L.A. Weekly's Scores

For 3,656 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 46% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 51% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 5.5 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 Grindhouse
Lowest review score: 0 Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2
Score distribution:
3,656 movie reviews
  1. Perhaps because this is director Yoji Yamada's 77th movie, every aspect of his filmmaking is placidly assured and meaningful.
  2. The kind of small film -- morally ambiguous, graceful in its admission of imperfect knowledge, at once specific and universal -- that expands our understanding of the emotional economy of family life, with its ebb and flow of love and hostility, secrecy and egregious candor. You must see this film.
  3. The weirdest, freest-wheeling, most obsessively inventive motion picture you'll see this year. Parts are confusing, parts are berserk, parts are exasperatingly slow. But in a world of cookie-cutter movies, Maddin's movies are like nobody else's -- funny, Romantic, as deliriously overwrought as a drug lord's wedding.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Can now be appreciated not just as a minor classic of tragic destruction, but also as a somber exploration of conflicted postwar emotions.
  4. At once a romantic melodrama, a sharp social comedy and a fierce political commentary on Korean society's cruelty to social outcasts. It's also a triumph of artistic indirection: Not a single scene plays out the way you expect. This is a film that gives humanism back its good name.
  5. Simply put, it represents the work of a filmmaker so exhilaratingly in command of his craft that he can, among other things, turn a single image of two people standing next to each other -- fully clothed, their bodies not quite touching -- into one of the most sublimely erotic moments we have ever beheld on the screen.
  6. As it turns out, Shrek 2 is one of the funniest movies I've seen in years. But I'm far from sure that it's a kids' movie anymore, even though, like its predecessor, it's a thoroughly sugared-up reading of the book, by veteran New Yorker cartoonist William Steig, on which both films are based.
  7. LaGravenese (writer of "The Fisher King," adapter of "The Bridges of Madison County," making his directorial debut) eschews distractions of style and molds our attention to the performances.
  8. The best of the Harry Potter films so far, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is also hands down the scariest, and the deepest.
  9. Dunne is committed, thank good-ness, unapologetic for even the most fluttery sentiment or spookiest chill, enjoying the swellness of the very idea almost as much as any fanciful girl.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Annaud presents a meticulously structured fable about the importance of family, particularly the relationship of fathers and sons, to both man and beast.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    The Maverick's sequence is perhaps Giants' most viscerally exciting and poignant.
  10. The movie is thrillingly subjective, teeming with the fullness of everyday proletarian life that one finds in the work of the directors who most influenced Marston in the making of this movie: Hector Babenco and the Brazilian realists, Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.
  11. Three words of advice to those who haven't yet seen it: Run, don't walk. Composed of excerpts from hundreds of locally shot movies past and present -- from grade-A prestige pictures to unrepentant grade-Z schlock -- Los Angeles Plays Itself serves as Andersen's exhaustive but never exhausting attempt to reconcile the myriad identities of the world's moviemaking capital.
  12. It is worthy of comparison to the lifelike, character-rich films we cherish from that era (1970s), and is certainly one of the finest films to come out this year.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Hero is an epic, evocative of another epoch and of landscapes beyond time. It's overwhelming. And yet I miss the animating anger of Zhang's early masterworks, in which penniless young lovers were oppressed by impotent old men.
  13. Razor sharp and funny as hell, Incident at Loch Ness is the harpoon hurled into the hot-air balloon of “reality” entertainment.
  14. Caouette lifts his story clear out of the victimized whine that bogs down so many confessional memoirs and offers the viewer instead an intimate look inside his ravaged yet loving head, at once street-smart and haloed by the naiveté of a young saint.
  15. Quite possibly the most buoyant, exuberant film ever made on such an unpleasant topic.
  16. A trenchant American satirist in his previous films, Payne moves in a different direction with Sideways -- one less mordant but just as pointedly observant.
  17. For all its simplicity, however, the film is entertaining, even uplifting, with Lopez giving a stellar, confectionary performance.
  18. The movie's strength lies in its portrayal of a many-sided genius, as manipulative as he was charming and persuasive, monomaniacal to a fault, generous and sweet yet utterly clueless about the emotional havoc he wrought in the name of science.
  19. It's the director's most complexly ordered film to date - a labyrinth of ids, egos and alter egos waiting around blind corners - and may be the movies' most deliriously inventive narrative spiral since "Adaptation."
  20. Testud, who learned to speak Japanese phonetically for the role, is nothing short of sublime, her expressive face morphing from tear-stained frustration to slaphappy delirium with the speed of lightning flashing across the Tokyo sky.
  21. Like Proust's madeleine unleashing a flood of reminiscences in the narrator of his novel, Wong works the elements of his aesthetic — music, beautiful people and emotion — into a mood that so overtakes you it's nearly impossible to emerge from his films without feeling slightly drunk.
  22. The Saint works. The reason why it occasionally soars is Kilmer, an actor who’s happiest when burying himself in eccentric characterizations, a trick he performs repeatedly here even as he fills the screen with pure movie-star dazzle.
  23. What makes The Sea Inside such a riveting drama is that none of these relationships is sufficient to make Ramón want to go on living.
  24. It's a strangely stirring experience that finds warmth in the coldest environment and makes each crumb of emotional comfort feel like a 10-course banquet.
  25. A true rarity, Murderous Maids is an intelligent, moral shocker.
  26. Payami uses an exquisitely delicate juxtaposition of long shots and close-ups, mobility and stillness, music and found sound, comedy and pathos to suggest both the longing for self-expression and communication, and its limits in a repressive society.
  27. In its breathlessly claustrophobic way the movie is vital and passionate, and lit with a lyric beauty that washes over love scenes and violent acts alike.
  28. Unfolds with such leisurely, terrible beauty, it takes a while to realize that what we are witnessing is the children's long slide into beggary, exacerbated by the slow torture of faint hope.
  29. When We Were Kings is a wonderfully entertaining, at times thrilling, film. Ali is magnificent, Foreman oddly touching, and their fight, which is shown almost in total, makes for superb, nail-biting suspense--even two decades after the fact.
  30. Ghobadi's genius seems supercharged rather than weighed down by his higher calling, and his imagery is so boilingly alive that we come away from it feeling exhilarated rather than depressed.
  31. This fluidly paced film, with its keen observation of the confused longing for love, family and stability in an inherently unstable world, nonetheless keeps faith with the Czech genius for holding the tonal line between tragedy and the absurd.
  32. And like all great family sagas, The Best of Youth, while tipping its hat to the painful confusion of living life forward, reels it backward to give it the thrilling significance of time and place.
  33. A small masterpiece of tone and form.
  34. Fiercely intelligent, terrifying and absurdly funny documentary.
  35. Bujalski takes a sledgehammer to the carefully ordered surfaces and dramatic conventions of narrative cinema, favoring instead an unpredictability in which the crosscurrents of quotidian life collide on the screen in a series of brilliantly alive patterns.
  36. Lucas is a major figure, and Revenge of the Sith may be some kind of historic achievement -- the first movie in which it is fully impossible to tell where flesh ends and digital paint begins.
  37. Though it includes plenty of footage from those terrible days, this wonderful, devastating documentary is as much Dallaire's story as it is the story of a whole continent abandoned by a cynical world.
  38. The story is as wonderful in the showing as it is in the telling, by an African griot (oral historian) who stirs our tragicomic passage from birth to death, into a simple clay pot.
  39. Another soulful gem from the peerless Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki.
  40. Thrilling documentary.
  41. The comic, tragic and monumentally beautiful new film by writer-director Jia Zhangke (Platform).
  42. A great sports drama first and a heart-wrenching triumph-over-adversity weepie almost never.
  43. Scaled like an epic but possessing the narrative simplicity of a fable, The Warrior unfolds over a brisk 85 minutes of screen time, keeping dialogue to a minimum as it celebrates the power of stories told through handcrafted, CGI-free images.
  44. It's a romantic comedy in which both the romance and the comedy are turned to such muted levels that any lower would require closed captioning.
  45. A drama of uncommon beauty and emotional resonance.
  46. Breakdown recalls so many good movies, in such unpredictable order, that by the end it simply stands on its own, a solid, logical, edge-of-the-seat sluiceway of escape and pursuit.
  47. It's an unconscionably funny sex farce that, by its end, turns into a tender and honest romance, an acute portrait of loneliness and, believe it or not, a musical. This is a movie Blake Edwards might have made.
  48. Almereyda has crafted an uncannily revealing portrait of a major American artist at work, all the more remarkable for the deceptive casualness with which it unfolds, as if Almereyda had just shown up.
  49. Cronenberg holds up a mirror, but he leaves it up to us to recoil at what we see.
  50. The triumph of Capote is that it both grants and shares with him that twisted brew of obsessive identification and monstrous detachment that is the fertile burden of the artist.
  51. The meat of the film is their wittily edited interviews with company members, now in their 80s and 90s and scattered around the world, many of them still active as teachers and consultants.
  52. The result is a glorious low-tech pleasure that may be the most lyrical, phantasmagoric boys' adventure story since Joe Dante's Explorers.
  53. Brokeback Mountain is at once the gayest and the least gay Hollywood film I've seen, which is another way of saying that Lee has a knack for culling universality from the most specific identities.
  54. By staying focused on the children -- frightened evacuees from the London Blitz whose parallel war in Narnia both taps into and finally quiets their unspoken terrors -- Adamson keeps faith with the humanity of Lewsis' tale.
  55. Since premiering on the festival circuit in 2002, this small masterpiece has been one of the best films around not to secure a proper theatrical release, and while one week on a single L.A. screen at the height of the crowded holiday season may not exactly qualify as proper, it's nevertheless a joyous happening.
  56. Like "The Pianist," Fateless painstakingly builds up the reality of what it is like to be drawn into a perfectly arbitrary hell you can neither comprehend nor rationalize.
  57. By not even attempting to follow Sterne to the letter, Winterbottom and Boyce have triumphantly captured his impish creative spirit.
  58. Jonathan Demme's superb film of Neil Young's 2005 performance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium is as fervent a musical homage as was Demme's bubbly tribute to the Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense (1984).
  59. This is classical activist filmmaking of the first order, a movie with the power to turn hearts, change minds and, just maybe, right the wayward course of an entire city.
  60. I urge you to see the ineffably beautiful Three Times however you can, lest you go on thinking that Hou's greatness is merely the supposition of obscurantist critics intent on reserving their highest praise for those films that nobody else can actually see.
  61. Sketches was produced for PBS's American Masters series, but it's in theaters now and deserves to be seen on the largest possible screen.
  62. The Puffy Chair is the funniest, saddest and most emotionally honest "romantic comedy" to come along in years, even if I've yet to encounter many over the age of about 35 who like the film, or even get it.
  63. A raucously entertaining slice of slapstick dressed up as domestic satire.
  64. Snakes was the most exuberantly trashy delight of this summer movie season or last.
  65. At a time when most American movies, studio made or "independent," seem ever more divorced from anything approximating actual life experience, Half Nelson is so sobering and searingly truthful that watching it feels like being tossed from a calm beach into a raging current.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    From its riveting opening to its gripping conclusion, . . . So Goes the Nation is arguably the most intelligent, kinetic analysis of the modern election process since "The War Room."
  66. Seattle filmmaker James Longley's poetic essay on the plight of ordinary Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds trapped in a war simultaneously waged over their heads and in their faces stands head and shoulders above an overcrowded field of documentaries about the Iraq war.
  67. What's appealing about Bond is precisely its unhip classicism -- its promise of clean, crisp excitement delivered without the interference of whiplash-inducing camera pyrotechnics, attention-deficient editing patterns, gratuitous color tinting and/or ear-splitting rock ballads.
  68. Like two of the year's other standout American films, Kelly Reichardt's "Old Joy" and Ryan Fleck's "Half Nelson," it's a movie of ideas in which the ideas flow effortlessly out of the material instead of being plastered on top with a heavy cement roller (as in "Crash," "Babel" and "Little Children").
  69. It is Lynch's most experimental endeavor in the 30 years since "Eraserhead," that it will do nothing to draw new fans to the director's work and that, after two viewings, I cannot wait to see it again.
  70. Venus may be a leering male fantasy, but it is also, improbably but persuasively, a love story as tender as it is transgressive. It's a wry celebration of the tyranny of beauty, and the tragicomic way in which desire outruns the betrayals of dying flesh.
  71. One of the year's most imaginative and uniquely exciting pieces of cinema.
  72. Zodiac may be the perfect meeting of filmmaker and subject ­-- an obsessive's portrait of obsession that is, finally, a monument to irresolution.
  73. For most of its running time, it's an enjoyably unpretentious celebration of the guilty pleasure we can take from a stupid-as-all-get-out car chase or from watching things blow up real good. Then, in its final half hour, Wright and Pegg ratchet up the absurdity tenfold and enter the realm of the sublime.
  74. Outside of "Grindhouse," it may be the most bang for your buck to be had in a Los Angeles movie theater this season.
  75. The supreme achievement of this lovely film — all three rhythmic, leisurely hours of it -- is that what borders on faintly fascistic body worship in the novel instead feels as perfectly natural to us as it does to the lovers. Lawrence would kvell.
  76. This superb debut feature by Korean-American director So Yong Kim seems to be constructed entirely of the ineffable and intangible, those fleeting moments that most movies treat as throwaways.
  77. A 90-minute, years-in-the-making comic wind-up machine that begins by mocking its own audience for paying good money to see what it can watch at home for free and proceeds from there through the most wickedly funny arsenal of assaults on big government, organized religion and corporate America this side of "Borat."
  78. The result is a film marked by eruptions of brutal violence, but also passages of extraordinary tenderness.
  79. Superb documentary.
  80. The Last Winter won’t win many fans among those who place the saving of union jobs above the repairing of the ozone layer. But this is a horror movie with many inconvenient truths to tell about the ways in which we are willingly destroying our planet.
  81. This loving throwback to the paranoid thrillers of the ’70s is a beauty.
  82. It’s the sort of buoyant, all-ages entertainment that Hollywood has been laboring to revive in recent years (most recently with Hairspray) but hasn’t managed to get right until now, and the glue holding it all together is the incomparable Adams (an Oscar nominee for 2005’s Junebug), who gives the kind of blissful screwball performance that seemed to go out of fashion after "I Love Lucy" left the airwaves.
  83. Personally, I wouldn’t take a toddler (unless he was the son of Tarantino) to this intermittently, legitimately terrifying tale of a boy and his Loch Ness monster. But everyone else should blow off "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and show up for the best kiddie picture of the season -- and, along with "Ratatouille," of the year.
  84. Honeydripper is classic Sayles cinema: an insightful sketch of assorted common folk whose criss-crossing dreams and agendas unfold against larger, more powerful (and sometimes crushing) sociopolitical and cultural forces.
  85. Tim Burton has taken a hallowed classic of the modern musical theater, hemmed in the narrative from well over two hours to well under, cast confessed nonsingers in the principal roles, and somehow managed to make something magical out of it
  86. In most horror movies, it's a given that we should root for the heroes to make it out alive, but Diary of the Dead isn't nearly so certain, and so it terrifies us all the more.
  87. Up
    Up emerges as a gentle hymn to adventure of both the soaring, storybook variety and the smaller, less obvious kind -- the perilous, unpredictable and richly rewarding journey of ordinary, everyday life.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Zooming back and forth between London and D.C., In the Loop hasn't any real plot -- it plays like a rather brilliant Brit-com stretched over 100 minutes, a collection of anecdotes and incidents.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    All this helps to shape Pálfi’s crudely bombastic but impressive philosophical view of the body as landscape and art, a source of personal discovery, wonder and annihilation.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    It is funny, sad and beautiful. And it's right on time.
    • 92 Metascore
    • 90 Critic Score
    Almayer's Folly is lush and dreamy (if not quite dreamlike), but it never feels unanchored or given to pointless meandering. However hypnotic it at times becomes, this is a sober(ing) endeavor that never strays far from its post-colonial backdrop.
  88. Though it was made before "Run Lola Run," feels like the work of a more seasoned heart and mind.
  89. Kane believes in happy endings, but he makes his characters earn theirs, as each couple is forced, ever so subtly, to face its own inner nonsense. The filmmaker has divine actors at his disposal.
  90. Penn's own gifts as an actor seem, in turn, to bring out the best in Nicholson, as well as the rest of the cast.

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