The Banker starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Hoult. Picture: Apple TV+
The Banker starring Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Hoult. Picture: Apple TV+

New and old movies to watch from home in self-isolation

Subscriber television networks and streaming services are still releasing movies to keep people entertained while they are at home.

Here are five movies, new and old, well worth the watch.

 

THE BANKER

Director: George Nolfi

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicholas Hoult

Rating: M

Running time: 120 minutes

Verdict: A decent return on your investment

 

Property investment isn't a conventional career path for a civil rights activist, which is one of
the reasons why this slick historical drama is so fascinating.

But the behind-the-scenes controversy surrounding The Banker's portrayal of real estate tycoon Bernard Garrett (Anthony Mackie) lends it a whole other dimension.

Apple TV+ postponed the release of its first original feature when Garrett's son, a producer on the film, was accused of sexually abusing his half-sisters.

Anthony Mackie, Nia Long, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Hoult in The Banker. Picture: Apple TV+
Anthony Mackie, Nia Long, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicholas Hoult in The Banker. Picture: Apple TV+

After removing Garrett Jr's name from the credits, the company eventually decided to stream The Banker against the wishes of his second wife, Linda, who was married to Garrett Sr during many of the key events portrayed in the film, but who fails to make an appearance.

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Clearly, there's a much more complex version of the story to be told.

"We remain hopeful that the film will bring honour to the Garrett family name and give his heirs a long-overdue platform from which to tell his story in greater detail," the filmmakers told Deadline.com in an official statement.

Judged on its own terms, as a handsome, engaging, mainstream drama fairly loosely based on real events, The Banker might be regarded as a good place to start.

Set in the 1950s and '60s, it's the story of an ambitious Texan shoeshine boy who relocates to California with his wife Eunice (Nia Long) and son to pursue his real estate dreams.

The Banker is loosely based on real life events. Picture: Apple TV+
The Banker is loosely based on real life events. Picture: Apple TV+

With the help of an entrepreneurial nightclub owner, Joe Morris (Samuel L. Jackson), and a savvy, sympathetic Irish American co-investor, Patrick Barker (Colm Meaney), Garrett
soon builds an extensive property portfolio.

When the white face of their thriving real estate business dies suddenly, and without warning, Garrett and Morris must come up with a replacement.

Matt Steiner (Nicholas Hoult) proves a quick study when it comes to learning golf, memorising numbers and choosing the right fork, but he lacks the business acumen of his wily mentors.

After Garrett returns to the Jim Crow South as a banker with the aim of investing in African-Americans who are locked out of the American dream because they can't borrow money from financial institutions, the situation turns sour.

Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie in a scene from The Banker. Picture: Apple TV+
Samuel L. Jackson and Anthony Mackie in a scene from The Banker. Picture: Apple TV+

With the help of a bitter insider, the authorities actively target the African-American investors, who pose as cleaners and chauffeurs to protect their business interests, and Garrett is forced to take a stand.

The Banker explores America's civil rights history from a fresh perspective, one that has a healthy respect for capitalism.

Handsomely shot, it hinges on a strong central performance from Mackie as an unconventional agent of social change.

The heist-like closing sequence, which sees the central protagonists relocate to the Bahamas, feels a bit false - especially in the light of Linda Garrett's timeline of events (she says her late ex-husband lived with her in Claremont after he got out of jail).

But all in all, The Banker is a fresh and gripping yarn, intelligently told.

* Now streaming on Apple TV+

 

ASTRONAUT

Director: Shelagh McLeod

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Richie Lawrence, Colm Feore

Rating: PG

Running time: 98 minutes

Verdict: Dreyfuss is the star attraction

 

The steady hand of veteran American actor Richard Dreyfuss keeps this inspirational drama on course, even when it encounters patches of extreme sentimental turbulence.

As lonely widower Angus Stewart, he responds to the theatrical ticks and mannerisms of the fellow residents at the retirement home where his character winds up with a kind of empathetic detachment.

Dreyfuss even manages to convince us of a genuine connection between Stewart and a stroke victim (Graham Greene) whose material is uncomfortably obvious.

The wily septuagenarian is ably supported by 14-year-old Richie Lawrence in a remarkably relaxed performance as Stewart's grandson, Barney, who shares the older man's passion for astronomy and space travel.

While Astronaut charts an overfamiliar route, this unaffected inter-generational relationship feels unexpectedly fresh.

It's Barney who encourages his grandfather to enter a lottery to win a free ticket on the first commercial flight to outer space.

A scene from the movie Astronaut.
A scene from the movie Astronaut.

By faking his age and playing down his health problems, Stewart makes the short list.

But when the elderly civil engineer, who has decades of experience building roads and bridges, visits the launch site, he becomes concerned about the structural integrity of the runway.

Risking his own chance to travel beyond Earth's orbit, Stewart challenges Colm Feore's Elon Musk-style technology entrepreneur over the shortcuts he has taken in his race against the clock.

Astronaut is the first-time feature of actress-turned-writer-director Shelagh McLeod and there are times when her inexperience tells.

But while the screenplay is a little thin in places, and the pacing is uneven, McLeod has a real knack for drawing gentle comedy out of exchanges that might otherwise have been simply mawkish.

This is particularly evident in the scenes at the retirement home, which have layers of nuance that suggest first-hand experience.

The first-time filmmaker, who was inspired to write the film after the death of her own mother, also has a light touch when it comes to Astronaut's family dynamic.

And McLeod doesn't over-egg the film's moving climactic sequence - even if she does add an unnecessary postscript.

A solid debut with Dreyfuss as its emotional compass.

* Available on April 8 on Apple TV, Fetch TV, Foxtel store, Google Play and YouTube

 

Paul Walter Hauser in the movie Richard Jewell. Picture: Roadshow Films
Paul Walter Hauser in the movie Richard Jewell. Picture: Roadshow Films

 

RICHARD JEWELL

131 minutes (M)

Even though you know, right from the start, that he didn't do it, Clint Eastwood's compelling biographical drama about the security guard wrongly accused of planting an at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics is as tense as any crime thriller.

Available for purchase on digital download after Roadshow Films decided to fast track the in-home release dates some of this year's most popular movies.

 

GOING VIRAL

28 DAYS LATER

Watch it on Foxtel

Cillian Murphy is a bike courier (a description that dates the movie, today it would be an Uber Eats delivery rider) who gets wiped out in an accident and wakes a month later from his coma to find the world overrun by a virus. Just a drop of infected blood turns people into rabid rage monsters.

With the help of a smart survivor (Naomie Harris) and a father and daughter (Brendan Gleeson and Megan Burns) he tries to find somewhere safe.

An army base seems to offer hope - but the stir-crazy soldiers, led by Christopher Eccleston, could prove worse than the rage zombies.

A scene from the horror film 28 Days Later.
A scene from the horror film 28 Days Later.

The scenes of an empty London are chilling, while the twists and turns of the story will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Unlike your normal zombie movie, the premise behind this one is chillingly possible.

Animal liberationists release monkeys from a laboratory and unwittingly release this rabid disease.

The only thing that lets the movie down is the special effects budget. But your heart will be pounding so fast, you won't even notice those.

 

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE

Watch it on YouTube, Google Play

This one is a little different, given that it's not exactly a virus that is infecting the world. But it is set in a bunker in the middle of self-isolation, so it's very pertinent.

A young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes from a car crash to find herself in the doomsday bunker of John Goodman, with just one other guy.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Picture: Paramount Pictures
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane. Picture: Paramount Pictures

Goodman tells them that the world is ending, that the atmosphere is poisoned and they can't go out. But is he telling the truth or does he have other plans? It doesn't help that Goodman puts the "eep" into creepy the way he talks and moves.

At first it's a tense psychological movie, but then it becomes more of an escape movie - and then there's the shocking twist for the ending.

Technically it's a sequel to Cloverfield, the movie about a group of friends trying to avoid the monster that is ravaging New York. But this is so much better. Goodman in particular is chilling.

Originally published as New and old movies to watch this weekend


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