instantwatcher.com

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

  1. 20 Feet From Stardom 2013 Their voices are powerful enough to tear you apart and put you back together again, and their stories will do the same. full review
  2. The Act Of Killing 2013 It's a mind-bending film, devastating and disorienting, that disturbs us in ways we're not used to being disturbed ... full review
  3. The Attack 2013 Though it's never less than involving, it grows in stature as it unfolds and ends as a more subtle and disturbing film about love, loss and tragedy than we might initially expect. full review
  4. Caesar Must Die 2013 Ranks among the most involving adaptations of Shakespeare ever put on screen ... full review
  5. Europa Report 2013 "Europa Report" is a Grade A version of a B picture, a streamlined science fiction story that smartly tells a familiar tale without breaking the bank. full review
  6. Frances Ha 2013 An American independent film (shot in luminous black and white by Sam Levy) that feels off the cuff but is in fact exactly made by a filmmaker in total control of his resources. full review
  7. Gimme The Loot 2013 "Gimme the Loot" shouldn't be as appealing and exuberant as it is, it really shouldn't. full review
  8. A Hijacking 2013 "A Hijacking" is as lean, focused and to the point as its title. full review
  9. Inequality For All 2013 Smart, funny and articulate, Robert Reich is the university professor we all wish we'd had. He's so accessible and entertaining he takes a subject that sounds soporific and makes it come alive like you wouldn't believe in "Inequality for All." full review
  10. The Last Days On Mars 2013 Lean, muscular and on the money, The Last Days on Mars takes a familiar story and tells it so tautly that we are pleased to be on board. full review
  11. Let The Fire Burn 2013 It earns its considerable impact by telling an unnerving story and leaving it, in ways both daring and effective, fundamentally unresolved. full review
  12. Narco Cultura 2013 This dispassionate but devastating film looks at the drug wars from two very different but chillingly complementary perspectives. full review
  13. Populaire 2013 The less seriously the genial French comedy "Populaire" takes itself, the more amusing it is. Fortunately, with small exceptions, this film doesn't take itself very seriously at all. full review
  14. Red Obsession 2013 "Red Obsession" gains interest as it delineates how the production and sale of first-growth Bordeaux has become the biggest of businesses and how the Chinese may or may not fit into the picture. full review
  15. Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf's 2013 Though partly funded by one of the descendants of the store's founder, director Matthew Miele has made a lively, clever, fast-moving film that isn't overly reverential about its subject. full review
  16. Side Effects 2013 If this does prove to be Soderbergh's final film - and I wouldn't hold my breath - he picked a heck of a one to go out on. full review
  17. Somm 2013 We've seen these guys torture themselves so much, we inevitably get emotionally involved in the final verdict, and drinking to their success is what we'd all like to do. full review
  18. The Square 2013 "The Square" bears witness to history in an articulate, thoughtful and intensely dramatic way. full review
  19. The Summit 2013 A complex and gut-clenching human drama that has the great advantage of all being true. full review
  20. The Sweeney 2013 A briskly involving British crime entertainment of the old school. You've seen the type, and more than once, but the genre still has enough juice to take us for a ride. full review
  21. A Touch of Sin 2013 A corrosive depiction of the New China, an everything-for-sale society still figuring out how to cope with the dehumanizing effects of unbridled capitalism. full review
  22. Upstream Color 2013 Being completely understood at first glance is not on creator Shane Carruth's agenda, but while this may sound upsetting, it turns out to be quite the opposite. full review
  23. Venus And Serena 2013 What is clear, over and above everything else, is that these women, who are often in need of a best friend, have it in each other. full review
  24. War Witch 2013 The powerful things we expect from "War Witch" are as advertised, but what we don't expect is even better. full review
  25. 56 Up 2012 To see "56 Up" is to be reunited with an old friend. full review
  26. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry 2012 The story is enthralling, but it's not over, and there's no telling where it's going. Which makes what we see on screen all the more involving. full review
  27. The Ambassador 2012 Part muckraking nonfiction film, part performance piece, it is a nervy documentary guaranteed, depending on who you are, to enlighten, disturb or offend. full review
  28. Ballplayer: Pelotero 2012 It's an eye-opening look at a flawed, potentially exploitative system and how it is being gamed from all sides of the table -- the story of the collision of youthful dreams and a cutthroat adult cartel. full review
  29. Barbara 2012 It's one terrific film, as smart, thoughtful and emotionally involving as just about anything that's out there. full review
  30. Blancanieves 2012 In an attempt to be both modern and traditional, this gorgeously made film ends up betwixt and between. full review
  31. Brooklyn Castle 2012 It's a wonderful documentary look at an astonishingly successful public-school chess program that manages to be more moving and heartening than you expect. Which is saying a lot. full review
  32. The Central Park Five 2012 A careful, thoughtful documentary that meticulously re-creates what happened on that night and details how and why everything went so terribly off-course. full review
  33. Fame High 2012 Fame may be fleeing, but the kids in "Fame High" will stay with you. full review
  34. The Flat 2012 It tells an out-of-the-ordinary personal story and examines broad historical issues of societal memory and selective amnesia, of what is hidden between generations and what is revealed. full review
  35. Flight 2012 A solid, often engrossing film that doesn't engage us overall the way Denzel Washington's work does. full review
  36. For Ellen 2012 "For Ellen" is a small but exquisite film, beautifully observed and impeccably executed. full review
  37. High Ground 2012 "High Ground" is a moving documentary that is both the film it presents itself to be and something more. full review
  38. The Hunger Games 2012 If, as the ads suggest, the whole world will be watching this, viewers will likely be satisfied with what they see. full review
  39. The Imposter 2012 This is a train wreck you think you see coming, but no matter how prepared you are the nature and extent of the damage will overwhelm you. full review
  40. The Invisible War 2012 What happened to these women after the rape often shocks and disturbs them as much as the physical act itself. full review
  41. The Island President 2012 "The Island President"is heartening and unsettling by turns. full review
  42. Jiro Dreams of Sushi 2012 "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"is as elegant and tasty as the splendid sushi prepared by the man in the title, and that is saying a lot full review
  43. Marley 2012 The enormous popularity of the transcendent reggae superstar shows no signs of abating, a situation"Marley," a moving and authoritative new documentary, takes as its mission to illustrate and explain. full review
  44. Monsieur Lazhar 2012 This film deals almost casually with a range of issues and themes, handling with a light and even affectionate touch weighty subjects like grief, guilt, community and love. full review
  45. Of Two Minds 2012 "Of Two Minds" does give a vivid picture of what life is like for these folks, though it has a tendency to take unnecessary detours to other interviewees and to reveal a little too much about the intimate lives of the three key subjects. full review
  46. The Other Dream Team 2012 A sports film to remember. full review
  47. A Royal Affair 2012 This highly polished costume drama is exceptionally well-made and a model of intelligent restraint, but it is also unapologetically earnest and a bit on the bloodless side. full review
  48. Safety Not Guaranteed 2012 Because nothing plays out as anticipated, this off-balance project comes fully alive on screen in a way a written summary can't capture. full review
  49. Samsara 2012 The makers of "Samsara" want to free our minds, but their technique makes us their prisoners more often than not. full review
  50. This Is Not a Film 2012 Fascinating for what it signifies as much as what it shows, "This Is Not a Film" illustrates how Panahi is struggling to stay alive creatively and, paradoxically, can't help but demonstrate how much of a natural filmmaker he is. full review
  51. An African Election 2011 The film team had a gift for being where the electoral action was, and for seeing what was transpiring with an astute eye. full review
  52. First Position 2011 These performers are so young, so serious, so full of dreams and so hard on themselves that it is difficult not to be moved by their striving. full review
  53. Footloose 2011 Stays remarkably close to its predecessor in all the ways that count. full review
  54. Gerhard Richter Painting 2011 A mesmerizing look behind the curtain at a magician at work, a man who creates his enchantments not with a deck of cards or puffs of smoke but rather paint, brushes, canvas and a giant squeegee. full review
  55. Goodbye First Love 2011 When we watch Hansen-Love's films, we're not only experiencing a life unfolding before us, we're also realizing what a great privilege it is to be able to do that. full review
  56. The Interrupters 2011 It tears at your heart with its depiction of the intractability of the problem. But it simultaneously insists, and makes you believe, that change is possible one person at a time. full review
  57. Klitschko 2011 Though this artful film by German documentarian Sebastian Dehnhardt does not stint on inside-the-ring footage, its main attraction is the intense interpersonal dynamic between the brothers. full review
  58. One Lucky Elephant 2011 How affected are these animals by the physical pain of being trained or by childhood trauma? Can they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder? What can trigger that if they can? All these questions are raised and, quite appropriately, left open. full review
  59. Page One: Inside the New York Times 2011 Watching "Page One: Inside the New York Times" is like talking to a smart person with a severe case of attention deficit disorder: A lot of what they say is intriguing, but you wish they could stick to the point. full review
  60. Pearl Jam Twenty 2011 By the time "Pearl Jam Twenty" is over we can't help but be impressed by the kind of personal and professional integrity that has kept the band honest and allowed them to endure and prosper. full review
  61. Pina 2011 Whether you're familiar with Pina Bausch's work or not, the new film "Pina" is a knockout. full review
  62. Undefeated 2011 "Undefeated" presents itself as a look at a single season in the life of a striving high school football team in impoverished North Memphis, Tenn., but really it's about so much more. full review
  63. We Were Here 2011 This clear-eyed and soulful documentary brings us inside the contagion in a way that is so intimate, so personal, you feel like you're hearing about these catastrophic events for the first time. full review
  64. The Women on the 6th Floor 2011 The French have a knack for it. They've been making funny and agreeable movie farces for forever, and seeing "The Women on the 6th Floor" makes you hope they'll never stop. full review
  65. You've Been Trumped 2011 "You've Been Trumped" is a potent study of the intimidating power of money not in theory but on the ground, an examination of how a wealthy man with a boundless sense of entitlement can strong-arm all opposition without really breaking a sweat. full review
  66. Bhutto 2010 Benazir Bhutto had a life that makes fiction pale by comparison. full review
  67. Bill Cunningham New York 2010 Obsessive artists often create exceptional bodies of work. full review
  68. Cave of Forgotten Dreams 2010 The director is excellent at contextualizing these venerable wall paintings, at discussing them with a variety of scientists in a way that allows us to think about them with a perspective we otherwise might not have. full review
  69. City of Life and Death 2010 It's a film strong enough to change your life, if you can bear to watch it at all. full review
  70. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer 2010 A sad, disturbing and in some ways tragic tale that in its lurid combination of sex and politics, banal hypocrisy and bare-knuckles power, seems very much an American story of our times. full review
  71. Countdown to Zero 2010 Walker adroitly mixes extensive newsreel footage, lively graphics and talking-head interviews with dozens of people, from scientists to think tank folks to world leaders... full review
  72. The Art Of The Steal 2009 No matter what side you're on, you're likely to be flabbergasted as The Art of the Steal details the twists and turns of chicanery and fate that brought his art to the pass it's at today. full review
  73. Crude 2009 What Crude does best is take us behind the scenes and show in often candid detail how campaigns are waged, tactics decided on and strategies prioritized. full review
  74. Great Directors 2009 If you are able to block out the director's intrusiveness, these people, edited down from 250 hours to 86 minutes, do say some interesting things. full review
  75. The Secret of Kells 2009 A glorious throwback to the more stylized, painterly work of decades past, the kind of vividly colored, fanciful pictorials that are usually confined to the small-scale realm of animated shorts. full review
  76. Man on Wire 2008 They say that seeing is believing, but Man on Wire will make you doubt what your eyes are telling you -- it really will -- as you shake your head in amazement and awe. full review
  77. Rachel Getting Married 2008 A filmmaker for nearly 35 years, [Demme] has both the experience and the temperament to be a hang-loose perfectionist with this kind of off-the-cuff yet pointed material. full review
  78. Valkyrie 2008 Valkyrie is made with impeccable professionalism and, flying in the face of years of Internet hysteria, is a perfectly acceptable motion picture. The only thing that keeps it from even greater accomplishments may be inherent in the story itself. full review
  79. Beaufort 2007 One of the strongest examples yet of a fearless new wave that has made Israel's cinema a force on the international scene. full review
  80. Mr. Untouchable 2007 Less a dispassionate examination than a celebratory infomercial on its central character. full review
  81. The Rape of Europa 2007 Surprisingly vast and involving. full review
  82. Surfwise 2007 An honest look at a complicated human situation,... it turns out to be a darker film than might be expected. full review
  83. Trumbo 2007 Trumbo is an unconventional film about an unconventional man. full review
  84. Akeelah and the Bee 2006 It's a successful feel-good movie, but it would make you feel even better if it didn't push quite so hard for its desired effects. full review
  85. Jesus Camp 2006 Whether you are a religious, churchgoing person or not, if you are the least bit liberal or tolerant in your world view, this has got to be one of the most unnerving films of the year. full review
  86. The Wind That Shakes the Barley 2006 Loach has the gift of finding the intensely moving private emotions in broad, societal dilemmas. He does that with his fine new film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, and he does a few new things as well. full review
  87. The Constant Gardener 2005 A film that grips us dramatically, intellectually and emotionally. full review
  88. Get Rich or Die Tryin' 2005 The film's inability to resist the lure of maximum exploitation becomes frustrating. full review
  89. Into Great Silence 2005 Though it likely will not persuade people to join the ranks, experiencing life behind the walls has an undeniable effect. We've been allowed a glimpse of eternity. And who would not be changed by that? full review
  90. Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price 2005 Greenwald has shrewdly chosen not to go with classic talking head types like economists, academics and journalists. Instead he talked to current and former Wal-Mart employees, including several with a dozen or more years with the company. full review
  91. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room 2004 It's a chilling, completely fascinating documentary that reveals the face of unregulated greed in a way that's every bit as terrifying as Lon Chaney's unmasking in The Phantom of the Opera. Maybe more so, because everything here is true. full review
  92. Hotel Rwanda 2004 A film that uses the comfort of the predictable to make horror palatable to a wider audience. full review
  93. Control Room 2003 A glimpse of a world where everything is reversed, where our most cherished preconceptions are called into question and reality proves to be a more complex business than we imagined. full review
  94. CSA: Confederate States of America 2003 CSA is rough around the edges, especially where the acting and some of the film's invented characters are concerned. But the way CSA works out its ideas is so provoking that its drawbacks are not difficult to ignore. full review
  95. Saints and Soldiers 2003 Though Saints and Soldiers' examination of faith, self-sacrifice and morality is not groundbreaking, it always holds our interest. full review
  96. Along Came a Spider 2001 Reasonably diverting. full review
  97. 28 Days 2000 28 Days is too glib too often to make much of an impression any way you look at it. full review
  98. The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle 2000 The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle is completely in the spirit of its progenitor. full review
  99. All the Pretty Horses 2000 In an odd way Pretty Horses has been too faithful to the spirit of this somber, fatalistic, melancholy romance, too much a stubborn ode to stoicism, to light any emotional fires. full review
  100. Committed 2000 With its capacity to surprise, the film comes to life when you don't expect it to. full review
  101. Diamond Men 2000 Watching Diamond Men, it's easy to see what the fuss about Forster is about. full review
  102. Love's Labour's Lost 2000 Worst of all perhaps is Lost's smug air of pleasure at how clever it thinks it's being. full review
  103. Mission: Impossible 2 2000 Once Woo unleashes his bad self and ignites the proceedings here, once the glass shatters, the flames erupt, the gunshots ricochet and the doves fly, all is well with M:I-2. full review
  104. Our Song 2000 Takes familiar material and develops it with such tact and skill that we find ourselves moved and sort of amazed at the same time. full review
  105. Reindeer Games (Deception) 2000 The games it plays are more ambitious than successful. full review
  106. Shaft 2000 The current version tries awfully hard but with little success to create a Shaft for this day and age. full review
  107. The General's Daughter 1999 A middling, so-so thriller. full review
  108. Girl, Interrupted 1999 What helps the film stay as honest as it manages to sporadically be are the purity and grace of its lead performances by Ryder and Angelina Jolie. full review
  109. The Haunting 1999 full review
  110. In Too Deep 1999 Aaron and Brown's script resounds throughout with astringent dialogue and stark authenticity. full review
  111. Mansfield Park 1999 Though it's never dull, this Mansfield Park has too much of its own agenda and too little of Austen's to completely succeed. full review
  112. The Ninth Gate 1999 full review
  113. Runaway Bride 1999 Flawed and unpleasant! full review
  114. Stuart Little 1999 There's nothing very involving about this Rob Minkoff-directed effort. full review
  115. The Thomas Crown Affair 1999 Russo's decade of sidekick-cupcake roles has never before given her the opportunity to create the kind of believable, engaging genre character she comes up with here. full review
  116. Antz 1998 Antz is brief enough, clocking in at 83 minutes, but its story is too predictable to make an impact even in such a short space. full review
  117. Clay Pigeons 1998 "You've got a sense of humor, I like that," Lester Long proclaims at one point. Well, we all like that, but would it be asking too much to have a little coherence to go along with it? full review
  118. Gods and Monsters 1998 full review
  119. Little Voice 1998 full review
  120. The Prince of Egypt 1998 The 400-member-strong Prince of Egypt team (led by directors Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner and Simon Wells and ramrodded by executive producer Jeffrey Katzenberg) have created a succession of visual wonders. full review
  121. Shakespeare in Love 1998 A happy conceit smoothly executed, this is one of those entertaining confections that's so pleasing to the eye and ear you'd have to be a genuine Scrooge to struggle against it. full review
  122. Velvet Goldmine 1998 full review
  123. Waking Ned Devine 1998 If this film doesn't make you want to smile, you've no one to blame but yourself. full review
  124. Amistad 1997 full review
  125. The Apostle 1997 full review
  126. As Good As It Gets 1997 It's a mark of how magically written, directed and acted As Good as It Gets is that we end up loving this film despite knowing how haphazard, scattershot and almost indefinable its charm is. full review
  127. Donnie Brasco 1997 Though the outline of what the film has tried to do is visible, so little feels at stake emotionally that anyone intending to care about these characters would be well advised, for want of a better phrase, to simply fhuggedaboudit. full review
  128. The Frighteners 1997 Fortunately director Jackson, at home with all kinds of excess, keeps everything spinning nicely, not even losing a step when the mood turns increasingly disturbing. full review
  129. Hercules 1997 Light on its feet and continually amusing, this free-spirited show-biz version of Greek mythology ranks with the best of modern Disney animation. full review
  130. The Ice Storm 1997 It's unfortunate that as capable a team as director Lee and screenwriter-producer Schamus should have become fascinated with such unpromising material. full review
  131. Jackie Brown 1997 A leisurely and easygoing diversion that goes down easy enough but is far from compelling. full review
  132. A Life Less Ordinary 1997 full review
  133. Mrs. Brown 1997 full review
  134. The Peacemaker 1997 full review
  135. The Wings of the Dove 1997 full review
  136. Michael Collins 1996 Jordan always had 6-foot-4 Liam Neeson in mind to play the man they called "the Big Fellow," and it's more than size that makes Neeson fit the part of a leader known for his "cloudburst temperament." full review
  137. 101 Dalmatians 1996 full review
  138. Basquiat 1996 full review
  139. Big Night 1996 As delicately and deliciously prepared as the dishes it features, Big Night is a lyric to the love of food, family and persuasive acting. full review
  140. The English Patient 1996 The English Patient captivates as only the grandest and most consuming passions can. full review
  141. Fargo 1996 Chief Gunderson was created by the Coens specifically for Frances McDormand ... and they've been rewarded by a brilliant and unblinking comic performance. full review
  142. The Ghost and the Darkness 1996 Can't transcend a too-familiar script. full review
  143. The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1996 Like another famous tale set in Paris, Disney's animated version of Victor Hugo's venerable The Hunchback of Notre Dame is the best of times and, if not really the worst of times, something uncomfortably close to it. full review
  144. James and the Giant Peach 1996 In general the magic as well as the heart of Roald Dahl's novel has remained stubbornly on the page, leaving us with this overly mechanical copy, as appetizing as a once-flavorful peach that's been in cold storage for far too long. full review
  145. Looking for Richard 1996 While there's no harm in attempting to make Shakespeare more accessible, it's hard to imagine this film exciting anyone except Pacino's fans and those who are fatally charmed by celebrity actors. full review
  146. Love Serenade 1996 full review
  147. Pocahontas 1996 Adult viewers, spoiled by what has come before, may feel that this film, which relates the legendary romance between a chief's daughter and English adventurer John Smith in the New World, is more by-the-numbers than inspired. full review
  148. Ridicule 1996 full review
  149. Trainspotting 1996 Exuberant and pitiless, profane yet eloquent, flush with the ability to create laughter out of unspeakable situations, "Trainspotting" is a drop-dead look at a dead-end lifestyle that has all the strength of its considerable contradictions. full review
  150. A Very Brady Sequel 1996 full review
  151. Bad Boys 1995 Given how much good Bad Boys is going to do for Martin Lawrence's feature career, it's a pity the film couldn't do any more for itself. full review
  152. The Brady Bunch Movie 1995 The Brady Bunch Movie is never more than lightly amusing, but then neither was the TV show. full review
  153. Clockers 1995 Helping make these points is as strong a cast as Lee has yet worked with. full review
  154. Congo 1995 The entire tone of the book has been transformed from tension to tongue-in-cheek with dismal results. full review
  155. The Crossing Guard 1995 full review
  156. Desperado 1995 What Rodriguez has essentially done in Desperado is make a slicker, more expensive copy of what came before. And what looked promising for $7,000 looks tiresome for a whole lot more. full review
  157. Devil in a Blue Dress 1995 A fluid, persuasive piece of movie-making graced with the considerable visual sophistication. full review
  158. Sense and Sensibility 1995 The sensibility may be a bit off, but there is more than enough sense involved in this mid-Atlantic Austen to make up the difference. full review
  159. Strange Days 1995 Though the creators of Strange Days may well be interested in its dramatic and thematic elements, they do not have the same touch for these moments as they do for camera pyrotechnics. full review
  160. Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead 1995 full review
  161. The Usual Suspects 1995 But like a tale from the Arabian Nights, told for the sheer pleasure of storytelling, this elegant puzzle not only enjoys showing off, it also has something to show. full review
  162. Country Life 1994 full review
  163. Nobody's Fool 1994 Moviegoing holds few pleasures greater than watching an established star completely inhabit a role that exactly suits his personality and abilities. And seeing Paul Newman in Nobody's Fool defines that pleasure. full review
  164. A League of Their Own 1992 Though amusing enough to avoid absolutely drowning in schmaltz, it's sad to see a film with potential lose its way in the late innings. full review
  165. Becket 1964 While peripheral elements of Becket do show their age, the core of the film's appeal remains incandescent, and that is the on-screen collaboration between Burton and O'Toole. full review