Christian Science Monitor's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 3,690 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 Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession
Lowest review score: 0 Couples Retreat
Score distribution:
3,690 movie reviews
  1. Despite its blunt characterizations and simplifications, City of Life and Death, through the inexorable pileup of gruesome detail, achieves an epic vision of horror.
  2. Berlinger is after more than a true crime recounting here – the film attempts to explain, often lucidly, sometimes laboriously, how deeply entrenched Bulger was with the FBI and the police.
  3. The documentary includes peerless clips of Billie Holiday and Lester Young from a TV show Hentoff coproduced as well as snatches of an interview with a young Bob Dylan, a clip of Hentoff on William Buckley’s “Firing Line” TV show, and lots more worth your time.
  4. It may sound like faint praise to say that Enchanted is the movie of the year for smart and spirited 11-year-old girls. But a movie that genuinely respects that audience is not to be belittled.
  5. Hugo is a mixed bag but one well worth rummaging through.
  6. I enjoyed Whedon’s film both as a species of stunt and also as a legitimately entertaining entry in the voluminous Shakespeare adaptation sweepstakes.
  7. Sweep aside the gross-outs and you've got the family values comedy of the year.
  8. 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.
  9. There's something inherently funny about the romantic predicament of Harry and Ron and Hermione. As if it wasn't bad enough having to deal with the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters and all the rest, now they have to square off against... raging hormones.
  10. The scenes between Kong and Ann are much more than a goof: They're the soul of the movie.
  11. Beyond being a showplace for crash-and-burn effects, Poseidon seems to be stumping for togetherness.
  12. A pretty good example of the kind of movie Hollywood used to turn out by the yard.
  13. Puenzo may have started out to make something more ambitious than an intelligent, real-world horror thriller, but what she did achieve is still commendable. The melodramatics in this movie may be cooked up, but the fears it conjures are very real.
  14. Right away in Miami Vice you know you're waist-deep in movieland.
  15. Alarmist to an almost apocalyptic degree, the film is nevertheless packed with enough basic facts and figures to give any eater serious pause. Or at least any eater who indulges in sugar.
  16. I almost wish Cuarón had cast nonactors, or unknown actors, in the lead roles. It’s jarring having movie stars work up their Hollywood histrionics against such a glorious backdrop. None of these arguments should dissuade you from seeing Gravity, if only because what’s good about it is so much better than what’s bad. Visually, if not imaginatively, it sends you soaring.
  17. The film is better than the recent "The War Within," which tried for the same things, but ultimately, and perhaps unavoidably, we are left face to face with the unknowable.
  18. Nanking, directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, does justice to this tragedy even though it makes the mistake of mixing the testimony of actual participants with staged readings from actors subbing for real people.
  19. Greengrass is an expert hijacker, too. He hijacks our good sense.
  20. Director and co-writer Emmanuelle Bercot doesn’t go in for a lot of plot, and the film’s one-thing-after-another trajectory, at least for a while, is engagingly shaggy.
  21. 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.
  22. Amy
    A powerful, and powerfully sad, experience.
  23. Pound for pound, Ami is a heavyweight.
  24. 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?”
  25. A considerable achievement even if, on balance, it's more of a Tim Burton phantasmagoria than a Sondheim fantasia.
  26. Audiences knowing nothing about hockey will still be able to appreciate this movie as a somewhat jaunty take on the cold war and its aftermath – and resurgence. A curious kind of cold-war nostalgia can be felt in the West these days; President Vladimir Putin is the kind of comprehensible villain Americans feel comfortable with.
  27. The aura of shock-and-awe surrounding this game is laid on a bit thick, and sometimes you feel like you're just watching an ESPN special. Still, it's fun. The interviewees include Harvard's stone-cold-serious Tommy Lee Jones and Brian Dowling, Yale's wonder-boy quarterback who became the model for B.D. in classmate Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury."
  28. Given what this film is about and the dangers hindering its fullest accounting, a dramatic rendition, rather than a documentary, might have been more emotionally satisfying. Still, there’s nothing like seeing some of this stuff up close and for real.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. Burton is extraordinary in one of his rare good movie roles and O'Toole is regally madcap and larger than life. No doubt his Oscar-nominated appearance in "Venus" has prompted this rerelease of Becket. They make a fascinating then-and-now combination.
  32. As teencentric franchises go, I much prefer The Hunger Games to the blessedly expired “Twilight” films. For one thing, they employ much better actors. My favorite: Amanda Plummer, one of the best and most underused actresses in America, as one of the Quell contestants.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Although the documentary is something of a patchwork affair and lacks the late singer's ineffable smoothness and rhythmic brilliance, it emphatically makes the case that here was one of the four or five all-time great female jazz voices – or "song stylists," as she called herself.
  33. Shine A Light is essentially just an expertly made concert film. But what a concert! (And what a camera team.)
  34. Erotic comedies are often attempted but rarely realized. Tamara Drewe is proof that sexy and funny need not be mutually exclusive.
  35. As strong as Blood Diamond is in its best moments, I wish it had been even harder-edged. DiCaprio is remarkable - his work is almost on par with his performance this year in "The Departed."
  36. Himmler in one of his letters says that “in life, one must be always decent, courageous and kind-hearted,” and “decent” is apparently how he saw himself right up to the time he swallowed a cyanide capsule after he was captured by the British.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 83 Critic Score
    Gibson has done a capable job of directing The Man Without a Face, showing little in the way of a personal style, but taking advantage of the skills brought to the project by his collaborators. [27 Aug 1993]
    • Christian Science Monitor
  37. 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.
  38. The Ghost Writer is minor Polanski but it’s one of the rare thrillers these days that plays up to you instead of down.
  39. Cameron, tall and lanky, fitted himself into the podlike chamber and dropped seven miles to the ocean floor. Although he didn’t encounter anything other than barrenness, he did bring back to the surface 100 new species of microorganisms. I hope National Geographic appreciates the effort.
  40. The film drags a bit and Irglova's inexperience as an actor sometimes leaves her costars in the lurch. But it's a sweet little film just the same.
  41. There are some great, rapturous moments in Where the Wild Things Are. Jonze is humbled before the wonders of a child's imagination, and so are we.
  42. For a movie so sensuously mounted, it's remarkably grounded.
  43. What we have here is a perhaps unanswerable enigma of the sort all too common in the annals of spying.
  44. By Dardenne standards this plot is pretty pulpy and unconvincing, but I rather enjoyed watching them attempt to twist it into an existentialist pretzel.
  45. 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.
  46. The sheer sensuousness of all these bric-a-brac memories is sustaining.
  47. It's reminiscent of David Lynch, who is a master at mixing the ghastly and the risible. Brick would be better with a bit more Lynch in its soul, but Johnson is his own man, and I look forward to what he comes up with next.
  48. While this may seem like an apologia for randy older men, it doesn't come off that way, and Cruz gives her best performance to date.
  49. This is the most Hitchcockian of Haneke's films. A seemingly well-adjusted man in a well ordered universe is brought to the brink.
  50. Color Me Kubrick is a far more modest movie, but in some ways is more successful than "The Hoax" in conveying how deeply people want to believe something is true against all evidence.
  51. "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.
  52. Each man has his own distinctive style, and yet when they jam together it sounds like the most natural thing in the world.
  53. 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.
  54. Kazi is a bundle of energy, and the film touches on an important and often-overlooked issue: The commercial pressure that is often brought to bear on rappers to be scurrilous and offensive. This project, which was produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, shows that there is another way.
  55. If the head of the bureau is God, then why is he played by Terence Stamp and not Morgan Freeman?
  56. The screenplay is by Hanif Kureishi, who wrote "The Mother" for Michell and also scripted the classic "My Beautiful Laundrette." He has a feeling for outsiders.
  57. The cinematography by Bradford Young is rich-toned and lustrous, and the film, until it bogs down in melodramatics, has a sensual ease. We are not looking at these people from the outside. Dosunmu pulls us deep inside.
  58. Kittelsen is a funny, expansive actress, and director Anne Sewitsky manages the sad-comic tonal shifts with emotional accuracy.
  59. It’s unseemly, I know, to praise a movie like this for the stand-up-comic affability of its host. But Reich’s engagingness also gives credence to the seriousness of his message. He’s all about fairness, and, in his demeanor, as well as in his presentation, he embodies that ideal.
  60. For those who love chess, Fischer will probably always be its premier player, a fact his mental illness cannot expunge.
  61. The Immigrant is reaching for the same thing that Fellini achieved in “La Strada” – the state of grace that arises between people who at first would seem to have nothing in common but desolation.
  62. In its own superannuated preppy way, Stillman's comic universe is as singular as Woody Allen's.
  63. 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.
  64. No great claims should be made for In Her Shoes. If the aim here was to show how chick lit can become just plain lit, the effort failed. But there is something to be said for froth when it's expertly whipped.
  65. Barring a middle-class revolt, it's extremely unlikely that, whatever its virtues, universal healthcare could ever take hold in America. Still, I'm glad Moore made his film.
  66. 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.
  67. 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.
  68. 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.
  69. 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?
  70. The passage of time has rarely been more forcefully conveyed in a movie, as we see clips of the interviewees not only from today but also at seven-year intervals from the past.
  71. Despite the film's coy artiness and a lassitude that sometimes passes for soulfulness, Certified Copy is strangely haunting.
  72. It's a fascinating story, fascinatingly told.
  73. 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.
  74. I couldn’t follow many of the ins and outs of the time-travel scenario, and I’m not altogether sure that the filmmakers could, either. It doesn’t really matter. It’s enough that the movie is fun. We shouldn’t also expect it to make sense.
  75. Among other things, Unforgivable is a free-floating meditation on the distresses and exhilarations of being a parent.
  76. What Alfred Hitchcock once said about thrillers also applies to Westerns: The stronger the bad guy, the better the film. By that measure, 3:10 to Yuma is excellent.
  77. Captures the fear factor in the lives of these men without turning them into the usual home front head cases.
  78. Character is action, Scott Fitzgerald once wrote. It certainly is here.
  79. The best episodes have the emotional resonance of full-length features, and yet I didn't want them to be a moment longer than they are.
  80. It’s a big movie, but in an emotional, not a historical, sense. Oftentimes it has the hushness of a chamber drama even when the world is its stage.
  81. At times the film resembles a promo for Shortz and the Times, and the celebrity puzzlers, who include filmmaker Ken Burns, Bill Clinton, and the Indigo Girls, have an unfortunate tendency to bloviate. Not so Jon Stewart, who seems to regard each Times puzzle as an opportunity to go mano a mano with Shortz.
  82. The filmmaking style is annoyingly slick, but the testimonies of these children are excruciatingly moving.
  83. The Lunchbox, the debut feature from Indian director Ritesh Batra, has such a sweet premise that I sincerely hope it doesn’t get remade with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
  84. You could argue, I suppose, that this film, a Sundance hit, is essentially a funny sketch padded out to feature length. And what of it, my man?
  85. A great way to go on a safari without ever leaving the multiplex.
  86. A celebration of the gloriously mundane.
  87. Soderbergh does overemphasize the "little-people" dreariness of it all. But there is much low-key humor here, too, albeit on the dark side.
  88. There’s real verve in the animation and wit in the byplay.
  89. Sonia may seem happy-go-lucky at the start, but grief steels her. It makes her grow up very fast. She becomes a kind of heroine in the course of the film, which ultimately owes its stature to her presence.
  90. Often remarkable and often exasperating.
  91. The emotional stakes are large-scale, and Farhadi honors them by delving into their intricacies.
  92. Damon is an agile comic performer, and Soderbergh knows how to serve him up without losing sight of the ultimate seriousness behind it all.
  93. Has the stately picturesqueness of old-fashioned “quality” British cinema. At its center, though, is a performance that cuts right through the decorum.
  94. 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.
  95. In addition to being a beloved author and illustrator, Beatrix is also presented as an early feminist and environmentalist who took control of her literary empire and saved vast acres of luscious farmland from greedy developers, eventually bequeathing property to Britain's National Trust.
  96. It all seems like a stunt, especially since Beaven has also written a just-published book about his experiences, but he and Conlin are an engaging pair who don't let zealotry get in the way of humor.
  97. Dano and Cusack never let us forget that Wilson is human before he is anything else – genius, icon, legend. The film provides him with the succor that was so lacking in so many aspects of his life. I would like to think that the real Brian Wilson, looking at this film, would be OK with it.
  98. I think the film overreaches in casting Simone as a standard-bearer against racism and sexism, but it’s filled with mesmerizing clips from throughout her performing career as well as numerous interviews with Simone, both audio and on film.

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