Robert Abele

Robert Abele
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Film Critic, LA Weekly

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
90% Donbass (2018) There's no other antiwar film quite like "Donbass," Ukrainian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa's brutally matter-of-fact, cynically comic string of vignettes depicting social destabilization in the titular war-ravaged region of eastern Ukraine. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
95% The Twentieth Century (2020) [O]ne of the more vivid and amusing excursions in a year marked by unclassifiable realities and the need for diverting art. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
100% This Is Not a Movie (2020) However one ultimately feels about Fisk's reportorial compass, "This Is Not a Movie" presents a necessary, thought-provoking portrait of a dedicated truth-seeker. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
B+ 33% The Wrong Missy (2020) Lauren Lapkus steals the show here as a woman whose lack of boundaries, filters and self-restraint make for a full and shockingly funny take on life that's so "wrong," it's right - L.A. Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 26, 2020
50% I Like Money (Mr. Topaze) (1962) While it never achieves the status of hidden laugh riot or ignored gem, it's far from a failed experiment. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 15, 2020
73% Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (2010) Andy Serkis uncoils a performance of spit, grit and wit so ferocious it only serves to starkly clarify how unremarkable and formulaic the rest of the movie is. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 27, 2020
No Score Yet Justine (2019) "Justine" recalls the golden era of the conscientious, well-acted movie of the week: a slice of life built around hardships, but without exploiting them. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2020
100% Streetlight Harmonies (2020) Like a fan excitedly showing off their record collection, the documentary "Streetlight Harmonies" flips through its history of doo-wop telling a tale both tuneful and essential in the development of rhythm & blues, rock and roll and civil rights. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2020
100% Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020) Tells the story of a landmark movement with verve, humor, and fiery righteousness. In the category of docs that demand we assess the kind of society we want, Newnham and LeBrecht's personality-rich history is as engaging and inspiring as they come. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2020
98% Blow the Man Down (2020) A briny Northeastern noir powered by women with secrets, "Blow the Man Down" is a pleasantly spiky slinging of small-town sin that should prove to be eminently companionable viewing for these sequestered, streamable times. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2020
97% Human Nature (2020) [A]n intriguing, mind-tingling watch as it tells the underreported story of CRISPR, the microorganism molecular system discovered in the 1980s, which revealed to the scientific world that DNA... - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2020
100% Heimat Is a Space in Time (Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit) (2020) But although it is at times distractingly opaque, occasionally Heise's family's words, juxtaposed with his sounds and images, crystallize into something singularly wise about the nexus of place, history and trauma. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2020
30% Bloodshot (2020) Diesel is still mostly cartoon brawn, a sight-gag slab with just enough winking to never quite bore, even if he also never quite excites. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 11, 2020
59% Young Ahmed (Le jeune Ahmed) (2020) For perhaps the first time in the brothers' career, one of their movies feels like it's missing a key something: an understanding, or an inquisitiveness, or perhaps that framing known as judgment. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2020
87% Sorry We Missed You (2020) In their domestic gut-punch of a story, they've exposed our new feudalism in a way that feels honest and blisteringly human. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2020
78% The Banker (2020) For good stretches, "The Banker" can be as dryly engineered as a loan application, but the galvanizing story it tells - like a last stand of rebel ingenuity before the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made discrimination unlawful - is a solid interest-earner. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 5, 2020
100% System K (2019) With seemingly each follow-along shot in traffic with a performance artist, or close-up on materials being worked, or observed moment of artist connecting with everyday Kinshasans, the movie is giving you process, execution and impact simultaneously. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2020
No Score Yet Art Paul of Playboy: The Man Behind the Bunny (2020) It's her efforts to sell Paul in home scenes as a coulda been musician, mighta been wordsmith and undiscovered solo artist that feel reaching, like a sentimental family tribute video. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2020
47% Greed (2020) Coogan's so expert at the darkly witty, cringe-while-laughing insult, it's like watching a pro athlete in flight; it's a shame Winterbottom's ambitions for Greed weren't greater as a rollicking, truly scary picture of unrepentant gluttony. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 26, 2020
80% The Times of Bill Cunningham (2020) It's fair to assume one reason is that even in so modest a super fan of the sartorial as Cunningham, his recognizing that life, like fashion, is both monumental and fleeting was enough to get a passionate witness talking, sometimes through tears. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2020
100% I Wish I Knew (Hai shang chuan qi) (2020) The resulting mix of image and interview, weariness and wonder, makes for a sober assessment of just how much change China's largest city has been through since the 1930s... - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2020
87% Emma. (2020) Proof that bringing a timeless book and fresh talent together is still a worthy kind of artistic matchmaking. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 3, 2020
100% 2020 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Documentary (2020) On the nonfiction side, this year's short documentaries explore grim subjects with a variety of tones. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2020
89% 2020 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Live Action (2020) The live action shorts aren't as sturdy in matching emotions and ideas with execution, but they have their moments. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2020
95% 2020 Oscar Nominated Shorts - Animation (2020) The animation category is a quintet of clever two-handers about bonds new and old, perhaps tenuous but usually healing. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2020
99% Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) Hittman wades into one of the more charged subjects of our time - abortion access - with the kind of sensitivity, focus and detail that will ensure its place as a dramatic standard for how to put a human face on a controversial topic. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2020
78% Jumbo (2020) Ultimately more of a well-intended melodramatic experiment than a fully realized love story about one of the more curious corners of humanity's sexual-psychological tapestry. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2020
86% Redoubt (2019) "Redoubt" is slow going but not uninvolving. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2020
89% Jezebel (2019) "Jezebel" is a reminder that in everyday human stories is proof that the world is wide, and that in going behind the doors that movies rarely open, there are even more worlds worth discovering. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2020
77% Bad Boys for Life (2020) Both an amusing throwback and a tired retread. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 15, 2020
84% The Europeans (1979) But what's attractive about revisiting "The Europeans" now is how it's more indie-flavored, its pleasurable finery and delicate ironies... befitting a novel whose lightness of tone James himself recognized when he subtitled it "A Sketch. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2019
20% Cats (2019) Tom Hooper's jarring fever dream of a spectacle is like something that escaped from Dr. Moreau's creature laboratory, an un-catty valley hybrid of physical and digital that unsettles and crashes way more often than it enchants. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2019
35% Seberg (2020) By the end, Stewart is enough of a force to give Seberg's darkest moments their due, but it's too little, too late for the superficial soup that is the movie that bears her name. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2019
98% Varda by Agnès (2019) "Varda by Agnès" may be a summing up from one end of a long, beautiful life in art. But it has the lightness, curiosity and spirit of a first film, and that tells us who Varda the artist was too: ever inspired, ever creating, ever eager to share. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2019
79% Downtown 81 (2001) Its bygone-ness still abuzz with creativity and movement, "Downtown 81" is a celluloid scrapbook that we can all be thankful for in helping capture the rumble before takeoff. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2019
100% After Parkland (2019) "After Parkland" is that gentle exchange of a movie - listening, being there - and sometimes that's all an aftermath doc can be and should be. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 1, 2019
95% Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project (2019) But more than its occasional resemblance to a very special episode of "Hoarders," Wolf's strange, sad and finally exhilarating portrait is one of radical consumerism turned into a searchable legacy - the viewer as activist. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 1, 2019
98% 63 Up (2019) A perfectly satisfying summing-up of what's proven to be the surest motive for any of its participants to keep filling us in on their personal lives - they did it because time, love, and just enough fortune allowed it. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2019
100% Mickey and the Bear (2019) The best thing one can say about Attanasio's approach to this material... is that she understands how complicated people's lives are when on the surface their issues might seem cut-and-dried. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2019
88% Hala (2019) Although its storytelling is at times naggingly staid, its central characterizations teem with complexity and sensitivity, and for that, it's a modest coming-of-age gem. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2019
77% Richard Jewell (2019) Outside of its major assets, which include Hauser's unapologetically showy performance as Jewell and Rockwell's sardonic turn as his underdog lawyer, there's a mystifying lack of clarity to the dramatic impact this retelling is seeking. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2019
24% The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (2019) Will you be eager to learn more about this fierce "Warrior Queen" afterward? Yes. Will it be because you sensed more there than was melodramatically delivered? Probably. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
83% Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer (2019) As pop culture narratives go, "Scandalous" wants to be as colorful and fun as a flip through of the rag itself at the supermarket. But in these truth-challenged times, the jovial tone of "Scandalous" all too often outweighs the judgmental. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
85% The Hottest August (2019) But sometimes an experiment feels like just an experiment, and that's where the well-intentioned query "The Hottest August" ultimately lands. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2019
82% The Report (2019) For all the ways Burns has condensed a mountain of information into an efficient narrative, it's still essentially a timeline talkathon with only a passing resemblance to the tactile, human '70s political thrillers it aspires to resemble. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2019
90% Dark Waters (2019) As a portrait of solitary dedication against impossible odds, it's of a piece with Haynes's female-centered stories of upstream defiance Safe and Far From Heaven as much as a Spotlight or All the President's Men. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2019
91% Burning Cane (2019) Even when the images edge toward the self-consciously authorial... there's always something to latch onto... "Burning Cane" also gets us excited about what else Youmans can do. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2019
94% Klaus (2019) [A] serviceably sprightly mix of attitude and altruism that purports to explain how children every Christmas came to eagerly await the wrapped bounty from a kind, portly figure in a red suit. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2019
66% Krampus (2015) The legend of the Krampus, often referred to as the shadow of St. Nicholas, is a fertile one indeed, but this "Krampus" - a missed opportunity for anti-saccharine counter programming - isn't likely to create many new believers. - TheWrap EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 5, 2019
95% The Apollo (2019) [E]ssential history and quintessential performance expertly woven together to remind us what lasting, vibrant artistry and community looks like. - Los Angeles Times EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2019