Stop Smiling

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
Mutual Appreciation (2005) Nick Pinkerton If much of what I dislike in Bujalski's filmmaking must be accounted for by my objection to the milieu his films travel in, this shouldn't suggest that the filmmaking itself is anything close to competent. EDIT
Posted Aug 24, 2017
Be Kind Rewind (2008) Michael Joshua Rowin Be Kind Rewind, while erring just this side of too adorable for its own good - it's nothing if not enjoyable for once again showcasing Gondry's ingenious guerilla filmmaking tactics - is still a bit of a setback. EDIT
Posted Aug 24, 2017
() Michael Joshua Rowin The final cut seems to simply be an enhanced version of the 1992 director's cut, a technically perfected (Dolby remastered, special effects streamlined) fulfillment of the project Ridley oversaw but admits to rushing. EDIT
Posted Aug 24, 2017
Eastern Promises (2007) Mark Asch Knight throws in a twist that scrambles the movie's moral compass so late in the game, so perfunctorily and so pointlessly, as to render any final reckoning incoherent. EDIT
Posted Aug 24, 2017
Sunshine (2007) Michael Joshua Rowin [Sunshine] delivers the visually incarnate truth of the universe's mysticism. EDIT
Posted Aug 24, 2017
The Boss of It All (2006) Michael Joshua Rowin If The Boss of It All is forgettable, it's not for its airiness, but for its failed artiness, and for von Trier's failure to be true to his art. EDIT
Posted Aug 24, 2017
Paranoid Park (2007) Justin Stewart Too brief and good-looking to actively dislike, Paranoid Park is still uninspiringly repetitive. If you're going to play the same riff over and over again, at least lower it an octave. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Funny Games (2007) Michael Joshua Rowin Defenders of Funny Games repeatedly point out that it shouldn't be fun. But if it isn't, then it should at least be subversive. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
The Cool School (2007) James Hughes Neville's film shows, in effect, how deliberate the founding of an art movement can be. But also how thrilling it is for those at the eye of the storm. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Shine a Light (2008) Michael Joshua Rowin In many ways [Shine a Light is] an unintentional funeral dance commemorating the vanished vitality and subversive potential of mainstream rock 'n' roll and celebrating its current utility as a nostalgic anodyne. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Flight of the Red Balloon (2007) Patrick Z. McGavin [Red Balloon] takes the ineffable and makes it concrete and visible. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (2008) Mark Asch What, really, is so progressive about jockish games of yeah-dude-I-just-went-there - especially as played by guys whose views of women are stuck in high school gym class? EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Redbelt (2008) Justin Stewart It's a bit disappointing that Redbelt doesn't go much beyond a redux of the same-old. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Brideshead Revisited (2008) Justin Stewart It's easy to overstate the varied accomplishments here because of how badly it might have gone. That it landed somewhere between adequate and excellent is satisfying enough. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Pineapple Express (2008) Mark Asch The party got out of hand towards the end, and we probably should have booked out before we got too tired. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Che Guevara (2005) Eric Hynes Problematic as portrait, the film fascinates as a mess of artistic choices - some bold, some easy, many good in theory if not in effect. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Summer Hours (2008) Eric Hynes Avoiding easy conflict and histrionics, Summer Hours instead shows loving siblings, relatives and friends negotiating differences the best that they can. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Shuga (Chouga) (2007) Eric Hynes An adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina transposed to contemporary Kazakhstan, Chouga is a masterful distillation of the great novel's characterizations and themes. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Tulpan (2008) Eric Hynes From beginning to end, horizon to horizon, Dvortsevoy's film is simply a privilege to watch. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Terminator Salvation (2009) Steve Dollar I think McG just wants to show he can spend more money blowing up more stuff more better than Michael Bay. And that's just McDumb. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Away We Go (2009) Mark Asch In this movie about finding a place to call home, the final destination is telegraphed almost immediately - and it's a postcard spot that looks as artificial as the conflict that got us there. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Pontypool (2008) Mark Asch Pontypool's very resonant, localized fright, is to make sense of - to define - the inexplicable. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Whatever Works (2009) Justin Stewart [Whatever Works] has defenses built into it. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Tetro (2009) Justin Stewart The movie is befuddling, but not because of plot convolutions. It keeps you at a distance when it seems singly concerned with the particular plight of the "art family." EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2017
Burn After Reading (2008) Justin Stewart Burn After Reading maintains comic balance, and after so many smart, gutsy Coen movies (many in the note of madcap), that shouldn't be a surprise. EDIT
Posted Jun 29, 2016
Tropic Thunder (2008) Justin Stewart More exhausting than funny, though it is often both, Ben Stiller's latest excoriation of ego wears you down with its smothering, pop-savvy cynicism. EDIT
Posted Jun 27, 2016
Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) Sarah Silver Once we relax enough to be carried along with the overlapping waves of jokes and remarks, the occasional quip pierces through the tornado of words and strikes a funny bone, sometimes before we realize why we are laughing. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2016
Ballast (2008) Nathan Kosub Ballast, if anything, is spellbound by location, and we all know what a spell will do. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2016
W. (2008) Eric Hynes Not only does W. fail as both drama and comedy, it's unclear which sequences are meant to be which. EDIT
Posted Jun 14, 2016
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (2006) Nick Pinkerton For better or for worse, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is unique, an important movie, a multiplex comedy that doubles as a conceptual art epic. EDIT
Posted Jun 8, 2016
The Wrestler (2008) Mark Asch A quarter-century (and, one senses, a lot longer in Rourke Years) since he pulled the popcorn-bag trick on Carol Heathrow and then talked his way back into her good graces, we'll still forgive Mickey Rourke anything. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
I Love You, Man (2009) Justin Stewart That movies from this brand will have "heart" is now a given, but the variety Rudd provides here is singular. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
Observe and Report (2009) Justin Stewart There's a general overbearing unpleasantness to Observe and Report, and you get the feeling this was the intention -- in order to make it more "like life." EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
Adventureland (2009) Justin Stewart Greg Mottola's third feature is more emotionally rich than his The Daytrippers and Superbad, but it's still more interested in the comedy than the woe and anxiety of the transition into adulthood. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
Miracle at St. Anna (2008) Michael Joshua Rowin There's barely anything in Miracle that comes across as genuine. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
In the Loop (2009) Mark Asch Some have found In the Loop shallow for detaching its fevered gamesmanship from actual reasoning or consequences -- but isn't it rather chilling, how easy it is for the loop to form in a vacuum? EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
Humpday (2009) Mark Asch Humpday works because... its moments of truth and familiarity aren't isolated. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
(500) Days of Summer (2009) Mark Asch Similar taste in stuff, it seems, is not reason enough to love a movie. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Michael Joshua Rowin The film's joyless, going-through-the-motions mood cannot be ignored. EDIT
Posted May 17, 2016
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) José Teodoro Unlike the vast majority of summertime comedies, the delights of Vicky Cristina Barcelona won't evaporate any time soon. EDIT
Posted May 16, 2016
Synecdoche, New York (2008) Justin Stewart The movie is ungainly, but to appreciate it one has to swallow the whole purple pill. As inconsistent as it is, it's still more album than mix tape. EDIT
Posted May 16, 2016
My Winnipeg (2007) José Teodoro With his thrilling new documentary portrait of his hometown -- or rather, his new "docu-fantasia" -- Guy Maddin proves that you can go home again. EDIT
Posted May 16, 2016
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007) Lawrence Levi The problem is that we get no real sense of what these characters were like before everything went haywire, so little is believably at stake. EDIT
Posted May 16, 2016
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008) Eric Hynes There are worse films than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and those 15 masterful minutes may well justify the price of admission. But there's a lot of movie before and after Swinton's cameo. EDIT
Posted Dec 12, 2015
It Might Get Loud (2008) Steve Dollar Though slickly made, the film nicks through the varnish of celebrity to get these guys fully in touch with their inner music geek (which, honestly, is not that far under the surface). EDIT
Posted Dec 12, 2015
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (2009) Mark Asch [Brief Interviews] is within the limits of the medium, a rigorous record of the process of thought. EDIT
Posted Dec 12, 2015
The Invasion (2007) Nick Pinkerton As straight-ahead, propulsive, reptilian-brain action, it "works" as often as not. But it's unworthy to stand with its predecessors. EDIT
Posted Dec 12, 2015
Goodbye Solo (2008) Mark Asch Goodbye Solo feels lived-in rather than forced upon us. Bahrani, who is his own editor, and regular DP Michael Simmonds have a sad, solitary, streetlamp-lit feel for night-shift rhythms. EDIT
Posted Sep 29, 2015
Sin nombre (2009) Mark Asch Sin Nombre still leaves an acrid aftertaste. EDIT
Posted Sep 29, 2015
Tokyo Sonata (2008) Mark Asch The family is just one of the nuclear units on the brink of systemic collapse in Kurosawa's mordant contemporary opus, which... builds up an edifice of wit around tragedy. EDIT
Posted Sep 29, 2015