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
100% Babylon (2019) Rosso's rough-and-tumble portrait of immigrant life in the slums of Thatcher's England arrives in American theaters 39 years late and depressingly right on time. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted May 20, 2019
87% Non-Fiction (2019) It's like a TED Talk in which everybody's screwing and I loved it. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2019
89% Between the Lines (1977) This deceptively breezy comedy has a wistful, end-of-an-era vibe that time has only sweetened. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2019
93% Rafiki (2019) A boisterous, joyful film about a terribly sad situation. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2019
85% Her Smell (2019) Moss is miraculous in a go-for-broke performance that leaves her guts smeared all over the floor. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
100% Knock Down the House (2019) Compelling as the other stories may be, you kinda can't help but spend them waiting for Ocasio-Cortez to come back onscreen. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 29, 2019
63% The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2019) Gilliam deliberately avoids offering much delineation between the movie's dream sequences and its highly permeable reality, an approach that leads to sequences of startling beauty and perplexed annoyance. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 29, 2019
45% Mary Magdalene (2019) Sleepwalks through the Stations of the Cross with an enervated, let's-get-this-over-with-already energy that reminded me of going to Mass on one of those hot, hungover Sunday mornings when not even the priest can feign interest in being there. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
93% The Last Detail (1973) Nicholson is all moustache and bluster. It's a larger-than-life role that grows smaller and sadder as the movie wears on, gradually revealing the limitations of Buddusky's bravado and the fears that churn beneath it. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
91% Professione: reporter (The Passenger) (1975) It has all the elements of an action movie but remains stubbornly, intractably static. Antonioni is more interested in emptiness, the vast, barren landscapes an externalization of the void inside our protagonist. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
88% Five Easy Pieces (1970) Nicholson gives a galvanizing performance as a drifter who knows no tribe of his own, an updated anti-hero seething with self-loathing and discontent. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 18, 2019
83% High Life (2019) An elusive and often shocking movie whose meanings sometimes seem to hover tantalizingly out of reach. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
71% Triple Frontier (2019) A heaping plate of meat-and-potatoes comfort food. It's the kind of movie you talk about with your dad. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2019
99% Amazing Grace (2019) It's an astounding cinematic experience, elevational and ecstatic even to a wretch like me. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2019
93% Diane (2019) It feels steeped in the kind of real-life experiences and hard-won wisdom we seldom see at the cinema. You can practically smell those casseroles. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2019
81% The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976) It's a movie about a testy, outsider artist and his gang of misfit collaborators, the John Cassavetes biopic once removed. - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 3, 2019
47% Dumbo (2019) "A Disney blockbuster ending with celebratory shots of a theme park in flames would seem to be a statement of some sort, and if Tim Burton was still the filmmaker he was back in the 1990s I bet he probably could have pulled it off." - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 1, 2019
54% The Beach Bum (2019) A blissed-out manifestation of full bongo McConaughey-isms. I had a good time but will admit it makes for a long ninety-five minutes. - New England Movies Weekly EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 30, 2019
73% 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
97% 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
91% 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
31% Mapplethorpe (2019) Aren't biopics terrible? - The ARTery EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
12% 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
88% 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
59% 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
78% 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
92% 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
67% 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
69% 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
82% 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
78% 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
61% 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
90% 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