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
76% Dragged Across Concrete (2019) At two-and-three-quarter hours, 'Dragged Across Concrete' is the slowest yet of Zahler's slow-burn splatter-fests, but there's scarcely a scuzz-bucket minute of it I'd trade for the world. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 21, 2019
98% Ash Is Purest White (2019) A deeply moving and fiercely ambivalent picture about old loyalties, new beginnings and the damnable passage of time. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
95% Starfish (2019) Like the indie rocker cousin to 'Annihilation,' it's a movie taking place inside the numbed fog of depression that externalizes its metaphors with genre tropes. - Spliced Personality EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
94% Gloria Bell (2019) This isn't a movie of large ambitions or self-important themes. It's just about life, and how it goes on. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
32% Mapplethorpe (2019) Aren't biopics terrible? - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
13% Tyler Perry's A Madea Family Funeral (2019) Meanwhile, all of this is staged with such little regard for basic principles of filmmaking that certain scenes approach the realm of outsider art. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 7, 2019
78% Captain Marvel (2019) Hearing a Nirvana song in a Marvel movie on the day Luke Perry died felt like a dire reckoning for this Gen Xer. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2019
87% The Image Book (Le livre d'image) (2019) An 84-minute collage with the sensory impact of an audio-visual apocalypse, it leaves your mind mushy and your synapses sizzling. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 1, 2019
55% Greta (2019) It's Neil Jordan's most gonzo fairy tale since his unfairly derided 'In Dreams,' and in Huppert he's found his ideal Big Bad Wolf. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
77% Everybody Knows (Todos lo saben) (2019) It's what happens when one of our stodgier dramatists teams up with two movie stars who always look like they just finished having sex. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
93% High Flying Bird (2019) So brisk and propulsively entertaining, only when it's over do you realize Soderbergh has just made one of the all-time great basketball movies without ever showing anyone playing basketball. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
19% Serenity (2019) One marvels to think of what the slightly winking, sardonic tone of a De Palma or Cronenberg might have wrestled from this material. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
100% They Shall Not Grow Old (2019) Collapses the gulf between past and present, bringing history to life in one of the most visceral experiences I've ever had in a movie theater. It's extraordinary. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2019
92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) A marvel of concision. The story skips like a stone across time, to devastating effect. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 18, 2019
97% Hale County This Morning, This Evening (2018) A collection of jagged, fleeting moments and atmospheric longueurs adding up to something far greater than the sum of its parts. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
10% Replicas (2019) It lands firmly on the 'Johnny Mnemonic' end of the Keanu sci-fi spectrum. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 12, 2019
73% Destroyer (2018) To be honest I found it all a bit silly and way overdone, wallowing in over-deliberate grotesquerie as some misguided mark of integrity. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 11, 2019
92% Life and Nothing More (La Vida y Nada Más) (2018) A lot of it could pass for a documentary, until upon reflection you realize how carefully Esparza's set up his story beats. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 4, 2019
66% Vice (2018) The movie presents common knowledge with gasps of shock and awe. It's like getting a breathless lecture on something you lived through from someone who just learned about it yesterday. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
95% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) It's an achingly beautiful film, and so terribly sad. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
70% The Mule (2018) Always a more thoughtful filmmaker than his often boneheaded public statements would lead you to believe, Eastwood fashions the picture into a sneaky examination of white privilege. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
81% Ben is Back (2018) Julia Roberts tells people off the way Steve McQueen drives or Al Pacino yells. Nobody does it better. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
80% Batman Returns (1992) A perfect Christmas movie for people who hate the holidays, and exactly the kind of film that modern studio executives are paid a small fortune to make sure you will never see the likes of again. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 25, 2018
59% Vox Lux (2018) Often horrifically funny and excitingly unencumbered by questions of good taste. This movie is kind of an a-hole and I think I love it. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) A madcap, laugh-a-minute sprint with a wild visual style calling out just how unimaginative contemporary studio animation has become. It's really something. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
93% Searching for Ingmar Bergman (Ingmar Bergman - Vermächtnis eines Jahrhundertgenies) (2018) There are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon than watching a bunch of brilliant artists talk about their favorite Bergman pictures. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
76% Five Fingers for Marseilles (2018) A craggy, gutbucket epic full of slightly silly, mythopoetic grandeur and a tart taste of regional politics. It's amazing how well some tropes travel. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
96% Roma (2018) After a while the self-conscious virtuosity becomes overbearing. It feels like taking an aircraft carrier to go around the corner to CVS. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
90% Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (2018) Basically the opposite of the Mister Rogers movie in that you spend two hours with one of the worst human beings to ever walk the planet but in the end feel a little bit better because at least he's dead. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
87% What They Had (2018) It was a stroke of genius casting the rough-edged Shannon as Forster's son. These two are both seemingly incapable of false moments onscreen and have similarly hardened hides. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
99% Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) About an hour in things begin to unravel, undercutting the audience's assumptions and steadily accumulating great weight and moral severity. By the time it ended I was a wreck. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
82% Wonder Boys (2000) This is probably my favorite comedy of the past twenty years. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 27, 2018
82% The Other Side of the Wind (2018) An astonishment even wilder and more rewardingly confounding than its fabled reputation. I watched this movie twice the day it premiered and haven't shut up about it since. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 23, 2018
79% At Eternity's Gate (2018) There's a searching quality to Schnabel's biopics, as if we're watching him try to learn a few tricks from these artists he so admires. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2018
84% Creed II (2018) Pretty much the movie everyone was afraid "Creed" was going to be. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2018
91% The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) These punchy little tales veer from slapstick to tragedy, all working in service of the Coens' fatalistic, class-clown philosophy, according to which life might be just a cruel, cosmic joke but it's a pretty good one sometimes. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 16, 2018
59% The Front Runner (2018) If not the worst movie of the year then at least the most inessential and out of touch. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
No Score Yet Speed Kills (2018) In any other year, Speed Kills would easily be the most laughably incompetent gangster movie starring John Travolta. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
78% Green Book (2018) Another movie that purports to explore racism in America while coddling fragile white viewers at the expense of its characters of color. It'll probably win Best Picture. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
81% Boy Erased (2018) It's like leafing through a catalog of the most hackneyed shots imaginable. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 8, 2018
84% Monrovia, Indiana (2018) It's not Wiseman's style to overtly editorialize, but the film's frequent visits to a local cemetery draw a line under what's already obvious: This place is dying. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 2, 2018
66% Suspiria (2018) The movie is logy and feels interminable. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2018
90% Museum (Museo) (2018) A slippery meditation on questions of ownership, heritage and history as plunder. It's also very funny. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2018
93% Wanda (1971) To watch 'Wanda' today is to be knocked over anew by the film's unsettled emotional terrain, which slips and shifts beneath your feet from scene to scene. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 25, 2018
78% Mid90s (2018) Wispy and underwhelming. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 24, 2018
79% Halloween (2018) It only took them forty years to finally make a decent 'Halloween' sequel. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 19, 2018
92% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) A gentle caper comedy full of wistful, wrinkly smiles and a sweetly elegiac tone. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2018
86% The Sisters Brothers (2018) Rosencrantz & Gulidenstern Go West. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 18, 2018
87% First Man (2018) This dour, unpleasant film wallows in a masochistic self-abnegation similar to the director's 2014 music school psychodrama 'Whiplash,' except banging on astrophysics instead of drums. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 12, 2018
89% A Star Is Born (2018) This is the kind of movie everybody says they don't make anymore. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2018