The New Republic's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 460 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 40% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 58% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.5 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Before Sunset
Lowest review score: 0 Hulk
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 44 out of 460
460 movie reviews
  1. The flaw that separates Scorsese's film into its components is its lack of a crystallized theme.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    A potentially stifling ambience is deflected by quiet suspense and the awe-inspiring compositions of the cinematographer, Clay Liford. Decaying rustic interiors evoke Andrew Wyeth still lifes; pastoral long shots suggest a Southwestern walkabout. And Mr. Lowery seems ready for a bigger canvas.
  2. The real pleasure is in having a film that is like a box of assorted chocolates: you have the power to approve or not as you move through the variety, even though the bits are picked for you.
  3. He has had a notable career, and I wish there had been more specifics about it in the film.
  4. To Van Sant's credit, let's note that he has evoked more lightness and variety from Kidman, more scrimshaw gesture and inflection than I thought she could muster. [23 Oct 1995]
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  5. Eloy de la Iglesia, who directed Bulgarian Lovers, has a light and witty touch, reminiscent of his countryman Pedro Almodóvar...But he needed a better screenplay.
  6. What matters much more than the story or the Spicy Stuff is the dancing, the show-biz dancing. It's electric. Exciting. And there's lots of it. [23 Oct 1995]
    • The New Republic
  7. The film is merely a succession of odd events. But those events are interesting, and the texture of the village's life is full-fashioned.
  8. The pace is fairly hectic, which it needs to be. (Mustn't linger on bubbles.) The performances are warm, especially the tender Judith Godrèche as the doctor's wife.
  9. It is kept listenable--and watchable--because Bourdieu uses his knowledge of these people with winning ease. The story's conclusion verges on the grim, and it underscores Bourdieu's presumable theme: student life and talk are the last real vacations in many lives.
  10. None of the people in the film is realized as a character: Cronenberg has no interest in character. Each person is given a dab of characteristics and is then sent off to copulate. [21Apr1997 Pg 26]
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  11. The five episodes in Broken Flowers are good enough to make us expect that the picture has a theme, but it hasn't.
  12. Schreiber's directing is ambitious, but it is nowhere near the originality and truth in his acting. Throughout the film we can feel him striving to control, to invent, to glisten.
  13. The war is not scanted: the devastation and butchery are there. But the screenplay by Frank Cottell Boyce, based on a non-fiction account by Michael Nicholson, is thin, sentimental. [29Dec1997 Pg. 28]
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  14. Mamet's understanding of the essentials here and his skill in supplying them are not major achievements for him, but it would be wasteful not to recognize them. Spartan is another feather, though a small one, in his cap.
  15. It is easy to point out gaps in Noujaim's account. (What, for instance, about the rebuilding that tries to go forward in Iraq?) But the prime importance of this film, I'd say, is that it is not an eye-opener. Of course this change in reporting, this bilateralism, has occurred so far only in wars where the U.S. was the overwhelming superior in force.
  16. As in all fiercely realistic thrillers, the action becomes less and less credible as it speeds on. But, as with some such thrillers, we tolerate the incredible as the price of the pulse-quickening.
  17. We may indeed yawn a bit from time to time, but we know that we are yawning in the presence of a director who is intelligently disturbed by the moral inertia he sees around him and whose future is worth watching.
  18. Eastwood, who directed the picture adequately, is inadequate in this role. He has done a lot of impressive acting in films, but none of it has been sexually romantic, and the age of 64 was not the right time to take up that line of work. [03Jul1995, Pg. 26]
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  19. Patently intended to be a serious exploration of a cultural encounter, but this intent withers through a lack of writers' gravity and a mass of action clichés.
  20. To read a Carver collection is to walk through a gallery of beautifully formed objects. To blend his stories into "soup," no matter how smartly, to see them "as just one story," is to vandalize good art, to rationalize filmic opportunism as aesthetic principle. [25 Oct 1993]
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  21. Everything falls into place, click click click. Like many a formulaic piece, this one engages a real theme--here it's the conflict between the concept of duty and the idea of the individual--and does little with it. [25 Jan 1993]
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  22. Martin himself still seems to be filing in at run-throughs for the real star who couldn't make rehearsals. [11 March 1991, p.28]
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  23. Both Wong and Soderbergh have understandably expressed their gratitude at, even in this tripartite way, being part of an Antonioni project... But Eros is better for what they contribute than for his work.
  24. The Good Thief merely adds a new tinct to the pathos of Jordan's career. Once again we see a director who is better than anything he has so far done.
  25. One reasonably dependable pleasure in Woody Allen's films is that he uses old-time songs, in moderately jazzed-up versions, on his soundtracks.
  26. This Jeffrey Hatcher-Kimberly Simi version, directed by Lasse Hallström, has a resemblance to some of Casanova's memoirs but is chiefly based on the assumption that, in a costume drama, anything goes.
  27. The screenplay is at the start far from lucid in setting forth characters and relationships and intents. And after the film has been barreling along for two hours of its 148-minute journey, it seems to have lost the ability to finish. Three or four times in the last half-hour, I thought the film was over, only to be jarred by more of it.
  28. The script is a tidy work of carpentry, in several time planes and with a tart finish. Tense moments abound, fights and shootings and near-drownings, but they seem items drawn from casework files. [5 Aug 1996, p.26]
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  29. The film isn't dreadful: it is just generally disappointing.
  30. Despite the pictorial riches, despite the firm performances by Ray Winstone as the captain and Guy Pearce as Charlie Burns, despite the miraculous John Hurt in an eccentric role that was put in just for spice, The Proposition is hollow.
  31. The film is repetitious. Herzog has varied the original footage with some interviews that he conducted with a former Treadwell girlfriend and some other friends and observers. Still, an hour of it would have been more effective than the present feature length.
  32. Come back, Jim Jarmusch. Come back to the pungency of your first films. Leave the 1970s. Come back to the future. [03 Jun 1996, Pg.30]
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  33. Scorsese's style, fierce as it is, doesn't accomplish what he clearly expected of it. Often, in many arts, fresh treatment can redeem familiar subjects, but it doesn't happen here. [Oct 22, 1990]
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  34. Meyer's screenplay has been called unsuccessful, and I agree; but, without glossing some bumps that are his doing, I'd say that in this case the trouble with the screen adaptation is the novel.
  35. Jordan would like us to believe that the three films are stages in a metamorphosis, but the stitching shows… Part Two, explored and expanded, might have made a good film, especially since Davidson gives a quiet, knowledgeable, perfectly poised performance. [14 Dec 1992]
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  36. Leaves the viewer with the sense of a writing-directing talent concocting complexities. Everything he touches is well-turned, but he now feels compelled to put the pieces together in something other than a lucid design.
  37. Yet the McCarthy/Murrow conflict in the picture is not pressing enough--these days, anyway--to justify the considerable skill expended on it.
  38. The net effect of the incessant dazzle is depressing.
  39. The picture is too long. It repeats and repeats. Thirty minutes, instead of its eighty-six, could have told us all we need to know about the danger and tedium of these lives.
  40. Only the onstage performing has moments of lift, particularly Keillor's diabolically homespun monologues and the cowboys with their risqué jokes that are reminders of such outhouse reading as Captain Billy's Whiz Bang.
  41. [Douglas McGrath's] adaptation of the novel is as complete as two hours would allow. What it lacks texturally is what no adaptation could adequately supply: the gleam of the Austen prose. [19 Aug 1996, Pg.38]
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  42. Pappas's talking heads can't exactly solve the problem, but they help to keep us from forgetting it.
  43. Malick continues to float along the edge of the American film world as an unusually intelligent personage who occasionally delivers the fruit of his meditations. But his role as adjunct philosophe is better than the films he eventually gives us.
  44. A new voyeurism has arisen in the last two decades or so, and Trainspotting caters to it--an addiction to addiction-watching. [August 19, 1996]
    • The New Republic
  45. What the role needs, and what Macy cannot quite provide, is the sense not of a robot but of a potent man who has been imprisoned by rote. Remember Jack Nicholson in "About Schmidt."
  46. The English Patient is excitingly promising. Then the screenplay goes rotten, like an overripe melon. [Dec. 9, 1996]
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  47. The writer of Very Bad Things has done poorly by the director. This is particularly painful because they are the same person, Peter Berg. Director Berg shows lively talent, focused and controlled. Writer Berg shows some talent, too, but he is wobbly in design and purpose. [14 December 1998, p.26]
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  48. It's sad to see two talented actresses, Rebecca de Mornay and Jennifer Jason Leigh, wasted in puppet parts. [17 June 1991, p.28]
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  49. Lynn Redgrave is nearly incomprehensible as the housekeeper with some sort of housekeeperly accent. [Dec. 14, 1998]
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  50. Two cheery notes: Nicolas Cage, as the erring brother, shows surprising signs of life, and Cher, as the erring fiancee, confounds those who swore she was a remote-control robot. [8 Feb 1988]
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  51. In short, this squad is an ill-trained, slovenly bunch of soldiers. That such behavior exists, or can exist, in any army is surely commonplace, but that Israeli producers should want to make a film about the matter at this time is puzzling.
  52. What helps Pfeiffer most is the fact that though she is exceptionally pretty, she patently doesn't rely on her prettiness: she wants to act. But, with her Ellen, though we know what she means from moment to moment, we simply don't feel it... Winona Ryder is disastrously miscast. [18 Oct 1993, p.30]
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  53. We are meant to think about a society that revels in this moral pit. But all that puzzled me was why an audience would need a film to immerse it in wanton, speciously motivated death when the television news provides so much of it every day.
  54. But it is precisely with these contrapuntal strands of huge, timeless nature, of the complexity of every human mind, that Malick bloats his film into banality. [Jan. 25, 1999]
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  55. The screenplay is schizoid. The first half is figuratively brassy, but then the violins begin to soar.
  56. Winslet is an actress, Diaz is not. The screenplay by Nancy Meyers, who directed, has dialogue that is not near the snap level of, say, Nicole Holofcener's comparable "Friends With Money."
  57. A moderately engaging satire, some of it amusing and some of it strained, but in considerable measure it reflects a strange circumstance in all our lives.
  58. The best way to watch this film is while sipping coffee in a café. Nicotine optional.
  59. Cruise is becoming a real star, confident and gleaming. But neither he nor Hoffman nor the cleverness of the director, Barry Levinson, can prevail against a screenplay that has a beginning at the Ohio home, a finish in L.A., and nothing much in between. [9 Jan 1989]
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  60. The director, Michael Mann, remembers the best of film noir pretty well, but it doesn't protect his film against its ultimate Movieland silliness.
  61. Its very existence as a film sets up expectations that wouldn't exist within a book -- another reason I'd bet that there would be more pleasure in reading the screenplay. I can't remember ever thinking that previously about a film. (1998 May 23, p. 26)
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  62. Still, it never quite realizes the oneiric quality because, paradoxically, of its best achievement--the performances of the two boys. They are vital, insistent. Their beings contradict the dreaminess and make us ask the questions mentioned above.
  63. Just a series of episodes: it has no trace of the structure that has supported drama and comedy for two millennia.
  64. The trouble, which becomes quickly and oppressively apparent, is that the screenplay has no point except its plot. No theme, no intent of anything like Oliver Stone weight, is ever manifested.
  65. All in the cast are competent, and some of the slaughter scenes make us ache, but the overlaid material does not enrich, it impedes.
  66. The one attraction in the picture is DiCaprio's performance: easy yet strong, confident, humorous.
  67. Formally, Boyz is just one more old-time bad-neighborhood picture. Instead of, say, Manhattan's Lower East Side in Prohibition days, it's an LA lower-middle-class black neighborhood afflicted with drugs. And Singleton's control of his picture's flow is much less firm than was the other directors'. [2 Sept 1991]
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  68. The disaster is John Malkovich in the key role of Valmont... From the moment he steps out of a carriage at the start, he walks and gestures like Malkovich. He has done nothing to bring himself to the part, not even bothering to learn how to pronounce "mademoiselle." ("Madam-uhzell," says M.) [2 Jan 1989, p.24]
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  69. We can almost hear the way he (Keitel) will speak a line before he speaks it. The triteness of the role and its performance, instead of dramatizing the contrast between this philistine and the artist, makes the confrontation between the two men a smug setup.
  70. Combination of comedy and gravity is certainly common enough, but it requires a sure hand and perceptible intent. This screenplay has some neat touches, but it never makes up its mind.
  71. Fahrenheit 9/11 is sometimes slipshod in its making and juvenile in its travesty, and of course it has no interest in overall fairness to Bush. But it vents an anger about this presidency that, as the film's ardent reception shows, seethes in very many of us.
  72. All these mystical elements are so sententiously handled and bump into one another so clumsily that they make the film seem nutty. But because spirituality is the theme of Bee Season, we are obviously not meant to laugh at it. Well, I wish I could get Jehovah's reaction to the picture.
  73. Candor about homosexuality is now so widely accepted as part of theater-film possibilities that plays and films offering not much more than such candor seem dated. In that sense Love! Valour! Compassion! is an important, if dull, milestone. [09Jun1997 Pg 30]
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  74. The best performance comes from Stanley Tucci as the Runway art director. Tucci presents a homosexual man without a trace of cartoon--shrewd, skilled, and weathered without being worn. It is a well-judged and accomplished piece of work.
  75. Midnight Run is two films. One is a succession of bright, razor-edge, nutty dialogues between two men. The other is the plot that keeps them together, which is stale and full of boring violent-comic action. [29 Aug 1988]
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  76. None of the film is exciting, and, despite the preeningly smooth flow of the story, little of it is interesting.
  77. Less would have been more. Still, CSA has some laughs, most of them bitter.
  78. The picture's effect: the sexual element is trenchant, while the status of Muslim youth registers strongly.
  79. Nicholson, one of the best actors in American screen history, is miscast again… He is quite visibly uncomfortable in his role. It needed an actor who could easily be viciously stuffy, like William Hurt. Nicholson struggles for the core of the man but never gets it. [Feb. 2, 1998]
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  80. The danger in Hong's procedure is obvious. Dramatists learned long ago that it is risky to include a static character because he may so easily bore the audience.
  81. The actors understand completely why they are there. The editing, complex because of several time strands, is more than skillful. But the screenplay by von Trotta and Pamela Katz suborns its subject.
  82. This sort of investigation has been done so masterfully by Sam Peckinpah in "The Wild Bunch" and Oliver Stone in "Natural Born Killers" that, in a sternly utilitarian sense, we don't need Cronenberg. He is not, as far as I have seen, in their class. He proves it again in A History of Violence.
  83. Built on one of those particularly ludicrous plots in which, just before the end, we are meant to believe that a long succession of coincidences was really a diabolical scheme. [23 Feb 1998, p. 24]
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  84. Black comedy? Black enough, but they muffed the other word. Robert Benton and Harold Ramis, put on dunce caps and go stand in the corner.
  85. I could have managed to bear all the film's shortcomings if it weren't for Clooney. Where was he during the making of this film? His face is there, he knows his lines, he moves as needed, but any traces of the intelligence and rapport, the subtlety and understanding, that have marked his best work are excruciatingly missing. Clooney behaves as if he discovered after he had committed to the film that he really didn't like the script as much as he thought he did but would go through with it anyway. The result is puppetry.
  86. Malkovich has done considerable directing in the theater, but nothing in the acting here shows acuteness of choice or subtlety of touch.
  87. The $25 million of his own that Gibson is said to have put into this film may be conscience money, and the savagery in the picture may--consciously or not--be Gibson's way of saying that violence is not always valueless.
  88. Brazil doesn't add up to much, not only because its cautionary tales are familiar, but because it has no real point of view, nothing urgent under its facile symbols. And the story winds on and on looking for a finish. Three or four times I reached for my coat prematurely. [17 Feb 1986, p.26]
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  89. Literal-minded to the last, I felt nothing but pity for Tom Cruise, fanged, wigged and costumed, trying hard with his considerable talent to make his sanguinary appetite real. [12Dec1994 Pg. 24]
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  90. And as film, Apollo 13 is dull… Partly it's because there are no characters, no room for any substantive character development… Apollo 13 is staffed with human puppets. [31 July 1995]
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  91. Dismal and heavy, and the failure rests chiefly with Johnny Depp, who plays Barrie.
  92. Soderbergh, the writer and director, has slowed his metronome almost to a crawl, has repeated and delayed and protracted, in an attempt at depth. The net effect is a small paradox: incomprehensibility caused by drag, not by rush.
    • 89 Metascore
    • 40 Critic Score
    Capra is an old-time movie craftsman, the master of every trick in the bag, and in many ways he is more at home with the medium than any other Hollywood director. But all of his details give the impression of contrived effect...To make his points he always takes an easy, simple-minded path that doesn’t give much credit to the intelligence of the audience.
  93. Where Russell wobbles in this screenplay, which he wrote with Jeff Baena, is not in his intent but that he omitted to make it funny.
  94. Nelson's writing, as arranged by Simpson, adds absolutely nothing to our experience of September 11.
  95. Is Scorsese desperate? This screenplay has the scent of it, as if he is scraping for material to feed his basic filmic interests. But the risk in this case--not evaded--was that his need led him close to painful strain. I can't remember another Scorsese moment as shockingly banal as the finishing touch here.
  96. Little in [Connery's] character is explored or colored. It's not a highly complex role, but the man has qualities that could make him interesting; after all, it's his aberrant action that initiates the whole naval plot. Connery merely fulfills his contractual obligations to the producer-no depth in him at all. [26 Mar 1990, p.26]
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  97. The picture as a whole lacks the energy and incisiveness --the sheer anger-- that have marked Costa-Gavras's best films. A pity, because it is a true Costa-Gavras subject.
  98. The dialogue creaks, all the more so since we know better than it does what it is going to say.

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