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 3.6 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 58
Highest review score: 100 House of Flying Daggers
Lowest review score: 0 Untraceable
Score distribution:
4,911 movie reviews
  1. 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.
  2. The film is full of relevant insights into the kinds of compromises, trade-offs, and combinations of skills and personalities that produce media, and the personal stories are deftly integrated.
  3. After a slow setup, this charming fable wisely spends most of its time on the golf course.
  4. Franklin and Murray manages to live up to the demands of a thriller without sacrificing character to frenetic pacing, and the film exudes a kind of sweetness that never threatens to become either sticky or synthetic.
  5. Although Broomfield's grandstanding has provoked charges of hypocrisy, this is a genuinely moral work that raises unsettling questions about the haphazard application of the death penalty, and it's certainly more complex and affecting than the fictionalized portrait of Wuornos in "Monster."
  6. Beautifully shot in black and white by Pawel Edelman (The Pianist), this 2000 feature is both funny and unexpectedly touching.
  7. The movie has some of the braggadocio of its white-trash hero, building to its competitive climax as if it were a gladiatorial sporting event, and it carried me all the way.
  8. An unprecedented friendship between a monster and a child leads to an amazing chase scene.
  9. This eerie drama harks back to sci-fi movies of the late 60s and early 70s that explored inner as well as outer space (2001, Solaris, and particularly Silent Running).
  10. It's not a sex movie but a parody, and the loose feel is part of its genius.
  11. Superior in every respect to the PBS documentary "The Murder of Emmett Till."
  12. 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.
  13. Lawrence Kasdan's 1981 noir fable is highly derivative in its overall conception, but it finds some freshness in its details. All in all, this evokes the spirit of James M. Cain more effectively than the 1981 remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice did.
  14. This haunting drama by Claire Denis burns with a mute fear and rage at the ongoing atrocities in central Africa.
  15. Goldblum and Murphy outdo each other in their odd roles, each minimizing his tendency toward shtick and giving a convincing dramatic performance.
  16. Dark fantasy triumphs in this gorgeously animated surrealist adventure.
  17. Soderbergh's treatment of the Internet turns out to be the most provocative aspect of Contagion. Like the virus, which destroys any cell it encounters, misinformation spreads rapidly online and tends to cancel out information that might save people.
  18. Director Laura Dunn presents a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of Bradley, but her advocacy is clear enough in the primal images of natural beauty and her subjects' heartfelt statements of respect for the landscape.
  19. Unfortunately for Polley, Take This Waltz is a good film serving mainly to remind us that "Away From Her" is a great one.
  20. This high-powered sports melodrama benefits from its strong male leads, a sinewy narrative, and the maverick attitude of MMA. But for all the contemporary references, it's essentially a spin on the story of Cain and Abel, which may be the reason it feels timeless.
  21. Though passionate, doesn't pity or flatter the rank and file.
  22. Fully exploits the drama, with scenes, dialogue, and even key visuals pulled from the text.
  23. Director Will Gluck (Fired Up!) shows wicked comic timing and uncommon warmth in an overworked genre.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    This send-up of 70s blaxploitation flicks mixes parody and social commentary to make larger points about the current state of American culture and race relations. The audience I saw the film with was almost choking with laughter.
  24. It's a fascinating cultural artifact and a stomping good time.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. The mystery has never been resolved, but to his credit Bar-Lev acknowledges that he himself has become part of the story, torn between sympathy and suspicion.
  29. John Zorn's ethnically tinged score is effectively minimalist without succumbing to Philip Glass-style monotony, and Harris Yulin is effective as the hero's semi-estranged father.
  30. Elegant flamenco tragedy.
  31. In the Apatow manner, Segel mines a mother lode of painful personal memories for his breakup gags, and the vanity of entertainment people proves to be another rich vein.
  32. Though Casino Jack never lets its protagonist off the hook for his misdeeds, it does underline the hypocrisy of those politicians who were content to take his money but then ran for cover in February 2004 when the Washington Post began to expose his fleecing of six different Indian tribes.
  33. 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.
  34. Muddled on the issues, but it earned its Oscar as a dramatic, involving story, full of tough and appealing characters. (Review of Original Release)
  35. None of the moral ramifications of this dilemma is avoided, and to the film’s credit the behavior of the American press seems more questionable than the machinations of third-world justice.
  36. 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.
  37. The most underestimated commercial movie of 1987 may not be quite as good as Elaine May's three previous features, but it's still a very funny work by one of this country's greatest comic talents.
  38. Blitz shows us these kids in all their quirkiness and dorkiness, letting them do much of the talking as he records them and their families at home.
  39. None of this makes any sense if you think about it, but the idea is so much fun that thinking about it may be your last impulse.
  40. 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.
  41. A small, solid film, made with craft if not resonance.
  42. Doug Liman's Fair Game is a model exercise in dramatizing recent political scandal, and easily the best fact-based Hollywood political thriller since "All the President's Men."
  43. This small gem about a South Central LA girl with a gift for spelling restores luster to the family genre.
  44. 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.
  45. Thanks to a remarkable script by Bruce Joel Rubin and the directorial skills of Adrian Lyne, this works as both a highly effective stream-of-consciousness puzzle thriller offering the viewer not one but many "solutions" and an emotionally persuasive statement about the plight of many American vets who fought in Vietnam.
  46. The mesmerizing narrative recounts a media circus of unrivaled malignance.
  47. 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.
  48. Just when I'm ready to write off the mockumentary as an exhausted form, along comes this delightful and hilarious improv comedy from the UK in which a bridal magazine sets up a promotional contest for the best offbeat wedding.
  49. The movie endorses the liberal conception of the Chicks as free-speech heroes, which doesn't quite wash: Maines shot her mouth off to a receptive overseas crowd, then issued an apology as soon as the backlash began back home.
  50. Slyly exploiting audience expectations and prejudices, Lelouch calls into question our very ways of seeing, even as he and his longtime writing partner, Pierre Uytterhoeven, craft an elegant meditation on loss and rebirth.
  51. Director John Madden calmly dissects the emotions of a woman whose personal life is effectively nonexistent.
  52. 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.
  53. If you decide at the outset that this needn't have any recognizable relationship to the world we live in, you might even find it an unadulterated delight.
  54. The dazzling star power of the French screen royalty Ozon has assembled and the film's sheer exuberance in its own artifice make this a delight from beginning to end.
  55. Bear Cub casually pulls off an amazing feat--combining innocent childhood nostalgia and graphic sexuality.
  56. This comedy drama is an exercise in self-indulgence for O'Toole, but an enjoyable and touching one.
  57. It's not a terribly disciplined exercise--the rehearsal dinner and wedding ceremony go on so long I felt like I was watching "The Deer Hunter"--but the performances are outstanding, especially Hathaway's and Debra Winger's in a small but devastating turn as her chilly, resentful mother.
  58. Often coming across as simultaneously out of control and self-possessed, Borchardt can't have been an easy target, but the filmmakers seem to have nailed him.
  59. Written by Angus MacLachlan, this indie drama explores the lingering tension between north and south with vinegar and precision.
  60. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island becomes a rousing SF adventure in this animated Disney feature.
  61. Fiercely uncompromising psychodrama infused with a keen intelligence and a sinister primordiality.
  62. Davies adapted a classic 1952 play by Terence Rattigan, whose centenary is being celebrated in Britain this year, and though you might have trouble sorting out the film's competing levels of authorship, one element attributable solely to Davies is the strategic use of music and quiet on the soundtrack.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    As the heroine, Rappoport creates an exquisite, multifaceted character from the old film noir archetype of a woman in flight; in this case she's fleeing not only danger but herself.
  63. Sexual politics, family dynamics, the debate over heredity versus environment, and the dubious ethics of scientific research on animals are rigorously explored in this ambitious, bittersweet work.
  64. Wicked little black comedy.
  65. All the uplift could easily get cloying, but director John Lee Hancock knows how to keep things in control, and the whole is surprisingly satisfying.
  66. All the macho men who let down their guard for Blaustein can be proud of the loving deconstruction of violence-as-entertainment that resulted.
  67. In this uproarious and often scathing debut feature, writer-director Frank Novak charts the dissolution of a working-class marriage.
  68. 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.
  69. A powerful piece of social protest, skillfully written, directed, and acted...Hilary Swank as Brandon and Chloe Sevigny as his girlfriend Lana are especially fine.
  70. 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.
  71. Period westerns are so unfashionable and costly that they usually require a top-drawer script to get off the ground -- and this one, adapted from an Elmore Leonard story and its 1957 movie version, travels with an arrow's clean arc.
  72. Genuinely sad: few bands have burst onto the scene with such a perfectly realized look, sound, and philosophy or been more trapped by their own meatheaded genius.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    Reichardt keeps this so hypnotic from shot to shot that you can easily get wrapped up in it as a sensory experience.
  73. Over too soon.
  74. 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.
  75. On paper the story may seem hopelessly contrived -- another nostalgia piece for art-house liberals -- but on-screen it's presented in purely emotional terms, which allows Duigan and his excellent leads to inhabit and ultimately transcend the period.
  76. The film is unsparingly gritty, but with a woman's tenderness it also grants the characters an occasional moment of grace.
  77. 12
    The tradition of Russian stage acting enriches this satisfying update of Reginald Rose's TV play "Twelve Angry Men."
  78. 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.
  79. It's become a critical cliche to say that everyone in the U.S. should see a particular war documentary, but even the most selfish citizen might want to check out The Ground Truth, because unlike the Iraqi victims of the war, the American ones are all around us.
  80. The movie is dominated by Maddin's usual black-and-white photography, silent-movie syntax, and deadpan melodrama.
  81. A consistently light yet derisive tone, modest production values, and masterful comic timing allow writer-director-star Trey Parker to expose cultural hypocrisies with precision. His performance--in both the movie and the movie within the movie--is dramatic and poker-faced, seamless and hilarious.
  82. Some might call this movie a step backward after Burger's previous feature, the painfully honest Iraq war drama "The Lucky Ones," but as a stylish intrigue it's hard to beat.
  83. Dark and challenging.
  84. 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.
  85. Enchanting, multilayered fable.
  86. 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.
  87. Here the idea of sleep as the ultimate threat is still fresh and marvelously insidious, and Craven vitalizes the nightmare sequences with assorted surrealist novelties.
  88. The new version of Jane Eyre is far and away the best I've seen, thanks largely to the skilled young actress Mia Wasikowska.
  89. Especially interesting are the complex relations among the residents of the ghetto.
  90. This is smooth and at times even sensual -- a well-oiled machine.
  91. The film seems a bit studied, but the creepy plot still holds a certain fascination.
  92. Jennings's film, with its missing fathers, sometimes threatens to become cloying, but it's almost always righted by a healthy dose of slapstick or the spectacle of little kids posing as muscle-bound killers.
  93. Smart dialogue, an impeccably crafted story, and eye-catching LA locations make this low-budget feature by Alex Holdridge the most worthwhile date movie I've seen in some time.
  94. 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.
  95. A powerful Christian parable, painful but illuminating, about crime and redemption.
  96. Stark, mysterious, and often weirdly funny.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 80 Critic Score
    The film is shot with handheld cameras in the standard mockumentary style, but the content is often hilarious, especially when the trolls show up. There's also a marvelous deadpan comic performance by Otto Jespersen as a troll-hunter and tireless dispenser of troll lore.

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