NW is all over everything streaming in July across SBS on Demand, Stan and Netflix; with a list of our personal highlights below.
SBS on Demand
The Italian Job (1969) (PG)
The cars, the cast, the clothes, the action, the locations, the soundtrack, and that famous cliff-hanger ending! The Italian Job is a classic widely regarded as one of the best British movies of all time, and rightly so, it brings a lot to the table.
Starring Michael Caine as Charlie Croker, the leader of a cockney criminal gang released from prison with the intention of doing a “big job” in Italy to steal gold bullion from an armoured security truck.
It went on to be receive a 2003 Hollywood remake that starred Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, and the new Mini Cooper, in what served as both a homage and some very on-the-nose product placement.
Another one like it: For more vintage Caine – in a movie that was also remade in the early 2000s – check out Alfie (1966) on SBS on Demand.
This trippy Indian comedy-drama arthouse flick sees a son faced with his father’s untimely and bizarre demand to go and die in the holy city of Varanasi and attain salvation, leaving him with no choice but to embark on this journey.
Conveniently enough on arrival the duo finds a guesthouse designed for just this purpose, the caveat being guests are only allowed to stay for 15 days at a time.
The father-son element also lends relatability to the film for anyone with experience travelling with or just spending significant time with their ageing parents.
While failing at the box office in India, Hotel Salvation has received universal praise and better box office success internationally and is well worth a watch.
Another one like it: Australian-Indian drama Lion, which tells the true story of an adopted boy tracking down his long-lost family across continents, is available on Netflix and SBS on Demand.
The Godfather Part II (M)
Often cited as one of the rare instances where the sequel was better than the original, The Godfather Part II is an undisputed classic.
Part II features two tales told across time, with the early life and career of Vito Corleone (Robert De Niro) in 1920s New York City examined, while his son, Michael (Al Pacino), expands and tightens his grip on the family crime syndicate in the 1950s.
Another one like it: While baring minimal similarities besides the era it was produced in, the fact it’s a crime film, and the great Pacino, Scarface is now available on Netflix. The Godfather is also available on Netflix, Stan and SBS on Demand.
Eurovision Song Contest: A Fire Saga Story (M)
It’s generally been the case for some time now that you know what you’re getting in a movie led by Will Ferrell.
Fire Saga Story features all the Ferrell hallmarks: a stubborn, outspoken, yet innocent man-child, fast and loose improv, some big comedic set pieces, and a simple plot moving everything along.
It sees Lars Erickssong (Will Ferrell) and his best friend Sigrit (Rachel McAdams) make music together as the underachieving band, Fire Saga, in the small town of Húsavík, Iceland; much to the chagrin of Erickssong’s disapproving father Erick (Pierce Brosnan).
And while it’s arguable the Ferrell comedy formula grew tired in the 2010s, this movie brings so much more to the table that makes it charming, fun, and outright silly.
Even watching it as someone with the most cursory knowledge of Eurovision possible, I was able to get plenty out of it. I couldn’t imagine how many deep cuts are in there for big fans of the behemoth song contest.
It’d also be remiss not to mention the breathtaking cinematography. While it’s not hard to make Iceland and Edinburgh look great, it takes fine skill to make them look as beautiful as they do in this film. Credit is due to cinematographer, Danny Cohen.
Another one like it: 1998 Adam Sandler vehicle The Wedding Singer is streaming in July on Netflix, and is a fellow musical comedy, albeit of another era, doing it right.
A Simple Favor (M)
Described as a ‘diet’ Gone Girl, A Simple Favor is a mystery-comedy noir starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively.
Centring on Kendrick’s Stephanie, a mommy blogger, it sees her try to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s (Lively) sudden disappearance from their small town.
It’s from there that this film’s mystery unravels in a fashion that’s divided critics, with some saying it resembles a TV procedural like Law & Order, while others have suggested its charm, comedy and pacing bring it through in style.
Another one like it: After the Wedding, a gripping mystery/drama starring Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Billy Crudup can be streamed in July on Netflix.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (PG)
The original reboot of the ill-fated 1995 Robin Williams vehicle family film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle surprised critics and fans alike who came in with low expectations, serving up a fun, delightful romp that worked due to the well-balanced comedic cast playing off each other in harmony.
The action-adventure film sees four high-school kids discover an old video game console with a game they’ve never heard of – Jumanji. After switching it on and choosing their characters, they’re sucked into the game’s jungle setting, embodying their video game avatars.
Another one like it: For another fun family comedy see Matilda on Netflix and Foxtel Now
Knocked Up (MA)
If you were judging a book by its cover, you wouldn’t be wrong to write off Knocked Up. The fact it’s directed by Judd Apatow, stars Seth Rogen, and features a goofy movie poster means it would be completely reasonable to pigeon-hole it as a goofy stoner rom-com full of potty humour. While Knocked Up features plenty of that, it also brings a surprising level of emotional depth, and has a raw, tear-jerking finale that can take viewers by surprise.
Another one like it: A fellow classic Judd Apatow mid-2000s comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin is available for streaming in July on Netflix.
The Miracle of the Sargossa Sea (R)
A surrealist thriller, Sargossa Sea is a unique work of homegrown Greek cinema that sees two separate women dream of leaving the dreary, sleepy eel-fishing community of Missolonghi they’ve both found themselves stuck in.
While native Greek cinema tends not to be broadly recognised far outside of Europe, Sargossa Sea comes with critical praise that champions the film as an “exhilarating exercise in genre filmmaking,” and describing it as an “aggressively sunburned Twin Peaks”.
Shot on location in a glum eel-fishing community in western Greece, Sargossa Sea showcases a landscape unfamiliar to many Australians, whose experience with the popular holiday destination wouldn’t extend beyond Athens and a handful of glamorous islands.
Another one like it: For more of the dark and gory European crime genre film, check out Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy, streaming in July on Stan.
Any Questions for Ben (M)
On paper, Any Questions for Ben makes a lot of sense. Written and produced by the legendary Working Dog crew, starring Josh Lawson and Rachael Taylor, all the ingredients are there for this to be a classic Australian take on the romantic comedy.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t all quite come together here. The final product ends up resembling any run-of-the-mill romantic comedy punched out by Hollywood on the regular. The bottom line is there is a lot of untapped potential here.
It’s hard to believe a film as glossy and cold as Any Questions for Ben could come out of the team that created the comparatively earnest, endearing and downright funny The Castle.
Another one like it: Check out the legendary Working Dog film The Castle on Stan.