The summer movie season is hardly showing any signs of slowing down, especially with this week’s crop of enticing new releases, from an eccentric take on a 90s toy trend, to a recent Sundance favourite, to an animated feature from Ukraine…

Movie of the Week

Streaming + On-Demand




The Beanie Bubble (2023, dirs. Kristin Gore and Damian Kulash)

CAST: Zach Galifianakis, Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Snook, Geraldine Viswanathan, Kurt Yaeger, Tracey Bonner, Carl Clemons-Hopkins

CREW: Kristin Gore (director, writer), Damian Kulash (director, composer), Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Karen Lunder (producers), Nathan Barr (composer), Steven Meizler (cinematographer), Jane Rizzo (editor)

PLOT: In the 1990s, struggling toy salesman Ty Warner (Galifianakis) collaborates with three women – business partner Robbie (Banks), single mother Sheila (Snook), and tech genius Maya (Viswanathan) – to develop an original brand of stuffed animals known as Beanie Babies. With word-of-mouth on the relatively new internet rapidly taking off, the toy line soon becomes a worldwide phenomenon, earning billions for Warner but less than idea compensation for the three women…


1) Anyone who’s nostalgic for the Beanie Babies trend of the 90s will want to cosy on up to this eccentric new comedy that explores the toy line’s untold origins

2) Zach Galifianakis goes beardless (gasp!) to play Ty Warner, the controversial toy salesman who launched the billion-dollar empire at a time when the Internet was in its infancy

3) This film, however, focuses on the three women who played major parts behind the scenes, played varyingly by Elizabeth Banks, Sarah Snook and Geraldine Viswanathan

4) Co-director and writer Kristin Gore, the daughter of former Vice-President Al Gore and a successful writer in her own right, lends a positively feminist lens to the business drama between Warner and his three female acquaintances

5) With its in-depth and humorous look at the shady dealings that Warner made to become the face of Beanie Babies manufacturer Ty Inc, you might never look at the cuddly toys in the same way again

The Beanie Bubble is streaming exclusively on Apple TV+ from Friday 28th July 2023 (and will be showing in select cinemas nationwide)



Happiness for Beginners (2023, dir. Vicky Wight)

CAST: Ellie Kemper, Luke Grimes, Nico Santos, Blythe Danner, Ben Cook, Shayvawn Webster, Esteban Benito, Gus Birney, Julia Shiplett

CREW: Vicky Wight (director, writer, producer), Geoff Linville and Berry Meyerowitz (producers), Sherri Chung (composer), Daniel Vecchione (cinematographer), Suzanne Spangler (editor)

PLOT: A year after getting divorced, Helen (Kemper) enrols on a backcountry survival course along the Appalachian Trail. She quickly befriends her quirky fellow hikers as they all test themselves against nature, but when handsome hiker Jake (Grimes) arrives on the scene, Helen soon discovers something that she never expected to find in the wilderness…


1) Filmmaker Vicky Wight brings her appetite for romance in the great outdoors to this delightful new comedy-drama for Netflix

2) Wight adapts Katherine Center’s 2015 novel of the same name, marking the filmmaker’s second stab at the author’s work following her previous feature The Lost Husband, based on Center’s 2013 book

3) The Office and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Ellie Kemper delights as the wide-eyed protagonist, and shares strong chemistry with co-lead Luke Grimes

4) Much of the film is set along the Appalachian Trail, the infamous American hiking hotspot that offers some of the most scenic views in the entire country

5) There’s love, laughs, tears, frustration, and so many other emotions for audiences to sit back and enjoy

Happiness for Beginners is streaming exclusively on Netflix from Thursday 27th July 2023

Zoey 102 (2023, dir. Nancy Hower)

CAST: Jamie Lynn Spears, Sean Flynn, Christopher Massey, Erin Sanders, Matthew Underwood, Jack Salvatore Jr., Abby Wilde, Thomas Lennon, Owen Thiele, Dean Geyer

CREW: Nancy Hower (director), Monica Sherer and Madeline Whitby (writers), Zack Olin and Shauna Phelan (producers), Mathew Rudenberg (cinematographer), TBA (editor)

PLOT: Fifteen years after graduating from Pacific Coast Academy, Zoey Brooks (Spears) is struggling to live her life as an adult. When she is asked to be the maid of honour at her friend Quinn’s (Sanders) wedding to Logan (Underwood), Zoey ends up reuniting with her old school friends – including her former love Chase (Flynn)…


1) The beloved Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 gets a much-anticipated movie follow-up that checks in on its now-adult main characters

2) Jamie Lynn Spears reprises her role as Zoey Brooks, along with fellow cast members Sean Flynn, Erin Sanders and Matthew Underwood (no sign of much bigger names Victoria Justice and Austin Butler, though…)

3) One cast member who definitely won’t be returning is Alexa Nikolas, who clashed with Spears on-set (to where her older sister Britney reportedly confronted Nikolas as well), and has since spoken out against Nickelodeon’s failure to protect her and other child actors from abuse

4) Controversy aside, fans of the show will feel nostalgic from watching these characters interact with one another again, on top of seeing what their lives are like as adults

5) Should the film perform well, there’s also potential for a brand-new series following these characters as adults, which should once again cause excitement amongst fans!

Zoey 102 is streaming exclusively on Paramount+ from Thursday 27th July 2023

Sakra (2023, dir. Donnie Yen)

CAST: Donnie Yen, Chen Yuqi, Cya Liu, Kara Wai, Wu Yue, Eddie Cheung, Grace Wong, Du Yuming, Ray Liu, Michelle Hu, Tsui Siu-ming, Cai Xiangyu, Zhao Huawei, Yu Kang, Xu Xiangdong, Yuen Cheung-yan

CREW: Donnie Yen (director), He Ben, Chen Li, Sheng Lingzhi, Lejing Shen, Xu Yifan and Wei Zhu (writers),Yue Cui, Zhuoqin Huang, Tao Lu, Tao Mu and Ying Wang (producers), Chan Chi-ying (cinematographer), Li Ka-wing (editor)

PLOT: In ancient China, Qiao Feng (Yen) is a respected martial artist who is wrongly accused of murder. During his search for the real killer, Feng learns more about his mysterious origins, and the unknown enemies who seek to destroy him…


1) Wuxia legend Donnie Yen directs and stars in this mesmerising historical action-adventure

2) The performer crafts a series of highly choreographed fight sequences that rank among the most visceral in modern martial arts cinema

3) Jin Yong’s classic wuxia novel Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils serves as the primary source material for this story

4) On top of being a high-octane action romp, it is also a deep character study that heavily explores its central character’s origins and upbringing

5) Anyone who loves martial arts movies, especially those with Donnie Yen (who is having a banner year between this and John Wick: Chapter 4), will want to seek this out immediately

Sakra is available to rent/buy on digital platforms from Monday 24th July 2023



Talk to Me (2023, dirs. Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou)

CAST: Sophie Wilde, Alexandra Jensen, Joe Bird, Otis Dhanji, Miranda Otto, Zoe Terakes, Chris Alosio, Marcus Johnson, Alexandria Steffensen

CREW: Danny Philippou (director, writer), Michael Philippou (director), Bill Hinzman (writer), Kristina Ceyton and Samantha Jennings (producers), Cornel Wilczek (composer), Aaron McLisky (cinematographer), Geoff Lamb (editor)

PLOT: A group of teenagers discover that they can communicate with spirits by clutching a mysterious embalmed hand, and they quickly become addicted to their new thrill. However, when things get taken too far, they are forced to deal with some terrifying supernatural entities…


1) Twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou, better known collectively as the creators of successful YouTube channel RackaRacka, make their directorial debut with a terrifying new horror offering from their native Australia

2) The filmmakers have the backing of A24, the studio behind recent critical, commercial and awards hits like Everything Everywhere All At Once and Moonlight

3) While the plot might seem like a better remake of Flatliners than the actual remake of Flatliners, it goes into some very unexpected places that are both fascinating and seriously scary simultaneously

4) Sophie Wilde, last seen in Sky Cinema’s whimsical fantasy The Portable Door, leads a bright young cast who all give suitably creeped-out performances

5) Early critics have been raving that it’s probably the scariest film since Hereditary – and going by that trailer alone, they might be right…

Talk to Me is showing in cinemas from Friday 28th July 2023

Mavka: The Forest Song (2023, dirs. Oleh Malamuzh and Oleksandra Ruban)

CAST: Nataliya Denisenko, Artem Pivovarov, Elena Kravets, Serhiy Prytula, Nazar Zadneprovskiy, Oleh Mykhailyuta, Yuliya Sanina, Oleg Skripka, Nataliya Sumskaya, Nina Matviyenko

CREW: Oleh Malamuzh and Oleksandra Ruban (directors), Lesya Ukrainka and Yaroslav Voytseshek (writers), Anna Eliseyeva, Iryna Kostyuk, Egor Olesov and Sergey Sozanovsky (producers), Maksym Berezhnyak, DakhaBrakha and Dario Vero (composers), TBA (editor)

PLOT: Deep within an enchanted forest in Ukraine, Mavka (Denisenko) is a young and naïve spirit who falls in love with Lucas (Pivovarov), a human artist from the local village. When a dark force threatens the forest, Mavka and Lucas join forces on a journey to save both their worlds…


1) This bright and colourful animated feature from Ukraine – presumably made before the country was invaded by Russia – is a delight for families everywhere

2) The narrative puts its own spin on themes and messages previously put to use by films like FernGully and Avatar

3) At the centre is a familiar but endearing romance between two souls from completely different worlds

4) Colours pop from every possible angle in the various, gorgeously rendered environments

5) With powerful messages and an endearing soul, this is a real animated gem that families should seek out

Mavka: The Forest Song is showing in cinemas from Friday 28th July 2023



The Virgin Suicides (2000, dir. Sofia Coppola)

CAST: James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Kirsten Dunst, Josh Hartnett, A.J. Cook, Hanna R. Hall, Leslie Hayman, Chelse Swain, Anthony Desimone, Lee Kagan, Robert Schwartzman, Noah Shebib, Jonathan Tucker, Michael Paré, Scott Glenn, Danny DeVito, Giovanni Ribisi

CREW: Sofia Coppola (director, writer), Francis Ford Coppola, Julie Costanzo, Dan Halsted and Chris Hanley (producers), Air (composer), Edward Lachman (cinematographer), Melissa Kent and James Lyons (editors)

PLOT: In 1975, a group of teenage boys find themselves fascinated by the mysterious Lisbon sisters – Lux (Dunst), Mary (Cook), Cecilia (Hall), Therese (Hayman) and Bonnie (Swain) – whose strict religious parents (Woods and Turner) have sheltered them from the outside world. Soon, they witness a disturbing act by the sisters that continues to haunt them all years later…


1) Sofia Coppola’s remarkable feature debut as a filmmaker returns to the big screen in a brand-new 4K restoration

2) Coppola’s film is an adaptation of the 1995 coming-of-age novel of the same name by Jeffrey Eugenides, and also has her father – legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola – credited as a producer

3) Among the film’s strong ensemble cast is a young Kirsten Dunst, who would go on to headline numerous other films for Coppola including Marie Antoinette and The Beguiled

4) French electronic band Air provides the aethereal soundtrack which is a gorgeous joy to listen to

5) Since its debut at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, the film has become a cult classic, and arguably one of the most influential teen flicks of the early 2000s

The Virgin Suicides is showing in cinemas from Friday 28th July 2023

That’s about it for this week – thanks for joining us, and be sure to come back next week for a whole new set of movies to work up an appetite for!

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