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Features/Film

Perth’s Top Five Outdoor Cinemas

3 December 2021

Watching a movie under the stars is an iconic Perth summertime activity. Mark Naglazas surveys the venues, previews the programs and samples the extras that make an outdoor movie a special experience.

Lotterywest Films
Somerville Auditorium, University of Western Australia

Is there a more beautiful setting for an outdoor cinema anywhere in the world than the Somerville Auditorium? Set amongst Norfolk Pines on the grounds of the city’s oldest and prettiest university, the Somerville offers picnickers a stunning experience well before the big screen lights up. Pizza and refreshments are available or you’re free to bring your own and enjoy a picnic before or during the movie. And when the films do arrive patrons are rarely disappointed as the films on offer are carefully curated by Lotterywest Film’s Tom Vincent, who knows how to strike a perfect balance between challenge and charm. Amongst the highlights of this year’s line-up is the New Zealand comedy Juniper, about a self-destructive teen who is booted out of boarding school only to discover that his feisty grandmother (the legendary Charlotte Rampling) has moved into the family home; the latest outrage from Paul Verhoeven, Bendetta, about a novice nun in a 17th century Italian convent who has an affair with another nun; and Memoria, which brings together Tilda Swinton and Thai master Apichatpong Weerasethakul in a lush Colombia-set mystery that the Los Angeles Times says “casts a spell like no other.” Vincent is also continuing the tradition of including a locally made film (following last year’s The Furnace) with the feature debut of top commercials director Renee Webster, How to Please a Woman, in which British star Sally Phillips plays a Fremantle mother who sets up cleaning business in which her all-male staff offer extra services.

Rooftop Movies
69 Roe Street, Perth

While Somerville presents a snapshot of Perth’s leafy Western suburbs Rooftop Movies lands audiences in the middle of our vibrant inner-city entertainment district. Located above a car park, set against the cityscape and within earshot of throngs of diners and clubbers, Rooftop Movies has a wonderful urban vibe that makes for a different kind of viewing experience. And in keeping with the off-beat setting is a program that mixes up the latest hits with cult classics and quirky contemporary comedies and dramas. You will be able to catch up with Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond, No Time To Die; there’s 10 Things I Hate About You, the modernisation of The Taming of the Shrew that thrust Heath Ledger into stardom; and John Hughes’ generation-defining high school comedy The Breakfast Club. Also on offer at Rooftop Movies are Open Caption (OC) screenings, a delicious array of food (including the Huxtaburger) and yoga sessions every Tuesday between 6 and 7am.

Patrons under the pines at Somerville Auditorium, Lotterywest Films. Photo supplied

Camelot Cinema
16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park

While Perth’s other outdoor cinemas are all about expansiveness (parks, riverside settings, views across the city) Luna Palace’s Camelot’s setting is snug and cosy, which is not a bad thing when those warm summer winds turn chilly. Located in the gorgeous historic art deco building that houses Mosman Park Arts Foundation, Camelot Cinema offers a mix of recent blockbusters and mainstreams hits, art-house and festival favourites, award-season season contenders and classics. Amongst the more highly fancied offerings this year is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut The Lost Daughter, an English-language adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s gripping novella about an aging academic on holidays who becomes obsessed with a flashy extended family; Spanish master Pedro Almodovar’s stunning first foray into his country’s dark past, Parallel Mothers, featuring Penelope Cruz in an Oscar-worthy performance; and Steven Spielberg’s hugely anticipated update of the classic musical West Side Story. On site is the Camelot Café Bar which serves pizza and beverages (it’s licensed so no BYO).

Telethon Community Cinemas
Burswood, Murdoch, ECU Joondalup Pines, Bassendean

The Telethon Community Cinemas are the most mainstream and family-oriented of Perth’s summertime outdoor venues. They are showing films for adults, such as The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark and the raunchy indie hit Zola, but mostly the films screening across Telethon Community Cinemas four venues are family friendly. Even better there are a number of free screenings (but make sure you book). Sure to be popular is the latest Marvel hit The Eternals, which has been directed by Nomadland Oscar winner Chloe Zhao; Clifford the Big Red Dog, adapted from a popular children’s book; and the classics Breakfast at Tiffany’s and It’s a Wonderful Life. All four venues have a wide range of food and drinks (no BYO) and all proceeds from the Telethon Community Cinemas go to charity.

A black and white photo of a lady wearing a hat and coat with two other adults and a child, sitting in cinema chairs with mouths agape
Kenneth Branagh’s coming of age drama “Belfast” is showing at Luna Outdoor Cinemas.

Luna Outdoor Cinemas
Luna Leederville, 155 Oxford Street, Leederville

If there is a cinema hub in Western Australia it is the Luna Leederville. With its multiple screens, large and diverse programme, year-round festivals and an array of special events, Luna Leederville is a magnet for cinema lovers across the metropolitan area. Tucked away behind the indoor screens is their outdoor cinema, which offers cinemagoers an alternative way of viewing movies featured under the hard top. And because Luna Outdoor is running new movies in the lead-up to the Oscars for movie buffs it’s the most exciting time of the year. On the program is the latest Wes Anderson quirk-fest, The French Dispatch, his all-star celebration of the grand days of magazines and journalism set in the gorgeously named mythical town of Ennui-sur-Blasé; Licorice Pizza, the new work from that other celebrated Anderson, Paul Thomas (Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood), a coming-of-age comedy-romance set in San Fernando Valley in the early 1970s; and Kenneth Branagh’s own coming-of-age drama Belfast, in which he tells the story of his early years growing up in the strife-torn Northern Ireland. Luna Outdoor offers cheeseboards and a range of other delicacies and is fully licensed.

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Author —
Mark Naglazas

Mark Naglazas has interviewed many of the world’s most significant producers, writers, directors and actors while working as film editor for The West Australian. He now writes for STM, reviews films on 6PR and hosts the Luna Palace Q & A series Movies with Mark. Favourite playground equipment: monkey bars, where you can hung upside and see the world from a different perspective.

Past Articles

  • Black Swan: the state of play

    After many challenges during its 10-year residency at the State Theatre Centre of WA, questions hang over Black Swan’s role as the state’s flagship theatre company. Mark Naglazas reports.

  • French Film Festival: vive la difference!

    While English-language cinema has narrowed down to blockbusters, horror flicks and off-beat art movies, French cinema continues to capture the full spectrum of human experience. Mark Naglazas previews this year’s French Film Festival.

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