Entertainment

The best sports doco to watch after The Last Dance

UNTOLD: MALICE AT THE PALACE (M)★★★★NETFLIXRemember how much you enjoyed Netflix’s acclaimed 2020 docu-series The Last Dance? Then you will be pleased to know the streaming giant has just started rolling out another clutch of quality sports docos under the Untold banner. The first feature in the collection – which will be updated weekly – is Malice at the Palace, and it is a ripping effort. This is the full, unvarnished tale of an infamous basket-brawl that ended a November 2004 game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers. With just seconds to go, several players on both teams lost their cool in a manner not normally associated with the NBA brand. Even now, the footage of the incident looks as if it has been beamed from another dimension. Those who were there – and especially, those still living with the consequences – are front and centre in what is a top-notch production.BABYTEETH (M) ★★★★FOXTEL OR RENTMilla (Eliza Scanlen) is 16 years old, and may not have too much time left to live. It may all come down to when her recurring bout of cancer next recurs. As for Moses (Toby Wallace), he is 23, and has way too much time on his hands. If he’s not taking drugs, he could be selling them. She is no Juliet, and he certainly ain’t no Romeo. Nevertheless, it is the incongruously gentle and sincere romance that takes hold between the pair that proves the making (and not the breaking) of a fine Australian movie. Intelligently written and very creatively directed, Babyteeth carefully avoids becoming the black comedy or the bleak drama that others telling a similar kind of story might have settled for. The glue that holds the whole thing together is the brilliant pairing of Ben Mendelsohn and Essie Davis as Milla’s concerned, yet supportive parents. Good stuff, this. THE WITCHES (M)RENT★★★The witches in The Witches hate children. With a passion. According to this everlovin’ coven’s loathsome leader The High Witch (a gleefully deranged Anne Hathaway), their work will not be done “until every child in the world is rubbed out.” This is why these calculating crones are hiding in plain sight as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Any kid who dares accept an invitation to join them for some chocolate will be miniaturised into a mouse. This not-so-cosy arrangement was first filtered through the twisted mind of the celebrated author Roald Dahl in his 1983 book The Witches, then later ported over to a wonkily charming film adaptation starring Anjelica Huston in 1990. This entertaining new version is much truer in tone to the book, where the line separating the silly and the sinister is often blurred. There is definitely some genuinely frightening stuff happening here that could keep a sensitive child up at night, fearful of a visit from Hathaway’s sedately evil posse. For those old enough to go with Dahl’s demented flow, however, a wickedly enjoyable time beckons. RADIOACTIVE (M) ★★★BINGE OR RENTA by-the-book biopic of pioneering scientist Marie Curie. Not only was Madame Curie (played convincingly at varying ages by Rosamund Pike) the first woman to win the coveted Nobel Prize. She was also the first person to bag two of ’em. Often in collaboration with her equally renowned husband Pierre (Sam Riley), Marie’s discovery of radium and polonium (and ongoing study of their properties) carried dramatic implications for the way we live today. MISBEHAVIOUR (M) ★★½RENTDon’t know what went down at the 1970 staging of the Miss World beauty pageant in London? Keep it that way until you see the movie. All you really need to be across is that the Women’s Liberation Movement had a form of protest in mind for the live global telecast of the show that remains more audacious, daring and kind of silly than anyone would dare try today. Though a bit slow to get going, the heated finale proves well worth the wait. Stars Keira Knightley, Greg Kinnear, Lesley Manville. Gugu Mbatha-Raw. WIND RIVER (MA15+)★★★★STAN OR RENTThis (literally) chilly crime procedural takes place on the frigid snowscapes of a Native American reservation in Wyoming. It is here that unprepared FBI agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is investigating a strange homicide. Jane’s only guide through this ravaged region – where the devastation is so complete, it feels like an abandoned planet – is hard-bitten local game tracker Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner). Tough, testing going, but yet another storytelling triumph from crack screenwriter Taylor Sheridan (Sicario, Hell or High Water and the TV series Yellowstone).WOODSTOCK ‘99: PEACE, LOVE & RAGE (M) ★★★★FOXTEL, BINGEIf you watched either of the extraordinary docos about the spectacularly doomed Fyre Music Festival, you must track down this revealing look at another major open-air event that was destined to be a non-event. A 30-years-after sequel to the iconic 1960s Woodstock Festival should have a been a win-win-win situation for music lovers, artists and promoters alike. Instead, it was a dangerous and rather distasteful debacle, notorious in particular for its gallingly shabby treatment of the female patrons in attendance. A crash course in how to should tens of thousands of people a bad time they will never forget. WALK OF SHAME (MA15+) ★★★NETFLIXIf you want something to plonk on a trashily chucklesome double-bill with Vacation Friends, look right here. This guilty-pleasure comedy of errors is all about the (im)pure performance skill of Elizabeth Banks, who throws herself under the bus repeatedly to get every laugh she can. Banks plays an LA TV anchor trying to make it home after a disastrous one-night stand sees her lose her car, phone, money and dignity in the blink of an eye. Silly, but weirdly satisfying.VACATION FRIENDS (MA15+)★★★STREAM exclusive to DISNEY+Let’s get one thing straight. Vacation Friends will not be entering awards season calculations at the end of 2021. Heck, most people won’t remember having seen it by the time summer comes. However, right now, this gleefully reckless adult comedy gets the job done in ways many new-release movies this year have failed to do. The premise is all about two couples colliding in two different settings. First of all, there is the Mexican resort where the about-to-be-engaged Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) are taking the kind of romantic time-out which should result in a big question popped and wedding plans made. Enter Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), hard-partying holidaymakers who take an unhealthy interest in every aspect of Marcus and Emily’s lives. Just when its seems this mismatched foursome have rightly gone their separate ways, an unplanned reunion back on American soil threatens to make that debacle down in Mexico look like a kiddies’ tea party. A lively, and deceptively unpredictable combo of the middle-of-the-road and the right-off-the-rails makes this quite an amusing and surprisingly consistent romp.

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