Critic's Notebook

Critic's Notebook is not a Tomatometer-approved publication. Reviews from this publication only count toward the Tomatometer® when written by the following Tomatometer-approved critic(s): Martin Tsai, Robert Levin, Sarah Manvel
Rating Title/Year Author
Ainu Mosir (2020) Martin Tsai It's rooted in cruel reality to be sure, but there's also something mythical and fablelike about it. The film ultimately feels like a very modern telling of a classic bedtime story. EDIT
Posted Dec 16, 2020
Asia (2020) Martin Tsai As to how the film goes wrong, where to begin? The indecent proposal or the workplace sexual harassment? EDIT
Posted Dec 16, 2020
Zanka Contact (2020) Sarah Manvel A raucous, imperfect, delightful movie. EDIT
Posted Oct 29, 2020
One Man and His Shoes (2020) Sarah Manvel It's a really telling omission to grieve the people who wear the shoes while erasing the people who make them. EDIT
Posted Oct 26, 2020
Delia Derbyshire: The Myths and Legendary Tapes (2020) Sarah Manvel An appreciative and thoughtful homage, but not quite the exploration of her work and life that Derbyshire is due. EDIT
Posted Oct 26, 2020
Wildfire (2020) Sarah Manvel Does an excellent job of showing how the past can haunt the present and how little it takes for the present to be overwhelmed. EDIT
Posted Oct 23, 2020
Cicada (2020) Sarah Manvel It is tiresome past cliché to see a movie about a white person's trauma when they have a black partner with just as much trauma whose story and experiences are sidelined. EDIT
Posted Oct 23, 2020
If It Were Love (2020) Sarah Manvel The power of the body to express emotion is something we normally take a little for granted. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2020
The Salt in Our Waters (2020) Sarah Manvel A gorgeous reminder to the importance of place in cinema and that real feeling can only be faked with special effects. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2020
Limbo (2020) Sarah Manvel Despite the cinematic strength and emotional intelligence of everything that's come before, the cathartic force of "Limbo's" ending is completely unexpected. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2020
Ammonite (2020) Sarah Manvel It is so wonderful to see Ms. Winslet back, she could do anything and we'd follow. "Ammonite" is the perfect vehicle for her to remind us all what's she's capable of. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2020
Another Round (2020) Sarah Manvel This is a movie about the dangers of taking things for granted. Well, that and whether or not we'll get to see Mr. Mikkelsen dancing. EDIT
Posted Oct 17, 2020
One Night in Miami (2020) Sarah Manvel It's an actor's movie, and [director Regina] King - who was formerly better known as an actress - and her cinematographer Tami Reiker wring every drop out of the space. EDIT
Posted Oct 17, 2020
12 Hour Shift (2020) Martin Tsai "12 Hour Shift" is torture porn with only money shots and zero foreplay. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
Supernova (2020) Sarah Manvel Who wants to make a movie taking on xenophobia as well as dementia? EDIT
Posted Oct 13, 2020
Ultraviolence (2020) Sarah Manvel Exploitative grief pornography. EDIT
Posted Oct 13, 2020
Wolfwalkers (2020) Sarah Manvel "Avatar" for little girls. EDIT
Posted Oct 13, 2020
Undine (2020) Sarah Manvel The major plot twist could still go ahead and the final section of the movie would have been a tearjerker for all time if only Mr. Petzold really understood a woman's heart. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2020
Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020) Sarah Manvel The movie is a tone poem about a place where the people have bottomed out, maybe don't like themselves very much, but like to be in a place that accepts them as they are... EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2020
Shirley (2020) Sarah Manvel If you're going to use the lives of real people to tell a story, you owe it to them to at least get the major facts straight. EDIT
Posted Oct 10, 2020
Kajillionaire (2020) Sarah Manvel Ms. Wood is astonishing as Old Dolio, hiding herself under her long hair and mismatched tracksuit, expressing her unhappiness through the most extraordinary physicality. EDIT
Posted Oct 8, 2020
Mogul Mowgli (2020) Sarah Manvel Despite the glowing, radiant talent of Mr. Ahmed, the movie drags badly, with the unstructured flashbacks and hallucinations becoming increasingly frustrating to the viewer. EDIT
Posted Oct 7, 2020
Koko-di Koko-da (2019) Sarah Manvel It's hard to say what's more horrendous: the unbelievable racism, or the eagerness with which writer-director Johannes Nyholm humiliates his main actors. EDIT
Posted Mar 16, 2020
The Hunt (2020) Martin Tsai If it has any redeeming quality at all, it is the potential for people on both sides of the aisle in this divisive and toxic political climate to finally have a film whose worthlessness they can agree on. EDIT
Posted Mar 11, 2020
White As Snow (2019) Martin Tsai Ms. Fontaine necessarily has anything in particular to say about either the timelessness of the Brothers Grimm tale or the times that we live in. EDIT
Posted Mar 4, 2020
Skin (2018) Martin Tsai Mr. Bell disappears into the role, masterfully drawing viewers into a film replete with made-for-TV heavy-handedness. EDIT
Posted Mar 2, 2020
My Spy (2020) Martin Tsai Thus it is too bad the film doesn't maximize the potential of its premise, and instead devotes much of its runtime to Sophie playing matchmaker between J. J. and her mother. EDIT
Posted Mar 2, 2020
Wild Rose (2018) Martin Tsai "Wild Rose" truly works because its relatively unknown star, Jessie Buckley, happens to be blessed with extraordinary singing and acting gifts. EDIT
Posted Feb 20, 2020
Charlie Says (2018) Martin Tsai [T]he filmmakers never fully convey the fervor that led the Manson women astray, as Peter Jackson did with his similarly true-crime "Heavenly Creatures." EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2020
American Factory (2019) Martin Tsai Indeed, race relations seem to be a recurring theme, but one the filmmakers refuse to address head-on. EDIT
Posted Feb 6, 2020
The Rhythm Section (2020) Martin Tsai [It] runs smoothly enough so that viewers will be inclined to gloss over gaping plot holes and sketchy expositions. But no amount of soft-focus flashbacks to a happier time can substitute for an actual character arc. EDIT
Posted Jan 28, 2020
The Turning (2020) Martin Tsai Discrepancies between the film and the source material point to the screenwriters having adapted the CliffsNotes version of James's novel instead and interspersed that with atmospheric set pieces and cheap-shot jump scares. EDIT
Posted Jan 23, 2020
Underwater (2020) Martin Tsai It's pretty solid; and everything in it - the darkness, the claustrophobia, the jump scare, the grotesque creatures - works the way it's supposed to, but we're not in the '80s anymore. EDIT
Posted Jan 9, 2020
() Martin Tsai None of the high jinks strike as odd, a prerequisite for Mr. Arteta's offbeat style to work. EDIT
Posted Jan 8, 2020
1917 (2019) Martin Tsai What promises to be "Saving Private Ryan" meets, um, "Climax" unwittingly plays out like some World War I-set video game à la "Verdun." EDIT
Posted Dec 23, 2019
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) Sarah Manvel [JJ Abrams] has twisted a beloved series of movies about how anybody has the power to defeat evil to preach a sermon enshrining the divine right of kings. EDIT
Posted Dec 20, 2019
Cats (2019) Martin Tsai A musical of course necessitates the suspension of disbelief, but Mr. Hooper seems never to have quite made up his mind on whether to approach the material with theatrics or realism and winds up with something the cat dragged in. EDIT
Posted Dec 18, 2019
Richard Jewell (2019) Martin Tsai How the three disparate attempts at heroism parallel and intersect might have made an interesting movie in expert hands, but "Richard Jewell" isn't it. EDIT
Posted Dec 11, 2019
Knives Out (2019) Martin Tsai Given the way the rich keep scheming and plotting against the poor and one another, "Knives Out" proves to be the exact opposite of "Parasite" in every way imaginable. EDIT
Posted Nov 25, 2019
Invisible Life (2019) Sarah Manvel Ms. Duarte deserved a better chance to show us how the little things slowly crushed the will out of her. EDIT
Posted Nov 1, 2019
To the Ends of the Earth (2019) Sarah Manvel "To the Ends of the Earth" could have been so much more than a travelogue during which one young woman must decide whether she wants a life as someone's tethered goat. EDIT
Posted Oct 31, 2019
Matthias & Maxime (2019) Sarah Manvel Mr. Dolan, who also wrote and directed, is interested in what shapes a person's identity - or what a person allows to shape their identity. EDIT
Posted Oct 31, 2019
Parasite (2019) Martin Tsai With "Parasite," Bong Joon-ho gives the "Upstairs, Downstairs" premise a long-overdue update. EDIT
Posted Oct 26, 2019
Downton Abbey (2019) Martin Tsai Just as "Downton" fawns over the genteel noblese of its ruling class, the downstairs machinations are also posited as jolly good fun. EDIT
Posted Oct 26, 2019
Rewind (2019) Sarah Manvel It's a testament to his personal bravery that it's not the story of his life, but of something that happened to him. EDIT
Posted Oct 20, 2019
Marriage Story (2019) Sarah Manvel The perfect example of how misogyny manifests among the artistic classes. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2019
Harriet (2019) Sarah Manvel For [Kasi Lemmons] to tell the story of Tubman's life is a marriage of subject and filmmaker such that we rarely get to see. EDIT
Posted Oct 14, 2019
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019) Sarah Manvel Mr. Hanks and Ms. Heller have reinforced the thoughtful excellence we have come to expect from them and given us a gift. EDIT
Posted Oct 14, 2019
Jojo Rabbit (2019) Sarah Manvel There won't be a more important movie this year. EDIT
Posted Oct 9, 2019
Cold Case Hammarskjöld (2019) Sarah Manvel The only positive thing that can be said about director Mads Brügger is that he is self-aware. EDIT
Posted Oct 5, 2019