Sydney Morning Herald

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
Queenpins (2021) Brad Newsome Kristen Bell stars in this thoroughly enjoyable comedy crime caper set in the wild world of extreme couponing... Lightweight fun very loosely based on a true story. EDIT
Posted Oct 13, 2021
3/5 Respect (2021) Sandra Hall The film soars whenever the music takes over, as it does for large chunks of the action. But the backstage story is less exhilarating. Franklin had a life as big as her personality. EDIT
Posted Oct 13, 2021
4/5 The Velvet Underground (2021) Paul Byrnes There isn't much footage of them playing -- although Todd Haynes appears to have found every last frame in this stimulating and cacophonous tribute. EDIT
Posted Oct 13, 2021
Sunset Blvd. (1950) SMH Staff There isn't a doubt that [Swanson's] performance, pulsing with intense and often ugly emotion, is one of the half-dozen most exciting and most complete character studies of the year. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2021
4/5 My Name Is Pauli Murray (2021) Sandra Hall It does a terrific job of making amends, helped by a wealth of archival footage drawn from Murray's public and personal life. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2021
2.5/5 Justin Bieber: Our World (2021) Sandra Hall It's all so good-natured and well-meaning that criticism seems uncharitable but it's a very long way from the unbridled energy of rock 'n' roll. In fact, it's borderline lethargic. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2021
Diana: The Musical (2021) Michael Idato If there is a silver lining to the over-sung, over-wrought, over-everything Diana: The Musical it is this: musical theatre has finally dished up something that makes the 2019 film version of Cats look like a masterpiece. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2021
Hating Peter Tatchell (2021) Brad Newsome This affecting documentary by Australian filmmaker Christopher Amos provides a compelling chronology and human portrait while giving some of Tatchell's critics opportunity to air their criticisms and Tatchell the chance to address them. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2021
4/5 Nitram (2021) Paul Byrnes As a portrait of a family where love is not enough, it achieves high potency, without crossing into the difficult terrain of begging for sympathy. EDIT
Posted Sep 30, 2021
3/5 Annette (2021) Paul Byrnes It's daring, original and heroically odd, so it has the right to a few flaws. Failing through ambition is better than its alternative. EDIT
Posted Sep 30, 2021
3/5 The Starling (2021) Sandra Hall The dialogue lacks the saltiness that made St. Vincent work so well, and the many pauses in the action allow plenty of opportunity for mawkishness to seep in. While McCarthy is certainly the best thing in it, she does have her limits. EDIT
Posted Sep 30, 2021
Leave Her to Heaven (1945) SMH Staff The film by and large is good entertainment and its tone is fairly serious, but its colour is better than the average Hollywood abuse of pigments. EDIT
Posted Sep 29, 2021
Seconds (1966) Josephine O'Neill On the surface, this chilling film is a most stylish piece of horror. Its underlying and saddening truth makes it into a moral nightmare. EDIT
Posted Sep 23, 2021
3.5/5 Birds of Paradise (2021) Sandra Hall These efforts are not quite in the Black Swan class but they help put you inside the obsessive relationship taking shape between Kate and Marine. EDIT
Posted Sep 22, 2021
Schumacher (2021) Brad Newsome This comprehensive and kinetic biography of Formula One great Michael Schumacher is an impressive piece of work, but the man himself remains a contradiction. EDIT
Posted Sep 22, 2021
Kate (2021) Brad Newsome Director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan makes great use of the Japanese setting and of newcomer Miku Patricia Martineau, who becomes Kate's unlikely local sidekick, but he might have done more with Woody Harrelson. EDIT
Posted Sep 17, 2021
3/5 Everybody's Talking About Jamie (2021) Brad Newsome Harwood delivers brilliantly in his role, though it's Lancashire's performance that's the most memorable -- and her character also gets the most emotionally resonant song, too. In the end, for all its flaws, it's a feel-good winner. EDIT
Posted Sep 17, 2021
The Little Fugitive (1953) SMH Staff Here's a film that's refreshingly out of the ordinary, by American standards, at any rate. EDIT
Posted Sep 15, 2021
3/5 Streamline (2021) Paul Byrnes The film grows muscles as it progresses, a bit like a swimmer in training, but it's too little too late. EDIT
Posted Sep 15, 2021
2.5/5 Schumacher (2021) Paul Byrnes Ultimately, it's a sentimental portrait that wants to please the insiders. We on the outside have to scratch our heads and fill in the missing details. EDIT
Posted Sep 15, 2021
4/5 Worth (2020) Paul Byrnes You won't find a larger critique of the litigious nature of American society here, nor even the full story of the fund, but no matter. What's there is gripping and thoughtful, with outstanding work by Keating, Tucci and Ryan. EDIT
Posted Sep 9, 2021
3.5/5 Under the Volcano (2021) Paul Byrnes We get a sense of island life, which was all about to change. The film argues that an era in music was ending too, with the shift from analogue to digital. EDIT
Posted Sep 8, 2021
3/5 Come From Away (2021) Sandra Hall With a cast of 12 valiantly filling two or three roles each, Come From Away was conceived with more modest ambitions but it too extracts success from the fact its upbeat message springs from such an unlikely source. EDIT
Posted Sep 8, 2021
The Conservation Game (2021) Brad Newsome Fans of Netflix's Tiger King will be all over this disturbing feature-length documentary in which retired cop turned animal advocate Tim Harrison exposes the squalid world of big-cat breeding and trafficking in the US. EDIT
Posted Sep 8, 2021
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf (2021) Brad Newsome Is there a place for Western anime? This gory, grimdark prequel to Netflix's live-action series The Witcher answers with a resounding yes. EDIT
Posted Sep 8, 2021
El Mariachi (1992) Helen Greenwood [El Mariachi,] by the first-time director, Robert Rodriguez goes where many people have tried to go and often failed: into the land of the tight and controlled and funny parody. EDIT
Posted Sep 8, 2021
2.5/4 The Presidio (1988) Rob Lowing Connery alone is worth the price of a ticket. EDIT
Posted Sep 6, 2021
3.5/5 Fantastic Fungi (2019) Brad Newsome The biology is fascinating, but Schwartzberg's experts and enthusiasts are positively evangelical when it comes to the potential of fungi in medicine, pest-control, oil spill clean-ups and, of course, psychedelic experiences. It's all quite a trip. EDIT
Posted Sep 1, 2021
3.5/5 Cinderella (2021) Sandra Hall It rollicks along with a lot of help from the songs, which lift the spirits as well as lending pace to the plot but the insistence of the message-making means Cinderella and her Prince fall short of making magic together. EDIT
Posted Sep 1, 2021
2/5 Sweet Girl (2021) Paul Byrnes The plot is wilfully dumb, the message pernicious. Momoa walks through it, his emotions running the gamut from A to... well, just A. EDIT
Posted Aug 25, 2021
Go Fish (1994) Anna Maria Dell'oso The co-writer and director, Guinevere Turner, reveals herself as an extremely watchable star in her own movie, which showcases her comic and dramatic talent. EDIT
Posted Aug 25, 2021
The Littlest Outlaw (1955) SMH Staff This little piece of Disney juvenilia about a doomed horse and a devoted boy aims its thrills at the 7-14 age group, and hits the target with deadly Disney accuracy but... some of the older children are bound to feel that they are being unduly patronised. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2021
4/5 CODA (2021) Sandra Hall Heder, who spent time on the Massachusetts coast when growing up, knows exactly how a narrative can be enriched by the colours, moods and customs of its setting. You get to know the Rossis very well, and they're great company. EDIT
Posted Aug 18, 2021
2.5/5 Come Play (2020) Sandra Hall There was so much fun to be had along the way. Chase takes his story much too seriously to entertain that proposition. It's suffused with an atmosphere of dogged naturalism, rooted so firmly in the everyday that fun might well be a foreign word. EDIT
Posted Aug 18, 2021
2/5 Beckett (2021) Paul Byrnes Taut is perhaps too strong a word: it's more like strained. The movie has great credentials -- music by Ryuichi Sakamoto, for instance -- but little finesse. EDIT
Posted Aug 11, 2021
Vivo (2021) Brad Newsome Vivo himself has charm and a delightfully kinetic scamper to go with themes of love and loss. EDIT
Posted Aug 11, 2021
3/5 Infinite (2021) Brad Newsome The visuals are spectacular, but things get increasingly derivative as they progress, and Jason Mantzoukas' ill-conceived comic-relief character falls clangingly flat. EDIT
Posted Aug 11, 2021
Stand and Deliver (1988) Paul Byrnes You don't need a head for figures to like Stand and Deliver. It is one of the most beguiling, cheerfully motivating American movies for some time. EDIT
Posted Aug 11, 2021
3/5 The Rose Maker (2020) Paul Byrnes While not quite laugh-out loud funny, the film is cleverly structured as an allegory of French society, with characters who grow and develop (like roses). EDIT
Posted Aug 5, 2021
4/5 Val (2021) Paul Byrnes The video camcorder and the smartphone have made it possible for us all to admire our own selves -- but few have achieved Val Kilmer's level of expertise in this area. EDIT
Posted Aug 4, 2021
3.5/5 Rosa's Wedding (2020) Sandra Hall Whatever their troubles, all these characters are blessed with the vitality that distinguishes Spanish cinema and its actors. They have no patience for sitting around brooding. EDIT
Posted Aug 4, 2021
3.5/5 Vivo (2021) Sandra Hall The action's impetus comes from the music and visual attractions are in the meticulous evocation of the backgrounds, some of which are hand-drawn. The faded beauty of Cuba's colonial architecture sets the standard. EDIT
Posted Aug 4, 2021
El Norte (1983) Judith Fox El Norte is a good film that suffers from too much intention. EDIT
Posted Aug 3, 2021
3/5 Embattled (2020) Paul Byrnes Embattled may be smarter than it looks, but it's still further evidence of the decline of human civilisation. EDIT
Posted Jul 30, 2021
3/5 The Last Letter From Your Lover (2021) Paul Byrnes It's awfully well done, in an arch and thought-out kind of way, but romance without spontaneity becomes bloodless. We have to feel that love may be denied, for romance to have its dominion. EDIT
Posted Jul 28, 2021
4/5 Jungle Cruise (2021) Sandra Hall I wasn't completely won over by the film's second half which goes over to fantasy with a new cast of CGI creations but it's done with a lot of verve and wit and Johnson and Blunt still manage to keep a straight face. EDIT
Posted Jul 28, 2021
Black Orpheus (1959) SMH Staff A film that for ecstasy or feeling, and blaze of colour has not been matched. EDIT
Posted Jul 26, 2021
4/5 Gunpowder Milkshake (2021) Sandra Hall It's a very fast ride but the fun doesn't depend on speed alone. The words are even more important. EDIT
Posted Jul 22, 2021
3/5 Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021) Sandra Hall Unless you're a basketball fanatic, its technical wonders aren't nearly enough to overcome its tediously earnest intentions. EDIT
Posted Jul 14, 2021
Mary J. Blige's My Life (2021) Brad Newsome This new documentary is utterly riveting as Blige recalls a childhood marked by violence and abuse in a grim New York housing project, and how she emerged with deep psychological issues unprepared for the success of her debut album. EDIT
Posted Jul 14, 2021