instantwatcher.com

Desson Thomson, Washington Post

  1. Civic Duty 2007 As thoughtful as it means to be -- its agenda is outlined by on-the-nose dialogue from its characters -- Civic Duty does little to go beyond this premise. full review
  2. Flawless 2007 Flawless makes an entertainingly nostalgic journey to old Britain -- that black-and-white world we remember from long-ago Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean movies. full review
  3. The Hunting Party 2007 A forgettable contribution to all those movies about tormented, gonzo newsmen, stranded in some hellish outpost (in this case, Bosnia), who drink to drown those terrible memories but are committed to news, news, news. full review
  4. Puccini for Beginners 2007 It's no fun to sit through the movie's retread Woody Allenisms, including postmodern repartee among the self-absorbed or giddily neurotic and passing strangers suddenly given to ironic Greek chorus-like commentary. full review
  5. The Rape of Europa 2007 Europa starts to lose its tight focus and becomes a cinematic cataloguing of events across seven countries. Given the moral imperative at the heart of the movie, however, perhaps more is more. full review
  6. Cashback 2006 Cashback springs from that childhood fantasy of being able to stop time and wander freely among the temporarily frozen. If only writer-director Sean Ellis had done more than use the conceit for a functional romance. full review
  7. Deep Water 2006 As directed by Louise Osmond and Jerry Rothwell, the movie breezes along at a highly watchable clip, thanks to fluid, affecting intercutting of archival, black-and-white footage and present-day interviews. full review
  8. This Is England 2006 Humane and complex. full review
  9. The Treatment 2006 ...our emotional involvement remains superficial, and we never get that sense of uplift that Allen's better romantic city tales have given us. full review
  10. Aeon Flux 2005 Kusama seems to spend most of her energy rendering Theron in perfect poses and lighting schemes. full review
  11. Free Zone 2005 The message is made clear within the first 10 minutes, leaving us with about 80 minutes of thematic repetition. full review
  12. The Ice Harvest 2005 This often macabre comedy ... allows us to doff such civilized traits as taste and decency. full review
  13. Into Great Silence 2005 As we vicariously participate in their daily rituals, we find ourselves at the ground level of spiritual worship. It's hard to recall a similar documentary that brings viewers so palpably close to that sacred experience. full review
  14. Neil Young: Heart of Gold 2005 Director Demme is smart and sensitive enough to sit back and listen to the music without attention-getting intrusions. full review
  15. Serenity 2005 Half a millennium after Neil Armstrong's one small step for mankind and we're back in the saddle again. full review
  16. Stoned 2005 A flat riff on Jones's short life. You'll get the highlights but no sense of what made him special -- or what really haunted him. full review
  17. Swimmers 2005 Practices a writerly movie poetry, which -- at its best -- is delicately elegiac. full review
  18. Downfall (Der Untergang) 2004 Intriguing, oddly banal and ultimately deflating. full review
  19. Dust to Glory 2004 After a while, the digital photography wears out its gritty welcome, and the footage of endless rough roading becomes repetitive. full review
  20. The Final Cut 2004 This debut from writer-director Omar Naim is cut-and-dried sci-fi thriller business. full review
  21. The Forgotten 2004 Slightly predictable and dumb when all is said and done. full review
  22. Hotel Rwanda 2004 [The movie] sweeps over you with blunt, unequivocal conviction. full review
  23. Me and You and Everyone We Know 2004 Hums with compassion for its outlandish, lonely but always sweet characters. full review
  24. Spanglish 2004 The movie's funny and wicked fun. full review
  25. White Chicks 2004 Banshee-howlingly awful. full review
  26. American Wedding 2003 If you do not bring pride, good taste or sense to this third American Pie installment, you'll have a good time. full review
  27. The Battle of Shaker Heights 2003 It's simply an indie-film aping of Hollywood teen-mongering at its ultimate worst.
  28. Brother Bear 2003 It's not that the movie is bad. It's just innocuous. full review
  29. Camp 2003 Occasional clumsiness is easily coated over by the movie's overarching goodwill. full review
  30. Control Room 2003 Enlightening, if structurally relaxed documentary. full review
  31. Daddy Day Care 2003 Easy-on-the -sensibilities family film. full review
  32. Darkness Falls 2003 A truly awful and extremely loud scareflick.
  33. Gigli 2003 Guys, I'm telling you: Don't go to this movie! It's Chasing Amy with guns! You're walking into a trap!
  34. Holes 2003 A wonderfully dark fairy tale.
  35. Hollywood Homicide 2003 Hollywood Homicide is about murder, all right: the wholesale slaughter of anything funny, original or even vaguely logical.
  36. The Missing 2003 In The Missing, Ron Howard somehow makes a great movie and an awful movie, all at the same time.
  37. Mona Lisa Smile 2003 Like the turtleneck cashmere sweaters and girdles that tie down these promising women, the movie is trite and trussed.
  38. Saints and Soldiers 2003 It's hard to get behind characters who feel like lazy archetypes. full review
  39. Something's Gotta Give 2003 Meyers's movie is too well done to call it anything but good entertainment.
  40. Spy Kids 3-D - Game Over 2003 A movie that aims for the fun and sensation of being inside a video game, but not a whole lot more.
  41. The Station Agent 2003 A slower-moving but powerfully absorbing drama.
  42. Swimming Pool 2003 A watchable, provocative film.
  43. Tears of the Sun 2003 This movie should have been called Crocodile Tears of the Sun.
  44. American Dreamz 2002 [Paul] Weitz co-directed the wonderful About a Boy in 2002, but in Dreamz -- a tediously facile satire -- his comic instincts fail him. full review
  45. Below 2002 An enjoyable, if occasionally flawed, experiment. full review
  46. Changing Lanes 2002 Far richer than you'd ever think possible. full review
  47. Confessions of a Dangerous Mind 2002 A darkly enjoyable roller-coaster ride.
  48. The Dancer Upstairs 2002 A slow-burning affair that may seem exotic but mainly crawls from cliche to cliche.
  49. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys 2002 Steers refreshingly clear of the usual cliches.
  50. Fidel 2002 Although Estela Bravo's documentary is cloyingly hagiographic in its portrait of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, it's still a guilty pleasure to watch.
  51. The Hard Word 2002 Aside from the obviously Australian flavor to everything -- which can be entertaining at times -- there's no X factor to justify the whole exercise.
  52. The Hours 2002 You don't just love the movie for its structure but for the haunted people in it, making each other miserable, but forcing each other to face who they are.
  53. The Importance of Being Earnest 2002 Smart, sassy interpretation of the Oscar Wilde play.
  54. Irreversible 2002 Fails because of its gratuitous rape and violence and also because of its pretentious and intellectually one-dimensional grounds, which make the violence at the end feel even worse.
  55. Lost in La Mancha 2002 It's disconcerting to recommend this movie for its entertainment value, but highly watchable it is.
  56. Men in Black II 2002 If the first Men in Black was money, the second is small change. But it still jingles in the pocket. It's fun lite.
  57. Morvern Callar 2002 As Morvern, [Morton is] disconcertingly enigmatic, often bordering on catatonic. But she carries the movie effortlessly.
  58. Narc 2002 A well-sustained allegory-cum-cop drama.
  59. The New Guy 2002 Every bad cliche of every bad high school movie finds a home here.
  60. Panic Room 2002 It's a treat for the eyes and ears.
  61. The Pianist 2002 A near-masterpiece.
  62. Punch-Drunk Love 2002 In this movie, you'll see Sandler like you've never seen him.
  63. Rabbit-Proof Fence 2002 It certainly has its moving moments.
  64. Roger Dodger 2002 A sophisticated but intriguingly toxic comedy of manners.
  65. Russian Ark 2002 An extraordinary dramatic experience.
  66. Spider-Man 2002 With disarmingly entertaining movies like this, dare I say, who needs big bad superhero movies? full review
  67. The Sum of All Fears 2002 One that bombs literally and figuratively.
  68. Super Troopers 2002 The best thing about the movie is its personable, amusing cast.
  69. The Sweetest Thing 2002 Bound to appeal to women looking for a howlingly trashy time.
  70. Treasure Planet 2002 Enjoy the spectacle.
  71. View from the Top 2002 There's not much zest here, even with Mike Myers's energetic attempts to steal the movie.
  72. XXX 2002 Essentially a dumb guy's day in Heaven.
  73. Ali 2001 It's the boxer you enjoy, not the sluggish 15 rounds the filmmakers put him through.
  74. Amelie 2001 There's so much here, and all of it delightful.
  75. Atlantis - The Lost Empire 2001 For the most part, the movie's a bland disappointment, on many levels. full review
  76. Baran 2001 Heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes apart, sometimes together.
  77. The Deep End 2001 An extraordinarily riveting drama.
  78. Donnie Darko 2001 It flutters, like a mischievous butterfly, above the despairing hands of easy description. full review
  79. Hannibal 2001 Hopkins, who is electrifying in almost anything he does, reprises the mastery he brought to Silence of the Lambs. Even in a movie as patchworky as this, he's always compelling. full review
  80. Lost and Delirious 2001 Equally earnest and unconvincing.
  81. Not Another Teen Movie 2001 More often than not you'll be groaning from painful recognition rather than actually laughing.
  82. Riding in Cars with Boys 2001 There's a sort of Hallmark tyranny at work.
  83. Shaolin Soccer 2001 A hoot from beginning to end.
  84. The Shipping News 2001 Hallstrom and screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs, the team that gave us the spectacularly ordinary Chocolat, have concocted another box of mediocrity.
  85. Vanilla Sky 2001 For all the filmmakers' efforts, this project is something of an artistic albatross.
  86. Zoolander 2001 Maybe another rewrite, maybe an extra writer, maybe a better concept...
  87. American Psycho 2000 It's hard to summon up enthusiasm for a performance so rooted in bloody banality. I mean, as Patrick, Bale's most emotionally pressing dilemma is: Chainsaw or butcher knife? full review
  88. Amores Perros 2000 Definitely fierce and most definitely human. full review
  89. The Golden Bowl 2000 A victim of painfully drawn out excessiveness. full review
  90. The Man Who Cried 2000 I prefer to think of this movie as The Critic Who Cried.
  91. Memento 2000 Memento doesn't just draw you into a dramatic mystery, it makes you aware of human mystery. And that's food for thought and entertainment. full review
  92. Merci Pour le Chocolat 2000 Every moment of the way, there is a delectable sense of suble menace.
  93. Our Song 2000 After watching Our Song, we leave with a very potent sense that these characters have become so real, they continue living beyond the close of the movie.
  94. The Tigger Movie 2000 This Tigger outing feels more like an overblown TV special than a grand theatrical release. full review
  95. Urban Legends: Final Cut 2000 It's about as funny as the Yellow Pages. full review
  96. In Dreams 1999 Nightmarishly good! full review
  97. Wild Things 1998 They're not calling it Wild Things for nothing. full review
  98. Donnie Brasco 1997 For all its treacheries, twists and turns, nothing really comes as a surprise. full review
  99. Hercules 1997 [An] insipid, lifeless, animated feature. full review
  100. Inventing the Abbotts 1997 full review
  101. Private Parts 1997 Some of it is pretty funny, but there's so much more you may just want to tune out. full review
  102. Beautiful Girls 1996 The movie is wry, touching and fun to sit through... full review
  103. Beavis and Butt-Head Do America 1996 Takes the spirit of their late night TV show and flies with it. full review
  104. Big Night 1996 A charming, delicate repast prepared by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott. full review
  105. Escape from L.A. 1996 Enjoyable in a playful way full review
  106. James and the Giant Peach 1996 It's ripe to bursting with visual effects a heady combination of stop-motion and computer-generated imagery.
  107. Pocahontas 1996 As for the songs, they're guaranteed to keep your shoes glued to the floor
  108. Stealing Beauty 1996 [A] hilariously inscrutable exercise in pseudo-profundity.
  109. Trainspotting 1996 The movie tags at the heels of Edinburgh social dropouts Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Begbie, for whom getting off beats getting out. full review
  110. A Very Brady Sequel 1996 A Very Brady Sequel isn't great, but it's enjoyable. full review
  111. Bad Boys 1995 Even by the low-low standards of cheap action flicks, this one's bad, boys. full review
  112. Congo 1995 The least interesting adventure ever filmed. full review
  113. The Crossing Guard 1995 full review
  114. Cry, the Beloved Country 1995 full review
  115. Desperado 1995 In this movie, words and actions speak equally loudly. full review
  116. Devil in a Blue Dress 1995 Franklin's picture is effortlessly wise beneath its entertaining surface. full review
  117. The Doom Generation 1995 The violence becomes commonplace. The crudities never end. But there are hip benefits for staying to watch. full review
  118. Four Rooms 1995 The segments are uniformly weak. full review
  119. A Month by the Lake 1995 full review
  120. Nick of Time 1995 full review
  121. Smoke 1995 full review
  122. Stuart Saves His Family 1995 Subtly riotous. full review
  123. Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead 1995 full review
  124. Tommy Boy 1995 As a sketch for a Saturday Night Live show, it would have been a tour de force. But as part of this rather unimaginative movie, it's just a bit with a burning desk. full review
  125. Black Beauty 1994 full review
  126. Beverly Hills Cop III 1994 [A] goofy vanity project. full review
  127. Clerks 1994 A collegiate and post-collegiate laugh fest. full review
  128. The Crow 1994 If he had to die so soon, this movie is the best and most appropriate sendoff Lee could have hoped for. full review
  129. Fresh 1994 full review
  130. Heavenly Creatures 1994 Jackson (who wrote the script with Frances Walsh) evokes the girlsa(TM) fantasy world with scenes featuring plasticene figures, creating an eerie, metaphysical dimension to the movie. full review
  131. Hoop Dreams 1994 An extraordinarily affecting documentary. full review
  132. Intersection 1994 Please stop me when you care. full review
  133. Mother's Boys 1994 full review
  134. Nobody's Fool 1994 So eloquently straightforward, it practically sings to the soul. full review
  135. Pulp Fiction 1994 Brilliant and brutal, funny and exhilarating, jaw-droppingly cruel and disarmingly sweet. full review
  136. Beethoven's 2nd 1993 full review
  137. Coneheads 1993 A respectably funny -- but small -- effort, a reunion party best watched in your living room, while you consume mass quantities of pizza with extra molten lactate extract of hooved mammals. full review
  138. The Good Son 1993 You sit there laughing at Culkin's best comedy ever. If only this movie wasn't supposed to be a horror picture. full review
  139. Heart and Souls 1993 full review
  140. The House of the Spirits 1993 full review
  141. Indecent Proposal 1993 full review
  142. Last Action Hero 1993 Even if this intermixing of kid fantasy and adult shoot'em-up, Hollywood insider jokes and cheap Arnold puns, doesn't completely bowl you over, it's clever and intriguing. full review
  143. The Nightmare Before Christmas 1993 This brilliant combination of stop-motion animation, three-dimensional sets and superbly imaginative graphics, brings animation to new peaks. full review
  144. The Piano 1993 The Piano plays itself with such contrapuntal richness, it resonates in you forever. full review
  145. Robin Hood: Men in Tights 1993 full review
  146. The Snapper 1993 Stephen Frear's The Snapper hits the spot nicely, if your spot likes hearty rounds of working-class comedy. full review
  147. What's Eating Gilbert Grape 1993 Director Lasse Halstrom and cinematographer Sven Nykvist do their best to disguise the predictability with their own grace notes. But all the music in the world can't hide a tone this false. full review
  148. Bad Lieutenant 1992 It doesn't take five minutes for us to understand the depth of his immorality. But the movie proceeds to outline his badness. full review
  149. Enchanted April 1992 It would seem from a spate of films lately that the English can only find their warmer, truer selves abroad -- usually in Italy. Enchanted April takes this familiar path, but traipses along with charm and glory, as if for the very first time. full review
  150. Glengarry Glen Ross 1992 full review
  151. Hoffa 1992 full review
  152. Passion Fish 1992 full review
  153. Patriot Games 1992 Director Phillip Noyce, who made the gripping thriller Dead Calm, has earned his directorial hack license here. full review
  154. Reservoir Dogs 1992 A nod to such noir crime classics as Stanley Kubrick's "The Killing," the movie's more than savvy sensationalism. Suspense, horror and humor are expertly interwoven. full review
  155. Rock-A-Doodle 1992 full review
  156. Sarafina 1992 full review
  157. Strictly Ballroom 1992 full review
  158. All I Want for Christmas 1991 Miracle on 34th Street this ain't. full review
  159. Barton Fink 1991 If Fink lacks cumulative punch, its fighting power is a technical knockout. full review
  160. Bugsy 1991 full review
  161. Dutch 1991 Hughes, a man more prolific than Stephen King and less inspired than Aaron Spelling, has produced yet another forgettable project. This movie shouldn't even be allowed on planes. full review
  162. The Fisher King 1991 A modern epic that fuses myth with hard-edged reality, it's a one-of-a-kind, thoroughly engaging experience. full review
  163. Paris Is Burning 1991 full review
  164. The Silence of the Lambs 1991 A smart, restrained entertainment, it doesn't splash around in blood and hysteria. full review
  165. Slacker 1991 The experience is funny, surreal and weird. Sometimes it's even scary. full review
  166. Soapdish 1991 Lines like this are amusing, but they pop instantly, like soap bubbles. full review
  167. Days of Thunder 1990 Exactly what it promises to be: Not Much -- but at dizzying speed, stripped down and free of wind-resistant subtlety. There's a certain integrity to that. A certain deafening integrity. full review
  168. Ghost 1990 Surprisingly entertaining. full review
  169. The Grifters 1990 This is one human board game that's absorbing to watch. full review
  170. The Krays 1990 full review
  171. Rocky V 1990 Despite Stallone's bantamweight attempts to insert, like, character into the fifth Rocky, it's the same old fight with the same old round of regulars. full review
  172. Ghostbusters 2 1989 You want more. full review
  173. Harlem Nights 1989 Does it matter to Eddie Murphy whether Harlem Nights is good or bad? It doesn't look like it. full review
  174. My Left Foot 1989 Not only does Day-Lewis master the physical aspects of the role, the minute-to-minute struggle of almost complete paralysis, he lives the painful genesis of an artistic character. full review
  175. Steel Magnolias 1989 full review
  176. Bull Durham 1988 Writer/director Ron Shelton lobs juicy lines to players Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, and they all hit home. full review
  177. Cocoon: The Return 1988 full review
  178. Colors 1988 It's an exhilarating sparring match between Duvall's workmanlike fine-tuning and Penn's raw energy. full review
  179. Coming to America 1988 The main pleasure in America comes in the romancing of prince and pauper. But the comedy is a mere handmaiden. full review
  180. A Fish Called Wanda 1988 It'll keep you amused enough to sit still and even remember it fondly. But it seems a light day's fishing for Messers Cleese and Palin. full review
  181. The Last Temptation of Christ 1988 There are too many epic moments and impassioned performances to dismiss Scorsese's work. full review
  182. The Thin Blue Line 1988 full review
  183. Who Framed Roger Rabbit 1988 Not only a technical tour de force, it crackles with entertainment. full review
  184. Beverly Hills Cop II 1987 full review
  185. Broadcast News 1987 Brooks' observations are as keen as Woody Allen's but without the neurotic narcissism. full review
  186. Dirty Dancing 1987 The dance finale between Gray and Swayze, although an obvious crowd-pleaser, is performed to a contemporary song clearly intended for the charts, which blows the period feel right off the dance floor. full review
  187. Fatal Attraction 1987 Close should take pride in her performance. She should also expect a depressing avalanche of scripts requiring a she-wacko. full review
  188. Planes, Trains and Automobiles 1987 The script and direction by Hughes ... amount to wobbly passes that Martin and Candy turn into touchdowns anyway. full review
  189. Project X 1987 Although Parkes and Lasker produce a set of primates guaranteed to charm the upholstery off the theater seats, there is little else. full review
  190. The Running Man 1987 You want to know if The Running Man is a good-time macho show, right? Stay at home and watch professional wrestling. full review
  191. The Serpent and the Rainbow 1987 [Craven[ seems wiser and more story-conscious -- but thankfully still full of the same surprises. full review
  192. The Untouchables 1987 ...an entertaining but incongruous mix of class and pulp. full review
  193. Switchblade Sisters 1975 Sublime, exploitative camp.
  194. Becket 1964 Becket may seem like a movie of yesteryear, but its timeliness brims over with rousing, meditative discourses between Henry and the church leaders on the separation of church and state. full review
  195. Gojira 1954 There's a surprisingly powerful thrust to this film. full review