Chicago Reader's Scores

  • Movies
For 4,911 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 42% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 56% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 3.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Beasts of the Southern Wild
Lowest review score: 0 Transylmania
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. The new version of Jane Eyre is far and away the best I've seen, thanks largely to the skilled young actress Mia Wasikowska.
  2. None of this makes any sense if you think about it, but the idea is so much fun that thinking about it may be your last impulse.
  3. Less a biography than a diplomatic history of Britain in World War II, the movie draws a satisfying narrative arc from his extended campaign to rally President Roosevelt and the American public to Britain's defense.
  4. By the end theyve acquired a measure of self-knowledge at a cost dearer than they expected, which reminds us that what we think we know can be just the beginning of an existential journey.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The paintings are extraordinary and the 3-D cinematography invites the viewer to get lost in every brushstroke. This is one of the few films to use the format for intellectual, even philosophical ends: the added depth parallels the deeper understanding of humanity that the paintings inspire.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Dwayne Johnson hops aboard as a stern U.S. agent hot on Diesel's trail, and the whole thing progresses to one of the looniest heists of all time. The result is the most exciting, visually jazzy, and absurd entry in the series.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their use of multiple formats-including digital video, Super 8, and 35-millimeter slides-gives the movie the texture of a worn scrapbook.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As the heroine, Rappoport creates an exquisite, multifaceted character from the old film noir archetype of a woman in flight; in this case she's fleeing not only danger but herself.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Reichardt keeps this so hypnotic from shot to shot that you can easily get wrapped up in it as a sensory experience.
  5. Near the end Press poses a couple of personal questions that pierce the old man's defenses in the most painful and revealing way, suggesting a much more complicated emotional wellspring for the work that consumes his life.
  6. Woody Allen's bad movies often seem to be taking place in some kind of upper-class fantasy world, which may be the reason I find this upfront fantasy to be his funniest, most agreeable comedy in years.
  7. This slam-bang remake of a 1963 feature by Eichi Kudo builds slowly, accumulating characters and themes, then explodes into a prolonged and masterful battle sequence inside a deserted town.
  8. Kelly is a supple and courageous storyteller, boldly free-associating as he mixes parody and satire with earnest psychodrama and coming up with plot points no one could anticipate.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film is shot with handheld cameras in the standard mockumentary style, but the content is often hilarious, especially when the trolls show up. There's also a marvelous deadpan comic performance by Otto Jespersen as a troll-hunter and tireless dispenser of troll lore.
  9. Sexual politics, family dynamics, the debate over heredity versus environment, and the dubious ethics of scientific research on animals are rigorously explored in this ambitious, bittersweet work.
  10. Morris's trademark device of superimposing giant type over his talking heads - Willing! Manacled Mormon! - often made me wonder if Morris were exposing the world of tabloid journalism or participating in it.
  11. Reilly's performance here is hilarious: he's located the character in the bursts of shouting he uses to do his job and the warped sense of humor he needs to deal with the weird kids sent his way.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Joe Johnston - returning to the vibe of his first directorial effort, "The Rocketeer" (1991) - creates a fun retro-futurist environment with a World War II setting, and he has the discernment not to let the effects overwhelm the story.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Gleeson makes the movie worthwhile and fun, in spite of its occasional overuse of Leone-Morricone spaghetti-western riffs.
  12. Writer-director Benjamin Heisenberg serves up a lean and solidly satisfying existentialist thriller.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Kondracki relies on sharp, quotidian detail to show how such atrocities become business as usual; she also makes a point of humanizing the victims of trafficking to emphasize the obscenity of the crimes.
  13. Finely calibrated French neonoir.
  14. A film that throbs with life while keenly noting its passing, this is an ode to the village that welcomed - and let thrive - the director's refugee parents.
  15. This absorbing PBS-style documentary by Joseph Dorman follows Aleichem from his early years in the Russian shtetl of Voronko through the pogroms that would drive the Jewish diaspora of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  16. Director Oliver Schmitz is particularly attentive to the superstition and ingrained sexism that make life miserable for these people, though he also seems to view women as the country's best hope.
  17. Soderbergh's treatment of the Internet turns out to be the most provocative aspect of Contagion. Like the virus, which destroys any cell it encounters, misinformation spreads rapidly online and tends to cancel out information that might save people.
  18. This high-powered sports melodrama benefits from its strong male leads, a sinewy narrative, and the maverick attitude of MMA. But for all the contemporary references, it's essentially a spin on the story of Cain and Abel, which may be the reason it feels timeless.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) gives a charismatic lead performance as Dee, a historical figure who became a folk hero, but the real attraction is Tsui's giddy imagination.
  19. Like many other comedies about serious matters, 50/50 grows more dramatic in its second half. What really impressed me, though, was how easily Reiser could pivot back to comedy at a moment's notice without seeming cheap.
  20. What begins as a one-night stand deepens, over the next two days, into a genuine romance as the young lovers embark on an epic dialogue that touches on the most profound questions of love, commitment, honesty, and identity.
  21. A precious scrap of American history.
  22. It's an edifying art history lesson, but it lacks the showmanship of, for example, Peter Greenaway's "Nightwatching."
  23. Durkin reveals how the sisters have been pulled in opposite directions by the death of their parents. But the story structure also nurtures a creeping, finally unbearable dread that may have you looking over your shoulder all the way home.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Still, this is irresistible as self-knowing camp: the players ham it up in high fashion and the script crams at least one lurid revelation into every scene.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film is especially comforting if you love old movies, as Kaurismaki does: his deadpan humor and deliberately flattened images evoke silent comedy, as usual, and his rosy depiction of proletarian camaraderie recalls the 30s and 40s work of Marcel Carné (particularly Le Jour se Leve).
  24. This indie drama starts off as a sexy little date movie, but once the lovers have been separated it grows steadily more complicated and mature.
  25. The one mystery Black and Eastwood can't solve is Hoover's love life - perhaps because the solution is too simple to be believed.
  26. Herzog's wrenching interviews with the victims' relatives, may not turn anyone against capital punishment, but they're gripping nonetheless. Incidentally, the spiritual inquiry Herzog aims for here has already been rendered onscreen, in Steve James and Peter Gilbert's powerful documentary "At the Death House Door" (2008).
  27. Apocalyptic visions are nothing new in cinema, but they're almost always epic in scale; Von Trier's innovation is to peer down the large end of the telescope, observing the end of the world in painfully intimate terms.
  28. Scorsese transforms this innocent tale into an ardent love letter to the cinema and a moving plea for film preservation.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rife with earthy details and poetic associations, the movie often advances like a daydream.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like Anthony Mann's "The Naked Spur" (1953) or "Man of the West" (1958), the movie draws on the terrifying beauty of the natural world and generates tension from the volatile dynamics of a carefully observed group.
  29. Writer-director Celine Sciamma breaks little ground here, but her story is nicely scaled to the gender-rigid world of childhood, where boys playing soccer together take as much pride in their spitting skills as any scored goal.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Like Walter Benjamin, Bonello associates this insularity with both innocence and the 19th century; and when, in the final sequence of House of Pleasures, he dispenses with the security exuded by these subjects, the effect is like being shaken violently out of a dream.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Pulses with feeling for childhood and nature and develops a surprising amount of suspense considering it takes place around a single suburban home.
  30. This documentary about Crazy Horse, the legendary Parisian nude cabaret, is so warm, colorful, and sensuous that it seems like a real anomaly for the highly disciplined filmmaker.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This structure persuasively depicts combat and recovery as two sides of the same struggle, and Dennis strengthens his argument by maintaining a constant perspective throughout: the camera is always within a few feet of the subject.
  31. Davies adapted a classic 1952 play by Terence Rattigan, whose centenary is being celebrated in Britain this year, and though you might have trouble sorting out the film's competing levels of authorship, one element attributable solely to Davies is the strategic use of music and quiet on the soundtrack.
  32. Because the first narrative is so crushingly generic (which turns out to be the point), most of the amusement derives from trying to figure out what the second one is all about. I'm not sure I ever did, but the climactic one-two punch of special-effects chaos and meta-movie chin stroking should have the fanboys trembling with delight.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This period action comedy by Jiang Wen (Devils on the Doorstep) is great fun in the Shakespearean tradition, stuffed with lively characters, dramatic stand-offs, and stolen-identity subplots.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    One of the more admirable qualities of Robert Greene's Fake It So Real, is how it creates such a rich sense of place with such a mundane setting.
  33. Into this cauldron walks the title character, a gentle Algerian refugee with his own history of terrible loss, and as he tries to take over the dead woman's class, his rocky relationship with the kids pushes both him and them to new levels of empathy, understanding, and forgiveness.
  34. The story provides great roles for Jack Black as the sunny title character, Shirley MacLaine as his dyspeptic victim, and Matthew McConaughey as the good-old-boy D.A. who prosecutes the crime. But some of the best performances come from real-life residents of Carthage as they share their recollections on camera.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As usual, Anderson's densely imagined mise-en-scene contains many allusions to movies, music, and literature (Benjamin Britten's orchestral work being a key touchstone); what's different this time is that most of the cultural references grow naturally from the characterization.
  35. In some mumblecore movies the semi-improvised dialogue can be engulfed by hipster irony, but the acting here is so skilled, and the emotional terrain so rocky, that Shelton manages to break past the genre's narrow social parameters to a moving story of grief, betrayal, and devotion.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Unlike most literary adaptations this one actually conveys the pleasure of fiction, lingering suggestively on small details of character and place. The movie casts such a seductive air of mystery that the resolution feels anticlimactic, yet there's plenty to enjoy along the way.
  36. Ted
    MacFarlane gets an impressive amount of comic mileage from having a plush toy talk like a Boston low-life, though for gut laughs nothing compares to the brutal, frantic, and completely wordless fight scene between Wahlberg and his little buddy in a cheap hotel room.
  37. This fourth installment is a complete reboot, returning to the web-slinger's creation story, and Garfield, more than any other factor, contributes to the sense of a bleaker vision along the lines of "The Dark Knight."
  38. Unfortunately for Polley, Take This Waltz is a good film serving mainly to remind us that "Away From Her" is a great one.
  39. Baumbach's best trait as a filmmaker remains his handling of actors.
  40. Leigh displays a passionate affection for and commitment to his leading characters that never precludes a critical distance.
  41. Smart and consistently funny, with sharp performances.
  42. The film is only superficially superficial, and it grows in meaning and resonance as it progresses.
  43. Gentle, low-key first feature.
  44. Coogan delivers a winning comic performance as the pompous impresario, but his story has little dramatic momentum of its own; he functions mostly as a pedantic narrator, imposing some cultural significance on the endless party and pointing out more intriguing personalities.
  45. A nervy as well as somber piece of work, not only for the way it confounds and even frustrates certain genre expectations, but also -- and especially -- for the way it confronts the viewer with the moral implications of that frustration.
  46. At first Costner seems to distrust the hokey character he plays, but his performance and the movie's slanted humor, rash melodrama, and ludicrous action soon become riveting.
  47. Cattaneo proceeds gamely, though without much spark, through this familiar fare, but at least Nesbitt, with his sly, oddball charm, is fun to watch.
  48. Disarming-misfit story, which combines elements of a road movie, romance, small-town idyll, and police procedural.
  49. Prior to its hyperbolic final act, this is one of Robert Altman's most skillful and least bombastic features in some time.
  50. Shtick isn't all this movie has to offer.
  51. Both actors are so good that one might easily overlook the Pollyannaish subplot.
  52. This is possibly the funniest lesbian romp since "Go Fish."
  53. A black waitress and a white corrections officer in rural Georgia experience more misery in the first hour of this movie than some people do in a lifetime, and to its credit the drama doesn’t collapse under the weight.
  54. A persuasively feminine coming-of-age story.
  55. A painstakingly crafted nonrealist story, which doesn't seem to imply anything beyond what it depicts.
  56. Despite Scorsese's efforts, there just isn't much to look at, and the film plays less like a movie than an illustrated record album.
  57. At once a light comedy and a reasonably serious meditation on the perils of fame.
  58. Mildly exciting sports-in-prison movie.
  59. There's charm and insight in the candid depictions of the teenagers' sexual experiences and discussions.
  60. Entrancingly lurid live-action fantasy.
  61. All this could've collapsed into empty shocks if not for Inoue's gripping performance as an exasperated single woman who senses her happiness slipping away with each vengeful blow.
  62. Funnier than "Pecker" but a far cry from the best of Waters's Divine movies.
  63. Divided into sections bracketed by the arrival of each new DJ and is enlivened by the edgy yet trendy environment.
  64. Has memorable characters and images. Yet the story is elusive and occasionally puzzling, and some of the ideas are amorphous and self-conscious.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    At 165 minutes this is a pretty long haul, and the shifting alliances mapped out in the dark and claustrophobic first part can be difficult to follow; the payoff comes in the second part, which opens out into dramatic locations and bloody battle as the Mongols lay siege to Otrar.
  65. The film's theme of acceptance is undercut considerably by Hurt's overcalculated performance.
  66. Watchable enough on its own terms.
  67. An eye-opening tale of how part of our population lives, and as an authentic image of material suffering it makes something like Lars von Trier's "Dancer in the Dark" seem even more dubious.
  68. Everything seems to fall into place according to earlier Egoyan films, which suggests that you're likelier to enjoy this one if you haven't seen the others.
  69. The narrative--a complex structure of flashbacks and shifts in perspective that's part inspirational story, part courtroom drama, part character study, part exposé--never makes it seem that history is being oversimplified.
  70. I value the flawed Tic Code over a good many relatively flawless features because it has more heart, more life, and more spunk.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Writer-director Raymond De Felitta has crafted a pleasant, low-key script that's full of small surprises, nice turns, and engaging, naturalistic dialogue, and he keeps the big, emotional family scenes, which often render this sort of material cliched and hackneyed, to a minimum.
  71. The coincidences that bring some characters together and keep others apart in this romantic comedy are plotted with musical grace.
  72. A graceful, understated sense of period allows the behavior of the characters in this love story to be unusually nuanced, making their experiences seem uncontrived as well as archetypal.
  73. Improves as it unfolds.
  74. This gorgeous expressionist drama makes the comparisons so effectively at the outset that by the end they seem belabored.
  75. Its poignance and urgency are undeniable.
  76. Challenges us to reconcile its snapshots of earnest entrepreneurs, colleagues, and fans with its long takes of her disillusionment.
  77. Definitely worth checking out.

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