Sydney Morning Herald

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
3.5/5 Pavarotti (2019) Paul Byrnes Director Ron Howard knows how to make it emotional and appealing, to make us love the man as well as the extraordinary voice, as he skims the surface of a grand life and career. EDIT
Posted Oct 22, 2019
4/5 Maiden (2018) Paul Byrnes Maiden is simply riveting, a story of grandeur and sweep that's also moving and intimate because there are so many naked emotions in play. EDIT
Posted Oct 17, 2019
2.5/5 Locusts (2019) Jake Wilson It is, in short, very much a B-movie and, on this level, it's watchable though never especially inspired. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2019
4/5 () Sandra Hall [Director Partho Sen-Gupta]'s a confident talent with a finely tuned instinct for the mechanics of plot and character. There's a lot going on in this film and although the conclusion it reaches is pretty predictable, the trajectory it takes is not. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2019
2/5 Strange but True (2019) Paul Byrnes What's strange is that anyone thought this movie was worth making. It's a thriller with no thrills, almost no action and even less tension. What it does have is a strong cast, but who wants to see good actors going to waste? EDIT
Posted Oct 15, 2019
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (2015) Brad Newsome This documentary is a stunning visual achievement, with director Douglas Tirola using perhaps thousands of images to give us a real sense of the seminal, savage American satirical magazine National Lampoon. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2019
Hello, Privilege. It's Me, Chelsea (2019) Brad Newsome Worthwhile viewing -- especially if you don't believe in white privilege. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2019
4/5 The King (2019) Sandra Hall It looks to Shakespeare for its basic cues before taking off with a few imaginative flourishes. Most notably it gives Falstaff a new lease of life. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2019
4/5 Isha Ovedet (2018) Paul Byrnes This is a supremely clever movie, rooted in strong emotion that's rigorously controlled. It's a work of passion, told with utmost restraint. That makes it even more effective. EDIT
Posted Oct 9, 2019
4/5 Judy (2019) Sandra Hall Zellweger hasn't quite lost her off-putting propensity for straining for effect by scrunching up her face and squinting into the distance. Nonetheless, it's a remarkable performance. EDIT
Posted Oct 9, 2019
3.5/5 Hustlers (2019) Jake Wilson The hard-boiled exchanges between the women have a genuine exuberance, recalling Hollywood movies of the 1930s where showgirls trade wisecracks backstage. EDIT
Posted Oct 9, 2019
4/5 () Paul Byrnes Hosking does Tozer and us a service by broadening our understanding, both of what made him great and of what might have brought him to such a point. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2019
4.5/5 Pájaros de verano (2018) Paul Byrnes There are ethnographic films and there are crime films. I can't recall a film before this that does both successfully - but wait, there's more. Birds of Passage is also an epic tragedy... It's a breathtaking, moody, elegiac piece of work. EDIT
Posted Oct 2, 2019
4/5 Freedom (2019) Paul Byrnes Rathjen makes a powerful statement with this gripping debut. EDIT
Posted Sep 25, 2019
3/5 () Sandra Hall What interests Griffiths most is the Payne family and the film is at its best when concentrating on the dynamics of this close-knit clan. It's heartening and it's fun but Payne herself remains slightly out of focus. EDIT
Posted Sep 25, 2019
3.5/5 Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) Sandra Hall The plot takes many twists with an ingeniously designed set of monsters creating havoc at regular intervals. EDIT
Posted Sep 25, 2019
3.5/5 Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019) Sandra Hall Those who have grown up with Dora should enjoy the reunion and a new generation will probably be just as entranced. EDIT
Posted Sep 18, 2019
4/5 Abominable (2019) Sandra Hall Jill Culton, who conceived the story and co-directed the film, was trained at Pixar and her work displays the Pixar trademark, a seamless blending of farce, wit, melancholy and the kind of reflectiveness that traverses the generational divide. EDIT
Posted Sep 18, 2019
4/5 Halston (2019) Paul Byrnes Tcheng treats the film like a film noir... It's a homage to the narrators in Citizen Kane and Sunset Blvd but it's unnecessary. The historical footage is good enough to sustain the story. EDIT
Posted Sep 18, 2019
() Brad Newsome A real gem... The first few minutes aren't the strongest, but once she hits her stride she hits it. EDIT
Posted Sep 18, 2019
Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust (2013) Brad Newsome One of Australia's greatest rock stories. It's certainly the most hilarious, and also one of the most deeply poignant. EDIT
Posted Sep 12, 2019
Camp Rock (2008) Brad Newsome There are plenty of sound messages about the importance of honesty and not being ashamed of who you are, but it's nothing that anybody hasn't seen a dozen times before. EDIT
Posted Sep 11, 2019
3.5/5 Freaks (2018) Paul Byrnes Freaks is a compendium of movie love, as much as it is a movie. Its success rests on an astonishing performance by Lexy Kolker, who was seven when the film was shot. EDIT
Posted Sep 10, 2019
4/5 Animals (2019) Paul Byrnes It's a tribute to [director] Sophie Hyde's work that these two gals, with tinkling white wine glasses and cackling laughter, become fully engaging women on screen. EDIT
Posted Sep 10, 2019
3.5/5 Downton Abbey (2019) Sandra Hall A couple of Fellowes' narrative contrivances are decidedly creaky and the story's essential soapiness is more obvious on the big screen, but its many charms still encourage your indulgence. EDIT
Posted Sep 10, 2019
3/5 Angel of Mine (2019) Paul Byrnes The Australian adaptation is not quite a success, nor fully a failure. Some of its weaknesses come from the original. EDIT
Posted Sep 6, 2019
3/5 () Paul Byrnes It's funny in parts, innocently likeable, it has great locations amid stunning landscapes, but almost no narrative drive or tension. EDIT
Posted Sep 5, 2019
The Kleptocrats (2018) Brad Newsome The Kleptocrats is far more captivating than any documentary about a government embezzlement scandal ought to be. EDIT
Posted Sep 5, 2019
4/5 The Farewell (2019) Sandra Hall Launches no thunderbolts, no dazzling revelations. The film is too gentle for that, with too much affection for its characters. EDIT
Posted Sep 4, 2019
4/5 Dragged Across Concrete (2018) Paul Byrnes Dragged Across Concrete feels like you're dangling on the end of a meat hook. It's painful and tense and at the same time, a little ridiculous... Even then, it's full of surprises, and riches for those who like it darker. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2019
4/5 Amazing Grace (2018) Sandra Hall It's a perfect marriage of faith and showbiz, dignified by the fact that there's nothing ersatz about it. At its heart is an unfeigned exuberance, together with a sense of history, which informs the tears, laughter and fervent expressions of belief. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2019
4/5 The Nightingale (2018) Sandra Hall One of the most powerful films yet seen about the country's colonial foundation and the cruelties that were an indelible part of it. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2019
2/5 The Kitchen (2019) Jake Wilson Berloff is unable to find a tone and style that might make emotional sense of the material or to generate any kind of spontaneous interplay between her stars, who even when positioned side by side seem to be giving separate, unrelated performances. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2019
3/5 Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (2019) Paul Byrnes Nelson has made many lauded documentaries about the black experience in America. His life of Miles is comprehensive and stimulating, frequently illuminating, but also frustrating. EDIT
Posted Aug 22, 2019
3/5 Angel Has Fallen (2019) Sandra Hall [Nick Nolte] can still summon up the enthusiasm to pump some much needed pep into the dialogue. Butler, who's also looking very tired, perks up considerably once they begin to banter. EDIT
Posted Aug 21, 2019
2/5 Overcomer (2019) Sandra Hall What seemed like a moderately boring teen movie with a predictable ending in sight is suddenly transformed into an extended sermon on the miraculous powers of prayer. EDIT
Posted Aug 21, 2019
3.5/5 Australian Dream (1987) Sandra Hall It's an unashamedly polemical film. Grant himself is a pervasive presence on screen, eloquently summarising the state of the nation's moral health and backing up Goodes with the worst of his own experiences as a young Indigenous man. EDIT
Posted Aug 20, 2019
2.5/5 A Dog's Journey (2019) Sandra Hall If there are to be more sequels, I'm hoping that future Baileys cut the chat and hark back to a time when heroism trumped cuteness and movie dogs left the punchlines to the human members of the cast. EDIT
Posted Aug 19, 2019
4/5 Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (2019) Paul Byrnes If it's not the most character-driven of Australian war movies, it's certainly one of the most intense. EDIT
Posted Aug 7, 2019
The Blue Angel (1930) SMH Staff Emil Jannings portrays this role superbly... This surely is one of the finest examples of tragic acting yet furnished from the screen. EDIT
Posted Aug 6, 2019
3/4 7 Days in Hell (2015) Melinda Houston This is a truly wonderful romp. EDIT
Posted Aug 6, 2019
God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunija (2019) Garry Maddox It's a story inspired by a real event that is given a quirky satirical treatment by Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevska. EDIT
Posted Aug 2, 2019
3.5/5 () Melinda Houston I can't think of another comic so completely at ease on stage. Not laid-back, exactly. Just wonderfully relaxed. EDIT
Posted Aug 1, 2019
4/5 Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2018) Paul Byrnes The film is a must for aficionados. EDIT
Posted Jul 31, 2019
3/5 The Public (2018) Paul Byrnes It's hard to play a good man doing the right thing. Saints are dramatically dull, but Estevez gets away with it here. EDIT
Posted Jul 30, 2019
3.5/5 Palm Beach (2019) Sandra Hall A less likeable group of actors could easily have been upstaged by the conspicuous perfection of the setting and the décor. This bunch hold their own, but a sharper script would have made them shine even brighter. EDIT
Posted Jul 29, 2019
3.5/5 Who You Think I Am (2019) Sandra Hall A flawed but elegant morality tale about the dangers and temptations of the virtual life. EDIT
Posted Jul 29, 2019
Atari: Game Over (2014) Brad Newsome Fun and worthwhile. EDIT
Posted Jul 26, 2019
3/5 Ophelia (2018) Paul Byrnes Ridley does a fine job on all fronts, so that the second half of the film rises above its theatrical tethers. George MacKay does his share of the heavy lifting. EDIT
Posted Jul 26, 2019
3/5 () Paul Byrnes Amis had the opportunity to go deeper into the politics and the difficulty involved in high-risk sea conservation... Instead, he gives us a 76-minute commercial for Sea Shepherd, and precious little about these courageous young people. EDIT
Posted Jul 24, 2019