Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema is not a Tomatometer-approved publication. Reviews from this publication only count toward the Tomatometer when written by the following Tomatometer-approved critic(s): Mark Pfeiffer
Rating Title/Year Author
A Frances Ha (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Frances Ha provides a sharp, fleet, and very funny look at female friendship and the acceptance of adult responsibilities. EDIT
Posted Jun 5, 2013
B Killer Joe (2011) Mark Pfeiffer McConaughey is funny and fearsome in the title role, the devil holding the family accountable for their choices. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B- Mama (2013) Mark Pfeiffer Within the context of a modern Brothers Grimm fairy tale Mama considers the range of maternal instincts from dutiful indifference to selfish sheltering. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B- The Last Stand (2013) Mark Pfeiffer The Last Stand doesn't find [Schwarzenegger] in peak form, but it'll suffice as a sturdy exhibition of his talents. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
A Django Unchained (2012) Mark Pfeiffer This bloody, hilarious, shocking, and righteously angry film is the kind of great art and great trash [Tarantino] aspires to make. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B+ It's Such a Beautiful Day (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Underneath It's Such a Beautiful Day's simple surface and droll humor is a philosophical core as dense as any film's. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
C+ The Impossible (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The Impossible doesn't turn a blind eye to the physical and emotional devastation, but the comparatively uncomplicated path it follows to arrive at a reassuring conclusion minimizes the impact. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B Promised Land (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The makers of Promised Land clearly object to fracking but attempt, not always successfully, to explore the issue without stacking the deck in favor of its viewpoint. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B+ The Deep Blue Sea (2011) Mark Pfeiffer The character is a victim of her own decisions, but Weisz's bruised performance in The Deep Blue Sea yields empathy for being battered by doomed romanticism. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B- This Is 40 (2012) Mark Pfeiffer This is 40 works better as light drama than comedy, with humor defusing the bombs being lobbed in the marriage. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
A Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Bigelow's great achievement is stripping down the action from the exaggerated theatrics in movies and television shows so the missions feel no less exciting and immediate. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The Perks of Being a Wallflower flutters with the excitement and terror that comes in being young and trying to find your way. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
C- Hitchcock (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Ultimately Hitchcock comes off as a glib film about a great film. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
D+ Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012) Mark Pfeiffer It's a far cry from what Van Damme and Lundgren were doing twenty years ago, but in the end this film comes off like a band that claims all of the 'right' influences in interviews but can't synthesize good taste into work of merit. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B+ Silver Linings Playbook (2012) Mark Pfeiffer On the surface Silver Linings Playbook is a raucous romantic comedy, but its real interests are superstition and delusion. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B+ Anna Karenina (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Anna Karenina plays like the ultimate CliffsNotes, which is both testament to Stoppard's exceptional adaptation and abridgement of Tolstoy's novel and acknowledgment of the film's somewhat superficial center. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B Skyfall (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Skyfall proves that a long-standing series can deliver the expected fundamentals while keeping the new films fresh and unpredictable. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B Head Games (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The film struggles with the contradiction of knowing the serious risks while enjoying the games as participant and spectator. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B My Neighbor Totoro (1988) Mark Pfeiffer As a hangout movie for kids, My Neighbor Totoro pleases with its easygoing pace, curiosity about the natural world, and sweet spirit. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B- Cloud Atlas (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Cloud Atlas is prone to sappiness and threatens to disappear up its own tail like The Matrix trilogy, but it builds to an irresistible final act celebrating the human spirit. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B The Tall Man (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The Tall Man comes as close as anything in recent years at matching the better monster-of-the-week episodes of The X-Files. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B Sinister (2012) Mark Pfeiffer It owes more than a debt of gratitude to The Shining and The Ring, among others, but Derrickson processes the chilling influences into an eerie experience mindful of the significance of projected images watched alone in the dark. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B Seven Psychopaths (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Seven Psychopaths doesn't knuckle down and decide how to answer everything tossed out for consideration, but even when it feels like little more than intellectual, postmodern spitballing, it satisfies as an exercise in storytelling. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
C- Taken 2 (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Taken 2 is content to play out as a familiar and lesser version of its predecessor. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
D What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012) Mark Pfeiffer What to Expect When You're Expecting provides a snapshot of contemporary anxieties about imminent parenthood, but it may be more worthwhile as a document for future pop culture scholars to use to understand what was trendy in 2012. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
B- Compliance (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Compliance functions as a fascinating and mortifying glimpse at how readily and illogically people will submit to authority, whether it's law enforcement or a boss. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2013
C Warm Bodies (2013) Mark Pfeiffer Combining Shakespeare and zombies creates the expectation that the text will be treated with some irreverence, but to a baffling degree Warm Bodies is played mostly straight. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2013
B- Hit & Run (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Hit & Run isn't always a smooth ride, but the quirks and misfires make it as distinctive as the actor behind many of the film's creative choices. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2013
C- The Expendables 2 (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The movies that many of these guys made in the 1980s and '90s were hardly bulletproof, but this is a cynical exercise in settling for what is expected to be passable. EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2013
A Holy Motors (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Holy Motors is gloriously alive with experimentation and the centrality of human involvement regardless of what form the end product of their efforts takes. EDIT
Posted Nov 21, 2012
D+ 360 (2011) Mark Pfeiffer According to 360 the world is united in broken dreams and wounded hearts. It's too bad that playing R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" on a two-hour loop could have expressed the sentiment more effectively. EDIT
Posted Aug 29, 2012
B- Under African Skies (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Under African Skies takes what could have been a puff piece glossing over the protestations related to Graceland and teaches the controversy. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B+ The Queen of Versailles (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Although director Lauren Greenfield documents several instances in which it's apparent that the Siegels' lifestyle is so alien from the vast majority that they might as well call Mars home, she hasn't set out to eat the rich. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B Total Recall (2012) Mark Pfeiffer A solidly entertaining blast of summer movie spectacle. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B+ I Wish (2011) Mark Pfeiffer I Wish excels at evoking a child-like state of mind in all of its wonders and concerns because of Kore-eda's astuteness in following how kids make sense of the world and change their perspectives. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
D+ The Iron Lady (2011) Mark Pfeiffer With everything, including the most pivotal moments, rendered in shorthand, The Iron Lady diminishes the accomplishments of the person whose story it tells and the actress working so hard to offer a well-rounded embodiment of her. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
A- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Mark Pfeiffer Alfredson's marvelous precision in showing how an agent might do difficult espionage work is as thrilling as any overblown James Bond setpiece. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C+ The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) Mark Pfeiffer The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo can't quite transcend its junk foundation or...the familiar beats of the other adaptation. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B+ War Horse (2011) Mark Pfeiffer While made with great technical proficiency, War Horse is determinedly old-fashioned in how Spielberg tells the story, which is a fitting creative strategy considering that the film studies the convergence of the old and the modern. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C- Mirror Mirror (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The ill fit between Mirror Mirror's screenplay and its director's sensibilities dooms the comedic fairy tale from the outset. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C- Wrath of the Titans (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Even if it isn't saying much, Wrath of the Titans stands as a minor improvement to its predecessor. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B 21 Jump Street (2012) Mark Pfeiffer 21 Jump Street is a smartly stupid buddy comedy that plays with the ridiculousness of its set-up. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C House of My Father (2012) Mark Pfeiffer After awhile Casa de mi Padre begins to play as a conceptual exercise rather than a legitimately funny movie in its own right. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C+ Trollhunter (2010) Mark Pfeiffer Trollhunter adopts the form of a found footage documentary, which translates as lots of banal conversations, abundant shots of the Scandinavian countryside, and competent but shaky handheld camerawork. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C+ John Carter (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Once John Carter gets past laying out the specifics of the various Martian cultures and tensions, it settles into a pleasant groove that recalls the old Saturday afternoon serials. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C+ A Better Life (2011) Mark Pfeiffer A Better Life's sense of place and eye for detail are strong, but the too-smooth style and rushed dramatics are at odds with the hardscrabble existence on display. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B- Wanderlust (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Wanderlust has a freewheeling, improvisational aesthetic that doles out enough solid jokes, even if it does so erratically. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C- This Means War (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Love is a battlefield in This Means War, and the three likable leads are the casualties. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
B Big Miracle (2012) Mark Pfeiffer Big Miracle is invested with solid craftsmanship and a nuanced view of how idealism, pragmatism, and politics intersect. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012
C- The Vow (2012) Mark Pfeiffer The Vow presents some fascinating challenges for Leo and Paige, yet without fail the screenplay comes up short in allowing them to overcome the obstacles in their paths. EDIT
Posted Aug 17, 2012