Tony is one subjects featured in the celebrated 7 Up documentary series, which has followed a group of British children every seven years since 1963.
Tony is one subjects featured in the celebrated 7 Up documentary series, which has followed a group of British children every seven years since 1963. SBS-TV

The five-star documentary you need to see

If you're opting to forego a long weekend getaway and park yourself on the couch instead, Leigh Paatsch has got you sorted with his list of what to watch.

1964: Neil, at age seven in 1964, has featured in all of director Michael Apted's documentary series from 7 Up to recently released 42 Up.
1964: Neil, at age seven in 1964, has featured in all of director Michael Apted's documentary series from 7 Up to recently released 42 Up.

THE ONE WHERE LIFE STORIES HAVE MANY CHAPTERS

THE 7 UP COLLECTION (PG)

*****

SBS ON DEMAND

"Give me the child at seven, and I will show you the man."

It was back in 1964 that English filmmaker Michael Apted first decided to test the meaning of this time-honoured phrase.

Training his camera on the hopes, dreams and (often sobering) realities of a random group of fourteen children, Apted embarked upon one of the bolder, yet most rewarding and fascinating experiments in cinema history.

Every seven years since, he has revisited the group to check in on what life has thrown at them, and how they have responded.

All gripping episodes from 7 Up through 56 Up are now housed in the one place on SBS, ahead of next week's broadcast of the latest instalment, 63 Up.

Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters in American Animals
Barry Keoghan and Evan Peters in American Animals

THE ONE WHERE THE CON IS NOT SWITCHED ON

AMERICAN ANIMALS (MA15+)

***1/2

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Heist movies typically leave no incriminating tracks whatsoever. We get bedazzled by the moving parts of a complicated job going like clockwork.

The notion of the law being broken is always forgiven and often forgotten.

American Animals is not your typical heist movie. The 'big job' here has all the efficiency of a broken watch. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, inviting a different level of tension into the mix altogether.

This is the true(ish) story of a bunch of Kentucky college kids who hatched a plan to lift a few million bucks' worth of priceless books from a local library.

These fresh-faced perps are not rocket scientists, it is fair to say.

In fact, it is a miracle they even got their (im)perfect crime off the launch pad at all.

The movie is structured as an odd, yet effective blend of staged dramatic re-enactments mixed with interviews with the older-but-no-wiser participants in the scheme.

A fine movie which would also make for a ripping multi-part podcast. Stars Barry Keoghan, Evan Peters.

Randall Park and comedian Ali Wong star in Always Be My Maybe on Netflix.
Randall Park and comedian Ali Wong star in Always Be My Maybe on Netflix.

THE ONE WHERE KEANU IS A ROM-COM SECRET WEAPON

ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE (M)

***

NETFLIX

In case you haven't noticed, romantic comedies are having a tough time of it finding slots in cinemas these days.

However, in the boom times currently enjoyed by the major streaming platforms, the romantic comedy is in exceptional health.

A perfect example is Always Be My Maybe, a solid, engaging and casually heartfelt affair with two well-matched leads and a surprise casting coup that pays off handsomely.

Ali Wong (an acerbic stand-up with a number of hit concert specials under her belt) and Randall Park (a very familiar face in American comedies over the past decade) stars as Sasha and Marcus, two former teenage best friends who reconnect decades later in unusual circumstances.

Not the least of which are she is now a nationally famous chef and he is still living at home with his dad.

In case this all seems a bit too cosy and contrived, wait until Keanu Reeves shows up in a prominent role that is anything but a typical celebrity cameo.

Liam Neeson in Cold Pursuit.
Liam Neeson in Cold Pursuit.

THE ONE WHERE LIAM NEESON GETS REVENGE (AGAIN)

COLD PURSUIT (MA15+)

***

GOOGLE, ITUNES

February's release of Cold Pursuit was a hot mess due to the weapons-grade brain-fade of Liam Neeson in a publicity interview.

Therefore the onus is on viewers to not so much separate the art from the artist, as to differentiate between a smart, sussed pulp thriller and its dumb, deluded star.

If you can, one of Neeson's better reckless revenge-spree offerings - and there has been a stack of them - is there for the taking.

This one pitches up Neeson as an honest-toiling snowplow driver looking to mow down every member of the drug syndicate that iced his only child.

The movie underscores its openly ridiculous body count with a surprisingly infectious sense of humour that never lets up. Co-stars Laura Dern.

 

Zoey Deutch (second from left) stars in Before I Fall.
Zoey Deutch (second from left) stars in Before I Fall.

THE ONE WHERE SECOND CHANCES MUST BE TAKEN

BEFORE I FALL (M)

***

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This genuinely involving teen drama is very much a Groundhog Day: The Next Generation affair, with appealing rising star Zoey Deutch (Set It Up) doing a good job of filling the well-worn shoes of Bill Murray.

Deutch plays Sam, a serenely self-obsessed high-schooler suddenly living the same day over and over.

A day which traditionally ends with Sam perishing in a car crash that also kills her three bitchy best friends.

As in Groundhog Day, Sam goes searching for an opening inside this closed loop of time to stop a tragic history repeating itself.

Extract some pressing and lasting insights from the experience of a life lived like there is literally no tomorrow. Based on the hit YA novel by Lauren Oliver.

 

Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena in End of Watch.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena in End of Watch.

THE ONE WHERE THE COPS AREN'T GONNA STOP

END OF WATCH (MA15+)

****

NETFLIX

A superior police drama rains down a hail of blows upon the viewer.

Not just with unapologetic aggression, but a welcome and absolutely riveting authenticity. Young LAPD officers Brian Taylor (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) may not always do things by the book, but they are always on the same page.

While graphically violent and not above the odd cynical cliche, End of Watch still earns the respect, attention and indeed, worry of its audience by grounding its story in the most natural terms possible.

The unforced chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Pena - just as at home riffing with each other as they are roughing up bad hombres - lightens an often heavy load.

 

Amandla Stenberg as Ruby in The Darkest Minds
Amandla Stenberg as Ruby in The Darkest Minds

THE ONE TO PUT IN THE NO-GO ZONE

THE DARKEST MINDS (M)

*1/2

FOXTEL NOW, GOOGLE

The young-adult-dystopia bandwagon left town abruptly a few years ago.

One minute, the world just couldn't get enough Hunger Games and Maze Runners and Divergents.

The next minute, the world just didn't want to know (a cold shoulder so chilly that the Divergent franchise froze operations ahead of its final instalment).

So you kind of have to feel sorry for The Darkest Minds, arriving so late to the party it is just embarrassing.

It does not help that this (supposed) first episode in a (possible) series of adaptations based on the books by Alexandra Bracken generates all the tension, urgency and desperation of a trip to your front gate.

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Amandla Stenberg (ex-Hunger Games) plays Ruby, a tormented teenager who survives a plague which has wiped out 98% of the planet's youth.

However, what has kept Ruby alive - an evolving power to control minds - could also get her killed.

She and some other fugitive kids will play hide-and-seek with nasty government types, while you will keep checking your watch.