Taken the kids to Minions? Bored of Jurassic World and the like? Here are five great films that likely slipped under your radar.

It’s thrown in our faces every day – we’re in the golden age of TV.

Why leave the house when you have quality drama in your living room, minus the stress of picking a good film and paying for it, which seems to be ever increasing.

It’s hard to not think that. The multiplex is looking more homogeneous than ever, with studios throwing out big budget offerings with an alarming frequency, looking for the next hit in an uncertain media market.

Originality seems like it’s at an all time low, movies just seem to be pumped out facelessly and forgotten as soon as they leave cinemas. There’s a new ‘big’ film every two weeks, a new explosion and gunfire fueled offering, so much the same as the last one that plots melt into one another. It’s action movie mush, and it leaves you feeling disenchanted and worn out.

But all hope is not lost, definitely not.

The biggest casualty of the constant stream of big budget bonanzas is the smaller films, the ones that make for an actually memorable trip to the cinema. A trip that is worth your hard-earned cash.

They sadly get lost in the shuffle, swallowed up by films with massive marketing budgets. Here, unearthed for every person who is sick of little yellow aliens and reboots of popular 80s movies, are a handful of these films that you can enjoy right now in Brisbane.


Who is in it? A documentary about the late singer Amy Winehouse, it includes no new footage, all comprised of home videos, interviews and more with her friends and family.

What’s it about? Covering from Winehouse’s life from childhood to tragic death, it’s a portrait of an artist completely enamoured with her craft, but sadly, due to the celebrity-hungry media culture of the 21st century, her career was made about anything but the music.

Why should I see it? Even for those who aren’t fans of Winehouse, this is an essential documentary for the reason above – it’s not only a look at her inspiration and rise to fame, but also about the media culture that resulted in much of her public persona. While it offers up little not known to someone who paid attention to the news from 2007-2011 (something it criticises, that we were privy to so much of her private struggles), this is a great strength of the film, as it doesn’t become contradictory in becoming exploitative or unnecessarily cruel, or, on the flipside, put Winehouse on a pedestal. Rather, it’s a respectful, thought-provoking, and moving documentary that offers no easy answers.

Where can I see it? Palace Barracks on Petrie Terrace in the City, Palace Centro on James Street in the Fortitude Valley. Book tickets on the Palace Cinemas website.

Far From the Madding Crowd

Who is in it? Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby, An Education) and one of the handsomest supporting casts you’ll see this year – Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), Michael Sheen (Midnight in ParisThe Queen, pick a film from the last five years and he’s probably in there), and Tom Sturridge (The Boat That Rocked) .

What’s it about? in Victorian England, fiercely independent farm owner Bathsheba Everdene (Mulligan) attracts the attention of three very different suitors: sheep farmer Gabriel Oak (Schoenaerts), wayward soldier Frank Troy (Sturridge), and older bachelor William Boldwood (Sheen).

Why should I see it? Ok, stop snoring. This is not your run-of-the-mill, musty period drama where emotions feel as tightly controlled as the corsets. While period drama is sometimes directed with about as much style and personality as, well, factory-made action films, this adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel is far from something commonly shoved in front of high school students. It’s directed by Danish talent Thomas Vinterberg, who is best known for being part of the bare-bones filmmaking movement Dogme 95. While the principles of his Dogme days aren’t here (there’s no hand-held camera work and plenty of music), Vinterberg has brought his realism-grounded stylings here, creating a film that feels full-blooded and current. It’s appropriate: after all Bathsheba is a protagonist that was completely unique at the time Hardy wrote the novel, allowed her independence and to be just purely emotional and well-rounded. She’s played spectacularly by Carey Mulligan, and as she rides around the fields on horseback, you can’t help but feel like you’re there with her, the crisp breeze stinging your face.

Where can I see it? New Farm Cinemas, Palace Barracks on Petrie Terrace, Cineplex Balmoral at Bulimba, The Regal Twin at Graceville, Event Cinemas Chermside, Dendy Portside at Hamilton, Cineplex Victoria Point, Palace Centro in the Fortitude Valley, Event Cinemas Indropilly, Blue Room Cinebar on Baroona Road at Paddington.

Love and Mercy

Who is in it? Paul Dano (Little Miss SunshineThere Will Be Blood), John Cusack, Elizabeth Banks, and Paul Giamatti.

What’s it about?  In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson (Dano) struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece Pet Sounds. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man (Cusack) under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy (Giamatti), until he meets Cadillac salesperson Melinda Ledbetter (Banks).

Why should I see it? This is not like any old music biopic. The screenplay is by the writer behind I’m Not There, the inventive Bob Dylan biopic from 2007 that saw six different actors (including Cate Blanchett, who was nominated for an Oscar for her performance) play Dylan, which alone promises that this is going to be no typical experience. The film alternates between the two time periods smoothly, utilising documentary-style techniques in the 1960s to show Wilson’s emerging schizophrenia, and not relying on endless montages that would have resulted in a muddled mess. There is no half that pales into comparison to the other, rather both are equally compelling and involving, offering many authentically moving moments. This is also due to the cast, which turn in stellar performances across the board, with Banks being the standout. This is the well-worn troubled genius story done excellently. Look out for this at the Oscars.

Where can I see it? Cineplex Balmoral and Victoria Point, Palace Barracks and Centro, Dendy Portside, New Farm Cinemas, The Regal Twin.

Going Clear

Who is in it? A documentary about Scientology, this film may not feature interviews from any heavyweights like Tom Cruise, but does include a compelling raft of anecdotes from ex-Scientologists, including Oscar-winning filmmaker and outspoken ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis (Crash).

What’s it about? An in-depth look at the Church of Scientology, from its beginnings with science-fiction novelist L. Ron Hubbard to its celebrity-attracting present.

Why should I see it? While it’s conventional in construction and pretty sprawling, it’s hard to fault a documentary that has a topic as juicy as this. There are many moments that are truly unbelievable, including conventions with thousands of attendees and anecdotes of the endless levels one must go through to reach the highest level (also called being ‘Clear’), and much more that shouldn’t be spoiled that make this an incredibly wild and entertaining two hours. You’ll want to keep talking about it with your family and friends for many more hours after.

Where can I see it? Palace Centro.

Wild Tales

Who is in it? An massive Argentinian cast, and it was produced by beloved Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar.

What’s it about? An anthology of six different stories all centered around one theme – revenge.

Why should I see it? It’s been described as Argentina’s answer to the Quentin Tarantino classic Pulp Fiction, which is an apt descriptor for this film, which sees six different interpretations of the notion of revenge – some literal, and some more interpretive. It’s the segments that have a bit more of a play with the theme rather than plop it on the screen at face value that work the best, and the best is indeed saved for last, a chapter you wish to see more of. Writer/director Damian Szifron does not construct his characters with love. Rather, the film is wildly satirical – revenge here is laughed at, the film intended as a take down of upper class sensibilities, upper class people viewed as shattered mirror demons. Attempts to hide bad will with money are laughed at, met with bloody fates or viewed as they would be through a glass wall at a zoo, attacking each other in the name of entertainment at an escalating intensity. Almodovar’s involvement should tell you enough though, this is pitch black, shocking comedy not for the easily offended.

Where can I see it? Palace Barracks.