Sandra Hall

Sandra Hall
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3.5/5 96% Raya and the Last Dragon (2021) The tone is a lot lighter than in Mulan or Frozen and the design has great ingenuity, as well as being remarkably beautiful. It's fun but predictable. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 3, 2021
3.5/5 25% Chaos Walking (2021) Although its difficult birth has left a few large holes in the plot, it's an intriguing confection of Hollywood genres -- an unlikely union of dystopian thriller, old-fashioned Western and moral tale. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 3, 2021
4/5 63% Blackbird (2020) Neill succeeds with a grace and good humour that do a great deal to calm the histrionics and bring things to a finish lit with a persuasive mingling of sadness and hope. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
4/5 98% Minari (2020) Chung views them all with a clear, fond eye free of any hint of sentimentality. He knows their imperfections too well for that. He's also wise enough to be aware that their imperfections are what make them so endearing. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
3.5/5 100% Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra (2021) Firestarter's co-directors Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair make a determined effort to set the company's story against the political context of its times, a strategy that makes the film seem a little over-ambitious, burdening it with too many voices. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 24, 2021
3/5 50% Long Story Short (2021) It's a pretty clunky contrivance and it ends up being more or less a one-man show... Teddy would need to conjure up a considerable amount of charm and he and his conversation are not quite funny or smart enough to make it happen. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 17, 2021
4/5 72% My Salinger Year (2020) It's a coming-of-age story told with a sophistication that only makes it all the more touching. In recalling her youth, Rakoff is revisiting a time which has a nostalgic glow attached to it for anyone remotely interested in the power of the written word. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2021
4/5 88% The Dig (2021) History with a British accent and a significant streak of repressed emotion inevitably attracts accusations of stuffiness but there is no cause for them here. It's a poignant tale, gracefully told. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2021
4/5 86% Pixie (2021) To call it the story of a heist gone wrong is a grievous understatement. This is a plot in which next to nothing goes right. But the film itself is a different matter. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 27, 2021
4/5 78% High Ground (2020) To call it a timely film would be simplification. It's timeless -- a classic Australian account of the damage done by rampant colonialism. But it's only one chapter. Let's hope that there are many more to come. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 27, 2021
3.5/5 67% Penguin Bloom (2021) It's not the best Australian film about a young family in crisis. My favourite is still Sarah Watt's candidly funny and tender My Year Without Sex, but the Blooms have a lot of heart. You're unlikely to forget them. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 21, 2021
3.5/5 68% Ammonite (2020) [Director Francis] Lee did persuade me that this was a love that might have been. And a happy love, at that. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2021
4/5 90% Promising Young Woman (2020) It's a film that neatly avoids any trace of didacticism. Produced by LuckyChap Productions, the Los Angeles-based company run by Margot Robbie and her partners, it takes an acutely satirical tilt at its targets with a deadpan tone. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 13, 2021
4/5 92% The White Tiger (2020) Balram's story would be barely credible in another kind of society, but Adiga and Bahrani have portrayed the machinations that govern this one so vividly that you're never in doubt. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 5, 2021
3/5 72% Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles (2020) The film is frustratingly light on the palace's history. Not until the bitter end does Gabbert try to inject a little social commentary into what has largely been a de luxe cooking show. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2020
4/5 94% Nomadland (2021) The least actressy of actresses, McDormand merges completely with the landscape and everybody in it. The friendships that Fern makes spring from a collective store of commonsense gained from experience and coloured with playful good humour. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2020
88% THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone (2020) There's nothing particularly radical about these alterations. Coppola has merely streamlined and clarified but the fundamentals remain the same and that's no bad thing. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2020
3/5 51% The Midnight Sky (2020) Visually it works... The Iceland scenes are so chilling that you emerge fearing frostbite. It's the human factor that fails to persuade. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2020
3.5/5 91% The Trouble with Being Born (2020) A strange, haunting parable about innocence exploited. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2020
3/5 55% The Prom (2020) It's a warm-hearted effort with all the right impulses, but the laughs aren't there. Its trio of big names would have done well to stop trying so hard and start trusting their own talent. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 2, 2020
3.5/5 83% Let Him Go (2020) George and Margaret have built up such a reservoir of goodwill that you're thoroughly invested in their fate, no matter how overwrought. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2020
3/5 88% Monsoon (2020) It's all very delicately done, which may be the problem. Khaou is so intent on not being obvious about anything he wants to say that the dilemmas and dissatisfactions of the immigrant experience get lost among the subtleties. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
4/5 25% Hillbilly Elegy (2020) The book's hard political edges have been planed away, leaving a highly polished piece of storytelling in the great Hollywood tradition of working-class soaps. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
2.5/5 50% The Comeback Trail (2020) It's a premise that could have produced a few laughs, but the chutzpah that went into Midnight Run has gone missing and everybody -- director and actors -- clearly feel they have to work very hard to make it hang together. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 11, 2020
4/5 100% A Lion Returns (2020) Caradee's script is probably too verbose and much of it is predictable. It's hardly an original story, but it's told with such conviction and his actors pack his dialogue with such a charge that there's a wealth of family history in every word. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 4, 2020
3/5 44% Holidate (2020) They weather all these things with a panache that makes you warm to them, for it almost compensates for the script's utter predictability. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 28, 2020
2.5/5 55% Never Too Late (2020) With this line-up, Lamprell should have turned the film into a celebration of some great screen careers. Instead, it winds up as a sad waste of talent. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2020
3/5 30% Dirt Music (2019) While it plays out against the glories of the Dampier Peninsula, the splendors of the backdrop can't make up for the fact events in the foreground are failing to make sense. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 7, 2020
2.5/5 28% Antebellum (2020) The style of the direction is so lurid and the performances are so florid that they become ends in themselves and never mind the message no matter how timely it is in the current climate. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 30, 2020
3.5/5 100% Terra Willy: Unexplored Planet (Astro Kid) (2020) There's something very engaging about their relationship as it matures and Willy becomes more confident and more familiar with the flora and fauna of their new home. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
3/5 62% The Broken Hearts Club (2000) It's fun, but its desperate desire to be liked eventually wears you out. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 17, 2020
2/5 82% Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) For fans, the pair's all-round lameness has always been a large part of their charm. The contrast between their slow reaction speeds and the extreme wackiness of their adventures were an essential part of the package but the formula hasn't worn well. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 9, 2020
2.5/5 35% The New Mutants (2020) It adds up to an old-fashioned B-picture bereft of the rousing jolt of bad taste that gave the genre its energy. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
3.5/5 100% Sequin in a Blue Room (2019) It's a small film, but an impressive one -- deliberately and effectively laconic in the way it evokes the temptations and the perils of online dating. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
70% Tenet (2020) No doubt avid students of the Nolan formula will get months of entertainment out of repeated viewings, but for me it was oddly tantalizing -- full of good things but ultimately frustrating. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2020
3/5 48% Unhinged (2020) Crowe summons up such an abundance of raw energy and concentrated fury that he's truly terrifying. It's far from being great film-making, but if you have a vicarious taste for orchestrated chaos, this is the movie. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 19, 2020
4/5 75% Little White Lies 2 (Nous finirons ensemble) (2019) If the film lacks wit and originality, it makes up for these shortcomings with its vitality. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 5, 2020
4/5 92% House of Cardin (2020) To call the film a hagiography would be too harsh. It's both a fond act of homage and a hugely entertaining slice of social history. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
3/5 67% The Burnt Orange Heresy (2020) The plot's revolutions are much creakier than anything out of Highsmith. You know a movie's in trouble when you start worrying about the luggage arrangements and whether or not the butler has been told the guests won't be in for dinner. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 22, 2020
4/5 94% Babyteeth (2020) Shannon Murphy's direction keeps up the antic spirit with a jagged rhythm that mirrors the unpredictable state of mind at chez Finlay. You don't know what these characters are going to do next. Even more engaging is the fact they don't either. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 22, 2020
3.5/5 84% Waves (2019) Shults is saying nothing new here. Nor does he exploit or trivialise the African-American experience. It's a powerful and plausible tale but it's told with such a bombardment of sound and image that he leaves you no opportunity to think for yourself. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 10, 2020
4/5 92% The Personal History of David Copperfield (2020) The script extracts the essence of Dickens' style from the narrative while editing out the melodrama. If pushed, Iannucci and Blackwell prefer to be cryptic rather than risk any hint of the tendentious. And it's a message well absorbed by the whole cast. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 1, 2020
92% Monos (2019) It's clear from the start that Landes is out to make a tragedy about innocence lost and the wickedness of political movements that rule by remote control with the capriciousness of Greek gods. He's succeeded brilliantly. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 25, 2020
2.5/5 8% Artemis Fowl (2020) A sense of indecision hangs over the whole exercise, starting with the screenplay, which has four names attached. Nobody seems to know how funny they're meant to be. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 17, 2020
4/5 67% 100% Wolf (2020) The film rockets along, but there's nothing hasty or half-hearted about its style. It's packed with witty visual gags, enhanced by classy lighting, and its large cast -- human, lupine and canine -- are graced by an inventive set of eccentricities. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted May 28, 2020
20% Irresistible (2005) The good bits work with such smoothness that each lapse in logic and continuity hits you with a dizzying thud. And there are many. - smh.com.au EDIT
Read More | Posted May 13, 2020
3.5/5 93% Becoming (2020) With Obama herself as narrator, it's a personal diary -- bereft of tension and short on surprises with a perpetually sunny guide treating you to an intimate but selective tour of her life so far. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted May 13, 2020
4/5 61% The Current War: Director's Cut (2019) It's a dizzying menu, aimed at eliminating any hint of fustiness and show that this is a story as modern as the rivalry between Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. And I suppose it is. But it's also absorbing enough not to need any artificial means of support. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 18, 2020
4/5 83% Queen & Slim (2019) A thoroughly moral tale told with great flair. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2020
4/5 89% Dark Waters (2019) The groundswell of dogged determination propelling this environmental thriller is so powerful that it deals effortlessly with the knotty tangle of facts packed into its plot. Much of this is down to the film's star and initiator, Mark Ruffalo. - Sydney Morning Herald EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 4, 2020