John McDonald

John McDonald
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Since 2011 I've been writing a weekly film column for the Australian Financial Review, which is also posted on my personal website, johnmcdonald.net.au which has a free subscription.

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
79% Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) If you're thinking this seems to be a list of horror clichés and stereotypes, that's not an uncharitable suspicion. The filmmakers' skill rests in the way these stereotypes are reanimated in a narrative that contains a surprising number of layers. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 13, 2019
83% Judy (2019) Zellweger inhabits the character so comprehensively it's impossible to imagine another actor in the role. This may be because she has had her own share of unpleasant experiences in the spotlight. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 13, 2019
68% Joker (2019) If violence is a natural product of a community that is learning to take pleasure from hatred, Joker affords us a glimpse of the coming apocalypse. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 13, 2019
85% Downton Abbey (2019) In a world of vulgar, populist leaders with funny hair, one can understand the appeal of this vision of an orderly, hierarchical society ruled over by civilised beings - but it feels like a sales pitch on behalf of traditions that now lie in ruins. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 23, 2019
84% Ad Astra (2019) Roy is a space-age Telemachus who reveres the father that set off on a voyage many years ago and remains a stranger. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 22, 2019
22% The Kitchen (2019) What we get is a fullscale domestication of murder and extortion, as if these are regular businesses women have been unjustly prevented from pursuing. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 9, 2019
83% Dogman (2019) It's obvious that Marcello the dogman is not just the keeper of a pooch parlour, he has a full set of dog-like instincts. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 1, 2019
86% The Nightingale (2019) Every step in this grim story is deftly negotiated. The rape scenes are handled in a manner that is all menace and no eros. The violence is graphic and relentless, but never "gratuitous". - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2019
85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) Tarantino's approach to filmmaking is that of an intellectual who wants us to think of him as a real badass dude. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2019
65% Danger Close (2019) The dialogue may be stagey but these gun battles are horribly realistic, as shells whizz through the air like a swarm of angry insects. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 10, 2019
59% Ophelia (2019) The first casualty is Shakespeare's richness of language, which was obviously judged too complicated to be imposed upon a generation brought up on social media. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 10, 2019
66% The White Crow (2019) It was probably a much better idea to get a real Russian ballet dancer to play the role rather than an English-speaking actor with a phoney Russian accent and a dance double. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2019
89% The Third Wife (2019) The story is hardly more than a series of brushstrokes that slowly create a nuanced picture of life in Hung's household. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 22, 2019
99% Apollo 11 (2019) The Moon landing is weirdly exciting, although we already know it will go like a charm. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 22, 2019
100% Mystify: Michael Hutchence (2019) Like a portraitist that does his best work when he knows his subject, Lowenstein has given us an insider's view of Hutchence in a film that has taken a decade to complete. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 10, 2019
99% Parasite (Gisaengchung) (2019) While Ki-taek's family toast their good fortune, catastrophe lies just around the corner. For the Parks, the fairy-tale of their lives proves too good to be true. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 4, 2019
78% Never Look Away (2019) It may be proof of Donnersmarck's success that the artist has now dissociated himself from the film. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 24, 2019
51% Tolkien (2019) Tolkien is the kind of movie that will give no joy to fans of his fantasy fiction. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 24, 2019
89% Rocketman (2019) It's like sitting through a succession of riotous video clips punctuated by bouts of maudlin self-hatred. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 2, 2019
100% 2040 (2019) 2040 is an optimistic film that tries a little too hard to be entertaining as well as informative. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 2, 2019
96% Little Woods (2019) The strength of Little Woods lies with the actors, and their ability to inject life into characters that lead ordinary, rather squalid lives in a non-descript frontier town. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 20, 2019
95% 1985 (2018) Tan stresses the tragic dimension of the story, but also its ordinariness. It's a tale of a boy and his family that could be played out in any American town, in 1985 or today. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 14, 2019
66% Peterloo (2019) The bulk of Peterloo is an extended history lesson in which the reformers and their opponents deliver one long discourse after another. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
63% The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2019) With anything that has been so long in the making one doesn't know whether to expect perfection or disaster. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
27% The Aftermath (2019) If you're surprised by the ending you haven't watched enough movies. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 21, 2019
95% Burning (Beoning) (2018) Burning is a film about the seen and the unseen; a film of small details, some of them obvious plot devices, others so subtle they could be easily missed. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 21, 2019
97% Woman at War (Kona fer í stríð) (2019) This dialogue about the boundaries of personal responsibility and the pursuit of public or private goals, lies at the heart of the story. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 6, 2019
71% Galveston (2018) This is a movie that stays lodged in one's mind, although the images are not pleasant. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 6, 2019
93% Us (2019) It's the revolt of the have-nots against the haves, a savage assault by the American underclass on a group of masters oblivious to their existence. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 31, 2019
74% Destroyer (2018) We can figure out from an early stage that she's done a bad, bad thing or two, but it takes a bit of time and several extended flashbacks before all the pieces of the puzzle come together. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2019
89% Sometimes Always Never (Triple Word Score) (2020) You will leave this film with an expanded view of Scrabble and a head full of pop cultural trivia. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2019
60% Greta (2019) Greta is a contemporary version of the wicked witch who lures trusting children into her clutches. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
80% At Eternity's Gate (2018) I began to wonder if Schnabel was pioneering a daring new theory that Van Gogh actually bored himself to death. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
74% On the Basis of Sex (2019) Mimi Leder has given us a taste of a much rarer sub-genre: a romance among lawyers, in which a shared passion for legal matters is the basis of a happy marriage. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
78% Green Book (2018) Whenever the plot appears ready to crash headlong into cliché, Farrelly avoids the danger with a neat little swerve. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
67% Storm Boy (2019) The pelican wranglers or pelican whisperers have been working over-time. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
93% The Favourite (2018) It's a tangled tale, with enough scheming, spying, treachery and cattiness to fill an entire mini-series. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2019
92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) It's an anthology of disillusions in which love is the only transcendent force. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
66% Vice (2018) The Cheneys must be among the most repellent characters ever to be the focus of a major Hollywood film - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
87% Colette (2018) Colette's embrace of eros gave her a broad, popular appeal, but her style and grace as a writer ensured that her books were viewed as literature. Can we see her in Keira Knightley? - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
69% Ocean's 8 (2018) For a society trained to measure happiness in terms of lifestyle and consumer goods the heist movie is an exercise in wish fulfilment. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
73% The Children Act (2018) If there's a right and a wrong involved it's not immediately obvious. The film, like the book, is a conversation piece that will have viewers arguing over coffee. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
99% Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) If the family is a natural masterpiece it is almost always a flawed masterpiece. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
91% Widows (2018) If the filmmakers appear to take a cynical or pessimistic approach to American politics, they offer redemption in the spectacle of a disparate group of women working together to achieve an apparently impossible goal. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2018
93% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) There was an old man with a gun Who spent his whole life on the run - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
66% Suspiria (2018) What's the point of remaking a classic only to turn it into a mess? - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2018
47% 1% (2017) It would have been much more acceptable had McCallum set out to make a real B movie with all the exploitataive trimmings. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 5, 2018
61% Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) You leave the cinema knowing you've been had, but still feeling uplifted. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 5, 2018
48% Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) In order to squeeze all this nonsense into a mere two hours and eight minutes the plot has more holes than Blackburn, Lancashire. - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2018
63% Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018) If this were one of those reviews that run in a box at the side of the page it would read: "A relentlessly brutal and stupid film that does no-one any favours." - Australian Financial Review EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 26, 2018