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 Army of Shadows
Lowest review score: 0 The Back-up Plan
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Without becoming manipulative, sensational, or trite, the movie lets us know what became of the animals -- many dogs and one stowaway cat -- on the ill-fated ship.
  2. Allen's movies specialize in contemplating the notion that money can somehow remove vulgarity or produce gentility. Small Time Crooks may conclude quite conventionally that money can't buy you everything, but most of it flirts even more conventionally with the opposite premise.
  3. 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).
  4. A first-rate thriller, maintaining a high level of suspense.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Rivers comes across as a consummate professional but also a genuine person, ruthlessly honest about her life decisions and utterly devoid of self-pity.
  8. The players and their stories are as wonderful as the music, and the filmmaking is uncommonly sensitive and alert.
  9. 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.
  10. Proves again that the best documentaries currently outshine Hollywood features as the most watchable, energizing, and relevant movies around.
  11. The performances are solid: pulling inward in every scene, Phoenix taps into the New York loneliness that defined Paddy Chayefsky's Marty, and Rossellini is excellent as the worried mother, who doesn't have much to say but watches her beloved boy like a cat.
  12. Eastwood essentially uses the Lady Chablis the same way he did a few extended Charlie Parker solos in Bird--as unbridled, inventive improvisations that challenge the well-rehearsed "head" arrangements of everyone else.
  13. May have some of the trappings of an exotic thriller, but it's basically a character study.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Has its faults, but it's Barbet Schroeder's most relevant and interesting film in over a decade.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Viewers hoping for new revelations will have to be content with learning that Hitler suffered from severe stomach problems. Yet there's much more here than a trickle of unsatisfying tidbits.
  14. Gutsy romance-drama that breaks a cardinal rule of storytelling and pop psychology: its iconic lovers aren't forced by a tragedy to learn that they shouldn't depend on each other to feel whole.
  15. Fascinating oddity.
  16. This is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick.
  17. Illuminating with their energy and wit.
  18. This is a drama of shifting values and compromised ideals, arriving at a view of life that's wise, complicated, and tinged with melancholy.
  19. The film tends to groan under the weight of his obsessions -- and his sister's fixation on circumcising her son -- yet for much of the 95-minute running time the chemistry between Attal's vulnerable husband and Gainsbourg's sweet, beguiling wife is irresistible. The terrific score is by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau.
  20. 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.
  21. The virtues on display are very much those of the heroine: generosity, imagination, charm, and the capacity to keep an audience mesmerized with a good story.
  22. This beautifully understated feature (2004) revolves around sex, but it's neither erotic nor puritanical; its young characters are governed by their urges, but the experience itself seems as neutral and mysterious as sleep.
  23. Their gross-out humor is basically sweet tempered, for all its tweaking of PC attitudes, and though this film looks slapdash, its script (by the Farrellys, Ed Decter, and John J. Strauss) is surprisingly well put together.
  24. Even in its sanitized state, this movie about the generational revolt that reinvigorated Disney’s animation department in the 1980s and ’90s is fascinating, thick with studio intrigue and lavishly illustrated with archival sketches and test animations.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A more visually conscious stylist than most Italian commercial directors of the period, Lattuada remains largely unknown in the U.S., though in Europe he's been touted as the great eclectic talent of the postwar Italian cinema.
  25. Superior summer entertainment.
  26. The movie's first half is largely free of dialogue, playing like silent comedy, while the second act offers a breathtaking tour of the cosmos.
    • 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.
  27. Upon closer inspection its story and characters grow more mysterious, ultimately bordering on the unfathomable.
  28. It's also quite energetic -- there isn't a boring shot anywhere, and writer-director Schnabel is clearly enjoying himself as he plays with expressionist sound, neo-Eisensteinian edits, and all sorts of other filmic ideas.
  29. Deep and textured drama.
  30. What promises to be a standard postmortem on 60s ideology becomes a thoughtful essay on the choices we all make between work, family, and personal freedom.
  31. The compositions and camera movement are both precise and elegant.
  32. An exhilarating and terrifying journey through youth-culture hell.
  33. In general, the dogs-as-mirrors theme--the crazy things people do with and in relation to their pets--is what keeps this going, and the laughs are sporadic but genuine.
  34. As a well-directed star vehicle with a couple of good action sequences, this is good, effective filmmaking, but I was periodically bored; when Ford and Pitt aren't lighting up the screen nothing much happens.
  35. An amiable demonstration of how two charismatic actors and a relaxed writer-director (Brad Silberling) can squeeze an enjoyable movie out of practically nothing.
  36. A comprehensive and devastating critique of the TV news networks' complacency and complicity in the war on Iraq.
    • 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.
  37. Documentary maker Don Argott (Rock School) beautifully explicates how this crew pulled off the most daring daylight art theft in history, though his passionate identification with the pro-Barnes faction limits the movie's political nuance.
  38. This moving story is full of breathtaking compositions, gorgeous spectacle, and inspiring philosophies articulated by sympathetic figures.
  39. A hopeless romantic meets a hapless realist in this gritty, elegant drama brimming with spontaneous-seeming close-ups.
  40. If you treasure Gilliam at his best and take his ideas seriously, you'll probably be infuriated as well as delighted.
  41. It's 88 minutes of solid, inventive music, filmed in a straightforward manner that neither deifies the performers nor encourages an illusory intimacy, but presents the musicians simply as people doing their job and enjoying it.
  42. The master principle of film noir -- that everyone is corruptible -- turns a pinwheel of plot complications in this fleet, stylish little crime drama from Mexico.
  43. 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.
  44. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are enormously funny in this farce.
  45. Bernardo Bertolucci's visually ravishing spectacle about the life of Pu Yi is a genuine rarity: a blockbuster that manages to be historically instructive and intensely personal at the same time.
  46. Scorsese transforms this innocent tale into an ardent love letter to the cinema and a moving plea for film preservation.
    • 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.
  47. Gary Baseman's Emmy-winning cartoon series arrives on the big screen in a delightful blast of bold drawing, brainy humor, and hard-charging songs.
  48. The movie never finds a consistent tone -- the humor is dynamically offbeat, the dramatic moments a bit canned -- but Braff's affection for his misfit characters and skeptical take on how people sell themselves short in America make this the truest generational statement I've seen since "Donnie Darko."
  49. This is a good, solid, intelligent drama about the ambiguities of what does and doesn't constitute courage under fire
  50. The film has a fresh and imaginative feel for period detail that the talented cast - which also features Gabriel Byrne, Christian Bale, Eric Stoltz, John Neville, and Mary Wickes - obviously benefits from.
  51. Both hilarious and poignant, with a Capraesque humanity that caught me completely off guard.
  52. The actors are charismatic, particularly Ricardo Darin.
  53. 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.
  54. Strange, unpredictable, and sometimes magical.
  55. Leigh displays a passionate affection for and commitment to his leading characters that never precludes a critical distance.
  56. Baumbach's best trait as a filmmaker remains his handling of actors.
  57. Smart and consistently funny, with sharp performances.
  58. At its best when it’s least overtly allegorical--and fortunately that’s most of the time.
  59. Unlike the many youth movies that can't overcome their makers' hindsight, this one may actually put you in an adolescent frame of mind.
  60. Like most of Lee’s work, this movie bites off a lot more than it can possibly chew, and it bristles with the worst kind of New York provincialism.
  61. Koshashvili effectively captures turn-of-the-century ennui, but, more impressively, some of the feel of literary prose by intercutting characters in different locales, pausing the narrative for thoughtful close-ups that evoke interiority. The excellent excellent acting conveys the principals' emotional ambiguities.
  62. Poirer and director Noam Murro have trouble bringing this to a satisfying climax, but the characters are credible and sharply observed and all four actors go to town.
  63. In this heady documentary, TV footage of left-wing social critic Paul Goodman being interviewed by conservative host William F. Buckley Jr. in 1966 makes one realize how low public discourse in America has sunk since then: despite the men's political differences, their freewheeling discussion, touching on topics from education to pornography, is playful instead of rancorous.
  64. The only problem I was faced with was trying to understand what exactly it was that I enjoyed, and how this movie differed from the play I'd read.
  65. Actually I quite enjoyed the film -- but how do I get rid of this awful discharge?
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Thrilling rehearsal and performance footage of Idina Menzel in "Wicked," Tonya Pinkins in "Caroline," and Euan Morton in "Taboo" is juxtaposed with thoughtful, funny, and revealing interviews with writers, directors, producers, publicists, and critics.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Andrzej Wajda has spent much of his long career dramatizing major events in Polish history, and this poignant feature depicts the circumstances surrounding the Soviet Union's massacre of thousands of Polish officers in the spring of 1940.
  66. The comedy divides cleanly into dark, violent slapstick (much of it hilarious) and more routine gags highlighting the fanatical characters' foolishness and incompetence.
  67. Shani and Copti (who costars as a hipster druggie) elicit moving performances from their nonprofessional actors, who ground the somewhat breathless action in a streetwise realism.
  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. Studded with terrorist attacks... Yet Malkovich never exploits these for action-movie thrills: in each instance the loss of life is terrible and the morality of the act is left treacherously ambiguous.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Lou's mobile camera captures the flushed energy of the faces and bodies of beautiful youths in love with all the verve and commitment of the early French New Wave.
  70. Part of Morton's achievement is to present all four people through the viewpoints of the other three; Wagner can't do that, but the performances are so nuanced that the characters remain multilayered, and they're not the sort of people we're accustomed to finding in commercial films.
  71. The consequent pain, anger, and confusion on all sides disrupts the standard martyrology of the genre and exposes the ordinary human wreckage that can follow even the most extraordinary acts of heroism.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Leth moves lightly and briskly, streamlining the weird material into something elemental and true; he's also assembled a knockout supporting cast.
  72. Bale dominates the movie as Dicky Eklund, a pathetic loudmouth who's let his own fight career slip away from him, yet what really holds this together is Wahlberg's low-key, firmly internalized performance as a man torn between his loyalty to the clan and his responsibility to himself.
  73. A sense of authenticity overshadows any contrivance in this subtly classic drama.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Retained my interest and sympathy -- at least until the nonsensical ending,
  74. Sentimental, obvious, but well-nigh irresistible, this jubilant comedy equates England's bland cuisine with its sexual inhibition and suggests we could all use something a little more tasty (at dinnertime, that is).
  75. A very curious and eclectic piece of work--fresh even when it's awkward.
  76. As Dr. Octopus, Alfred Molina makes a more baroque supervillain than Willem Dafoe did as the Green Goblin, but the other stars--seem happy to be giving us more of the same.
  77. Johnston's childish, repetitive tunes prove that he's no Brian Wilson (or even Roky Erickson), which makes you wonder whether Feuerzeig is examining the singer's exploitation or participating in it.
  78. Sam Riley is fascinating as Curtis, a hypersensitive young man hobbled by his incurable disease, and Samantha Morton is poignant as his put-upon wife.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The material is consistently clever and funny.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Uses the seven days of shivah to launch a series of hilariously escalating confrontations, including one in which elderly men nearly come to blows over who's the more genuine Jew.
  79. Shtick isn't all this movie has to offer.
  80. The characters have been designed to make fun of themselves, disguising the craft of writer Neil Cuthbert and director Kinka Usher in getting us to laugh at them.
  81. Lior is an irrepressible character as he works a room, doing exactly what a bar mitzvah boy should: challenging, instructing, and, in his own way, healing the world.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The great cinematographer Tak Fujimoto has the time of his life on this low-budget horror feature, playing with dolly shots, abrupt zooms, and negative space inside the widescreen frame, and the fun is infectious.
  82. A bright, funny family movie that gets everything right, from story to production design to cast (both human and canine).
  83. Depardieu brings such easygoing authority to the title character that you're pulled into the investigation, even as Bellamy becomes increasingly bewildered by his home life.
  84. Effective portrait of an independent woman with a troubled and unstable sense of herself.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The musical fantasy scenes in the new Singing Detective are raw and purposely amateurish. Although Gordon sometimes fumbles the tonal shifts of the material, the acting is rock solid.
  85. Persuasively re-creates the experience of sailing aboard a British man-o'-war during the Napoleonic era, but its story never attains comparable grandeur.

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