Paul Byrnes

Paul Byrnes
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3.5/5 98% Billie Eilish: The World's a Little Blurry (2021) There is a vast wealth of entertaining work in the form, but it's almost never free to speak its mind. That said, this overlong film by the experienced R. J. Cutler is haunting and engaging. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 3, 2021
3/5 79% Boss Level (2021) If the cast is above average, so is some of the humour, although dark doesn't quite describe it. Dark and red might be closer. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 3, 2021
4/5 92% Days of the Bagnold Summer (2021) The film could do with more urgent pacing and structure, but it's meant to be minimal -- not much more than an acutely observed, achingly accurate slice of modern life. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
4/5 95% Zappa (2020) If there is one American musician who was overdue for a comprehensive documentary, that's Zappa -- and this one doesn't disappoint. It's as messy as his music in parts, but that fits. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
4/5 92% Another Round (Druk) (2020) There is some quiet comedy about all this, but the film never breaks into the open plains of mirth. That's because it has a deep and rich lode of melancholy to mine. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 10, 2021
3.5/5 79% Greenland (2020) If you love disaster movies because they're a guilty pleasure, this one might offer some challenges. Greenland is actually unsettling, if you care to read its darker meanings. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 5, 2021
3/5 28% Bliss (2021) Owen Wilson and Salma Hayek occupy several levels of reality, or none, depending on how you read writer/director Mike Cahill's imagination. However, none of the levels is terribly believable. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 3, 2021
3.5/5 88% News of the World (2020) The film wraps around you like a pair of worn leather gloves. We are in safe hands. Hanks has that power to ground a film -- to stand solid and unmoving in the landscape and induce us to relax. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 27, 2021
3.5/5 96% Only the Animals (Seules les bêtes) (2019) Only the Animals is impressively deliberate and sober in style. Indeed, the sobriety is like a cloak for the weirdness beneath the surface. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 21, 2021
3.5/5 98% One Night in Miami (2020) No matter how good the dialogue, we are always aware of being inside a theatrical construction. That said, it's hard to disagree with much else about the way King directs the piece, especially her casting. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2021
3/5 77% Summerland (2020) Arterton towers in the role, not always in a good way. A stronger director might have reined her in, but Swale is not yet that experienced. When you add a large amount of treacle to the mix, the film becomes cloying and pushy. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 13, 2021
62% Out of Africa (1985) The movie could probably be shorter, but I didn't wish it so. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 12, 2021
3/5 76% Pieces of a Woman (2020) I can't say whether the film might comfort anyone who has been through this harrowing experience. I suspect it is not for them, but for the rest of us who do not know such pain. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 5, 2021
3/5 95% Soul (2020) Soul looks astonishing throughout, a triumph of technical achievement, but it's not matched by clarity of story. It feels like there are too many cooks -- or to use the film's own metaphor, too many band members playing a different tune. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2020
3.5/5 98% Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) Wolfe directs the actors with skill and poise. Every performance is solid. It's especially sad to watch Boseman tearing up the screen as the hot-headed Levee... His work here shows depth and power. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2020
3/5 96% The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (2020) It's lovely to hear the songs again and to see the Bee Gees in their prime, as a live act, but the definitive film is yet to come. "Hold on, hold on..." - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2020
4/5 81% I'm Your Woman (2020) There are no duds here, and the lead performance of Rachel Brosnahan is a knockout... It's a rich character and she takes to the role with everything she possesses. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2020
4.5/5 98% David Byrne's American Utopia (2020) With Spike Lee in control of the cameras, it becomes a joyous piece of... let's call it musical theatre, although that hardly seems to encompass it. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2020
4/5 86% In the Name of the Land (Au nom de la terre) (2019) This is a family story, intimate and painful, rather than something abstract. Bergeon directs carefully, without the flourishes that often tempt young directors. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 24, 2020
3.5/5 94% Palm Springs (2020) Palm Springs treats the idea as a jazz player might treat the chord changes of a standard - somewhere to poke around in and find new expression. I think Ramis might have been flattered. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
3.5/5 90% Rams (2021) Inevitably, the remake does not quite measure up, although it's successful on its own terms. It's become a delicate Australian comedy, with its own deep relationship to the soil, and both are rare enough to cherish. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 4, 2020
4/5 No Score Yet Brazen Hussies (2020) Brazen Hussies is a lively and funny documentary history of the women's liberation movement in Australia, concentrating on the 1970s, when the battles were at their most intense. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 4, 2020
4.5/5 98% Corpus Christi (Boze cialo) (2020) It's Shane, with more vodka and fewer horses. It's as Polish as a cabbage roll, yet startlingly universal. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2020
3.5/5 64% Hope Gap (2020) None of it lacks credibility. As a portrait of the breakup of a marriage, and the three-cornered pain of the situation, it's completely convincing. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 14, 2020
3.5/5 76% Savage (2019) The details of gang life are fascinating. The casting is superb: hundreds of rough-heads assembled from across New Zealand. These mean-looking buggers provide a terrifying backdrop for the power struggle. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 8, 2020
4/5 87% On The Rocks (2020) It's a hard task for both actors, requiring layers of shading. Lucky then that Coppola, in her seventh feature, has firm control of the levers. She knows how to give her characters space, how to film them thinking. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 30, 2020
2/5 49% Four Kids and It (2020) The problem boils down to this question of sincerity. Director Anthony de Emmony does not feel the magic of this story. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
3/5 72% An American Pickle (2020) An American Pickle is far from a disaster, but it is more amusing than hilarious. It is that thing a comedy can never be -- only half good. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 16, 2020
4/5 No Score Yet Slim & I (2020) This is pure joy, in more ways than one. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2020
3/5 73% Mulan (2020) Apart from the lack of singing, romance, comedy and a mouthy dragon, this is just like the original. You might wonder what's left. Well, $200 million buys a lot of scenery and sets and quite a few stars. This new version has spectacle in mind. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
3/5 82% I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) I can't say I loved it, but my tolerance for puzzles with no reward is less than it once was. On the other hand, Kaufman is rarely boring. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 2, 2020
4/5 88% Les Misérables (2020) It's inexorable, terrifying, heartbreaking, with a finale that has plenty of weight. Ly's debut reminded me of Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, made 30 years ago: urgent, provocative, tragic. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
2/5 71% Lowdown Dirty Criminals (2020) Even broad comedy requires a light touch, a sense that things are happening spontaneously. This one feels like the first rehearsal of a script that wasn't ready. - The Age (Australia) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2020
2/5 9% Force of Nature (2020) Some movies are born bad; some achieve badness through lack of care or budget. Some seem to aspire to it and Michael Polish has had a long enough career to know the difference. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 12, 2020
3.5/5 94% Litigante (2019) It's not always successful, but the film has two towering performances at its core -- from Carolina Sanin and Leticia Gomez -- and a strong sense of integrity. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 29, 2020
3.5/5 89% The Vigil (2021) If The Vigil has weighty metaphors to stimulate the brain, it works on other parts of the body as well, namely the spine. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 20, 2020
2.5/5 16% The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee (2020) Hogan tries to remain unruffled, but appears bemused and somewhat confused as his world crumbles... The satire is as labored as his nonchalance. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 16, 2020
83% Noise (2007) Noise is an impressive debut, a serious, fresh, surprising film by a writer-director with plenty on his mind. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2020
3.5/5 92% Relic (2020) [Writer-Director Erika James] tries to invert those with ingenuity and care, applying a real-world theme -- the loss of a parent through dementia. It's genuinely creepy, if a little unfocused in the way it uses those ideas. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
4/5 78% Greyhound (2020) It's that rare thing -- a war film driven by abhorrence of war, rather than bloodlust or jingoism. Hemingway's definition of courage as grace under pressure has never been clearer. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
4/5 96% A White, White Day (Hvítur, hvítur dagur) (2020) The film fairly ravishes the senses, with its sense of weather as destiny. All of the performances are solid. Sigurdsson and Hlynsdottir, as grandfather and granddaughter, are like granite: the film succeeds because of their bond. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2020
3.5/5 95% It Must Be Heaven (2019) The mood is superbly sustained by emptying most of the locations of people. It's a soulful sort of comedy, rather than a thigh-slapper, but thoughtful is always better than its alternative. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 6, 2020
2/5 58% Love Sarah (2020) Love Sarah is a well-cast treacle pudding, with virtually no risks taken. If only a punk band had moved in next door. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 1, 2020
2/5 56% Resistance (2020) Resistance may be good enough at what it does, but what it does is more horse manure than history. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 24, 2020
92% The Assistant (2020) There is a through-line in terms of theme, and Green has made only good choices here. The film is tautly constructed, able to be shot largely in one place, and with minimal staging and effects. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2020
4/5 72% Escape from Pretoria (2020) The pleasure here is in the fine detail, and Annan makes sure we feel every scrape of chisel on wood. The characterizations are not deep, but that's part of the genre. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2020
4/5 81% Hearts and Bones (2020) Hearts and Bones is a thoughtful and engaging story, driven by exceptional performances. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted May 6, 2020
2/5 35% The Jungle Bunch (Les as de la jungle) (2017) There's a good movie here trying to get out, but what keeps it from emerging is a dead hand on both structure and pace. - smh.com.au EDIT
Read More | Posted May 5, 2020
2.5/5 85% Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (2018) Wheatley appears to have hired a big house, filled it with friends and booze, giving each person a thin description of their character, then waited for the magic to happen. What results is a disjointed mess. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 18, 2020
3/5 77% Military Wives (2020) Predictable, but both women give it their best. There's a natural and useful contrast between Scott Thomas, so patrician and brittle, and Horgan, with her unforced comic timing and her Irish vowels. Their performances are the film's best asset. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2020