Sean Burns

Sean Burns
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
Sean Burns is a Staff Critic for Movie Mezzanine and a Contributing Writer at WBUR's The ARTery and RogerEbert.com. He was Philadelphia Weekly's Lead Film Critic from 1999 through 2013, and worked as the Movies Section Contributing Editor at The Improper Bostonian from 2006 until 2014. His reviews, interviews and essays have also appeared in Metro, North Shore Movies, Nashville Scene, The House Next Door, Time Out New York, Philadelphia City Paper and The Boston Herald. A 2013 nominee for the National Society of Film Critics and founding member of the Boston Online Film Critics Association, Burns was a recurring guest on the late David Brudnoy's WBZ 1030 AM radio show, and in 2002 received an award for Excellence in Criticism from the Greater Philadelphia Society of Professional Journalists. His writing has been called "jocular but serious, more like a 1940's daily reporter pounding out columns on a manual typewriter than a typical 21st century navel-gazing film critic." Meanwhile, his sisters still tell him that he "smokes too much and drives like an old lady." His reviews are collected at www.splicedpersonality.com.

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
25% Hillbilly Elegy (2020) This year's 'Cats,' except with screaming rednecks instead of singing strays. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 24, 2020
79% Uncle Frank (2020) Ball has assembled an entire TV season's worth of excellent actors and intriguing storylines, then tries to stuff them all into 95 minutes. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 24, 2020
100% Collective (Colectiv) (2020) An important movie for a lot of reasons but also one hell of a yarn, packing more plot twists than a paperback thriller. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 23, 2020
45% A Rainy Day in New York (2020) Like a lot of Allen's recent movies, it's infused with a melancholy longing for a lost era that we know never existed in the first place, yet yearn for all the same. I like it more than I probably should. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2020
45% Fatman (2020) The movie dares us to take its sad sack St. Nick seriously. And the weird thing is that it almost works. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
94% Possessor: Uncut (2020) There's a grubby, lo-fi nastiness to the gore that works you over. The kid's a chip off the old block. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
95% The Life Ahead (2020) A tough-minded tear-jerker offering an old-fashioned take on contemporary concerns, tapping into emotions as enduring as its leading lady. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
98% The Road (La Strada) (1954) A much-needed reminder of beauty and grace at a time characterized by anything but. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 13, 2020
85% White Noise (2020) One of the best arguments against white supremacy is spending time with white supremacists. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 31, 2020
94% Bruce Springsteen's Letter to You (2020) I'm not sure I'd quite call it 'a movie,' but this is one of the more soulful promotional items you'll come across. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 31, 2020
82% Notturno (2020) It's lousy journalism and exceptional art, a collection of short, stunningly photographed anecdotes that become mosaic of day-to-day life amid the ruins. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2020
86% On The Rocks (2020) It's a beguilingly personal picture, with the First Daughter of American cinema making a movie about a woman trying to find her own light in the shadow of a larger-than-life dad. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 22, 2020
86% Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (2020) Unspeakably gross, juvenile and containing something to offend just about everybody, it's also sort of sweet. Schmaltzy, even. Or, at least as schmaltzy as a Baron Cohen movie can be. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2020
90% The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Sorkin's best script since 'The Social Network,' chockablock with hyperliterate zingers and groovy grandstanding. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2020
99% Totally Under Control (2020) During a deafeningly noisy time when every day is an information blitzkrieg, sometimes it's refreshing to have someone just lay out the facts clearly and in chronological order. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 14, 2020
60% Nocturne (2020) I'm starting to think that filmmakers should have to apply for a license before being allowed to shoot in 'scope. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 14, 2020
97% David Byrne's American Utopia (2020) A rapturous movie experience. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 11, 2020
51% Hubie Halloween (2020) It does kind of rule how Sandler's movies are packed with professional comedians and yet the funniest person in them is always Steve Buscemi. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 7, 2020
99% Time (2020) What's special about the film is that it is in the form of a poem instead of a position paper. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 7, 2020
74% Black Box (2020) Arduously uneventful. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 7, 2020
100% Dick Johnson Is Dead (2020) Art is how we cope. It helps us heal, and I'm not sure I've seen a more beautiful exploration of this process than Kirsten Johnson's prankishly funny and enormously moving documentary. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 3, 2020
88% Hopper/Welles (2020) For a self-selecting few of us it's the movie event of the year. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 3, 2020
71% Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue (2020) There's nobody who can shoot a train full of people staring at their smartphones quite like Jia. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 3, 2020
97% Nomadland (2020) Nobody ever gets angry. They don't say swears, get drunk or do anything that might disrupt this soothing appeal to socially conscious Whole Foods shoppers who will feel good rooting for a Disney movie about homelessness to win the Oscar. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 25, 2020
100% Days (Rizi) (2020) I understand it's a big ask, but if you have the patience, unexpected emotional textures arise from the inertia. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 25, 2020
100% City Hall (2020) Fredrick Wiseman loves civic association meetings the way Quentin Tarantino loves feet. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 25, 2020
19% Ava (2020) Such listless VOD junk the only surprise is that Bruce Willis isn't in it. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
40% Isabella (2020) It starts to feel like the narrative gimmickry is intended not so much to deepen the story's themes but rather to obscure their insignificance. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
97% Night of the Kings (La Nuit des Rois) (2020) It has enough visual invention and poetry in its soul to counter the claustrophobia of films that take place behind bars. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
100% Xiao Wu (The Pickpocket) (2000) As will become his habit, Jia turns China's capitalist explosion into a reflection of the character's inner dislocation and finds strange solace in the cheesiest pop ballads imaginable. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 24, 2020
98% MLK/FBI (2021) Pollard jostles you around a little bit, with no trace of the PBS piety that can make these films feel like homework. It's urgent and electric. Especially now. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2020
88% Smooth Talk (1985) As Springsteen sang, 'the door's open but the ride, it ain't free.' - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2020
64% The Devil All the Time (2020) Its just a pig pile of atrocities happening to people you barely know. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 20, 2020
67% The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973) You think you have an idea of how hard this movie's gonna go, then it keeps going. And going. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 17, 2020
96% GoodFellas (1990) I've never seen a movie with such swagger. When you watch it you feel like you're getting away with something. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 15, 2020
89% Unpregnant (2020) It plays like a very special episode of 'Sam & Kat' in which Sam needs an abortion. The whiplash dissonance is obscene. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 12, 2020
85% The Hole (Dong) (2020) A story of lonely hearts in quarantine, longing for love amid the day-to-day drudgery of life during lockdown. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 11, 2020
93% Critical Thinking (2020) You won't find a lot of surprises in this story, but then the reason these formulas are so familiar is because they work. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 8, 2020
87% Cuties (Mignonnes) (2020) It's refreshingly frank about class, religion and burgeoning sexuality in ways mainstream American movies would never dare. And who can blame them, given all that's happened to this one? - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 8, 2020
81% I'm Thinking of Ending Things (2020) At once sinister and silly, this is a most unnervingly edited movie, with clipped conversations cutting to incongruous reaction shots. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 3, 2020
84% Lingua Franca (2020) On paper it might sound like your standard social issue melodrama, but on screen it's something dreamier and more elusive. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
No Score Yet Hard Kill (2020) It took me three tries to finish watching this fool thing. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
60% Tesla (2020) Kills biopics dead. The most radical deconstruction of the genre since Todd Haynes had six actors playing Bob Dylan in 'I'm Not There.' - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
95% An Easy Girl (Un Fille Facile) (2019) A work of great sumptuousness and visual sophistication. There's nothing easy about it at all. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
83% Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies (2020) It feels like there are at least three or four different documentaries going on here at once, and a couple of them are quite good. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 26, 2020
67% The Burnt Orange Heresy (2020) The Burnt Orange Heresy is being re-released exclusively to cinemas during a global pandemic. So in other words, if you want to see this movie you'd better be cool with killing your grandma for the privilege. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2020
100% You Never Had It: An Evening With Bukowski (2020) Very much a fans-only proposition, but for fans it's a dream come true. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2020
85% She Dies Tomorrow (2020) This strange film is strangely comforting. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2020
96% Creem: America's Only Rock 'N' Roll Magazine (2020) It's a melancholy experience watching the movie and reflecting on how timidly sycophantic our current culture coverage has become. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 2, 2020
100% Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo (2019) After a harrowing first hour, the rest of the documentary is almost relentlessly upbeat. - North Shore Movies EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 1, 2020