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. The immersive quality of 3-D is particularly well suited to undersea documentaries, and this one, directed by Howard Hall ("Into the Deep"), offers a close-up look at such fantastic creatures as the fried egg jellyfish, the mantis shrimp, the sand tiger shark, and the thuggish wolf eel.
  2. On paper this may sound like soap opera, but Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen (Mifune) have a good feel for character, and they're aided by a fine cast.
  3. This smart and rocking video documentary by Tim Irwin follows the trio from its origins in suburban San Pedro, California, in 1979 to the death of singer-guitarist D. Boon in a 1985 car crash, which ended his deep and creatively fruitful friendship with bassist Mike Watt.
  4. As a director Carnahan definitely has the goods: the opening foot chase, a sequence that's been done to death, is genuinely terrifying.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's MTV meets Merchant-Ivory, at once manneristic, hallucinatory, and exhilarating.
  5. There aren't many movies that deal with middle-aged women, and this one manages to do so with a fair amount of wit and heart.
  6. The film's warmth and sympathy are underlined by some intelligence.
  7. Kar Kar's singing is wonderfully expressive, and an improvised song to his wife at her grave site demonstrates the emotional wellspring of his music.
  8. Witty and satisfying.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Their use of multiple formats-including digital video, Super 8, and 35-millimeter slides-gives the movie the texture of a worn scrapbook.
  9. Jean Gabin wasn't yet 50 when he starred as a big-time, high-style gangster hoping to retire, but he still looks pretty wasted, and this pungent tale about aging and friendship, adapted from a best-selling noir thriller by Albert Simonin, would be hard to imagine without his puffy features.
  10. Miraculously, De Niro and Grodin turn this sow's ear into a plausible vehicle for a buddy movie, and thanks to both of them, this movie springs to life.
  11. Brilliantly conceived and competently executed.
  12. Spielberg does an uncommonly good job both of holding our interest over 185 minutes and of showing more of the nuts and bolts of the Holocaust than we usually get from fiction films. Despite some characteristic simplifications, he's generally scrupulous about both his source and the historical record.
  13. The sadism of "1,000 Corpses" is ameliorated here by the addition of an action plot and open spaces, and the comedy is more skillfully played, mingling agreeably with Zombie's ardor for southern trash culture (the final showdown plays out to the strains of "Freebird," for heaven's sake)
  14. Reputed to be sentimental crowd pleaser, for better and for worse.
  15. The results are high-spirited, with nice ensemble work from Almodovar's team of regulars, but the playlike structure (originally derived from Cocteau's The Human Voice but drastically reworked) is disappointingly conventional.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Mott Hupfel II's noirish photography, Pete Beaudreau's smooth editing, and McAbee's wry script are all wonderful, and Dawn Weisberg's costumes are especially killing.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The players deftly balance flip caricature with a surprisingly moving depiction of those trapped in the celluloid closet.
  16. Striking for its performances -- especially Anthony LaPaglia.
  17. Starting off as a low-key psychological drama, this suddenly turns into a murder mystery that's resolved awkwardly and ambiguously, but the fascination of the characters and milieu remains.
  18. An awesomely, stiflingly professional piece of work, with a fleet, superficial visual style, perfectly placed climaxes, and a screenplay (by Douglas Day Stewart) that doesn't waste a single character or situation - everything is functional, and nothing but functional.
  19. This is a worthy successor to Chinatown - full of ecological and geological insights into Los Angeles history that recall Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald and give a view of southern California that could have been conceived only by a native.
  20. The performances are so gripping that the movie works despite its diagrammatic structure, which focuses on ironic rhymes between past and present and leaves out the entirety of the couple's marriage.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A comic and moving examination of life in an impoverished South London housing complex, features marvelous performances, especially from Leigh stalwart Timothy Spall.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An entertaining and atmospheric revenge tale.
  21. Equally impressive is Duncan's stylish handling of decor, dialogue, narrative ellipsis, and pacing, all of which call to mind the Hollywood master Ernst Lubitsch.
  22. Quirky and nuanced, this movie has a lot to say about sibling rivalry and the current music scene.
  23. This is effective as straight-ahead, action-packed storytelling, losing some of its energy only in the final stretch.
  24. Starting with its romantic and inappropriate title, this is an old-fashioned melodrama, the same movie about police corruption and a cultural crisis of morality that Lumet has been making since the 70s, starting with "Serpico".
  25. There's something a mite pathetic about our culture still clinging to 007, but it's hard to deny that this is one of the most entertaining entries in the Bond cycle, which started with "Dr. No" (1962).
  26. Leisurely pacing of this kind is likely to register as a form of respect for the viewer's intelligence and observation.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This little picture charms by virtue of its craft and patience.
  27. Notwithstanding its occasional grotesque nods to postmodernist convention, this is highly entertaining Hollywood filmmaking, full of spark and vigor.
  28. Tim Burton finally fulfills the promise of "Beetlejuice" with this imaginative masterpiece.
  29. This is the first feature I've seen by writer-director Dominique Deruddere, and I hope it won't be the last.
  30. Amiably unvarnished... Much more successful than most other films that deal with daily life in the projects.
  31. Enhanced by Jason Staczek's superb score, this is characteristically intense and, unlike most of Maddin's silent-movie models, frenetically edited.
  32. Haneke is still a masterful director, and his authority carries this well-acted and attractively shot account of a family from an unnamed city trying to survive in the sticks after an unspecified catastrophe.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This period action comedy by Jiang Wen (Devils on the Doorstep) is great fun in the Shakespearean tradition, stuffed with lively characters, dramatic stand-offs, and stolen-identity subplots.
  33. This David Cronenberg masterpiece (1991) breaks every rule in adapting a literary classic - maybe On Naked Lunch would be a more accurate title - but justifies every transgression with its artistry and audacity.
  34. So perversely enjoyable it gives the lie to her (Breillat's) image as a serious, politically incorrect purveyor of pornographic instincts.
  35. The slick satire cleverly equates materialism, narcissism, misogyny, and classism with homicide, but you may laugh so loud at the protagonist that you won't be able to hear yourself laughing with him.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Johnny To is considered one of the best action filmmakers in Hong Kong, and in this smart, stylized gangland thriller (2005) he looks at the messy inner workings of a triad.
  36. The concept itself is so strong - particularly as a revenge fantasy for anyone who's ever resented hypocritical exploitative shrinks - that it winds up working pretty well anyway.
  37. Ferguson is admirably tenacious in assigning blame for the boneheaded mistakes that have doomed Iraqi reconstruction. Paul Bremer, former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, is hung out to dry.
  38. This is a twilight film, full of sorrow yet lyrical, beautiful, and dark.
  39. The resulting portrait shows a seriously troubled man whose brutality was bred into him on the punishing streets of Brooklyn and whose modest wisdom seems as hard-won as any title. Tyson's fight career may be over, but his battle with himself has many rounds to go.
  40. Crisp supporting turns by John Turturro (as a hostage negotiator) and James Gandolfini (as the mayor) combine with plenty of vehicular mayhem to make this a superior diversion.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The contrast between Cadigan in recovery and at his most disturbed provides an excellent antidote to romanticized and sensationalized portrayals of mental illness in Hollywood films and on TV talk shows.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs) gives a charismatic lead performance as Dee, a historical figure who became a folk hero, but the real attraction is Tsui's giddy imagination.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    It's a haunting portrait of a young man who, while genuinely gifted and loved by friends and family, couldn't cope with the world.
  41. Screenwriter Mark Bomback doesn't do much with the backstory scenes linking Pine and Washington to their worried families, but the main story is gripping, flawlessly paced, and nicely grounded in operational detail.
  42. Fleet, gripping documentary.
  43. But like much of Herzog's work, it's essentially apolitical, focusing on a man at war with his environment -- and no one plunges into the foliage like he does.
  44. For a Disney movie, Holes is mercifully low in saccharine.
  45. I can't say that this feature by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, about the life and art of Harvey Pekar, made me want to run out and buy his comic books, but it does offer a highly interesting and original introduction to them.
  46. This has much of the warmth and feeling for adolescence that Crowe displayed in his first feature ("Say Anything"), though the slick showboating of "Jerry Maguire" isn't entirely absent either.
  47. Superior 2002 farce by Walsh, Roberts, and Katie Roberts, all veterans of Chicago's ImprovOlympic who went on to form the Upright Citizens Brigade.
  48. Masterful low-budget drama.
  49. The movie is perfectly appropriate for girls, and its opening scenes play like a more intelligent and historically grounded version of their G-rated princess dramas.
  50. Less a biography than a diplomatic history of Britain in World War II, the movie draws a satisfying narrative arc from his extended campaign to rally President Roosevelt and the American public to Britain's defense.
  51. The story didn't fully answer all my queries about the characters, but did such a nice job of keeping me interested that I wound up appreciating the mysteries that remained.
  52. We finally learn much more about Moskowitz than about Mossman, and more about Mossman than about his novel, but Moskowitz's passion for books is irresistible.
  53. The film is full of finely observed details.
  54. Morris argues that the photos also functioned as a cover-up: prosecution of the case centered on them, leaving free and clear many of those higher up the chain of command.
  55. This corny and manipulative movie taxes your ability to suspend disbelief and predictably punishes characters for their hubris--earmarks of a great disaster flick, if the tone is just right.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A late radical shift in tone, from jittery exuberance to ruinous alienation, strikes an impressive contemporary note amid all the obeisance to custom.
  56. This extraordinary Italian thriller is a study in contrasts: light versus dark, youth versus maturity, the playful versus the lethal.
  57. This engrossing documentary widens to consider the phenomenon of viral videos and the humiliation they can bring to their sometimes unsuspecting victims.
  58. The extraordinary child actress Ana Torrent (Cria) made her debut here at the age of five. Much in the film is derivative, but Erice excels in precise evocations of childhood feelings.
  59. The simple premise of one scene of table-turning voyeurism is brilliant.
  60. Some have compared this French crime drama to "The Godfather," and though that may be a common critical touchstone, writer-director Jacques Audiard manages to replicate its most elusive element, not the dark comedy or the operatic bloodletting but the incremental corruption of a decent man into a willful, coldhearted killer.
  61. The incredible adventures pile up unrelentingly, with no inflection, no downtime, and each new space is a set decorator's hallucination, as brightly colored as a candy store on acid.
  62. They deliver a clear and compelling primer on the federal budget deficit, the trade deficit, and the personal debt crisis, all of which are driving our country toward a catastrophic financial meltdown.
  63. I was haunted afterward by its seething rage at the malicious paternalism and sexual hypocrisy of fundamentalist Christians.
  64. It's unclear whether this macho thriller does anything to improve the state of the world or our understanding of it, but it certainly sets off enough rockets to hold us and shake us for every one of its 99 minutes.
  65. Many of the elements in this story about a woman who's nearly eclipsed by her overbearing mother are all too familiar, yet the combination is utterly charming.
  66. What mainly registers is the quiet desperation and simple pleasures of ordinary midwestern lives, the fatuous ways that people cover up their emotional and intellectual gaps, and the alternating pointlessness and cuteness of human existence. This may be a masterpiece of sorts, but it left me feeling rotten.
  67. Both lead actors are wonderful, and director Ziad Doueiri (West Beirut) artfully addresses the cultural and even spiritual dimensions of the story without losing sight of the lovers' tenderness and confusion.
  68. A treat for balletomanes, this 2001 feature may be too precious for others.
  69. A hokey but highly entertaining tale of corporate greed that should be especially satisfying if you're pissed off at big business.
  70. The astronaut interviews are fun and occasionally moving, but the real reason to see this is the remastered archival footage, some of it previously unseen and all of it spectacular.
  71. This fourth installment is a complete reboot, returning to the web-slinger's creation story, and Garfield, more than any other factor, contributes to the sense of a bleaker vision along the lines of "The Dark Knight."
  72. The one mystery Black and Eastwood can't solve is Hoover's love life - perhaps because the solution is too simple to be believed.
  73. There isn't an ounce of flab or hype, and the story it tells is profoundly affecting.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    A camp musical-comedy hoot. It comes on like an outrageous episode of "The Simpsons" or "South Park."
  74. It's presented in such a nicely understated manner, and Ambrose turns in such a good lead performance, that it rises several notches above most of today's teen movies.
  75. What this movie has going for itself in spite of its cloying pleas for indulgence is a playful and interesting narrative structure that precludes much development and comes to the fore only toward the end. The whole thing may drive you batty, but as with "Rushmore," the melancholy aftertaste lingers.
  76. Juicy, adroit, and likable.
  77. Audaciously combining conviction and childish humor, this SF thriller reminds us that the distinction between the tangible and the intangible may be frighteningly arbitrary--an idea that's made too scary ever to seem trivial, no matter how silly things get.
  78. Initially this seems naive and archaic, but it conceals a Buñuelian stinger in its tail.
  79. Woody Allen's bad movies often seem to be taking place in some kind of upper-class fantasy world, which may be the reason I find this upfront fantasy to be his funniest, most agreeable comedy in years.
  80. This comic fantasy is the best vehicle he's (Sandler) ever had, a high-concept goof that gradually darkens into an emotional nightmare reminiscent of Capra.
  81. Very competently mounted and acted (there are also juicy parts for Judy Davis, Tony Shalhoub, and Jon Polito), this is basically a midnight-movie gross-out in Sunday-afternoon art-house clothing--an intriguing novelty that revels in effect while oozing with cryptic signifiers.
  82. Kerrigan returns with his best work to date, at least in terms of narrative drive and suspense.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Joe Johnston - returning to the vibe of his first directorial effort, "The Rocketeer" (1991) - creates a fun retro-futurist environment with a World War II setting, and he has the discernment not to let the effects overwhelm the story.
  83. Scary and exciting.
  84. Funny? This one is. It's also sweet and thoughtful.
  85. Cuesta directs the lead actors with such feeling that their misery seems authentic.

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