Christian Science Monitor's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 3,589 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 56% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 42% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 4.2 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 66
Highest review score: 100 Performance
Lowest review score: 0 Gulliver's Travels
Score distribution:
3,589 movie reviews
  1. For a movie so sensuously mounted, it's remarkably grounded.
  2. As fiercely unsentimental as Disgrace is, it offers by the end a measure of hope, and because that hope is so hard-won, it has the ring of truth.
  3. Bong's style is comically tart even in the film's most noirish moments.
  4. Ellsberg, his full-scale personal trajectory laid bare, emerges as a more complex man than both the right and the left have generally given him credit for.
  5. Sheen is startlingly good here, and so is Timothy Spall as Clough's trusted and much abused lieutenant.
  6. Shulman was around so long that he even got to weigh in on Frank Gehry's Disney Hall. He was skeptical once but came to love it.
  7. Captures the fear factor in the lives of these men without turning them into the usual home front head cases.
  8. The best of it has the comradely, free-swinging bawdiness of Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H."
  9. This intermittently terrific cerebral thriller does, indeed, hinge on the proper use of dictionary definitions, but the film is really about the oppressive blahness of small-town, postcommunist Romania. In such surroundings, parsing definitions can almost stand for high drama.
  10. When Kandel revisits his childhood neighborhoods in Vienna and Brooklyn and ruminates in his sprightly way on the past, the full measure of his humanity comes through.
  11. The Ghost Writer is minor Polanski but it’s one of the rare thrillers these days that plays up to you instead of down.
  12. I can agree that the power brokers in this scenario, who effectively broke Barnes's will, have far more interest in tourism than in masterpieces. But casting this story as a battle between the elites and the philistines mischaracterizes the situation.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    While almost entirely family-friendly, the film deserves its PG rating: One plot point near the very end would have totally freaked my tender childhood sensibilities.
  13. Although it’s refreshing to see a movie that stands up for charter schools and takes on teachers unions for their hammerlock on educational oversight, Bowdon overcorrects. His home state of New Jersey may not be an isolated case but neither, with its high level of corruption, should it be seen as altogether representative of all countrywide educational ills.
  14. It has a sweetness all its own.
  15. A celebration of the gloriously mundane.
  16. Ultimately, the blight is so overwhelming that the film collapses from corruption overload.
  17. The best part is that, amid all the hubbub, Jeunet, improbably and inevitably, draws out a love story between Bazil and Elastic Girl. Without it, Micmacs would have imploded. The romance, which is funny and sexy at the same time, anchors the shenanigans.
  18. There's an original comic temperament at work here, and that's rare.
  19. Not only Duvall shines. Murray, in case anybody still doubted it, is one of the finest character actors in America.
  20. Made-up horror movies have nothing on Countdown to Zero, a documentary about nuclear security that won't make you sleep better at night.
  21. Positioned somewhere between sitcom and piercing human drama, The Kids Are All Right, is both overtly familiar and cutting edge.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    If there's anything missing from Bailey and Thompson's searing documentary, it's a consideration of the possible arguments against Campbell and Freeth.
  22. "Money Never Sleeps" doesn't get inside the sociopathology of the money culture. In a sense, it is a product, an expression, of that culture. Maybe that's why it's so disagreeably agreeable.
  23. The problem is, the geek in question, at least as Jesse Eisenberg plays him, doesn't have the emotional expansiveness to fill out a movie. Perhaps sensing this, the filmmakers play out the story line from multiple points of view and crowd the stage with a pageant of voluble supporting characters.
  24. Erotic comedies are often attempted but rarely realized. Tamara Drewe is proof that sexy and funny need not be mutually exclusive.
  25. Although von Trotta seems to regard von Bingen – played with a cool ferocity by Barbara Sukowa – as some sort of medieval feminist precursor, there are enough fault lines in the portrayal to subvert hagiography.
  26. Part 1 of the final installment, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,' is another scrupulous adaptation of J.K Rowling's books.
  27. Tries mightily to make the case that Spitzer was brought down by his political enemies.
  28. Despite his street cred, Muniz comes across as way too effete for these laborerers, many of whom have harrowing life stories to tell. But his intention to have them re-create photographic images of themselves out of garbage, while it may not pass muster as high art, has the effect of raising their spirits.
  29. The real star here is the big, unmanned freight train sparking through Pennsylvania at 70 m.p.h. while carrying hazardous cargo. Best of all, the train doesn't have any dialogue.
  30. Many of the interviews in the film – conducted with everyone from family members to Christopher Hitchens and Tom Hayden – look to be 10, even 20, years old. Together they concoct a complex portrait of an ultimately unknowable man.
  31. Almost a textbook example of how to do more with less. It's about aimless people who suddenly find their aim.
  32. A great way to go on a safari without ever leaving the multiplex.
  33. If the head of the bureau is God, then why is he played by Terence Stamp and not Morgan Freeman?
  34. Despite the film's coy artiness and a lassitude that sometimes passes for soulfulness, Certified Copy is strangely haunting.
  35. The openness of these people is often astonishing – and a sign of hope.
  36. Rosen­thal serves up a hilarious documentary of his travails developing "The Voroniny," or, as it was known in development, "Everybody Loves Kostya."
  37. If there is a single image that we take away from Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman," it is of Willy Loman weighted down to his very soul by his suitcases. The image that holds in this modern-day salesman's serenade is Nick the salesman reduced to selling off his own life.
  38. It would have been wonderful if Lee had consented to an interview for this documentary, but at least we have, among many others, her 99-year-old sister Alice, until recently a practicing lawyer in their hometown of Monroeville, Ala.
  39. It's the kind of movie that creeps up on you, and this is due almost entirely to its lead actress, María Onetto, who looks as though she actually could solve one of those 8,000-piece puzzles.
  40. The odyssey goes on a bit too long, and I suppose a taste for extra dry British comedy is a requirement, but this "Trip" is well worth one.
  41. Despite its blunt characterizations and simplifications, City of Life and Death, through the inexorable pileup of gruesome detail, achieves an epic vision of horror.
  42. The big news here is not simply that Nim was traumatized, it's that Nim was signing that he was traumatized.
  43. This rousing documentary directed by Kevin Tancharoen and shot during two live concerts in New Jersey, is a nonstop campy celebration of youthful pizazz.
  44. Alternately inspirational and disheartening, galvanizing and wearying.
  45. Kittelsen is a funny, expansive actress, and director Anne Sewitsky manages the sad-comic tonal shifts with emotional accuracy.
  46. For those who love chess, Fischer will probably always be its premier player, a fact his mental illness cannot expunge.
  47. I am not a fan of food you need a microscope to see, but if your idea of fine dining is pumpkin meringue sandwiches, bone marrow tartare with oysters, tea shrimp with caviar anemones, and ice vinaigrette with tangerines and green olive, then by all means make haste to El Bulli.
  48. It all achieves a loony unity by the end, even though what is being unified is not altogether palatable.
  49. Oka! is a fascinating movie with many free-form charms.
  50. The greater the illusion the greater the manipulator, and few are as good as Kevin Clash, the subject of Constance Marks's sprightly six-years-in-the-making documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey.
  51. The most powerful sequences in the movie are the linked vignettes involving Margaret and the various grown-up children whom she attempts to help in their search for – what, exactly? Closure? Catharsis?
  52. Hugo is a mixed bag but one well worth rummaging through.
  53. It's a beautifully modulated performance of a man whose presence, at times, seems on the verge of vanishing – not a bad attribute for a spy.
  54. You may not feel like dancing after watching Pina – unless you have a thing for earth in your shoes – but you'll certainly know you've seen something.
  55. I wish the directors had emphasized more of the players' personal lives apart from the football field. But, in the end, this is a documentary about Courtney and the transformative powers of caring. He works wonders on his players and they reciprocate.
  56. My favorite character is not Nik but his 15-year-old sister, Rudina (Sindi Lacej), who takes over her father's bread delivery route in his rickety wagon and makes a go of it against all odds. Her pluck seems both Old World and New World.
  57. It's minor, but powerfully so.
  58. In its own superannuated preppy way, Stillman's comic universe is as singular as Woody Allen's.
  59. Nasheed is no saint, and if he had remained in office, maybe, as with so many others, he would have capitulated to politics as usual. But his temper, if not his outcome, is inspiring.
  60. There are wonderful sequences strewn throughout, like the moment when Lazhar, at a school dance, begins to slowly sway to the music as if in a trance.
  61. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an ersatz experience, a commingling of forced uplift and exotica, but it's moving anyway.
  62. The marvelous Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda shows a strong affinity for the humors and longings of childhood. It's an adult movie about children that feels made from the inside out.
  63. I wish the entirety of Polisse were as good as its parts, but perhaps its free-form, mood-swing approach was unavoidable, given the subject. The audience is put through the same wringer as the cops.
  64. It makes you nostalgic for the pangs of young love.
  65. The cumulative effect is somewhat overwhelming. How could it not be?
  66. Lola is, in other words, a believable heroine for our times.
  67. This may seem like a stunt, but the experience, with many of the sitters tearing up, or smiling beatifically, is overwhelming to watch.
  68. Among other things, Unforgivable is a free-floating meditation on the distresses and exhilarations of being a parent.
  69. It's a fascinating story, fascinatingly told.
  70. Character is action, Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. It certainly is here.
  71. It's a movie that could easily have been made 50 years ago, and I don't mean that as a knock. There is much to be said for a film that values unflashy craft and simple, unhurried storytelling.
  72. This is a real-life fairy tale with a remarkably happy ending.
  73. The title captures the man. He makes no apologies.
  74. It's as if we were watching one of those buddy-buddy bromances told, this time, from the perspective of the woman who is normally on the sidelines of the men's attentions and affections. It's a welcome angle.
  75. Clarke started out as a dancer studying with Martha Graham, and much of Ornette has a dancelike swing and propulsion. What it doesn't provide is a cogent look at Coleman's artistry. This is not a jazz film for people who want to sit back and get mellow. The film itself is a species of jazz. It's offbeat without missing the beat.
  76. I wish that the Mexican drug cartel subplot was not so overwrought and Oliver Stone-ish, and the decision to shoot much of the film "Cops"-style is also problematic. But the film puts you right inside an everyday inferno and, to its credit, doesn't turn down the heat.
  77. In some ways the movie might have been better if it had been about those two Hollywood guys with only occasional blips from the hostage crisis in Iran.
  78. As inspirational academic stories go, it doesn't get much better than this.
  79. Although stylistically and conceptually it never lifts itself entirely out of the realm of a made-for-television drama – don't expect "My Left Foot" – The Sessions is bracing. It's also one of the few movies to recognize that people with severe physical disabilities have sexual lives, too.
  80. Goldfinger happened upon a story far larger than he must have anticipated. The Flat is about the persistence of denial, and of hope.
  81. The Loneliest Planet is not a perfect work of art, but it gets at something powerful: the way that life can turn us around in a flash, without warning.
  82. This is the kind of it-can-mean-whatever-you-want-it-to-mean art film that I usually run from, but Carax is such a prodigiously gifted mesmerist that, if you give way, you're likely to be enfolded in the film's phantasmagoria.
  83. The dialogue is sharp and so are the performances. Andrew Dominik directed this neo-noir in a low-key comic style that's alternately gritty and fancy. The gritty stuff is best.
  84. Tom Hooper, who directed "The King's Speech," is not great with action and big set pieces, but he gets the job done. What makes Les Misérables work are the up-close moments when he can focus on performance and song.
  85. In "Birders," by contrast, nature is one big entrancing show; a world of tweets without "tweets."
  86. Ferlinghetti’s home-brewed brand of anarchism is weirdly as American as apple pie.
  87. One thing is clear from A Place at the Table: You cannot answer the question “Why are people hungry?,” without also asking “Why are people poor?”
  88. War Witch is most effective not when we are looking in on Komona but when we are inside her head. When she says that, in order to survive in the rebel camp, she “had to learn to make the tears go inside my eyes,” our identification with her is total.
  89. Beverly Hills Cop is an action movie and an Eddie Murphy vehicle first, but Brest's dramatic intelligence surfaces often enough to make a welcome difference in what could have been an ordinary crowd-pleaser. [13 Dec. 1984, p.35]
    • Christian Science Monitor
  90. Coming on the heels of the Taviani brothers’ quasi-documentary “Caesar Must Die,” about the staging of “Julius Caesar” in a maximum-security lockup, Reality gives credence to the notion that Italian prisons are hotbeds of acting talent.
  91. Although simpler and less mysterious than the great Hayao Miyazaki movies, the gently melancholic From Up on Poppy Hill is still a must see at a time when family entertainment is too often synonymous with blandness.
  92. Here at least the gobbledygook is entertaining.
  93. Timeliness is certainly on the side of Mira Nair’s uneven but fascinating The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
  94. The film stands quite well on its own. The directors have made the right, essential decision to make the movie almost entirely from Maisie’s point of view.
  95. The Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley set out to make a straightforward documentary about her mother, Diane, who died when she was 11, but by the time Stories We Tell was finished five years later, it had become unclassifiable.
  96. I enjoyed Whedon’s film both as a species of stunt and also as a legitimately entertaining entry in the voluminous Shakespeare adaptation sweepstakes.
  97. Keep your ears tuned for Helen Mirren as the imperious Dean Hardscrabble. Hogwarts would have loved her.
  98. As this film demonstrates in so many ways, the intractability of the Arab-Israeli political situation is, to put it mildly, not easily resolved, least of all onscreen.

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