Michael Atkinson

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For 879 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 30% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 67% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Michael Atkinson's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 53
Highest review score: 100 Warm Water Under a Red Bridge
Lowest review score: 0 Crush
Score distribution:
879 movie reviews
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    Machuca is still a half-measure. Wood is fastidious about period set design, but not much else; rather than burning with experience, the film feels opportunistic.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    Sometimes clumsy and dry, always sympathetic, and wryly interested in the impact food has on social intercourse, Be With Me is eventually affecting once its elliptical shape becomes clear.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    But it's Lopez's movie, and its limitations are hers: Both actress and movie tackle emotional turmoil with a minimum of insight.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    Taking the medium slopes and never venturing into extremities, Shepard gets all of his laughs if not the ironic heart-tugs, and his cast is perfectly in tune. (Davis in comedic-observant mode is funnier than most American actresses in fifth gear.)
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    The movie is so brisk, even-handed, and realpolitik you're never quite sure if it has anything to say.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    It's a generous document of cultural passage, and not incidentally, the sexiest naturally nudist American movie since Murnau's "Tabu." Moss, however, keeps himself out of the picture and neglects massive amounts of context that might've made Same River a stunner.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    A pleasant old man's movie, in the end, but not one for which Boorman will be remembered.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    The doc is also fat with film clips from before and after the 1979 revolution, but innocent of sensationalism as they are, Iranian films aren't terribly quotable—except when used to illustrate how filmmakers must choreograph their action so that men and women never touch on-screen.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    Bad Guy, one of the seven films in Kim's fascinating back catalog, is another kind of cocktail--simple, bitter, served straight and in an unwashed glass.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    A film the family might've made themselves: sophomoric, hagiographic, amateurishly strobe-happy, and thoroughly hippiefied.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    One Missed Call, one of the five movies he made in 2003, is no more than Miike's shot at generating a polished, rote, expertly composed J-horror flick.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    We're accustomed to an omniscient understanding of what movie characters, particularly in dramas about love and loss, are thinking, but Hong distributes information with a saline drip. Often, of course, his two lonely fools don't quite know what they're thinking, either--Woman can sometimes come off like an introverted "Carnal Knowledge" with two Jack Nicholsons.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    De rigueur hypocritical as it may be coming from Hollywood, Click is a cultural critique, with the dull blade and impact of a battle-ax... But it's a farce about loss, and it doesn't flinch.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    It is, like most, an unnecessary remake, but the new, digitally boosted Dawn of the Dead brings it on with a 10-minute overture that might be the most upsetting tin-can apocalypse modern movies have ever seen.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Michael Atkinson
    She (Rossellini) is radiant in a profoundly ordinary and believable way, as always, and stirs up generational pathos all by herself.
    • 21 Metascore
    • 59 Michael Atkinson
    A pleasant and surprisingly polished fish-out-of-water comedy.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 42 Metascore
    • 59 Michael Atkinson
    Just isn't funny enough to sustain the lunacy.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 55 Metascore
    • 59 Michael Atkinson
    The first 15 minutes of Nowhere to Hide rock, and after that it's got nowhere to hide from its own excesses.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 59 Michael Atkinson
    Shower isn't a bad movie -- just a baneful sign of things to come.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Atkinson
    A cute, clichéd, coming-of-age comedy.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 59 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Atkinson
    The movie is a shambles, a rambling, disjointed love tragedy with a story that amounts to little more than a mess of fade-outs, sloppy montages, and dramatic sketches.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Atkinson
    As a portrait of a man barely qualifying for a cinematic portrait, Benjamin Smoke is a trifle, but when Sillen and Cohen turn their cameras on the weedy, workaday, hellhole America that Benjamin calls home, the movie comes alive.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 43 Metascore
    • 58 Michael Atkinson
    For many, the enticement of seeing two old pros smartly step through their pressurized pas de deux might be reason enough to buy a ticket.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 57 Michael Atkinson
    Aviva Kempner's utterly conventional documentary plays like a lost chapter from Ken Burns' "Baseball."
    • 53 Metascore
    • 56 Michael Atkinson
    A pale imitation of the original Winnie the Pooh Disney shorts of the '60s, but a vast improvement on the current Pooh TV series and straight-to-tape specials.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 56 Michael Atkinson
    Feels repetitive and impacted.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 55 Michael Atkinson
    It's a polished, beautifully made movie with a rotten heart.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 44 Metascore
    • 55 Michael Atkinson
    The film has a standard trajectory, but the details are unpredictable: Kitano fluctuates between goofy pratfalls. . . and elliptical pathos.
    • 23 Metascore
    • 54 Michael Atkinson
    If you're expecting an experience approximately as dumb, badly acted, and childish as a pro wrestling match, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 53 Michael Atkinson
    Might be structured like a soggy house of cards, but it's shot beautifully and acted expertly.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 53 Michael Atkinson
    Showing the sex seems to be the film's raison d'etre, which gets you only so far.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 52 Michael Atkinson
    Likable, but frustratingly lazy, Ghost Dog has coolness running all through it, but little substance.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 74 Metascore
    • 52 Michael Atkinson
    As fascinating as the case is as history, however, Scottsboro: An American Tragedy is a TV show, not a movie.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Clubfooted but earnest, Pandya's movie never forgets about its second-gen issues, but never quite plumbs them, either.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Ray
    Hackford's movie falls into a meandering saunter. As the music grows dull, so does the movie.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Exploring a specific generational moment in mid-century Italy's social weft, Amelio's family saga might be his grimmest film, if only for the tragic exploitation of fraternity.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Gaby Dellal's cynically mushy film, like "The Full Monty" and its ilk, is best savored only by its target demo: middle-classers who see one imported film a year, the selection in question requiring working-stiff melodrama and leprechaun burrs gently and lovably mangling the English dialogue.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    If the title, knee-jerk cast, pop-song intro, and schmaltzy plotline of his new film Changing Times is any indication, he's (André Téchiné) now the French mainstream, the premier Gallic pilot of high-toned soap opera.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    If I were 13, I might be sufficiently entranced by the movie's bicycle stunts (down stairs! across countertops!) and wouldn't be wondering why ideas for science fiction films haven't progressed very far from "Star Trek's" first seasons all those decades ago.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Left with barely any there there, Morley compensates with long reenactments starring look-alike Zawe Ashton that are never quite convincing but instead suck more air out of the haunting vacuum left behind in Vincent's wake.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Suggest a Clintons-at-home scenario for 2001 -- haunted by the ghosts of dalliances past.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Artless but seductive.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Even though Gray is no raw-boned rookie-he has made TV movies for decades, plus, back in the day, a single Steven Seagal floater-his movie is rather inexcusably obvious, going for "troot," but recycling dese-dose-dem clichés already pressed into plastic lumber 25 years ago.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The Aviator could've been a "Raging Bull" brother film, given that masterpiece's crystalline purity of purpose and humiliated courage. But it brakes far short.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Hardly gay camp for nothing, sword-and-sandal epics cannot help but teeter on the brink of self-mockery, and Troy, for all its grim seriousness, embraces both the clichés and the beefcake.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    It's a small movie trying to seem epic, or a bloated monster trying to seem lean (real B movies don't have 14 producers), but it's clear that at 99 minutes, 16 Blocks should've been at least 20 minutes shorter still.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    If this silly retread works at all, it's because of Coogan, who comes at the creaky premise with almost Streepian commitment and who is destined, it would seem, for better things.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    For all of its careful realism, Lan Yu is constructed around clichés, plummeting toward a modestly heroic sacrifice and a tearjerking act of fate. But Kwan is a master of shadow, quietude, and room noise, and Lan Yu is a disarmingly lived-in movie.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Shot in silvery black-and-white, Duck Season is not charmless, just insubstantial.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The film makes no more or less sense than Ridley Scott's Legend or Jim Henson's Labyrinth, and in fact has a creaky, blue-gel '80s-ness to it, but for many, keeping up with Miike's cranked output is an end in itself.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    However misjudged and evidently cobbled together in the editing room, Dark Blue does have the nerve to drive right through the riots with Russell's saber-toothed bigot, implicitly linking the two phenomena and not being shy about the suffering on either side of the combat.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Quindlen's book is wry and deeply sad in its prose, but watching actors run this very simple maze is significantly less entertaining, or convincing.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    It's a TV show and a facile one at that.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The film slowly sheds its convincing identity as nonfiction and becomes a cruel parody of making-of docs, studio-movie pandering, and showbiz egomania.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    A Matter of Taste's largest handicap is restraint: It's too tasteful. The climactic crisis is a broken leg, and the off-screen denouement is unimaginative.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    When he isn't overreaching for absurdity, Curtis can write bouncy patter, but each character gets about 60 seconds before the movie jumps deck to the next love-seeker and the next moony pratfall.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Another break in the tension is the inescapable fact that every Holocaust movie, however hair-raising, essentially thrums the same self-sacrifice-versus-self-preservation chord. It's not fair, but there it is: We've been here before.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    As it is, Duris, capable and dull, is no Keitel, 2005 is no 1978, and The Beat That My Heart Skipped is no "Fingers."
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    It might be worth enduring the Limburger to see Fraser morph from freckled-faced Rod McKuen dweeb to seven-foot albino ball star and never miss a beat.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Cursed--but ironically!--with stomach-churning '60s decor, Slevin might round off in Park Chanwook country, but the lingering sense of it is as an amusement park for the actors, who are as infectiously overjoyed for the bouncy badinage as preschoolers on Christmas morning. Like tired parents, our enjoyment is primarily vicarious.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Michôd wants a Greek epic but doesn't have the material. Animal Kingdom is a work of obvious ambition, and seeing a debut filmmaker swing for the fences like this is its own kind of moviehead satisfaction.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Wastes a ton of potent material.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Would that Harris had simply let the images and their historical context speak for themselves. His narration is simplistic and narcissistic... and the textual ideas he and his interviewees present about the intersection between race and imagery are hardly fresh.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The film will come to share the video store shelf with Harlin's infinitely stupider rendition soon enough, but it's a shame they couldn't have been released theatrically head-to-head -- a death match-cum-clinical trial that might've supplied some objective stats on how much condescension the American moviegoer actually enjoys.
    • 28 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Director John Irvin, whose hapless 40-plus-year résumé runs from early Schwarzenegger to late Harold Pinter, never gets in the way, but the resulting sangria cocktail is mild, unchallenging, and kinda dull.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    As the full-length sorta-satire it has become, Edmond is all sizzle and little meat, a veritable tangent act dropped from "Glengarry Glen Ross" because it was several marks too silly.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The glacial pace is only quickened for seconds at a time with evocative ideas and hints of satire.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    What's abundantly clear is how far this kind of moviemaking has come from any knowledge of real criminal life; it's a geek's ineffectual daydream of mayhem.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    All of the filmmaker's fine work and good intentions cannot make this repetitive and finally tiresome saga fly.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Mychal Judge, the popular gay FDNY chaplain who perished in the fallen towers and was the day's first official casualty, has been so designated by this treacly, worshipful doc, something he would surely have deemed ridiculous.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    All of the stories are conceived as ongoing plights, and have no third act. Which would be an improvement on Haggis's hyperbolic civics lesson if Avelino had the chops to master realism and embrace ambivalence. The acting is pro enough to keep your blood up, but the reverb is minimal.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Collateral is a slim drink of thin beer, remarkable only as evidence that Mann might have a modern masterpiece in him if he were cut loose and allowed to roam around in his own obsessions.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Though Maclean uses every trick available to make up for the missing inner voice, we never get into Crudup's mellow loser like we should. Maclean's got an incisive eye, but it's poised on the outside of the terrarium looking in.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Still, the vapor traces of farce and policier that waft from this terribly earnest film never coalesce -- perhaps our own cultural remove allows what plays straight at home to be experienced as slightly daffy.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Metropolis is "A.I." without tears.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    It's all fascinating, but must Kalatozov's careening angel of cinema be laid bare?
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    What rescues Major Dundee in the end from its many conflicts and unresolved passions is Heston.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    By far the most independent independent-genre flick to grift screen space in Manhattan since Douglas Buck's "Family Portraits," James Bai's Puzzlehead has only its ideas and speculative frisson to sell it.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    A bone-tired tale underneath.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    A watchable mediocrity at best.
    • Mr. Showbiz
    • 84 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Visconti's film remains a Euro-culture touchstone, though not nearly as convincing or visually stunning as its reputation insists.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    While the line-readings are often dead-on, Fishburne's movie suffers from the usual one-room claustrophobia and Mametian repetitions.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Fox's briskness leaves certain questions gaping open. As in, how cynical and derisive is she deliberately being of Rinpoche's teachings, since all we get are trite homilies and vague advice?
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    You can't help wondering how the same Fifth Gen filmmaker who made "Yellow Earth" and "Life on a String" could've fallen on such hard times, or justified such goofiness to himself.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Not nearly enough time is spent in court--that is, on the movie's ostensible subject. (Besides, the down-to-the-wire deliberation scene is risibly unconvincing and abbreviated.)
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Tiresomely simple, the film introduces a subplot involving betrayal and political informants in the eleventh hour, but by then you're either smitten by these guileless Zulu lads experiencing "freedom" on the waves or you've checked out.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The comedy is somewhat doused by posture and repetition, and the characters' whimsical behavior is endearing and irritating in turn. Which still makes it the absolute best neo-samurai judo farce in town.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    A modest, formulaic day trip from Kazakhstan.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Just another basketcase with a blade.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    A pre-programmed mediocrity, a slave to its clichés.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    But Monsters, Inc. -- directed by Pixar soldier Pete Docter, not by master digital comic John Lasseter -- turns out to be stingy on context, commentary, and the prism-ing view of pop culture that made the earlier films mint.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    In its details, though, Juan José Campanella's movie works beautifully: The actors are all superb when the florid demands of the story allow them elbowroom.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Though rife with incidental plot holes, Foote's movie feels right even when nothing important is happening...which is much of the time.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    The Libertine's trouble lies precisely in its efforts at conjuring the historical past: No one in the film seems much more convinced than I am that because playwrights and authors wrote in clever, high post-Elizabethan diction, then everyone spoke that way every day, in the pubs, with whores.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Dramatically lopsided, Assassination Tango is a spontaneous life-slice in which John J. (standing in for Duvall) fumbles like a besotted granddad toward empathic connections. That it doesn't "work" is a measure of its sincerity.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    When it isn't TV-movie familiar, Egoyan's film is bughouse crazy, mixing in campy pulp elements that bleed pressure away from the story.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Lonesome Jim has the import of a deliberately squelched sitcom, or a home movie that's poisoned by unhappiness but shown anyway for stray laughs.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Today, the movie doesn't portend Altman's subsequent tailspin into irrelevance as much as it suggests a restlessness with the comic realism he had mastered.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    However bogged down by predictable story rhythms, banally assembled shoot-outs, and climactic mano a mano, The Missing has an acidic period tone, a respect for the reality of violence, and a refreshing dearth of superhuman heroics and easy triumph. For that much, we should be grateful.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Michael Atkinson
    Plays best as a dry exercise in historical doublespeak and rationalization.

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