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 Once
Lowest review score: 0 Showgirls
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. Overstays its welcome, but for mindless thrills you could do worse.
  2. 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.
  3. Dark and challenging.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The players deftly balance flip caricature with a surprisingly moving depiction of those trapped in the celluloid closet.
  4. An engrossing tale of ego, strategy, and the limits of human intelligence.
  5. Combining the gentle with the vulgar as only the English can, this lively comedy is bursting with character and energy.
  6. Carrey's attempted self-immolation in a men's room, which weirdly recalls certain Fred Astaire routines, may be a small classic.
  7. Initially this seems naive and archaic, but it conceals a Buñuelian stinger in its tail.
  8. A comprehensive and devastating critique of the TV news networks' complacency and complicity in the war on Iraq.
  9. As long as Spacey is singing, the movie soars.
  10. A film about freedom as well as death, this won't suit every taste, but it rewards close attention and has moments of saving humor.
  11. 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.
  12. Doesn't try too hard to be anything other than a vicarious experience that makes you crave the satisfaction you know you'll get when the hero gets his revenge.
    • 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
    • 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.
  15. Just about everyone in this sharp, passionate feature is chillingly good.
  16. The 3-D effect is fun: during a thrilling launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, hurtling debris cracks the camera lens, and I found myself checking my goggles for damage.
  17. Charting the ruthlessness of an ambitious bimbo telecaster in Little Hope, New Hampshire, this staccato black comedy sustains its brilliant exposition and narration until the plot turns to premeditated murder, complete with hapless and semicoherent teenage accomplices.
  18. The film tends to groan under the weight of his obsessions -- and his sister's fixation on circumcising her son -- yet for much of the 95-minute running time the chemistry between Attal's vulnerable husband and Gainsbourg's sweet, beguiling wife is irresistible. The terrific score is by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau.
  19. Don't expect any psychological depth here, but the cool wit and fun... are deftly maintained, and Sonnenfeld provides a bountiful supply of both fanciful beasties and ingenious visuals.
  20. A nicely shaped script by Chicagoans Rick Shaughnessy and Brian Kalata makes this independent comedy drama a pleasure to watch.
  21. This is a good, solid, intelligent drama about the ambiguities of what does and doesn't constitute courage under fire
  22. This isn't the supreme masterpiece it might have been, but Nichols's direction is very polished and some of the lines and details are awfully funny.
  23. If you want to know what the Warhol scene was all about, this is even better than the documentaries.
  24. Friendship is portrayed here in its finest form.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    In his best film in years, Marco Bellocchio crafts a stringently moral tale that carries a hint of horror.
  25. Under the harsh lights of the meticulously re-created, claustrophobic bunker, that scrutiny is relentless.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    There's no denying his (Ghobadi's) talent for suspense or his ability to get riveting performances from nonprofessionals.
  26. Over too soon.
  27. Provocative and entertaining.
  28. Subtle and graceful directorial debut.
  29. Fox keeps the suspense story at a low boil throughout, allowing the politics to emerge as the characters deepen.
  30. 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The net effect of which is like a prolonged visit to an amusement park--kids will love it.
  31. The most gleeful movie about a single-minded kid since "A Christmas Story."
  32. The detail captured by Kraus's scrupulously neutral camera adds up to a fascinating, fully realized portrait of the man and the job.
  33. Nevertheless, the cast of mainly unknowns is so good, and Linklater is so adept at playing them off one another, that the two-hour running time never seems overextended.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Darkly funny and metaphorically potent.
  37. Beautifully unemphatic small-town drama.
  38. To my taste the only serious distraction and ethical lapse is Gibney's sarcastic, cheap-shot use of popular songs like "That Old Black Magic," "Love for Sale," and "God Bless the Child" to underscore certain points; it seems almost to celebrate the shamelessness of the creeps being exposed.
  39. The illicit lovers in this eerie South Korean drama communicate whole worlds without ever speaking.
  40. Absorbing thriller.
  41. It's a terrific story -- part mystery, part farce, part legal nail-biter -- with a last-minute reversal so bitterly ironic it could have been scripted by Billy Wilder.
  42. Pierre Morel's diving, spiraling camera keeps pace with Yuen Wo-ping's rapid-fire fight choreography, all smartly directed by Louis Leterrier.
  43. A colorful cast whose combined energy lifts the story off the ground.
  44. The elder Wexler keeps insisting that he won't sign a release for the film unless he approves of the finished product, so he must have been pleased with its brutally honest assessment of him as a gifted filmmaker who never realized his true potential.
  45. 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.
  46. Engrossing and frequently hilarious.
  47. 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.
  48. It's more than a simple improvement, inverting some of the original's qualities so that the impersonal, well-crafted filmmaking remains lucid throughout.
  49. The script, by newcomer Sabina Murray, is occasionally cloying as the naive hero falls for a bitter prostitute (Bai Ling), but its epic tale of two cultures tragically entwined is anchored by deep and elemental emotions.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The ironic twist at the conclusion of this chilling drama underscores the vagaries of human nature--and of the media.
  50. Tim Burton finally fulfills the promise of "Beetlejuice" with this imaginative masterpiece.
  51. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are enormously funny in this farce.
  52. 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)
  53. Written by Angus MacLachlan, this indie drama explores the lingering tension between north and south with vinegar and precision.
  54. This is superior family entertainment--warm, thoughtful, and connected to the landscape.
  55. David Mackenzie, who directed the remarkable Scottish drama "Young Adam" (2003), delivers another masterful, disturbing tale of illicit passion, erotic obsession, and sudden death set in the 1950s.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This is an engrossing look at obsessive behavior gone terribly awry.
  56. Superior in every respect to the PBS documentary "The Murder of Emmett Till."
  57. This brisk, free-falling fantasy about the famous collators of German fairy tales, played here as a kind of comedy act by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, is Terry Gilliam's most entertaining work since the glory days of "Time Bandits," "Brazil," "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," and "The Fisher King."
  58. Fernando Meirelles stresses old-fashioned storytelling and takes full advantage of his cast, including Danny Huston.
  59. Director Erik Van Looy skillfully profiles both the assassin (Jan Decleir, suggesting a tougher, over-the-hill version of Michel Piccoli) and the Antwerp detectives investigating his crimes.
  60. 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.
  61. 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.
  62. As a well-directed star vehicle with a couple of good action sequences, this is good, effective filmmaking, but I was periodically bored; when Ford and Pitt aren't lighting up the screen nothing much happens.
  63. Duke is a superb director of actors, and, as in "Deep Cover", Fishburne manages to suggest a lot with a deft economy of means.
  64. Kerrigan returns with his best work to date, at least in terms of narrative drive and suspense.
  65. This may be light family entertainment, but it's also a pleasingly perverse celebration of Victorian morbidity.
  66. 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".
  67. Absorbing and intelligent.
  68. A few plot details strain credibility, but the characters (particularly the friend's sister and little boy) are persuasively depicted.
  69. The implied critique of progressive, bohemian parenting is devastating--wise and nuanced, with the painful hilarity of truth.
  70. The Warners-style slapstick and gentle Anglophilia charms children and adults alike, but what kills me are the fingerprint ridges that fade in and out of the characters' mugging faces, a reassuring reminder that handmade art can still captivate.
  71. 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).
  72. Charlize Theron, in nonglam mode, dominates this powerful drama about sexual harassment at a Minnesota iron ore mine in the early 90s.
  73. Muddled on the issues, but it earned its Oscar as a dramatic, involving story, full of tough and appealing characters. (Review of Original Release)
  74. It's also quite energetic -- there isn't a boring shot anywhere, and writer-director Schnabel is clearly enjoying himself as he plays with expressionist sound, neo-Eisensteinian edits, and all sorts of other filmic ideas.
  75. The script by Brannon Braga and Ronald Moore provides all the background necessary for viewers unfamiliar with the characters' previous movie and TV-series exploits, but not so much as to annoy fans.
  76. Though the film tapers off a little toward the end, there's a climactic scene of recognition between the heroine and her father that was one of the most exquisite pieces of acting I'd seen in ages.
  77. 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.
  78. The performances are strong (my favorite is Deborah Harry as an older waitress) and the sense of eroded as well as barely articulated lives is palpable.
  79. 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."
  80. Cillian Murphy gives a tour de force performance.
  81. While the outcome is never really in doubt, director Frederic Fonteyne illuminates the wife's inner world with a rich sense of atmosphere, and Emmanuelle Devos' riveting performance manages to convey every shift in her character's suppressed emotional life with the subtlest of gestures and expressions.
  82. A funny but genuinely dark story.
  83. 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.
  84. As the imperious actress (and whore) Elizabeth Barry, the unlikely object of Wilmot's affection, Samantha Morton finds the soul in a woman who's hard as nails, and Tom Hollander and Rosamund Pike also provide excellent support. The haunting score is by Michael Nyman.
  85. Sensitive, intelligent, enlightening, and sometimes surprising.
  86. It clocks in at over three hours, but Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 classic is gripping. The film rethinks the characters, turning the original's stark Jungian fantasy into a soulless but skillful set of kinetic and emotional effects.
  87. This brilliant if unpleasant puzzle without a solution about surveillance and various kinds of denial finds writer-director Michael Haneke near the top of his game, though it's not a game everyone will want to play.
  88. But if you can get swept up in the story, the movie is imaginative and compelling.
  89. Holiday counterprogramming at its finest. This gut-churning horror indie is based on true stories of tourists disappearing in the vast Australian outback... This scared the hell out of me.
  90. Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat) directs a sparking screenplay by Jeffrey Hatcher (Stage Beauty) and Kimberly Simi; it starts as a frothy boudoir comedy but evolves into a masquerade by turns sweetly meditative and sharply satirical.
  91. But the acting's so good it frequently transcends the simplicities of the script, and whenever Day-Lewis or Postlethwaite is on-screen the movie crackles.
  92. 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.

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