Michael Phillips

Michael Phillips
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3/4 88% Hustlers (2019) Lopez and company remind us there's more than one kind of story worth telling about money, sex, women and, as Burt Lancaster put it in another New York story, "Sweet Smell of Success," the greedy murmur of little men. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 12, 2019
2.5/4 89% Aquarela (2019) It's a pretty interesting nature documentary as far as it goes. But given its globe-trotting scope and the risky location work involved for the filmmakers, it's a tiny bit strange "Aquarela" goes only so far. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 29, 2019
3/4 89% Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) The movie succeeds because Bell succeeds. It's gratifying to see a so-called character actress with reliably deadly comic timing loosen up, stretch out and learn what it means to carry a movie. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 29, 2019
3/4 95% The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) At its best this big-hearted picture recalls the setting, and feeling, of Jeff Nichols' Huck Finn-indebted coming-of-age fable "Mud." - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 24, 2019
2/4 46% Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019) The movie feels a little off from the beginning. The dialogue works less effectively as dialogue, rather than dialogue quoted in various correspondence. It's arch without being especially witty. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 15, 2019
4/4 99% One Child Nation (2019) In a very full and riveting 85 minutes, "One Child Nation" assembles a huge story together from many small, crucial pieces. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 15, 2019
2.5/4 79% Good Boys (2019) The three at the center of what passes for the story find themselves on the cusp of a new, uncertain phase of life. This saves "Good Boys" from its own weaknesses. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 14, 2019
3.5/4 86% The Nightingale (2019) With "The Babadook" and now "The Nightingale," Kent joins the ranks of a few dozen precious filmmakers able to transport us somewhere awful and beautiful, challenging us every step of the way. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 14, 2019
3/4 79% Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019) The movie's good even when it goes in too many directions at once, because it gets the kids right. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 8, 2019
3.5/4 100% Angels Are Made of Light (2019) One boy dares to imagine Kabul, and his own life, out from under the presence of both the Americans as well as the Taliban. It's a dream captured in many different shades by a very fine film. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
2/4 21% The Kitchen (2019) Like so many films derived from the pictures and words of a graphic novel, "The Kitchen" feels perfunctory and sterile and under-detailed. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
2.5/4 59% Brian Banks (2019) The story pulls you along, traveling a long, winding path from wrongful conviction to exoneration. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2019
2.5/4 67% Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw (2019) Millions of 10-year-olds will be seeing "Hobbs & Shaw" and most of them (and their parents or adult guardians) will enjoy it, because the franchise delivers the pain as well as the sincere devotion to family ties. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2019
3/4 85% Luz (2019) The movie knows what it's doing, whatever it's doing. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2019
3/4 92% Tel Aviv on Fire (2019) [Zoabi's] touch is humane, restrained sometimes to the point of diffidence, but genuinely interested in locating small and large truths within broad comic concepts. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 31, 2019
3/4 85% Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) More evocative than provocative. But evocative is not nothing. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 23, 2019
2.5/4 No Score Yet Werewolf Ninja Philosopher (2019) More than its modestly amusing jokes, the film's chief asset is its intriguing black-and-white footage of New York at night. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 18, 2019
3.5/4 99% The Farewell (2019) While Wang may stint occasionally on the sort of character detail separating a very good film from a great one, "The Farewell" takes you to a humanely eccentric place. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2019
2.5/4 93% Sword of Trust (2019) The film neither unites nor divides; it shambles, scoring a few points, mostly because of Maron's rumpled charisma, and Watkins' oddball, push-pull timing. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 17, 2019
2.5/4 82% Crawl (2019) "Crawl" is a pleasantly unpleasant respite from the bloated stockholder movies dominating the marketplace. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 12, 2019
3.5/4 100% The Juniper Tree (1990) Keene complicates our feelings about the characters in subtle and useful ways, treating Katla in particular as something more intriguing than a garden-variety evil stepmother, even when she's serving up stew with a cannibalistic secret ingredient. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 11, 2019
1.5/4 53% The Lion King (2019) Financially this cat's in the bag. Cinematically, though, "The Lion King" reminds me of that "Sweet Smell of Success" line delivered by Tony Curtis: "The cat's in the bag, and the bag's in the river." - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 11, 2019
3/4 90% Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) How's the new movie? It's good. It's fun. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
3/4 65% Annabelle Comes Home (2019) The reason the movie works, I think, is simple. The actresses are all strong. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
3/4 83% Midsommar (2019) The movie works best, I think, as a black-comic treatise on what can befall a garden-variety passive-aggressive mixed blessing of a boyfriend if he's not careful. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 27, 2019
2/4 94% Echo In the Canyon (2019) How did an apparently sincere tribute turn into such a weirdly clueless vanity project? - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 20, 2019
3/4 88% In the Aisles (In den Gängen) (2019) The stars, it must be said, are slightly more interesting than the characters, which is another way of saying Rogowski and Huller amplify what's there on the page. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 20, 2019
3.5/4 97% Toy Story 4 (2019) While we all, as moviegoers, experience franchise and sequel fatigue on our own unpredictable timetables, this film brightens the summer without simply going through the motions. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 13, 2019
2.5/4 22% Men in Black International (2019) Thompson does here what Tommy Lee Jones did so well in the first "Men in Black"... By not overtly giving a rip about the demands or dictates of the franchise machinery clanking all around her, she lightens the load and keeps everything moving efficiently. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2019
2/4 59% The Fall of the American Empire (La chute de l'empire américain) (2019) Though jarringly violent at times, the film becomes a wash of low-keyed comic attitudes thrown into the works of a crime story. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 6, 2019
1.5/4 23% Dark Phoenix (2019) We get a film morose and dull, numbing in its body count, and seriously galling in its emphasis on aliens getting shot up with heavy automatic gunfire at close range. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 4, 2019
3/4 89% Non-Fiction (Doubles vies) (2019) In barely disguised code, "Non-Fiction" operates as a wry analysis of Assayas' chosen profession as filmmaker. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 30, 2019
3/4 41% Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) This is one franchise that doesn't feel fished out or exhausted or exhausting.The monsters, Toho studio classics redesigned but faithfully so, are pretty swell and monumentally destructive. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 28, 2019
No Score Yet Merrily We Go to Hell (1932) "Merrily" packs an improbable number of narrative developments and tonal swings in a zippy running time. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
96% Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché (2019) Pamela B. Green's documentary operates as an archival treasure hunt as well as a tribute to film preservation the world over. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 24, 2019
2/4 57% Aladdin (2019) The new material folds well enough into the existing material. Tragically little of this matters, because the musical numbers are staged and edited as if director Ritchie had never even seen a musical. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2019
3/4 97% Booksmart (2019) I like the general lack of meanness in "Booksmart." The party-all-night premise may be as old as the hills, but the script has been successfully finessed as a slice of the here and now, idealized but full of life. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2019
3/4 71% All Is True (2019) "All is True" shows a better eye and a less fussy, more purposeful sense of rhythm and pacing than all but one or two of the Shakespeare adaptations Branagh has brought to the screen. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2019
3/4 90% John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019) This one's the best of the three so far. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 16, 2019
1.5/4 14% The Hustle (2019) Whatever I said about "Ocean's Eight," I take it back; that was a paragon of wit compared to this movie. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
3.5/4 93% Long Day's Journey Into Night (Di qiu zui hou de ye wan) (2019) Three different cinematographers worked on "Long Day's Journey Into Night" and yet the results feel like a single, sustained puzzle that comes together on its own terms. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 9, 2019
2/4 51% Tolkien (2019) With a faint plop, "Tolkien" lands in the marshy middle ground of disappointment. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2019
2.5/4 68% Stockholm (2019) The situation, as presented here, isn't unbelievable, exactly. It's just oddly dull. Hawke is not. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 6, 2019
3/4 96% Hail Satan? (2019) It's a sly primer in homegrown grassroots activism. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted May 2, 2019
3/4 94% Avengers: Endgame (2019) [E]xtravagant - and mostly very gratifying. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2019
3.5/4 83% High Life (2019) The production design, the shimmering, evocative Stuart Staples music, everything blends together. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 15, 2019
3.5/4 93% Diane (2019) "Diane" affords Martin, Parsons and company the chance to do honest, low-keyed work with material worth the effort. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
4/4 99% Amazing Grace (2019) Her voice could lift people straight out of their seats in jubilation; her vocal flourishes and deep readings of the simplest, most elemental lyrics remain incomparable. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 11, 2019
4/4 99% Ash Is Purest White (2019) This is one of Zhangke's peak achievements: pure cinema, and a story of the underworld unlike anything you've seen before. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2019
3/4 53% The Best of Enemies (2019) I like this movie, especially now, because it puts a premium... on finding compromise and resolution the hard way: by getting to know your ideological adversary, and then doing something about what needs doing. - Chicago Tribune EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 4, 2019