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 3.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Lowest review score: 0 Showgirls
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The film is fairly formulaic, though some of its puns and wisecracks are hilarious, especially those delivered by the Littles' lazy and cynical Persian cat (Nathan Lane).
  1. The director (Hallstrom) and cast are all excellent.
  2. In the end I didn't believe in their relationship, but I was pleased to see Keaton tearing it up for two hours.
  3. The movie might have amounted to no more than a sunny eco-parable, but it begins to bite harder when the catadores, captivated by their sudden importance, face the unhappy prospect of returning to their previous existence.
  4. It's the romantic sparring with Catherine Zeta-Jones as another glamorous thief -- not the unsuspenseful heists -- that makes this silly thriller lightly bearable.
  5. So playful and imaginative that only at the very end -- in a metafictional tag about their project's success on the festival circuit -- does its narcissism become off-putting.
  6. Novelist Douglas Coupland (Generation X) brings his millennial irony and middle-class angst to the big screen with this offbeat Canadian comedy about the lure of easy money.
  7. The director, Ted Kotcheff, does a good job with the violence and suspense, working well with the wide-screen format, and he seems fully aware of the dark, subversive implications of the material, even if the screenplay doesn't allow him to resolve them successfully.
  8. In this 2006 entry the insights are worthwhile.
  9. Documentary maker Edmon Roch spins a zippy yarn of Pujol's improbable exploits from archival footage, talking heads, and clips from classic espionage dramas.
  10. There's nothing remotely new here, but the movie has the taut, queasy feel of an early 70s drive-in shocker: old-fashioned suspense without any guarantee of old-fashioned mercy.
  11. The result is highly entertaining but hardly ranks with the director's best work; a dramatic subplot involving the money guy and his corrupt father (a disengaged Jack Nicholson) never gains traction.
  12. Wong uses his brief evocations of the future mainly as a way of poetically lamenting the past.
  13. Despite some awkwardness, this feature by writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland is a fascinating look at the area's Mexican-American milieu and other local subcultures, full of feeling, insight, and touching performances.
  14. Endorsed by the Dalai Lama and narrated by his nephew Tenzin L. Choegyal, this delivers an impassioned plea to save Tibet's endangered culture but little new information.
  15. This is the kind of tasteful tearjerker that's often overrated and smothered with prizes because it flatters our tolerance and sensitivity.
  16. The three neighborhood kids who venture inside this toothy trap are wittily conceived (as are other characters, like a goth babysitter), but though the overall conception suggests Hayao Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle," the frenetic pacing seems as American as an apple pie in your face.
  17. In one slender documentary codirectors Shane King and Arne Johnson accomplish what Hollywood routinely bungles: incisively depicting the inner lives of complicated young females.
  18. The language has been changed to English, of course, which is the only real reason this movie exists; the story development, desolate tone, and key set pieces are mostly copied from the original movie, which in turn was based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
  19. The electrifying music helps camouflage the screenplay's hyperbole.
  20. Though the filmmaker has by now ridiculed the martial-arts drama virtually out of existence, the final dance number -- actually closer to festive stomping than tapping -- somehow manages to transcend irony, conveying instead only Kitano's childlike exhilaration, with a sense of ease regained.
  21. This is worth catching just for the scene in which Behdad, pulled before an Islamic judge for possession of banned DVDs, intermittently cowers and rages, and ultimately talks his way out of a flogging.
  22. The singing dolphins opener is a giddy prelude to an imaginative romp that's helped along in the slow patches by mind-bending visuals.
  23. Has memorable characters and images. Yet the story is elusive and occasionally puzzling, and some of the ideas are amorphous and self-conscious.
  24. The luminous images--as much the filmmakers' as the painter's--are occasionally transcendent.
  25. An efficient genre piece with a few provocative metaphysical trimmings; the mainly English cast is effective.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    while the war-as-insanity metaphor clearly fits the cruel, heartbreaking story, its force is undercut by a succession of character types -- ambitious television journalists, outmatched UN peacekeepers, overbearing politicians.
  26. Cruise holds the center of the film with a sharply focused performance, though his bonding with the wise samurai chieftain (Ken Watanabe) is noticeably more ardent than his soggy romance with the stoic wife of a man he killed in combat.
  27. Writers Jon Lucas and Scott Moore steal from the best, gleefully cribbing from "A Christmas Carol" to fashion a screenplay with heart and sharp one-liners.
  28. The special effects are incredible, blah blah blah, but oddly, the most effective element here is the original movie's striking visual design-everything pitch black except for the luminescent piping on the costumes and foreground objects-which was inspired by the primitive arcade games of the early 80s.
  29. 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.
  30. Needless to say, the plot goes nowhere, but under the pornographic circumstances Figgis, Cage, and Shue all do fine jobs.
  31. Chen tries to generate some suspense, but there's never any doubt which side has to win.
  32. Sam Rockwell plays the brother, and in his handful of scenes he skillfully tracks the character's slow decay from cocky loudmouth to thoroughly beaten man; Swank, delivering her usual spunky turn, suffers badly by comparison.
  33. The two leads keep the movie afloat with their light-footed class warfare. This Anglican buddy romance is buoyed by a spicy history lesson about the scandalous marriage of the duke's elder brother, Edward VIII, to the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson.
  34. An engaged and knowing look at the underground world of improvised rap, concentrating on artists less interested in commercial success and cutting records than in the "spontaneous right now" of "nonconceptual rhyme."
  35. Despite the aggressive silliness of this enjoyable comedy, the emotional focus on the painful social experience of high school makes the film real and immediate, and the flavorsome dialogue in Robin Schiff's script gives the leads a lot to work (as well as play) with.
  36. This is every bit as silly and adolescent as you'd expect from Besson, and about as contemporary as "The Perils of Pauline." But I was delighted by the balletic and acrobatic stunts, some of which evoke Tarzan.
  37. The narrative kept me glued to my seat.
  38. This time the quest plot involves Asian-American pals Harold and Kumar chasing after a Christmas tree to replace one they've accidentally burned down, but that's only an excuse for the relentless barrage of tasteless gags, most of them damned funny.
  39. Though the story drags for the first hour, this becomes a solid character study once the principals arrive at their hiding place.
  40. Occasionally cloying, but the distinguished British cast (Anna Massey, Robert Lang, Georgina Hale, Millicent Martin) generates considerable gravitas.
  41. Set in postwar Berlin, the story involves prostitution, black marketeering, and the death camps, and the tension between the visual style and the adult story makes the movie pretty engrossing -- it's an R-rated "Casablanca."
  42. For a family picture this is still superior.
  43. The result, though clearly flawed, is passionate and ambitious, celebrating that long-gone era when a book of verse could spark a revolution in consciousness.
  44. I appreciated its cogent history lesson, which details China's brutal treatment of Tibetan nationals from the late 1940s through the Cultural Revolution and into the '80s, when it executed 15,000 dissidents.
  45. Fresh, character driven, often funny, and unfashionably upbeat (as well as offbeat).
  46. Director Mark Bamford has a feel for the entanglements of daily life, and his lively editing rhythm holds the multiple stories together.
  47. Everyone in the cast conveys that messy mix of teen self-consciousness and bravado, but Josh Peck is particularly nuanced as the bully.
  48. Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) steals his every scene as the aphorism-spouting Fowley while Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning often fade into the 70s wallpaper as guitarist Joan Jett and front woman Cherie Currie.
  49. The film is still an entertaining and invigorating thriller, with a structure and some curious sexual overtones that suggest Howard Hawks's "A Girl in Every Port."
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    This engaging documentary traces the life of folk icon Pete Seeger, emphasizing his lifelong belief in the power of music as both a social and a political force.
  50. Despite a melodramatic score that at times seems almost facetious, the movie's tone is sober and sincere, its unlikely ending persuasive.
  51. The melodrama form allows Tornatore to examine such current issues as human trafficking and black-market babies within a yarn that, for all its sentiment, is never less than gripping.
  52. This documentary about the public education crisis isn't as smart or rigorous as Bob Bowdon's shoestring production "The Cartel," which arrived in town earlier this year and quickly vanished. But the new movie is still an admirable exercise in straight talk.
  53. Director Mike Barker elicits a marvelously agile performance from Hunt, who's well matched by Tom Wilkinson as her new admirer.
  54. Screwball office comedy.
  55. Thanks to a fairly good script, this thriller about a Soviet cop sent to Chicago to apprehend a Soviet drug dealer is a respectable enough star vehicle.
  56. Funny, moving, and insightful look at questions about identity and community.
  57. Posh meets prole in this period drama elegantly directed by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, Prick Up Your Ears).
  58. Nihilistic greed was the major factor when GM terminated the car in 2001, though Paine is also careful to note the passivity of the general public.
  59. Klores and Stevens don't have much to work with visually besides talking heads, old photos, news clippings, and stock footage, but with a narrative this insane, that's more than enough.
  60. Functions primarily as a suspense film, and it manages to be gripping even though the outcome is already known.
  61. Messy but engaging comedy.
  62. Compared to "My Neighbor Totoro" and "Kiki's Delivery Service," this is one of the anime master's weaker efforts.
  63. Like the Coens’ protagonist in "The Man Who Wasn’t There," Stuhlbarg is driven to an existential crisis, but in contrast to the earlier movie, with its tired noir moves, this one is earnestly engaged in the question of what constitutes a life well lived.
  64. Kiarostami tries to explain himself and reveals contradictions and a penchant for hyperbole--along with surprising insights.
  65. Spectacular CGI disasters.
  66. Harrelson returns in Moverman's second feature playing a similar character, a bullheaded LAPD officer whose long career with the force is unraveling amid a succession of brutality complaints, and although the role offers the same macho quotient as the earlier one, it's counterbalanced in this case by funny, observant scenes of his gyno-centric home life.
  67. In keeping with his models, West is concerned with not suspense exactly but the ritual withholding and ultimate lavishing of bloody chaos.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The plays and amusements the boys put on--by far the most successfully magical scenes in the movie--inspire Barrie to create his great work, "Peter Pan."
  68. A highly enjoyable and offbeat thriller.
  69. Inevitably it's a mixed bag, though the film's assurance in keeping it all coherent is at times exhilarating.
  70. The tradition goes back centuries, but by tracking the seven-year odyssey of a young girl named Guddi from dutiful daughter to family rebel, Brabbee is able to puncture the system's facade of social acceptability, exposing its contradictions in memorable fashion.
  71. This isn't all gold--there are lame riffs on a booze-swilling dog and a flabby old man with a boner--but it's well above average.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    For horror fans who crave a few laughs along with their ritual decapitations and limb severings.
  72. Largely free of generic horror-movie elements, such as exploitative torture and murder scenes. Those it does contain draw attention to the difference between the conventions of psychological drama and those of pulp horror.
  73. A fleet, enjoyable Jackie Chan romp.
  74. Steven Sebring spent a decade making this documentary about the punk poet, and it shows.
  75. The fulcrum of this deeply humanist work is an extended two-shot of the strike's leader, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), as he converses with a priest (Liam Cunningham); the virtuosic sequence encapsulates the whole sorry history of a horrific civil war.
  76. Anticapitalist propaganda that persuades and uplifts is in short supply these days.
  77. This dazzling CGI feature by DreamWorks Animation appropriates the vivid undersea psychedelia of "Finding Nemo," though in contrast to that movie, the father-son parable here is just an excuse to burlesque "The Godfather" for the 100th time.
  78. The bitterly beautiful black-and-white industrial and residential landscapes reflect the sense of anonymity felt by the characters.
  79. The notion that Page, like Marilyn Monroe, was too ditzy to know what she was doing is more a mythological construct than an observation.
  80. The behind-the-scenes access to professional kitchens, the intricacy of the desserts, the venerable traditions, and above all the camaraderie and respect the chefs extend each other reveal the craftsmen at their civilized best; think of this movie as the antidote to Gordon Ramsay.
  81. The movie brushes against some of India's worst social ills, but it's essentially a fairy tale.
  82. Robert Wieckiewicz is good as the conflicted protagonist, but the most valuable player here is cinematographer Jolanta Dylewska, who turns in handsome work even though most of the action transpires in inky blackness.
  83. The source material has undergone some sentimental softening, though Hope Davis, as the heroine's sister, does a swell job of making sanity seem obnoxious.
  84. A heart-wrenching performance from Brenda Blethyn sustains this 2009 drama by French writer-director Rachid Bouchareb.
  85. Mostly it's an overearnest examination of emotional and sexual fidelity.
  86. This gets very suspenseful (as well as fairly gruesome) in spots, and if it never adds up to anything profound, it's still a welcome change to have a lesbian couple as the chief identification figures.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    To her credit, Perry isn't taken in by Fujimori's attempts to distance himself from the controversies that plagued his presidency. Helped by Kim Roberts's excellent editing, she succinctly chronicles his unlikely ascent and subsequent collapse.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Befitting her subjects, director Leanne Pooley maintains a joyful tone throughout.
  87. Set in an expressively underlit environment, this rivetingly moody drama is enhanced by the restrained use of incidental music.
  88. Humorous touches add warmth without being cloying, but Mullan carries the film with his intelligence and rugged intensity: images of his barrel-chested physique against the craggy shore resound on such an elemental level as to be almost spiritual.
  89. Some powerful dialogue.
  90. Pacino is typically excitable but also strangely sad, as if the case could take all he's got; Williams, on the other hand, tries playing against type but still goes over the top.
  91. A painstakingly crafted nonrealist story, which doesn't seem to imply anything beyond what it depicts.
  92. Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves are both such guarded celebrities that I have a hard time imagining them as lovers, a problem this Chicago-based romantic fantasy surmounted by isolating them from each other almost entirely.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The film is never dull and often rousing, but this is essentially a conventional version of a classic opera--the attempt to transform it into a critique of macho hubris comes off as an afterthought, and the poverty is just a backdrop.

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