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 Bamako
Lowest review score: 0 Saw II
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Provides glorious escapism without asking you to turn your brain off.
  2. I'm not sure what it all means, but, as in Ed Wood, Burton's visual flair and affection for the characters make it fun.
  3. Director James Cameron dumps the decorative effects of Ridley Scott's 1979 Alien in favor of some daring narrative strategies and a tight thematic focus.
    • 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.
  4. Sitting in the theater, you're liable to buy all this simply for the pleasure of watching Caine work. Like Eastwood and other actors of his vintage, Caine brings to the project not only his own formidable skills but more than half a century of movie history.
  5. No simple tabloid recap. Gibney applies himself to two mysteries, neither of which he unravels but both of which make for gripping cinema.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The conduct of the French intelligentsia under Nazi occupation remains a tender topic, and the 2002 release of Bertrand Tavernier's film about two filmmakers who follow divergent paths through the Vichy years stirred intense controversy.
  6. The main interest here is the juxtaposing of Gosling's Method acting with Hopkins's more classical style, a spectacle even more mesmerizing than the settings.
  7. The casting of Michael Douglas against type as an over-the-hill novelist and writing professor is the sort of clever move that wins undeserved Oscars.
  8. It's more than a simple improvement, inverting some of the original's qualities so that the impersonal, well-crafted filmmaking remains lucid throughout.
  9. Greengrass takes pains to keep events believable and relatively unrhetorical, rejecting entertainment for the sake of sober reflection, though one has to ask how edifying this is apart from its reduction of the standard myths.
  10. This film by Julio Medem has dreamlike visuals, lush sensuality, a gorgeous cast, and a plot built on elaborate, self-conscious coincidences.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Almereyda's respect for his audience and his queasiness about the present register with equal weight, reinventing the poetry in the most relevant ways possible.
  11. The illicit lovers in this eerie South Korean drama communicate whole worlds without ever speaking.
  12. Since the virtues of heroism and decency it celebrates are universal, I hope it doesn't get absorbed into the dubious agitprop of American exceptionalism.
  13. Given what Young charges for concert tickets, all his organs could be gold. So I was even more grateful for this documentary of his August 2005 shows at the fabled Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, expertly directed by Jonathan Demme.
  14. 4
    Puzzling, intriguing, and often compelling, apparently set in the present but magical and futuristic in tone.
  15. 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.
  16. If you can accept the flouting of logic and credibility that usually goes with this kind of horror picture, this scary and suspenseful genre exercise, chock-full of false alarms and brutal shocks, really delivers.
  17. This is scandal-mongering fun that also lays bare the deforming power of the male aristocracy.
  18. The blend of animation techniques somehow demonstrates mastery modestly, while the special effects are nothing short of magnificent.
  19. To my taste, the only serious drawback to this absorbing film is Harris's unimaginative adherence to documentary convention, which obliges him to "illustrate" the voice-overs even when the material matches the narratives only in fictional terms.
  20. Stylistically, it's a remarkable effort -- with a continuous sense of gliding motion -- and the film is entertaining and gripping throughout.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Actor Justin Theroux makes an impressive directorial debut, aided by David Bromberg's mordantly funny dialogue.
  21. This 2006 drama may seem to be worlds apart from the surreal theme-park setting of Jia's previous film, "The World," but there are similarities of theme, style, scale, and tone: social and romantic alienation in a monumental setting, a daring poetic mix of realism and lyrical fantasy, and an uncanny sense of where our planet is drifting.
  22. Animation may be the ideal medium for replicating dreams, and in this unsettling feature by Ari Folman it also proves well suited to autobiography.
  23. The most gleeful movie about a single-minded kid since "A Christmas Story."
  24. Robert Redford's best and richest directorial effort.
  25. An entertaining product that presents a powerful artistic vision.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Gleeson makes the movie worthwhile and fun, in spite of its occasional overuse of Leone-Morricone spaghetti-western riffs.
  26. As scripted by Michael Arndt, this isn't much more than a glorified sitcom, but it deftly dramatizes our conflicting desires for individuality and an audience to applaud it.
  27. Erkel's folk-flavored music sounds a lot like middle-period Verdi, but many of the melodies are ravishing.
  28. A must-see.
  29. Rodriguez's unironic directing brings out the complexity of characters painfully aware of the stereotypes they represent and allows this gripping, scary, and romantic movie to offer more than factoids about other movies the filmmakers have seen too many times.
  30. The film is made up chiefly of found footage and therefore lacks the mise en scene of its predecessors, but it has the added benefit of Davies's voice-over narration, which, thanks to his training and experience as an actor, is enormously powerful.
  31. 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.
  32. John Cameron Mitchell directed, making an impressive detour in style and subject matter after his flamboyant "Shortbus" (2006) and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (2001).
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Eschewing special effects, Moreau and Palud reinvigorate the classic haunted house premise by paring the plot down to its essentials.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Fontaine and Jacques Fieschi collaborated on the screenplay, and Jocelyn Pook's chilly string score nicely evokes the menace underlying the film's plush settings.
  33. Fascinating group portrait of soul and R & B legends who are still touring 40 years after their original fame, enduring even after they've been relegated to the nostalgia circuit.
  34. But aside from a few overblown production numbers, Columbus respects the show's smaller scale, and the property itself is a knockout, with great tunes and engaging portraits of East Village bohemians in the AIDS-ravaged late 80s.
  35. Writer-director Benjamin Heisenberg serves up a lean and solidly satisfying existentialist thriller.
  36. For me it felt like a good many weeks at a politically correct summer camp, though the talented actors--including Cecilia Roth, Eloy Azorin, Marisa Paredes, Toni Canto, Antonia San Juan, and Penelope Cruz--certainly seem to enjoy the taste of the characters they're playing.
  37. The story is so black-and-white that one feels like hissing the villain (Kenneth Branagh) and cheering the heroines at every stage, but it's so amazing that the simplicity of the telling seems warranted.
  38. A runaway hit in Hong Kong, this 2002 crime thriller reinvigorated the genre with its airtight script, taut editing, and sleek cinematography.
  39. Captures all the action of a tumultuous season while showing the emotional toll on the players.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Chris Smith, codirector of the indie sleeper "American Movie," dreamed up this funny one-hour documentary, about five freaky homes and the people who live in them.
    • 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.
  40. In many respects this is a black counterpart to The Naked Gun, and very nearly as funny; the bounty of antimacho gags is both unexpected and refreshing.
  41. Long, grim, but utterly engrossing.
  42. Thanks to her fearless, charismatic star, Ondi Timoner has directed one of the more hopeful movies of the year.
  43. More good-natured than Michael Moore, these guys score by raising the issue of just how much their amateur antics exaggerate the neocon principles of the WTO.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    If you're a fan of professional bad boy and Spanish gender bender Pedro Almodovar, far be it from me to dissuade you from enjoying this elaborate Chinese-box narrative, which boasts an especially resourceful performance by Gael Garcia Bernal.
  44. For one of the first times in his career Jean-Luc Godard has elected not to hector and harass his audience, and it seems to have paid off.
  45. It's a piece of disposable fluff -- though that's exactly what's so appealing about it.
  46. Spheeris, who includes her offscreen questions, evidently sympathizes with her subjects, though this doesn't stop her from pointing out their hypocrisy.
  47. If you think 85 minutes devoted to a "difficult" French philosopher is bound to be either abstruse or watered-down middlebrow stuff, think again.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This suspenseful, beautifully acted Dickensian drama forces us to confront our own bloodlust: do we root for the teen to win a moral victory or to beat the bad guy to a pulp?
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Best of all, and unusual for a screenwriter, Anderson handles the science consistently (maybe even scientifically).
  48. Free of grandstanding and sentimentality, this powerful 2008 documentary follows missions to Liberia and the Congo undertaken by volunteers for Medecins Sans Frontieres.
  49. 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.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A bit abstract, though gorgeously shot (by John Alonzo) and cleverly plotted (by Robert Towne), Polanski's film suggests that the rules of the game are written in some strange, untranslatable language, and that everyone's an alien and, ultimately, a victim.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An exquisitely structured drama.
  50. Strikes an impressive balance between the gathering tension of its noirish plot and the philosophical implications of the characters' compromises. That balance slips in a morose and dreadfully lethargic third act, but before Ceylan goes all Kiarostami on us this is a substantial European entry in a genre that American filmmakers can't seem to master anymore.
  51. Screenwriter Kate Boutilier provides plenty of sharp patter, and Paul Simon contributed the catchy song "Father and Daughter."
  52. The episodic structure works to the movie's benefit, highlighting the eccentric supporting characters and allowing Mendes to smoothly downshift from hilarity to sadness.
  53. The story offers lessons in faith and self-esteem; the darker passages of the child's journey are countered by shimmering, cascading beacons of light; and fine period detail adds to the nostalgic glow.
  54. This is superior family entertainment--warm, thoughtful, and connected to the landscape.
  55. The plot of the picture is familiar, but it's realized with such delicacy and affection for the characters that it seems as fresh and warm as its verdant setting.
  56. I don't much like movies about junkies...but this is easily the liveliest and most inventive I've seen since "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989).
  57. The high-powered drive of both the storytelling and the music is riveting.
  58. As the star-crossed couple, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon contribute all their own vocals, and their soapier scenes together reminded me of no less than the 1954 "A Star Is Born."
  59. 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.
  60. The movie overall may be routine, but Donner gives it some spark and polish.
  61. The broad Italian family humor gets so thick at times that you could cut it with a bread knife.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The animators have re-created equine movement and behavior with uncanny verisimilitude.
  62. Absorbing thriller.
  63. I wondered if the movie would end with a round of knock-knock jokes, but instead there's a hilarious trash-talking session with the four guys sitting around gutting one another like fish.
  64. It's gripping and provocative, making effective use of Charles Berling and the music of Sonic Youth, though I wish it were a little less indebted to David Cronenberg's "Videodrome."
  65. The movie's no roller-coaster ride, but there isn't a boring moment either.
  66. Duke is a superb director of actors, and, as in "Deep Cover", Fishburne manages to suggest a lot with a deft economy of means.
  67. Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith's script has its witty moments, and some of the secondary characters--such as Larry Miller as the father and Daryl "Chill" Mitchell as an irritable teacher--are every bit as quirky as the leads.
  68. The premise of this South Korean import may call to mind that of another, Bong Joon-ho's recent suspense film "Mother," but Poetry is another bird entirely: true to the title, writer-director Lee Chang-dong is principally concerned with rendering emotions that seem inexpressible.
  69. Disney goes meta in this witty, exuberant musical comedy whose parody and nostalgia serve a sweet and affecting romance.
  70. 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.
  71. Absorbing and intelligent.
    • 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.
  72. As storytelling it isn'’t always as clean as it might be, but this 1998 first feature by writer-director Lisa Cholodenko is an interesting debut for its nuanced sense of character and its terrific sex scenes--scenes that actually serve character development for a change.
  73. Columbus beautifully realizes many of Rowling's fantastic conceits -- but for the last hour I was searching for a spell to make the credits appear.
  74. Francis Coppola's stylish and heartfelt tribute to the innovative automobile designer Preston Thomas Tucker turns out to be one of his most personal and successful movies.
  75. The portrait of Carter has been described as hagiography, but it isn't a stretch to view his quiet integrity as saintly next to the track records of his successors.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The movie can't live up to Robert Rossen's 1961 classic, "The Hustler" but with its strong performances, neatly crafted script, and low-budget feel, it comes a lot closer than "The Color of Money."
  76. After decades of revisionist westerns, this drama by TV veteran David Von Ancken is impressive for its stubborn classicism.
  77. Silly, sophomoric, and slapped together, but would you want it any other way?
  78. Ruppert makes a compelling argument that the world is approaching a paradigm shift unlike anything in human history.
  79. A colorful cast whose combined energy lifts the story off the ground.
  80. An engrossing tale of ego, strategy, and the limits of human intelligence.
  81. It's not supposed to be a revelation--just a pleasant rendition of a teen-comedy trope
  82. This may have its occasional dull stretches, but in contrast to "Saving Private Ryan" it's the work of a grown-up with something to say about the meaning and consequences of war.
  83. Ben Affleck directed and cowrote the script; his biggest gamble was casting his irksome little brother as a pistol-whipping tough guy, but the picture is so superbly executed in every other respect that Casey seems more quirky than miscast.

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