Best of the box office

???ALI'S WEDDING
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(110 minutes) M

Australia has barely begun to mine the great stories within our migrant experience, but Ali's Wedding might change that. It's a genuinely funny, sweetly human Australian comedy based on the true story of Osamah Sami. He was born in Iran, after his Iraqi parents fled the Iran-Iraq War. Little Ali (Daniel Dadrasan) is fascinated on the plane to Australia by his first sight of girls with uncovered arms. Ten years later, Ali (played by Sami) is a handsome young student with the hopes of an entire community on his shoulders. Much of the film's success is down to Sami's winning performance. PB
General release

NEW BATTLE OF THE SEXES
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(121 minutes) PG

In 1973, with second-wave feminism at its height, the former tennis great Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) challenged reigning woman's champion Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) to an exhibition match, determined to show that even at his advanced age he could put King in her place. Screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) is in his comfort zone here and the film is at least as concerned with the present as the past. JW
General release

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE
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(89 minutes) G

David Soren's computer-animated adaptation of Dav Pilkey's children's books avoids the pitfalls with enough success to amuse all ages. George and Harold (voiced respectively by Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) are best friends and budding comic-book artists. The film is presented as one of their fantasies, pushing cartoonish exaggeration as far as it will go. JW
General release

THE EMOJI MOVIE
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(91 minutes) G

The Emoji Movie is an allegory that can be read on multiple levels from the political to the religious, a rare attempt by Hollywood to come to grips with the online world. Voiced by T.J. Miller, our hero Gene (for Generic) is the "Meh" emoji, meant to respond to situations with cynical indifference. Threatened with deletion, he goes on a quest for a hacker to debug him. JW
General release

NEW FINAL PORTRAIT
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(90 minutes) M

Turns out watching paint dry can be fun. In 1964, in Paris, the American writer James Lord sat for a portrait by Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss-Italian artist who was by then world famous, and two years away from his death. Lord wrote a book about the experience of sitting for Giacometti and we can enter Final Portrait through his narration. Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) is stooped, his wiry grey hair a bit like one of his own scribbly portraits. The lines in his face make him seem ancient and sad. Do we penetrate Giacometti's greatness? Maybe. Almost. We learn a lot about his process and frustrations, his perfectionism, ambition and egotism; we understand his need for chaos and obliteration, both of himself and the work. Director Stanley Tucci takes us through what is knowable and doesn't pretend to offer more. But that's honest, and the film is rich with humanity, humour and a deep sense of why art is important. PB
General release

THE GO-BETWEENS: RIGHT HERE
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(99 minutes) M

The muso-bio-doco is having a renaissance in Australia and Kriv Stenders' (Red Dog) film is about a definitive Brisbane band that did not sound like punks but wanted to, at least in the beginning. Originally an acoustic guitar duo that began when Robert Forster, an intense, introspective dandy, met Grant McLennan, an intense, poetic loner. The chemistry between McLennan and Forster was deep and powerful, and both became good song-writers. PB
Selected release

HEAL THE LIVING
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(104 minutes) MA

Adapted by writer-director Katell Quillevere from a novel by Maylis de Kerangal, Heal the Living is the story of a heart transplant and the people affected by it, starting out with Simon (Gabin Verdet), a teenage surfer left brain dead by a car accident. From there, we move on to his grieving parents (Emmanuelle Seigner and Kool Shen) and various medical practitioners, and then to Claire (Natalie Dorval), a woman with a degenerative heart condition, awaiting the gift of life from someone she can never know. JW
Selected release

THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD
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(118 minutes) MA

Ryan Reynolds, as an uptight bodyguard, and ruthless hitman Samuel L. Jackson are travelling through Europe, bickering and bonding on their way to Belarus, where Jackson's character is to testify against a tyrant (Gary Oldman) on trial for war crimes. Tasteless gags are intended to be liberating, but some are hard to stomach. JW
General release

IT
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(135 minutes) MA

Stephen King's blend of Americana and morbidity is back in favour and IT, based on portions of King's enormous 1986 horror novel, comes close to capturing the essence of what this author is all about. Here, the horror arises from the sewers beneath the the outwardly tranquil town of Derry, Maine, home to a being who assumes the mask of a clown named Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard). JW
General release

THE LEGO NINJAGO MOVIE
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(101 minutes) PG

The Lego Ninjago Movie is designed without apology to promote a particular line of Asian-influenced Lego sets. Ninjago itself is a fantastical island city, protected by a group of six young ninja trainees under the guidance of the wise Master Wu. Of the group's members, young Lloyd (Dave Franco) has more than the usual quotient of teen angst. JW
General release

LOGAN LUCKY
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(118 minutes) M

The chief thieves here are North Carolina brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan, played by Channing Tatum and Adam Driver, the latter a war veteran with a missing limb. The pair decide to pull off a daring heist during a NASCAR race and Soderbergh's mastery of crowd-pleasing formulas allows him to get away with various kinds of fooling around. JW
General release

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The story Best of the box office first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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