From Rosehaven to Sex Education: what to stream in Australia in February

Plus: Claire Foy in Steven Soderburgh’s Unsane, Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll, and a new season of Get Krack!n


Russian Doll

Season one by Natasha Lyonne, Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland (US, 2019) 1 February

The Good Place broke ground with its mystery-box structure that inverted and refreshed every episode. Now Russian Doll, by an all-female creative team, brings a queer, feminist eye to creeping genre of “existential comedy about dissolute people in their 30s”. Natasha Lyonne’s growling, sarcastic Nadia is convinced that the universe is out to get her: she dies at her luxe 36th birthday party, only to find herself rebooted and caught in a Groundhog Day of looping life and death. Tightly scripted, compassionate LOLs balance the Freudian nightmares, while every episode twists and evolves in unpredictable ways.

Sex Education (UK, 2019)

Season one by Laurie Nunn – out now

If you missed this show’s debut in January, now’s the time to bunker down and binge. The teen coming-of-age genre is a beloved staple of TV, and yet Sex Education spins its own super-intelligent slant on growing up by showing how millennials are changing their attitudes to sex, sexuality and relationships, beyond the comprehension their parents. Here, the teen is 16-year-old dork Otis (Asa Butterfield), and the parent is a boundary-crossing sex therapist Jean (Gillian Anderson). Without her knowledge, Otis has staked his own illicit business at school, offering sex advice to his peers despite his own adolescent dramas (which include a raging crush on his co-entrepreneur Maeve, played by Emma Mackey). The season develops in tone and depth beyond its initial easy comic setup; at its heart is the notion that the problems, frustrations and disappointments of teenagers are as real and valid as those of the so-called grown-ups.

Honourable mentions: Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (film, out now), Call My Agent (season 3, out now).



By John Woo (US, 1997) – 21 February

With its high-octane soapie acting, impossible action set-pieces and wild premise, Hong Kong genre auteur John Woo’s Face/Off is easy to dismiss. But, despite the insane plot, which pairs joins John Travolta’s elite FBI agent and Nicholas Cage’s sociopathic terrorist – who’s planning an LA bombing and must be thwarted – in an identity-switching criminal psychodrama, I haven’t suggested Face/Off as an irony-watch. It arrived just a year after the similarly high-minded Mission Impossible, by another action master Brian de Palma, whose role in the franchise was succeeded by Woo himself, who could never be truly assimilated into the Hollywood machine. Face/Off remains a visually stylised and emotionally turbulent remix of every action movie convention you’ve seen, right down to the fight-to-the-death shoot-out story between cop and crim.

Honourable mentions: The Sixth Sense (film, 1 February) Ant-Man (film, 16 February).

Foxtel Now


By Steven Soderbergh (2018) – out 28 February

Creeping, stalking, deep-liking and obsessive scrolling is the daily reality of smartphone usage. Unsane takes that logic, exclusively using handheld devices to shoot a paranoid thriller in which Claire Foy – liberated from her buttoned-up outing as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown – is consumed by a possessive ex-boyfriend, patriarchal shrinks and her own self-doubt. Stripped of her autonomy, she finds herself locked away in psych ward – standing in for a Kafkaesque critique of the money-hungry US medical industry – after health professionals refuse to believe her former fiance is transgressing her privacy. It’s not just a gimmick – Steven Soderbergh’s iPhone opus pushes digital filmmaking to its furthest, creepiest limits.

Dick Tracy

By Warren Beatty (US, 1990) – out 4 February

A strange and intriguing aberration of a studio film, which now functions as an early preface to today’s manic – and much inferior – comic book movie culture. Warren Beatty directs and stars as detective Dick Tracy, revisioning the pulpy detective comic strip as a bouncy, live-action, comedy-inflected noir. Tracy runs while looking serious, deep-brakes cool old American cars, outwits the crime syndicate of Al Pacino’s Big Boy Caprice, and resists seduction by a key witness to his own crimes called Breathless (Madonna) – all the while saving the USA from declining into a 1930s gangland hellscape. Beatty’s Dick Tracy isn’t a great film; it’s beautifully designed, nostalgic and fascinatingly anachronistic entertainment.

The Fugitive

By Andrew Davis (US, 1993) – out 17 February

From the anxious, searchlit opening credits, The Fugitive declares itself as that most rare creature: an emotional action film of real style and slain romance. The premise is a classic, and revealed in just a few swift flashbacks: Harrison Ford’s Dr Richard Kimble is wrongly accused of murdering his much-beloved wife Helen (Sela Ward), and runs across the USA from Tommy Lee Jones’ ultra-dogged lawman. Forget truckfuls of expensive filmmaking ploys; here, there’s just razor-stressful scripting, and a sprinting performance by Harrison Ford of haunting grief and grace.

Honourable Mentions: Funny People, True Grit, Before Midnight, Up in the Air (films, 1 February), The Big Sick (film, 23 February).

ABC iView


Season three by Celia Pacquola and Luke McGregor (Australia, 2019) – Wednesdays from 30 January

In that long shadow of Australian stories about people who escape the city for sweeter, kinder country life, the new season of Rosehaven continues odd couple Celia Pacquola (brash, clueless Emma) and Luke McGregor’s (ultra-introvert Danny) nostalgic, mellow-paced portrait of misfits who find each other in an unfathomable world. Storywise, and admirably, less happens than ever before – rather, the plots tracing the duo’s low-stakes real estate business and bumbling family misunderstandings put the spotlight back on Danny and Emma’s forever-platonic friendship. Rosehaven remains a comedy of awkwardness in soft-lit Tasmania.

Get Krack!n

Season two by Kate McLennan and Kate McCartney (Australia, 2019)– Wednesdays from 6 February

With another racistgate earlier this week, Australia’s commercial daytime TV culture has never been in more dismal need of satirical interrogation. In the format of Sunrise and The Today Show, Kates McLennan and McCartney’s new season of Get Krack!n cringingly dissects the Western malaise and fear-mongering beneath breakfast TV’s chipper gloss. New segments include a lobotomisingly nationalist “We Bloody Love Australia” tour, and how to identify and support your neighbourhood goth. The onscreen laughter is wooden, the banter is stupendously banal, the “news” reports are on viral memes – and the political insights are extremely “a-okay emoji”.

Get Krack!n cast
Australia’s daytime TV culture has never been in more dismal need of satirical interrogation. Photograph: ABC TV

SBS On Demand

The Lovers on the Bridge

By Leos Carax (France, 1991) – out now

Paris has an established rich mythology in cinema history, and yet Leo Carax’s exuberant art-film love story gives it an entirely new, fireworks-sparkled aura. Two strangers – Michele (Juliette Binoche), a painter with encroaching blindness, and Alex (Denis Lavant), a tranquiliser addict – fall in love while destitute in Pont-Neuf, Paris. The bridge is their home, and the strange, strong bond formed in uncertain circumstances provides them with a new sense of belonging – so much so that Alex threatens to upend Michele’s efforts to reenter society. Carax resists convention at every narrative swerve; for him, romance is a larger metaphor for survival and resilience on the edge of a cold world.

Forbidden Lie$ (Australia, 2007) by Anna Broinowski – out 16 February

Part of SBS’s “Festival of Fake” programming stream, exploring what has led to today’s accepted culture of media manipulation and outright dishonesty. In the early noughties, literary rockstar Norma Khouri spent years constructing a dodgy account for Westerners of her troubled life as a woman in Jordan, only for it to unravel in international scandal. Australian filmmaker Anna Broinowski believed and was deceived by her subject; her post-modern documentary traces and then dissembles Khouri’s false self-mythology.

Honourable mentions: The Tall Man (film, out now), The Wolfpack (film, 16 February), If You Are The One (TV, Saturdays), Redfern Now (TV, season one, weekly from 14 February).


Lauren Carroll Harris

The GuardianTramp

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