Our social feed has been filled with clips from the shocking documentary Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, detailing allegations of abuse on some of our favourite Nickelodeon shows. It’s going to be available to Australian audiences soon, and there’s more info about it below. But if you’re looking for a new series to dive into this weekend, there’s gripping new reality TV from the locally filmed survival show Alone Australia, a fizzy and fun Palm Beach series starring Kristen Wiig and Laura Dern, and an intriguing mystery romance set in a bougie hotel in Moscow. Plus, four new movies to enjoy – from biting satire to claustrophobic horror.

For a scheming beauty queen: Palm Royale

Bouffant hair, orange skin, bullet bras and floral dresses – there’s plenty of fun and frivolity in the costume department alone in this ’60s romp. Kristen Wiig plays a former beauty queen, Maxine, who’s on a mission to crack into the exclusive club Palm Royale. She’s an all-smiling, optimistic social climber who’ll scam anyone – even an elderly rich lady on her deathbed – to get in with the glamour set. It’s an easy viewing rags-to-riches tale with a stellar cast – including an icy Allison Janney as one of the high society women, Laura Dern as a hippy feminist and Ricky Martin as one of the hotel’s sassy servers. Though it pitches itself as a dark comedy, the twists and turns of this Palm Beach-based story are quite light and silly. Wiig is a delight to watch.
Stream it on Apple TV+. Episodes released weekly.

For placing your bets: Alone Australia season two

You know the drill: 10 people are dropped into the wilderness – separated and alone – with 10 personally selected items to aid their survival. It’s a race to see who can stick it out the longest, all while finding something to eat, making a home in the extreme terrain of Aotearoa New Zealand’s South Island, and documenting it all. Fans of the series know the true test is mental fortitude in the cold, lonely and demanding discomfort. In season one, queen of resilience Gina Chick battled loneliness, hunger and grief in Tasmania. Chick returns for season two as host of the show’s official podcast, where, along with SBS presenter Darren Mara, she’ll break down each episode, following each participant as they navigate rain, freezing-cold wind, tree avalanches, earthquakes and landslides.
Stream it on SBS and SBS On Demand from March 27.

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For Tokyo’s finest toilets: Perfect Days

The kernel for this movie was an ode to the perfectly clean, strikingly designed public toilets of Japan – specifically those in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. German director Wim Wenders was invited to visit Tokyo and see these sparkling loos for himself, all in the hope he would make a film about them. The man behind Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire turned that invitation into a mesmerising meditation on everyday life. Perfect Days follows Hirayama (Koji Yakusho), who spends every day in almost exactly the same way – watering his seedlings, drinking coffee from a vending machine, listening to his favourite cassette tapes (Velvet Underground, Nina Simone, Patti Smith) and cleaning toilets. His life is simple but not unsophisticated. Hirayama is a reader and photographer – a person who pays attention to the beauty around us. It’s a quietly profound watch, and one that won Yakusho the best actor prize at Cannes Film Festival 2023.
In cinemas from March 28.

For heartfelt satire: American Fiction

One of this year’s Best Picture nominees never made it to cinemas in Australia; it went straight to streaming. But watching it at home won’t diminish the cutting satire in writer and director Cord Jefferson’s debut, American Fiction. Jeffrey Wright portrays academic Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, who writes reworkings of Ancient Greek plays that get filed under “African American literature” because he’s Black. As a joke, Monk writes a stereotype-filled fiction – under the pseudonym Stagg R Leigh – that proves wildly popular with white publishers. Comedy mishaps ensue as Monk tries to keep the world from finding out who really wrote Fuck!, all while caring for his sick mother and trying to find love. Issa Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross are fabulous as Monk’s rival and sister, respectively.
Stream it on Prime Video.

For sex, guns and steroids: Love Lies Bleeding

There’s been as much chatter around Kristen Stewart’s Rolling Stone cover – in which she wears a jockstrap and shirts that read “Pride” and “Eat me” – than there has been about the neo-noir film she was promoting, Love Lies Bleeding, which screened for the first time at Sundance Film Festival 2024. Director Rose Glass has taken the genre touchpoints of a-stranger-in-town film and placed it in the mullets and muscles setting of a 1980s gym. Stewart plays Lou, a gym manager who comes from a criminal family, and Katy O’Brian is the stranger – a bodybuilder who’s stopping by on her way to Vegas. The two women fall hard for each other, in a chaotic kind of way. There’s drug use, violence, flashbacks and plenty of thrills. Ed Harris sports a horrid wig as Lou’s domineering dad, Lou Sr, and Dave Franco is an abusive husband to Lou’s sister Beth (Jena Malone). It’s been compared to recent hyper violent hits Drive and Titane, but with a proudly queer love story.
In cinemas now.

For mystery and romance: A Gentleman in Moscow

Ewan McGregor stars in this book-to-screen adaptation as an aristocrat ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a hotel in 1920s Russia. Count Alexander Rostov’s long confinement – while the Bolshevik Revolution takes place outside – leads to a series of unexpected connections and personal reflection. He befriends a Ukrainian child in the hotel who shows him how to access its secret corridors, and falls in love with a one-eyed cat named Kutuzov. McGregor’s real-life wife Mary Elizabeth Winstead (who you might remember from Scott Pilgrim vs the World or the more recent Disney+ series Ahsoka) plays a glamorous actress who’s also staying at the hotel. The bestselling book by Amor Towles was praised for being funny, insightful and mysterious. Towles is an executive producer on the series, which is directed by British TV-maker Sam Miller, whose credits include I May Destroy You and Luther.
Stream it on Paramount+ from March 29.

For a sci-fi thriller: 3 Body Problem

This eight-episode, mind-boggling series is the first new show from Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss, with True Blood’s Alexander Woo as writer and producer. It’s a big-budget epic based on Liu Cixin’s book, The Three-Body Problem – a story deemed too knotty and complex to film – which has been somewhat simplified for the Netflix series. We stress, “somewhat”. It spans multiple timelines, including Maoist China and the present day; there are mysterious suicides, an unorthodox detective played by Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange), plus heaps of characters, aliens and VR headsets; and the universe “winks”. There are some familiar faces from the GoT world too, including Liam Cunningham, Jonathan Pryce and John Bradley. And if you’re not across the cult sci-fi book, it’s accessible enough to suck you right into its world (one that’s doomed and must be saved). The countdown is already on for season two.
Stream it on Netflix.

For a tense, twisty horror: You’ll Never Find Me

Adelaide filmmakers Indianna Bell and Josiah Allen have made a sinister and critically acclaimed horror movie that’ll have you on the edge of your seat right up until its suspenseful ending. You’ll Never Find Me has just two characters – Patrick, a lone resident in an isolated caravan park and “the visitor”, an unnamed woman who appears at his door on a particularly stormy night. As the young woman tells the story of how she came to knock on Patrick’s door, details change and things get confusing. Patrick (and the audience) starts to question what’s really going on. It’s Bell and Allen’s debut feature film, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival last year. It’s packed with horror tropes like creaking floorboards and a raging storm, but critics have loved the claustrophobic, sodden atmosphere and the performances from Jordan Cowan and Brendan Rock.
In cinemas now.

For a shocking doco: Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV

Save the date for April 5, because that’s when Australians can finally watch the deeply upsetting docuseries everyone is talking about on Tiktok. Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV is a four-parter diving into allegations of sexual abuse behind the scenes of some of our favourite kids’ TV shows – Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh, iCarly and The Amanda Show. In one episode, actor Drake Bell talks publicly for the first time about being a victim of abuse from former dialogue coach Brian Peck, who was convicted of child abuse in 2004. The series also includes interviews with actors and journalists about Dan Schneider, who has been accused of controlling behaviour and creating sexually suggestive scenes with actors who were underage at the time, including Ariana Grande and Jamie Lynn Spears. Since the docuseries aired in the US, Schneider has issued a Youtube video in which he offers an apology. It’s safe to say we’ll be talking about the impact of this one for years to come.
Stream it on Binge from April 5.