of a shrill Ozploitation movie. It revolves around two women who are due to give birth around the same day – Meghan (Jessica De Gouw) and Agatha (Laura Carmichael) – except there is a major twist I could not in good conscience reveal here. The second season returns the key cast and introduces new traumatic incidents that affect the life of Meghan and her family.
Honourable mentions: Fireheart (film, 1 July), Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell? (TV, 8 July), Compulsion (TV, 17 July), I Love That For You (TV, 21 July).