Chicago Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
Some Kind of Heaven (2020) Becca James Whether about the local grifter or a recent widow, each story is beautifully shot and allowed to unfold organically, enabling an authentic rumination on life and the relationships that sustain it. EDIT
Posted Jan 19, 2021
3/4 One Night in Miami (2020) Cody Corrall King and the actors at the heart of One Night in Miami make its most quiet moments compelling, letting its audience become a fly on the wall on the fictional fringes of history. EDIT
Posted Jan 15, 2021
The Flying Ace (1926) Ben Sachs This is pleasant on its own terms, with an amiable vibe and several moments of clever comic invention. EDIT
Posted Jan 14, 2021
4/4 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020) Arionne Nettles Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is pure art, just as beautiful as it is heartbreaking. EDIT
Posted Jan 5, 2021
The Mystery of D.B. Cooper (2020) Kathleen Sachs Dower succumbs to some of the more annoying trappings of such informational documentaries, but overall this is compelling. EDIT
Posted Dec 30, 2020
Belushi (2020) Josh Flanders Even though Cutler takes creative license, occasionally using animation and intertitles to insert unnecessary commentary for dramatic effect, the impact of the never-heard-before audio is astounding. EDIT
Posted Dec 30, 2020
Crazy, Not Insane (2020) Becca James A forensic psychiatrist known for her controversial views on serial killers and the death penalty, Lewis is an absorbing subject. EDIT
Posted Dec 30, 2020
I'm Your Woman (2020) Becca James Revitalizing the genre by expanding on a recognizable format to include a new perspective... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Castle in the Ground (2019) Becca James Castle in the Ground is a somber, if not sober, look at the bleak reality of the opioid epidemic... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
The Half of It (2020) Becca James The Half of It might feel tame in comparison, but it is just as genuine. EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Spree (2020) Becca James Spree is a joyride through the sinister side effects of social media. EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Buffaloed (2019) Becca James Proof that Zoey Deutch can carry a film... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Vivarium (2020) Becca James Vivarium's purgatory is more clear-cut, though that somehow doesn't make it any less mysterious... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
The Lodge (2019) Becca James Perfectly paced, each film places viewers in purgatory along with the protagonists. EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Blow the Man Down (2019) Becca James [A] murder movie with momentum... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Come to Daddy (2019) Becca James Brutal violence abounds in these coastal mysteries, but they're not all show. EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Shirley (2020) Becca James A look at the very morose Shirley Jackson (Elisabeth Moss), presented in a way that mimics the famed fiction author's horror writing... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Gretel & Hansel (2020) Becca James [A] visually gruesome and beautiful bildungsroman that gives the classic story new life. EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
Sound of Metal (2019) Becca James A purposefully-quiet film... EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
The Assistant (2019) Becca James ...a meditation on the passing of time, the many faces of staying in place, and the pursuit of happier and healthier endeavors in the new year. EDIT
Posted Dec 29, 2020
4/4 Unapologetic (2020) Arionne Nettles With these young women putting their bodies and minds on the line in the fight for justice, looking at their personal lives is just as meaningful. EDIT
Posted Dec 28, 2020
Wattstax (1973) David P. Schwartz It's a rich tapestry incorporating documentary footage -- the '65 riots, interviews with Watts residents talking about being black in America -- that puts its musical performances (staged by Melvin Van Peebles) in a broad social context. EDIT
Posted Dec 17, 2020
The Joy Luck Club (1993) Jonathan Rosenbaum At once fascinating for its detailed lore about Chinese customs and legacies and very moving in its realization, the film builds into a highly emotional epic about what it means to be both Chinese and American. EDIT
Posted Dec 16, 2020
Queer Japan (2019) Cody Corrall Featuring a wide array of interviews from kinksters, club owners, drag artists, and politicians -- Graham Kolbeins paints an electric and multifaceted portrait of queer culture in contemporary Japan. EDIT
Posted Dec 14, 2020
4/4 City Hall (2020) Kathleen Sachs Frederick Wiseman's documentary offers a hopeful look at political institutions. EDIT
Posted Nov 6, 2020
The Planters (2019) Kathleen Sachs Alexandra Kotcheff and Hannah Leder wrote, directed, starred in, and even did most of the crew work for this intriguing dark comedy, which is better than it has any business being. EDIT
Posted Oct 27, 2020
Meet Joe Black (1998) Lisa Alspector A savory, extralong feature whose obvious plotlines unfold with an almost painful slowness that somehow makes them deeper. EDIT
Posted Oct 26, 2020
3/4 The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020) Arionne Nettles The film is not meant to be a documentary, though, and naturally takes creative license, keeping the essence of the real life events... EDIT
Posted Oct 23, 2020
1.5/4 Books of Blood (2020) Catey Sullivan Books of Blood doesn't pass the horror test... EDIT
Posted Oct 23, 2020
And Tomorrow the Entire World (2020) Kathleen Sachs Von Heinz's subtle direction employs realistic widescreen compositions that envelop both Luisa's world and her inner conflict. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
Days (2020) Kathleen Sachs Like all of Tsai's films, this communicates feelings of loneliness and alienation inherent to the human condition; but perhaps more than any other, it revels in the corporeality of Tsai's performers... EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
Finding Yingying (2020) Kathleen Sachs ...a doleful elegy for Yingying and the person she could have become. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
() Kathleen Sachs Rife with magical realist elements, the film is a visual and auditory treasure trove... EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
Notturno (2020) Kathleen Sachs The cinematography is sublime, but the beautiful imagery doesn't mask the terror of Rosi's subject matter. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
There Is No Evil (2020) Kathleen Sachs Rasoulof's style infuses the subject matter with a sense of poetry and moral reckoning that invokes age-old Persian literary traditions. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
Undine (2020) Kathleen Sachs Petzold works in hyper-specific details about Berlin's postwar development that at first seem out of place in a contemporary fairy tale; however, the political insights tend to be more interesting than the narrative machinations. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
The Woman Who Ran (2020) Kathleen Sachs South Korean writer-director Hong Sang-soo makes deceptively simple films that become more complicated upon consideration, and no less is the case with his 24th feature. EDIT
Posted Oct 16, 2020
4/4 The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020) Sheri Flanders The 40-Year-Old Version deftly offers a fresh and exciting perspective on a tired film trope. EDIT
Posted Oct 9, 2020
2/4 The Devil All the Time (2020) Cody Corrall There are instances of heart and significance scattered throughout the film, but it too often gives into its wandering nature and stops itself from ever making a lasting impression. EDIT
Posted Oct 5, 2020
1/4 Troll 2 (1992) J. R. Jones Troll 2 is bad. Very, very bad. The script is stupid, the acting is wooden, the special effects are laughable, the vintage-80s synthesizer score is cheesy. EDIT
Posted Sep 28, 2020
Ema (2019) Kathleen Sachs ...likely to be among my favorites of the year. EDIT
Posted Sep 25, 2020
Juanita (2019) Kathleen Sachs I''m thankful that I took a chance on it. With plenty to discover, I'm already eager to continue exploring worlds to which I wouldn't otherwise be privy. EDIT
Posted Sep 25, 2020
The Unforeseen (2007) J. R. Jones One can see the hand of coproducer Terrence Malick in this gorgeous, lyrical documentary about ecological destruction in Austin, Texas. EDIT
Posted Sep 22, 2020
1.5/4 Tenet (2020) Kathleen Sachs The auteur doesn't show much growth in his most recent self-indulgent work. EDIT
Posted Sep 18, 2020
3/4 The Burnt Orange Heresy (2019) Noah Berlatsky Giuseppe Capotondi's latest looks at the dark inauthenticity of the art world. EDIT
Posted Sep 18, 2020
All In: The Fight for Democracy (2020) Kathleen Sachs Political documentaries are a dime a dozen, yet I was moved by how stridently this one's subjects are fighting for people's right to vote. EDIT
Posted Sep 17, 2020
The Pale Door (2020) Becca James The Pale Door is a raucous ride through a different type of wild west. EDIT
Posted Sep 16, 2020
Vinyl Nation (2020) Becca James During our America's current discord, Vinyl Nation is a friendly reminder of this community. EDIT
Posted Sep 14, 2020
Brassed Off (1996) Lisa Alspector Pete Postlethwaite is moving as the bandleader, whose dream of taking his players to compete at the Albert Hall nearly eclipses his appreciation of the dire issues they face. EDIT
Posted Sep 9, 2020
The Truth About Cats & Dogs (1996) Jonathan Rosenbaum Though the basic brains-versus-beauty tension suggests a female variation on The Nutty Professor, this is a softer version of the dilemma than Jerry Lewis offers-easier to take and easier to forget. EDIT
Posted Sep 9, 2020