Barbara VanDenburgh

Select another critic »
For 176 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 45% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 50% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 2.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Barbara VanDenburgh's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 The Tribe
Lowest review score: 20 Mothers and Daughters
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 71 out of 176
  2. Negative: 13 out of 176
176 movie reviews
    • 82 Metascore
    • 100 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The resulting portrait is nothing short of a tiny filmmaking miracle. It’s guaranteed to make you feel something — hopeful, probably, for Grace and her wards. And maybe even for the future of indie filmmaking.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 100 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The Tribe is that rare breed of film so masterful in execution it requires watching once, yet so devastating you may never be able to stomach seeing it again.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 100 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Marielle Heller’s debut directorial effort is incisive and universal, despite its very specific and detailed setting.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 90 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Farhadi again burrows deep into his characters to tell an achingly intimate story, spinning grand tragedies out of minor lives in which the past lingers in the air, a perfume that haunts long after its wearer has left the room.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 90 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It is not hyperbole to say Oyelowo is a revelation. The British actor brings phenomenal humanity, grace and torment to a historical figure who once seemed to loom too large a legend to make flesh on screen.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Even if its stunted ambitions come as a disappointment, Pieta nevertheless is an expertly crafted thriller and a fine addition to East Asian revenge cinema.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    20 Feet From Stardom is frequently sad and frustrating. But while there’s heartbreak aplenty, the film doesn’t function as a pitying paean to unmined talent — it’s ultimately a celebration of the unsung.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The Patience Stone largely functions as a one-woman play, with Farahani’s character soliloquizing over her husband’s body.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a powerfully sensual movie, gorgeously lensed colors and textures conveying its characters emotional states while thoughtfully exploring the range of human sexuality through Adenike’s experience.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a Fellini-esque carnival of humanity on display, a more debauched phantasmagoria reminiscent of “La Dolce Vita.” But “La Dolce Vita” created the paparazzi; The Great Beauty takes place in a world where the paparazzi have existed for decades.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Particle Fever does an excellent job of laying out what's at stake as it documents the creation and fine-tuning of the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Blue Ruin is a movie about revenge, but it reaches far past the bottom-shelf titillations of fantasy to tell a richer, character-driven story with a protagonist who's less avenging angel than ghost.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's a well-written rom-com with rascally charm, a modest story of an awkward Brooklyn girl making a go of life. It's irreverent and rough around the edges with an imperfect protagonist, blue language, scatological humor and rambling confessional stand-up monologues, sometimes about bodily fluids. The laughs are frequent and ribald.
    • 91 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There's a purity to the experience of watching a film so naturalistic, like living in someone else's life for two hours.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The brutally sparse documentary Rich Hill removes poverty from the realm of the abstract and makes it personal.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Monkey Kingdom is a delightful gambol, visually stunning and educational without feeling like it, with a propulsive drama about escaping one's lowly social class at its core that inspires reflection on some uncomfortable truths about ourselves.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It would be unbearable if it weren’t so completely self-aware.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Though polished and image-conscious, offering too little insight into the physical and psychological trauma suffered in the bullet’s wake, the film is nevertheless moving without resorting to saccharine overtures.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The strength of Peace Officer is that it doesn’t attempt to pit the viewer against the police. Its target, rather, is the system.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The same effortless chemistry that made the comedians such ideal Golden Globes hosts is on full display in this broad comedy, given extra oomph by a wise and glorious R rating that opens the floodgates of creative vulgarity.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The cultural specificity and fiercely patriarchal setting sets Mustang apart. It’s a timely reminder that, even still, there are few safe havens in the world for a free spirit.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    What it lacks in thematic innovation it more than makes up for with enough memorable characters and visual splendor to make Zootopia a perennial Disney favorite.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Cliff Curtis is staggeringly good as Gen.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Even more than an expose of bad reporting and social hysteria, The Witness is an intimate exercise in grief and healing
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a zombie movie that, amidst the giddy bloodshed, allows room for philosophical questions about our fundamental responsibilities to one another. It may not be something we’ve never seen before, but it’s something we can benefit from seeing again.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Koreeda makes thrilling the rich inner lives of four young women trying to navigate rocky emotional terrain in the wake of their father’s death.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Bell lets the action onscreen tell a story that’s every bit as rousing as a Disney adventure.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    When executed with love and peopled with actors who breathe life into their characters, Hidden Figures is precisely the delight it aims to be.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    This isn’t a war movie; it’s an after-the-war movie. But the battle lines are still drawn, and every ragged breath the film takes braces for an explosion.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Director Terence Davies dispenses of any gaudy romantic trappings and makes something much more beautiful in A Quiet Passion, a delicate and measured drama that plumbs the depths of the poet’s strange heart and the agony of her intelligence.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The real power of Beatriz at Dinner is that it isn’t about politics but the human heart. Beatriz and Strutt are not arguing legislation; they’re arguing two visions of the American dream, two visions of the human soul.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    In many ways Lady Macbeth is remarkable for what it isn’t. It isn’t a staid period drama. It isn’t romantic. It isn’t predictable. And it certainly isn’t comfortable.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Barbara VanDenburgh
    City of Ghosts isn’t merely about the personal sacrifices of these men, but a testament to the necessity of a free and open press the world over.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film wraps up too neatly to be believed, not leaving questions unanswered so much as failing to ask them.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s predictable. It’s saccharine. It’s silly. It’s also, thanks to the consummate talents of Stamp and Redgrave, occasionally a joy.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s clever. It’s also occasionally a chore to watch, true to the boredom you’d expect to feel listening to computer programmers hash out chess logistics.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Turns out You’re Next isn’t a slave to horror-movie conventions after all — rather, it’s having tongue-in-cheek fun with conventions while playing up to them, complete with a killer retro ’80s-horror synth score and a gruesome finale that recalls the excess of Peter Jackson’s “Dead Alive.”
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s aggressively charming, and competitions and training montages are filmed with kinetic whimsy. The film’s chief triumph is in spinning something remotely thrilling out of something as inherently dull as speed typing.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It makes for a unique sort of concert film, but also a weaker one. It would have been better if it had dispensed with the frail narrative or else committed to being completely bananas. But as die-hard Metallica fans well know, a little buffoonery is worth weathering for the main attraction.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The children may tug at the heartstrings, but it’s the adults who give the film its heart.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Dom Hemingway is a naughty good time while it lives up to the unpredictable bawdiness of its opening line.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The plain facts, presented without commentary, are an effective plea for a more compassionate immigration policy.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Violette doesn't abandon that playbook, but it does a better job than most of putting the viewer in its artist's headspace.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film ricochets between Tammy being an oblivious cartoon goblin and a textured, sympathetic human being who just wants to be loved. Perhaps if the film had catered a little less to McCarthy's comedic gifts — the curse-word fugue states, the slapstick humor, the non sequiturs — the end result would have felt more balanced and rewarding.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film is less effective, and less focused, when it switches into activism mode. Not that its heart isn't in the right place — we all know about the appalling state of institutionalized elder care. Which is the problem with those segments: We all know this already, and the filmmaking feels like perfunctory, necessary padding.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's adorable. It's also very thin. There's a disconcerting literalism to the songs' dramatic representation that chokes the drama.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    As an exegesis on tortured creative genius, Harmontown proves wanting. It's in the exploration of how "Community" fandom formed its own distinctive community of outcasts that the film excels.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Point and Shoot is a fascinating, frequently frustrating documentary.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Paddington is a mostly smart update loaded with charm, and it preserves enough of the fuzzy feelings for purists to walk away with a smile.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    As tiresome as those live-action sequences are, they are more than outweighed by laughs — some riotous, some groaning and some very, very befuddled, but none predictable.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Civil-rights movements are never really over because they're never really won. She's Beautiful When She's Angry doesn't overtly make that case until its closing minutes, but when it does, it's made all the more powerful by the footage that preceded it.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The whole range of human emotion — love, lust, anger, jealousy, despair, grief — is felt through Plympton's animation. It's just a shame that his boundless creativity doesn't extend to the narrative.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Despite the bumpy ride, the final destination reveals a weirdly daring comedy with the familiar, but still necessary, lesson that being popular isn't all it's made out to be in the movies.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    That American Ultra works as well as it does is a testament to its two lead performances.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    A great soundtrack can go a long way in smoothing over a decent movie’s rough patches, and Northern Soul’s is fantastic.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    That everything is held at such a remove is the artistry of The Assassin, but it comes at the cost of emotional investment. It’s so elliptical in its approach that there’s no love for anyone, or anything, outside of beauty. It can be admired — greatly, even — but it can’t be felt.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There’s more than a whiff of the didactic in Difret, a film overly earnest in spelling out its cause in more-than-occasional exposition. But it is otherwise an affecting drama that is honest and clear-eyed about Hirut’s trauma, and the ongoing struggles she’ll face even if she’s freed, without ever treating her abuse in an exploitative manner.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s ambiguity without engagement, art you can admire but not feel.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a compelling journey into the deep, if a meandering one, guided by a moral compass that operates by a different magnetic field than our own, and often leads astray.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Barbershop: The Next Cut embraces the societal changes and rifts of the past decade, from Chicago’s increased violence and the Black Lives Matter movement to Barack Obama’s historic presidency, making the film an even more heartfelt love letter to Chicago.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The stunning character work is accented with moments of pure cinematic poetry. Audiard uses the camera like a paintbrush, composing lyrical interludes and disorienting transitions with the power to leave you breathless. It’s all so quietly brilliant — until it isn’t.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    “Raiders!” is as sloppy and imperfect as the kids’ shot-for-shot remake, but it has much the same charm.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s safe to say that Tickled is nothing like what its filmmakers set out to make. That's an artistic blessing.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    When the material falters, Sumpter and Sawyers suck you back in with their pitch-perfect performances.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s a slight film, but one that hits all the tricky emotional and comedic notes without a hint of cruelty.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Burton reins in his worst impulses, bad habits that he’s been cultivating for over a decade, to make a wickedly dark children’s movie that is, finally, blessedly, fun to look at.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The characteristics that make Evolution an intriguing piece of cinema also make it a not entirely successful one.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    This fully animated reboot embraces the Smurfs Saturday-morning-cartoon roots and creates a sprightly, brightly colored, age-appropriate adventure for young children fresh to the little blue woodland creatures.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    This cartoonishly violent exercise in cinematic hero worship comes at the audience with chambers loaded and fires off rounds too rapidly to worry about how vapid it all is.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Cars 3 doesn’t have enough velocity to escape that lesser tier. It does, however, offer a course correction for the franchise with a kinetic and emotionally resonant sports film that’s big on character – and blessedly light on Mater.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Barbara VanDenburgh
    For every crisis there’s a line of homespun wisdom, in every failure a universal lesson to impart. The film highlights each symbol, making explicit that which would be stronger left implicit, until Rex’s glass castle becomes an overbearing metaphor.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The story is good enough to tell itself, and the filmmakers should have let it.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The ambitious visual stylings don’t do enough to buoy a film that lacks a certain soaring spirit. If the adaptation is serviceable, it’s also dull — a disappointing fate for a story that’s anything but.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Scenes go on too long. Jokes outwear their welcome. The plot, though perfunctory (it’s no more complex or intriguing than the average hourlong television crime procedural), gets muddled. Even though McCarthy keeps the laughs coming, The Heat doesn’t really pack enough.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Our teenage years are so overwrought with emotion; not to put them in play at all makes Brandy feel like little more than a cipher for Plaza’s deadpan dark humor. And that’s pleasurable enough for a quick fling, but hardly the foundation of a lasting relationship.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    As far as missteps go, Prince Avalanche is at least an interesting one, which is better than Green has done in awhile.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Riddick aims much lower than the stars and still doesn't quite hit its target. But when you consider a summer overstuffed with disappointing prestige pics that cost the GDP of several island nations to produce, Riddick's more modest (and less expensive) stumbling doesn't seem so bad in comparison.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Props to Bad Milo for its fearlessly pulp approach in exploring well-worn characters and their ho-hum dilemmas, but you know you’ve got a dull story on your hands when not even a butt monster can jazz it up enough.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    If you have a yen for martial-arts action, Man of Tai Chi could do the trick depending on how seriously you take Reeves’ performance. At the film’s worst, it’s empty yet still attractive (much, it can be argued, like Reeves).
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It’s all very competent, containing all the separate components we ask of period pieces and literary adaptations: great actors, dramatic staging, lush scenery, elaborate costuming. It looks as pretty as a tightly cinched corset, and leaves just as little room to breathe.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The intentions are noble, but the film’s eagerness to honor Mandela instead shortchanges him. Mandela was a man who broke the mold; “Mandela” is a film content to nestle very neatly into it.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Attractively staged and spiced through with raunch, About Last Night is still a pleasant enough romp, even if you have no intention of returning its phone calls.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    In spite of the compelling raw material in the lives of its ostensible subjects, it strikes out as an act of storytelling.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    For a film about art forgeries, The Art of the Steal is itself something of a forgery, a painstaking, brushstroke-by-brushstroke re-creation of masterworks dreamed up by better artists. And like a good forgery, it's enjoyable on the surface, but loses its charm a bit once you do some digging.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    There's a welcome lack of pretension to the proceedings. Stalwarts like Hurt and Ian McShane are on hand to class up the joint — everyone's got a British accent except for Johnson — while the predictable story bludgeons its way towards an inevitable conclusion.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Nothing fresh is being brought to the table, but it's a sufficient bit of fun for anyone who longs for the days of Brosnan's spy swagger.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Mostly, it's fine. The acting is fine. The writing is fine. The story is fine. There are a few laughs. And that should be fine enough. But with material as rich as Leonard's serving as the foundation, just fine is a disappointment.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film really pops to life only when it gets a little messy, and it's never messier than when it loses itself in family dynamics.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Life lessons are learned, children do some growing up, nothing too terribly upsetting happens, and the corniness is, mostly, kept to tolerable levels.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The Zero Theorem feels like Gilliam's keen intellect chasing its own tail.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    All the glossy, kinetic animation and inventive action sequences get lost in the gag machine. The film throws jokes out like a tennis-ball machine on the fritz: gross humor, slapstick pratfalls, bizarre non sequiturs. The randomness does land a few laughs, but it's also exhausting.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's not a fascinating (or even particularly interesting) character study — the film never lets you get close enough to its leading man to understand his damage — but it's nevertheless an intermittently moving one.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Although it brings nothing new to the con-artist fold, or even anything thrilling, Focus is a seductive enough rehash that benefits from the built-in pleasures of the trade.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    It's asked in the film, "How many new lives can we have?" The answer, it turns, is however many we want. And as long as Dench, Smith, Nighy and Imrie stick around, the same probably is true of "Marigold" movies.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film itself begins to feel like Gray, a pretty bird in a gilded cage with nowhere to fly.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    "I didn't hate it" isn't a high watermark for praise, but when it comes to most Sparks adaptations, it's practically as good as winning an Oscar.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Although it's enjoyable, actor Chris Messina's directorial debut is somehow less than the sum of its parts, wading only through the shallow end of familiar human conflicts resolved too conveniently to satisfy.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    The film spends more time lingering on Emma's love affairs than it does in making sense of them; her declarations of passion and despair lack both.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    To the film's credit, it knows it's ridiculous. It's aiming for ridiculous, and it hits the mark as precisely as the strippers groove half-naked to their beats.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Barbara VanDenburgh
    Southpaw is all about the fist. There’s no delicate footwork here, no lingering grace notes. It’s a film played entirely in power chords.

Top Trailers