Chicago Reader

Tomatometer-approved publication
Rating Title/Year Author
High Flying Bird (2019) Andrea Gronvall Directed, shot, and edited by Steven Soderbergh, this cerebral Netflix original is an even more incisive drama about the business of sports than Moneyball. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
Fighting With My Family (2019) Ben Sachs The film is basic and predictable, but its sincerity is hard to overlook. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
They Shall Not Grow Old (2018) Aimee Levitt This is as close as we can get to a full immersion into one of the most horrifying and ultimately pointless wars in modern history. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
Toy Story 4 (2019) Ben Sachs Pixar by the numbers, this third and largely unnecessary sequel to Toy Story delivers everything you'd expect from the animation studio, minus the warmth, wit, and dread. EDIT
Posted Dec 10, 2019
Burning Cane (2019) Adam Mullins-Khatib Youmans, who was 17 while making the film, presents not only an advanced visual language and style for his age but a striking emotional nuance in the portrayal of his characters... EDIT
Posted Dec 3, 2019
3.5/4 Marriage Story (2019) Marissa De La Cerda By the end, you're rooting for both Charlie and Nicole, hoping they find their own happiness despite all the bad things and the pain they caused one another. EDIT
Posted Nov 22, 2019
The Cheat (1915) Dave Kehr [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. EDIT
Posted Nov 12, 2019
The Blot (1921) J. R. Jones Widely regarded as Lois Weber's masterpiece, The Blot brings into perfect harmony the social commentary of her Universal work and the domestic intrigue of her later projects. EDIT
Posted Nov 11, 2019
3/4 Harriet (2019) Janaya Greene The film is dramatized in a way that neither exaggerates nor lessens Harriet's extremely real struggle-no film can tarnish a legacy so profound. EDIT
Posted Nov 7, 2019
The Lighthouse (2019) Cody Corrall The visceral, disgusting, and irrefutably maddening theatrics of The Lighthouse are entrancing enough to have viewers happily giving themselves over to a beckoning siren by film's end. EDIT
Posted Oct 25, 2019
Desolation Center (2018) Leah Pickett Swezey's film confirms that his scene's flame is still burning. EDIT
Posted Oct 24, 2019
Imitation of Life (1934) Dave Kehr 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. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2019
Mingus (1968) Ben Sachs A harrowing account of America's greatest composer in perhaps the worst period of his life. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2019
The Jazz Singer (1953) Dave Kehr 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. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2019
Sun Ra - The Cry of Jazz (1959) Fred Camper A rough-edged but provocative melange, this improbably mixes great footage of Sun Ra, sections that have the feel of cheesy 50s instructional films, and staged scenes... EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2019
() Jonathan Rosenbaum Letzgus's 1998 French documentary of a 1976 concert by the late singer is hampered by a few distractions, but the event being documented is so riveting and so eccentric in its own right that it hardly matters. EDIT
Posted Oct 21, 2019
Parasite (2019) Ben Sachs Throughout, the director's camerawork and mise en scene are impressively subtle, carefully parsing out information about characters and setting to force viewers to stay alert to the tiniest details. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
Fin de siglo (2019) Leah Pickett Castro excels in showing how ostensibly small discoveries, like a gutting line in a book or a song that gives perfect shape to a moment, can be bright markers in life, signifying a beginning, a middle, or an end. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
Fantastic Fungi (2019) Leah Pickett Chances are you'll never look at a mushroom in the same way again. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
That Pärt Feeling: The Universe of Arvo Pärt (2019) Leah Pickett Rather than ticking the boxes of Pärt's biography or talking to him at length about his process, Hegemen gives his audience plenty of opportunities to experience the feeling referenced in the doc's title. EDIT
Posted Oct 18, 2019
Balthazar (1966) Leah Pickett The movie plays like a concerto. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
The Woman Who Loves Giraffes (2018) Leah Pickett Innis Dagg returns to the site of her innovative research, and the accompaniment of vivid color photographs and 16-millimeter footage the scientist herself took in the late '50s render the duality of the experience all the more bewitching. EDIT
Posted Oct 11, 2019
Kings and Queen (2004) Jonathan Rosenbaum It adds up to more than the sum of its parts, but you may not realize it for a day or so. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
The Son's Room (2001) Meredith Brody With tender skill, Moretti illuminates Samuel Beckett's familiar summation "I can't go on-I'll go on." EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
Monster in a Box (1991) Jonathan Rosenbaum ...his powers as a writer and performer certainly hold one's attention. Incidentally, more than five dozen names appear in the credits of this one-man show. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
Spellbound (1945) Dave Kehr ...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. EDIT
Posted Oct 4, 2019
2/4 The Mountain (2018) Ben Sachs One can easily watch the film the way Andy takes part in Wallace's odyssey-but you'll probably be disappointed if you expect the various ideas to add up to more than the sum of their parts... EDIT
Posted Sep 30, 2019
The Cat Rescuers (2018) Leah Pickett Cat people tend to be unfairly maligned, but in this documentary, they're heroes. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
The Goldfinch (2019) Leah Pickett A cool sterility lingers beneath every cue meant to tug at our insides. EDIT
Posted Sep 27, 2019
It: Chapter Two (2019) Leah Pickett Trimming the adults' often soppy individual narratives to focus on their more interesting dynamic as a group might have mitigated some of the numbness that sets in from predictability. EDIT
Posted Sep 21, 2019
Jay Myself (2018) Leah Pickett In the end, the viewer might find herself both feeling the loss at the center of Maisel and Wilkes's letting-go process and craving a similar grotto of her own. EDIT
Posted Sep 21, 2019
3/4 Ad Astra (2019) Ben Sachs In drawing on and amplifying ideas that have appeared elsewhere in his work, [James] Gray heightens Ad Astra's sense of familiarity, making the future seem like something out of the past. EDIT
Posted Sep 19, 2019
Night and Day (Bam gua nat) (2009) J. R. Jones Hong works in long, improvised scenes that seem to go nowhere, but they're so rife with sexual subtext that, even at 144 minutes, the movie never feels long. EDIT
Posted Sep 12, 2019
I Live in Fear (1955) Jonathan Rosenbaum I persist in finding it among the most memorable: eerie, troubling, and haunting. EDIT
Posted Sep 12, 2019
3/4 Hustlers (2019) Leah Pickett Hustlers, it must be said, is hustle incarnate. EDIT
Posted Sep 12, 2019
Drifting (1923) Ben Sachs Tod Browning directed, and though the film isn't as sensationalistic as his better-known horror films, it still offers flashes of his perverse imagination. There are compelling supporting performances from Wallace Beery and Anna May Wong. EDIT
Posted Sep 12, 2019
5B (2018) Kathleen Sachs Its simplicity is in service of its effectiveness. EDIT
Posted Sep 7, 2019
The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019) Ben Sachs This may have as much to do with the colorful eastern seaboard settings as it does the filmmakers' sensitive handling of the main character's developmental disability; the film feels authentic as well as sincere. EDIT
Posted Sep 6, 2019
American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel (2019) Leah Pickett A documentary that calmly disassembles the fallacies of the religious right EDIT
Posted Sep 5, 2019
Brittany Runs a Marathon (2019) Leah Pickett I too admire Colaizzo's effort, but in the end found myself ruminating on why I was expected to cheer at the finish line. EDIT
Posted Aug 30, 2019
3/4 What You Gonna Do When The World's On Fire? (2018) Ben Sachs The charisma of Minervini's subjects is powerful enough to cut through the ethnographic vibe... EDIT
Posted Aug 29, 2019
3/4 Los Reyes (2018) Ben Sachs Los Reyes is a charming, calming film, though it's also somewhat one-note... EDIT
Posted Aug 29, 2019
For Sama (2019) Andrea Gronvall One of the most intimate and stirring documentaries about war in the 21st century, and a plea to the free nations of the world to act. EDIT
Posted Aug 28, 2019
2.5/4 Old Boyfriends (1979) Kathleen Sachs I find Tewkesbury's restraint more interesting, as it results in something hazily impenetrable and truer to the often ambiguous nature of people's thoughts and motivations. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
2/4 After the Wedding (2019) Leah Pickett The movie's biggest issue blooms from its core: it doesn't seem to know what kind of movie it wants to be. EDIT
Posted Aug 23, 2019
Premature (2019) Andrea Gronvall Premature is one of the year's best films. EDIT
Posted Aug 19, 2019
Strive (2019) Andrea Gronvall The screenplay by Sha-Risse Smith and Piper Dellums at times hovers on melodrama, but Starr keeps the film on target with her performance. EDIT
Posted Aug 19, 2019
Sprinter (2018) Andrea Gronvall A crowd-pleaser devoid of false sentimentality, thanks to its disarming young lead, Dale Elliott, and a sturdy supporting cast that includes Lorraine Toussaint and Dennis Titus... EDIT
Posted Aug 19, 2019
I Can't Breathe (2017) Andrea Gronvall Don't miss this enlightening documentary, a primer on the risks and rewards of politics, and why it's absolutely fundamental that all citizens engage in its discourse, on whatever level we can. EDIT
Posted Aug 19, 2019
Always in Season (2014) Andrea Gronvall Although difficult to watch, the film is invaluable in its exploration of lynching as a form of racial terrorism. EDIT
Posted Aug 19, 2019