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September movie guide: Branagh’s Poirot in Venice and another fat Greek wedding

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in  A Haunting in Venice. He will not disappoint.

Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in A Haunting in Venice. He will not disappoint. Photo: Disney+

When BAFTA-winning British actor Kenneth Branagh first signed on to play the eccentric but brilliant Agatha Christie detective Hercule Poirot in 2017, he knew he had to walk in his shoes to get it right.

He spent a year reading all the Poirot novels, he visited the town of Spa in Belgium where Hercule Poirot was “born” and he researched and developed moustaches to live up to Christie’s descriptions, according to the official website.

Importantly, he began fittings for bespoke suits nine months ahead of shooting and was measured and fitted for months for handmade shoes, polishing them daily.

His obsession paid off.

Following the wide acclaim for Murder On The Orient Express and Death On The NileA Haunting in Venice is the third chapter in his body of work and it premieres nationally on September 14.

Starring a stellar cast, including Michelle Yeoh – who is still enjoying Oscar glory after Everything, Everywhere All at Once, Branagh says filming in Venice set just the right scary tone to investigate a murder.

Who you going to call?

A Haunting in Venice is set over one night in post-war Venice on All Hallows’ Eve in 1947.

A decaying palace with a dark past draws together people looking for answers to the mysterious disappearance of a young girl – a group that includes Poirot.

Yeoh in charge of the seance is brilliant: “I can speak to the dead, you know”.

Usually a sceptic, Poirot starts questioning what’s real and what’s imagined, and whether the spirit world is coming back to scare the living daylights out of everyone.

“That notion for Poirot could be the height of bunkum,” Branagh tells Empire magazine.

“And I think that he’s irresistibly drawn into trying to expose it.

“But when you are isolated, perhaps in a haunted palazzo, it can suddenly be very much more: across that long, dark night of the soul, the action taking place across a single murder-filled evening, it can challenge your previously firmly-held convictions that there’s nothing out there.”

The cast and crew is also impressive, with Kyle Allen (American Horror Story), Jamie Dornan (The Tourist), comedian Tina Fey and Ali Khan (6 Underground), while Branagh also comes on board as director and producer, reuniting many of the filmmakers from the first two films.

Alien, Hannibal and Napoleon director Ridley Scott is co-producer, so get ready to see plenty of his influence in visual effects and high-end stunts.

Haunted Mansion – August 31

Staying on the haunted theme, this movie is perfect for a school holiday outing.

Starring Owen Wilson, Danny DeVito and the scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, Haunted Mansion is inspired by the classic theme park attraction of the same name.

A woman and her son enlist a motley crew of so-called spiritual experts to help rid their home of funny looking, non-scary supernatural squatters.

If they don’t get rid of them, as DeVito reminds us, they could be stuck there forever.

The Equalizer – August 31

It must be the month for trilogies, as Denzel Washington reprises his role as Robert McCall, an ex US-marine and DIA officer who always seemed to find himself shooting it out with nasty mafia types.

In 2014, it was a battle with the Russian mafia.

By 2018, the government assassin finds himself in Brussels killing more people, this time stealthily one by one, using spearguns, knives, and a flour-explosion trap inside an old bakery.

Fast forward to 2023, and McCall is living a quiet life in southern Italy, helping people less fortunate, and discovers his new friends are under the control of the local mafia.

As usual, events turn deadly, McCall knows what he has to do: become his friends’ protector by taking on the mafia.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 – September 7

And welcome to the third instalment of another epic and emotionally charged Greek wedding.

The first was back in 2002, when a young Greek woman, Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos, 30, falls in love with a non-Greek, highlighting the struggles of cultural clashes and traditions.

It grossed $368 million in box office receipts (with a budget of $5m) and was a widely-acclaimed success, with Canadian writer Nia Vardalos winning awards for best writing and a Golden Globe for best actress.

Another reason to run a sequel, which didn’t do so well.

Vardalos wanted to give the concept another crack, writing and directing a third Greek wedding story on location in Greece.

Storyline? “Join the Portokalos family as they travel to a family reunion in Greece for a heartwarming and hilarious trip full of love, twists and turns” reads the official logline.

Blue Beetle – September 14

Introducing Blue Beetle – the DC superhero’s first time on the big screen – and if the trailer is anything to go by, this is the movie of the year for teenagers!

It stars Cobra Kai actor Xolo Maridueña (who is about to enjoy even bigger success) playing recent college graduate Jaime Reyes.

He lands a job in a big high-rise firm somewhere, when a staffer hands him what looks to be a hamburger in a box.

It’s not.

It’s an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab.

Will he become another avenger?

You’re going to love it! Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie. Photo: Paramount Pictures

September school holiday movies galore!

Parents, relatives, carers – do not despair!

The major cinema chains are offering three cracking-good kids movies, all with a different spin on animation and heartwarming storylines.

Let’s start with turtles, then move on to Kraken and finish with dogs.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem – September 7

The official synopsis says that after years of being sheltered from the human world, the Turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers and be accepted as normal teenagers through heroic acts.

New friend April O’Neil helps them take on a mysterious crime syndicate, but they soon get in over their heads when an army of mutants is unleashed upon them.

The best part of this flick is the A-list voice over cast  which includes Australian actor Rose Byrne plus Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, John Cena, Ice Cube, Jackie Chan, Maya Rudolph, Giancarlo Esposito and Post Malone.

Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken – September 14 

Another Aussie doing voice overs for Dreamworks Animation is Toni Collette (fresh from playing a mafia boss), who is part of a legendary group of mythical sea krakens, as is the voice of Jane Fonda.

Collette, a protective supermum, doesn’t want her daughter to ever get in the water. Well, she does, and the krakens and the mermaids have a battle on their hands.

Good over evil prevails!

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie – September 21

Not to be outdone, the voiceovers for the Paw Patrol cast are ace and include Kim Kardashian and her two kids, North and Saint. There’s also Chris Rock, Serena Williams, Alan Kim, Brice Gonzalez, James Marsden and Kristen Bell.

The story goes that when a magical meteor crash lands in Adventure City, it gives the PAW Patrol pups superpowers, transforming them into The Mighty Pups. They have to fight to save their city, and, cute, even the smallest pup can make the biggest difference.

Retribution – September 21

Has to be included on the list as it stars Liam Neeson, whose catalogue of missing daughters, abductions, train fights and mid-air disasters is nothing without this one.

A Saturday afternoon thriller when the AFL and NRL football finals series is over!

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