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 Before Sunset
Lowest review score: 0 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. All the macho men who let down their guard for Blaustein can be proud of the loving deconstruction of violence-as-entertainment that resulted.
  2. A hopeless romantic meets a hapless realist in this gritty, elegant drama brimming with spontaneous-seeming close-ups.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. It's a piece of disposable fluff -- though that's exactly what's so appealing about it.
  6. After a slow setup, this charming fable wisely spends most of its time on the golf course.
  7. Ridiculous enough to be hilarious, but this didn't prevent me from thoroughly enjoying Philip Kaufman's silly romp.
  8. 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.
  9. I don't much like movies about junkies...but this is easily the liveliest and most inventive I've seen since "Drugstore Cowboy" (1989).
  10. Spheeris, who includes her offscreen questions, evidently sympathizes with her subjects, though this doesn't stop her from pointing out their hypocrisy.
  11. Reputed to be sentimental crowd pleaser, for better and for worse.
  12. A must-see.
  13. Beautiful story of doomed love.
  14. May have some of the trappings of an exotic thriller, but it's basically a character study.
  15. 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.
  16. Has the expressionistic simplicity of Kurosawa's other late films.
  17. Deep and textured drama.
  18. Enchanting, multilayered fable.
    • 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.
  19. The players and their stories are as wonderful as the music, and the filmmaking is uncommonly sensitive and alert.
  20. It's not supposed to be a revelation--just a pleasant rendition of a teen-comedy trope
  21. 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.
  22. It goes beyond sympathy and authenticity to insight as it examines the plight of a man who loves a man but feels he must love a woman.
  23. 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.
  24. Despite its mawkish tendencies, the film is remarkable for the naturalistic acting of its cast, particularly the simple, tenderly expressive performances of the two leads.
  25. Dark fantasy triumphs in this gorgeously animated surrealist adventure.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    An entertaining and atmospheric revenge tale.
  26. Scary and exciting.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Compelling collection of three loosely connected vignettes.
  27. The film is unsparingly gritty, but with a woman's tenderness it also grants the characters an occasional moment of grace.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Has its faults, but it's Barbet Schroeder's most relevant and interesting film in over a decade.
  28. The first half of the film, in which Maglietta gradually discovers herself as something other than a servant, is genuinely engaging.
  29. 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.
  30. This is the first feature I've seen by writer-director Dominique Deruddere, and I hope it won't be the last.
  31. An experimental feature that keeps shooting off its ideas like an endless row of skyrockets, Kikujiro ultimately conveys this grief with such sustained intensity that it can only leave a scorched path of devastation in its aftermath.
  32. 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.
  33. A movie to savor.
  34. Funny? This one is. It's also sweet and thoughtful.
  35. 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.
  36. In this uproarious and often scathing debut feature, writer-director Frank Novak charts the dissolution of a working-class marriage.
  37. This is why movies were invented.
  38. 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.
  39. Whatever else it may or may not be, Primary Colors is first and last a mainstream Hollywood entertainment. And that means that viewers looking for engagement with political issues are bound to be disappointed.
  40. Leisurely pacing of this kind is likely to register as a form of respect for the viewer's intelligence and observation.
  41. An extraordinarily subtle, witty, and nuanced work.
  42. Mesmerizing dark fable, which also contains moments of comedy and action that don't disrupt its oddly earnest tone
  43. 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.
  44. A text that provokes thought more than directs it, which should fascinate new and repeat viewers for a long time.
  45. 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.
  46. Despite its farcical moments, Late Marriage leaves an aftertaste as sobering as other recent films that critique cultural conservatives in the Middle East.
  47. 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.
    • 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.
  48. The special effects are beautifully handled and the reflections on death attractively peaceful.
  49. Cunningly scripted and acted, and talky in the best sense, the film is engrossing to watch but not especially interesting to ponder afterward; it's certainly an improvement on formulaic Hollywood, but on a thematic level there's still more windup than delivery.
  50. This wonderful 1997 comedy--about an unlikely group of men who are determined to strip to music rather than get day jobs--is genuinely effective at inverting gender stereotypes and other assumptions, and it's not the slightest bit heavy-handed.
  51. Honigmann assembles a mosaic of the postcolonial diaspora that populates the crowded ethnic enclaves of Paris, and the emotional, lovingly captured songs seem to turn the City of Light into a bazaar of world music.
  52. Surprisingly, this didactic and self-consciously clever romantic comedy isn't annoying -- it's refreshing, moving, and at times quite funny.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    I was hooked from the start.
  53. 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.
  54. 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.
  55. A small, solid film, made with craft if not resonance.
  56. 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.
  57. Neither PC nor crudely anti-PC, this tough and tender movie, like its characters, is prepared to take emotional risks, and the comic book milieu is deftly sketched in.
  58. 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.
  59. The movie is truly an open text--its generous poetry inspires free association rather than predictable emotion.
  60. Kitschy, clever expressionist sets, subtly marvelous 70s costumes, and an almost monolithic rock sound track enhance the meaty performances of actors who clearly appreciate the opportunity to riff on a classic--and promote vegetarianism.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This little picture charms by virtue of its craft and patience.
  61. 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.
  62. This film by Julio Medem has dreamlike visuals, lush sensuality, a gorgeous cast, and a plot built on elaborate, self-conscious coincidences.
  63. This is a powerful and persuasive look at an ethnic community and what makes it tick.
  64. Kidd has a great ear for dialogue, and he throws in a few unexpected twists. But the real fun is watching an established pro and a newcomer run with the script.
  65. There's an undeniable formal elegance in the way Ferrara, who coauthored the script with Zoe Lund, frames and holds certain shots, and Keitel certainly gives his all in this 1992 entry in the Raging Bull redemptive sweepstakes.
  66. The compositions and camera movement are both precise and elegant.
  67. The power and reach of this undertaking are formidable.
  68. 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.
  69. One can already tell that this film is on to something special during the opening credits.
  70. Though it's a good half hour too long, this belated, overblown spin-off of the 60s TV show otherwise adds up to a pretty good suspense thriller.
  71. Unlike the classic noirs, this is grounded in neither a recognizable social reality nor a metaphysical sense of doom--just a lot of sexy attitude, humping, and heavy breathing.
  72. The film's warmth and sympathy are underlined by some intelligence.
  73. If you treasure Gilliam at his best and take his ideas seriously, you'll probably be infuriated as well as delighted.
  74. Its brutal take on living under totalitarian rule periodically suggests Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Mullan makes the authority figures (such as the nun played by Geraldine McEwan) grimly believable, but as in "Orphans," there are times when he doesn't know when to quit.
  75. Fascinating documentary.
  76. A wry, nonjudgmental look at the blind faith and materialistic ambitions permeating the superstitious Indian subculture, though the tone becomes more caustic as the hypocrisy and corruption of colonial politics strip Ganesh of his moral authority. The cast is uniformly excellent.
  77. The movie overextends a patch of folk mysticism toward the end and then adds a silly whimsical coda, but as a comedy of errors it's often hilarious.
  78. 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.
  79. An unprecedented friendship between a monster and a child leads to an amazing chase scene.
  80. "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.
  81. Though passionate, doesn't pity or flatter the rank and file.
  82. Amiably unvarnished... Much more successful than most other films that deal with daily life in the projects.
  83. Results are classy entertainment with little to interest women viewers but very shrewdly and cleverly put together, and probably more rewarding in long-range terms if you invest in Fox or Dreamworks than if you actually see the movie.
  84. Far and away the funniest comedy in town.
  85. Without becoming manipulative, sensational, or trite, the movie lets us know what became of the animals -- many dogs and one stowaway cat -- on the ill-fated ship.
  86. 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."
  87. 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.
    • 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.
  88. Managed to pull the rug out from under me about three-quarters of the way through, and I still hadn't found my feet when the credits rolled.
  89. Tom Hollander gives a strong performance as the considerate and quietly grieving young man.
    • 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."
  90. The problem with these feats is that they threaten to overwhelm the film's content, both as complex historical commentary and as aesthetic and theoretical gesture.
  91. An exhilarating and terrifying journey through youth-culture hell.

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