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
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
Like a Boss (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
() 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
() 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
Öndög (2019) Sarah Manvel It would have been kinder if the writer-director Wang Quan'an had been as blunt about male bodies as he is about female ones, but it would not, perhaps, feel so realistic. EDIT
Posted Sep 30, 2019
Hustlers (2019) Sarah Manvel It's clear that writer-director Lorene Scafaria was interested in focusing on the families these women have built for themselves. EDIT
Posted Sep 17, 2019
Animals (2019) Sarah Manvel The women are not punished by the world for living large, and the audience doesn't feel it has to worry about them. For this alone "Animals" is to be cherished. EDIT
Posted Aug 21, 2019
Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy (2018) Sarah Manvel Finally, Kristen Stewart gets a part that makes her happy. EDIT
Posted May 28, 2019
Rafiki (2018) Sarah Manvel The fact that this movie exists at all is a miracle, and it deserves to be seen as widely as possible, because stories like this require the support of audiences everywhere. EDIT
Posted May 28, 2019
Support the Girls (2018) Sarah Manvel Their struggles and ambitions are shown respectfully, which is almost more of an achievement than the movie itself. EDIT
Posted Mar 28, 2019
The White Crow (2018) Sarah Manvel What this movie is, however ineptly, exploring is the experience of making art, and how the pressure of being an artist shapes the life the artist lives. EDIT
Posted Mar 27, 2019
The Crossing (Guo Chun Tian) (2018) Sarah Manvel Peipei has a calm confidence of herself we don't often see in a teenage girl onscreen. You can tell a female director, in how the camera gives her space even as it circles around her, made this. EDIT
Posted Mar 20, 2019
Kakera- A Piece of our Lives (2009) Sarah Manvel Ms. Mitsushima is also a pop star in Japan, and a great deal of her role has been designed to titillate her young fans. EDIT
Posted Feb 10, 2019
You Will Be Mine (2009) Sarah Manvel Hollywood stopped making this type of self-loathing film some time ago, and you have to wonder why France is still singing this very dull song. EDIT
Posted Feb 10, 2019
Anchor and Hope (2017) Sarah Manvel Where Anchor and Hope badly misfires is in the assumptions it makes about what women want, and how women get it. EDIT
Posted Jan 9, 2019
Black '47 (2018) Sarah Manvel Black '47 stays an interesting and worthwhile film due to the merry band that attempts to track Feeney down. EDIT
Posted Jan 9, 2019
The Divide (2015) Sarah Manvel There's nothing here to convince a rich person that perhaps there's an easier way for him or her to maintain his or her comfort. And the working-class people already know what they are going through. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
The Brand New Testament (2015) Sarah Manvel It takes a wildly clever setup and fails utterly to deliver on its own premise; and does so in a visual language lifted wholesale from other, better films. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Iona (2015) Sarah Manvel When the filmmakers try to push an agenda instead of a genuine plot, their characters stop being real people and become passive victims carried on others' backs. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
The Club (2015) Sarah Manvel Director Pablo Larraín has made an important movie about the banality of evil. Be clear, it's not much fun. But it was never supposed to be. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Suffragette (2015) Sarah Manvel The movie agrees with its characters, which is refreshing; and politics are debated only through the viewpoint of the women's experiences. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Pressure (2015) Sarah Manvel The underwater setting, at the edge of human endurance, is a great place for telling an interest story. Unfortunately, Pressure buckles. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Anti-Social (2015) Sarah Manvel It wants to be a commentary on the fine line between legal and illegal ways of making a living and ends up being a budget fantasia about both. It doesn't quite succeed, but it's a film that's impossible to hate. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Son of a Gun (2015) Sarah Manvel It has one of the most inventive settings for a robbery in cinema history. And somehow - somehow - the movie blows it. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Annie (2014) Sarah Manvel Loses its way, mainly in that that the emotional arc of the film no longer belongs to Annie... The movie is supposed to be about Annie. We're supposed to care about Annie. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
'71 (2014) Sarah Manvel One of the sharpest British movies in some time. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
The Boxtrolls (2014) Sarah Manvel The Boxtrolls is a movie aimed at children. It is also disgusting and immoral. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Step Up: All In (2014) Sarah Manvel Step Up All In doesn't deviate from this formula - and that's great. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Glassland (2014) Sarah Manvel A wonderful cast that is more than capable of making these dim lights shine. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Young Ones (2014) Sarah Manvel Combines the best elements of the Western and science fiction into a coming-of-age tale that almost manages to skirt most of each genre's clichés. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2013) Sarah Manvel Fine. The movie looks and sounds great... But if we want our stories to glorify an angel of death as a hero, then we truly don't know what we're gonna get. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018
Beyond the Edge (2013) Sarah Manvel We are learning to forget basic human achievements on their own. The Sherpas who have lost their families and friends know better of course. A movie like this is a sharp and well-made reminder to the rest of us. EDIT
Posted Aug 10, 2018