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Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader

  1. C.O.G. 2013 Writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez blends pointed satire with gallows humor, much like Sedaris himself. full review
  2. Cutie And The Boxer 2013 Intriguing as their present lives may be, without enough background to appreciate, for instance, Ushio's associations with Rauschenberg and Warhol, we can't gauge the full extent of the couple's regrets and losses. full review
  3. Good Ol' Freda 2013 Although this music documentary has some historic value, it aims to entertain -- and succeeds, largely because its subject is a natural on camera. full review
  4. Hannah Arendt 2013 Barbara Sukowa delivers a beautifully modulated performance, showing the rigor of Arendt's thought and convictions while revealing the contours of a passionate woman with complex relationships. full review
  5. Laurence Anyways 2013 Lushly romantic and daringly original. full review
  6. Lovelace 2013 This drama from codirectors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman is so respectful of 70s porn sensation Linda Lovelace that instead of humanizing the Deep Throat star, it reduces her to one dimension: victim. full review
  7. Paranoia 2013 In a movie about a new generation's hunger to topple the old guard, pretty boy Hemsworth is outclassed by his veteran costars, who get more mileage from baring their teeth than he does baring his chest. full review
  8. Populaire 2013 [A] sweet but slight homage to the 50s and 60s. full review
  9. You Will Be My Son 2013 Great talent and a monstrous ego often come as a package deal, as illustrated by this insightful, taut 2011 drama set in Bordeaux. full review
  10. Friends With Benefits 2011 The jokes don't all work and the topical references can be irritably hipper-than-thou, but at least director and cowriter Will Gluck aims high: this is patterned on the Tracy and Hepburn comedies, albeit with a lot more skin. full review
  11. Pina 2011 Crane and steadycam allow Wenders to get so close to the action that in the minimalist Cafe Muller, one's illusion of being on stage is uncanny. full review
  12. Sanctum 2011 After a sluggish half hour, this well-crafted adventure kicks into high gear and never lets up. full review
  13. Biutiful 2010 Javier Bardem cuts a tragic figure as a dying Barcelona lowlife who traffics in illegal immigrants and communes with the dead. full review
  14. Night Catches Us 2010 Tanya Hamilton directed her own script, and though her ending leaves loose ends dangling, the movie is refreshing for its seriousness and originality. full review
  15. The Proposal 2009 [A] buoyant vehicle for Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, whose chemistry is a happy surprise. full review
  16. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 2009 Since the heroine spends half her screen time recovering from brain surgery, Rapace has less to do than in the first two movies, but she's striking in full punk regalia during a tense courtroom sequence. full review
  17. Bottle Shock 2008 Rickman adds a welcome astringency. full review
  18. The Burning Plain 2008 The result is confusion, not catharsis. full review
  19. Eldorado 2008 Avoids a formulaic ending, reflecting instead on the impermanence of human connections and the inescapable baggage of the self. full review
  20. Elegy 2008 Elegy gives Ben Kingsley one of the best roles of his career. full review
  21. New York, I Love You 2008 The project is lush and seductive as a whole, though some segments are especially vibrant. full review
  22. Our City Dreams 2008 Chiara Clemente, a documentarian for Italian TV, gets in close enough to record her subjects' techniques but not close enough to reveal what makes the women tick. full review
  23. The Tale of Despereaux 2008 The imagery is colorful and artfully rendered, but the filmmakers, favoring technological wizardry over story, have beefed up the narrative with teeming rodent civilizations, a seafaring sequence, and gladiatorial action pieces. full review
  24. Beaufort 2007 [A] blistering antiwar film. full review
  25. Dreaming Lhasa 2007 The fictional story incorporates harrowing documentary testimony from former Tibetan political prisoners, but essentially this is a hopeful look at a resilient people keeping their traditions alive as they move into the digital age. full review
  26. The Pool 2007 Reality and fiction fuse like watercolors in this quietly compelling narrative feature. full review
  27. Surfwise 2007 The fallout decades later provides the drama in this documentary by Doug Pray, who lets his eccentric octogenarian subject off a little too easy. full review
  28. The Fog 2005 The production values are above par, but as in Carpenter's original, seeing ghosts is less scary than imagining them. full review
  29. Forgiving Dr. Mengele 2005 Pugh and her codirector, Bob Hercules, are remarkably evenhanded in their treatment of the situation; people who recoiled from Kor's statement are given ample screen time and presented with equal sympathy. full review
  30. The Great Muppet Caper 1981 During their late-70s heyday the Muppets won huge TV audiences with their corny puns and showbiz in-jokes, but stretched to feature length the formula loses some of its snap. full review
  31. /titles/197772 Actor Derek Magyar makes an impressive feature debut in this somber video drama about a financially savvy but emotionally distant male escort. full review
  32. /titles/197664 Zwick, intent on correcting the perception of Jews as passive victims, lets the action set pieces overwhelm the more intimate scenes, several of which are already diminished by stilted dialogue. full review
  33. /titles/198029 There's a difference between paying your dues and self-abasement, but you wouldn't know it from this overstuffed and joyless film. full review
  34. /titles/198000 The slapstick is funnier for the nifty CGI, and the script gets in some sly digs at racist cops and multitasking soccer moms. full review
  35. /titles/197634 Ford's eye for period detail is exact; brief cutaways, incisive dialogue, and charged glances telegraph the cold-war paranoia and sexual alienation of the early 60s. full review
  36. /titles/198426 Writer-director Michael McGowan (Saint Ralph) shows affinity for the subtle undercurrents of a long, happy marriage, but the friction between Cromwell and the government bureaucracy stays one-note. full review

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