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 Persepolis
Lowest review score: 0 Play the Game
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Timely and informative.
    • 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.
  2. One thing I especially like about it, apart from the flavorsome 40s decor in color, is that it's silly in much the same way that many small 40s comedies were.
  3. Pivots on the characters' racism and xenophobia, playing tricks with our own biases and ultimately justifying an extravagant array of coincidences and surprises.
  4. Superlative chiller.
  5. There's nothing really new...but it has craft, pacing, and an overall sense of proportion, three pretty rare classic virtues nowadays.
  6. Combining the gentle with the vulgar as only the English can, this lively comedy is bursting with character and energy.
  7. For better and for worse, this is seductive storytelling as well as investigative journalism, and I wasn't always sure which mode I was in.
  8. This cagey and compelling 2004 documentary looks at the world of wine, but it's actually a nuanced, provocative piece of journalism about globalization and its discontents.
  9. None of the characters emerges as very sympathetic.
  10. Written by Steve Conrad, this is the smartest script director Gore Verbinski has ever had, and he makes the most of it, aided by a strong cast.
  11. Bug
    Steppenwolf alumnus Tracy Letts adapted his play into this fearsome horror movie, directed with single-minded claustrophobia by William Friedkin.
  12. Key action points are edited with finesse, but the denouement, with its dutiful hail of gunfire, is heartless and mechanical.
  13. Yet some of the laughs come too easy and linger too long; for the film's message to have maximum impact, the laughter has to stick in your throat.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Witty, satisfying, and a terrific showcase for the radiant Bening.
  14. If the relatively prosaic Minghella, making his movie debut, lacks the suggestive poetic sensibility of Lewton, he does a fine job in capturing the contemporary everyday textures of London life, and coaxes a strong performance out of Stevenson, a longtime collaborator. Full of richly realized secondary characters and witty oddball details, this is a beguiling film in more ways than one.
  15. A provocative and stirring climax to the Corleone saga, as well as an autonomous work that sometimes shows Coppola at his near best.
  16. You may not leave the theater having switched sides, but you'll probably respect the other side more, and that in itself would be a victory for human life.
  17. The tone -- a combination of earnestness and gallows humor -- is strangely appropriate.
  18. An extraordinarily subtle, witty, and nuanced work.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film is music from beginning to end, and nearly every note of it is magical.
  19. He looks like a truck ran over him, but at 52 he's still ripped enough to get away with the role; in the end the movie is about Rourke's indomitability more than the character's.
  20. Beautifully unemphatic small-town drama.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    More grim and less sentimental than other Iranian films featuring plucky children, this strikingly photographed work stresses the harshness of daily life in Iranian Kurdistan.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    I was hooked from the start.
  21. By turns morally compelling and racially paternalistic, this provocative drama may be the first halfway truthful war movie to hit multiplexes since "Three Kings."
  22. Part celebrity dish, part business journalism, this illuminating 2008 documentary about the legendary Italian designer Valentino Garavani spans the tumultuous final two years of his decades-long reign as one of the most successful innovators in the fashion industry.
  23. Pierre Morel's diving, spiraling camera keeps pace with Yuen Wo-ping's rapid-fire fight choreography, all smartly directed by Louis Leterrier.
  24. Sensitive, intelligent, enlightening, and sometimes surprising.
  25. The depiction of her risky voyage and what happens afterward is highly suspenseful and entirely believable.
  26. Dizdar inventively examines bigotry, combining daring humor and hyperbole, dark realism and shining idealism.
  27. Though Hanks keeps the satirical and critical aspects of this look at show biz fairly light, there's a lot of conviction and savvy behind the steadiness of his gaze, and his economy in evoking the flavor of the period at the beginning of the picture is priceless.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Might easily have been mawkish; instead it has a light comic edge and a dignity built on the fine characterization of Pauline.
  28. Def and Willis are both good, but Donner's lethal weapon here is Morse, a chronically overlooked character actor whose combined tenderness and ruthlessness make him the most fascinating heavy since Robert Ryan.
  29. Scenes of ingenious slapstick violence.
  30. Among the pleasures to be found here are some amusing sidelong glances at how movies get made and the singing talent of Streep as well as MacLaine. There's not much depth here, but Nichols does a fine job with the surface effects, and the wisecracks keep coming.
  31. Hassan Yektapanah's first film attests to the deceptive simplicity of Iranian cinema, transforming the most minimal of props, scenes, and stories into a complex journey of discovery.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There's no denying his (Ghobadi's) talent for suspense or his ability to get riveting performances from nonprofessionals.
  32. Ridiculous enough to be hilarious, but this didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying Philip Kaufman's silly romp.
  33. This is why movies were invented.
  34. Wise, gentle, and simply constructed.
  35. A few plot details strain credibility, but the characters (particularly the friend's sister and little boy) are persuasively depicted.
  36. A nicely shaped script by Chicagoans Rick Shaughnessy and Brian Kalata makes this independent comedy drama a pleasure to watch.
  37. What keeps all this from being trite and self-indulgent is Holofcener's willingness to make her characters' neuroses unattractive and self-destructive instead of cute and endearing.
  38. Director Simon West hits just the right note between self-conscious silliness and real dramatic intensity in this 1997 action thriller, which uses typecast actors to make the characters' one-liners and predictable behavior resonate.
  39. Carrey's attempted self-immolation in a men's room, which weirdly recalls certain Fred Astaire routines, may be a small classic.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Compelling collection of three loosely connected vignettes.
  40. The characters (both animal and human) are solidly conceived, and the storytelling and visuals are expertly fashioned.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is an engrossing look at obsessive behavior gone terribly awry.
  41. Despite a few bloodcurdling shocks, this handsome Spanish ghost story from producer Guillermo del Toro follows in the suggestive, richly romantic tradition of the old Val Lewton chillers.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A raw, wickedly clever comedy that also includes moments of genuine terror.
  42. Gervasi has tapped into a powerful if much-overlooked truth: humanity rocks.
  43. A worthy entry in the dystopian cycle of SF movies launched by "Blade Runner" (including "The Terminator" and "Robocop"), this seems less derivative than most of its predecessors yet equally accomplished in its straight-ahead storytelling, with plenty of provocative satiric undertones and scenic details.
  44. This documentary profile of poet and novelist Charles Bukowski exploits the writer's counterculture persona but also works to dispel it, revealing a gifted and extremely complicated man.
  45. 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.
  46. Spirited, quintessential, and often hilarious.
  47. Provocative and entertaining.
  48. 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.
  49. The wonderful Richard Farnsworth plays the lead, and he was clearly born for the part...a highly affecting and suggestive spiritual odyssey.
  50. Herzog deserves the lion's share of the credit for the movie's quality, but Port of Call New Orleans is also a comeback for Cage.
  51. Powerful second film by writer-director Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent).
  52. This potent, entirely honorable drama by veteran TV dramatist John Wells actually delivers the goods, pondering the pain and dislocation of the new normal.
  53. I was wooed by its sexy romanticism all the way through to the mysterious and beautiful coda.
  54. The tale of Rapunzel gets a cheeky make-over in this gorgeous Disney animation, which combines the studio's traditional hand-drawn look with the sculptural qualities of digital 3D.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The result is a blend of kitchen-sink and magical realism: sentimental, but well acted and freshly observed.
  55. An entertaining comedy-thriller directed with bounce (if not much nuance) by Barry Sonnenfeld.
  56. This is a fairly accomplished first feature -perky, visually inventive, and unusually nast
  57. Doesn't succeed in everything it sets out to do, which is a lot. But as a statement about the death rattle of 60s counterculture it's both thoughtful and affecting, and Daniel Day-Lewis is mesmerizing.
  58. "Sweetie" and "An Angel at My Table" have taught us to expect startling as well as beautiful things from Jane Campion, and this assured and provocative third feature offers yet another lush parable--albeit a bit more calculated and commercially minded--about the perils and paradoxes of female self-expression.
  59. Many reviews have suggested that this is as politically mild as a John Sayles movie, but Linklater clearly agrees with the frustrated kid who says, "Right now, I can't think of anything more patriotic than violating the Patriot Act."
  60. This 2005 feature is demanding to say the least, but its pulse-slowing rhythms leave a real sense of peace.
  61. A precious scrap of American history.
  62. Hysterically hyperbolic and unpleasant if still witty dissection of family traumas.
  63. Most impressive, Cantet tracks the racial and ethnic resentments that simmer beneath the classroom discussions but become harder to quell when the parents get involved.
  64. Writer-director Pupi Avati has a such a fine sense of narrative proportion that this Italian feature unspools like silk.
  65. Not even the crude ethnic humor--Billy Crystal's Mel Brooks-ish Miracle Max--pricks the dream bubble, and the spirited cast has a field day.
  66. The obviously authentic love these couples shared should settle the question for all but bigots.
  67. It's an edifying art history lesson, but it lacks the showmanship of, for example, Peter Greenaway's "Nightwatching."
  68. Still about as good as Allen gets, a persuasive, nuanced, and relatively graceful portrait of an egotistical yet talented jazz guitarist of the swing era, astutely played by Sean Penn.
  69. The dialogue is multilingual but largely incidental to the action; the physical comedy is gracefully rendered and often magical.
  70. This is a deeply engaging portrait of a remarkable man and a brutally frank indictment of the West's moral cowardice in the face of a tragedy it could have prevented.
  71. Quaid's buoyant earnestness complements the stunning, low-key performance by Caviezel, whose close-ups give new meaning to the idea that still waters run deep.
  72. The equation of Gilliam with Quixote is so obvious to everyone involved that Fulton and Pepe can hardly be blamed for adopting it.
  73. AKA
    Roy's story is fascinating in its own right, exploring the hero's mingled shame over his class background and homosexuality, and painting a vicious portrait of Britain's coke-snorting upper crust in the late 70s.
  74. A delicate balance of fantasy and realism, caricature and character study that isn't driven primarily by its plot or even the development of its protagonist.
  75. An adroit piece of storytelling from Irish writer-director Neil Jordan that's ultimately less challenging to conventional notions about race and sexuality than it may at first seem... The three leads are first-rate.
  76. A wily and dogged inquisitor, Broomfield cajoles and confronts a variety of witnesses, charting a web of intrigue that also involved the LAPD, the FBI, and assorted gangbangers and rogue cops.
  77. Disappointment, delusion, dementia, death--did I mention this is a comedy?
  78. McDormand has never been better, but all the performances are interestingly nuanced, including Natascha McElhone's as one of Bale's fellow psychiatric interns.
  79. The Maid may turn mostly on issues of housework, but it never feels trivial, because Silva is so skillful in exposing the alliances and levers of power inside the household.
  80. A brief but piercing cameo by Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake), as a desolate old woman who fiercely rejects professional counseling for depression, drives home Leigh's greatest insight, that true happiness is not found but realized.
  81. In short, I never quite believed the story, but this movie is more about feeling than thinking.
  82. Cheadle's quiet, superbly modulated performance as an ordinary man driven to heroism by hellish events reminds us that the slogan "no justice, no peace" has a private as well as a public dimension.
  83. Friendship is portrayed here in its finest form.
  84. Jensen's use of the conventions of documentary making -- and his undermining of them in ways both bold and subtle -- seems too canny and consistent for the form. Yet the harder I try to decide whether this is a documentary or a parody, the more I wonder why it matters.
  85. Inspired by anthropologist Donald Thomson's early-20th-century photographs, this collaboration between a Western filmmaker and the native people of Ramingining is an impressive achievement of ethnographic cinema.
  86. Turns out to be surprisingly layered.
  87. Mesmerizing dark fable, which also contains moments of comedy and action that don't disrupt its oddly earnest tone
  88. The special effects are beautifully handled and the reflections on death attractively peaceful.
  89. The cast - including Derek Jacobi as the modern-dress chorus, Paul Scofield, Judi Dench, Ian Holm, Emma Thompson, and Robbie Coltrane in an effective cameo as Falstaff - is uniformly fine without any grandstanding.

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