Sarah Cartland

Sarah Cartland
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

Rating T-Meter Title | Year Review
4/5 85% Tully (2018) Theron's portrayal of Marlo and what her baby's arrival does to her is rivetingly brutal. Night nanny Tully understands the mechanics of motherhood but not its realities and is so irritating she gets in the way of a nuanced story of postnatal depression.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
3/5 51% Tomb Raider (2018) Another ancient tomb, another tomb door puzzle to solve with feats of lateral thinking apparently only available to modern western explorers of high morals. "Tomb Raider" is derivative and daft but Vikander's Lara is a realistically uneven heroine.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
4.5/5 99% Faces Places (Visages, villages) (2017) Eye-opening and hilarious, this photographic road trip through France with Agnes Varda and artist JR delights in their partnership without shying away from the tensions. Varda's old friend Jean-Luc Godard looms large through his confusing absence.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
3.5/5 14% Geostorm (2017) You can always tell who saw this as when we're late we say "I literally had to fly in from outer space!" like a secret code. An entertaining romp with Butler only lurching into Scottish once, this just needed more spectacular deaths from mad weather. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
4/5 87% Okja (2017) Pigs are clever and if they were pretty too we probably wouldn't eat them. Guilt and innocence marble this like fat in a prime cut, with superpig Okja caught in the middle. Funny and sad, it's an allegory about as subtle as, well, a giant farting pig. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
4/5 68% Aquaman (2018) Momoa is a triumph in this joyously spectacular tale of myth and modernity; its hero so endearing it's easy to ignore the clunkiness of the dialogue and a villain treading water until next time. The salt water gets everywhere, I even found some in my eye.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
3.5/5 88% Super Dark Times (2017) An intriguing and impressive debut feature. Director Kevin Phillips' depiction of that carapace of cockiness, built as protection by so many teens but so easily shattered by events they are ill-equipped to deal with, is particularly affecting.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2018
4/5 90% District 9 (2009) Part found footage (or just footage), part mockumentary, part satire and part action; Blomkamp pulls it into a coherent, moving, violent, sci fi allegory. Copley is terrific as Wikus moving from species-ist opportunist to a genuine if gormless redemption.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2018
2.5/5 28% Suburbicon (2017) The different tones for the almost comedic antics at the Lodges, and the threatening racism outside their neighbours the Mayers, don't work together (with the Mayers reduced to background). Thank goodness for Oscar Isaac's wittily sceptical insurance man.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
3.5/5 60% It Came from the Desert (2017) The acting is ropy at times, but as B movies go this is a corker: knowing but not overwhelmingly meta, witty, with schlocky horror tropes tripping over each other. All that's missing is a canister of toxic waste and a Kevin Bacon cameo.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 15, 2018
3.5/5 88% Song of Granite (2017) Beautifully shot, this dramatised documentary is a lyrical hymn to a country and a man - but it's occasionally unsatisfying, like reading a brilliantly intriguing biography with a few key pages missing. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
3.5/5 48% Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) Darkly moving (I never thought I'd weep for a diplodocus). The franchise can't go forward, its eternal weakness - but Bayona mixes it up with meta wit and verve. Goldblum is an occasional, iconic presence; I almost believed the cod-philosophy he spouts.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
4/5 68% The Happy Prince (2018) Everett is writer, director and star, delivering an assured piece of storytelling which is bleakly funny and numbingly sad. His Wilde is a master of self-deception after years shining a satirical light on society; and of course a wit to the bitter end.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
3.5/5 67% The Night Before (2015) An amiable festive comedy which touches brilliance (them) and despair (me). It's like a dream where you have to be somewhere by a certain time but you keep being waylaid en route, which made watching it anxiety-inducing. Jillian Bell is a hoot, of course.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
3.5/5 77% Keanu (2016) A funny and endearing tale about Keanu the gangster cat, or as I like to call him the bogeyman. I mean the cat they send to kill the bogeyman. The action is a perfect parody of a Wick-ian ballet with soaring music and slo-mo backflips against pillars.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
4/5 80% Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017) Bening is extraordinary and ordinary, deftly balancing the complexities of Gloria's personality, and as with many Hollywood stars we aren't ever sure if they became legends despite or because of them.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
4/5 86% The Lost City of Z (2017) A beautiful, stately, overlong film about obsession and escape, against an epic backdrop. Hunnam is impressively consumed as explorer Fawcett; Miller is very good as his loving but frustrated wife Nina, presenting Percy with a baby every time he returns.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
3.5/5 69% The Seagull (2018) Bening is on great form as Irina, for whom all the world's a stage, its boards to be trod only in full make-up and costume. Moss is hugely entertaining as the black-clad, drinking, smoking Masha, haunting the estate like a bad-tempered, stomping spectre.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2018
4/5 96% The Death of Stalin (2018) Paralysed by fear, the right answer now the wrong answer; the Soviet Politburo sounds a lot like Twitter. Moving from panic to farce and biting one-liners, it's crammed with sharp performances (though Isaacs steals the show as Yorkshire's General Zhukov).‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2018
3.5/5 No Score Yet Eaten by Lions (2018) Antonio Aakeel and Jack Carroll have terrific chemistry as brothers facing racism and ableism in this brutally funny film. Some scenes with supporting characters make it feel sketch show-like, though Tom Binns' terrible tarot reader is a cold-reading joy.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2018
3.5/5 96% Zama (2018) As befits a film about waiting for answers, this is a languid and enervating watch, and feverishly funny. By halfway I was desperate for something to happen and I was then somewhat over-rewarded in this regard.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2018
3/5 92% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) Stylish, witty and beautifully shot, though very much from the viewpoint of charming robber Forrest; a thief with a gun is still a thief with a gun. Spacek and Redford delight; I never believed in the relationship between Forrest and the cop on his tail.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 9, 2018
3/5 64% This Beautiful Fantastic (2017) A slight, sweet tale about would-be novelist Bella whose life is governed by rules and checks until she tackles her overgrown garden. It doesn't even try to be subtle with the gardening and spreading your wings metaphors but its four misfits are engaging.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 8, 2018
4/5 60% Allied (2016) An entertaining wartime period piece; Cotillard is a knockout, Pitt less believable. While the London-set sections are more interesting, the louche glamour of Casablanca is hard to beat for allure, mystique and pure spectacle. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
2/5 10% Tulip Fever (2017) Parts of the plot make the tulip buyers themselves look positively restrained. Worth a look for the costumes (and how they are used), Christoph Waltz and Holliday Grainger -- otherwise save your money and buy your loved one a bunch of garage flowers.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
4/5 78% Bad Santa (2003) This tale of a misanthrope and a bullied boy is grossly funny yet rather affecting. Willie may not win Dad Of The Year but increasingly has the kid's interests at heart, and after drunkenly eating the advent calendar chocolates does at least feel guilty.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
1.5/5 23% Bad Santa 2 (2016) Released 13 years after the darkly funny yet rather uplifting original, this sequel is a bad-tempered misery fest which laughs at the weaker or less privileged. Which, if I were more of a chin-stroker, I would suggest is much like society now. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
3.5/5 87% The Lobster (2016) Not a story you should question beyond the world it has created, but that doesn't matter. Because what does happen within its confines is so weird, while at the same time so obvious, that it's compellingly gripping (until it fizzles out near the end).‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
4/5 74% The Mercy (2018) A poignant and at times jaw-dropping movie. Firth is tremendous as Crowhurst -- it's an unflinching portrayal that's sympathetic but utterly realistic. Weisz is good though her character has little to do beyond keeping the home fires burning.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
4/5 71% Black Christmas (1974) Something of a period piece, though an influential one -- and still an effective festive horror, as a killer stalks the young women of a sorority while the men in their lives also try to control them. Margot Kidder is fantastic as the damaged Barb.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
3/5 40% The Mountain Between Us (2017) Elba and Winslet are such accomplished performers they make this film reasonably watchable; with lesser leads the survival tale would have had to be considerably more exciting as they're basically walking downhill for several days.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
4/5 80% Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) Quite funny and sometimes emotional, it switches from entertaining to embarrassing and back again in the time it takes to say "Money Money Money". (Is that too mean? Let's change it to "Super Trouper"). Cher and Andy Garcia are perfection. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2018
3/5 46% Swimming with Men (2018) Warm but predictable, men drown their sorrows then almost drown training for the Synchronised Swimming World Championships; I wish Oliver Parker and Gilles Lellouche, director of this year's Sink Or Swim, had filmed both their men's teams at the same one.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2018
4/5 72% The Ref (1994) A film so bleak even Krampus had to watch "Elf" immediately afterwards to regain his Christmas spirit. Rude, loud, funny and (apart from the home invasion by a gun-toting jewellery thief bit), pretty realistic about families and the festive season. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2018
3.5/5 88% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) Whereas many of us find the Internet intermittently breaks us, here Ralph's doing the damage. It does go on a bit, moving from one incident to another. Still its cheer, inventiveness and strong female characters hide any cracks (insecurities?) of its own.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2018
5/5 96% Train to Busan (Busanhaeng) (2016) Part horror and part satire, this is an exceptional movie that drags you screaming along at bullet-train speed. Extraordinary tension is counterbalanced with eerie calm, as survivors embark and disembark in quiet fear.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 1, 2018
2/5 33% New Life (2016) A familiar story about a family torn apart by illness. The voiceover is unnecessary, though Erin Bethea is impressive as Ava. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 1, 2018
4/5 74% The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) A remarkably faithful adaptation with a classy straight man and a dark side. Plus jokes galore -- whoever felt it was appropriate to use Rizzo as a pair of bellows to get the fire going deserves an extra helping of plum pudding.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Dec 1, 2018
3.5/5 87% Colette (2018) Knightley excels -- Colette's growing confidence is entirely believable, precisely because she's never a complete walkover, even at the beginning. Her blossoming as an independent woman and as a writer feels like a natural progression.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
4/5 80% A Christmas Horror Story (2015) Unlike those piles of beautifully wrapped presents from our childhoods, this festive horror delivers considerably more than it promises.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
3/5 64% Mad to Be Normal (2018) David Tennant's masterful portrayal of a man driven to do good, but with astonishingly little self-awareness of the chaos he leaves in his wake, is a delight to watch -- though we don't get enough context. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
3.5/5 91% Crazy Rich Asians (2018) A sparkling and thought-provoking romcom (though as usual I wished the heroine ditched him). Ultimately this is about mothers doing their best for their children. And as all mothers know, whatever you do it'll probably turn out to be wrong.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
4.5/5 99% Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) Overflowing with warmth without lurching into sentimentality, emotional but never manipulative, "Shoplifters" asks what makes a family, and how an unorthodox one can survive within the structures of society. (Just don't watch on an empty stomach.)‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 29, 2018
3.5/5 81% The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) There's a cosiness to the word count guzzling "Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society", in a lie-back-and-think-of-postwar-England kind of way. It doesn't entirely lack grit, but it is very successful in its emotional manipulations.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2018
3.5/5 70% To the Bone (2017) Noxon's film is scarily realistic and worms its way under your skin. Collins is excellent as Ellen but I was very, very uncomfortable watching her (and by my own unexpected desire to know the numbers at Ellen's every weigh-in). ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2018
4/5 79% Never Steady, Never Still (2018) Kathleen Hepburn's film is spellbindingly beautiful, though its vistas are desolate; a visual strain of unsentimentality which weaves its way into the story.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 28, 2018
3.5/5 No Score Yet The Etruscan Smile (2018) A moving, charming and self-contained film. Yes it follows a familiar trajectory, but Brian Cox is wonderful; taking the independent, frightened and deflectingly rude Rory as far as a man like that would realistically go, without resorting to caricature.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2018
3.5/5 68% Ocean's 8 (2018) A buoyant ride with witty and vibrant performances, especially from Hathaway who sends herself up with buxom glee. Staging the heist at the Met Gala is genius. The dresses! The cameos, probably including several by people I didn't recognise! The soup! ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2018
5/5 95% The Love Witch (2016) Anna Biller is writer, director, producer, editor and costume designer of this highly stylised, witty horror, and this single-minded vision means we get a depth of richness I've rarely seen elsewhere. ‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2018
3/5 49% Downsizing (2017) Initially it has a magnetic pull, its premise familiar yet scarily out there. But then come a whole new batch of questions and answers, spinning in different directions, and the film can't maintain that initial excitement, wonder, and indeed cruelty.‐ Caution Spoilers
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2018