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 The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
Lowest review score: 0 Suddenly
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Perhaps the greatest and most revolutionary of Bresson's films, Balthazar is a difficult but transcendently rewarding experience, never to be missed.
  2. Sharp, entertaining, and convincing--discursive, but with a sense of structure and control that Coppola hasn't achieved since.
  3. The film's superb first two hours, which weave social and historical themes into rich personal drama, turn out to be only a prelude to the magnificent final hour--an extended ballroom sequence that leaves history behind to become one of the most moving meditations on individual mortality in the history of the cinema. (Review of 1983 Release)
  4. The result was one of Bergman's most haunting and suggestive films.
  5. An enduring masterpiece--dark, deep, beautiful, aglow.
  6. A great film but also one of the most upsetting films I know.
  7. An early voice-over segment about the Casbah itself, before Gabin makes an appearance, is so pungent you can almost taste the place, even though the filming was clearly done in a studio.
  8. Unlike most horror movies, this chiller gives equal prominence to reality and fantasy, though the reality is far more frightening. The only precedent that comes to mind in terms of a lyrical treatment of a child's experience of terror is "The Night of the Hunter."
  9. Departing from a masterful manipulation of space, Lang transforms the futuristic city of the title into a field of dreams centered on death and sexuality.
  10. The opening half-hour--the burglary of a jewelry store, filmed in meticulous detail--is as good as its inspiration in The Asphalt Jungle, but the film turns moralistic and sour in the last half, when the thieves fall out.
  11. In a truly great movie the form becomes indistinguishable from the story, and that’s certainly the case here.
  12. Wong Kar-wai's idiosyncratic style first became apparent in this gorgeously moody second feature.
  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.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    Superbly rendered CGI animation.
    • 96 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Lester serves up a helping of what, on this side of the pond, we came to think of as kicky, mod British filmmaking
  14. Charlie Chaplin finally got around to acknowledging the 20th century in this 1936 film, which substitutes machine-age gags for the fading Victoriana of his other work. Consequently, it's the coldest of his major features, though no less brilliant for it.
  15. The founding of Facebook becomes a tale for our times in this masterful social drama.
  16. The movie is hugely compelling on a moral and emotional level - I was completely hooked - yet it also revealed to me in numerous small and concrete ways what it's like to live in a contemporary theocracy.
  17. A veritable salad of mixed genres and emotional textures, this exciting black-and-white cold war thriller runs more than two hours and never flags for an instant...A powerful experience, alternately corrosive with dark parodic humor, suspenseful, moving, and terrifying.
  18. Enchanting and impressively crafted.
  19. Tarantino's mock-tough narrative--which derives most of its titillation from farcical mayhem, drugs, deadpan macho monologues, evocations of anal penetration, and terms of racial abuse--resembles a wet dream for 14-year-old male closet queens (or, perhaps more accurately, the 14-year-old male closet queen in each of us), and his command of this smart-alecky mode is so sure that this nervy movie sparkles throughout with canny twists and turns.
  20. Shot on a year's worth of weekends on a minuscule budget (less than $20,000), this remarkable work--conceivably the best single feature about ghetto life that we have--was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry as one of the key works of the American cinema, an ironic and belated form of recognition for a film that has had virtually no distribution. It shouldn't be missed.
  21. Such is the extraordinary achievement of The Hurt Locker: it has the perspective of years when those years have yet to pass.
  22. Captivating, mesmerizing, spellbinding.
  23. The movie's first half is largely free of dialogue, playing like silent comedy, while the second act offers a breathtaking tour of the cosmos.
  24. It's one of the best movies about revolutionary and anticolonial activism ever made, convincing, balanced, passionate, and compulsively watchable as storytelling.
  25. Payne's entertaining but familiar comedy lacks the insolence of his "Election" and the freshness of his work with Kathy Bates in "About Schmidt."
  26. Ties everything together with a dazzling synthesis of pagan animism, heroic quest mythology, orientalism, Pre-Raphaelite imagery, 1950s sci-fi creature features, and Hollywood war epics.
  27. I haven't seen the shorter version, but I would hate to lose one moment of the gripping 66-minute sequence-really the heart of the movie-in which Carlos plots and executes his spectacular 1975 raid on the meeting of OPEC ministers in Vienna.
  28. Frightening, funny, profound, and mysterious.
  29. The juxtaposition of liberal Jewish attorney Dershowitz (Silver) and von Bulow working together on the latter's defense makes for some engagingly offbeat drama, with some interesting insights into the legal process.
  30. The first Ang Lee film I've seen that I've liked without qualification.
  31. 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.
  32. The film was hugely successful and widely praised in its time, though it's really nothing more than the old C.B. De Mille formula of titillation and moralizing--Roman orgies and Christian martyrs--with only a fraction of De Mille's showmanship.
  33. Perhaps the most formally ravishing-as well as the most morally and ideologically problematic-film ever directed by Martin Scorsese. (Review of Original Release).
  34. Buñuel conjures with Freudian imagery, outrageous humor, and a quiet, lyrical camera style to create one of his most complex and complete works, a film that continues to disturb and transfix.
  35. It binds up introductory lessons in music appreciation, Freudian psychology, and fanciful history with a pulp thriller plot.
  36. The result is a film that hovers just beyond our grasp--mysterious, beautiful, and, very possibly, a masterpiece.
  37. Zwigoff not only presents a complex human being and the range of his art but also guides us through a profound and unsettling consideration of what it means to be an American artist. Essential viewing.
  38. Yang seems to miss nothing as he interweaves shifting viewpoints and poignant emotional refrains.
  39. he Diving Bell and the Butterfly fuses experimental techniques with a highly accessible and sometimes humorous narrative; it’s deeply personal yet universal in its humanism.
  40. 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.
  41. As LaMotta, Robert De Niro gives a blank, soulless performance; there's so little of depth or urgency coming from him that he's impossible to despise, or forgive, in any but the most superficial way.
  42. It's a beautiful picture but very quietly so, and definitely not for the ADHD set.
  43. This is truly a great film, recently celebrated at length in "My Voyage to Italy," Martin Scorsese's documentary about Italian cinema.
  44. An excellent film, still as fresh as the day it was made.
  45. This has loads of swagger, but for stylistic audacity I prefer Anderson's more scattershot "Magnolia."
  46. Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios join forces on an entertaining computer-generated, hyperrealist animation feature that's also in effect a toy catalog.
  47. It's full of scenic splendors with a fine sense of scale, but its narrative thrust seems relatively pro forma, and I was bored by the battle scenes.
  48. This is a masterwork by Ousmane Sembene, the 81-year-old father of African cinema and one of Senegal's greatest novelists.
  49. Exciting not as ethnography but as storytelling, as drama, and as filmmaking.
  50. An exhilarating update of "Flash Gordon," very much in the same half-jokey, half-earnest mood, but backed by special effects that, for once, really work and are intelligently integrated with the story.
  51. Sly, inventively drawn, brilliantly executed cartoon.
  52. Key action points are edited with finesse, but the denouement, with its dutiful hail of gunfire, is heartless and mechanical.
  53. Helen Mirren's flinty performance as Elizabeth II is getting all the attention, but equally impressive is Peter Morgan's insightful script for this UK drama, which quietly teases out the social, political, and historical implications of the 1997 death of Diana, Princess of Wales.
  54. 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.
  55. This 1985 film's absolute freedom from cliches is genuinely refreshing; looking at it again after Van Sant's subsequent "Drugstore Cowboy," I found it every bit as good and in some ways even more impressive than the later film. It shouldn't be missed.
  56. This is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick.
  57. Masterpiece.
  58. Animation may be the ideal medium for replicating dreams, and in this unsettling feature by Ari Folman it also proves well suited to autobiography.
  59. The acting is so strong--with Spall a particular standout--that you're carried along as by a tidal wave.
  60. Patton's personality--conveyed with pointed theatrical flair by George C. Scott--is registered in rich tones of grandeur and megalomania, genius and petty sadism.
  61. A very well-made genre exercise, but I can’t understand why it’s been accorded so much importance, unless it’s because it strokes some ideological impulse.
  62. Travels fast and straight down a linear plot, and the ceaseless rush quickly becomes monotonous.
  63. Martin Scorsese transforms a debilitating convention of 80s comedy--absurd underreaction to increasingly bizarre and threatening situations--into a rich, wincingly funny metaphysical farce. A lonely computer programmer is lured from the workday security of midtown Manhattan to an expressionistic late-night SoHo by the vague promise of casual sex with a mysterious blond.
  64. 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.
  65. A stunning achievement in epic cinema.
  66. Nothing that suggests an independent vision, unless you count seeing more limbs blown off than usual.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. This movie restores genre elements to a level of potency that's disturbing, satisfying, and rare as hell.
  70. Better in certain ways than the original "Apocalypse Now," though the flaws are also magnified.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The movie's searing conclusion left me numb and overwhelmed.
  71. Though ordained from the beginning, the three-way showdown that climaxes the film is tense and thoroughly astonishing.
  72. A film so rich in ideas it hardly knows where to turn. Transcendent themes of love and death are fused with a pop-culture sensibility and played out against a midwestern background, which is breathtaking both in its sweep and in its banality.
  73. Tarkovsky's eerie mystic parable is given substance by the filmmaker's boldly original grasp of film language and the remarkable performances by all the principals.
  74. The power and reach of this undertaking are formidable.
  75. Silly, sophomoric, and slapped together, but would you want it any other way?
    • 90 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Aquatic joyride.
  76. Thoroughly researched, unobtrusively upholstered, this beautifully assured entertainment about Victorian England is a string of delights.
  77. This outrageous comic fantasy may not sustain its brilliance throughout all of its 112 minutes, but it keeps cooking for so much of that time that I don't have many complaints.
  78. One of the most perfect endings of any film that comes to mind.
  79. The fun hardens into Fun after he's (Mr. Incredible) lured out of retirement and imprisoned in a remote island compound, though the sleek computer animation is spellbinding as usual.
  80. 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.
  81. 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.
  82. There's no real resonance between the two halves of the film, yet Allen keeps things moving quickly enough that the film only reveals its basic shapelessness once it's over.
  83. There are even more characters of interest here than in "Nashville."
  84. 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.
  85. Undeniably provocative and reasonably entertaining, The Truman Show is one of those high-concept movies whose concept is both clever and dumb.
  86. Powerful and haunting.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 100 Critic Score
    A masterpiece, one of Michelangelo Antonioni's finest works. (Review of Original Release)
  87. If "Ratatouille" taught the world that rats have feelings too, Persepolis teaches the same thing about the people of Iran, who in the current political climate are probably in greater danger of being eradicated.
  88. Coppola does a fair job of capturing the fish-tank ambience of nocturnal, upscale Tokyo and showing how it feels to be a stranger in that world, and an excellent job of getting the most from her lead actors. Unfortunately, I'm not sure she accomplishes anything else.
  89. The story unfolds at such length and over so many years that politics tend to fade into the wallpaper, leaving an exceptionally rich family story.
  90. The fictional story here, set between 1984 and 1991, focuses on the investigation of a popular and patriotic playwright (Sebastian Koch); that the captain assigned to his case (touchingly played by Ulrich Mühe) is mainly sympathetic and working surreptitiously on the playwright's behalf only makes this more disturbing.
  91. There isn't an ounce of flab or hype, and the story it tells is profoundly affecting.
  92. Zhang weaves in both thrilling martial-arts set pieces and stunning studies of period silk tapestry and costume.
  93. Streisand is stunning, but the film is a trial, particularly when the music disappears somewhere around the 90-minute mark and all that's left is leaden melodrama.
  94. In archival photos Petit seems to float between the towers, a tiny black figure against a vivid blue sky; the images are all the more poignant for the unstated fact that Petit is still around when the buildings aren't.
  95. Koreeda was inspired by his guilt over having neglected his own parents, and the story is remarkable for the quiet, seemingly casual way he depicts the fallout of bitterness and grief.

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