Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
89% The Cheat (1915) [The Cheat] remains interesting today not only for its gripping vulgarity but also for the spectacular innovations in dramatic lighting De Mille created with his cameraman, Alvin Wyckoff. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 12, 2019
89% Imitation of Life (1934) Director John Stahl was a notable visual stylist (although this film contains few of his characteristic flourishes) and was possessed of the prime asset of the melodramatist, the ability to take his material seriously and make it play. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2019
No Score Yet The Jazz Singer (1952) It's ragged and dull until the magical moment when Jolson turns to the camera to announce, "You ain't heard nothin' yet"-a line so loaded with unconscious irony that it still raises a few goose bumps. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 21, 2019
84% Spellbound (1945) ...beneath the facile trappings there is an intriguing Hitchcockian study of role reversal, with doctors and patients, men and women, mothers and sons inverting their assigned relationships with compelling, subversive results. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/4 56% The Dark Half (1993) As if to make up for the slack pacing, the violence seems unnecessarily garish and sadistic. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/4 50% Pet Sematary (1989) Reduced to its plot outlines, King`s work no longer functions; its meaning lies in the obscure tensions and anxieties that shape the fantasy, not in what happens, but why. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2019
1/4 No Score Yet Johnny Be Good (1988) Buried somewhere in the screenplay are some Robert Altman-esque satirical intentions, in which the wildly corrupt college football recruitment process is offered as a panoramic image of frenzied American venality. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 14, 2019
86% Deadline - U.S.A. (1952) Windy, self-righteous newspaper film, written and directed by Richard Brooks in a fair reflection of the way journalists think about themselves when they've had a few too many. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 24, 2019
No Score Yet Summer Storm (1944) George Sanders is superb as a weak, corrupt judge facing both his past and the specter of the revolution, and Edward Everett Horton contributes an extraordinary dramatic turn as a provincial count. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 19, 2019
94% The Tree of Wooden Clogs (L'albero degli Zoccoli) (1979) I found the film most successful when it left its tenant farm setting for a lovely, lyrical boat trip to the big city, the one moment of expansiveness in Olmi's otherwise hermetic narration. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 3, 2019
95% Wait Until Dark (1967) This 1967 thriller draws its effectiveness less from the intelligence of the direction (by Terence Young) than from the unbridled sadism of the concept. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 18, 2019
2/4 32% Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) The pleasures here are entirely cruel, with an unhealthy concentration on the suffering of the victims, on the thudding impact of various objects against their heads, on their howls of agony. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2019
No Score Yet La ville des pirates (City of Pirates) (1984) Ruiz is perhaps the only director to extend the play of fantasy to the level of form: his methods are as wildly imaginative as his subjects, and his films are games we play by trying to discover the rules. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
100% The Buddy Holly Story (1978) The plotting of this 1978 biopic is contrived, and director Steve Rash's feeling for Buddy Holly's time and place is virtually nil, but Gary Busey's performance is astonishing-less as an interpretation than as a total physical transformation. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 23, 2019
43% Quartet (1981) Ivory's interest is focused so completely on the period clothes and decor that the drama never surfaces. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2019
79% The Dark Crystal (1982) Jim Henson and Frank Oz... designed and directed this 1983 film, in which no human actors appear (except as crude long-shot doubles for the animated figures); it's a cute gimmick, but the puppets are so stiff and inexpressive that the film drops dead. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
56% Zoot Suit (1981) The staging is busy and clever, though it doesn't translate that well to film, given Valdez's tendency to cut the legs off his dancers. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2019
60% Ladies and Gentlemen: The Fabulous Stains (1981) This "exposé" is too familiar and too sloppily filmed to shock anyone. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
No Score Yet Bizalom (Confidence) (1980) A perfect example of an intensely subjective cinema realized without a single overtly subjective shot. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 4, 2019
2/5 42% Bad Boys (1995) Entertainment of the gratingly commercial, teeth-rattling variety is provided in Bad Boys. - New York Daily News EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 29, 2019
2/4 28% See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989) ''See No Evil'' lurches from hip callousness to damp sentimentality. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2019
2/4 27% Over the Top (1987) It's a technique that gives new meaning to the term ''feeling had.'' - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2019
2/4 50% Oliver & Company (1988) ''Oliver & Company'' is impoverished technically, and it is also impoverished emotionally. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2019
2/4 37% Road House (1989) What results instead is a monstrous hybrid-a grotesquely implausible, oversized character that thoroughly overshadows the poor actor himself. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
44% Teen Wolf (1985) Fox somehow survives on the sheer force of a pleasant screen presence, but those who remember The Shaggy Dog ought to stay away. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
31% I Come in Peace (1990) The deceptively straight-looking Benben, however, proves to be a wily scene-stealer with a very sharp sense of comic timing. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
1/4 21% Harlem Nights (1989) ''Harlem Nights,'' it's worth remembering, is a comedy, though as the body count piles up and entire reels go by without a joke in sight, it's also easy to forget. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
37% Every Which Way But Loose (1978) Eastwood has the best double take in the business, there are some interesting glimpses of blue-collar LA, and the downbeat ending displays a genuine moral intelligence. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
2/4 35% Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) ''Buffy'' shuffles through a number of styles and approaches, from the satirical to the Grand Guignolesque, but never treats its material with much respect. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
10% Orca - The Killer Whale (1977) An incoherent blend of Moby-Dick, King Kong, and Jaws, hindered by what appears to be extensive reediting. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 26, 2019
2/4 26% Hook (1991) ''Hook'' never sets sail. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 25, 2019
2/4 41% Young Guns (1988) ''Young Guns'' is a very Dean-ish, sensitive delinquent melodrama disguised, for no good reason, as a western. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 25, 2019
28% The Amityville Horror (1979) [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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2019
1/4 19% Mannequin (1987) There`s some solid talent here, but Gottlieb's overemphatic direction reduces them all to broad caricature -- the kind of crazed mugging that isn't often seen outside the boundaries of Saturday morning kiddie shows. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
3/4 38% Ishtar (1987) Ishtar is a good movie, but you can't help but wonder if, lurking somewhere in those cans of outtakes, there isn't a great movie, too. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2019
2/4 44% Twins (1988) For all of its geniality and gushing good will, Ivan Reitman`s ''Twins'' remains an advertising campaign in search of a movie. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2019
3/4 53% The Cable Guy (1996) The Cable Guy is a gutsy move on Carrey's part, suggesting a willingness to grow just where commercial good sense would say to stand pat. - New York Daily News EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 10, 2019
94% Rope (1948) 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2019
62% The Bed Sitting Room (1969) One of [Lester's] best efforts, a remarkably sharp and deadly satire. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
93% A Woman Under the Influence (1975) 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
98% The Right Stuff (1983) 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. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
75% Images (1972) It looks complicated, but it's just confused (1972). - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 14, 2019
87% Straw Dogs (1971) [T]hough doubtlessly reactionary, Straw Dogs has the heat of personal commitment and the authority of deep (if bitter) contemplation. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 9, 2019
52% Death Becomes Her (1992) Insistently grotesque, relentlessly misanthropic and spectacularly tasteless, ''Death Becomes Her'' isn't a film designed to win the hearts of the mass moviegoing public. But it is diabolically inventive and very, very funny. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 3, 2019
1/4 39% Bloodsport (1988) The contest format is hopelessly repetitive and inert, the characters would seem underdeveloped in a comic book, and the restricted setting ensures that the action will never develop any real scale or velocity. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
2/4 50% Willow (1988) It takes forever for the story to get started, and once it does it holds few surprises. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
1/4 17% Dr. Giggles (1992) Though Coto demonstrates a fairly sophisticated film school technique, he is interested in his characters only as stick figures to be marched through a mechanical plot. There's no emotional connection, and without that, there can be no real suspense. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 4, 2018
1/4 80% Dominick and Eugene (1988) Dominick and Eugene is every bit as icky as its premise would suggest, and possibly even more so. The film is a heavy, clanging guilt machine that functions by systematically exploiting Nicky's handicap. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 17, 2018
58% Prince of Darkness (1987) ''Prince of Darkness'' is a real tour de force, and a welcome return. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 4, 2018
98% A Star Is Born (1954) Judy Garland gives everything she has as the young star on the way up; her performance is an emotional autobiography. - Chicago Reader EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 3, 2018