J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

  1. 20 Feet From Stardom 2013 The movie takes its cues from Standing in the Shadows of Motown, another act of pop-culture revisionism that tried to give musical credit where it was due. full review
  2. The Act Of Killing 2013 [A] unique and unforgettable documentary. full review
  3. American Mary 2013 Writer-directors Jen and Sylvia Soska don't seem to have their material completely under control, but they've created a worthy entry in the Freaks school of cult cinema. full review
  4. The Angels' Share 2013 [Ken Loach] and his longtime screenwriter, Paul Laverty, find a good balance between drama and wacky character moments. full review
  5. A Band Called Death 2013 If the brothers seem a little drunk on their own myth, they're also genuinely humbled by the band's rediscovery and warmed by the fact that their kids have carried on the family tradition. full review
  6. Berberian Sound Studio 2013 Director Peter Strickland reaches for something more significant that he never quite finds, but by then you may be too entertained to care. full review
  7. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me 2013 It's a tale of extraordinary creative accomplishment followed by bitter rejection; fused with the band's lonely music, which DeNicola samples liberally on the soundtrack, it has the power of a pop myth. full review
  8. Broken 2013 The comic and tragic elements are nicely balanced, and the three families' stories neatly and economically knit together. full review
  9. Concussion 2013 Unfortunately, Passon can't seem to figure out her own protagonist; there are plenty of sexual climaxes here but not much of a narrative one. full review
  10. Dirty Wars 2013 The flood of theatrical documentaries about the War on Terror... has slowed to a trickle since President Obama took office, which makes this uncompromising expose from reporter Jeremy Scahill even more important. full review
  11. A Hijacking 2013 Gripping and tightly focused. full review
  12. How I Live Now 2013 The key objective here is not political coherence but a heavy sense of adult oppression and doom to make the heroes' innocent cuddling more poignant. full review
  13. In the House 2013 The expected punch line... never materializes, so I guess this must be a drama after all. full review
  14. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain 2013 Once Hart finally gets onstage his act can barely live up to the hype. full review
  15. Let The Fire Burn 2013 Jason Osder's gripping documentary revisits the notorious 1985 police raid against the black liberation group MOVE in west Philadelphia. full review
  16. Mud 2013 Nichols takes his time with the story, dwelling on how the boy is shaped by the killer's tragic sense of romance, yet the suspense holds. full review
  17. Only God Forgives 2013 As always, Refn's style is captivating, but the fascination with extreme gore never amounts to more than a fetish, and there's none of the deft characterization that made his revered Pusher trilogy and British biopic Bronson so engaging. full review
  18. Pandora's Promise 2013 The pro-nuclear left grabs the bullhorn in this lively advocacy documentary. full review
  19. A Place at the Table 2013 Their stories are wrenching and provide a functional framework for the directors to make some important points about hunger in America. full review
  20. The Punk Singer 2013 The movie succeeds as a punk chronicle by focusing on a true believer who was lionized by many but who turned out to be only human. full review
  21. Room 237 2013 This is sure to amuse you if you get a bang out of the claims that Paul McCartney died in 1966 and Dark Side of the Moon was intended as a soundtrack for The Wizard of Oz. full review
  22. Shadow Dancer 2013 This British thriller by James Marsh is a little too neatly scripted and tightly edited for my taste, but there are galvanizing performances from Andrea Riseborough... and Clive Owen. full review
  23. Something in the Air 2013 The pretty actors and counterculture nostalgia kept reminding me of Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers. This is a much better film, infused with Assayas's characteristic love for the freshness of nature and the eagerness of youth. full review
  24. Stolen Seas 2013 Digs deep into the subject of piracy, arguing that it's less an anachronism than a sign of the times. full review
  25. This Is Martin Bonner 2013 Written and directed by Chad Hartigan, this touching, uncommonly humane drama centers on the tenuous friendship between two lonely older men. full review
  26. A Touch of Sin 2013 Jia's primary concern here is the solitary suffering of his characters, punished to the point where they can't take anymore. full review
  27. Unfinished Song 2013 [A] sappy drama. full review
  28. Upside Down 2013 Timothy Spall enlivens this as a crafty engineer in the corporation where Dunst and Sturgess work, but they're all just props in a dream whose logic hasn't been quite worked out. full review
  29. Upstream Color 2013 No one else today approaches the genre in quite this way; the only precedent I can think of is Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth. full review
  30. We Steal Secrets: The Story Of Wikileaks 2013 The sequence in which Manning confides in former hacker Adrian Lamo and gets turned in to the FBI supplies the kind of human drama that has made Gibney's work so engrossing in the past. full review
  31. What Maisie Knew 2013 Selfishness and cruelty never go out of style, which might explain why this millennial update of Henry James's 1897 novel works so well. full review
  32. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry 2012 Ai admits that he's become "a brand for liberal thinking and individualism," though that's nothing to be ashamed of -- at this point, his Warholian talent for self-promotion may be the only thing keeping him alive. full review
  33. Alps 2012 The movie contains some of the same elements that made [Dogtooth] so startling but they tend to float around rather than coalesce into a singular perspective. full review
  34. The Ambassador 2012 [Brugger] returns with a jaw-dropping expose of postcolonial corruption; he's lucky he returned with his head. full review
  35. Barbara 2012 The occasional ravings of the patients, ringing off the walls in Petzold's measured quiet, provide an appropriate backdrop to the heroine's need for freedom, yet the movie's politics never trump its humanity. full review
  36. The Beat Hotel 2012 Never amounts to more than a flabby piece of counterculture nostalgia. full review
  37. Bernie 2012 Some of the best performances come from real-life residents of Carthage as they share their recollections on camera. full review
  38. Bully 2012 Hirsch seldom gets face time with any bullies or their parents, and he tends to ignore the complicated social and psychological patterns that feed the problem. full review
  39. Burn 2012 These stories are moving, but what really distinguishes the film is the sense of an entire city giving in to self-immolation. full review
  40. The Cabin in the Woods 2012 The climactic one-two punch of special-effects chaos and meta-movie chin stroking should have the fanboys trembling with delight. full review
  41. The Central Park Five 2012 The film offers a snapshot of the white hysteria then gripping the city, which was stoked by the tabloids and resulted in police and prosecutors railroading five black youths into prison. full review
  42. Chasing Ice 2012 You couldn't ask for a more dramatic moment than the climactic sequence. full review
  43. Compliance 2012 Like a John Hughes movie hijacked by Roman Polanski, this troubling indie effort lays bare the sadomasochism of the American workplace. full review
  44. Cosmopolis 2012 The story seems to cleave into cerebral disquisition and primal sex. full review
  45. Detropia 2012 The movie is heavy on statistics (all of them grim), yet what lingers is an operatic sense of tragedy. full review
  46. Elles 2012 Writer-director Malgorzata Szumowska breaks past the facile moralizing only once. full review
  47. End of Watch 2012 I'm not sure who appointed David Ayer poet laureate for the LAPD, but at least he takes the job seriously. full review
  48. For Ellen 2012 his quiet indie drama distinguishes itself most when writer-director So Yong Kim gets the rocker alone with his daughter for a brief visit that will probably be their last. full review
  49. God Bless America 2012 [It] turns in on its own morality like a Mobius strip, endorsing kindness by practicing slaughter, and pulls us along for the ride. full review
  50. The Guilt Trip 2012 Rogen and Streisand are reasonably funny together, though Rogen, always best when he's angry, is crowded into the role of a well-mannered straight man. full review
  51. The House I Live In 2012 Jarecki's case is so compelling that, when he concludes by comparing the drug war to the Holocaust, the obvious charge of hyperbole doesn't quite stick. full review
  52. How to Survive a Plague 2012 France, drawing on a wealth of video footage from inside the organization, turns that decade of rage, despair, and tenacity into an inspiring tale of effective political action. full review
  53. The Imposter 2012 You may begin to wonder if you aren't being conned by the movie yourself. full review
  54. The Innkeepers 2012 The place offers West plenty of odd, creaky spaces to inspect as the innkeepers' project of capturing ghostly events on video (a joking reference to the Paranormal Activity franchise) begins to bear fruit. full review
  55. The Intouchables 2012 A box office phenomenon in France, this crowd-pleasing drama is based on a true story but sticks closely to the template for a Hollywood buddy movie. full review
  56. The Loneliest Planet 2012 I can't deny that her scheme is dramatically effective, though I left the movie more conscious of the scheme than the drama. full review
  57. Lore 2012 Saskia Rosendahl gives an impressively poised performance as the beautiful teenager, whose determination to protect her remaining family coincides with her growing revulsion toward her parents. full review
  58. Mirror Mirror 2012 Singh is much more skilled as a visual artist than a storyteller, and his artistic fortunes seem to rise and fall with the inspiration of his screenwriters. In this case he's lucked out. full review
  59. Monsieur Lazhar 2012 A standard liberal tale about an inspirational teacher gradually deepens into a quiet study of how grief works its way through a community. full review
  60. My Worst Nightmare 2012 Isabelle Huppert may be approaching self-parody as an icon of Gallic frigidity, yet the talented writer-director Anne Fontaine puts that to excellent use in this broad, obvious, but consistently funny bedroom farce. full review
  61. Not Fade Away 2012 The period details are spot-on and the soundtrack is great. full review
  62. The Paperboy 2012 The movie curls back and forth as sinuously as a snake through the bayou, tracing the fine line between desire and degradation. full review
  63. ParaNorman 2012 This swell stop-motion animation operates on a wavelength similar to that of Laika's debut feature, Coraline, with assured character comedy counterbalanced by a solemn sense of macabre wonder. full review
  64. Playing for Keeps 2012 Dennis Quaid hammers away at a nothing role as Thurman's husband, an adulterous alpha dog; it's nearly identical to the one he played earlier this year in What to Expect When You're Expecting, but who's counting? full review
  65. Post Tenebras Lux 2012 This one delivers a grand pictorialism and piercing existential moments that float atop the maundering narrative like noodles in soup. full review
  66. Putin's Kiss 2012 This isn't quite the human drama Pedersen might wish, but it's compelling enough, and more important, it gives us a look at conservative Russian politics at their most ruthless and vindictive. full review
  67. The Raven 2012 Edgar Allan Poe invented the detective story, so turning him into the heroic sleuth of a mystery thriller makes perfect sense. full review
  68. The Sapphires 2012 [A] genial, entertaining, cliche-ridden showbiz story from Australia. full review
  69. Skyfall 2012 The James Bond franchise turns 50 with a stellar entry that fires on all cylinders as an action picture but also casts a modest glance backward to its illustrious past. full review
  70. Sleepless Night 2012 The story is loaded with implausibilities, but it moves so quickly you won't have long to dwell on them, and there are a number of neatly executed reversals. full review
  71. Sleepwalk With Me 2012 This sharp romantic comedy began as a one-man show, and you can tell: the hero's voice-over narration wraps around the entire movie, and the scenes are mainly verbal. full review
  72. Take This Waltz 2012 Unfortunately for Polley, Take This Waltz is a good film serving mainly to remind us that Away From Her is a great one. full review
  73. Tales of the Night 2012 The movie never comes close to replicating the spell that Reiniger was able to cast using much more primitive techniques, which underlines a chronic problem of computer animation: its very precision squeezes all the magic from the magic lantern. full review
  74. This Is Not a Film 2012 This may not be a film, but it's a moving statement of defiance and despair. full review
  75. Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie 2012 The laughs dry up even as the gross-out material grows more, uh, fluid. full review
  76. What to Expect When You're Expecting 2012 Technically the genre isn't beneath contempt. But this movie is. full review
  77. The Wise Kids 2012 Chicago indie Stephen Cone took a quantum leap forward with this moving 2011 drama about a Christian youth group in small-town South Carolina. full review
  78. Albert Nobbs 2011 Rodrigo Garcia [is] known for his female ensemble dramas but demonstrates no particular affinity for this material. full review
  79. The Artist 2011 This effort often manages to duplicate the magical pantomime of the era; a lovely scene in which Bejo drapes herself in the arms of a hung jacket as if it were a human lover could have come straight out of a Marion Davies picture. full review
  80. Brighton Rock 2011 I'm still trying to figure out what mods have to do with Brighton Rock, and I can only guess that Joffe glommed onto the little town's best known pop-culture credential in hope of connecting with a broader, or perhaps younger, international audience. full review
  81. Coriolanus 2011 Visually and dramatically it works well-it's Shakespeare by way of Black Hawk Down-but as an allegory of modern-day geopolitics it doesn't really go anywhere. full review
  82. Hugo 2011 Scorsese transforms this innocent tale into an ardent love letter to the cinema and a moving plea for film preservation. full review
  83. Into The Abyss 2011 The title of this Werner Herzog documentary may suggest another expedition to the ends of the earth, but what concerns him here is the moral abyss of capital punishment and the metaphysical abyss of death itself. full review
  84. The Iron Lady 2011 Streep, no fan of Thatcher, nicely undercuts the poignancy of her current condition with flashbacks that reveal her brittle arrogance in office. full review
  85. Keep the Lights On 2011 A complex and mysterious tale of a love affair, one that lacks the tidy story arc of a movie but feels real. full review
  86. Like Crazy 2011 This indie drama starts off as a sexy little date movie, but once the lovers have been separated it grows steadily more complicated and mature. full review
  87. My Week with Marilyn 2011 Michelle Williams shoulders the daunting task of portraying the screen legend, and though she requires a body double with the appropriate curves, she gives a sweet and nicely vulnerable performance. full review
  88. Page One: Inside the New York Times 2011 As an avid media watcher, I didn't come away from this with any new insights, but the movie is a pretty good snapshot of the daily newspaper business in transition and turmoil. full review
  89. Revenge of the Electric Car 2011 Once a muckraker, Paine now acts mostly as a cheerleader, and his slick new movie trades heavily in the sort of flattering CEO profiles that grace the covers of business magazines. full review
  90. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness 2011 [An] absorbing PBS-style documentary. full review
  91. Surviving Progress 2011 Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks, adapting a book by Ronald Wright, argue so persuasively that the human race is spinning out of control. full review
  92. Tomboy 2011 Modestly conceived and executed. full review
  93. Trishna 2011 The new setting revivifies the harsh forces of class and gender at work in the story. full review
  94. Undefeated 2011 Courtney really does believe all that stuff about adversity and character, and the film is moving for its modest tale of boys learning to act like men. full review
  95. The Women on the 6th Floor 2011 This agreeable French comedy wears its class consciousness on its sleeve but functions primarily as bourgeois light entertainment. full review
  96. You've Been Trumped 2011 If you still have any questions about the personal character of Donald Trump, check out this muckraking British documentary. full review
  97. All Good Things 2010 The unsolved crime turns out to be less mysterious than the mind of the killer, nervily portrayed by Gosling as not evil but unaccountably empty. full review
  98. The American 2010 George Clooney produced and stars in this international spy thriller, which he probably thought of as existential but which registers onscreen as a giant bore. full review
  99. Blue Valentine 2010 Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling tear up the screen. full review
  100. Casino Jack 2010 Kevin Spacey contributes a wonderfully flamboyant performance as Abramoff. full review
  101. Casino Jack And The United States Of Money 2010 The crimes of conservative superlobbyist Jack Abramoff are already receding into the hopeless murk of congressional history, so this epic documentary by Alex Gibney is even more welcome for its reach. full review
  102. The Company Men 2010 Wells may strain one's sympathy by giving his narrative over to wealthy, white-collar men, but he also acutely renders the shame and frustration of capable, hardworking people suddenly forced to reassess their earning potential and aspirations in life. full review
  103. Greenberg 2010 Stiller plays a monster, and when Gerwig goes for him, declaring that she sees his tender side, the development seems like a fond indulgence on the part of writer-director Noah Baumbach. full review
  104. I Am Love 2010 The grand architecture of Milan and the icy rhythms of composer John Adams set the tone for this elegant Italian drama about the suffocating power of family, wealth, and tradition. full review
  105. Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work 2010 Rivers comes across as a consummate professional but also a genuine person, ruthlessly honest about her life decisions and utterly devoid of self-pity. full review
  106. The King's Speech 2010 No holiday season would be complete without a starchy British historical drama, and the Weinstein Company obliges us this year with this pleasant story the Duke of York, who had to overcome a serious stammer. full review
  107. Love Ranch 2010 Joe Pesci ended a 12-year retirement from the screen (excepting his brief turn in Robert De Niro's The Good Shepherd) to star in this miserable drama. full review
  108. Nowhere Boy 2010 The events chronicled are all longstanding Beatles legends, though director Sam Taylor-Wood manages to stage even the most portentous moments without making you feel a celestial choir is in order. full review
  109. Restrepo 2010 It's an essential record not only of the Afghanistan conflict but of men in battle full review
  110. Somewhere 2010 If you're impressed by the fact that this won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival, go look up the price of a flight to Venice. full review
  111. Tabloid 2010 Morris adds to the hilarity with his signature device of superimposing key words onscreen in giant type; the movie is a welcome reminder that he got his start immortalizing American oddballs. full review
  112. Tiny Furniture 2010 Dunham definitely has a knack for shaping a comic scene, but Aura is so culturally and financially privileged that her woes begin to seem as trivial as the miniatures her mother uses in her artwork. full review
  113. Beeswax 2009 Makes up in depth for what it sacrifices in breadth. full review
  114. Antichrist 2009 I can't deny this is filled with powerfully primal images. full review
  115. Best Worst Movie 2009 Troll 2 has become a midnight favorite, and Stephenson looks at the phenomenon while catching up with his profoundly untalented costars and the grouchy Italian director. full review
  116. The Boys Are Back 2009 A substantial performance from Clive Owen rescues what might otherwise have been a fairly gooey fatherhood drama. full review
  117. Bruno 2009 Inevitably, this follow-up to Cohen's guerrilla mockumentary hit is a substantial letdown, lacking the novelty of its predecessor. full review
  118. Fish Tank 2009 Unfolds as a conventional coming-of-age story, yet Andrea Arnold hasn't altered her persuasively jaundiced view of men, who seem as pitifully helpless against their horndog urges as the women foolish enough to care for them. full review
  119. Great Directors 2009 Though her choice of interview subjects is so random and the discourse so broad that this 2009 documentary never really arrives anywhere... it delights from start to finish and then evaporates. full review
  120. The House of the Devil 2009 In keeping with his models, West is concerned with not suspense exactly but the ritual withholding and ultimate lavishing of bloody chaos. full review
  121. The Limits of Control 2009 The movie's main pleasure lies in the early scenes, which mix the filmmaker's familiar deadpan humor with an Antonioni-like sense of arid emptiness and conundrum. full review
  122. Ondine 2009 The characters' needs are so simple they're almost mysterious, and the story traces an elusive line between fond fantasy and harsh reality. full review
  123. The Perfect Game 2009 Well-meaning but thick with cliches. full review
  124. The Road 2009 Hillcoat gives [the postapocalypse] an unnerving solidity by focusing on the drab details of survival and linking them to the more hellish aspects of modern American life. full review
  125. The Secret of Kells 2009 This Irish feature won't impress anyone with its character drawings, but the backgrounds remind us what stunning imagery once resulted from nothing more than a pen and all the time in the world. full review
  126. World's Greatest Dad 2009 With his delicate mix of sick humor and compassion, Goldthwait is that rare comic writer who can legitimately be compared to Lenny Bruce. full review
  127. Bronson 2008 Refn presents this jolly madman in a variety of showbiz fantasies (wearing clown makeup, addressing a packed theater) to tease out the weird disjuncture between his penal isolation and his tabloid fame in the UK. full review
  128. Bulletproof Salesman 2008 Tucker and Epperlein seem pretty close to exhausting their cache of footage, though the resulting story isn't without interest. full review
  129. Constantine's Sword 2008 The breadth of Carroll's scholarship and the depth of his religious understanding strengthen his assertion that our misadventure in Iraq is the beginning of a new holy war. full review
  130. Deal 2008 A product of the recent poker craze, this can't compare with the movie that helped launch it, John Dahl's tense Rounders. full review
  131. Diminished Capacity 2008 Sherwood Kiraly's slight script only makes this embarrassment of riches seem more embarrassing. full review
  132. Happy-Go-Lucky 2008 Leigh pushes the story in a more interesting direction, asking whether people find happiness or simply will it on themselves. full review
  133. Let the Right One In 2008 The Scandinavian moodiness of the first half gives way to a series of jolting set pieces in the second. full review
  134. Man on Wire 2008 In archival photos Petit seems to float between the towers, a tiny black figure against a vivid blue sky; the images are all the more poignant for the unstated fact that Petit is still around when the buildings aren't. full review
  135. Momma's Man 2008 This simple but assured indie drama about the safety of childhood and the necessity of leaving it is particularly affecting because writer-director Azazel Jacobs draws so heavily on his own life. full review
  136. Sex Drive 2008 The bar for teen-sex comedies has never been very high, but this one clears it and then some. full review
  137. Star Wars: The Clone Wars 2008 Without the grandiose narrative structure of the six live-action releases, this feels even more pointless, a mechanical attempt to milk the kids for every last dime. full review
  138. Valkyrie 2008 As a suspense movie, this works pretty well. full review
  139. Before the Rains 2007 Producer Ismail Merchant died in 2005, but Merchant Ivory's stuffy tradition of quality lives on. full review
  140. Cidade dos Homens (City of Men) 2007 The story might have been lifted from an old Warner Brothers melodrama, though it's smartly paced, sincerely delivered, and consistently absorbing. full review
  141. Civic Duty 2007 Echoes of Rear Window abound, but any audience sympathy for the self-appointed detective is thwarted by Krause's typically sulky performance. full review
  142. Eagle vs. Shark 2007 The movie's idea of funny is giving the two lovers identical moles bordering their upper lips. full review
  143. Flawless 2007 Screenwriter Edward Anderson drops the South African angle in favor of more conventional developments and has a hard time bringing this across the finish line without a number of implausibilities. full review
  144. For the Bible Tells Me So 2007 Progressive clergy provide enough historical context to neutralize the handful of Bible verses prohibiting homosexual acts, but Karslake never confronts the broader issues of sexuality and procreation that bedevil even moderate Christians. full review
  145. Helvetica 2007 The computer revolution may have democratized graphic design, letting anyone decorate his own desktop or MySpace page, but a certain amount of conformity is necessary for society to function. full review
  146. Hot Rod 2007 Samberg can't carry this, though director Akiva Schaffer supplies some hilarious, Jackass-style wipeouts. full review
  147. The Hunting Party 2007 The action plot is lousy with cliched suspense scenes of back-road executions halted at the last possible instant. full review
  148. Lars and the Real Girl 2007 Both hilarious and poignant, with a Capraesque humanity that caught me completely off guard. full review
  149. No End in Sight 2007 Ferguson is admirably tenacious in assigning blame for the boneheaded mistakes that have doomed Iraqi reconstruction. full review
  150. Sangre De Mi Sangre 2007 Christopher Zalla, a graduate of the film program at Columbia University, makes an impressive debut with this suspense feature about illegal immigrants and stolen identity. full review
  151. Year of the Dog 2007 Despite the gimmicky direction and a disappointing climax, this is a distinctive and unsettling comedy. full review
  152. Cashback 2006 [Director] Ellis has rounded up all the actors for this feature adaptation but doesn't add much to the 18-minute original besides a tedious boy-meets-girl. full review
  153. Click 2006 This comic fantasy is the best vehicle he's ever had, a high-concept goof that gradually darkens into an emotional nightmare reminiscent of Capra. full review
  154. Failure to Launch 2006 The movie's notion of humor is exemplified by Bradshaw's extended nude scene. full review
  155. Golden Door 2006 The folkloric tone that seemed so pretentious in [Respiro] is powerfully effective here. full review
  156. Jesus Camp 2006 Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady lump all evangelicals together, failing to distinguish the more fundamentalist Pentecostals, and they've clumsily inserted some unnecessary editorializing from talk-radio host Mike Papantonio. full review
  157. Maxed Out 2006 This muckraking documentary on America's personal-debt crisis lays bare the predatory practices of credit card companies and the Bush administration's cozy relationship with the financial services industry. full review
  158. 49 Up 2005 This seventh installment is utterly fascinating, drawing heavily on footage from the previous movies to follow each child on the journey into middle age. full review
  159. Factotum 2005 In cherry-picking the more filmable episodes from the novel, Hamer and Stark have constructed a sort of poor man's Barfly, with an emphasis on drunken mischief. full review
  160. Into Great Silence 2005 This 2005 feature is demanding to say the least, but its pulse-slowing rhythms leave a real sense of peace. full review
  161. Mean Girls 2004 Lacks the genuine bile that made Heathers so bracing. full review
  162. The Battle of Shaker Heights 2003 After the movie scored poorly at a test screening, Miramax vice president Rick Schwartz bullied directors Efram Potelle and Kyle Rankin into playing up the comedic elements and soft-pedaling the family drama. full review
  163. Brother Bear 2003 Modest but guileless. full review
  164. Darkness Falls 2003 It begins with not one but two prologues; one character turns up out of nowhere, his introduction no doubt left on the cutting-room floor; and the paltry 85-minute running time includes 15 minutes of end credits. full review
  165. Dirty Pretty Things 2003 An impressive mix of entertainment and social comment, spinning a great mystery even as it confronts an ugly world. full review
  166. Love Actually 2003 This is cloying, deceitful, and more or less irresistible. full review
  167. My Boss's Daughter 2003 I believe in a movie's right to die. full review
  168. Timeline 2003 This big-budget adventure is based on a recent Michael Crichton thriller, though its premise is too stale to instill the sense of wonder critical to great sci-fi. full review
  169. Tokyo Godfathers 2003 Japanese animator Satoshi Kon has a striking sense of composition, but I'm more impressed by his storytelling skills. full review
  170. Narc 2002 As a director Carnahan definitely has the goods... Unfortunately the script is your basic renegade-cop narrative, with the usual hoo-ha about justice versus the law. full review
  171. Spider-Man 2002 Unfortunately the film, like many of its ilk, is driven by special effects, and there's a serious disconnect between Maguire's sweet-natured dialogue and Spider-Man's pounding violence and stunning acrobatic work. full review
  172. Star Trek - Nemesis 2002 Reasonably entertaining if utterly familiar. full review
  173. Dil Chahta Hai 2001 full review
  174. Shaolin Soccer 2001 A spirited crowd-pleaser. full review
  175. Planes, Trains and Automobiles 1987 Pretty dispensable. full review

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