Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

  1. Like Father, Like Son 2014 [Kore-eda] pokes some fun at class differences, but his overall aim is serious - we get a powerful sense of how unsettling it would be to live through such a wrenching event. Remarkably, he conveys this with charm and restraint. full review
  2. Omar 2014 The virtues of "Omar," a thriller about the Palestinian conflict, are overshadowed by a one-sided political message. full review
  3. Adore 2013 It's even hard to simply enjoy the performances of the two stars, who give more that the film deserves. full review
  4. Crystal Fairy 2013 Director Sebastian Silva seems to be whispering that we shouldn't be taken in by the movie's casual, spontaneous feel, that deep matters are afoot. I'm not sold. full review
  5. Cutie And The Boxer 2013 The film neither simplifies the troubled relationship nor pushes us to take sides, but asks us to observe the complexities of their life together. full review
  6. Drift 2013 Has genial moments, but they're lost in a sea of boilerplate incidents and prefab characters. Surfing sequences are easily as striking as what we see in documentaries about the sport. full review
  7. Europa Report 2013 Low key and earnest, Sebastian Cordero's "Europa Report" makes compelling use of familiar genre material to create an intelligent science fiction thriller. full review
  8. The Grandmaster 2013 Beautiful but troubled, achieving in stretches the director's signature dreamy mood but dragged down by narrative confusions. full review
  9. Haute Cuisine 2013 "Haute Cuisine" is a bonbon, not of a full-course meal. full review
  10. Like Someone in Love 2013 There are some limited rewards in seeing the consequences and complexities that result from the characters' deceptions and assumed roles, but in the end the film is unsatisfying. full review
  11. Man of Tai Chi 2013 A modestly entertaining martial arts melodrama with impressively staged fight sequences that help compensate for a stale plot and some less-than-stellar acting. full review
  12. Muscle Shoals 2013 It's mandatory viewing for fans of the classic rock, soul and rhythm and blues of the 1960s and '70s. full review
  13. Phantom 2013 A game effort by a decent cast highlights the old-fashioned submarine thriller "Phantom," but heavy-handed dialogue, flurries of melodrama and a silly ending make the whole enterprise sink like a stone. full review
  14. A Place at the Table 2013 "A Place at the Table" presents a shameful truth that should leave viewers dismayed and angry: This nation has more than enough food for all its people, yet millions of them are hungry. full review
  15. Populaire 2013 Is this remake really necessary? Maybe not, but to worry about that is to risk missing out on a lot of fun. full review
  16. Prince Avalanche 2013 Plenty of absurd and deadpan humor, even slapstick, with a melancholy undertone. A minimalist tale of mismatched workers who paint lines on isolated Texas roads. Good performances, Paul Rudd is particularly impressive. full review
  17. Reaching for the Moon 2013 Despite its worthy subject, this feature by veteran Brazilian director Bruno Barreto has a bluntness that's at odds with Bishop's personality and work. full review
  18. Shadow Dancer 2013 The film relies on terse dialogue and boggy colors to create an atmosphere dense with anxiety -- all well handled by director James March. full review
  19. Spinning Plates 2013 The tales are worthwhile, but it's challenging to find a common thread among them that goes beyond vague generalities. full review
  20. A Touch of Sin 2013 Jia is passionate about his characters, but that never compromises his considerable artistic control. full review
  21. Unfinished Song 2013 Get out your handkerchiefs for an unabashed tearjerker that has some surprisingly potent moments. Buried in all the shameless sentiment is a touching family story, and good performances from veterans Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave. full review
  22. We Are What We Are 2013 The movie saves most of its modest number of jolts for its last quarter or so, which makes them all the more intense. They stick in your craw - and be warned, they're not for the squeamish. full review
  23. 5 Broken Cameras 2012 [It] makes no pretense at balance - it's unambiguously pro-Palestinian - but it offers a unique and intimate record. full review
  24. Barbara 2012 The movie examines the possibility of maintaining one's humanity in a truly oppressive society. full review
  25. The Big Picture 2012 Takes familiar material - involving a violent crime and an assumed identity - and nudges it just enough to keep us interested for most of the ride. full review
  26. Brooklyn Castle 2012 "Brooklyn Castle" easily checkmates your inner cynic. full review
  27. A Burning Hot Summer 2012 While I have to acknowledge Garrel's skill, the film, which actually has its compelling moments, falls somewhat flat. full review
  28. Chasing Ice 2012 The movie might have given us a bit less of Balog and a bit more of the startling sequences he produced. full review
  29. Deadfall 2012 Despite a super-dark noir plot and respectable cast, "Deadfall" is a thriller that never quite delivers on its promise. full review
  30. The Forgiveness of Blood 2012 Marston artfully uses handheld cameras and natural light and has a nice eye for compositions. full review
  31. Headhunters 2012 "Headhunters" is a well-oiled, nasty machine. full review
  32. In Another Country 2012 If you take the film as the bauble it is, you'll be entertained by its lighthearted wit, social observations and resolute sidestepping of profundity. full review
  33. The Island President 2012 "The Island President" is a mostly compelling documentary about that rarest of breeds, an appealing politician. full review
  34. The Loneliest Planet 2012 Though it's not without virtues, "The Loneliest Planet" may try the patience of even the most dedicated lovers of art film. full review
  35. Nobody Walks 2012 The direction is decent, and the film is handsome. But it's finally frustrating, enigmatic in a way that suggests emptiness more than mystery. full review
  36. Samsara 2012 "Samsara" is a ravishing visual experience, but it carries a message that at least some viewers will find less than compelling. full review
  37. Starlet 2012 The plotline is unpromising - young porn actress befriends crotchety old lady - and the setup is underwhelming. But stick with "Starlet," and you'll reap unexpected rewards. full review
  38. This Is Not a Film 2012 An act of political defiance, a moving personal document and a meditation on what film is and can be. full review
  39. Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey 2011 Watching Clash realize his dream is gratifying, and the behind-the-scenes Muppets stuff is fun. full review
  40. The Flowers of War 2011 Affecting at times, but finally feels overblown and heavy-handed. full review
  41. Hell and Back Again 2011 The director has no intention of making a prefab antiwar statement. He simply wants to show us an experience, just as it happened, and let the chips fall where they may. full review
  42. Bill Cunningham New York 2010 Cunningham's work is about seeing and teaching us how to see, and that should be plenty for us. full review
  43. Casino Jack 2010 It's a movie of sporadically entertaining scenes that add up to a vaguely unsatisfying whole. full review
  44. Cave of Forgotten Dreams 2010 Art history lessons don't get much better: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" presents the world's oldest paintings captured by one of film's great visionaries. full review
  45. Waste Land 2010 "Waste Land" is a film about recycling, but it's far more intriguing than the average eco-documentary. full review
  46. Beeswax 2009 There are viewers and critics who simply can't abide mumblecore. But give this movie a chance: Bujalski has a serious talent for finding resonance in the mundane. full review
  47. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2009 Those who stick it out will see an especially dark murder mystery that presents Swedish society as corrupt and profoundly antagonistic to women. full review
  48. The Time That Remains 2009 Despite its abundance of deadpan and absurdist humor, "The Time That Remains," a look at the Arab-Israeli conflict from a Palestinian perspective, was clearly made with a sorrowful heart. full review
  49. Bronson 2008 He's spent 34 years behind bars, mostly in solitary. When the movie ends, you'll feel you've done hard time yourself. full review
  50. Eldorado 2008 Eldorado was named best European film in the directors' fortnight last year at Cannes. full review
  51. Fly Me to the Moon 2008 It's clear that animators can now achieve levels of visual depth that were previously impossible. full review
  52. Humboldt County 2008 Humboldt County has an impressive cast and captures some of that era's fuzzy rebelliousness and humanism, but taken on its own the picture is finally thin stuff. full review
  53. Ben X 2007 The film is harrowing, if maybe a bit melodramatic, until it crashes and burns in a feel-good ending. full review
  54. Encounters at the End of the World 2007 Encounters at the End of the World is an enjoyable example of this extraordinary director's documentary work, and accessible enough to make it a good introduction to his singular vision. full review
  55. How About You 2007 While the movie is rather predictable and has a few moments that are just too heartwarming, there are scenes that are both moving and humorous. full review
  56. Munyurangabo 2007 Munyurangabo, a simple, naturalistic parable about a journey to the countryside by two young men, reflects on the chances of peace and reconciliation for survivors of Rwanda's bloody recent past. full review
  57. Nanking 2007 The filmmakers employ a powerful technique of interspersing newsreel footage with wrenching on-camera interviews of survivors and sequences of actors reciting from the letters and memoirs of the Westerners on the scene. full review
  58. The Pool 2007 It doesn't sound like much, but in the hands of director Chris Smith, this setup makes for a good small-scale observational picture about young people finding that the world is a larger place than they imagined. full review
  59. Shrooms 2007 [A] half-baked effort. full review
  60. Year of the Fish 2006 Too raw for kids and too simplistic for adults. full review
  61. Oldboy 2004 Deserves to be seen because of its relentless energy, the acting by Choi Min-sik that strikes a genuinely tragic note amid the mayhem and cartoonish excess, and the director's clear conviction that this wild story will resonate. full review
  62. Secuestro Express 2004 Secuestro Express seems less interested in dramatizing the crushing inequities of that nation than in serving up hefty doses of sadism and titillation. full review
  63. Bukowski: Born into This 2002 'Poet laureate of the gutter,' ranter, sexual boaster, bane of the middle class and lifelong outcast, the writer cultivated a persona that begs for documentary treatment, and he gets a good one in Bukowski: Born Into This. full review
  64. /titles/197403 The filmmaker works with economy and has a knack for creating a sense of foreboding, which is good because the plot is simply a working out of the old saw that violence begets violence. full review
  65. /titles/197499 Offers a few laughs but overall is pretty tired. full review
  66. /titles/197588 Shadyac should be applauded for his quest. Whether the result amounts to anything is less clear. full review
  67. /titles/199336 The Polish drama "Ida" is a rarity, a film both intensely grounded in painful historical reality and genuinely otherworldly. full review
  68. /titles/199531 "King of Devil's Island" is surprisingly effective, and affecting, given the familiarity of its material. full review
  69. /titles/199550 The film is a tribute to the courage, tenacity and sorrow of the men with their boots on the ground in a place very far away. full review
  70. /titles/197608 This film doesn't feel obliged to pick a winner or lob easy answers; it aims to observe, with humor and humanity, with penetration and without oversimplifying. full review
  71. /titles/198134 There are some entertaining and moving scenes here, but, overall, it's a bit softhearted for my taste. full review
  72. /titles/197090 Even if you can't explain the Standard Model or define "supersymmetry," you'll walk away with a conviction that you've vicariously participated in a historic event. full review
  73. /titles/197862 Herzog aims this genre effort at a broader audience than he usually gets, and he does so without losing his soul. It's a remarkably straightforward tale that allows the director to dwell on obsessions familiar to those who know his work. full review
  74. /titles/197715 We're encouraged to believe that at least some of what we're hearing is a reflection of 'real' family concerns, but the film makes it impossible to tell what's genuine and what's pretend in all the soul-baring. full review
  75. /titles/198389 This particular souffle is both overbaked and underseasoned. full review
  76. /titles/197354 Wolf's sympathy for youth movements compensates for the distraction of the new scenes, and the fascinating old footage seals the deal. full review
  77. /titles/197383 A well-meaning, sporadically entertaining and ultimately formulaic look at the struggles of a group of recovering sex addicts. full review