Matt Cipolla

Matt Cipolla
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Matt Cipolla is a critic and essayist for hire who has worked with WGN Radio, Bright Wall/Dark Room, RogerEbert.com, The Film Stage, Crooked Marquee, and more. He's also a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association, and he firmly believes that ".gif" is pronounced as "jiff."

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
95% The Green Knight (2021) Here's a story that's so inherently loose and extemporaneous. It doesn't help, then, that [the] approach is hermetic enough that there's not too much of the film from its neck up. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 26, 2021
51% Old (2021) [B]eyond the underwritten characters, Shyamalan's approach lacks the philosophy, introspection, or look at ephemerality it needs to pull off what it ultimately attempts. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 23, 2021
97% Pig (2021) It is, against all odds, a wider parable about the decay of art in a culture where everything is to be bought and sold. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 14, 2021
B 92% Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (2021) What it captures is that feeling of the gearshift sliding into neutral, the point later on when openness and acquiescence bleed into one. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 14, 2021
C 82% Mama Weed (La Daronne) (2021) For all the schisms it's actually about, Jean-Paul Salomé's film either doesn't care about or isn't aware of what it depicts. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 14, 2021
C+ 93% Till Death (2021) It's a simple enough premise that functions in parts. It's also one Fox elevates. The problem is that . . . Till Death feels like something one wouldn't expect: contrived. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 30, 2021
95% In the Heights (2021) In the Heights works in pieces but not as a whole, ultimately playing like a jumble of tones, themes, and plot threads it doesn't acknowledge or develop until it absolutely has to. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2021
80% The Carnivores (2021) Nothing here is particularly deep or likely to leave a lasting impact. . . . That said, it takes a steady hand to keep this sort of material feeling as modest as it does here. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2021
83% Port Authority (2019) [I]t's about Paul and only Paul. It's about who can help him and how, with no real success at probing the conflicts or systemic issues at hand. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2021
60% Scream 4 (2011) [Craven and Williamson] observe technology as an extension, a funhouse mirror, of the silver screen. . . . [M]eta doesn't even cover it. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 15, 2021
98% Minari (2020) Chung's latest wants to balance the specific and the universal, and while it does so at points, it also ends up just too impersonal. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2021
C 56% Prime Time (2021) [It] has nothing deep to say about pop culture, the turn of the millennium, or its own characters, and the movie plays like a treatment forced into feature-length. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 2, 2021
89% Pleasure (2021) Pleasure, while incredibly difficult to watch, repackages [the star-is-born tale] into a look at the cycle of abuse when having boundaries isn't a commodity. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 2, 2021
B 95% El Planeta (2021) I'd be sad if it didn't have such a droll approach. In some ways, it is. El Planeta isn't the most thematically consistent, but it's clever and brisk enough to be a good time. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 2, 2021
C 88% Marvelous and the Black Hole (2020) It wants to be something cute for the family. It also wants to show how belligerent and vulgar young teenagers can be. The problem is that the two never intersect. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 2, 2021
B+ 86% We're All Going to the World's Fair (2021) Nothing about it is shocking, nor is it meant to be. That's why it feels so real when it reaches its natural conclusion. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2021
68% Life in a Day 2020 (2021) This gimmick may have worked 10 years ago, but that's because it was a specific time when people recorded a lot, not quite everything. The sliver of novelty is gone now. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2021
D+ 69% The Blazing World (2021) [T]he surrealism doesn't feel subversive or even too inventive. It just feels like a put-on, one that doesn't understand its heroine's mental state. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 1, 2021
92% All Light, Everywhere (2021) Theo Anthony weaves history, film theory, philosophy, and politics to explore the limits of perception in cinema, often while playing with the syntax of documentary filmmaking. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2021
C+ 88% Coming Home in the Dark (2021) The skill is here and it comes to fruition in the first 50 minutes, but it's when it tries to interrogate the motives at hand that it starts to wobble. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2021
76% Eight for Silver (2021) For those looking for a slow burn, this werewolf tale is too reliant on cheap jump scares. For those in the mood for gore and a good time, it's far too slow--stagnant, even. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2021
B- 91% Cusp (2021) The result isn't perfect, but it manages to feel consistent. There's no immediate future on display here. There's also no real hope. . . . Cusp doesn't even try to fake a smile. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2021
79% In The Earth (2021) In the Earth sees Wheatley aping Andrei Tarkovsky by taking liberally from Stalker, but it also sees him aping himself by rehashing A Field in England much more predictably. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2021
54% John and the Hole (2021) [I]ts attempts to tie fable into metatext are just overt enough to cement how toothless it all really is. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2021
71% Cryptozoo (2021) To be fair, the plot is by far the least original and most protracted part. The visual ingenuity, on the other hand, is something to witness. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2021
C+ 88% Homeroom (2021) It's a very well done documentary on a technical level . . . It's the pace that truncates some of the details, making Homeroom too brisk to realize all of its moving parts. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 29, 2021
C 66% One for the Road (2021) While most movies are either innocuous or at the mercy of self-satisfied characters, One for the Road happens to be both--and it is so for 137 minutes. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 28, 2021
9% Songbird (2020) Perhaps it'd be possible in another world to overlook [the concept] if Songbird were any good, but it isn't. It feels like a network TV pilot from 2005 that never got picked up. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 10, 2020
96% Zappa (2020) Zappa does a commendable job at echoing that sort of coke-adjacent counter-culture chaos the artist spun together so uniquely. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2020
82% Mank (2020) [S]omething of a surprise is how [David Fincher] and the script from his late father, Jack Fincher, lure audiences into a false sense of nostalgia while negating its most amiable aspects. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 17, 2020
D+ 45% Fatman (2020) What feels like a Robot Chicken sketch drawn out to 100 minutes doesn't even sound too hopeful in theory, but it didn't have to be this pointless. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
B- 98% Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds (2020) A logical approach runs through Fireball, but the sheer wonder of it all--and its sly balance of tones--is what prevents it from burning up before making impact. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2020
85% Divine Love (Divino Amor) (2020) The material is timeless, but it thinks it's a timely, sociopolitical warning. As weird as the script thinks it is, it's never really that weird. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 11, 2020
56% Come Play (2020) Jacob Chase's latest is a low-key chiller with an affinity for long, floating takes and 360-degree pans to punctuate its human core--until it isn't. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 29, 2020
C+ 94% Sleep (Schlaf) (2020) Sleep is so full of ideas that it can be a bit too much. It's certainly ambitious and has its moments, but its dream logic grows numb by the end. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2020
B- 98% Sweat (2020) Yes, it's really quite uneven. But while von Horn's script has trouble fitting its themes and plot together, Magdalena Koleśnik's performance commands the good and the bad. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2020
B+ 97% The Reason I Jump (2021) The Reason I Jump knows how to expand upon Higashida's words, using its tools to distill the experience into pure human empathy. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2020
C+ 86% The Prophet and the Space Aliens (2020) Shamir dillies through this group without a large or meaningful enough context, even if he's more empathic than one might expect. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2020
C+ 89% Preparations to be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (2021) No one here acts like a real person. That's part of the main draw, though, so it kind of crumbles once Horvát tries to wrap it all up. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2020
B 95% Dear Comrades! (2021) It's bleak, but Dear Comrades! benefits from an ironic distance that gives it a satirical bent without teetering into farce. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 17, 2020
C 82% Kubrick by Kubrick (Kubrick par Kubrick) (2020) The idea of making a documentary about the man isn't inherently flawed, but this one's approach is, lacking the insight or visuals to make it feel like more than a glorified clip show. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 17, 2020
B- 88% Undine (2020) It's dissonant, often hypnotic filmmaking. It's also rote for stretches, with Petzold's narrative approach surprisingly straightforward enough to make it just decent overall. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
B 97% Farewell Amor (2020) It's not oversimplified. [Sylvia endures] colorism and cultural fetishizing, and Lawson gives her role an awkwardness that comes from self-awareness instead of simple insecurity. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
B- 100% Finding Yingying (2020) Finding Yingying doesn't plumb the differences between U.S. and Chinese relations as much as the story alludes to, but the sheer emotion of it all largely redeems it. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
B- 90% Belushi (2020) [Belushi] works when it examines a culture where movies, music, and TV fall in an ever-changing hierarchy, understanding the tragedy by the end rather than glancing at it. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
A- 100% Days (Rizi) (2020) Virtually every gesture, no matter how menial or small, helps remove the screen between subject and audience. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2020
C 80% The Columnist (De Kuthoer) (2020) It finds its mix of satire and black comedy in the last 15 minutes, but by trying to end on a bang, The Columnist just softens the blow. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2020
B+ No Score Yet Careless Crime (Jenayat-e bi deghat) (2020) It's not too often a movie trusts its audience this much, and the result is one of the most meta movies this side of Mohsen Makhmalbaf's A Moment of Innocence. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 15, 2020
B+ 99% Totally Under Control (2020) It's almost too fast to keep up with at times, just as it should be. Its themes, talking heads, and points of criticism fractalize until it's hard to remember just how it all began. - The Film Stage EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2020
80% Charm City Kings (2020) [F]or all the energy both in front of and behind the camera, this thing rides the clutch way too much. It's not necessarily that it's disengaged; it's that it's so rocky. - The Spool EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 9, 2020