Ryan Syrek

Ryan Syrek
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Ryan Syrek has served as a film critic for The Reader in Omaha since 2002. He is now the contributing editor for the film section at that publication, and his reviews are also syndicated in the Boulder Weekly. Ryan has a weekly segment on KVNO 90.7 at 8:30 am on Wednesdays. He also participates in an annual "Movies vs Books" fundraising event for public libraries, serves on numerous academic panels about popular culture, and cowrote a chapter in African American Children in Early Childhood Education.

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
F- 60% Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) Warner Bros spent $200 million to waste 2.5 hours of everyone's life as a small measure of revenge. "You think we're dumb? We'll show you dumb!" was the only studio note on the entire script, which doesn't exist, because this is all fake. It has to be. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 8, 2021
B+ 70% Tenet (2020) From Tenet's opening sequence to the final climactic battle, not knowing exactly what the hell is going on has never been so fun! That's actually kinda sincere... - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2020
A- 97% Sound of Metal (2020) Although writer/director Darius Marder's character study is a nuanced, thoughtful, surprisingly delicate exploration of the horrifying recalibrations life often demands of us, my goodness are just there so many ways in which it could have sucked. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2020
B 93% Another Round (Druk) (2020) "Sad men remain sad after drinking lots" somehow proves remarkably watchable but ultimately pretty irrelevant. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2020
A 100% His House (2020) His House is a Russian-nesting-doll of terrors; every layer unpacks a fresh-and-awful trauma and at least one level reveals a legitimately shocking plot point. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2020
A 93% Possessor: Uncut (2020) Possessor is show-don't-tell terror that doesn't finger-wag at technology users but flips the bird to the ugly manipulators who actually profit from controlling us like disposable puppets. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
F 48% The Craft: Legacy (2020) I'm not saying that no one can enjoy The Craft: Legacy. Around 70 million people made a bad choice on Election Day, so it's easy to do. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 6, 2020
B 85% Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) Subsequent Moviefilm is overlong but otherwise hits nearly every target at which it aims. It often Robin-Hoods itself, splitting a bulls-eyed observational arrow in half with an even bigger reveal just a moment later. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 30, 2020
C+ 95% The Planters (2020) "Sorta, yeah!" is the answer to a lot of questions about The Planters, as it can come after queries like: "Is it funny?" "Is it annoying?" "Is it heartwarming?" "Is it offensive?" - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 23, 2020
A- 100% White Riot (2019) White Riot sure could have been obnoxious and self-congratulatory. Instead, Shah's doc is so much savvier than that. It's a snapshot, a blueprint, and a bitchin' mix tape all at once. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 16, 2020
C+ 90% Enola Holmes (2020) In the end, minus the himbo Sherlock and the whiff on intersectional feminism, Brown forcefully rolls Enola Holmes just over the hump of mediocrity. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 1, 2020
B 100% Oliver Sacks: His Own Life (2020) Director Ric Burns's documentary is more than doe-eyed saint-making. The film uses Sacks's personal and professional journey to articulate a defense of compassionate storytelling and storykeeping and of advocacy for the marginalized. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 25, 2020
A 97% Buoyancy (2020) For those of us who consider empathy to be the price of a ticket to live, films like Buoyancy can make us feel small and useless. But there is power in letting them in. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 18, 2020
A 81% I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) If we have all collectively agreed that "shut your brain off" movies are okay and even fun, why can't "turn your brain all the way on" movies be just as okay and even fun? - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2020
B+ 82% Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020) Face the Music is a celebration of foolish nonsense. It is a reminder that giving up is, well, bogus. Would it help if we had a phone booth time machine? Depends on who was pushing the buttons. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 4, 2020
B 85% I Used to Go Here (2020) Writer/director Kris Rey's film argues you should be careful when you go poking at your memories with a stick. The most likely result is that your brain goes full pinata, spewing chunky globs of your perception and self-worth all over your mental carpet. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 28, 2020
B 100% Represent (2020) The film follows three women running for office for the first time as they face aggressions too macro to be micro and voters whose attitudes may make you question the feasibility of this whole democracy thing. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 21, 2020
A+ 83% She Dies Tomorrow (2020) Whether or not this steaming brew of genius is your particular cup of tea depends entirely on whether or not you prefer decaf or an extra shot of existential dread. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 14, 2020
B 100% A Thousand Cuts (2020) It can be hard to allocate the amount of time needed to understand all the various injustices around the world that deserve attention. Give the Philippines less than two hours, okay? - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2020
A- 98% The Fight (2020) The Fight is a documentary about how the ACLU is working hard to make sure "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" doesn't become just "the pursuit" under President Trump. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2020
B- 75% The Rental (2020) Okay?! What business does a horror flick that reimagines Jason Voorhies as a tech-savvy, Yelp-conscious, thoroughly-modern-murder-enthusiast have being okay!?! - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2020
B+ 95% First Cow (2020) As she has with her previous films, genius writer/director Kelly Reichardt doesn't shout a thesis in your face or deeply probe a story for thematic insights. She just kinda pokes at themes with a stick. But it's such a lovely stick... - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2020
A- 91% Relic (2020) Writer/director Natalie Erika James and cowriter Christian White somehow timed their film about compassion towards the demons faced by the elderly to a moment in history when we seem to have stopped giving a shit about old people. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
B+ 80% The Old Guard (2020) Were it not for its wholly inappropriate, incredibly distracting, poorly chosen, Europop-trash soundtrack, it would have been as flawless as Charlize Theron whacking bad dudes across the face with a colossal axe-type weapon. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
B+ 94% Palm Springs (2020) Of all the Groundhog Day riffs, Palm Springs is the first to allow JK Simmons to hunt another man for sport. Finally! - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2020
A+ 92% We Are Little Zombies (2020) Grief and trauma hangs thick in the air these days, a fog of death, abuse, and inequality. This film isn't a how-to manual for dealing with that so much as it is a near-genius glimpse at young people making their way in a world that doesn't make sense. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 10, 2020
B 64% Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) Nothing in us as human beings is so broken that a juvenile sex joke presented as an Icelandic folk song cannot heal us. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 2, 2020
B 96% John Lewis: Good Trouble (2020) What's a word that describes the feeling of being overwhelmingly depressed and inspired at the same time? American, maybe? Whatever the precise term, that's how director Dawn Porter's new documentary, John Lewis: Good Trouble, will make you feel. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 26, 2020
A 92% Da 5 Bloods (2020) Spike Lee is at his best when he's screaming, and Da 5 Bloods is an absolute holler. It is a messy, overwrought, tonally inconsistent, finger-wagging-in-your-face cinematic lecture, which makes it just the best kind of Spike Lee Joint. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2020
C- 87% Shirley (2020) I wish I liked Shirley better. The brazen weirdness of the film makes me want to root for it. The core thematic element that condemns masculine domination of artistic spaces is great. The music is-it cannot be stressed enough-divine. But it never gels. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2020
B+ 93% Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2020) The new doc takes Thomas Piketty's book about the history of global wealth and power, boils it in a cinematic spoon, and injects it straight into your eyeballs. It does not feel good! But feeling good is so "pre-2016" anyway. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 5, 2020
A 95% Lucky Grandma (2020) With her slouched posture and cigarette always about to leap to its death from the corner of her mouth, Grandma is a curmudgeonly force of nature. In a better world, this film would launch a franchise, starting with Lucky Grandma 2: Go Luck Yourself. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2020
B 100% Other Music (2020) If music is your love language, Old Music will be your jam. What feels claustrophobic, repetitive, and self-congratulatory to those of us with other primary areas of interest will likely feel immersive and beautiful to you. Have fun. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2020
A 98% Circus of Books (2020) If you hear "mom and pop gay porn store" and don't immediately send Jerry Falwell a check, watch Circus of Books. It's genuinely moving and impeccably made. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2020
B+ 67% Extraction (2020) Sad Angry Man is played by the largest Hemsworth, Chris. Part of the film's brutality is due to Hemsworth's stupidly massive proportions. If the lithe and nimble Keanu Reeves makes John Wick feel like murder ballet, Hemsworth's Extraction is Stomp. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2020
A- 92% The Garden Left Behind (2020) Narrative fiction can be a tunnel beneath borders that segregate us. Ebert's "empathy machine" metaphor is sexier than my analogy, but the idea is the same. This film is a soft, brief, genuine connection to a community that deserves compassion. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2020
B 90% The Booksellers (2020) If you have been personally victimized by Marie Kondo's book disposals, let's giggle about a glorified "very special episode" of Antiques Roadshow. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2020
B+ 88% What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (2019) Pauline Kael would probably have hated the Pauline Kael documentary, is what I'm saying. Hell, she almost certainly would have, and it would have been great. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 17, 2020
A- 99% Saint Frances (2020) In the nicest possible way, Saint Frances is a Lifetime TV movie that has a degree in feminist literary theory. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 3, 2020
A 92% Bacurau (Nighthawk) (2020) A deeply serious satire about what happens when the oppressed stop being polite and start getting real, Bacurau is the most fun you can legally have with a machete right now. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 28, 2020
B 39% Road House (1989) Rewatching Road House isn't just a snort of nostalgia from a time when cocaine was more prevalent in bathrooms than hand sanitizer. It is a reminder of a whole genre of film that has dried up. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2020
A- 89% Swallow (2020) Anyone who hears Swallow is a feminist thriller about a woman who eats strange objects and thinks "I should check that out" is certainly going to be satisfied. That is, they'll be satisfied with the movie, and uncomfortable with what Hunter done ate. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2020
C 88% Onward (2020) For proprietary reasons "Toasted Os" can't taste exactly like Cheerios and "Hillbilly Holler" doesn't quite have the kick of Mountain Dew. Onward tastes more like a knockoff of brand name, rather than a true Pixar picture. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2020
A 98% Extra Ordinary (2020) In an era where cult classics are rarer than actual cults, Extra Ordinary deserves to be one. A cult classic, not a cult, just to be clear. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2020
B 91% The Invisible Man (2020) The major update here to the classic concept of "dude becomes invisible, is a real jerk about it" is that it is now framed as a #MeToo allegory. Maybe not the nimblest or nuanced of metaphors, but it mostly works. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2020
B- 86% Bliss (2019) Enduring the tepid, cliched drug spiral of the film's first half earns you the reward of bonkers practical horror effects guts-n-gore set to epilepsy-inducing strobe effects and grimy punk music. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 21, 2020
A- 70% Horse Girl (2020) The conclusion is meaningfully painful and actually felt like an invitation to revisit the film, a privilege afforded to streaming flicks that is too rarely exploited. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 21, 2020
C- 63% Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Basically, Sonic the Hedgehog is a distilled encapsulation of all the useless, banal grotesqueries inherent to our collective capitalist nightmare in a fuzzy blue ball. Eat it up, kiddos! - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 14, 2020
B 78% Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) Had Birds of Prey steered just a bit harder into the anarchic, punk rock swagger it occasionally burps with its whiskey-covered breath, it would have fully been the film Robbie deserves. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2020
A- 64% Gretel & Hansel (2020) Gretel & Hansel is basically what you'd get if the Brothers Grimm were more interested in superheroes than in wolves doing grandma cosplay. - The Reader (Omaha, NE) EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020