For 350 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 43% higher than the average critic
  • 7% same as the average critic
  • 50% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 10.2 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Robert Abele's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 49
Lowest review score: 0 Back in the Day
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 99 out of 350
350 movie reviews
    • 91 Metascore
    • 100 Robert Abele
    It humanely, intelligently questions the very nature of our desire to make sense of the past with the tools of the present, when the human mind remains the most aggressively obliterating battlefield of all.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    As a strictly psychological portrait of destructive masculinity it's a gut-sock, vividly photographed, thrillingly edited and marked by performances (Donald Pleasence and Jack Thompson, most notably) that heave with strange complexity and dark camaraderie.Wake in Fright is true horror.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Wherever you stand on healthcare and the fact that uninsured people nationwide use emergency rooms for basic services, the documentary The Waiting Room is a revealing portrait of the often tough transactions between patients and hospital staff at the urgency level.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Deliberate and marked by uncommon grace, In The Family manages to feel politically and culturally acute without ever resorting to melodrama, or having to wave banners for issues or causes, except perhaps in its quiet way for a renewed humanism in movies and a return to stories about everyday lives.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The atmospheric heft of Il Futuro is invariably more bracing than oppressive, and in the complexly stoic Martelli and masterfully craggy, haunted Hauer, an alluringly opaque pas de deux of loss and uncertainty is wonderfully realized.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    For Hetherington, the front line was not just a set of coordinates in a bloody battle, but a space where true artists operated, and Junger's film goes a long way toward celebrating that mind set, but also recognizing how treacherous it can be.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The Crash Reel asks pointed questions about hazard, reward and consequence, forcing us to look anew at the rush attached to so many high-stakes sports.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The film doesn't always follow up on its more interesting issues: safety, technique, financial hardship, even the sport's history. But the emotional dynamics of its trio of formative hopefuls, and their touching relationships with the parents or guardians who work hard at enabling their passion, set a solid pace.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    In its gently atmospheric camerawork and nicely underplayed moments between Mike and Chris, Resolution manages to keep its eerier moments surprising and its emotional life arresting.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The introduction of a baby that Tonny supposedly fathered feels worrisome initially...but in Refn's skilled street-realist hands, the child becomes a potent, wailing metaphor for Tonny's own dilemma of rudderless need.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 100 Robert Abele
    [Filho's] mastery of pacing, theme and stylistic eccentricity throughout Neighboring Sounds is so assured as to be breathtaking. Don't miss it.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    By its bittersweet end, Fifi Howls From Happiness has stayed almost entirely in one apartment and yet somehow unveiled both a life in full and a blank canvas.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Joy and redemption aren't exactly punk mantras, but A Band Called Death might just give your heart a thrashing.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A unique glimpse into the recovery mechanism of damaged hearts and bewildered minds, how a visage of hollowed-out sorrow after one year becomes a look of more peaceful acceptance down the road.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The ambitions toward '70s-era paranoia thrillers aside, as a connect-the-dots narrative, Dirty Wars is eye-opening, a fierce argument that there are chilling ramifications to endless, vague aggression.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The film is a real "whew"-factor yarn, a hearty soup of thick accents, bold personalities and complicated motives, with an unmistakable taste of charismatic, ornery American hedonism.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Garrone achieves something uniquely colorful, disturbing and trenchant about self-perception in an increasingly fishbowl-like society.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    At times exquisitely attuned to the commingling of the bitterly funny and tragic, and at other times an eye-roll-worthy collection of ready-made fetish videos (Flores is one brave avatar of outré sexuality), The Dance of Reality is nonetheless proof that the legendary provocateur is still a font of out-there invention.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Tomboy stands out as an especially affecting delicacy about the thrills and pitfalls of exploring who one is.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    The same intelligence, wit and mature spirit that actress Vera Farmiga brings to her performances is richly apparent in her directorial debut as well, the inquisitive spiritual drama Higher Ground.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    It's a character study about faith in connectedness, with an unforced love for cross-generational companionship that's special indeed.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    One of the best sports documentaries in recent memory.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Summer Pasture has an earthy intimacy and compassion for its subjects that will have you thinking about their plight long after they've packed up and moved on for winter.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Ever mindful of the line he straddled between thinker and flamethrower, this "Gore Vidal" is nevertheless a lovingly packaged greatest hits from a legendary rebel of letters.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Pieta, which won last year's Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, is disturbing, for sure, but its larger points save it from being a quick and dirty wallow.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    With American independent filmmaking all too often a ready punching bag in today's cinéaste culture, this frequently dazzling, eccentric portrait of mutually assured destruction is that most delirious of combos: charmingly funny and emotionally terrifying.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The film practically vibrates with youthful aggression, sly humor and gathering tension, hurling itself forward like a junkie toward the next fix.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    If Pusher III is the trilogy's least effective, that may be because the soured-deal plot line is by now a given, and its theme is the simplest: Old habits die hard.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Rapt fuses strands of dramatic tension in a shrewd enough way that it even saves its sharpest cuts for the kidnapping's aftermath, when a well-heeled life laid bare must reconcile with a much different form of enforced solitude.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Despite the good intentions, structurally it's all over the place with an excess of montages, archival footage, interviews and information practically drowning out any chance to appreciate the richness of the German composer's beloved achievement.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The object isn't to stir you into what-if feminist outrage so much as to let a culturally magnificent era's societal inequalities act as a dissonant countermelody to a famous artist's biography.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    This is when the movie earns its hushed exclusivity and kitschy title, when we see an art form bridge generations with a strange mixture of grace, joy and melancholy.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Whenever Rebney gets to be Rebney -- be it insulting, sweet or wearily perturbed -- "-Winnebago Man shows a full tank of irascible charm.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The character mechanics... leave the viewer always feeling a step ahead of the story and its too-late-to-excite twists. As a portrait of violence-riven motherhood, however, Riseborough gives Shadow Dancer most of its grave power.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The cumulative effect is more that of a handsomely crafted museum piece than a moving, emotional journey.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The rest is an adrenaline ride, but one more wearying than eye-opening.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Swanberg achieves an occasionally heady aura of improvisational flirtatiousness mixed with a churning will-they-or-won't-they suspense.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The film's three-pronged narrative does a fair job of laying a spooky groundwork for the revelatory emotional sadism that lies behind most acts of evil; it just takes a bit of clunky exposition to get there.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Informally sketched but deeply felt, Bradley Beesley's documentary Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo mingles with the spirited cowgirl inmates who compete in Oklahoma's annual state penitentiary rodeo.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The movie treats a girl's burgeoning sexuality as neither epic nor problematic, or mutually exclusive of feelings of love, but rather simply, refreshingly, as one part of maturing.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Suffice to say, unrelenting material like this isn't for everybody. That it is a gloriously filmic gesture - by turns jaw-dropping, elusive, silly, obnoxious, painful and beautiful - is celebration enough.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Writer-director Clark's commitment to a deadpan vibe of crisp comic kink amid eccentric, left-turn sorrow can sometimes feel condescending. But within this not-so-jolly trip into the detailed recesses of simmering suburban emptiness, Hollyman takes this woman's barely controlled dignity on a quietly brave, revealing ride.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    A skillfully rendered narrative that should satisfy fans and pique the interest of the uninitiated.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    A stirring ode to cultural bridge-building.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Post Tenebras Lux is that real rarity in cinema, a visually striking archaeology of the psyche that benefits both the moviegoer primed to engage Reygadas' ideas, and the ones open to being swallowed in an art film wave.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A transgender icon with a life as tragically short as some of the idols she worshipped, she's the deserving subject of an archivally rich remembrance, and such is James Rasin's poignant documentary Beautiful Darling.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Bastards is a thriller truly etched in darkness, pools of black broken mostly by the stricken yet soldiering faces of her main characters, like ships in a sea of stormy nights.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    With storytelling economy and dramatic precision often missing from today's independent films, Batmanglij augments the building blocks for a nifty paranoid thriller with sharp commentary on our faction-centered society and the pitfalls of reinvention.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Bhargava's naturalistic approach to capturing the sights and sounds of a city in full revelry on rooftops and in the streets is colorfully vivid - reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai's silky urban baths - but it threatens to keep the human drama at arm's length.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Has a necessary charge to it, but also a distractingly goofy side.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Korengal is a bracing reminder of the inexplicable will to endure hell and come out the other side alive.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Predictable if measured uplift aside, Fox keeps Yossi effortlessly affecting, graced with deadpan humor and a knowingness about lonely lives.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Even with three charismatic leads, the talky, convoluted nature of the cat-and-mouse between Zhang and Huang and their respective gangs is impossible to follow or care about, and the mix of identity comedy, cartoonish violence, philosophizing and grief over killed loved ones is hardly smooth.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Resourceful writer-director Jim Mickle covers both in his realism-tinged indie Stake Land and shows that a savvy mixture of characterization, atmosphere and gore-eographed suspense can make even the most familiar fright tropes feel vaguely organic again.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    As a tale of digital power-tripping both exhilarating and terrifying, We Are Legion stands as a useful 21st century narrative.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The surprisingly adept mixture of tones — naturalism, dysfunctional family satire, winking slasher nostalgia, twisty vengeance thriller — is offbeat enough to keep even hardened connoisseurs of body-count entertainment on their toes.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Catfish was built to charm, not indict, and on that front it makes for a diverting seriocomic wade into the pitfalls of Internet-based immediacy, and by extension, the manipulative mysteries of documentary assemblage.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Any caseworking suspense is drowned out by an over-abundance of visual pizazz: disjointed shootouts, arbitrary camera angles and cinematography that draws the eye to lighting patterns, not people.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The provocative noir experience that Talaash promises, with its jazzily scored, moodily lighted opening montage of a Mumbai red-light district at night, is nowhere to be found once this meandering mystery begins.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    As gut-punch storytelling, Viva Riva! delivers much, not the least of which is the promise of an exciting new filmmaking talent.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A farce of misunderstanding first, body-count nightmare second and at nearly all times a refreshingly upending horror-comedy bromance.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The performances... are solid, and the conceit is alluringly mind-bending without ever seeming off-puttingly brainy.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Goon feels like a movie starring a gimmick, not a person.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Although Whiteley's unrestricted there-ness effortlessly yields an avuncular striver... it means little when the viewpoint is so hermetic.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    It all leaves "Drewe" and its often jarring turns of motivation and tone - feeling haphazard and cartoony, and the whole thing more a vibrant mess than something comically disarming.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Light, frenetic and anecdote-rich, it's the kind of back-patting Hollywood toast to the guy behind the guy that's breezy good fun if you don't examine it too hard.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    An attempt to counter noisy, hyper effects-laden alien invasion flicks with something teasing, indie and good for you. Instead, it's like a pendulum swing too far in the other direction.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    As with many well-intentioned scare flicks, the wrapping-up feels dissipated and obvious, but for a good while The Last Exorcism makes for an atmospheric, character-rich stab at movie fright.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Even for the most techno-wary at the Toronto assisted living centers where the movie was primarily filmed, the lure of virtual visitation seems to go a good way toward bridging what's been a large and digitally contoured generation gap.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Eden is never less than suspenseful, but rather than sentimentally pander to easy outrage, or indulge in icky women-in-distress titillation, the movie...zeros in on the details of how dignity can be stripped like bark from a tree, and the queasy determination it takes to stay alive in a living hell.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Though not without its mini-heartbreaks and melancholic turns, North Sea Texas explores emergent sexuality and first love with a refreshing optimism.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The movie is an arty lark of ambiguous entertainment value, pulsing with melancholy. It's rarely less than interesting visually or tonally, thanks in large part to Korine's prurient sense of humor and the rich location textures and Crayola sweep provided by gifted cinematographer Benoit Debie ("Enter the Void").
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The sights, sounds and sociological quirks of Lyle's and Nina's particular circle of existence are what give Newlyweeds its indie resonance, less a city symphony than an urban alt-fugue.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    An agreeable visit with comedy titans who clearly cherish the opportunity to regale their peers with war stories and opinions about the state of comedy today.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Commendably entertaining.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Dragon has enough interesting left turns in style, mood and psychodrama to make it stand out.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Warriors is a bruising, relentless experience, one more tiring than inspiring.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Not all the right notes are hit in Grand Piano, but for an elegantly schizoid B movie, it's more B-sharp than B-flat.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The Viking saga Valhalla Rising, from the brutally stylish Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, has the bones of an action epic but the soul of something cultier.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The brusque teen humor, underpinning turmoil and sentiment all seem to be pulled and massaged from the same organic whole, and that's refreshing in a genre so often built on gimmicks and stereotypes.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Less concerned with fake shocks and show-me violence than the grimly calibrated rotting of personalities, Oculus is one of the more intelligently nasty horror films in recent memory.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Director Wendy J.N. Lee, who made the grueling trek with a solar-powered camera operated by a monk, provides plenty of breathtaking footage and a strong sense of both the journey's illuminative highs and treacherous (as in altitude and terrain) lows.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    With little room to feel for or even understand Anna Maria, Paradise: Faith rarely seems more than high art with low intentions.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Enemy may be built more on questions than answers, but in the probing it generates a satisfyingly arch hum of weirdness.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    By the end, Fightville feels authentic about this world, where success may be measured in wins, but the balance of unrelenting brutality and self-discipline needed for those wins is a trickier equation.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    For Sedaris fans, C.O.G. is a regrettably patronizing washout.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    A feature-length lampoon needs more than rubbery performances, so-so silliness and the constant thrum of meta humor to make it a consistently amusing variation on a theme.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    There's storytelling vigor here and fine performances, plus some pointed exchanges about the burdens of cultural identity and emotional preservation in the aftermath of immense upheaval.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    In key spots, thanks to Simmons' brilliantly wounded gruffness and Pucci's nimble toggling act between vacancy and awakened spirit, The Music Never Stopped achieves an admirable poignancy about our emotional, healing relationship to the songs we love.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Visual sumptuousness trumps the coldly erotic dastardliness of previous incarnations, but where this version feasts is on close-ups, with exchanges between pairs of eyes - the predatory versus the hesitant, the manipulatively comforting opposite the blindly vulnerable - that recall the silent era.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    If you meet the fiendishly deadpan Rubber halfway, its assured mix of cinephile artiness and grindhouse spoof will offer some oddball surprises.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Kinkle's debut refreshingly sacrifices gore showpieces (though it is bloody at times) for a steadily increasing dread tied to a young woman's desperation.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    For moviegoers who prefer cheeky wit, down-and-dirty mayhem and grown-up suspense in their air-conditioned escapism, The Prey deserves to light up the summer art house.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    For a movie about moonshine, something so imaginatively made, mood-altering and once violently sought-after, it goes down way too blandly.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The movie elicits knowing smiles more than laughs, even as it reveals a boundless observational awareness about the beefs and slights that, for the small-minded, must feel like everyday Armageddons.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    In the end, despite the clunky mix of narrative formats, My Father and the Man in Black makes for an illuminating alternate history of sorts to the Hollywoodized version of Cash's ascendancy in "Walk the Line."
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The cheeky title How to Live Forever belongs to a wry, hopeful yet enigma-appreciating documentary about the perils and possibilities that come with growing old.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    An admirably cagey effort to mine humor from the thorny cultural and racial divide that is Muslim-Jewish relations.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    A new biopic of eccentric British rock legend Ian Dury, Andy Serkis uncoils a performance of spit, grit and wit so ferocious it only serves to starkly clarify how unremarkable and formulaic the rest of the movie is.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    A chunky spectacle, to be sure – overstuffed with plot and characters - but at times, it's an insanely entertaining one.