Films by Title : 1 - E

...Around (2008)  Watchable
February 25, 2009

For much of its length ...Around seems like a companion piece to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986). It could be titled Doyle Simms's 4 Years Off.

It's not only that the leading character Doyle Simms is glib a ... more

10,000 BC (2008)
12 Years a Slave (2013)  Better than average
November 3, 2013

12 Years a Slave is not a game.

A television ad promoting it declares, "Critics are calling 12 Years a Slave a 'Game-Changing Movie Event.'"

Critics never said that. One guy -who the studio has pro ... more

127 Hours (2010)  Great
20 Feet from Stardom (2013)  Very Good
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)  Classic
2012 (2009)  Awful
21 (2008)  Badly flawed
April 10, 2008

When the movie "21" was announced with Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne, it sounded like a winner.

When everybody else involved in "21" was mentioned, it was doomed to be a loser.

"21" came from "Bringing Down the House," a nonfiction b ... more

21 Jump Street (2012)  Watchable
March 20, 2012

21 Jump Street is a cockamamie movie.

It's as rowdy as a dick joke. And another dick joke. And another dick joke. After the 21st dick joke, I wanted to jump off.

And after the dick jokes there's a load of excrement joke ... more

28 Days Later (2002)  Better than average
3 Women (1977)  Very Good
300 (2007)  Watchable
3:10 to Yuma (2007)  Exemplary
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2008)
40 Year Old Virgin, The (2005)  Very Good
400 Blows, The (1959)  Great
42 (2013)  Better than average
April 15, 2013

There are no violins in baseball.

At least that's what I thought.

In the movie 42, there are more violins than baseball bats. I never realized Jackie Robinson played baseball in the middle of an orchestra.

In sce ... more

50/50 (2011)  Better than average
October 1, 2011

50/50 is a movie in which the protagonist is very human, and his best friend is obnoxious.

It's also an apt study in acting. One actor is human; the other is obnoxious.

50/50 is the story of 27-year old Ad ... more

500 Days of Summer (2009)  Watchable
About a Boy (2002)  Great
About Schmidt (2003)  Watchable
February 1, 2003

Payne capsized an actor and a novel in this misfire

About Schmidt drives another nail in the coffin of irony. About Schmidt is as lacking in irony as its blatant crayon drawing ending. It's a synthetic antidote to a ... more

Ace in the Hole (1951)  Very Good
Adjustment Bureau, The (2011)  Watchable
March 10, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau should be titled The Demolition Bureau. It takes Philip K. Dick's story and blows it up.

One of course realizes that in Hollywood literature is passe. The late Philip K. Dick was a popular and renown ... more

Adventureland (2009)  Watchable
April 9, 2009

Was young actor Jesse Eisenberg in the latest Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden? He should have been. He's as cute as a puppy.

Eisenberg's doggone precious looks are in evidence all over his latest movie ... more

Adventures of Tintin, The (2011)  Watchable
Age of Innocence, The (1993)  Great
Agent Cody Banks (2003)  Watchable
Aladdin (1992)  Very Good
Albert Nobbs (2011)  Better than average
January 25, 2012

2011 was the year of the actress.

At least five or six female performances perhaps were superior to any male performance last year.

These were Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn, Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia, R ... more

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)  Very Good
Alice In Wonderland (2010)  Very Good
March 14, 2010

Maybe I'm not as jaded as I should be. Maybe I'm still too wide-eyed. But I found Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland to be a treasure trove full of delight and near-amazement. The imagery is bold and ravishing. Alice in Wonderl ... more

Alien (1979)  Great
Alien vs. Predator (2004)
All About Eve (1950)  Great
All Fall Down (1962)  Better than average
All God's Children Can Dance (2007)  Watchable
All Is Lost (2013)  Watchable
October 22, 2013

Where has irony gone?

In the Golden Age of American cinema in the 1970s, irony was a crucial, edifying staple. Movies had substance and bite.

All Is Lost is tellingly representative of what movies have become today.

... more

All the President's Men (1976)  Classic
Almost Famous (2000)  Exemplary
Amadeus (1984)  Great
Amazing Spider-Man, The (2012)  Very Good
July 6, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man shouldn't work. It's a reprise of a movie that was released only ten years ago. Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst couldn't be replaced, could they? There was a lasting charm to their relationship. And Maguir ... more

American Gangster (2007)  Better than average
American Hustle (2013)  Better than average
December 15, 2013

American Hustle is Saturday Night Bluster.

Where's Tony Manero when we need him?

Set in the late 1970s - somewhat based on Abscam - American Hustle is the long con. It's 2 1/2 hours long. ... more

American Splendor (2003)  Great
American Wedding (2003)  Watchable
American, The (2010)  Badly flawed
Amour (2012)  Exemplary
Angels and Demons (2009)  Watchable
May 11, 2009

Angels and Demons performs a miracle. It makes 2 hours seem like 4 hours.

Angels and Demons should thrill, but director Ron Howard's suspense has no edge or vitality. Most of it is running, panting, doggy-paddling. And si ... more

Angriest Man in Brooklyn, The (2014)  Badly flawed
August 16, 2014

It's depressing that Robin Williams' last film released when he was alive is completely lacking wit.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn is like a brilliant clown stumbling off the stage accompanied by a kazoo. Even the kazoo is ou ... more

Animal House (1978)  Exemplary
Animal Kingdom (2010)  Exemplary
Another Year (2010)  Watchable
Apartment, The (1960)  Exemplary
Apocalypse Now (1979)  Great
Apocalypto (2006)  Watchable
Apostle, The (1997)  Better than average
Appaloosa (2008)  Very Good
November 27, 2008

I give thanks for westerns.

Every time they seem to be about to gasp their last, dusty breath, one comes along to give them a bit of renewed life. Bless it, the western genre will not die. Last year it was the excellent remake 3:10 to Yuma< ... more

Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, The (1974)  Better than average
Arbitrage (2012)  Better than average
Argo (2012)  Better than average
Artist and the Model, The (2013)  Exemplary
February 18, 2014

Four months ago, on October 9, 2013, film critic Stanley Kauffmann died in New York City. He was 97.

A month later on November 8, The New Republic published Kauffmann's three final reviews. One was his positive assessment of ... more

Artist, The (2011)  Exemplary
As Good as It Gets (1997)  Classic
Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, The (2007)  Exemplary
Astronaut Farmer, The (2007)  Watchable
March 8, 2007

The Astronaut Farmer is one of those movies that you don't believe for a moment while you're watching it, but you leave with a warm glow. But by the time you've driven home, you realize you've been conned.

It's one of those synthetic-looki ... more

At Any Price (2012)  Badly flawed
May 23, 2013

At Any Price is a melodrama set in Iowa. So it has crops, flags, churches, and is corn-fed. It's as wayward and off-the-wall as an Iowa caucus.

At Any Price is the story of a farm dynasty gone wobbly. Over the years times hav ... more

Atonement (2007)  Watchable
August: Osage County (2013)  Badly flawed
December 30, 2013

August: Osage County is the most unpleasant film of the year. It's two hours of bilious caterwauling.

It may have worked on the stage, but on film it's a sour mess.

It's for people who enjoy witless pettiness, wi ... more

Avanti! (1972)  
Avatar (2009)  Exemplary
Avengers, The (2012)  Very Good
May 5, 2012

Although it takes a while to hit its stride, once it does Marvel's The Avengers is a razzle-dazzle, rip-roaring entertainment.

It introduces its various characters without much panache, then they bicker, and one begins to wonder ... more

Aviator, The (2004)  Great
Away from Her (2008)  Watchable
Babe (1995)  Great
Babel (2006)  Great
Bad Habits (2007)  Very Good
Bad Seed, The (1956)  Better than average
Bad Teacher (2011)  Watchable
June 27, 2011

Bad Teacher should be held back for bad comedy.

It's probably better just to see the previews than see the entire tired movie in a theater. It's the kind of movie that after the first ten minutes, one decides whether to leav ... more

Bad Words (2013)  Very Good
April 3, 2014

After seeing Bad Words, I'm trying to set up a swearing bee between Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Bateman.

Louis-Dreyfus (Selina Meyer in HBO's Veep) and Bateman (Guy Trilby in Bad Words) both take cursing to a ... more

Badlands (1973)  Great
Ballad of Cable Hogue, The (1970)  Classic
Ballonatic, The (1923)  Exemplary
Bambi (1942)  Great
Bank Job, The (2008)  Very Good
Barney's Version (2010)  Watchable
Barton Fink (1991)  Great
Battle Cry (1955)  Great
Battle of Algiers, The (1966)  
Battleship (2012)  Badly flawed
May 21, 2012

Someone told me I'd have to suspend my disbelief when I saw Battleship.

Not true. After a while you have no brain left with which to disbelieve.

Battleship is a loud lobotomy.

Based loosely - slackly & ... more

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)  Watchable
Beautiful Mind, A (2001)  GreatBeautiful Mind, A (2001)  Great
Beauty and the Beast (1991)  Very Good
Because I Said So (2007)  Awful
February 15, 2007

There are chick flicks and upchuck flicks. The movie Because I Said So is an upchuck chick flick.

In Because I Said So, Diane Keaton gives the worst performance of her storied career. She goes to the head of the line as contender for a Razzie ... more

Beer League (2006)  Badly flawed
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)  Watchable
Beginners (2011)  Badly flawed
July 8, 2011

Boy, Beginners was a movie I was hoping and planning to like.

It had Christopher Plummer in a role that had to be tours de force and probably even Oscar worthy. It had Ewan McGregor, who is a solid talent.

And it had a dog w ... more

Beguiled, The (1971)  Great
Ben-Hur (1959)  Great
Beowulf (2007)  Very Good
November 29, 2007

700 A.D. is now 21st Century American 3-D. It's a hell of a transformation.

As a would-be litterateur, I should be aghast at what has become of Beowulf, which was once the bane of English majors. At least some of us. But as a film fan ... more

Berberian Sound Studio (2013)  Exemplary
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The (2012)  Better than average
May 29, 2012

Old folks like familiarity. For most of them, familiarity breeds comfort.

Seniors are a major reason why NCIS stays #1 in the tv ratings. They're also probably the reason that NCIS recently recruited Jamie Lee Curtis as a "romantic ... more

Best Man, The (1964)  Very Good
Best Offer, The (2014)  Very Good
February 3, 2014

In The Best Offer, director/writer Giuseppe Tornatore feasts at the Hitchcock table.

It's intriguing to see how directors still channel Hitchcock. Tornatore's first English-language feature The Best Offer could be tit ... more

Better Life, A (2011)  Very Good
July 16, 2011

A Better Life is steeped in decency.

But how does decency survive in an indecent world?

Carlos Galindo (Demian Bichir) is an undocumented, Mexican day laborer, who works as a gardener in the posh neighborhoods of Los Angeles ... more

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)  Badly flawed
Big Lebowski, The (1998)  Better than average
Big Red One, The (1980)  Very Good
Big Shave, The (1967)  Better than average
Big Sleep, The (1946)  Great
Billy Elliott (2000)  Great
Birdcage, The (1996)  Great
Birdman (2014)  Watchable
October 29, 2014

Birdman is molted and motley. It coos and screeches. It's one of those films that keeps prattling about the truth, but it deals with it falsely.

It smacks of pretension throughout.

It reminds me of the political ads on t ... more

Birds, The (1963)  Great
Birth of a Nation, The (1915)  Classic
Biutiful (2010)  Better than average
January 30, 2011

Biutiful is a harrowing, battering experience at the movies. Although titled with a word scrawled by a child on her drawing, the movie is steeped in ugliness.

In Biutiful, Mexican director/writer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ( ... more

Black Dahlia, The (2006)  Awful
Black Swan, The (2010)  Watchable
December 6, 2010

The Black Swan is balletic and bombastic. It soars and bumbles, pirouettes and postures. It fights a featherweight war with heavyweight pretensions.

The war is in the mind and body of a young prima ballerina Nina (the not-so-young 2 ... more

Blade Runner (1982)  Very Good
Blind Side, The (2009)  Badly flawed
Bliss (2007)  Very Good
July 14, 2009

Bliss is a provocative voyage across the exotic landscape and placid waterways of Turkey.

Set in an intriguing locale, based on an important novel, Bliss is the tale of diverse culture and sharp -- sometimes brutal -- confli ... more

Blood and Wine (1996)  Very Good
Blood Diamond (2006)  Badly flawed
December 14, 2006

Blood Diamond is a movie zircon.

It doesn't cut glass, but it cuts plot, character, and credibility. It could be Hotel Rwanda, but instead it's Motel Deep-Six.

What is most bothersome about Blood Diamond is that it tries to be an incisive ... more

Blood Work (2002)  Better than average
Blow-Up (1966)  Classic
Blowout (1981)  Classic
Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)  Watchable
November 11, 2013

Hitchcock would like what director Abdellatif Kechiche did in Blue Is the Warmest Color.

He made all his audience into voyeurs.

Kechiche's two main actresses say they "simulated" the most intimate moments. Hitch ... more

Blue Jasmine (2013)  Exemplary
Bob Roberts (1992)  Very Good
Bobby (2006)  Watchable
Body of Lies (2008)  Watchable
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)  
Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story (2012)  Better than average
May 12, 2012

It drives me nuts when an interviewer doesn't follow up.

If Charlie Rose on tv was interviewing someone who said, "I have the secret of life," Charlie would look at his notes and say, "I see you were born in the Midwest. ... more

Born to be Wild (2011)  Very Good
April 23, 2011

Born to be Wild is a 40-minute return to innocence.

The documentary is so engaging and affirmative, the viewer may have a smile on his or her face for the entire showing.

Unfortunately many potential viewers probably will mi ... more

Bottle Shock (2008)  Very Good
September 4, 2008

Movie ads in the newspapers are a great barometer of … nothing. Except perhaps gullibility.

Studios often get pseudo-reviewers who are their lackeys to trumpet praise over the least deserving of movies. These dupers get their names in ... more

Bourne Legacy, The (2012)  Very Good
August 12, 2012

When a very successful movie franchise makes some major changes, it is likely that it will face a deluge of rejection and preconception.

"They changed it. OMG, they made changes!"

The Bourne Legacy comes with a lot o ... more

Bourne Supremacy, The (2004)  Great
Bourne Ultimatum, The (2007)  Great
Boys are Back, The (2009)  Better than average
October 9, 2009

The Boys Are Back is a poignant and rowdy celebration of a broken family dealing with grief and drastic change.

It has a lame title and a rambling story, but it also has an outstanding performance by Clive Owen and beautiful Austral ... more

Brave One, The (2007)  Watchable
Braveheart (1995)  Very Good
Breaking Away (1979)  ExemplaryBreaking Away (1979)  Exemplary
Breathless (1959)  Great
Brick (2006)  Better than average
Brideshead Revisited (1981)  Classic
Bridges at Toko-Ri, The (1954)  Better than average
Bridges of Madison County, The (1995)  Better than average
Brokeback Mountain (2005)  Exemplary
Broken (2013)  Exemplary
Broken Arrow (1950)  Very Good
Brothers Bloom, The (2009)  Watchable
May 27, 2009

The Brothers Bloom is a movie about con men that winds up conning itself.

It is one of those films that should be better than it is. The Brothers Bloom has a first-rate cast, a good basic plot, and great locales.

But ... more

Buck (2011)  Better than average
July 4, 2011

If I were a young colt, I'd sure try to keep my distance from Buck Brannaman.

Brannaman is the main figure in the documentary Buck, about a horse teacher who is able to accomplish wonders with difficult young horses.

... more
Bucket List, The (2007)  Better than average
Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson (1976)  Classic
Bugsy (1991)  Very Good
Bullet to the Head (2013)  Watchable
February 4, 2013

"Let's go see a movie based on the compelling fiction of a French writer."

"Les Mis?"

"No, Bullet to the Head."

"Huh?"

"It's much shorter, and has more behea ... more

Bullitt (1968)  Great
Bulworth (1998)  Better than average
Burn After Reading (2008)  Badly flawed
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)  Very Good
California Split (1974)  Classic
Calvary (2014)  Better than average
August 25, 2014

Calvary is not your father's Calvary.

Set in a small community in Ireland, the film follows Father James (Brendan Gleeson), whose faith becomes frayed as he tries to help others. This priest is a shepherd to wolves. He doesn' ... more

Candidate, The (1972)  Great
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)  Very Good
September 25, 2009

Michael Moore titled his most recent film Capitalism: A Love Story, probably because in Capitalism you never have to say you're sorry.

And Moore never says he's sorry as he trashes Capitalism in America.

An assault o ... more

Capote (2005)  Very Good
Captain Phillips (2013)  Exemplary
Carlito's Way (1993)  Better than average
Cars (2006)  Better than average
Cars 2 (2011)  Badly flawed
June 29, 2011

Cars 2 runs out of gas. It's on fumes -- and some of them pretty noxious.

Pixar decided to dumb down the franchise. Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) is not the star of Cars 2. The new star is Mater, the rusted to ... more

Casablanca (1942)  Great
Casino (1995)  Classic
Casino Jack (2010)  Watchable
January 4, 2011

Casino Jack is as erratic as a floating craps game.

Part comedy, part character study, part satire, part fantasy, part violence, it has a heady run before crapping out.

Based loosely on the career and downfall of mega-lobbyi ... more

Casino Royale (2006)  Very Good
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)  Great
Catch and Release (2007)  Watchable
February 8, 2007

Don't worry, Ben. Your marriage to Jennifer is still safe.

"Catch and Release," Jennifer Garner's latest film, will not cause Ben Affleck any husband-envy. It's a harmless romantic comedy that will garner Garner no awards and middling succ ... more

Catch Me If You Can (2002)  Very Good
Catch-22 (1970)  Very Good
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)  Better than average
August 5, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 30,000-year leap of faith.

Written, directed, and narrated by Werner Herzog, the intriguing documentary explores the Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc cave in Southern France, which contains the oldest cave art ev ... more

Cellmates (2012)  Watchable
May 4, 2012

Cellmates is an indie film that shouldn't work. And at times it doesn't, but at other times it has an offbeat integrity that engages.

The plot is threadbare, and many of the allusions seem dated and forgotten.

Cel ... more

Cement Suitcase (2014)  Very Good
May 3, 2014

Cement Suitcase is an indie with flair and heart.

It probably shouldn't work as well as it does, but writer/director J. Rick Castaneda also has an active intelligence. He is a smart, imaginative filmmaker.

What separates ... more

Changeling (2008)  Very Good
Chaplin (1992)  Great
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)  Better than average
January 3, 2008

Few people know how our government works. Even fewer know how it is supposed to work.

Over the years I've received countless phone calls promoting a political candidate. I ask the caller: "Who is the Secretary of Agriculture?"

No o ... more

Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)  Badly flawed
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005)  Badly flawed
Children of Men (2007)  Better than average
January 11, 2007

Children of Men is a glorious mess. It's a Frankenstein monster of a movie. Part sci-fi, part thriller, part action genre, part religious allegory, it flays and lumbers after meaning-- sending off occasional sparks of style.

Concocted by direc ... more

Children of Paradise (1946)  Classic
Chinatown (1974)  Classic
Chloe (2010)  Badly flawed
March 23, 2010

Chloe is an atrocious movie. It's artsy-fartsy-tartsy.

A female voice-over at the beginning says, "I can become your unflinching dream."

I flinched.

Pretension does that to me.

Chloe is con ... more

Christmas Story, A (1983)  Great
Cinderella (1950)  Great
Cinderella Man (2005)  Exemplary
Cinema Paradiso (1988)  Classic
Citizen Kane (1941)  Classic
City Island (2010)  Better than average
Clear and Present Danger (1994)  Better than average
Clockmaker, The (1973)  Great
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)  Great
Closed Circuit (2013)  Watchable
August 27, 2013

In one way, tv has trumped the movies.

Spooks - with its 86 episodes on BBC television from 2002 to 2011 - set the bar so high that it's unlikely a contemporary film can match it.

Spooks - titled MI ... more

Cloverfield (2008)  Badly flawed
January 31, 2008

I think when they started filming Cloverfield, somebody accidentally dropped the camera. Someone else said, "Cool."

So they kept dropping the camera. And they threw it, and jerked it, and kicked it. And it went into terminal spasms.

< ... more
Coco Before Chanel (2009)  Better than average
October 29, 2009

French biographical dramas are a mixed bag. Coco Before Chanel is a mixed Chanel bag.

French films of its ilk usually emphasize character, evocative settings, substantial performances, and often a sense of predestined foreboding. Th ... more

Coin Toss (2012)  Watchable
July 29, 2013

Coin Toss is a good-natured - if disjointed - indie.

It has enough genuineness for one to root for it, but it struggles to transcend being stilted.

The movie's two best assets are director Satya Kharkar and actor ... more

Color of Money, The (1986)  Exemplary
Company Men, The (2010)  Better than average
Company You Keep, The (2013)  Badly flawed
April 27, 2013

Who is Adam M. Stone?

He represents the essence of The Company You Keep.

Is he the director? No, that's Robert Redford.

Is he the screenplay writer? No, that's Lem Dobbs.

Well, then who is Adam M. St ... more

Compliance (2012)  Very Good
January 8, 2013

We live in a world of spam and religion.

Once the seed is planted, it may take root. Whom do you trust?

It's not implausible that one might give credence to a phone call from someone who says he is a policeman and has the voice ... more

Conspirator, The (2001)  Very Good
April 12, 2011

The Conspirator marks a return for Robert Redford as a director. If not triumphant, at least serious.

Like director Clint Eastwood -- who made several important movies in his 70s -- Redford has made a significant one in The Consp ... more

Contagion (2011)  Very Good
September 15, 2011

Don't touch that computer screen!

You don't know where it's been -- or who has coughed on it. Or who has made contact with it.

In Contagion, plain surfaces are deadly. And -- like governments -- computers lie. < ... more

Contender, The (2000)  Badly flawed
Conversation, The (1974)  Very Good
Cool Hand Luke (1967)  Very Good
Copenhagen (2014)  Very Good
October 20, 2014

Copenhagen is one of those films that shimmer after they've ended. It's still shimmering. Brightly.

It begins with little suggestion that it's going to be memorable. It introduces a character William (Gethin Anthony) who ... more

Coraline (2009)  Very Good
February 19, 2009

Coraline is a mesmerizing tale with macabre stitching.

There's no blood, but Coraline is a haunting horrorfest located in a weird wonderland.

Coraline is the animated story of Coraline Jones (winningly voic ... more

Coriolanus (2011)  Very Good
February 5, 2012

Ralph Fiennes has created a slashing, sprawling version of Shakespere's Coriolanus.

It's muscular Shakespeare. It's trimmed down - but has themes and a sensibility that fit into today's society and world.

... more
Cosmopolis (2012)  Watchable
September 2, 2012

It's rare to have a good movie made from a novel by an artistic American author. Extremely rare.

For every successful No Country for Old Men (2007), there are legions of duds, e.g., Updike's Rabbit, Run (1970), Mailer ... more

Cove, The (2009)  Very Good
Cover Girl (1944)  Very Good
Cowboys & Aliens (2011)  Exemplary
Crank (2006)  Better than average
Crazy Heart (2009)  Very Good
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)  Watchable
Criminal (2004)  Watchable
Crimson Tide (1995)  Very Good
Croods, The (2013)  Very Good
March 26, 2013

DreamWorks' The Croods is like an animated Reality TV show about a dysfunctional cave family. It's cartoon mayhem.

It's Croods in Stone - the Stoned Kardashians. It's Honey Crood Crood. It's prehistoric Snook ... more

Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The (2008)  Watchable
Da Vinci Code, The (2006)  Better than average
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)  Very Good
Damned United, The (2009)  Very Good
Dances with Wolves (1990)  Great
Dangerous Method, A (2011)  Badly flawed
January 21, 2012

A Dangerous Method is a lustreless squabble.

Much of the essence of drama is conflict - often verbal. A Dangerous Method, based on actual figures was a book, then a play, and now it's a film, but somewhere in the long ... more

Dark Knight Rises, The (2012)  Great
Dark Knight, The (2008)  Very Good
Darling (1965)  Better than average
April 1, 1966

John Schlesinger's Darling is a film of excessive and self-defeating brilliance. Schlesinger is intelligent, but his approach is one-dimensional. His characters are fashionable types, his symbols are too often gimmicks; and Darling b ... more

Date Night (2010)  Badly flawed
April 23, 2010

In today's movie comedies, wit is as rare as Angostura bitters.

If movie comedies were stored at the supermarket, most would be in the day-old section. They certainly aren't fresh.

Comedy doesn't have to be raw, but it ... more

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)  Better than average
July 16, 2014

The National Rifle Apes organization loves Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The members are giddy that even the apes now know they must be armed. No damned gun restrictions for them. CEO Wayne LaKoba is one happy ape.

Daw ... more

Days of Heaven (1978)  Very Good
Dead Ringers (1988)  
Dear Frankie (2004)  Exemplary
Dear Ruth (1947)  Better than average
Debt, The (2011)  WatchableDebt, The (2011)  Watchable
Deep Blue Sea, The (2012)  Exemplary
July 30, 2012

The Deep Blue Sea is a fitful, poignant film about failed love. It's a movie that casts a harrowing spell.

Adapted from the play written by Terence Rattigan, The Deep Blue (1952) is set "around 1950."

It focus ... more

Deer Hunter, The (1978)  Exemplary
Defiance (2008)  Better than average
January 5, 2009

Defiance runs for 137 minutes, but that doesn't make it an epic. It just makes it long.

Near the beginning, we are informed on screen that Defiance is "a true story." It may be a true story, but it is not truly told. ... more

Deja Vu (2006)  Watchable
Departed, The (2006)  Better than average
Descendants, The (2011)  Watchable
Detachment (2012)  Badly flawed
April 1, 2012

Education is under attack. It always has been.

If the essence of education is independent thinking, it's in free fall these days.

Most homeschooling offers just a single, limited, often anti-social view; corporations don't ... more

Devil Wears Prada, The (2006)  Watchable
Dick Tracy (1990)  Very Good
Dinner for Schmucks (2010)  Better than average
August 7, 2010

Rodents have often been the stuff of comedy. From Mickey and Minnie to Mighty Mouse to Remy the Rat to Despereaux, they've made us smile.

In Dinner for Schmucks they're the stuff that dreams are made of.

Barry (Steve ... more

Dirty Dozen, The (1967)  Very Good
Dirty Harry (1971)  Great
Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The (1972)  Exemplary
District 9 (2009)  Very Good
District B13 (2004)  Very Good
Disturbia (2007)  Very Good
April 26, 2007

"Disturbia" is a well-made, very entertaining thriller.

It shouldn't be. Reflecting Alfred Hitchcock, it should be just another in a long line of Hitch wannabe retreads.

But it's much better than that. "Disturbia" -- a contrivance ... more

Django Unchained (2012)  Exemplary
Don't Look Now (1973)  Watchable
Don't Pave Main Street: Carmel's Heritage (1994)  Exemplary
Double Indemnity (1944)  Great
Doubt (2008)  Watchable
Down to Earth (2001)  Watchable
February 22, 2001

Chris Rocks plays it safe and clean in Down to Earth

It had all the signs of being a disaster -- two directors, four writers, a duration of under 90 minutes and negative pre-release buzz. But despite the warning signs, Down to Earth is ... more

Downhill Racer (1969)  ExemplaryDownhill Racer (1969)  ExemplaryDownhill Racer (1969)  Exemplary
Dr. Strangelove (1964)  Classic
Draft Day (2014)  Watchable
April 12, 2014

Draft Day suffers from illegal procedure.

It punts from the other team's 10-yard line. It's a good punt, but it's still a nonsensical punt.

The moral of the story is that if you're stupid, good luck can save ... more

Drinking Buddies (2013)  Badly flawed
September 9, 2013

I have always championed actress Olivia Wilde.

I admired her in tv's House. I even affirmed Cowboys and Aliens (2011). But when I heard she was appearing in a nonscripted movie, I was leary. As much as I liked her, I did ... more

Duchess, The (2008)
Duck, You Sucker (1971)  Better than average
Duel (1971)  Very Good
Dumbo (1941)  Great
Duplicity (2009)  Watchable
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)  Very Good
Eagle, The (2011)  Very Good
February 9, 2011

The Eagle is what an action-adventure should be -- gripping, literate, and entertaining.

It's a volatile tale that transports us to a faraway place and a faraway time. Although rooted in tradition, it avoids most of the cliches, ... more

Earthquake (1974)  Watchable
Eastern Promises (2007)  Very Good
Easy Rider (1969)  Great
Edge of Darkness (2010)  Better than average
February 4, 2010

Edge of Darkness gives Mel Gibson's career a needed jolt, actually several jolts.

Every time the movie threatens to lag, there's a startling shock of violence -- and Gibson is usually right in the middle of it.

Mel l ... more

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)  Very Good
June 8, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow is an ebullient melee of an action film.

And, beneath the surface it percolates. It has evocative layers.

Basically, Edge of Tomorrow is the story of Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), a callow publicis ... more

Eiger Sanction, The (1975)  Watchable
El Cid (1961)  Very Good
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me (2014)  Very Good
March 9, 2014

In the marvelous documentary Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, the title figure is a pistol.

She has some misfires, a few blanks, but she's still a straight shooter. She has a canny sense of her target audience, developed over more than ... more

Elf (2003)  Very Good
Elysium (2013)  Watchable
August 7, 2013

Elysium is loud, boisterous nonsense. But it is entertaining.

Elysium is the Elysium of expensive "blockbusters." That's because it's only an hour and 49 minutes. That means the normal redundancy of effects is ... more

Emperor of the North Pole (1973)  Very Good
End of Watch (2012)  Better than average
September 29, 2012

If you leave before the end of End of Watch - about 3/4 of the way through - you'll see a much better movie.

For much of its length, End of Watch is one of the stronger movies of the year. It's a taut, human d ... more

English Patient, The (1996)  Exemplary
Entertainer, The (1960)  Great
Erin Brockovich (2000)  Exemplary
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)  Watchable
Europa Report (2013)  Very Good
August 6, 2013

Europa Report is one of those films that may not meet some expectations.

There are some allusions to Alien (1979) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - including the Strauss waltz - but there's no belly buster ... more

Evening (2007)  Badly flawed
July 5, 2007

What's the difference between slasher films and chick flicks? In slasher films they suffer less, and they die quicker. Evening, bless its banal heart, is a chick flick in all its fatuous glory.

Evening has a stellar cast, which includes some o ... more

Everybody's Fine (2009)  Watchable
November 12, 2009

Film historian and critic Tony Macklin joins Josh to talk about Roland Emmerich's latest disaster movie 2012, plus three movies set in Britain in the 1960s and '70s (Pirate Radio, The Damned United, An Education ... more

Everything Must Go (2011)  Watchable
May 20, 2011

Everything Must Go is not a bad movie, but saying in the credits that it's "based on" a story by Raymond Carver is a blunder. It may even be a fraud.

I suppose this is a way for a novice writer/director (Dan Rush) to try ... more

Exorcist, The (1973)  Very Good
Express, The (2008)  Watchable
Exterminating Angel, The (1962)  Very Good
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)  Badly flawed
December 22, 2011

People Magazine picked Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close as, "The Best Film of the Year!" At least that's what the ads blare.

There are at least a dozen movies that could validly be picked as best of the year. Extre ... more


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