Chicago Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
Shoes (1916) J. R. Jones Weber-who, like Griffith, knew how to pull viewers deep inside a character's emotional vortex-reveals how the chronic envy of these young shopworkers, selling merchandise they can't afford themselves, sucks them into a rapacious economy. EDIT
Posted Mar 21, 2019
Outrage (1950) Fred Camper This 1950 film by Ida Lupino may not be stylistically original or completely successful, but it does treat the subject of rape with real sensitivity, especially for its era. EDIT
Posted Mar 21, 2019
Losing Ground (1982) Ben Sachs This low-budget 1982 drama was one of the first features directed by an African-American woman, but it's much more than a historical footnote. EDIT
Posted Mar 21, 2019
The Mustang (2019) Andrea Gronvall This film was developed at Robert Redford's Sundance Institute lab for emerging talent; he certainly found one in French actress Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, here making an impressive feature directorial debut. EDIT
Posted Mar 21, 2019
One Way Boogie Woogie/27 Years Later (2005) Jonathan Rosenbaum Though it's not on the same level, it's a poignant and fascinating companion piece. EDIT
Posted Mar 21, 2019
History Lessons (2000) Ted Shen Devoid of voice-over commentary but still remarkably lucid, her gleeful reconstruction of the past also serves to celebrate the more progressive climate today. EDIT
Posted Mar 21, 2019
The Amityville Horror (1979) Dave Kehr [The Amityville Horror] begins with the promising premise of a haunted house in the suburbs (poltergeists in the barbecue pit?) and quickly degenerates into a display of pretentious camera angles. EDIT
Posted Mar 20, 2019
In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter (2012) J. R. Jones Leiter describes himself as "a minor figure"... One suspects that Leiter, who died in November 2013, considered himself a major figure indeed, but we'll have to settle for the cuddly curmudgeon played here. EDIT
Posted Mar 19, 2019
Ishtar (1987) Jonathan Rosenbaum This Elaine May comedy was the most underappreciated commercial movie of 1987. It isn't quite as good as May's previous features, but it's still a very funny work by one of this country's greatest comic talents. EDIT
Posted Mar 19, 2019
Five Feet Apart (2019) Leah Pickett While mawkishness should not be a prerequisite for the sick-teens-in-love genre, the popularity of the two in concert has likely convinced many filmmakers that the opposite is true. EDIT
Posted Mar 16, 2019
Captive State (2019) Leah Pickett Overall it's a mess, compounded by murky CGI and some unrealistic performances. EDIT
Posted Mar 16, 2019
2/4 Hook (1991) Jonathan Rosenbaum Spielberg's Neverland carries undeniable charm and depth. The problems start when we're asked to accept its two-dimensional residents as anything other than tourists on a forced march through its various nooks and crannies. EDIT
Posted Mar 12, 2019
3/4 Captain Marvel (2019) Leah Pickett Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, is a formidable force and a welcome addition to the MCU. EDIT
Posted Mar 8, 2019
The Ice King (2018) Leah Pickett Erksine forgoes talking heads for interspersed audio of Curry's peers and admirers, keeping the film's visual and emotional focus on the man himself and the transporting power of his art. EDIT
Posted Mar 7, 2019
The Legend of 1900 (1998) Lisa Alspector ...the nearly incessant camera movement suggests only the literal: the ship's progress across the ocean. EDIT
Posted Mar 5, 2019
3/4 Capernaum (2018) Andrea Gronvall It's essential viewing for the ways in which it illuminates brutally hard lives many of us could otherwise not imagine, and for the craft of its nonprofessional performers. EDIT
Posted Mar 1, 2019
4/4 Ahlat Agaci (2018) Ben Sachs The progression of the conversations goes a long way in making Wild Pear Tree feel like an epic; the accumulation of ideas feels downright monumental. EDIT
Posted Feb 28, 2019
Over the Top (1987) Pat Graham The way to a kid's heart is through his daddy's biceps, though this big daddy looks more like terminal Dada. EDIT
Posted Feb 27, 2019
Vanilla Sky (2001) Jonathan Rosenbaum I now find Cruise tolerable only when he's in a movie that undercuts or ridicules his narcissism--as Eyes Wide Shut did and as this movie does even more noticeably. EDIT
Posted Feb 26, 2019
The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) Jonathan Rosenbaum It's as if Greenaway had all this artistry, including his own, at his disposal and created nothing but a dead piece of meat, for no reason in particular--unless it's to express his contempt for his audience. EDIT
Posted Feb 26, 2019
The Great Escape (1963) Jamie Ludwig For all its missteps, when it comes to escapism, intrigue, and indulgence, you could do a whole lot worse than The Great Escape. Just watch it with an open eye. EDIT
Posted Feb 21, 2019
To Dust (2018) Andrea Gronvall Shawn Snyder makes a strikingly original and winsome feature debut. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2019
3/4 Never Look Away (2018) Andrea Gronvall Never Look Away becomes livelier after Kurt and Ellie escape to West Berlin and settle in culturally bustling Düsseldorf. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2019
3/4 Everybody Knows (2018) Ben Sachs Farhadi ameliorates the sense of familiarity by bringing in more surprises. EDIT
Posted Feb 15, 2019
Just My Luck (2006) Brianna Wellen This movie is less about the two main characters falling in love and more about exploring the equilibrium of good will in the universe. It's a mystical fantasy about how each decision we make matters and the differing paths life can take. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2019
Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Ben Sachs Like its predecessor, the movie has a broad sentimental streak, but the sentiment feels more thoughtful and heartfelt this time around. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2019
Isn't It Romantic (2019) Leah Pickett Though the movie's tropes have been written about or spoofed before in funnier films like They Came Together, this breezy take has heart and a clever resolution. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2019
What Is Democracy? (2018) Leah Pickett [Taylor] presents an inclusive and necessary debate, asking whether democracy today really is of, by, and for the people, and if it ever was. EDIT
Posted Feb 14, 2019
Searching for Bobby Fischer (1993) Jonathan Rosenbaum It makes for a good old-fashioned inspirational story, absorbing and pointed. EDIT
Posted Feb 13, 2019
Rope (1948) Dave Kehr Hitchcock liked to pretend that the film was an empty technical exercise, but it introduces the principal themes and motifs of the major period that would begin with Rear Window. EDIT
Posted Feb 9, 2019
The Bed Sitting Room (1969) Dave Kehr One of [Lester's] best efforts, a remarkably sharp and deadly satire. EDIT
Posted Feb 8, 2019
4/4 The Image Book (2018) Ben Sachs Concerned neither with telling stories nor even making rational sense, Godard aims straight for lyrical beauty, and he almost always hits his target. EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2019
Miss Bala (2019) Andrea Gronvall Miss Bala offers a self-flattering vision of American strength, as one focused gun-toting gal strikes a blow for her gender while cleaning up a skirmish in the ongoing war on drugs. EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2019
The Upside (2018) Brandon Sward The most optimistic answer would be that after decades of overuse we're beginning to grow weary of such racist caricatures. Let's hope that's true. EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2019
A Woman Under the Influence (1974) Dave Kehr Cassavetes makes the viewer's frustration work as part of the film's expressiveness; it has an emotional rhythm unlike anything else I've ever seen. EDIT
Posted Feb 7, 2019
The Right Stuff (1983) Dave Kehr Philip Kaufman's 1983 film is an efficient and absorbing recapitulation of the main events of Tom Wolfe's book that still never succeeds in capturing the inner drives and ethics of the test pilots and astronauts - the "right stuff" never materializes. EDIT
Posted Feb 4, 2019
3/4 Gavagai (2018) Ben Sachs Gavagai is not just an emotional movie, but a sensual one. Tregenza's lyrical camera movements and the actors' recitations of Vesaas's poetry contribute most plainly to this effect... EDIT
Posted Feb 1, 2019
The World Before Your Feet (2018) Leah Pickett Green's openness to learning about himself and others by going out to notice and appreciate what most overlook-a crumbled landmark, an unexpected garden-is edifying. EDIT
Posted Jan 31, 2019
Serenity (2019) Leah Pickett The movie becomes even more ridiculous after its big reveal, which is obvious from early on and suggested in the opening shot. EDIT
Posted Jan 29, 2019
2/4 Frankie and Johnny (1991) Henry Sheehan But this is more than just an irritating movie; it's a disappointing one. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
Peppermint (2018) Andrea Thompson Bad timing can kill a movie that has everything going for it, but the problem with Peppermint isn't so much bad timing as tone deafness on an egregious scale. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
Night School (2018) Andrea Thompson Night School has all the trappings of the usual Kevin Hart movie, but his brand of over-the-top, self-deprecating humor is in top form. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
The Dark (2018) Andrea Thompson Plenty of filmmakers try to subvert standard horror tropes, but Justin P. Lange, the writer-director making his feature debut with The Dark, actually does a good job of it. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland (2018) Andrea Thompson It keeps Bland's life and her commitment to fighting racial injustice front and center, ensuring she always remains a person rather than a glorified symbol. EDIT
Posted Jan 25, 2019
Under the Cherry Moon (1986) Karen Hawkins Should you subject yourself or your loved ones to Under the Cherry Moon, my family recommends following it up-quickly- with Purple Rain or Sign 'o' the Times as a palate cleanser. EDIT
Posted Jan 24, 2019
Fast Food Nation (2006) Jonathan Rosenbaum [An] angry and persuasive piece of agitprop... EDIT
Posted Jan 22, 2019
1/4 The House That Jack Built (2018) Anne Elizabeth Moore Here, examined, we're given instead raw narcissism, humdrum in the end, a soul worth glimpsing only for a second before casting aside. Nothing to behold. EDIT
Posted Jan 18, 2019
3.5/4 Life and Nothing More (2017) Ben Sachs In his vivid depiction of the characters' daily lives, which slowly becomes immersive in spite of the detached camerawork, Méndez Esparza invites us to share in their perspective. EDIT
Posted Jan 18, 2019
4/4 Cold War (2018) Andrea Gronvall What the film is doing is recognizing their indelible life force and originality; it's a cri de coeur hurled toward an increasingly hidebound and emotionally stunted era of Western civilization. EDIT
Posted Jan 18, 2019
1/4 Bird Box (2018) Cody Corrall It squanders an opportunity for thoughtful commentary on trauma and survival. EDIT
Posted Jan 17, 2019