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Published June 20th 2016
Ghosts, Tarzan and Aussies in a Free State with Lights Out?
The Legend of Tarzan (image by Warner Bros. Pictures)
Winter's fierce storms, soaking flood-ravaged homes and enticing drivers to into flood waters, vie with endless political campaigning to test our patience. How can we escape this gale of cold and hot air attacking our bodies and our minds? In every city, cinemas with plush seating and salty popcorn, icy choc-tops and sweet jaffas tempt us with a 2-hour respite. Feed your imagination and rescue your sanity with this short-list of films tickling funny bones, jerking tears from our eyes, pumping adrenalin into muscles and bending minds with creative stories, compelling characters and explosive action scenes. Read on to discover the best movies premiering in Australia in July.
If your insomnia has returned after watching Lights Out, see the funny side of ghostly adventures with the return of Ghostbusters, rebooted 30 years after the original with Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Sigourney Weaver and Harold Ramis. Inspired by Julia Gillard's prime ministership and Hillary Clinton's chase to the White House, the 21st century ghostbusters are Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, the Saturday Night Live alumni brandishing radioactive guns while dodging supernatural green slime. Even if you weren't born when the original classic film was released, you're likely a fan of the comedic timing and chemistry, light-hearted action and clever special effects. This legacy has caused angry reactions to the sequel, with many vloggers panning it after watching the trailer. Despite the keyboard warriors, I'm hoping this reboot adds a few more happy memories to the ongoing investigation of paranormal activity. If not, we can always re-watch the original:
The Legend of Tarzan – July 7 Tarzan, the action hero emerging from the jungle, is likened to the Mowgli, the hero in another adventurous tale, The Jungle Book, recently featured in a new film. Tarzan also enjoys a remake of of Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic novel, depicted in hundreds of films since the first silent release in 1918. Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood, Zoolander, Generation Kill), leaves his aristocratic life in Victorian London, returning to the home of his youth, the jungles of the Congo, to resolve a trade dispute. When Margot Robbie (Neighbours, The Wolf of Wall Street, Suicide Squad) as Jane, his lover, is kidnapped and he discovers the cruel exploitation of the local people and animals by Belgian colonists and corrupt local leaders, Tarzan leads a vast CGI-enhanced army of animals into overwhelming battles against the enigmatic villain Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, Spectre), likened to Kurtz, the sadistic ivory trader featured in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and Djimon Hounsou (Gladiator, Blood Diamond, Amistad), a tribal leader. He's aided by Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, The Avengers, Star Wars, Django Unchained) as a former American soldier now fighting for the suffering Congolese and John Hurt (Nineteen Eighty-Four, Doctor Who, Alien) as Jane's father.
Free State of Jones (image by STX Entertainment)
Free State of Jones – July 21 Newton Knight, a poor farmer in Jones County, Mississippi, was expected to join the southern Confederacy to fight Union forces in the 19th century American Civil War. Instead, he formed a group of locals to attack the Confederate Army. He was able to fly the Union Flag, later becoming the red, white and blue flag of the USA, over the local courthouse, which became the Free State of Jones. Knight later married his grandfather's female slave, proudly announcing the birth of their mixed-race children and polarising the community. The brave moral choices, rarely mentioned in the ongoing racial challenges in America, are depicted by Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, True Detective, A Time to Kill), in a wartime romance exploring another aspect of the revolution portrayed in Lincoln. He's joined by Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Doctor Who, Belle, Beyond the Lights), Keri Russell (Felicity, Mission: Impossible III, The Americans), Mahershala Ali (House of Cards, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Brendon Gleeson (Braveheart, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, Troy, In Bruges, The Guard).
Goldstone – July 7 Mystery Road, the 2013 Australian 'western' crime thriller, introduced aboriginal Detective Jay Swan, investigating the murder of an aboriginal girl in rural Queensland. In Goldstone, Aaron Pedersen (City Homicide, The Circuit), returns as the determined cop, challenged to find a missing person in a small mining town burning with violent corruption. Amongst the haunting landscapes of the Australian outback, Pederson is joined by a Alex Russell (Chronicle, Believe Me), a local cop immediately distrustful of his methods. The tone, cinematography, story and casting encourages comparisons with the acclaimed True Detective crime series on HBO starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in equally adversarial roles. Mystery Road featured an outstanding supporting cast, including many of Australia's strongest actors. Goldstone also benefits from an impressive cast, including Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook), David Wenham (300, The Lord of the Rings). David Gulpilil (Storm Boy, Crocodile Dundee, The Tracker, Charlie's Country), Cheng Pei-pei, Michelle Lim Davidson and Tom E. Lewis.
Lights Out – July 21 James Wan, one of the Aussie creators of the Saw franchise, revitalised the horror genre with classic camera techniques, clever plot twists and immersive tension, thrills and frights. Fortunately, Jigsaw, the mastermind creating the deadly tests of character and courage, isn't likely to haunt your slumber unless your neighbour is a deranged engineer. In Lights Out, our fears may linger as we leave the cinema after seeing the terrified characters react to attacks from a ghostly girl stalking in the darkness but hidden in the light. As electricity prices in Australia create their own horror scenes on our bank statements, the cast need to battle a deadly spirit returning each time they flick the light switch. Maria Bello (Thank You For Smoking, The Cooler, Prime Suspect), explains the ghost's sad motivation which drags police officers, residents and children into a never-ending darkness.