For 530 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 7% same as the average critic
  • 51% 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: 50
Highest review score: 100 White God
Lowest review score: 0 Back in the Day
Score distribution:
530 movie reviews
    • 89 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The access that Bécue-Renard got, reportedly after five months of being there without a camera, is remarkable.
    • 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.
    • 87 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.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 100 Robert Abele
    Heart of a Dog is that rarest of pieces, an unabashedly experimental work that's as inviting as a visit with an old friend, one who may not always make sense, who's sometimes goofy, but has been through a lot lately and treasures the opportunity to artfully unload.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    The filmmakers' approach is inherently positive.
    • 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
    • 80 Robert Abele
    As a first film, it is incredibly accomplished, its influences (French New Wave, Wong Kar-Wai) apparent but integrated.
    • 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.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Zhang and his sterling actors have made something fairly unforgettable about the tragedy of forgetting.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A raucous, weird, occasionally fascinating entry in the genre of disease-documenting, a portrait of raw nerve in the face of deteriorating nerves.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Giving flair to the inevitable and imbuing those stakes with emotional heft are key to this type of patiently nasty, slow-boil noir. That Johnson understands this makes his feature debut a particularly confident and enjoyable one.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    it's Nowar's ability to tell his tale so firmly from the viewpoint of his quickly growing-up protagonist, and to elicit so unforced a performance from Eid, that may be the most impressive achievement of this intimate, well-paced film.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 100 Robert Abele
    By turns Dickensian, Marxist and dystopian, it's a movie as deliriously unclassifiable as it is expertly focused in its desire to provoke and entertain.
    • 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
    • 90 Robert Abele
    A low-key, near-total charmer, writer-director Charles Poekel's Christmas, Again captures something ineffably moving about the holiday grind.
    • 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
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Slaboshpytskiy has made one of the most unusual and disturbing films about criminality of the new century.
    • 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
    Director and co-writer David Wnendt is after serious comedy here, a character study of psychic pain, wounds hereditary and self-inflicted, and body-conscious absurdity that treats the human condition with wry intelligence, not empty prurience.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Composed of breathtaking images and cheeky bits of humor, Dencik's travelogue reveals a journey with curious traces of the past, eye-popping encounters with a wild present and — in discovering an oil company's ship in the group's midst — a weighted reminder of our future as stewards of the Earth.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    In giving historical context to the poisonous nature of our oft-bemoaned political discourse, "Best of Enemies" showcases brainy bloodsport with humor, nostalgia and, appropriately, a lacing of melancholy.
    • 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
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Prophet's Prey is a sobering reminder that tyrannical monsters who hide behind religion can be homegrown too.
    • 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.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Jauja makes one cryptic leap too many at the end, but until then it evocatively confounds.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    A documentary that shouldn't have to be made, about a law that needn't exist, explored via a crime that could have been avoided: 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets is a thought-provoking, mournful experience, perhaps more so in the wake of the killings in Charleston, S.C.
    • 76 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.
    • 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
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Its oddball colors and willful wanderings betray a sweet, savory, uncompromising air that showcases Russell's uniquely fused brand of American harmony with rascally ebullience.
    • 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
    It's Stevens, as the all-American cover-model mercenary both friendly and fatal, who gives The Guest its literally killer personality.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 95 Robert Abele
    Is the relentlessness too much? At two and a half hours, perhaps, but inventiveness abounds.
    • 76 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.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Garrone achieves something uniquely colorful, disturbing and trenchant about self-perception in an increasingly fishbowl-like society.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    By turns opaque, harsh, self-aware, indulgent and wickedly funny. It's never dull, pummeling you with its prickly smarts.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    No matter how reflectively mellow the gray-haired, reminiscing interviewees are, the blizzard of featured illustrations from the magazine's '70s heyday offer scads of they-couldn't-get-away-with-that-today laughter.
    • 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
    • 70 Robert Abele
    In its garishness, Mommy is a weirdly compelling overreach for this young filmmaker. It's the work of someone clearly passionate, if not disciplined yet, about his cinematic interests.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The movie exists in a space beyond arguments about immigration policy and border security, and while sometimes a little too willfully pokey, it speaks to something indelibly human about dreams and their costs.
    • 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
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Instead of sinking into crude, one-night-stand joke territory, Night Owls roots around for the spark of real chemistry and, in the winning turns of Pally and Salazar, finds it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    The details are mesmerizing as is the rule-breaking psychology behind it.
    • 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
    Censored Voices is a soul debriefing of sorts. The soldiers' tales of killing the captured and uprooting entire villages lead them to question whether the war was more about expansion than survival.
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Zahler's still starkness, enhanced by a fondness for long shots and dark spaces, is refreshing in this shaky-cam era, and his ear for Old West sensibilities — from the mythically polite to the realistically xenophobic — is clinically effective.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 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
    • 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
    • 90 Robert Abele
    Ferran's eccentricity is an acquired taste, but the light, emotional artfulness of Bird People — a cry for the senses in a world that so often dulls — is welcome.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Whatever your feelings on capital punishment, A Murder in the Park has a gripping story to tell about, oddly enough, the corrosive effects of storytelling on the justice system when it gets the best of reasoned minds.
    • 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.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    With the intensified focus on use of force in police departments, the unsettling documentary Killing Them Safely couldn't be timelier.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Like any good purveyor of noir, Boyle, who wrote the film with Joel Clark and Michael Lerman, understands that identifying someone is only one endgame while the mystery of identity is naggingly, tragically endless.
    • 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
    • 80 Robert Abele
    Private Violence makes painfully clear the emotional and legal hurdles battered women endure just to feel safe again in or outside the home.
    • 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.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 90 Robert Abele
    It's a B movie made with A-student love for the relentless thrill of bodies in brutal motion.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    McNaughton shows some signs of directing rust in pacing and tone, but in much the way "Henry" played out, he keeps sensationalism at bay and twisted character drama in his sights, which makes for a more pleasurably icky suspense.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    [An] engaging portrait of a complicated but vivid sports figure.
    • 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
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The plot is predictable, but the inevitable showdown is, appropriately, the movie's highlight, a ferocious hands-on battle — save for the balletic bamboo pole interlude — on a busy, night-lit expressway, with semis and cars roaring past. It's a climax worthy of the tribute thread running through Kung Fu Killer.
    • 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
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The gory final act can't help but be an explanatory letdown after so much enigmatic fizz, but that's little bother when the rest of "Honeymoon" delivers a steady dose of newlywed nightmare.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    There's a chic emptiness to Entertainment, undoubtedly, and anti-comedy constructs that may rub the wrong way, but there's also a spiky intelligence at work too, one that engages through the artifice of disengagement and the illusion of "performance."
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The performances... are solid, and the conceit is alluringly mind-bending without ever seeming off-puttingly brainy.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 65 Robert Abele
    If “The Great Beauty” was a heady, humming party you wanted to live inside, Youth — its melancholy and splendor too often at odds — never rises above feeling like a pretty, meandering gallery show.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    In much the way "Crystal Fairy" blossomed when we were snapped out of our chuckling repulsion, Nasty Baby rights itself intriguingly when Silva pushes his characters into unknown territory and lifestyle is imposed upon by life.
    • 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
    In conjuring a fantastical slippery slope in which technology, pharmaceuticals and the entertainment industry co-star in a takeover of our lives, The Congress boasts a propulsive image-making pull.
    • 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.

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