Here is what’s making a splash for your summer viewing pleasure

Aquaman is defending Atlantis from the Black Manta, while Priscilla Presley is swept off her feet then dumped at Graceland: screen pleasures large and small are coming your way over the summer holidays.

Dec 20, 2023, updated Dec 20, 2023

There are fewer than usual big films fighting for space in prime holiday slots like Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, but it’s not all re-runs of Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary (although they are playing as a double at Palace Nova).

Wonka is beating the Christmas rush with the sweet-faced Timothée Chalamet as the new-generation Willy Wonka, the third actor to play the showman who invents chocolate that works magic since the wonderfully comic Gene Wilder in 1971, followed by Johnny Depp in 2005.

This year’s Boxing Day opening will be dominated by DC Comics’ Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which brings back the avenging Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) on his second attempt to destroy Aquaman (Jason Momoa), this time with the help of an ancient Black Trident.

Director James Wan surprised everyone in 2018 by making more than $1 billion with the first Aquaman. No expense was spared for the sequel, although rumours seeped out through documents in the Depp vs Heard defamation trial hinting at problems on set, and Amber Heard, who plays Mera, had her scenes cut.

There’s a New Year’s Eve preview ahead of the January 18 opening of Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla, a curious film that has divided audiences and critics. Coppola, an admired director who brings a fresh eye to her subjects, based the film on Priscilla Presley’s memoir, Elvis and Me. This time around, Elvis, played by Australian rising star Jacob Elordi, is an impression off to one side rather than the realised persona so memorably captured by Austin Butler in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.

Coppola gives a feminist take on a familiar tale with Priscilla, played by Cailee Spaeny, wooed by Elvis and then parked in the gilded cage of Graceland and isolated from her friends while Elvis goes to Los Angeles to make films.

The most significant of the big holiday releases is Ferrari, which opens January 4 and stars Adam Driver as the silver-fox Italian Enzo Ferrari, whose company is about to fail. His marriage to Laura (Penelope Cruz), the co-founder of Ferrari, is in trouble and he bets the company’s future on winning the Mille Miglia, a 1500km endurance race across Italy.

Michael Mann’s film, based on a biography, focuses on three months of intense drama in 1957, with Driver providing the steely machismo of the man willing to put his name up against Maserati – although the real stars will be the cars.

Opening the same day is The Boys in a Boat, a smaller film with George Clooney directing, about the University of Washington rowing crew who went on to represent the United States at the 1936 Olympic Games. The inspirational story about the mainly working-class athletes who became champions stars Australia’s Joel Edgerton as their coach, Al Ulbrickson.

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A number of cinema releases will become available for streaming over the holiday period, among them Maestro, Bradley Cooper’s triumphant portrayal of musician, composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein in which he plays Bernstein as well as directs. Carey Mulligan as his great love, actress Felicia Montealegre, also gives the performance of her career as the wife and mother whose spirit is slowly crushed.

Maestro releases onto Netflix on December 20, while Leave the World Behind, a sci-fi thriller starring Julia Roberts and Mahershala Ali as a married couple on a family getaway during a cyber attack, is available now. The Royal Hotel, starring US actor Julia Garner and filmed partly in South Australia, releases on Binge on December 15, and already on Netflix is Michael Fassbender’s The Killer, an unusual psychological thriller about an assassin who messes up.

Back in the cinema later in January comes the kitsch 1980s period drama The Iron Claw, which tells the true story of the Von Erich brothers, who made history in the cut-throat world of professional wrestling. The muscled cast includes Jeremy Allen White, from the television series The Bear (Disney +), as Kerry Von Erich, and Zac Efron as his brother Kevin. The biographical story about a wrestling dynasty who outside the ring faced a string of personal tragedies has already turned up on “best films” list for the year. It was shot and filmed in Baton Rouge, and the wrestling scenes were filmed continuously in front of a live audience then edited into the script.

On January 25, watch for the release in select cinemas of Anatomy of a Fall, one of the best international films to preview at the Adelaide Film Festival in October. It is very European and enigmatic, although the plot is straightforward: a man falls from the window of a chalet in the French Alps and his German wife, Sandra (Sandra Hüller), is accused of his murder. Much of the film, which won this year’s Palme D’Or at Cannes, takes place in a courtroom where witnesses and friends provide different perspectives; a key witness is their son, Daniel, 11, who is visually impaired. It is remarkably human and delves into the secrets of a marriage while Sandra’s guilt or innocence remains obscure.

Slated for opening on February 22 is another independent European film with something profound to say: The Zone of Interest, which also stars Hüller, this time as Hedwig, the wife of Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz. The film includes a scene of a family at a picnic, all of them indoctrinated Nazis, although on the surface no different to you or me. Loosely based on a novel by Martin Amis, The Zone of Interest never shows the atrocities inside the camp but focuses on the banality of evil. The horrors of Auschwitz are just over the wall, but in the house where the commandant and his family live, plans are underway for a birthday dinner.

By now we are at the end of February and on leap day, February 29, normal services resume with the release of Dune: Part Two, rescheduled because of the Hollywood strike but now back on track. In the second instalment of the cinematic adaptation of the Frank Herbert novels, Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) unites with the sand-dwelling Fremens (Zendaya as Chani) while seeking revenge against those who killed his father. And he is in love.

This article is republished from InReview under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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