Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig in Knives Out. Picture: Studiocanal
Ana De Armas and Daniel Craig in Knives Out. Picture: Studiocanal

What to watch if you’re in coronavirus self-quarantine

THE ONE THAT'S ALWAYS SHARPENING UP

KNIVES OUT (M)

****

GOOGLE, ITUNES, YOUTUBE MOVIES

A sleeper-hit box-office phenom at the end of 2019, Knives Out is cracking murder mystery rife with loose ends, dead ends and one heck of an unseemly end. That comes at the start of this dynamically entertaining affair, when celebrated author Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) - famous for his murder mysteries, not uncoincidentally - is found deceased in his study, seeming by his own hand. No-one has the inside track on what may have happened save for the late scribe's nurse (Ana de Armas), and she can barely make herself heard above the ruckus of Thrombey's not-so-grieving family. The show is comprehensively stolen - and never once returned - by a wired, inspired and kookily amusing Daniel Craig. He plays Benoit Blanc, an unorthodox private detective from the deep south who knows all the answers from the get-go, but remains unsure of the question until the closing scenes. Don't believe a word anyone says, but be assured a very good time awaits you here. A superb ensemble cast includes Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette and Don Johnson. Directed by Rian Johnson (Looper).

Jason Statham as Shaw and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Hobbs in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.
Jason Statham as Shaw and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Hobbs in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.

THE ONE KEEPING A FAVE FRANCHISE FUELLING AROUND

FAST & FURIOUS PRESENTS: HOBBS & SHAW (M)

***

AMAZON

Even after 8 movies (and their combined box-office gross of over $7 billion) the Fast & Furious series still has plenty of fuel left in the tank. Now that episode 9 won't drop until mid-2021 due to the coronavirus, this spin-off might give off enough fumes to rev up F&F fans while they wait. It goes quite OK if it is purely a disposable thrill ride you are chasing. The always-popular smile machine that is Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson plays Hobbs, the friendly federal agent who does it by the book, or not at all. The sometimes-tolerable scowl machine that is Jason Statham plays Shaw, a surly ex-soldier-of-fortune who doesn't do it by the book unless he's being paid to do so. These sworn frenemies have to learn to get along faster than they might have liked when they learn of a plot to poison the world with a body-liquefying virus. Idris Elba co-stars as an insanely indestructible bad guy, Vanessa Kirby plays Shaw's super-spy younger sister, and at least three ridiculously audacious action sequences justify the price of admission before fatigue sets in just ahead of the finale.

 

John Hurt, Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in Snowpiercer.
John Hurt, Chris Evans and Jamie Bell in Snowpiercer.

THE ONE THAT CAME BEFORE PARASITE

SNOWPIERCER (MA15+)

****

NETFLIX, STAN

If you're a newcomer to the eccentric of Parasite director Bong Joon-ho, here's where you can get more of the great man's work in one accessible dose.This utterly brilliant, slyly innovative action picture issues a barrage of future shocks in a pressing present tense. In a bid to stop global warming, climate scientists have triggered a new ice age. Everyone dies in the ensuing snap freeze, except for the occupants of a luxury bullet train. In the years that follow, each carriage becomes a nation unto itself. An interior security system - an unofficial set of borders, if you like - keeps everyone in their place. Due to an ambitious combo of the high-concept and the high-octane, this is an experience best seen (almost literally) cold. Stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton.

 

Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart. Picture: Universal Pictures
Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever in Booksmart. Picture: Universal Pictures

THE ONE LEAPING OFF THE PAGE

BOOKSMART (MA15+)

****1/2

AMAZON, GOOGLE, ITUNES, YOUTUBE MOVIES

This was clearly one of the best films released in 2019, an achievement magnified by both the fact it stars a cast of relative unknowns, and how the movie draws refreshing new energy from a seemingly tired premise. This is the story of Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), highly intelligent and socially awkward BFFs who could be about to end their secondary education as the most sheltered shut-ins of their generation. Unless they decide to go out for the first time on their last night of high school (which they do) and find the big party everyone else is at (which they can't). There is real wit, sly creativity and unbridled vitality pulsing from every scene here. Highly recommended.

 

Suzi Quatro in the Suzi Q documentary. Picture: Supplied
Suzi Quatro in the Suzi Q documentary. Picture: Supplied

THE ONE SPEEDING DOWN DEVIL GATE DRIVE

SUZI Q (M)

***

GOOGLE, ITUNES, YOUTUBE MOVIES

A delightfully engaging documentary on the life and times of pioneering American rock star Suzi Quatro. Not one of the essential bullet points in the Quatro biography is left off the list, with equal prominence given to the significant periods of development and self-discovery either side of Suzi's leather-clad prime on the pop charts. Quatro herself is present as an open-hearted and honest contributor to her own story, as are family, friends, fans, a former husband and ex-bandmates. Quatro has always been an individual living life on her own terms, and this admirable trait keeps coming through loud and clear. The only real drawback here is that the doco goes too close to outstaying its welcome, reaching awkwardly for an inspirational ending that just isn't there.

 

Ewan McGregor in Christopher Robin.
Ewan McGregor in Christopher Robin.

THE ONE BRINGING OLD FRIENDS TOGETHER

CHRISTOPHER ROBIN (G)

***

DISNEY PLUS

A gentle celebration of the enduring appeal of the residents of the Hundred Acre Wood. The story begins with a grown-up Christopher Robin (played by Ewan McGregor) doing it tough as an adult in 1950s London. As a distance opens up between Christopher and his wife and daughter, old childhood pals like Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger reappear to bring it all back together. Overall, a little bit slower and less spectacular than contemporary family films, but a little more memorable.

 

The Lion King’s CGI caused a stir when it was released in cinemas. Picture: Walt Disney
The Lion King’s CGI caused a stir when it was released in cinemas. Picture: Walt Disney

THE ONE LACKING ROAR POWER

THE LION KING (PG)

**

DISNEY PLUS

A lethargic computer-generated makeover of the beloved 1994 animated feature The Lion King, where the visuals are as photorealistic as an Attenborough nature doco, but the vibe is as flat as a lock-in at the local library. The heroic Simba's rise from castaway cub to saviour of the savannah is an epic tale that didn't need any tinkering with. However, the all-important song interludes are indicative of where the dull slog of it all keeps kicking in. New renditions of proven faves like Circle of Life, Hakuna Matata and Can You Feel the Love Tonight (inexplicably staged in broad daylight!) are too processed and passion-free.

 



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