Peter Howell, Toronto Star

  1. 20 Feet From Stardom 2013 You know all those doo-doo-doos and whoa-whoas-whoas you hear in pop hits? Without them, supplied by the likes of Darlene Love and Merry Clayton, you likely wouldn't be singing along to the songs you hear on your car radio. full review
  2. Adore 2013 There's an undeniable "ick" factor to this film that overwhelms the justifiable cougar angle. Even worse is the boredom that soon sets in. full review
  3. Antiviral 2013 Obviously influenced by his dad David's early work but also showing a strong personal style, Brandon Cronenberg's feature debut is a body-horror satire with a point - a needle point. full review
  4. Berberian Sound Studio 2013 Radishes, cabbages and melons meet horrific ends in Berberian Sound Studio, a down-the-earhole psychodrama where what you hear is more terrifying than what you see. full review
  5. Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me 2013 The film certainly gives the band its due, but it will likely appeal more to Big Star cultists, ones eager for minutia about recording and business deals. full review
  6. Blue Is The Warmest Color 2013 One of the year's best films. full review
  7. Caesar Must Die 2013 There's barely a wasted moment in the film, which runs a brisk 76 minutes and contains no female roles. full review
  8. Cockneys vs Zombies 2013 Stereotype collides with cliche in Cockneys vs. Zombies, but the impact isn't as painful as you might imagine. full review
  9. Computer Chess 2013 Presenting itself as a sort of found-footage movie for geeks, this amusing and thoughtful oddity by writer-director-editor Andrew Bujalski is upfront in form but more stealth in content and intent. full review
  10. The Croods 2013 Neither as thrilling nor as funny as it ought to be. full review
  11. Cutie And The Boxer 2013 More than anything, the film expresses - at an almost subconscious level - the difficulties of discerning not only what real art is, but also what true love is all about. full review
  12. Dead Man Down 2013 The cautionary adage about weaving tangled webs in the process of deception certainly applies to Dead Man Down, an overwrought thriller brought to ground by its own contrivances. full review
  13. Escape From Planet Earth 2013 A sci-fi chuckler that somehow manages to elude tedium, despite being a revisionist rip of rival 'toons, from Pixar on down. full review
  14. Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story 2013 The film's talking heads format grinds on at times, but at least the quotes are good and occasionally even shocking. full review
  15. The Fruit Hunters 2013 More of a buffet spread than a single plate. But every morsel is worth a taste. full review
  16. Future Weather 2013 Smart casting redeems the film. full review
  17. The Grandmaster 2013 Ip Man's story has been told many times before by other filmmakers. Wong builds upon it, establishing the noble fighter as a reflective but still ferocious grandmaster in 1936 in Foshan, Ip Man's home city in southern China. full review
  18. I Killed My Mother 2013 What makes it extraordinary is its depth of feeling, which Dolan's age makes all the more impressive: he was just 19 when he made this. full review
  19. Inequality For All 2013 Inequality for All is intelligent, persuasive and accessible, a gentle but urgent clarion call to action. full review
  20. It's a Disaster 2013 You need better dialogue than Berger supplies to help It's a Disaster make a liar out of its title. full review
  21. The Last Days On Mars 2013 The acting is convincing across the board, especially Schrieber's, despite being saddled with such dialogue inanities as saying "you're gonna be all right" to a crewmate who is zombifying before his very eyes. full review
  22. Let The Fire Burn 2013 Eschews talking-heads tradition in its potent examination of the 1985 Philadelphia police firebombing of a radical group known as MOVE. full review
  23. Lovelace 2013 Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman never quite pull it off - although you can see how they might have. full review
  24. Lunarcy! 2013 A lighthearted documentary by Canada's Simon Ennis that examines just how intently some Earthlings fixate upon that glowing grey gem in the night sky. full review
  25. Movie 43 2013 Your laugh mileage may vary (God forbid), but we can all agree on one thing: this is the biggest waste of talent in cinema history. full review
  26. Only God Forgives 2013 It's possibly the least glamorous and also least interesting role Gosling has ever had. It's not likely to expand his fan base much, or Refn's for that matter. full review
  27. Our Nixon 2013 Our Nixon shows that while the stooges were good at scheming (up until Watergate, at least) they sucked as filmmakers. full review
  28. Pieta 2013 A mother's love for her child takes on brutal new meaning in Pieta, a film by Kim Ki-duk that's as hard to watch as it is to forget. full review
  29. Room 237 2013 The human brain is a marvellously suggestible organ. full review
  30. Salinger 2013 Salerno's 10-year trawl through Salinger's closely guarded life gets repetitive, since there are no known film interviews or audiotapes of the author to draw on. full review
  31. Short Term 12 2013 At times Short Term 12 seems uncertain where it's going, but this matches the circumstances of both staff and residents. full review
  32. Side Effects 2013 Side Effects is a cracking thriller that ranks amongst Soderbergh's best, featuring electric performances by Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum. full review
  33. Stand Up Guys 2013 It's just fun to watch Pacino, Walken and Arkin work together, very much enjoying the shared experience. Seeing Stand Up Guys is an offer you could easily refuse, but hey, why fight it? full review
  34. Texas Chainsaw 2013 An effort is made to provide some character definition for Leatherface, which is probably a mistake. He's much scarier as a cipher. full review
  35. A Touch of Sin 2013 Fists are raised, pistols are cocked and knives are brandished in Jia Zhangke's dystopian and throbbing take on modern China. full review
  36. Upside Down 2013 A Romeo and Juliet story for the age of CGI overkill, Upside Down zigs where it should zag and dulls where it should dazzle. full review
  37. Upstream Color 2013 Meanings are multiple, debatable and ultimately pointless. What really impresses about Upstream Color is Carruth's confident navigation of this fast river of ideas ... full review
  38. The World Before Her 2013 Extreme choices and attitudes confronting women in India are laid bare in Nisha Pahuja's quietly shocking film, the Best Canadian Feature winner at Hot Docs 2012. full review
  39. 388 Arletta Avenue 2012 The visuals in Randall Cole's paranoia chiller 388 Arletta Avenue evoke Michael Haneke's Cache and Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window in the way they make domesticity seem terrifying. full review
  40. All Together 2012 And If We All Lived Together? is just fine as it is. full review
  41. Alps 2012 ALPS is a real mind trip with strong acting, and it leaves you to wonder what Lanthimos and Filippou will do next. full review
  42. The Awakening 2012 It's routine stuff as horror setups go, especially if you've seen such obvious influences as The Orphanage and The Others. full review
  43. Bully 2012 Hirsch's documentary truly shocks by the two sets of outrageous bureaucrats it exposes: one cowers on-screen, and the other hides in the offices of the MPAA, America's movie censor. full review
  44. Cafe de Flore 2012 Cafe de flore leaves you wrestling with your emotions, not sure of how to react. full review
  45. Collaborator 2012 What really matters is the interplay between two fine actors, the icy Donovan and the fiery Morse. full review
  46. Dark Horse 2012 As awful as Abe is, you can't help rooting for him as he struggles to get his life in order, all while his vivid fantasy world seems to be closing in on him. full review
  47. Detropia 2012 Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, Oscar-nominated for their earlier Jesus Camp, aim a compassionate and artful lens in their new documentary Detropia, finding signs of life in the ruined city. full review
  48. The Devil Inside 2012 Here it is just the first week of January, and already we have a strong candidate for the worst movie of 2012. full review
  49. The Expendables 2 2012 They all take turns playing the clown - and for the most part, it's fun to watch them at it, even if the body count is distressingly high. full review
  50. The Forgiveness of Blood 2012 A heartbreaking Albanian film that counts the toll a family feud takes on all involved. full review
  51. The Grey 2012 As stripped of colour as its title, apart from the red of flowing blood and burning eyes, The Grey urges contemplation on man as the human animal, one suddenly cast into the wilderness where real beasts dwell. full review
  52. Headhunters 2012 That's some good acting by Hennie, but it's also good writing by co-scribes Lars Gudmestad and Ulf Ryberg. They freshen up familiar caper and thriller tropes, adapting the bestselling prose Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo. full review
  53. Holy Motors 2012 This is the most exhilarating cinema ride of 2012, a marvellously mobile mystery trip. full review
  54. The Intouchables 2012 You don't have to completely buy into the premise of The Intouchables to appreciate the very good acting by Cluzet and Sy. full review
  55. The Island President 2012 The Island President is an important portrait of a determined man standing fast in a place where the ground is literally shifting beneath his feet. full review
  56. Jack Reacher 2012 No worse and maybe a little better than most of the vigilante movies that clutter the multiplex. full review
  57. Madea's Witness Protection 2012 As the incredibly awkward title suggests, Tyler Perry's Madea's Witness Protection is less a movie than it is an exercise in product branding. full review
  58. Marley 2012 It wants to show us the man behind the famous dreads, beatific smile and durable songs of love, hope and longing. In this task it succeeds admirably. full review
  59. One for the Money 2012 To compare this mess to a sitcom would be an insult to sitcoms. full review
  60. The Paperboy 2012 The Paperboy bears some promise as a good-bad movie, but it unfolds as a bad-bad one. full review
  61. Playing for Keeps 2012 Playing for Keeps doesn't play with a full deck. full review
  62. The Raven 2012 If Edgar Allen Poe were alive today, working as a Hollywood screenwriter (God forbid), I suspect he'd be penning not the abysmal script for The Raven but something called The Fall of the House of Cusack. full review
  63. Safe 2012 It's not just laziness - although it's a fair cop - that prompts the observation that Safe is both the worst movie title and attitude for Jason Statham at this stage of his career. full review
  64. Silent Hill: Revelation 2012 Only true devotees of the game are likely to recognize many of the figures on the screen, or care about a byzantine story stitched together from innumerable horror and fantasy shows. full review
  65. Silent House 2012 It wouldn't work without the exceptional work of Olsen. Her uneasily captivating performance here could almost be viewed as the "why" prequel to Martha Marcy May Marlene, the other chiller from Sundance 2011 that established her as rising star to watch. full review
  66. We Have a Pope 2012 Always the star of his movies, even when he shouldn't be, the atheist Moretti gets caught up in his own papal bull. But Piccoli's blessed empathy prevails. full review
  67. The Woman in the Fifth 2012 We are never sure if what we are seeing is actually happening, including the nature scenes that Pawlikowski interjects as contrast to the urban jungle - and also as a symbol of man's animal nature. full review
  68. Apollo 18 2011 Boredom sets in long before the last muted shriek. And who cares about the astros? We never get to know them anyway. full review
  69. The Artist 2011 You can't fault it as smart entertainment, which eschews parody to make a sincere tribute that also serves as cogent current commentary. full review
  70. Breakaway 2011 [A] pleasant timewaster, which has a good cast but a not-so-good script. full review
  71. Hobo With a Shotgun 2011 Hobo with a Shotgun takes on genre filmmaking with a vengeance and a toque. full review
  72. Hugo 2011 Movie magic hangs in the air of Martin Scorsese's Hugo, much like the steam and dust that fills almost every frame. full review
  73. The Interrupters 2011 A sobering but not hopeless look at how the Windy City is attempting to turn around a rising tide of street shooting, through the work of a unique group called CeaseFire. full review
  74. Into The Abyss 2011 Herzog is pursuing no agenda with Into the Abyss, despite his opposition to extreme judicial measures. He's seeking to answer the question of why people kill, especially in a situation such as this where the reason for the murders was so meaningless. full review
  75. The Iron Lady 2011 Streep gets under the skin of one of the 20th century's most dynamic and also most contained personalities. full review
  76. My Week with Marilyn 2011 Curtis occasionally takes his characters out of Pinewood, but they're never really set free, either in physical or emotional terms. full review
  77. Our Idiot Brother 2011 A film that offers dumb fun, but in reality may be crazy like a fox. full review
  78. Paranormal Activity 3 2011 Series creator Oren Peli and his conscripts have managed to do it again, but you have to wonder how far they can continue to push this found-footage angle. full review
  79. Pearl Jam Twenty 2011 Cameron Crowe's chronicle of the Seattle grunge quintet's first two decades is undeniably thorough - even offshoot Temple of the Dog gets the spotlight - but it's also weirdly self-aggrandizing. full review
  80. Undefeated 2011 For the most part admirably chooses honest documentation over emotional manipulation. full review
  81. Young Adult 2011 As good as Theron and Oswalt are, and they're very good, Young Adult doesn't give them enough room to breathe. full review
  82. Biutiful 2010 With the exception of an otherworldly prologue that remains mysterious well into the film, Biutiful is an unusually linear feature for Inarritu, but no less involving or challenging than his previous works Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros. full review
  83. Blue Valentine 2010 The film proceeds in what feels like real time, but with no obvious beginning or end. It's a latticework of moments happy and sad. full review
  84. Cave of Forgotten Dreams 2010 The overall effect, aided by Ernst Reijseger's score of rising choral harmonies and lush strings, is rapturous. full review
  85. The King's Speech 2010 It's the odds-on favourite to win Best Picture at the next Academy Awards in February, and deservedly so. full review
  86. Love Ranch 2010 Helen Mirren's estimable talents are wasted in this soapy puddle, which is directed by her husband Taylor Hackford. full review
  87. Monsters 2010 full review
  88. Rubber 2010 An exercise in horrific absurdity that is neither as scary nor as amusing as it hopes to be. full review
  89. Somewhere 2010 It's the singular achievement of Sofia Coppola's affecting new film that she manages to make us care for a dissolute movie star, his angry ex-wife and their indulged daughter. full review
  90. The Proposal 2009 Nobody who ever attended a date movie will be surprised by what happens, but The Proposal has low expectations and good vibes in its favour. full review
  91. Antichrist 2009 Antichrist ends up being more unnerving than it is terrifying, and a lot funnier than it's supposed to be. full review
  92. Fish Tank 2009 In a year less crowded with new young talent, Katie Jarvis might now be getting fittings for her Oscar nomination dress. full review
  93. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2009 Appreciation of the film relies more on the performances than the problem-solving, and Rapace delivers a complicated and deliciously contrary performance that tattoos Lisbeth Salander straight onto the brain. full review
  94. Mary and Max 2009 In a perverse and often immature way, it forthrightly deals with mature issues of love, friendship, forgiveness and mental health. It requires a mature audience, but an audience nonetheless. full review
  95. The Road 2009 How could anything so bleak be so promising? full review
  96. The Time That Remains 2009 Suleiman takes the approach of gentle observer, neither condoning nor confronting -- not violently, at least. Start with humor and perhaps empathy will follow. full review
  97. Bronson 2008 It's impossible to deny Hardy's astounding performance, which partially redeems the picture. Looking like a mad circus strongman, his moustache seeming to twirl all by itself, he's so fully immersed in his character, you fear for his sanity. full review
  98. Elegy 2008 The difference this time is the overall quality of the performances. Kingsley and Cruz make the most credible lovers [director Isabel] Coixet has ever paired. full review
  99. In Bruges 2008 A rude and riotous laugher. full review
  100. Let the Right One In 2008 The exceptional Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In warms your heart as it chills your blood, and that's the most disturbing thing about it. full review
  101. Man on Wire 2008 This film is a celebration of human achievement; it soars with the promise that we are shackled to the ground only by lack of imagination and will. full review
  102. New York, I Love You 2008 While many of the segments amuse, and rarely wear out their welcome (the average running time is eight minutes apiece), it rapidly becomes apparent that each of them has some kind of twist, like an O Henry short story. full review
  103. Sex Drive 2008 There should be some kind of law that if you're going to make an incredibly derivative, violent and vulgar teen comedy then it must also be funny. full review
  104. Civic Duty 2007 A sharp 9/11 twist on Rear Window paranoia, Civic Duty is all the more effective for its chilling plausibility. full review
  105. Eagle vs. Shark 2007 Sorely lacks is a genuine sense of humanity. full review
  106. A Mighty Heart 2007 Honesty and courage are the main virtues of A Mighty Heart, which strives to shed light on dark times. Central to it is Jolie's laudable performance. full review
  107. There Will Be Blood 2007 There Will Be Blood, the astounding new film by Paul Thomas Anderson, is Horatio Alger by way of Faust. full review
  108. You Kill Me 2007 A strong performance by the reliable Kingsley, and a tartly sweet one from Leoni, keeps You Kill Me from turning into the bad joke the title implies. full review
  109. Charlotte's Web 2006 It's a movie so modest and gentle, you'll hear your neighbour's popcorn crunch. But you may also hear your heart beating. And there's nothing wrong with that. full review
  110. Failure to Launch 2006 How, exactly, did an idea with this much star power and comic potential manage to misfire? full review
  111. Flyboys 2006 This is old-school moviemaking, for better or worse, which means rat-a-tat dogfights in the sky combined with overripe romantic and social cliches on the ground. full review
  112. Harsh Times 2006 Harsh Times is so into its own nihilism, it sometimes forgets the humanity beneath the hurt. full review
  113. Jackass: Number Two 2006 The first half hour was hilarious. The second half hour got repetitious and tedious. full review
  114. Keeping Up With The Steins 2006 Had Scott Marshall and screenwriter Mark Zakarin honed their knives sharper, they could have made genuine mirth out of this. full review
  115. Last Holiday 2006 It may not be much -- it's a remake of a 1950 Alec Guinness film -- but it is as bright as a Christmas bauble. full review
  116. This Is England 2006 How sad and predictable is the fate of those who counsel violence as a means to an end. And yet how poignant it all seems when viewed through Shane Meadows' thoughtful lens. full review
  117. United 93 2006 ... this is a picture we all must see. full review
  118. Broken Flowers 2005 Those hound-dog eyes, and that weary sneer, reveal a man who understands the value of understatement. full review
  119. Capote 2005 The almost perfectly realized Capote -- stumbling only in the lack of shading it gives Keener's and Greenwood's characters -- offers a sobering glimpse at what the author had to give up of his soul to achieve his success. full review
  120. The Constant Gardener 2005 It harkens back to an era when movies about socially relevant causes came without irony and with the conviction that wide exposure could bring about needed changes. In other words, this isn't your usual multiplex offering. full review
  121. Factotum 2005 Quite dull, truth be told. As good as Dillon and Taylor are in their roles, making us side with them even as we despise them, there's not a whole lot that happens in a life ruled by the bottle, the butt and the shag. full review
  122. Into Great Silence 2005 Viewing Into Great Silence is meant to mimic the experience of living with the monks. full review
  123. Neil Young: Heart of Gold 2005 A film that is both a celebration and a wistful look back. full review
  124. The Producers 2005 The stage show veterans have done these roles so many times, they're more than second nature, and also a little stale. full review
  125. Serenity 2005 Fans get priority seating on the ride, but there's plenty of room for rookies to clamber aboard. full review
  126. 13 Going on 30 2004 A lot fresher than its premise, largely because of the terrific casting. full review
  127. A Good Woman 2004 full review
  128. Hotel Rwanda 2004 The almost forgotten but all too real African genocide documented in Hotel Rwanda hits us as suddenly and as hard as it does Paul Rusesabagina, the accidental hero played so masterfully by Don Cheadle. full review
  129. Mean Girls 2004 It all seems, finally, as if Fey is pulling her punches, an unusually defensive posture for her. full review
  130. White Chicks 2004 White Chicks has more laughs than it deserves, but also a story that is just plain lazy. full review
  131. Anger Management 2003 The promise of Anger Management lasts for all of about 15 minutes. full review
  132. Bulletproof Monk 2003 Bulletproof Monk is such an overcooked and odoriferous turkey, the Butterball people ought to sue for defamation of character. full review
  133. Camp 2003 Writer/director Graff doesn't give the kids much to work with, lumbering them with a script overloaded with gay cliches ... and lazy rip-offs. full review
  134. Daddy Day Care 2003 Tepid attempt at comedy. full review
  135. Darkness Falls 2003 There's not a jot of originality in Darkness Falls, but there are a few good scares. full review
  136. Dirty Pretty Things 2003 The acting is superb in Dirty Pretty Things, especially Ejiofor as the embattled Okwe and Tautou as the exploited Senay. full review
  137. Hollywood Homicide 2003 Hollywood Homicide should have been a much stronger and funnier movie. full review
  138. The Italian Job 2003 Take this Job and floor it. full review
  139. Party Monster 2003 There are many ways of depicting an innocent's descent into hell, but the camp approach is surely the least advisable. full review
  140. Radio 2003 Rarely have good intentions been wrapped in such a sticky package. full review
  141. Scary Movie 3 2003 It's all been there, razzed that, with long flat valleys stretching beneath the comic peaks. full review
  142. Something's Gotta Give 2003 There's a lot of pleasure in watching seasoned pros like Nicholson and Keaton do their pas de deux of late-blooming romance. full review
  143. Swimming Pool 2003 Think of it as a box of chocolates, with Sagnier being the chocolate-covered cherry. And you know the problem with chocolates: They're great to eat but they offer no nourishment whatsoever, and afterwards you feel guilty for the indulgence. full review
  144. Timeline 2003 Curiously lacking in energy, which may be the result of an obviously cut-rate production budget that skimps on the sci-fi sizzle. full review
  145. Touching the Void 2003 Touching The Void takes us to both heaven and hell, and knowing the final result only serves to increase our sense of awe at the achievement. full review
  146. Assassination Tango 2002 The studied pace of Duvall's film, and his carefully measured performance, will win over more patient patrons. full review
  147. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys 2002 A charming reminder of the combustible mix of puberty and authority in the lives of 14-year-olds. full review
  148. A Guy Thing 2002 A bale of romantic fluff that is a lot funnier than it has any right to be. full review
  149. The Importance of Being Earnest 2002 There are moments of hilarity to be had. full review
  150. The Master of Disguise 2002 The only camouflage Carvey should now be considering is a paper bag to wear over his head when he goes out into public, to avoid being recognized as the man who bilked unsuspecting moviegoers. full review
  151. Men in Black II 2002 The predictable effort makes the movie seem longer than its audience-friendly 88 minutes, and the script deficiencies account for the high number of alien and human supporting players. full review
  152. Spider-Man 2002 A blockbuster with a heart and a brain. full review
  153. Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams 2002 The continued good chemistry between Carmen and Juni is what keeps this slightly disappointing sequel going, with enough amusing banter -- blessedly curse-free -- to keep both kids and parents entertained. full review
  154. The Sweetest Thing 2002 Essentially a collection of bits -- and they're all naughty. full review
  155. XXX 2002 Rather than 'a new breed of secret agent,' the makers of XXX have created a dumber version of Rambo, and I have just one question: YYY? full review
  156. Black Hawk Down 2001 Black Hawk Down superbly visualizes journalist-author Mark Bowden's bestselling 'tale of modern war,' detailing a U.S. military misadventure in the Somalia of 1993. full review
  157. Along Came a Spider 2001 Gets tangled in its own web of absurdities. full review
  158. Amelie 2001 The sunniest face and the greatest acclaim belong to Audrey Tautou, who is new to these shores. A delight in the title role, she's like a young Audrey Hepburn, making us laugh and feel empathy without feeling manipulated. full review
  159. Baran 2001 It's the saddest story of love in a long while, yet liberating in the way it instils a sense of oneness with all humanity. full review
  160. Get Over It 2001 A teen movie that for once delivers brains along with babes and buffoons. full review
  161. Novocaine 2001 About two rewrites shy of a real story. full review
  162. Riding in Cars with Boys 2001 Despite being scrubbed almost spotless, the story still makes its mark. full review
  163. Scary Movie 2 2001 Predictable but only occasionally amusing. full review
  164. Lara Croft - Tomb Raider 2001 Tomb Raider's preoccupation with time is puzzling, given the movie's leisurely pace. full review
  165. Vanilla Sky 2001 It's not really a bad film -- it couldn't be, given the high level of talent involved -- but it is a rather pointless one. full review
  166. The Gift 2000 There's really just one reason to see the Southern freak show that is Sam Raimi's The Gift, and fortunately it's the best reason: to watch the star of the piece. full review
  167. Scream 3 2000 A lame retread. full review
  168. The Taste of Others 2000 Succeeds with believable characters and situations born of lives well studied. full review
  169. Vertical Limit 2000 The pace of the movie rarely flags (neither does the idiocy, alas) and it's enough to warrant a marginal recommendation. full review
  170. True Grit 1969 full review

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