The New Republic's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 458 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 39% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 59% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1.8 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 64
Highest review score: 100 Boogie Nights
Lowest review score: 0 Hulk
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 44 out of 458
458 movie reviews
  1. One particular bit of luck for this reissue is the fact that Melville's cinematographer, Pierre Lhomme, was on hand to help with the restoration of this thirty-five-year-old film. The result is a paradoxical beauty. Very many of the scenes are in sunlight--Melville avoided such facile stuff as shadows for suspense--yet they are chilly. The seasons vary, but the general effect is of a bright winter day that is freezing.
  2. Whatever the news-linked reasons for its revival, Pontecorvo's film is wonderfully worth seeing, or re-seeing, for its own sake.
  3. But the way that this picture has been so widely ravened up and drooled over verges on the disgusting. Pulp Fiction nourishes, abets, cultural slumming. [14 Nov 1994]
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  4. Payne's directing is alert, warm, patient. He knows that the surface must keep us interested until we go below it, and his confidence holds us.
  5. Irons, busily offset by Silver, gleefully choreographed by Schroeder, gives the picture its real bravura reason for being. [19 Nov 1990]
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  6. And Ben Kingsley--O rare Ben Kingsley!--is the Jewish accountant whom Schindler plucks from a condemned group to run his business and who combines gratitude with disdain, subservience with pride. (Actors who want to study the basis of acting--concentration--should watch Kingsley.) [13 Dec 1993]
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  7. Sembène's love of his people and his commitment to the richness that underlies the poverty of their condition have always made his films gems of truth, as they do once again here.
  8. Whatever the virtues of The Queen--and it certainly has them--it simply would not exist without Mirren.
  9. There's a great deal in black America that has yet to reach the screen, and Lee is a prime candidate, in gift and gall, to help fill the gap. [July 3, 1989]
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  10. Leigh, the writer, ties up things somewhat neatly and is a touch homiletic. Leigh, the director of cast and camera, is masterly. [Sept. 30, 1996]
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  11. 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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  12. Steven Spielberg's new film begins as a monumental epic; then it diminishes; and, by its finish, is baffling. [August 24, 1998]
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  13. Any film that provides Ian Holm with a large role is off to a good start. The Sweet Hereafter gets off to that start and keeps going. [Dec 8, 1997]
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  14. The result is a peculiar small gem, a true Linklater gem. The verity of the film, rather than any novelty or twist, keeps us fixed.
  15. At least we know this Allen persona, whatever his current name; the other characters, starting from scratch, don't get much past scratch. Although the picture spreads its attention fairly evenly among them, most of them end up as supporting cast because they are only life-size puppets. [Feb 10, 1986]
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  16. To see the flight captain and co-pilot checking the plane before takeoff, to watch the varied passengers settling into their seats, is more agonizing than watching passengers board the ship in all those "Titanic" films. With United 93 we see these people unknowingly stepping into a history that is still in terrible process. But as a work in (let's call it) the Akhmatova mode, it does not and could not succeed.
  17. The Truman Show is a reminder of the Beckett theme. The screenplay by Andrew Niccol starts from something like Beckett's abstraction and reifies it with details of contemporary culture, then moves on into fantasy. [June 29, 1998]
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  18. A prime candidate for a time capsule, to disclose a century hence the current state of some of our civilization's discontents, including the ability to be convinced that one is telling the truth even when one is lying.
  19. Coppola handles her film with very pleasant economy, with a kind of warm precision. Her father, who was one of this picture's producers, can be as proud of her as we are grateful.
  20. Like some wines, The Best of Youth travels well. From its earliest moments the film is intelligently seen.
  21. Despite the fact that parts of this film remind us of past pictures with comparable themes, the director and his actors make it immediate, gripping.
  22. An overwrought, hollowly symbolic glob of glutinous nonsense... I haven't seen a sillier film about a woman and a piano since John Huston's "The Unforgiven" (1960), a Western in which Lillian Gish had her piano carried out into the front yard so she could play Mozart to pacify attacking Indians. [13 Dec 1993]
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  23. 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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  24. Gondry's virtuosity lifts the film far past science fiction into cinematic efflorescence. He shows us, more seductively than other directors have done, how freehand use of film can capture the flashes in our minds that slip between words.
  25. Overall, the effect is presumably what Eastwood wanted: we are present at a momentous event, not watching a movie.
  26. 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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  27. A slight conceptual nudge and Capote would have focused on (as the closing line tells us) its true subject: an American author's success story. That theme is there, all right, but because it is not centered it is repellent, as the film pretends to be an account of the author's descent into collateral agony...With the true theme of fame-hunger fully fashioned, the film would have been a more authentic American epic.
  28. Extraordinary--delicate, seriously disturbing, and lovely.
  29. There is not much progress in the film: actions are repeated and repeated...Yet the film is sustained--and, for the most part, well sustained--by the children.
  30. The brothers have given us another treasure. Once again they have made a drama of redemption, and once again they convince us that it is possible.
  31. With most historical films the informed viewer scrutinizes in order to cluck at errors. (There are books full of such cluckings.) With Shakespeare in Love, the more one knows, the more one can enjoy the liberties taken. [Jan. 4, 1999]
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  32. "You'll have to be patient." Philibert said, "That's the point." This is the film's success: its patience, which in a way mirrors the teacher's.
  33. It contains little that will be new to any informed viewer; yet it fascinates for all of its 140 minutes.
  34. So in all the tumult about this film, the eruption of its subject into wide attention and the consequent revelations about cowboys' lives in the past, let us--without forgetting the American sources of the screenplay--acknowledge the anomaly that the director is Chinese.
  35. Caouette has opened up a case history vividly, but he has left us without any conclusions, not even with much enlightening empathy. Something more than truth--dare one say "mere truth"?--is needed.
  36. If this weren't a true story, who would believe it? Well, a good many of us, probably. First, it's the kind of exceptional circumstance we like to dwell on as proof that pessimists are wrong; second, Shine is markedly well made, therefore persuasive. [Nov. 18, 1996]
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  37. 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.
  38. The English Patient is excitingly promising. Then the screenplay goes rotten, like an overripe melon. [Dec. 9, 1996]
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  39. Substantively there is no content. Everything we see or hear engages us only as part of a directorial tour de force. That force is exceptional, but since there is not much more to the picture, it leaves us hungry.
  40. Soderbergh is helped enormously by the interplay of his actors, whom he has cast like a master... [He makes] a film that goes past what it shows to disclose what can't be seen. It's a fine achievement. [4 Sept 1989, p.26]
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  41. 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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  42. If we can watch this picture at all, it is because this universally admired person (Eastwood) is in it.
  43. In crudest terms, there's no one to root for, and unlike Mamet or Pinter, for instance, the story isn't remotely strong enough to thrive without such a center… [The film s]trains hard to be smart and is ultimately repellent. [11 May 1992]
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  44. The ability to conceive a compact drama on this huge subject and to embody it as perfectly as they have done, added to what they have already accomplished, puts Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne among the premier film artists of our time.
  45. To name only one of its predecessors -- for me, the towering one -- doesn't "Schindler's List" do everything that Polanski achieves and more?
  46. If Boogie Nights were poorly made and acted, its materials would make it intolerably tawdry. But its so well done that we keep watching. [Nov. 10, 1997]
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  47. Turtles Can Fly, is masterly: it courses before us with grace, a control that paradoxically bespeaks love and anger.
  48. 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.
  49. The Coen brothers wrote McDormand’s role best. Much of the time they seem to have had “Pulp Fiction” in their ears--strings of incongruous banalities; but with this pregnant cop, they struck some gold of their own. [March 25, 1996]
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  50. Stands as a poignant marker in the career of a major artist.
  51. One other element helps Out of Sight tremendously: the editing. [3 Aug 1998]
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  52. The last minutes of the film are exhilarating, but its real triumph is in everything that precedes the ending--the relatively simple lives of the three women up to that point.
  53. Who is Billy Bob Thornton? The question fascinates after seeing Sling Blade, the extraordinary first film that he wrote and directed and in which he plays the leading role. [Feb. 10, 1997]
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  54. The segments are so cleverly arranged--Apted includes past pictorial references for each of the people we revisit--that now there is something almost mystical involved. It is as if a wizard were giving us an overview of forty-two years that mortals were possibly not meant to see.
  55. Even with its latter-day (modified) frankness, Far From Heaven is only thin glamour that lacks a tacit wry base. Thus diminished, it can be tagged with a term that Susan Sontag once defined so well that she put it out of circulation: camp.
  56. The film might be called a moral travelogue. Instead of showing us mosques and tourist spots in beguiling old Istanbul, it follows a couple of ordinary Turkish men in drab surroundings and affirms that they breathe the same doubt-laden air as much of the rest of the world.
  57. Little more than the distended first half of a twisty, dark "Law & Order" script.
  58. Both these stories, which of course develop further, are more engaging than they may sound, because Desplechin directs them so intelligently and because they are so well acted.
  59. A good Listless Film carries a double melancholy for all: it makes us sad for its characters and sad for the world that has thus affected them. Old Joy is such a film.
  60. Sheridan and colleagues understood their chief problem: how to sustain interest in a story that was well-known in advance, not a large historical subject with its own prestige but a news story now dated. So they concentrated on character and on acid irony. [03 Jan 1994 Pg. 28]
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  61. Throughout we keep waiting for the real Almodóvar film, and it never arrives.
  62. Demme's pacing is tight throughout, marred only by some low-angle close-ups of the cannibal that are right out of old Vincent Price thrillers. [Feb 18, 1991]
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  63. As is frequently the case when there is public fuss about a film or play, the work itself is not very good.
  64. Every moment of Longley's film is interesting, and the more we watch, the more clearly we realize that the film cannot solve anything for us.
  65. Virtually everything that happens in Adaptation is almost juvenile showing off - daring to make a film that is in search of a script.
  66. 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]
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  67. We are certainly entitled to marvel at its very existence, but that isn't enough. The work itself is extraordinary.
  68. This is Sollett's first feature film -- he has previously made only one short -- and it shows, more than exceptional talent for cinema itself, his ability to evoke character, in a kind of sidewise offhand way, and to create a sense of community both within and around the film.
  69. The plot, the gags, the action are so stupid and strident, so unfunnily parodic, that the film's only interest is in wondering how they did it-the mix of animation and live action. [1 Aug 1988]
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  70. 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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  71. The film's title ought to be When We Were King's Pawns. Don King maximized the media circus aspects from the start, as the razzle-dazzle directing of Leon Gast, helped in the editing by Taylor Hackford and others, makes electrically clear.
  72. 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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  73. Spider is not a pulse-quickening experience, but Fiennes's art makes it engrossing.
  74. Leigh's directing is lean and tight. In Imelda Staunton as Vera, he has an actress who can make her only two emotions interesting.
  75. As with much art of our time--music, painting, sculpture, theater--Caché in a certain way affronts us. Its deliberate contravention of our expectations, and not necessarily stodgy expectations, is part of its intent.
  76. Why was this film made after the homes had already been abolished? One reason, hardly trifling, is that it was made excellently. Thematically, however, it stings -- as a reminder that Catholicism is only one religion that is dominated by males and that this domination is proprietary.
  77. Melancholy but enjoyable.
  78. At the last, we're left with a film that tries to doll up a conventional genre with hints of depth, hoping to disguise the cross-dressing by putting it in the shape of an epic. Murnau, Mizoguchi, Ford, even you authors of the Book of Genesis, rest easy. [12 Oct 1992]
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  79. Well-knit, generally lucid documentary.
  80. The cast could not -- one could almost say need not -- be improved.
  81. Tsai's film is not free of longueurs, but like much modern work in almost every field, these stretches are deliberate assaults on conventional expectation.
  82. One of the best elements in the adaptation is Caine's blending, like le Carré's, of the past and the present so that one can enrich the other. There are no stilted flashbacks: both past and present are treated as present, which gives the film a texture of depth.
  83. Loach's cast fits perfectly, and his directing has his usual extra tang of commitment. He provides almost a sensory response to his material: we seem to feel the textures and scent the air.
  84. The present film-makers have retained the essences of the plot and characters but have moved the ambience toward the next stylistic era, romanticism.
  85. What an extraordinary idea it was to make this film. What a splendid achievement.
  86. All four of the roles are written with pungency. There is even an implication that the two adults realize the triteness of the situation and that they--the characters, not Baumbach--want to speak from inner sources, not from a script. Baumbach pulls this off with some sting and wit.
  87. In every aspect, his film is superbly made.
  88. The film, directed almost with fierceness by Kevin Macdonald, is a wondrous recreation of that physical adventure. The most profound element, the moral crux, is skimped, but I kept wondering, not so much about the actors who were playing Simpson and Yates, as about the cameramen who were photographing them on that icy face, possibly suspended while they were doing it.
  89. The net effect of the incessant dazzle is depressing.
  90. The film is emotionally and visually sustained, so it is pleasant.
  91. It is Akinshina's presence and performance that make the pedestrian story heart-wrenching. She is pretty, responsive, reflective. Without the slightest strain, she convinces us of the beauty and pathos and hope within Lilya.
  92. 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.
  93. Welcome to Yoji Yamada. After decades of comedies, he arrives--in this country, at least--with a uniquely touching samurai film. At the age of seventy-three, he starts a new career.
  94. 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.
  95. Grant does have charm, wit and intelligence, displayed through subtlety of inflection, timing and an ability to convey unspoken thoughts between utterances. That's quite a good deal. [April 4, 1994]
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  96. Though there is plenty of action, particularly at the start and at the end with two blasting sea battles, much of the film is not sufficiently interesting.
  97. Sissako makes his point: Africa's best treasure is its humanity.
  98. The son has served the father well, though he faced an odd difficulty: the architect's life was so unusual that his son's understandable absorption with it steals a bit of time from his treatment of the work.
  99. Happiness very quickly displays finesse and control, colored by a nearly exultant glee. [9 Nov 1998]
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  100. Cunningham's novel was helped by his prose, which curves gracefully in the historical present to unify the book in some degree. Stripped of that tegument, the film depends more blatantly on Woolf's fate to give it organism and depth.

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