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 3.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 Badlands
Lowest review score: 0 RocknRolla
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. A highly entertaining form of ecological agitprop--radical but accessible.
  2. Stylish and effective, if slightly overlong, thriller.
  3. Gondry is a soft surrealist without much of a sociopolitical agenda, closer to Dr. Seuss than Luis Buñuel,
  4. This second feature doesn't resonate with nearly as much power, but its suspenseful story of two generations of career criminals in the city's northerly Charlestown neighborhood has a similarly haunting quality.
  5. It's hard to deny that Marlon Brando's performance as a dock worker and ex-fighter who finally decides to rat on his gangster brother (Rod Steiger) is pretty terrific.
  6. Writer-director Deepa Mehta fuses the soap-opera elements of her plot -- which reveals one sexual secret after another of the variously betrayed, selfish, and self-actualizing members of the two couples' New Delhi household--into profound drama.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Rife with earthy details and poetic associations, the movie often advances like a daydream.
  7. The moral dilemmas are perfectly fused with the amped-up action and outsize characters, but they're impossible to miss: like all of us, the people of Gotham have to protect themselves from evil without falling prey to it.
  8. It's a jaunty adaptation, almost screwball.
  9. This uplifting documentary breaks no new ground stylistically, but the story it tells is urgent and compelling.
  10. Nevertheless, the cast of mainly unknowns is so good, and Linklater is so adept at playing them off one another, that the two-hour running time never seems overextended.
  11. Winter's Bone often seems to be unfolding in a world apart, with its own moral logic and codes of conduct. It might feel like prison if it weren't so obviously home.
  12. Doesn't try too hard to be anything other than a vicarious experience that makes you crave the satisfaction you know you'll get when the hero gets his revenge.
  13. Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat) directs a sparking screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher (Stage Beauty) and Kimberly Simi; it starts as a frothy boudoir comedy but evolves into a masquerade by turns sweetly meditative and sharply satirical.
  14. The theories about sexuality and trauma artfully advanced in this previously unreleased 1975 debut of director Catherine Breillat (Romance, Fat Girl) are more nuanced and intuitive than those of most schools of psychology.
  15. Exuberant music and precision choreography furnish the thrills in this thoroughly enjoyable saga.
  16. In this littered environment there's no such thing as trash, only salvage, and the biggest threat to the siblings' humanity is a creeping tendency to think of themselves as commodities as well.
  17. Films that address faith and love as eloquently as this moving 2008 documentary are rare.
  18. Under the harsh lights of the meticulously re-created, claustrophobic bunker, that scrutiny is relentless.
  19. Fresh and edgy; the images of a wasted London and the details of a paramilitary organization in the countryside are both creepy and persuasive.
  20. The emotion here is genuine, but the outlook is tough: in Bahrani's movies we're all aliens to each other.
  21. This isn't the supreme masterpiece it might have been, but Nichols's direction is very polished and some of the lines and details are awfully funny.
  22. Despite its farcical moments, Late Marriage leaves an aftertaste as sobering as other recent films that critique cultural conservatives in the Middle East.
  23. It's a heady mix of the earnest, the grave, and the frivolous. Wizardly director Kevin Reynolds even manages to condense into a single shot, with a wisp of humor, several of the hero’s long years in a dungeon without making them any less grueling.
  24. xXx
    Director Rob Cohen supplies plenty of gore, attitude, loud music, and extreme-sports action -- in particular, a thrilling aerial drop that's followed by a crushing avalanche.
  25. In a perfect marriage of player and part, Reese Witherspoon is Elle Woods.
  26. Actor David Morse establishes himself as a truly formidable presence in this powerful first feature by Alex and Andrew Smith.
    • 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).
  27. If it speaks with a quieter voice than many of Bogdanovich's early pictures, what it has to say seems substantially more personal and thoughtful.
  28. The maternal triangle is pretty well handled too, giving a good sense of where Lennon came by all that exuberance and melancholy.
  29. Don't expect any psychological depth here, but the cool wit and fun... are deftly maintained, and Sonnenfeld provides a bountiful supply of both fanciful beasties and ingenious visuals.
  30. If you want to know what the Warhol scene was all about, this is even better than the documentaries.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    In his best film in years, Marco Bellocchio crafts a stringently moral tale that carries a hint of horror.
  31. The performances are strong (my favorite is Deborah Harry as an older waitress) and the sense of eroded as well as barely articulated lives is palpable.
  32. A funny but genuinely dark story.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A powerful indictment of the horrendous treatment of children who toil in hellish Bolivian silver mines. The filmmakers are better at fashioning haunting images than offering hard-nosed analysis, yet they never sentimentalize their young protagonists' plight.
  33. Melville's seedy characters and engrossing friendships are well preserved, thanks largely to strategic redeployment of his crisp dialogue. As revamped caper films go, this offers considerably more texture than Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's 11."
  34. Beautiful and challenging documentary.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    You're scared witless much of the time, even if you conclude afterward that this 1973 movie was really pretty amateurish and simpleminded.
  35. Subtly profound love story.
  36. 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.
  37. Franky G.'s performance as the protective yet combustible older brother is as real as it gets.
  38. Hysterically funny CGI fight sequences, which pit the chubby superhero against a series of creatures so bizarre they'd keep Hieronymus Bosch awake at night.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The net effect of which is like a prolonged visit to an amusement park--kids will love it.
  39. The sentimentality is held in check by Caine, who rises to the occasion with a bleak, angry performance.
  40. It's good old-fashioned rural gothic that would make Flannery O'Connor proud, with tricky switcheroos that keep shaking up our assumptions about what's going on.
  41. David Mackenzie, who directed the remarkable Scottish drama "Young Adam" (2003), delivers another masterful, disturbing tale of illicit passion, erotic obsession, and sudden death set in the 1950s.
  42. Unfortunately, a conclusion stuffed with so many improbabilities that it left me gaping in disbelief. Prior to that, this is pretty much fun.
  43. "American Casino" and Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" offered more striking images of the human wreckage, but Ferguson is more successful at nailing the perpetrators in New York and their gullible accomplices in Washington.
  44. One girl's melancholy (beautifully expressed by actress Kerry Washington) is a response to a fractured romance.
  45. A text that provokes thought more than directs it, which should fascinate new and repeat viewers for a long time.
  46. Director Ron Howard's deftness in suggesting the subjective experience of Crowe's character, who's later diagnosed with schizophrenia, makes for inspirational narrative.
  47. Surprisingly, this didactic and self-consciously clever romantic comedy isn't annoying -- it's refreshing, moving, and at times quite funny.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. The first half of the film, in which Maglietta gradually discovers herself as something other than a servant, is genuinely engaging.
  51. Disappointment, inhuman work schedules, sluggish exports, and the crush of a two-day rail journey ratchet up the familial tensions, which finally explode over a holiday dinner.
  52. Irish playwright Mark O'Rowe, who wrote the script, has an admirable sense of dramatic proportion that suits his intertwining stories; theater director John Crowley, making his film debut, has a sure hand with his actors; and an excellent cast enlivens this web of romantic and criminal intrigue, set in a gray suburb of Dublin. R.
  53. Despite the flashback structure, this is a film in which mood matters more than plot, while the hero's heroic stature steadily shrinks.
  54. As the furiously passive-aggressive title character, Jonah Hill delivers a craftier comic performance than anything in his box-office hits (Superbad, Get Him to the Greek), but what really elevates the story above its shticky premise is the combined neuroses of all three characters.
  55. Roman Polanski's first film in English (1965, 105 min.) is still his scariest and most disturbing--not only for its evocations of sexual panic, but also because his masterful employment of sound puts the audience's imagination to work in numerous ways...As narrative this works only part of the time, and as case study it may occasionally seem too pat, but as subjective nightmare it's a stunning piece of filmmaking.
  56. The climax, in which the detective's commanding officer gives him a dictionary and subjects him to a sort of linguistic browbeating, is a marvel of dead air and unspoken oppression.
  57. Darkly funny and metaphorically potent.
  58. This is quick and unpredictable storytelling, its dialogue simple but tough. Alberto Jimenez is excellent as the conscience-stricken father, whose duty to respect the law tests his relationship with his own son, and both kids, Juan Jose Ballesta and Pablo Galan, give passionate, committed performances.
  59. There's something almost wearying as well as exhilarating about the perpetual brilliance of Bosnian-born filmmaker Emir Kusturica.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Jonathan Demme's picaresque joyride across the American landscape is still arguably the best thing he's ever done.
  60. Catherine Keener is wonderfully weird as a vicious vice president of human relations, and Nicky Katt is brilliant as an actor playing Hitler in a stage play.
  61. This may be light family entertainment, but it's also a pleasingly perverse celebration of Victorian morbidity.
  62. Has the expressionistic simplicity of Kurosawa's other late films.
  63. Volatile and sometimes daring performances by Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu, Gilbert Melki, Malik Zidi, and Lubna Azabal (as twins) contribute to the highly charged and novelistic experience.
  64. Fascinating documentary.
  65. Solid formula comedy.
  66. Not only delightfully funny but unaffectedly romantic.
  67. Subtle and graceful directorial debut.
  68. Writers Liu Fen Dou and Cai Xiang Jun and director Zhang Yang move freely and gracefully between fantasy and reality in this sentimental film, which never becomes as trite or calculated as you might fear.
  69. The characters are drawn with such compassion their follies become our own and their desires seem as vast as the night sky.
  70. Eventually writer-director M. Night Shyamalan neutralizes Willis's star presence with impressive plotting that's a fine excuse for the powerful atmosphere.
  71. Trained in Sanford Meisner's acting techniques, the director wrests surprisingly emotional disclosures from his subjects.
  72. The premise provides a fine showcase for the two appealing actresses, who appropriate each other's vocal and physical mannerisms with dead-on accuracy.
  73. Its particularities are the best thing about it.
  74. Tom Hollander gives a strong performance as the considerate and quietly grieving young man.
  75. This movie has its share of laughs, but it's also Ron Howard's most personal film, and clearly his most ambitious--a multifaceted essay in fictional form about the diverse snares of child rearing.
  76. Danny Glover, as hard-rock reliable as Spencer Tracy in his prime, plays onetime pianist Tyrone "Pine Top" Purvis.
  77. On its deepest level it considers not a particular war but the complex feelings between mothers and the young men they send out into the world to kill or be killed.
  78. But if you can get swept up in the story, the movie is imaginative and compelling.
  79. Far and away the funniest comedy in town.
  80. This sequel to the apocalyptic splatter flick "28 Days Later" . . . (2002) is still well equipped to rip your face off.
  81. Kidman and Zellweger are uncommonly good, and I especially liked the timely treatment of war as universally brutalizing: even the outcomes of battles are ignored, as are the motives behind the conflict.
  82. Engrossing biopic, throbbing with style and attitude.
  83. Fernando Meirelles stresses old-fashioned storytelling and takes full advantage of his cast, including Danny Huston.
  84. Starts out silly, gets sillier by the minute, and frequently had me and most of the people around me in stitches.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The first half involves some dully familiar cross-cultural comedy, as the two grate on each other's nerves. But the descending action veers into unexpected emotional territory, deftly handled by screenwriter Alison Tilson.
  85. The script, by newcomer Sabina Murray, is occasionally cloying as the naive hero falls for a bitter prostitute (Bai Ling), but its epic tale of two cultures tragically entwined is anchored by deep and elemental emotions.
  86. The film's storytelling and heartfelt pantheism are both impressive.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Kari combines Kaurismaki's deadpan minimalism and Truffaut's sensitivity toward adolescent yearning with a hefty dose of gallows humor, and tops it all off with an apocalyptic ending.
  87. Charlize Theron, in nonglam mode, dominates this powerful drama about sexual harassment at a Minnesota iron ore mine in the early 90s.
  88. Transcendently kitschy, trippingly funny fairy tale, which has a surprising amount of psychological insight and a dance number to die for.
  89. The power and reach of this undertaking are formidable.
  90. As usual, Lee tries many kinds of stylistic effects and uses wall-to-wall music (by Aaron Copland and Public Enemy); what’s different this time is how personally driven the story feels.
  91. Just about everyone in this sharp, passionate feature is chillingly good.

Top Trailers