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Rick Groen, Globe and Mail

  1. The Big Wedding 2013 A shining example of a dull studio comedy. full review
  2. Cloudburst 2013 It's a delight to see Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker, superb talents and Oscar winners both, share almost every frame of Cloudburst. full review
  3. Dead Man Down 2013 Yep, there's a whole lot going on here, but this is one of those plot-heavy scripts that carries its weight with confidence - the intricate twists don't cheat. full review
  4. Dirty Wars 2013 A remarkable documentary as important as it is compelling ... full review
  5. Frances Ha 2013 It's a tribute to Gerwig's performance, somehow both clumsy and elegant, that she wins us over despite ourselves, that we come to appreciate her aimlessness in a goal-oriented society ... full review
  6. A Haunted House 2013 Along comes Marlon Wayans to do in A Haunted House what he once did in Scary Movie. And do it much, much worse. full review
  7. I Killed My Mother 2013 A coming-of-age tale as ferociously raw as its teller -- the very young Xavier Dolan. full review
  8. It's a Disaster 2013 The humour may not be wickedly black, but once in a while it's amusingly beige. full review
  9. The Last Stand 2013 Dig just a shade beneath the surface, trade in the text for the subtext, and a more interesting picture emerges - a little richer, sadder, almost poignant. full review
  10. My Brother The Devil 2013 It's an impressive debut by a director blessed with a strong voice and a knack for bringing a specific cultural milieu to vibrant life, defying convention even while working within its strict limits. full review
  11. Pieta 2013 Fascination returns at the stirring climax, when the plot neatly twists and the film's apparently simple message turns deeper, and blacker. full review
  12. A Place at the Table 2013 Hunger in America is not about a shortage of food but an abundance of poverty. This is where the spiral spins downward. full review
  13. Room 237 2013 [A] strange, frustrating, occasionally fascinating doc ... full review
  14. Safe Haven 2013 Why make a movie when making a Hallmark-card-with-dialogue is so much less risky? full review
  15. Sightseers 2013 It's just not quite funny enough. full review
  16. Something in the Air 2013 A wispy picture, likeable certainly but lacking in crispness and clarity. full review
  17. Unfinished Song 2013 Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp and those voices - their solos contain this picture like carved book-ends, vintage and lovely and still so profoundly of use. full review
  18. Winnie Mandela 2013 Winnie begins as hagiography and ends in hellish confusion. full review
  19. 2 Days in New York 2012 2 Days in New York plays like 2 years in Attica. full review
  20. 360 2012 One thing is remarkable here: the amount of high-powered talent assembled to document the obvious. full review
  21. Barbara 2012 Sometimes, the sun shines and the wind blows fresh and the very elements that make for intense hardship also open a window on intense joy. full review
  22. Bully 2012 Tackles this headline-heavy topic by mixing moments of raw emotional power with intervals of somewhat suspect manipulation. full review
  23. Cafe de Flore 2012 The film commands our attention again as more connections emerge -- not enough to fully solve the mystery, but sufficient to convince us that Cafe de Flore amounts to more than the triumph of style over substance. full review
  24. Casa de mi padre 2012 Really, Casa de mi Padre is a skit blown up to a feature flick, amusing for a while until its welcome wears out. full review
  25. Chasing Ice 2012 The last words, four and simple, rightly belong to Balog: "You can't deny it." No doubt - the iceman cometh. full review
  26. Citadel 2012 It's all rather nausea-inducing and a bit frightening - not the film (I can only wish) but its subtextual message. full review
  27. A Dark Truth 2012 A lightweight flick about a heavy-duty subject, A Dark Truth plays like a TV movie back in the days when TV wasn't worth watching. full review
  28. Detachment 2012 The film is guilty of reverse sentimentality, where the relentless unhappiness comes to seem as manufactured and artificial as the schmaltz in a romcom. full review
  29. End of Watch 2012 End of Watch suffers from no end of sanctimony. full review
  30. The Expendables 2 2012 At least it's efficiently and breezily forgettable. What's more, there are laughs too and here's the best part - one or two of them are actually intentional. full review
  31. Flight 2012 This movie is captivating until it gets uplifting - Flight soars when it crashes and crashes when it soars. full review
  32. The Forgiveness of Blood 2012 We don't see any blood, or much forgiveness either, but we do witness something far more resonant - a young generation caught between the rock of tradition and the hard place of modernity. full review
  33. House at the End of the Street 2012 Lawrence is perfectly in character yet somehow outside it too, floating above Elissa and the weak movie alike. full review
  34. How to Survive a Plague 2012 A raw history, often cluttered and sometimes repetitive but, when strategies fail along with immune systems, deeply affecting. full review
  35. The Imposter 2012 In the annals of forged identity flicks, this is a towering Everest, dwarfing the deceivers in the likes of Catch Me If You Can and F for Fake. full review
  36. Lore 2012 The young principals here, Malina and especially Rosendahl, are superb at conveying that premature hardening, their elastic minds pummelled by inelastic forces. full review
  37. Meet the Fokkens 2012 Despite the occasional stumble, the doc never falls, thanks to the sheer strength of its subjects' undaunted and indomitable character. full review
  38. Mirror Mirror 2012 When the dust settles, all that's left are a few motes of lame comedy atop a few million bucks worth of overdressed sets. Call me Grumpy, but this seems less an adaptation than a random assault. full review
  39. The Moth Diaries 2012 Not enough psychology to be intelligently creepy, and not enough schlock to be viscerally scary. full review
  40. Not Fade Away 2012 Ultimately a disappointment - this is a movie easy to watch and even easier to forget. full review
  41. The Paperboy 2012 The Paperboy is southern Gothic wallowing in the swamp of low camp. And if the wallowing were deliberate, this might have been hugely funny. full review
  42. ParaNorman 2012 If the story lacks the consistent psychological depth of Coraline, another tale of an outcast finding solace in a parallel world, amends are made during the lovely climax. full review
  43. The Queen of Versailles 2012 More than a social morality tale, this is a character study, with the title well chosen. full review
  44. Safe 2012 The plot first strains and then assassinates credulity, while Yakin's handling of the action/mayhem runs the gamut from the merely dull to what-the-hell's-going-on. full review
  45. Safety Not Guaranteed 2012 Neatly, the script embarks on one journey while dangling the possibility of another: the prospect of taking a sudden leap from comic reality into the realm of pure imagination. full review
  46. Silent House 2012 Olsen is compelling even when the film isn't. full review
  47. The Woman in the Fifth 2012 The Woman in the Fifth is an interesting chameleon until it runs out of disguises, and all that was transitory just looks transparent. full review
  48. The Artist 2011 My, The Artist is delightful, ingenious, funny, poignant and, in its own small way, profound. Put Oscar on high alert. full review
  49. Dirty Girl 2011 Dirty Girl isn't. Sorry, but it's just faux grime, a thin layer of bad behaviour that wipes clean with a two-ply tissue to reveal the real movie beneath - all shiny sentimentality. full review
  50. Forks Over Knives 2011 Forks Over Knives is a middling documentary but a magnificent indictment. full review
  51. Into The Abyss 2011 full review
  52. The Iron Lady 2011 full review
  53. Like Crazy 2011 Call it l'amour phooey. full review
  54. My Week with Marilyn 2011 That's all familiar lore but, to his credit, director Simon Curtis lays out these separate ambitions and conflicting tensions with breezy dispatch in the early frames. full review
  55. Our Idiot Brother 2011 Strange, then, how Our Idiot Brother wastes its lone asset -- there's not enough idiot, and far too many boring savants. full review
  56. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness 2011 Not often does a film double as a literary critic, but this is the Northrop Frye of docs. Essentially, it revises and sharpens the blunted reputation of a great writer. full review
  57. Wrecked 2011 In all those empty blockbusters, the big screen swells pointlessly; at least in these narrow spaces it shrinks with a real purpose. Far better the tight squeeze than the big bloat. full review
  58. And Everything Is Going Fine 2010 Soderbergh's editing neatly duplicates Gray's methods, showing us how memory treats the same material at different stages in a life, applying those different coats and shades of lacquer. full review
  59. Biutiful 2010 Watch Bardem here -- his eyes speak heart-rending volumes. full review
  60. Blue Valentine 2010 The performances are as raw as the characters. full review
  61. The Company Men 2010 Turns out three stories are two too many. The Company Men should have been downsized. full review
  62. Greenberg 2010 What saves it, however, is Gerwig. The love story ain't credible, but her performance is, perfectly capturing a young woman who doesn't lack confidence so much as a sense of self. full review
  63. I Am Love 2010 Despite a superb cast and a fabulous look, the picture collapses under the weight of its lofty pretensions, especially in the black hole of the last act, where it topples into near-absurdity. full review
  64. The Kids Are All Right 2010 Somewhere around the halfway mark, the realization arrives with a dull thud: Turns out that unconventional families can be just as tedious in their melodramatic dysfunctions as any traditional clan. full review
  65. The King's Speech 2010 The King's Speech is a lively burst of populist rhetoric, superbly performed and guaranteed to please even discriminating crowds. full review
  66. Senna 2010 Kapadia is working with an embarrassment of riches, but to his credit he selects wisely, and has the good sense to keep the talking heads off the screen. full review
  67. The Switch 2010 Another in a recent line of romcoms eager to get us laughing all the way to the sperm bank, and then to the infant dividends beyond. full review
  68. Fish Tank 2009 To the script's credit, when the climax comes it feels inevitable yet surprising too -- that ideal combination. full review
  69. The Fourth Kind 2009 The mission here is to demonstrate how, in this explosive age of dubious information, cynicism can be quickly trumped by gullibility. full review
  70. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest 2009 Much of the problem can be traced to the villains of the piece: The snakes in the establishment are a bunch of really old white guys. Now this may be true to life, but it's hell on drama. full review
  71. The Perfect Game 2009 Director William Dear is not one to miss a sentimental beat. full review
  72. The Time That Remains 2009 Living in a part of the world where politics, and the pursuit of politics by warring means, are the rule, director Elia Suleiman is the exception. full review
  73. Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen 2009 Barbara Sukowa brings her veteran presence to the role, and nicely fuses its dual nature, holy instrument and holy terror, the passive vessel of a higher power and the active force of the good mother. full review
  74. Bronson 2008 Bronson is one of those "based on a true story" dramatizations where the theatrically staged drama only gets in the way of the more interesting truth. full review
  75. Elegy 2008 Kingsley perfectly tunes his performance to these psychological nuances, the strong features in his face undone by an anxious flicker of his eyes. full review
  76. Let the Right One In 2008 A wicked trick, a cinematic treat, this is some Halloween offering. full review
  77. Before the Rains 2007 When the rains in Before the Rains finally arrive, there's nothing to cleanse, no real dirt to wash away -- not with history already so neatly packaged and polished to a dull shine. full review
  78. Cidade dos Homens (City of Men) 2007 Along comes a sequel of sorts, City of Men, but the difference is clear right from the first frame: Meirelles is gone and so is the intensity. What's left is a mix of credible sociology and tired melodrama, along with a palpable sense of deja vu. full review
  79. Civic Duty 2007 It begins by swiping a premise and concludes with an attempted robbery of our principles, pretending that today's world is too confusing for us to know whether to cheer for George Bush or to march with Michael Moore. full review
  80. Freedom Writers 2007 Freedom Writers is a tribute to individualism wrapped in the most conformist of packages, one of those pictures where the message of the tale is flatly contradicted by the manner of the telling. full review
  81. Into the Wild 2007 A road movie with a lofty message that too frequently gets lost in its own thematic barrens. Whereas Krakauer's disturbing book sticks with you, Penn's movie, wrapped in the balloon of its fanciful rhetoric, just floats off. full review
  82. Lars and the Real Girl 2007 A sweet little fable about how a delusional man-child is helped by the loving ministrations of his family and community, the kind of throwback flick where human nature is seen as inherently good -- a notion so quaint that it feels damn near buoyant. full review
  83. A Mighty Heart 2007 The film takes its cue from the widow, neither sermonizing or even villainizing, content to serve quietly as an admirable exercise in restraint and a moving example of the grace under pressure that is the essence of courage. full review
  84. Akeelah and the Bee 2006 Akeelah is derivatively entertaining in a feel-good sort of way. full review
  85. Harsh Times 2006 Harsh Times opens with a deadly nightmare and ends with a vast bloodbath - in between, things get a little gruesome. full review
  86. Keeping Up With The Steins 2006 Shooting a comedy, like telling a joke, demands a sense of rhythm, and Scott is no dancer -- he keeps tripping against the grain of the humour. full review
  87. Trailer Park Boys: The Movie 2006 The movie falls apart at the centre. Where it works, brilliantly on occasion, is at the edges. full review
  88. United 93 2006 ... United 93 is a riveting docudrama as compelling as it is odd. full review
  89. Brokeback Mountain 2005 With its measured pace and its sumptuous visuals, transforming a taboo into a romantic totem, this opening act is fascinating, like watching Red River with the subtext cranked way up. full review
  90. Capote 2005 I came in expecting Hoffman's tour de force and left with a fuller appreciation of the quiet yet lethal film around him. Lethal, because what it says about the writer's craft, about what often gets destroyed in the name of creation. full review
  91. The Constant Gardener 2005 Yes, the cast is certainly seductive, and the direction often beguiling, yet ultimately we're left with a distinct sense of abandonment, of a story insufficiently told. full review
  92. Factotum 2005 The transplant didn't take in Barfly, and it works no better here in Factotum. In each case, the baying of the boozehounds just seems repetitious and banal -- the noise endures but the joy is gone. full review
  93. Karla 2005 No audience, Canadian or otherwise, will learn anything here outside of the macabre facts. Worse, they won't feel anything either, not even -- and this is inexcusable -- for the victims themselves. full review
  94. Downfall (Der Untergang) 2004 Viewed through a North American lens, the movie itself seems more familiar than fascinating, more innocuous than inflammatory, and, at 21/2 hours, more tedious than anything else. full review
  95. The Forgotten 2004 There is nothing worse than a thriller that doesn't play fair. full review
  96. The Puffy Chair 2004 Too soon, the stuff that seemed charmingly idiosyncratic turns annoyingly odd and then just plain annoying. full review
  97. Control Room 2003 More illuminating than not, and shines its brightest light on a truth that war and warmongers so ferociously ignore: Look hard into the other's camp and what you'll likely see is yourself. full review
  98. CSA: Confederate States of America 2003 The satire comes to feel strained and the whole premise gets awfully precious, reducing social subtleties to cinematic simplicities. full review
  99. Darkness Falls 2003 Pretty much the whole of this unholy horror flick is shot under cover of night, the small-town-in-New-England kind where the woods are deep and the barometer always points to rain. full review
  100. Hollywood Homicide 2003 Sometimes the laugh is there, sometimes it's a coin-flip, and sometimes it all feels like so much made-up filler. full review
  101. The Italian Job 2003 This is the zippy remake that Ocean's Eleven wanted to be and wasn't quite. full review
  102. Mona Lisa Smile 2003 Such a mixed-up child, but not without worthy intentions and glimmers of realized potential -- sorry, but I just can't bring myself to come down too hard. full review
  103. Radio 2003 A lot better than the Muzak it threatens to be, but, ultimately, not good enough to keep our itchy fingers off the dial. full review
  104. Stander 2003 Stander refuses to take a stand on its own subject matter. full review
  105. Swimming Pool 2003 Well-acted, nicely shot, slick and certainly sexy, Swimming Pool may be all foreplay and no climax, but what the heck -- there are worse ways to be teased. full review
  106. Changing Lanes 2002 Definitely erratic, this thing -- all in all, it's the sort of commercial vehicle you might want to stay well back of. full review
  107. A Guy Thing 2002 A laugh, several laughs, are not only expected but flat-out demanded. Try as I might, I couldn't produce any. Let's hope you have better luck. full review
  108. Irreversible 2002 An integrated work whose form clearly mirrors its content. full review
  109. Lost in La Mancha 2002 Gilliam himself is a joy to behold. His wit stays sharp even as his fortunes dull, and the conditions that conspire against him only prove the mettle in our man of La Mancha. full review
  110. The Master of Disguise 2002 Despite all evidence to the contrary, this clunker has somehow managed to pose as an actual feature movie, the kind that charges full admission and gets hyped on TV and purports to amuse small children and ostensible adults. full review
  111. Morvern Callar 2002 With little dialogue to assist her -- just the strains of that wonderfully organic music -- [Morton] still manages to suggest the internal struggle, and to slowly reveal a fierce toughness that flies in the face of conventional morality. full review
  112. The New Guy 2002 An occasional one-liner rises to the level of near-wit... Most everything else ranges from routine to heavy-handed. full review
  113. The Sum of All Fears 2002 All that moviemaking money, plus all those gadgets, plus Ben Affleck: It doesn't add up to very much. full review
  114. View from the Top 2002 Comedies don't come much flatter. full review
  115. XXX 2002 Ultimately, this is a movie as generic as its title. full review
  116. Black Hawk Down 2001 Black Hawk Down is all dazzling craft and no redeeming art; it's simultaneously a superb piece of filmmaking and a highly suspect film. full review
  117. Amelie 2001 A feel-good flick with artsy ambitions. full review
  118. America's Sweethearts 2001 The kind of flick that gives fluff a good name. full review
  119. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2001 It's abundantly clear that Lee, in conjunction with fight choreographer Yuen Wo-Ping (famed for The Matrix), has brought to these standard tropes his own elevating, near-feline sensibilities. full review
  120. The Glass House 2001 Just about everything a psychological thriller might want except a credible character, a believable motive and a scintilla of thrills. full review
  121. Hannibal 2001 Hannibal definitely grabs at the emotions, but not the one it's after. You come in hoping to have the wits scared out of you and leave with your temper barely in check. full review
  122. Monkeybone 2001 Why do I still have a soft spot for this flick? Because there are glimmers of intelligence in the mess, because it must have driven the marketing department crazy, and because it fails so differently than all those run-of-the-mill failures. full review
  123. The Mothman Prophecies 2001 A minor picture with a major identity crisis -- it's sort of true and it's sort of bogus and it's ho-hum all the way through. full review
  124. Not Another Teen Movie 2001 Along with this venial sin of simple redundancy, the picture commits the less pardonable crime of commercial irrationality. full review
  125. Riding in Cars with Boys 2001 What with a miscast star, a confused director and a cluttered script, Riding in Cars with Boys is a traffic accident of a movie. full review
  126. Scary Movie 2 2001 The picture wastes barely a second heading straight into the toilet. full review
  127. The Score 2001 Contains The Scene, a precious sequence already destined for infinite repetition. full review
  128. Lara Croft - Tomb Raider 2001 The movie credits five separate persons for the story and screenplay, a quintet of scribes who might better consider a career shift into acting -- they've clearly done a splendid job of impersonating monkeys at a typewriter. full review
  129. Gossip 2000 All style and no substance. full review
  130. American Psycho 2000 A well-crafted yet essentially innocuous period piece. full review
  131. Amores Perros 2000 Inarritu's talent may be derivative, but it's applied to a setting he knows well and whose vibrancy he's keen to convey. full review
  132. The Golden Bowl 2000 A fairly satisfying flick. full review
  133. Hamlet 2000 The result is more than a mere gimmick and less than an unqualifed success, but yes -- it's always watchable. full review
  134. Mission: Impossible 2 2000 A strained sequel to a feature rip-off of an old television show with a stealable theme song. On screen and off, no one's getting marks for originality here. full review
  135. The Taste of Others 2000 The movie's unique appeal lies less in the style than the substance -- particularly, in the emerging hero at the centre of the tale. full review
  136. Traffic 2000 Director Steven Soderbergh is riding one of the hottest streaks in the movie world. full review
  137. The General's Daughter 1999 No doubt about it, to divulge the plot would spoil the experience -- you'll be shocked to discover, and maybe even surprised to learn, just how lame the damn thing really is. full review
  138. In Too Deep 1999 Competent yet largely forgettable. full review
  139. She's All That 1999 A trite classic. full review
  140. The Talented Mr. Ripley 1999 Even before its release, The Talented Mr. Ripley has attracted some mighty serious analytic attention. full review
  141. Another Day In Paradise 1998 Ho-hum. full review
  142. Shakespeare in Love 1998 Seems the Bard is badly blocked. full review
  143. Waking Ned Devine 1998 Breezy little comedy. full review
  144. Wild Things 1998 Call it gratuitous annoyance. full review
  145. Amistad 1997 Spielberg seems to be dividing his filmmaking output into two distinct halves: in the summer months cranking out no-brainer dinosaur flicks...in the winter season unveiling his serious artistic stuff to edify the adults and woo the Oscar crowd. full review
  146. As Good As It Gets 1997 Romance comedies definitely come better than this, although perhaps not lately. full review
  147. Cop Land 1997 This is a good filmthat could have been great if not for an act of well-intentioned, but misguided casting. full review
  148. Donnie Brasco 1997 In the tired figure of Lefty, manifest in the craggy icon of Pacino, our sympathies are definitely enlisted, and the theme rings a poignant note. full review
  149. Gattaca 1997 Designer babies rule dystopia in stylish SF thriller filled with recycled plot devices. full review
  150. The Ice Storm 1997 A remarkable film that takes us straight into John Updike territory, duplicating on screen exactly what the writer achieves on the page. full review
  151. Jackie Brown 1997 Beyond the grasp of most directors, this is tour de force stuff -- definitely meriting the price of admission and almost worth the three-year wait. full review
  152. Strange Days 1995 Once the premise has lost its promise, and Fiennes's brave attempts at characterization are sacrificed to pseudo-dazzle, everything appears awfully humdrum and, yes, distinctly dated. full review
  153. Clerks 1994 A hoot one moment, a hiss the next, the film is about as even as a city road after a hard winter. But the script's sheer vigour sees us through. full review
  154. Nobody's Fool 1994 This is a feel-good flick that doesn't look like one -- it's smart enough to hide its smooth polish beneath a scuffed-up veneer. full review
  155. Pulp Fiction 1994 Scintillating. full review
  156. Reservoir Dogs 1992 It's dynamite on a short fuse. full review

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