Cary Darling

Cary Darling
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
4.5/5 96% Marriage Story (2019) The entire cast is rock solid, with Johansson and Driver turning in two of the very best performances of their careers. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 3, 2019
2.5/5 83% Queen & Slim (2019) Matsoukas, working from a script by Lena Waithe and story by James Frey, keeps the pace so leisurely over the course of 132 minutes that the story's innate tension slowly seeps away like air in an old balloon. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 26, 2019
4.5/5 85% Waves (2019) (Shults) has crafted an emotionally pummeling yet ultimately uplifting work that ranks as one of the year's most unique and individual films. And in a year that has given us "Us," "Parasite," "The Farewell" and "The Irishman," that's saying something. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2019
4/5 93% Honey Boy (2019) Written by LeBeouf and directed by documentary filmmaker Alma Ha'rel, "Honey Boy" is catharsis as compelling character study. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2019
4.5/5 96% The Irishman (2019) It's not going to blast you through the back of the theater... Instead, it's going to engender feelings of sadness and regret amid a renewed appreciation for the director's filmmaking and storytelling prowess. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
3/5 47% Last Christmas (2019) "Last Christmas" is that film that fits neatly between spasms of holiday shopping, when you want to just get away from the mall madness for a couple of hours. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 7, 2019
4.5/5 100% Better Days (2019) Three years ago, (Derek)Tsang made "Soul Mate," an enchanting tale about female friendship that offered an engrossing look at modern, urban China. Yet that film isn't quite adequate preparation for the emotional wallop of "Better Days." - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2019
4/5 79% Jojo Rabbit (2019) Waititi manages to walk the fine line between fantasy and drama, humor and wartime horror without losing his balance. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 30, 2019
3.5/5 70% The Kill Team (2019) "The Kill Team" is so skillfully made, sharply paced (it clocks in under 90 minutes), and generally well-acted (Skarsgard in particular) that its flaws are easy to forgive. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2019
4.5/5 99% Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) "Parasite" may be the work that makes (Bong Joon-ho) more of a household name. Many of the best elements from his previous films are on display here, and if there's one film that should serve as an introduction to his style, it's this one. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 23, 2019
4.5/5 97% Pain and Glory (Dolor y gloria) (2019) The quiet, deliberate and slowly building "Pain & Glory" may not have all the exuberant cinematic flourishes for which Almodóvar is known but its power rests in its restraint. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2019
3.5/5 94% The Dead Center (2019) Director/writer Billy Senese didn't have a ton of money to work with but "The Dead Center" wisely eschews gore and special effects in favor of setting a dark, malevolent mood. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 10, 2019
3.5/5 96% First Love (Hatsukoi) (2019) Often darkly funny, "First Love" is also very violent, and it's not just about gunplay. There's a beheading in the movie's first few minutes just to let everyone know, if they've somehow forgotten, that they've walked into a Takashi Miike film. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2019
3/5 60% The Battle of Jangsari (2019) If director Kwak Kyung-Taek and writers Brian Chung and Cory Gustke have a tendency to fall deep into predictability, the battle scenes make up for it...The trench warfare attack, which comes about 30 minutes in, is close-quarters brutal. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2019
2/5 26% Gemini Man (2019) All the cinematic spackle in the world can't disguise the wide cracks in this dull, tired script, no matter how many digital Will Smiths you use. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2019
3/5 75% The Death of Dick Long (2019) At its best, "The Death of Dick Long" has a similar deadpan appeal and grim humor of "Fargo." There's no wood chipper but what replaces it is equally disturbing. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 25, 2019
4.5/5 84% Ad Astra (2019) The slow, deliberate and occasionally suspenseful "Ad Astra" is not an action movie in a traditional sense...Instead, "Ad Astra" is a film that raises pointed questions about our place in the universe and in our families...That's action enough. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 17, 2019
4/5 97% Tigers Are Not Afraid (Vuelven) (2019) Blending the often frightening surrealism of a child's wild imagination with the blood-splattered realism of the drug cartels, "Tigers Are Not Afraid" is a highly original horror story made for these times. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2019
4/5 86% The Nightingale (2019) A masterful display of cinematic craft, an astonishing feat considering this is only her second feature, though her first - the eerie and more supernatural "The Babadook" from 2014, also about a woman in serious trouble - showed she was a talent to watch. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2019
4.5/5 90% Luce (2019) "Luce" doesn't offer easy answers and, thanks in part to former Portishead linchpin Geoff Barrow's glitchy score, keeps viewers constantly off-balance, like a night of heavy drinking. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2019
4/5 89% Blinded by the Light (2019) A celebration of how music can mean so much, especially when it hits you at a vulnerable time in your life. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 12, 2019
2/5 22% The Kitchen (2019) "The Kitchen" may be based on a graphic novel but it feels more like a cartoon. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
4/5 60% Them That Follow (2019) In "Them That Follow," the snakes aren't the only things that leave a mark. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
3/5 67% Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) For those who just want things that go zoom and go boom, "H&S" hits that sweet spot. That won't be enough to convince the "F&F" haters who will groan and scream "cash grab" through every one of the movie's sometimes very long 135 minutes. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2019
3.5/5 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) [It] is a rambling love letter to Los Angeles and 1969...But it's a love letter scrawled in pop-culture cool and B-movie blood that turns into a film that, like a guitar solo from the era, may be far too long but is wily and inventive nonetheless. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2019
4.5/5 99% The Farewell (2019) The story of a wedding held under trying circumstances might not be the type of film that go can toe-to-toe with "Spider-Man: Far from Home" when it comes to total box-office bucks but its very down-to-earth story proves to be its superpower. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 23, 2019
4/5 84% The Art of Self-Defense (2019) "The Art of Self-Defense" turns into an often brutal takedown of both toxic masculinity and the willingness of humans of both genders to give up their individuality in service of some greater authority in which they find identity and fellowship. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 18, 2019
3.5/5 90% Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) An entertaining chapter in the life of a maturing Parker...Considering that this is a summer that birthed the woeful "Godzilla: King of the Monsters, that "Far From Home" is more entertaining than a sequel has a right to be is miracle enough. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 28, 2019
4/5 95% Buddy (2019) After seeing "Buddy," viewers who have dogs at home probably will want to hug them a little tighter, while those who don't might wish they had. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
3/5 63% Yesterday (2019) A pleasant trifle of a rom-com that may feel more like an elevator pitch than a fully formed film but it's just diverting enough to keep from sinking under the weight of its concept. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 26, 2019
2.5/5 60% The Fall of the American Empire (La chute de l'empire américain) (2019) This often well-acted and intriguing blend of caper and commentary comes off as forced and heavy-handed, scoring obvious points without offering anything particularly new. Heck, there's even a hooker with a heart of gold. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 20, 2019
3.5/5 80% Late Night (2019) Playing an imperious Brit who sneers at lesser mortals from a pedestal of "The Devil Wears Prada"-style privilege and power, Thompson crackles with just the right amount of condescension, cruelty and whip-smart comic timing. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 14, 2019
4.5/5 93% The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019) The way Talbot blends haunting imagery with a mournful score (by Emile Mosseri) is dreamlike, recalling the work of "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2019
2.5/5 75% Chasing the Dragon 2: Wild Wild Bunch (2019) it's an efficiently made and routine police action-drama that has some effective moments but doesn't add up to anything that hasn't been done many times before. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
4/5 96% The Gangster, the Cop, the Devil (2019) Director/writer Lee Won-tae, for whom this is only his second feature, keeps the pace moving swiftly, showing off an energetic sensibility that heralds a new voice on the South Korean film scene. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2019
2.5/5 42% Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) It's fitting that a film that is so unapologetically conventional and predictable (even by the standards of the genre) ends with the song "Godzilla," a cover of a Blue Oyster Cult track...As with so much of the movie, it has been done before and better. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted May 29, 2019
4/5 90% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) "John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum" is by far the most entertaining of the series, a film that noisily fits the definition of a summer popcorn movie and makes no pretense of having any higher goals. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2019
2.5/5 51% Tolkien (2019) What's left is a kaleidoscope of well-staged episodes - Tolkien on the field of battle surrounded by a circle of dead bodies is harrowing - that often seem more like prettified postcards from midcentury Britain than real-life being lived by real people. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
4/5 94% Shadow (2019) A rapturously beautiful work...combining the exquisite details of Chinese ink-brush painting with the melodramatic extravagance and suspension of disbelief of opera. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2019
3/5 76% Family (2019) "Family" is rarely laugh-out-loud funny...but it has a good-natured charm, the underutilized presence of Brian Tyree Henry as a martial-arts instructor, and [Taylor] Schilling to make it more memorable than it has a right to be. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
3.5/5 100% Maze (2019) "Maze" doesn't have much action until the end and even that is fairly muted and low-key compared to what might be expected from a Hollywood movie on the same topic. But that's exactly what makes "Maze" impressive. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 25, 2019
3.5/5 94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) "Endgame" is the most emotional of the Avengers movies, a tear-stained farewell that effectively tugs at the heartstrings while simultaneously blowing them up with a large army's worth of CGI warfare. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2019
4.5 89% Master Z: Ip Man Legacy (2019) Unlike "Triple Threat," "Master Z" isn't a triple letdown. It's a charming throwback to the martial-arts films of the '70s and '80s, with dazzling combat sequences punctuated by stiffly delivered exposition and hammy acting. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2019
4/5 93% Us (2019) The chills in "Us" don't come from the gory and the gruesome but, as in Peele's "Get Out," from his playing with the notion that the scariest moments come from inside us. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
2.5/5 70% Triple Threat (2019) "Triple Threat" does not deliver on its kinetic casting promise. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
4.5/5 96% Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) (2019) The corrosive effects of the drug trade have been brought to tragic life on screens both big and small so often that there doesn't seem much new could be said on the topic. That's where the film "Birds of Passage" vividly proves otherwise. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 14, 2019
3.5/5 86% The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) While "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind," which Ejiofor wrote based on the bestselling memoir by Kamkwaba and Bryan Mealer, is thoroughly predictable and holds few stylistic surprises, it maintains interest thanks to the strength of the performances. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
4/5 95% Furie (Hai phuong) (2019) The next time Jennifer Garner wants to do an action movie like the flavorless "Peppermint," she could take a few lessons from Veronica Ngo, the explosively charismatic star of the head-cracking, bone-breaking Vietnamese martial-arts slam-o-rama "Furie." - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
2.5/5 38% Donnybrook (2019) Tim Sutton's artfully directed but self-important downer of a movie that's meant to be some sort of Grand Statement about life among dispossessed whites in rural, Midwestern America. - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 15, 2019
4/5 No Score Yet Tejano (2018) An entertaining blast of Texas noir that nods toward the work of the Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino and fellow Austinite Greg Kwedar's 2016 low-budget thriller "Transpecos" as well as "Breaking Bad." - Houston Chronicle EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 11, 2019