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Beyond Ladies in Black: The Aussie movies you didn’t see last year, but should

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray, Foxtel Now, Kanopy, iTunes, Google Play, BigPond, Fetch, YouTube Movies

Brothers’ Nest

Shane and Clayton Jacobson play brothers who plot to murder their stepfather (Kim Gyngell) in order to prevent him inheriting the country property on which they grew up when their cancer-stricken mother (Lynette Curran) eventually dies. Naturally, it all goes wrong. They loved it at South by Southwest last March, but local audiences seemed less willing to accept the makers of Kenny playing so strongly against type. Get beyond that, though, and there’s much to enjoy in this darkly comic update of Cain and Able.

Available on: DVD, PlayStation, iTunes, BigPond, Fetch, YouTube Movies

Gurrumul

A stunning documentary about the late Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, a musician blessed with the voice of an angel and cursed by the global attention it brought him. The music is stunning, and so too are the glimpses of the traditional culture that made him so reluctant to trade Elcho Island for the wider world.

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray, Google Play, PlayStation, iTunes, BigPond, Fetch

Ghosthunter

Ben Lawrence’s eight-years-in-the-making documentary started as a portrait of a man who believed he could sense spirits, morphed into an investigation of the dark past that haunted him, and ended up turning its gaze and accusations firmly upon its subject, Jason King. It’s a remarkable journey into a deeply scarred life, an empathetic exploration that stays just this side of exploitation.

Available on: DVD, PlayStation, Google Play, iTunes

Strange Colours

The debut feature from Russian-born Alena Lodkina, this tale of a young woman (Kate Cheel) travelling to the remote opal mining town of Lightning Ridge to reconnect with her estranged father before he dies is endearingly oddball. Watch it in a double bill with Wake in Fright to see just how different the outback can seem – charmingly eccentric one day, utterly terrifying the next – just by tilting your head in a certain way.

Available on: DVD and digital platforms from March 6

Cargo

Martin Freeman (The Hobbit, The Office) carries this enviro-zombie thriller as a father who is forced to carry his infant daughter on his back in order to avoid eating her. Susie Porter, Anthony Hayes and David Gulpilil are among the excellent supporting cast in an uncommonly thoughtful spin on the genre.

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray, Netflix, iTunes, Google Play, Fetch, BigPond, YouTube Movies

Upgrade

Writer-director Leigh Whannell (Saw) maintains a fine balance between brain and brawn in this inventive sci-fi thriller about a paraplegic (Logan Marshall-Green) who regains the use of his legs but loses control of his body and ultimately his mind when a digital operating system is inserted into his neck. It’s funny, violent and full of ideas – and incidentally, pre-figured much of the plot of Venom too.

Available on: DVD and Blu-Ray, iTunes, BigPond, Google Play, YouTube Movies

Jirga

No film released in 2018 deserves a Medal of Honour as much as Jirga, which was made on the smell of an oily rag by writer-director Benjamin Gilmour and a skeleton crew in the Kandahar district of Afghanistan. A former Australian soldier (Sam Smith) travels back to a village where he killed a man to seek forgiveness and, perhaps, make reparations. The strain of making it sometimes shows, but this is a quite remarkable piece of work all the same.

Available: In selected Event cinemas from January 31. Digital release later in the year.

West of Sunshine

Built around the central performances of Damian Hill and his young stepson Ty Perham, this is a gorgeous film about a wastrel father forced by circumstances to spend a long and frequently uncomfortable day driving around Melbourne with his son, only to arrive at the best destination of all – a rekindled connection. Sadly, Hill died not long after its release, but as epitaphs go, it’s close to perfect.

Available on: DVD and digital platforms from March.

Follow the author on Facebook at karlquinnjournalist and on twitter @karlkwin

Karl is a senior entertainment writer at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. He has been a journalist at The Age since 1999, in a variety of writing and editing roles.

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